Thursday, February 11, 2016

Thank you, #Google, for warming my little OCD heart! #GAFE #BISDwired

Pin It I am a little bit OCD.  Ok, my friends are laughing now ... I am A LOT OCD.  I like things neat and orderly and in a row and organized.  It's how I maintain control when life is crazy all around me.  But that's another post...

I don't know if you've noticed, but Google has an AMAZING feature for all of the OCD peeps out there just like me.

When you have multiple elements on a slide or in a drawing, you are able to re-size those elements to exactly the same dimensions.  Do you see the little blue hash marks on my images in the screenshot above?  Now all of my little social media icons are all exactly the same height, all in line perfectly, AND all evenly spaced.  

I may not be able to control everything, but I can sure make certain that all of my inserted images in my Google products are uniform and looking good!  :)

(One of these days, ask me about how I eat Skittles...)

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Google Search + Colorzilla Chrome Extension = Beautiful EASY Custom Color Schemes for your Google Drawings and More!

Pin It Sometimes the basic color palette in Google Drawings just doesn't float my boat.

But unfortunately, I don't have a great eye for color and am not one of those people who can play around with the custom color wheel and come up with something spectacular.

So I cheat.  A little bit.  With some help from Google Search and Colorzilla, I can find beautiful color schemes and mimic them in my publications!  Here's how...

Step 1: Google color schemes and filter search results by image.

Step 2: Scroll until you find one you love!  :)

Step 3: Use Colorzilla eyedropper tool to pick your new colors from the scheme and "drop" them into your custom palette in your Google Drawing.

Step 4: Repeat the process to build your new palette!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

5 Easy #Google Drawings Tricks that Students LOVE! #BISDwired #GAFE

Pin It Google Drawings is my go-to tool for creating graphics for lots of reasons...  It's easy to use.  It's integrated with my GAFE account.  It offers many options for personalized graphics.  And students LOVE it!  Here are 5 tricks I like to share with students that they don't always know or realize are available:
  1. Change the size of your canvas.  Go to File > Page Setup.  You can select preset sizes or use custom dimensions in inches, centimeters, points, or pixels.
  2. Change the background color. Right click on canvas > Background. The default is transparent, but you have LOTS of other choices, including custom.
  3. Find copyright friendly images. Using the research tool (Tools > Research), students can filter results by image and then again by usage rights.
  4. Find images with a transparent background. Nothing says amateur like a white box around your image on a colored background. Adding png to the end of your search in the research tool will return images with transparent background.
  5. Download your image in multiple formats. Go to File > Download as. You have several options including pdf, jpg, png and even svg!
Don't assume your students (or teachers!) already know these simple tricks. These 5 easy tips can help your students and staff get more out of Google Drawings!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

How to produce champagne videos on a beer budget! (Did I get your attention?!)

Pin It This year our motto for Brenham ISD is "I Choose Brenham,"  (Thank you Jeremy Johnston for the awesome graphics!)

As I started dabbling in the PR efforts of our district, I wanted to begin a "Why Choose Brenham?" video campaign to show potential staff, students and parents our best offerings.  We have a lot of good stuff happening!  We need to shout it from the mountaintops!

I started a list of all of our wonderful programs and clubs and organizations and slowly I have been producing our video series.

Now, in case you didn't know ... Brenham is quite rural and we don't have money out the wazoo.  So, I had to get creative on how I was going to produce quality videos at a VERY low cost.  Two tools have really changed my life (in terms of video production!)...
  1. SmartPhone holder mount for tripod
  2. Cell phone lavaliere mic
I realized that the best recording device I have is right in my hand (all the time!)  My Samsung Note 3!  It takes excellent quality video, uploads my videos directly to Dropbox for easy retrieval, and it's easy to transport!  I bought the tripod mount, external mic and gave it a try.  Here's my first video...

Admittedly, I did use my fancy personal MacBook along with iMovie to produce the finished product, but this could easily be done in Movie Maker or even WeVideo.  For me, it was about starting with quality video and audio.

I did have to overcome some obstacles such as disabling the annoying autofocus zooming in and out on my cell phone.  And, after making a few videos, I was running out of options for background music, so I started researching free background music.  I finally landed upon  This site has great options for royalty free music with proper credit for the creator.  They offer pro licenses, as well, for more options.

So really ... for less than $50 I am making videos that I am proud of.  I already had the tripod, the cell phone and the laptop with software ... add in a $20 mic, $12 mount and some great royalty free music and we're in business!  Oh, and don't forget good talent!  A big heartfelt thanks to the students and staff who have GRACIOUSLY hopped out of their comfort zone to show the world what Brenham ISD is made of!  :)

Find the other videos in our series here!  

Friday, December 18, 2015

Have you heard of Fundraising made easy! @ZipBooks

Pin It
Thank you, Brad Hanks, creator of Zipbooks, for this guest post!

I remember doing door to door fundraising to earn money for Cub Scouts camp. I was assigned to go up a certain street in my neighborhood. When I knocked on the door of an older looking house, I was shocked to see an old man open the door with just his underwear. Not knowing how to react, I began my speech about the different kinds of popcorn he could buy. The man stared at me and slammed the door. I left feeling humiliated. I didn’t realize at the time that it could have been much worse.

Kids are asked to go door to door trying to raise money for their school or camp. But is fundraising worth the risk? Nobody likes door to door fundraising. It makes both the parents and kids uncomfortable. I don’t think the people at home are excited about the visit either.

Most of the profits don’t even go to the organization raising money. Only about 30-40% of the money stays at the school.

Accounting software like Zipbooks might be an unlikely place to find a fundraising solution, but there are plenty of free options out there that will send an invoice for free. All the PTA needs is the email address of a willing donor and the school can send out a free invoice and 100% of the money donated can stay at the school. Instead of having children go door to door, parents can hit up their friends and family through email. No more asking strangers for money. No more buying something you don’t want.

Just my two cents.