8 Things Highly Productive Students Do

Recently The Muse posted an article 8 Things Highly Productive People Do Every Morning. I was happy reading the article because I had already accomplished #1 – Finish one task right away. I had just completed an early morning blog post so I could check that off the list.


It got me thinking – this list is great not only for the workplace, but for students, as well. I have changed them up a bit to fit the student lifestyle.

1. Finish one assignment right away.  Set the tone right for the new semester. As stated by John Brandon, “Super productive people complete one task right away in the morning to set the tone and demeanor for the day. It’s a level set on attitude that says this is how your day will play out. It’s a springboard and orients your thinking.” Keeping with this level of thinking – do the same with school work. If you can get an assignment done right away, just do it.

2. Reward yourself.  Many of us are motivated by rewards. Yes, I am. Many of our courses are hybrid and it is difficult for students to stay “motivated” in the online portion. So – set up your own reward system that works for you. Ex. Check into all my courses online twice this week = one trip to Starbucks (or Peet’s Coffee and Tea - my favorite!).

3. Kill the bad attitude. Okay – I didn’t change this one. Don’t give in to negative remarks or thoughts. Go into the new semester with a bright and positive attitude. Students – or instructors – I’m speaking to all of us. I have been reading One Thousand Gifts and am reminded to give thanks daily. A thankful attitude can brighten up a sour attitude!

4. Eat healthy.  Thankfully, we have an AWESOME cafeteria on campus with local ingredients and a Farm to Fork station. With food that good, why eat junk? Stay away from the processed, fake food (that’s my name for it) and start eating food that is healthy. You’ll keep the weight off and feel better at the same time. That’s important to remember with the holidays here!


5. Schedule every assignment in advance.  Yes – write them in a planner (that you actually look at and use) or better yet, add every assignment to an online calendar system like Google Calendar or ClassOwl. Google Calendar lets you set notifications and send reminders as a text message. Why miss an assignment? Let Google remind you that it is due! You can receive your daily agenda in your email each day! Seriously, how cool is that?

6. Then, turn off your phone. Okay. At least stick it in your purse or pocket and don’t answer it every time it makes a sound. I do enjoy having students use their phones as a clicker response, but if you don’t NEED it in class, don’t even have the temptation near you. There’s enough time to talk and text. Just don’t do it in class unless requested by the instructor. It’s called manners.

7. Read homework and assignments more than once. Some students tend to read through the syllabus and never return. Or, they read through their assignment information once and put it down. Remember what Santa says about checking it twice. smile. If you find your mind drifting as you read through your textbook, stop. Go back to the beginning of the page(s) and read again or go back to it another time when you can devote your mind to absorbing the information.

8. Avoid the downers.  I kept this one the same, also. It’s similar to #3, but this time think about who you “hang” out with. Bad news people tend to spread bad news…and gossip. Avoid the gossip, spread a kind word and smile, and move along your way. Choose joy and decide to spread a little happiness to each person that you meet each day.


Thanks to John Brandon of Inc. for his original post 8 Things Highly Productive People Do Every Morning for the inspiration.

Flipped-Learning Toolkit

Have you thought about flipping your classroom? Edutopia recently shared a “Toolkit” from the pioneers, Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams. They walk you through the steps in a six part video series.  At the bottom of the article are more resources for the flipped classroom and blended learning. Sounds like great Christmas vacation professional development to me (and FREE)! Enjoy!

Flipped-Learning Toolkit.

How to Study Effectively

I recently found this infographic from Indiana Jen’s post (original source Open Colleges). Thanks for sharing the infographic! Our finals are just about finished – but a great resource none-the-less.  By the way, I just won a year’s PRO subscription to Piktochart. I love using Piktochart for creating infographics. They offer amazing , easy to use templates and tools. How did I win? With a ridiculous Movember picture. Yes, if you are brave enough you may click the link. I’m glad being silly actually can win you something. (smile)

How to be Effective when Studying – Best Study Apps, Tools, Tips & Techniques by Open Colleges

24 Ways to Use Google Forms in the Classroom!

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Have you ever used Google Forms in your classroom? It is SO easy to use! Why use Google forms? How about a list of 24 great ideas…

