HAVE YOU TRIED PIKTOCHART? IT’S LIFECHANGING!

Note: The following is a post I wrote on my personal blog Integral Organizing. It is so applicable to education and I just had to repost it here! 


Have you ever stumbled across something that was a major game-changer? This very thing happened to me just recently when I stumbled across Piktochart. While I’m not paid by Piktochart for this post, I HAD to do a write-up on this fabulous new resource!

A trend I’ve noticed over the past few months is a cool new visual aid called an “InfoGraphic“.  I am obsessed with using traditional graphic organizers in my classroom. An infographic is like a graphic organizer on steroids! The cool factor is being able to make a professional looking infographic (aka graphic organizer) with information “chunks” merged with eye-catching visual elements, colors, graphics, etc.

Below is an image of my first ever infographic. I chose to create my new syllabus for the upcoming year. Mind you, there is so much more information about my class that I did not include but my class web page will take care of that vast amount of information.

Ready to create your own infographic?  Allow me, if you will, to walk you through the basics and share my experience as a newbie to designing infographics. Hmmm…I sense a new idea for an infographic.

#1   Sign up for a free Piktochart account. I chose the educator account but there is an option for Non-Profits and of course, paid plans that include all the bells and whistles.

#2   Decide on your topic and brainstorm a list of what info you want to include. I knew I wanted to create a syllabus and the basic info I wanted to include. The hardest part was keeping my info list purposeful and “short”. I tried to keep it to just the info students would need on the first day. There is so much that can be put in a syllabus!

#3  Dive right in! I started with a blank template and added two “blocks” to give me three customizable spaces. I admit it took me a while to get going. Once I started simply adding text, things got a little easier. There is a tutorial and help feature on the website to use while you are working.

#4 Select your backgrounds. For each separate block, I chose a different background. You could just have one continuous background if you wanted.

#5 The top block should showcase the overarching theme/topic of your infographic. Mine include my class title, my name, room number, topics of study and general expectations.

#6  The subsequent boxes (below the top box) should be used for more specific information related to your top block info or a different category within the overarching theme.  My middle box includes a student supply list, how to sign up for my Remind service, and graphics to for no phones, food, or drink in class.

My middle box includes a student supply list, how to sign up for my Remind service, and graphics to for no phones, food, or drink in class.

My bottom box is all about grades, tutorials, retesting/redo policy, and what to do when absent.

#7 Make sure you save! This first Piktochart took me a while. I hit the save button A LOT!

#8 There are options for downloading, printing, etc. Some options are only available for paid customers. I was able to download my picture and print it on my printer. It looks GREAT!

Now, I probably won’t give all 160+ students a color copy. That would probably cost me $40+ to get printed at the office supply store. BUT…. I sense a 3×5 postcard (printed 4 to a page) with a smaller version with a QR code to the URL of my Piktochart web presentation of the syllabus.

You are able to adjust the settings of your project to Public and you can even show it to a group in presentation mode.  Oh, and you can make presentations and printables with Piktochart as well.

Needless to say, I am now hooked!  My mind is racing with the millions of uses I could employ these snazzy displays of knowledge in my classroom, at home, or in a small home business. The possibilities are endless!

Learn, serve, lead,

Jennifer

#EdublogsClub Prompt 3: Leadership

As an aspiring leader, I have no reservations about moving from the classroom into school administration. After 13 years teaching math to eighth graders, I am excited about new embracing new challenges and experiences.

Ideally, I will able to secure an Assistant Principal position for next year. Unfortunately, I fear I will be jumping into a crowded applicant pool. Regardless, I will continue to learn, serve, and lead whether I remain in the classroom or move up. To land “the job”, I need to stand out.

To be an effective school leader, I need to continually learn and grow. I am always seeking out new information and perspectives to help me cultivate leadership skills that are valued both by my stakeholders and myself. The following characteristics are what I feel define an excellent administrator. This is the bar which I have set for myself.

Be yourself.    As Shakespeare has advised us all, “To thine own self be true”. Each administrator is unique and different based on his/her experiences. Whether positive or negative, these experiences influence how we view ourselves, how we perceive others, and how we interact with everyone. It benefit no one to try to be exactly like another leader. Rather we should use the positive qualities we admire in other leaders as inspiration for our own path.

