Thing 1: Getting Started

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Welcome to Thing 1 : Getting Started!

Welcome to our 2018-2019 Cool Tools for School workshop. We’re so glad you decided to join the workshop this year. This workshop is an opportunity to explore a broad range of online tools that can be support learning in a K12 setting.

Despite the name of the workshop, we do not advocate using tech tools just because they’re new and cool! Tech tools and services need to serve a purpose in your teaching. What we hope you’ll take away from the workshop is a confidence to try new tools and a familiarity with a wide range of tools that might serve to enhance and transform your teaching.

In this lesson you’ll:

  • Find out how to participate in the workshop.
  • Set up a blog to chronicle your work during the workshop.


Before you do anything else, please read through this page:

  • Frequently Asked Questions – this will answer most, if not all, of your questions about how the workshop is run.
  • If you’ve participated in the workshop before and/or already have a blog you can use for your learning journal, you can skip this lesson!

During the workshop you’ll be using 3 websites.

1: Google Classroom

  • You’ll use the Google Classroom to submit your work, keep up with any news about the workshop and communicate with your instructor and other members of the workshop.
  • You’ll receive an invitation code when you register for the workshop. If you’ve registered, but haven’t received a code, please contact your School Library System administrator.

2: website

  • The content for all the lessons is housed on this public website. This  ensures that the lessons and resource pages are available after the workshop ends and the Google Classroom is closed. And we’ve found that the resource/lesson pages are used by many other online workshops around the world!

3: Your Blog

  • In this first lesson you’ll set up a blog to chronicle your learning in the workshop.
  • If you’ve participated in the workshop before and/or already have a blog you can use for your learning journal, you can skip this lesson!

Personalized Learning

This workshop is all about personalized learning! You will pick the lesson topics you want to pursue.  And within each topic, there are many options to meet everyone’s interests and skill level.

  • For each topic you choose, you’ll read through the lesson page, explore some of the readings and tools, select and complete a learning activity and write a blog post about your work.
  • Please, please, please – make sure you take time to read the FAQ page if you haven’t already! It explains everything in more detail. 
  • While we don’t expect a dissertation on every topic, we do expect thoughtful reflection and active participation that is clear in the post.
  • Remember, you are earning Professional Development credit for your work. Think about what you would expect from your students for similar assignments.
  • Credit will not be awarded for inadequate work.


Have you ever kept a diary, a journal or some sort of file that logs your activities, thoughts, ideas? Well, that’s simply what a blog (or “web log”) is. An online journal where you can write regular updates, or “posts”, about a topic. In this case, you’ll be writing posts about the work you’re doing in the workshop.

Since blogs are usually public, other people can share their thoughts and ask questions through the commenting feature on your blog. It’s a great way to connect with other people interested in the same topic.

Blogs let you do all this without having to know anything about HTML or other web-page coding stuff. And best of all, you can do it for for free with tools like Edublogs, Blogger, Weebly and others.

As an educator, you could use a blog to:

  • Share news & professional information with other educators and staff.
  • Keep students & parents up to date on school projects, classroom news and more.
  • Share book recommendations and reviews.
  • Start a book discussion blog for students and staff.
  • Post research tips and tools for classes.
  • Share your own reflections on your work with your peers.
  • Visit this page to explore some popular EdTech blogs

And blogging is a huge opportunity for students to show what they are learning, share their work and make connections with other students around the world. You can explore more about student blogging in the Thing 2:  Blogging with Students.


There are many blogging tools to choose from. For this workshop we recommend you use one of the popular, free tools listed below. If there’s another tool you’d like to explore, feel free to do so. But it must be a publicly accessible blogging service.

Blogger – This is Google’s free blogging service. You can use your personal gmail account to login and create a Blogger blog.

Edublogs – Edublogs uses the popular WordPress software as their core. So if you’re familiar with WordPress already, Edublogs will be easy to use.


Your activity for this lesson, is to create a blog to keep a record of what you’re learning during the Cool Tools workshop.

Choose whatever tool you’d like to use, one of the ones listed above or any other blogging tool that you want to try.

Step 1: Pick the blogging tool that you like and create your own blog for the project.

Please note: You must have your own blog to participate in the Cool Tools workshop. Please don’t register your library or classroom blog for this project. We will be looking at your blogs to see how you’re doing with each lesson and encouraging you to have conversations with your colleagues via comments on your blog posts.

DO THIS! –> Write down your account info and keep it handy. Login, password, URL, blog name.

Step 2: Create your first blog post

Tell us a little bit about:

  • who you are
  • where you work
  • why you’re taking part in this program

Please title your post “Thing 1: Getting Started”. Feel free to write as many posts as you like, it’s your blog after all!


  • Write & publish your blog post.
  • Copy the URL (webpage address) for your post.
    • Your blog url will look something like these examples:
  • Return to your Google Classroom, find the assignment page for the lesson you just completed and follow the directions for turning in and sharing your work.

*Only for students participating in the workshop for PD credit hours through the Google Classroom.


  • Take a look at the help files for the tool you chose to use.
  • Ask around and see if your colleagues and friends know the answer. Next time you might know the answer for them! That’s the start of a really great Personal Learning Network.
  • Really stuck? Leave a message in the comments box below and we’ll try to sort things out for you!

8 thoughts on “Thing 1: Getting Started

  1. I love Blogging because it stands as a diary from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. It archives the library’s evenths through different apps and it speaks for itself asits best advertisement. Blogging highlights your personality and it is fun. Bottom line: it is fun.

  2. Hi, I never received the code to log into Google classroom. I emailed Coleen at RCSD but haven’t heard from her. We do not have a library so I can’t get help that way. Please help. Thank you

    • Hi Mary, I think your spam filter may be blocking the email? It went out on the day you registered. I’ll send it again, from 2 different email addresses in hopes that one of them will get through!

  3. Hi
    I am very excited about trying this out. But I am not clear on how to join the google classroom. How do I register for this year? Or is it too late. I just created a blogger.
    thank you

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