  1. Create a Quiz.  Google form lets you easily create a quiz with multiple choice, check-box, text, and paragraph answers. You can even add images and videos to your forms!
  2. Entry Ticket or Exit Ticket.  Collect responses from your class regarding course content. If they had home, send the form at the beginning of class to find out how well they absorbed the material. Or, give the form at the end of class before they exit the room!
  3. Poll.  Create an easy poll and let students vote on their answer!
  4. Create a class survey – any topic!
  5. Create a “Getting to Know You” questionnaire
  6. Prayer requests (for schools where you can do this!)
  7. Question of the week.  Have students generate one question they have and submit each week. You can choose to answer the questions in class, or use the questions in a class discussion.
  8. Create an invitation
  9. Students may take notes in a Google form. Share the spreadsheet with the class so they all have access to the notes.
  10. Speaker evaluation
  11. Goal setting.  Ask students to set course goals using the form. Collect the information. At the end of the course, send another form to find out if they met their goal.
  12. Assign a topic.  Allow students to choose from a list their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choice. You may also want to have them choose a partner.
  13. Personal Reflection
  14. “Flipped Classroom” assignment.  Include the video/lecture link and questions all in one form. This will embed into your learning management system. We use Moodle.
  15. Debrief a field trip
  16. Quick-write on any topic
  17. Behavior management
  18. Document your own professional development.  Fill out the form yourself any time you attend a training session or view a webinar! Let the spreadsheet keep track for you!
  19. Create a book review
  20. Peer grade class presentations
  21. “How are you today?” check-in
  22. Ask students to submit 3-5 words and use these words to create a Wordle.
  23. Arrange a meeting
  24. Brainstorm

Basically, if you want to gather data, it can be done using a Google form! Forms are visually attractive. It’s easy to add headings, pages, video, and images. Forms can be sent to individuals via email, or embedded into a learning management system. Decide whether respondents can see the responses or if they will be kept private. It’s up to you!

Shopping Soon?

The holidays are approaching and many people will be shopping for a tablet of some sort. There are so many options! How will you know which one to choose?  Here are some tablets that are currently on the market with some information on each. I hope you find it useful!

I am going to start with the iPad because I have been looking at them recently. I’ve been wanting an upgrade and had been waiting patiently for the iPad mini 3 announcement which is now available. Working in an IT office is great because I can run my ideas by those that are much more knowledgeable than I am! When I stated that I would be purchasing an iPad mini 3, the response was – WHY?  Why not purchase an iPad mini 2? I said I wanted whatever was the most current and again the reply was WHY?  Did you know that there isn’t much difference between an iPad mini 2 and an iPad mini 3? Hmm. I didn’t know that! So I had to check it out for myself and found out that the difference between a 2 and 3 is the GB available and fingerprint identity sensor. Now, I might want an upgrade for the GB, but I really don’t care, personally, about having fingerprint identification capability. For the price (another difference) I could still upgrade from my current technology and pay less.  Everything important to me – HD camera, retina display, battery life, A7 chip with 64 bit architecture and M7 motion coprocessor are all identical. For a $100 savings, I’d opt for the iPad mini 2.

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Click HERE to see a side-by-side comparison. The above picture is from the Apple web store. I’m opting for the iPad mini 2  32GB. I save $50 over the iPad mini 3 version with only 16 GB. I’d be paying $50 just for the fingerprint technology and I’d have less storage.

Don’t want an iPad? There are other options and it is best to shop around. How about an Amazon Fire HDX starting at $379? It is slightly lighter than the iPad 2 and comes with 16 GB, 32 GB or 64 GB, with free, unlimited cloud storage for all Amazon content and photos. They even offer “live support” through the Mayday button. Apps are Fire OS purchased through Amazon.

You can purchase a Samsung Galaxy Note  The stylus is an added bonus for the Galaxy Note. I know many instructors that enjoy using it in their classrooms. Right now they are on “pre-order” and cost a hefty $599.99.

Another option might be the Google Nexus 9 Tablet. It comes with 16 GB or 32 GB and a 7 hour battery life. CNET Review calls it a “premium, pure Android powerhouse.”  It touts frequent updates and speedy performance but is marked down for touchscreen response and a slow charge.  It costs approx. $478.

Overall, tablets are amazing. Outside of work, I use my tablet for almost everything. I enjoy the portability, available apps,  and quick access. Happy shopping!

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Offering Choice


When I taught K-12, I often gave students a choice of assignments. It enabled students to take a personal interest in the topic, engaged students, allowed for creativity, and helped differentiate to accommodate learning styles. As a university instructor, I started wondering why this wasn’t done more at the university level. As an instructor in the School of Education, I found myself teaching “this is what you should do” and yet I wasn’t really doing it. So – I made the decision. Why not? Why not offer teacher candidates a choice of assignment activities? This semester I created “menus” for assignments in one of my courses with “dinner” (must-do), the “selection” (choose one for your choice) and “dessert” (optional resources that reinforce the work for the week.  CLICK HERE to see an example. I have found that the choice option has been well received. I know I certainly appreciate being offered a choice. Although we might not want to offer a choice all the time, and it wouldn’t work for all instances, with a bit of thought and creativity you can still achieve your objectives and offer a choice  at the same time. Here are a couple ideas:

1.  Offer a menu of assignment choices, as seen in my sample. I used S’More and embedded into our Moodle course for the week.

