Friday, November 17, 2017

This Week at Hixson - Learning, failing, and moving forward

A few hiccups in our production schedule have allotted us to produce our second show. This week, I enjoyed the over all show and am loving the fails in it. Primarily you will experience a complete loss of footage during the middle of the show. 

For me, this is a live learning opportunity for the kids. If I had not mentioned it before, this is a learner led and produced show. My role in all of this is to encourage and push the kids further then where they started, answer questions, encourage them to see things differently and ultimately act as an executive producer of the show.

I often share with the kids that I will be their biggest critic and fan. I want them to think and try things that they have never done before and I want their ideas to succeed. At times that means that they may produce a single "pilot" show which takes weeks to record and edit. In the end, it may become part of the weekly show or it may flop. The learning that takes place during the entirety of this process is invaluable. 

Without further ado, I give you Episode 2, season 5 of This Week at Hixson:

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Hixson Hub ON AIR ep 3

Their podcast continues onto the thirds episode,

Please enjoy their ideas, wonderings and creation:

If you enjoy their work then you can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or Google Play

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

#TechTipTuesday - Adobe Fill and Sign

Continuing the series on how to use our digital tools to help reduce paper consumption, this week I am highlighting and app you need to download.

Adobe Fill and Sign

for Android for iOS

What this FREE app allows the user to do is amazing. Once downloaded you can either open a PDF or file right from the app, and then click where ever you need to sign it and then sign the document and send it back to the person who needs the signed document.

It's amazing, and that's not all. You can add in custom fields like check boxes, dates, locations etc.

Check out the video below to watch a quick run down on how it works and then make sure you click the links above to download this app.

Tell a friend, tell your parents, tell everyone! 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

HixsonHub ON AIR episode 2

Their podcast continues onto the second episode,

Please enjoy their ideas, wonderings and creation:

If you enjoy their work then you can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or Google Play

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Wednesday Wondering - Typing

A new week and a new idea to try out on the blog. 
A few weeks back I started a new segment on my Podcast where I shared a wondering each week. Being a curious individual, I have many of these wonderings.

This week I am wondering about typing.

I grew up taking typing classes in high school. Typing was important then, and had been for awhile. During job interviews they would ask "how many words per minute could you type."

What I am wondering is, will this skill be as valuable as it once was. It is not that I think people will cease typing, I am more curious about their input methods. How frequently are adults typing on computers presently vs typing on a cell phone. What will be the more dominant input method in the future our laptops/desktop keyboards or will it be our smart phones (which I think they just call phones now a days)

Will this concept or idea carry over into the future? In 10 years will typing be a necessity or will communication be measured differently and higher value place on instant access to one another and each others ideas? 

What are your thoughts? Leave your wonderings, ideas, or thoughts in the comments section of the blog or tweet me @TheTechSpec or on Facebook.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

#TechTipTuesday - Scan documents right from your phone, with ease

I thought that it may be fun to attempt a series this month for my Tech Tip Tuesday posts. 
For this month let's explore the opportunities and avenues for helping to reduce paper consumption.

As I am a huge advocate for making, creating and exploring many types of medium I would never say that a school could or should ever go entirely paperless. I would rather encourage the people in the building to "Print with purpose"

So in this vain, let's explore a tip this week about tools available to help reduce paper consumption and print with purpose.

Recently a mathematics teacher shared with me how this year she is scanning in all of her work sheets. In this way the kids are able to view the worksheets on their personal devices or school issued Chromebooks and then solve the problem on a separate piece of paper. 

What an absolutely brilliant idea. Make it easy for the kids to get the work and see it where ever they are and they'll never lose the worksheet.

The next teachable moment may be to instruct the kids to take a picture of their work once they have completed it to make sure they do not lose their work. If you are comfortable with it then they can even submit their work that way.


So a quick tip to avoiding long lines at the scanner:

If you have an iPhone then you have a scanner built right into your Notes app. You can simply create a new note in the notes section and press the + button and choose "Scan documents". Then you can use the app to scan in the worksheet if it was not yet digitized. No more waiting in lines at the copy machine to just scan a document.

The other awesome thing about this scanner is that it is not limited to what will fit on the copy machine. You can scan large sized documents, pieces of artwork, newspapers, anything.

Check out the video below to watch a step by step on how to scan using the Notes app:

Monday, November 6, 2017


Our school is lucky enough to have a drone. The drone was purchased through a grant several years back, and this year I have had a few kids who were super interested in learning more about the it.