Be committed to excellence.    Leaders should understand what “excellence” means in respect to the stakeholders of the organization and how it relates to a personal understanding of excellence. James Collins, author of Good to Great, advises us that “Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great. We don’t have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don’t have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life.” Leaders should inspire, motivate, and model excellence and be vigilant against settling for “good enough”.

Be positive.  This is certainly a struggle for any person who cares deeply about what they do. Many days, it can feel as if the world is against you. This year in particular, as a new leader, I have faced many challenges and much criticism.  Two quotes from author Jon Gordon, “Being positive won’t guarantee you’ll succeed. But being negative will guarantee you won’t.” and “Positivity is like a boomerang. The more we put it out there, the more it comes back to us.” have been vital to my mindset this year. I keep these printed out in my room. I have invested a lot of time reading about positivity and growth mindset from authors like Jon Gordon and Carol Dweck. Simply changing how I think about everything has been greatly beneficial during this year. Positivity was literally my lifeline.

Be prepared, detail-oriented, and organized.    This is as natural to me as breathing. I was pretty much born prepared. Attention to detail and organization are two of my greatest strengths. So much so, I am often the recipient of good-natured joking. I am also a “go-to” person on my campus. I love these characteristics and relish the opportunities that arise when I can share these skills and teach others to do the same. While these traits are expected of all leaders, they do not come easy to everyone. In those cases, it is painfully obvious and reduces the effectiveness of the leader. Luckily, with a little grit and resilience, leaders can excel in these areas.

Be accountable.   Accountability goes hand in hand with integrity and vulnerability. Leaders who are accountable to themselves and their stakeholders are viewed as leaders of integrity. Being vulnerable to recognize mistakes in our leadership approach also builds the integrity of a leader. Most importantly, leaders must lead by example and that includes owning up to errors of judgement.

Be near-sighted and far-sighted.   Leaders need to be fully aware of everything happening on their campus and have a clear vision and action plan for its future. Having the right people in the right positions goes a long way to seeing the complete picture of the campus. For myself, this means building trust with all stakeholders and keeping up on current / future education trends in education. Additionally, it requires careful balance between have a short, narrow focus and one that focuses on lofty, unreasonable goals.

Be fair, firm, flexible.   Ah, the soft skills. By no means are these “weak” skills. Setting reasonable goals, expectations, and following through requires knowledge, intuition, and finesse. I feel another to think of this is “do what is right, reasonable, and responsible”. Emergencies aside, it is important to think carefully, respond timely, and act intentionally. Consistent execution of thoughtful actions and systems should also include the leader’s consideration of the uniqueness of each situation and its participants.

Be a leader.    My most important task as a leader is to inspire, motivate, mentoring and coaching teachers in executing their jobs at the highest level. It is not enough to be nice and likable. I must genuinely care about every staff and faculty member, every student, and their families. Educational leadership is about developing effective teaching teams and helping each member care about one another and the team’s goals.

Believe in yourself.     Above all, it is important to love what you do, care about and serve all stakeholders of your campus. These characteristics and beliefs are the heart of my personal mission…”Learn. Serve. Lead.”

#EdublogsClub Prompt 1: My Blog Story

Hello Lead Learners!

I am so excited to join the 2017 Edublogs Blogging Club. In fact, I’m so excited that I stumbled across Edublogs in the first place! Over the years I have enjoyed reading various lifestyle blogs (cooking, organizing, teaching, etc) on WordPress, Blogger, and other self-hosted platforms.

This is not my first blog, but I would not consider myself a pro. My other blog Integralorganizing.com is still a work in progress. Originally, it was planned as a catch-all for my two greatest passions, teaching and organizing /DIY, as well as random musings. The challenging aspect is that my blogs feels so discombobulated. Now, using Edublogs, I can separate my love for all things teaching and my love for all things organizing and time management. As an aspiring blogger, I can keep both my “lifestyle” and education blogs purposeful and separate.

One of my biggest challenges as a blogger is committing time to write and using content that would be interesting to my audience. What if I have trouble scheduling time to write? What if I’m boring? What if no one ever reads my blog? Worse yet, what if someone gets really offended even though I did not intend my post to cause upset?

These reasons, along with others I can’t think of, are why the Edublogs Blogging Club is so enticing! I can be motivated to write consistently, with a community of like-minded bloggers and reader, and the added benefit of topics suggested since, sometimes, it can be hard to be creative and interesting.

So, here is to a productive year of blogging for all of here as we both lead and learn together.