2. 2-5-8 List.  Give the directions that students must choose only 2 activities that add up to a total of 10 points. (Or choose 3 activities that add up to 15 points, etc.)

2 point activities – Knowledge & Comprehension

5 point activities – Application & Analysis

8 point activities – Synthesis & Evaluation

Under the activities, come up with assignments that fit under the specific categories of Knowledge – Evaluation. Basically with this option, students would have to choose 2 application and analysis assignments or one knowledge/comprehension and one synthesis/evaluation.

3. Tic-Tac-Toe Extension Menu: Create a tic-tac-toe board with assignments in each box. Ask students to complete the items in order to form a tic-tac-toe. Strategically place leveled assignments in the boxes. I have even seen a board with a “free choice” in the middle with students submitting a proposal form to the instructor. You might end up with a very creative assignment!

4. Baseball Game (Or another sports related theme)  Allow students to add up the assignments to made 100 points.

Singles – 10 pt

Doubles – 30 pt

Triples – 50 pt

Homerun – 100 pt

Again, strategically decide what would constitute assignments at each level.

How about you? Do any of you have another way that you offers students a choice when it comes to assignments?


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Today I’ve been testing out Symbaloo – a social bookmarking site. I placed many of my favorite web 2.0 sites on it for you. Check it out HERE.   Easily create a board of your favorite web links. Symbaloo will take those links and create mini icons for each one – visual + ease of use. Let me know what you think!

SlideShark is Sweet!

As an instructor at the university level, I often need to use presentations to guide my own lecture as I share information with my students. A presentation can help keep me on a straight path.  I have battled how to view my own notes. I can’t write notes into the PowerPoint section because our projector system mirrors our podium computers so if they show on the computer, they will show on the projector. Of course, I could bring my own laptop and choose the projector as a secondary source that I could use for the presentation view, but I don’t like to do that either. I can print off notes – but I feel like carrying around a stack of papers and trying to give a quick glance down at my notes is tacky.

I’ve tried using my iPad for notes and using a clicker to change slides because I like to walk around the room. That’s just too much to hold and I fumble around trying to figure out which one I’m clicking. Then, I talked to GLEN and he shared with me SlideShark. Thanks, Glen!

First, load your presentation, with notes, into the FREE SlideShark app. Next, click “broadcast” in the app and send the broadcast URL to your email. On the podium computer, pull up the email and open the link.  The presentation will show to the class via the projector and you can control the slides from your iPad. The nicest thing? I can see my notes in the app while I control the presentation. It even has an annotation tool and laser pointer controlled through the app. I can easily walk around the room, talk, control the presentation, and see my notes without trying to hook up to the Apple TV. That’s right, Jessup instructors! It doesn’t matter which room you are in. You don’t need Apple TV!

Student view on the screen - They see the presentation!

Student view on the screen – They see the presentation!

Teacher can choose to just see and control the slides on the iPad.

Teacher can choose to just see and control the slides on the iPad.

Here it is on the teacher/iPad view with notes. Just tap the slides to advance to the next one.

Here it is on the teacher/iPad view with notes. Just tap the slides to advance to the next one.

Look closely and you'll see the choice to write on the presentation with annotation tools!

Look closely and you’ll see the choice to write on the presentation with annotation tools!

Learn more by watching this quick video:


5 of the Best Annotation Tools!

Do your students turn electronic assignments as a PDF? If so – great! Annotating on a PDF is easy and a great way to offer formative and summative assessment. Why a PDF?  PDFs are ideal for sharing documents across platforms. Not everyone may have Microsoft Word, but most Word documents can be saved as a PDF and opened by anyone with a free PDF reader. By using a PDF annotator, you can highlight, add notes,  and write directly on documents. This is a great way for instructors to give feedback on work to students.

Example:  I know many instructors offer feedback on Word documents by using the “tracking changes” feature or comment feature. This is helpful if the student uses Word. Some students don’t. Perhaps they use Google Docs? Feedback can be given using the comment feature or Kaienza, an app addition to Google Docs.  What if students use Pages? You start to see the picture. Why not allow students to use the tool they are most familiar with then save and turn in as a PDF? All documents can then be given feedback using the same tool… a PDF annotator.

