Google +1 Buttons

As I’ve been playing with Google+ over the last day or two, I’ve been figuring out some of the nuances reading articles from other bloggers and even from the Google discussion boards.  One thing I’ve come across is that only webpages you +1 show up in your profile’s +1 feed.  Comments, posts, etc that you +1 in your G+ feed don’t show up on your profile.

After I realized this, I began looking for the +1 button on articles and blogs.  Some have it, some don’t.  I’ve found a couple of solutions to do this…

For WordPress, this article explains step-by-step how to modify your theme to include the button.

If you edit posts in HTML, you can simply do the following:

  • Copy and paste the following code just before the body close tag in the HTML editor of your page.
  • Then, paste this simple HTML tag in the post where you want the button.
The final product looks like this:

 

The HTML tag won’t work unless you have the script in your stylesheet.
There are also different sizes you can use and you can see more about how to tweak your button here.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a native sharing feature for most blogs yet, but I’m hoping some developers will release some simple drag-and-drop widgets that include the +1 button soon.

Google+ First Impressions

I know there have been a deluge of Google+ blog posts written in the past 3 weeks or so, but I’m going to hop on the bandwagon this morning and give a couple of my initial thoughts about its use as a professional and in the classroom.

  1. Google+ will let educators across the globe collaborate more easily.  With their “Hangouts” feature and the selective publishing to different Circles of people you are associated with, I can easily connect in real time with someone across the country.  I don’t need third-party software (which, granted, is usually free, but I’ve seemed to have had more connection issues with those third-party downloads than Google Talk) and you don’t need any special equipment.  Plus, you can talk with up to 10 other people at the same time, a feature not available on most other programs.  Educators should be chomping at the bit to get at this tool…I expect to see more impromptu “webinars” popping up, where people have more freedom to chat about the latest thing they’re doing in their class or to talk about common problems with something.
  2. Since its Google, we know integration is coming.  The one drawback, I believe right now, of Google+ is the lack of integration with other Google software from what I can find.  Once GoogleDocs is integrated with the G+ service, I think there will be an explosion of collaboration and connections even more than there are now.  I would love to be able to hop on to G+, start a Hangout, and then work on an article, lesson plan, project, etc. all through the same social platform.
  3. More people will move to Google+ as they think about online professional networking.  Facebook is great, but it is becoming more and more childish every day with a focus on games, apps, and casual connections between people.  Twitter is also great, but it is confusing at first, and the pace may be prohibitive for some people to really grab hold of.  Google+, on the other hand, combines the power and strengths of both Facebook and Twitter and then adds some more on top of that.  It is more professional looking and has more professional controls we all wish Facebook had.  I see professional networks, especially in schools and businesses (once Google Apps accounts are enabled) flocking to G+ to serve their connectivity needs.
While I think Google+ is fantastic already and I’m itching to get more contacts, I do think we need to continue to scrutinize what we do digitally.  Yes, Google+ is awesome, but I’m afraid administrators and district offices will see it only as a social network, and then it falls into that relegation zone of banned at school.  Those of us that are currently using G+ need to step out and show the positive impact it  has the potential to bring to schools.  Show administrators, other teachers, and parents about the connections that will be fostered in a positive light with this new tool.  Tell your friends and send them an invite to help work out the kinks of the system.
I’m excited about the possibilities and the changes that will be coming in the next couple of months.

Moving Forward

Since April 18th, I have been sending out job applications all over the midwest.  Few options were panning out as July rolled around.  I was starting to get extremely nervous about the coming school year and if I would even be teaching this fall.

I got an e mail from Brett Clark (twitter @Mr_Brett_Clark) asking if I would Skype in to a webinar with Jonathan Bergmann about the Flipped Classroom.  Of course, I’m always looking for ways to talk to teachers interested in using a flipped approach, so I readily took the offer.  As I was talking with Brett and Jon about the webinar, I mentioned that I was looking for work.  Jon had already been a huge help to me, sending my name out to his contacts, and Brett was eager to help as well.  His district also happened to have a couple of science openings available, so he got in touch with those principals and they ended up sitting in on the webinar session.

Long story short, after the presentation, I had an interview with the principal and a job offer that night to teach biology.  I’ve just accepted the position and I’ll be the new biology teacher at Harrison High School in Evansville, IN.

As I was talking with the principal, she really stressed that I was hired to help push the science department with technology use and designing meaningful, technology-integrating instruction.  I’m extremely excited about not only having a job come August, but also having the freedom to continue what I’ve done in the last year and the freedom to refine and push the flipped classroom strategy.  Now that I’m teaching biology, I’m excited to begin to move away from the videos and more into guided inquiry, POGIL, and other tools that can be used in a flipped setting.

Thank you so much to everyone that has helped in my job search.  It wouldn’t have been possible without people taking time to send my name around and to send names to me.  Its just another example of how having a PLN can really come through when you need it.

Summer Thoughts

It is the morning of July 8th and I just now have time to sit down with some coffee and put some thoughts down that have been flying through my head for the last 10 days or so.  This will be more like a “digest” blog post with some half-started thoughts on a few different topics.

  1. While visiting my family last week in Kentucky, we decided to go out for dinner at the Cracker Barrel.  My parents love the Cracker Barrel and its turned into somewhat of a tradition for us when my wife and I are in town. We were chatting and waiting for our food when my wife nudged me and pointed to the table next to us where all three people were sitting silently, engrossed in their games on two iPhones and an iPad.

via jjprojects, Flickr CC

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done my share of gaming while waiting on the train or bus in Seoul, but it made me kind of sad seeing a family out, but not enjoying each other’s company.  Technology can really do a lot to bring people together…but this showed me how powerful it can also be at isolation.  I’m all for using technology in schools, in parks, in libraries, wherever.  But, as a teacher, it is my responsibility to teach learners that technology is a tool and it should not completely take place of face to face interaction.  I have to model the ability to put the phone away when I’m with another person.

Technology can bring two people together from opposite corners of the world.  But, it can also separate two people just as far even when they’re in the same room.

  1. My in-laws got me a new pair of binoculars for my birthday this year, which is great.  I’ve never really owned a good pair and I’m excited to be able to start doing some new things.  I’ve always been into astronomy and I’m planning on doing some more amateur stargazing with the binoculars.  As I get better, I want to get into some small telescopes and then even hooking those up to my computer to do some nighttime photography.  I inherited a 300mm Nikkor zoom lens a couple of years ago from a job and I took it outside last night to play with it a little bit.  I took a picture of the moon that I’m really proud of and I’m afraid I’m already addicted to this new hobby.

As always, learning something new pointed two things out to me: A) the pride of discovery and creation that I felt last night with that photo is exactly what I want my students to experience throughout the year, and B) when I had no idea how to photograph the moon, I went to YouTube and looked it up.  We all like the chance to check out tutorials online when they’re learning new things…the same goes for me.  There is a great blog post from a follower I have on twitter, @MrSchwen about how the flipped class is not only beneficial to students, but that it can benefit teachers as well.  I would write more on this, but he covered it really well…I suggest you go check it out.

  1. I need to be outside more.  I miss Seoul and being in the city, but being home in the country has really helped remind me how much I appreciate open spaces.  Being able to walk around barefoot in the backyard has done wonders for me this summer.  Having the summer off is a blessing for teachers.  If you’re like me, you don’t like being idle.  I do have an itch to get back to work, but I do appreciate and enjoy the break.  Take some time today to go outside and get some  grass stains on your knees…you won’t regret it.