Here are a few of my favorite apps for PDF annotation:

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PDF Expert by Readdle ($9.99) 

This apps does cost $9.99 but it does just about everything. Users can add text, draw, highlight, change colors, add stamps, signatures, and type directly on the document. As a principal, I use to pull up an observation template in PDF Expert and fill it out while observing. I could then easily send it at the end of the observation by email. I often receive PDF forms that companies want me to fill out and return. Again, PDF Expert to the rescue! Here is a screenshot of a rubric that I have used. I am able to pull it up in PDF Expert, annotate, and save or send.

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Watch this video about PDF Expert!

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Skitch by Evernote (Free)

I’ve always been a fan of Evernote and Skitch. It’s a great way to mark up almost anything – photos or PDFs! Easily annotate and mark up…or use the cool stamps, circle, squares, or arrows. You don’t have as much capability for typing a lot of feedback but if you want something simple this could work for you. No iPad? No fear! Skitch is also available as a Chrome web extension. Yes!

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PDF Pen by SmileOnMyMac, LCC ($14.99)

This is another great annotation tool but is limited to the iPad or Mac. Just like PDF Expert, it does just about everything. Add text, images, signature, draw, or highlight.

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Notability by Ginger Labs ($2.99)

Again, limited to an app or Mac, yet a wonderful tool! I have written about Notability many times. What doesn’t it do? This does the same as the apps mentioned above, and adds one more element – audio. I do not believe the audio can be shared outside of the app, which is a drawback. I enjoy Notability because it is multi-use. I can use it to offer feedback through annotation. I can use it to record a seminar and write notes. I can use it to sign documents. It’s many tools all in one package!

5. Notable PDF Chrome Extension (Free)

I haven’t personally tried this one out, but it states that it also highlights, underlines, and allows for comments and text. It also states that you can use it offline and with any browser.

Let’s Up the Blogging

I think I’ve always liked to write. As a little girl, I had dreams of being an author.


I remember submitting a story I had written when I was around ten called “The Adventures of Becky Keele”. I’m pretty sure, looking back, that it was very similar to Tom Sawyer but my own girly version. I sent it to a few publishers and they all wrote back very sweet “no” letters and an encouragement to keep writing. I was heart-broken and decided I couldn’t be an author.

I have a friend who blogs and she is a very successful, professional blogger. She has tens of thousands of followers and she will commonly get 200-300 comments on each blog post. Why? She is controversial. She is honest. She speaks exactly how she feels. Exactly.

I’m not that brave. I take the safe route, usually, and try not to be controversial. I know that I represent a university and wouldn’t want a blog post to be taken the wrong way. But I do envy her, a bit, for the ability to be totally and completely naked open with her readers.

I do enjoy blogging. And – I feel that it is a great educational tool. I really wish more university instructors would think about  consider assigning blogs for classroom assignments instead of just essays. Blogs provide excellent opportunities for students to be able to reflect on content and share their thoughts and content knowledge reflections with the world.

“According to educational specialists Drs. Fernette and Brock Eide, the use of blogs in an educational setting produces several benefits. These benefits include the promotion of critical and analytical thinking, increased access and exposure to quality content and a combination of solitary and social interactions with peers. The educational benefits of blogging can also extend to the administrative and teaching aspects of how a class operates.” Read more here! Lou Martin, Demand Media

My Tech for Teachers course recently discussed assessment and the importance of student reflection. How often to you reflect, or think about, what you’ve learned? I do…all the time. Why not have students reflect on their reading or class content sessions? Students will benefit from the ability to reflect, and instructors will benefit from reading their reflections.

Student voice is important and not all students speak up in a classroom. Blogging allows students to share their opinion and gives those with differing learning styles a chance to “speak” up.  I believe it also improves writing skills. When students know their information will be shared in a public venue, they will be more apt to edit and rewrite for voice and accuracy.

At William Jessup University, we are a Google Apps school and have easy access to Google sites. Simply go to mail, click the Google App icon Screen Shot 2014-10-01 at 1.49.06 PM and choose Google Sites. A site can be created in a matter of seconds. I enjoy Google sites because it is easy to set up, free, and has privacy settings. However, if I am being totally honest, it is not the most visually appealing.  I use WordPress to type this blog. Decide your own purpose, review the tools yourself, and decide what will work the best for you!

Google Sites (privacy controls)

WordPress (basic blogging)

Edublogs (for education)

Tumblr (pictures)

Postach.io (I used this while traveling.)

Squarespace (visually appealing)

Postagon (for the minimalist)

Ghost (split screen editor – sweet!)

Svbtle (designed to help you think)

Medium (collaborative)