 While learning more about the drone and capturing amazing footage with it, one of the boys said "how awesome would it be if your job was to fly a drone around and capture footage?" He was afforded this opportunity when our building principal asked him to capture footage of a big race that takes place in our district every year, the Ivory Crockett Run. While recording footage at the race he discovered the very real possibility of making a full time job out of flying the drone, when one of the race facilitators approached him about filming more of their races for them in the future.

Since that race and that meeting he has been practicing with the school drone and honing new skills and discovering more than ever about the drone. He has also captured some stunning footage and has piqued the interest of many other kids who he is hoping to train once he has perfected his skill set.

In the meantime check out some of the footage captured while flying around Hixson and Webster below:

Saturday, November 4, 2017

SnapChat Saturday

Continuously searching and is a way of life for me. I am inherently curious.

This year, I have begun to explore the world of SnapChat in more depth than in years past. I think that it is here to stay for awhile and it's offerings are ever expanding. I am naturaly curious to see where they take their product.

That being said, I thought I would try creating a SnapChat Saturday post, attempting to remove the ephemeralness of SnapChat Stories and archive a day's worth of SnapChats onto YouTube:

The results are below:

While I enjoy the fact that SnapChat allows me to export an entire days worth of posts as a single video file, I was perplexed why the export quality of the video was so poor. 

So this curiosity with SnapChat and it's potential will in fact fuel another blog post, in the meantime you can connect with me on SnapChat as TheTechSpec

Friday, November 3, 2017

Season 5?!??

In the past 4 years I have worked with Middle Schoolers to produce a weekly variety style show to be viewed by their classmates.

We start by brainstorming show ideas, creating a concept, recording a pilot, viewing the pilot show before airing and then adjusting the shows after peer feedback is shared.

This year, we have had many struggles in attempting to produce our first show. I am very excited today to share with you their first episode of the 5th season of This Week at Hixson:

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Today, I would like to share with you...

... HixsonHub ON AIR.

This year I have the pleasure of facilitating an after school club in which they have decided to take on the charge of producing a weekly podcast.

It is called HixsonHub ON AIR.

We are using the Anchor app to produce the content each week and publishing to the platform which also can connect to a plethora of Podcasting venues so your podcast can be found in the vast majority of podcasting networks.

This week, I will share with you our first episode:

If you enjoy their work then you can subscribe to the channel via iTunes or Google Play

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

...a very good place to start

Here we are, another November and many of us are ready and excited to start posting each day to our blogs!

Or, maybe we want to, but we've no idea where to begin.

Well, let's start at the beginning, and for me that is a slew of questions to help and encourage others to create, produce, post, etc. 

I am Jason P Heisel, and I am here to help you make your dreams a reality...

Ok, that may be a bit of a bold statement, but it is what my colleagues and friends have helped me to discover about myself. I am passionate about helping others succeed, discover something new, and push themselves beyond their comfort levels. I see things differently, and ask many questions, and this is my blog.

When I started it, I am certain that I was testing out the full potential of Blogger as a tool that someone might want to use, and then it stuck.

I like it, I use it to share Technology Tips, and for sharing  ideas and wonderings and for sharing the amazingness that happens in our Technology Center too, and each November, for the past many Novembers, I embark on a journey to post each and every day. 

Why do this you might ask...

The simple answer...why not?

The more complex answer...because it's a challenge. It's hard. Each day we ask our kids to step outside their comfort level and learn or try something new, if we do not also challenge ourselves then why do we ask our kids to do this?

So, to wrap up this first #NaBloPoMo post...

Welcome to my blog, I hope you enjoy the ride, and as always.

Stay tuned and stay connected.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

#TechTipTuesday - National Blog Post Month and Novel Writing Month

It's that time of the year, time to brush off the dust from your ole blog and get ready to post every day next month!

November is National Blog Posting month and National Novel Writing month, the focus is writing each day. One is to get in the habit of posting to your blog  more frequently and the other is to create a novel in a month.

Check out the hashtags:




Looking for ideas on what to post to your blog: check out my blogpost form a few years back all about blog fuel.

If you are looking for more details about Nanowrimo then check out their site at:

Happy posting!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

#TechTipTuesday - Google Maps. Plan your next out of this world trip, today.

In an recent update to Google Maps you can now explore planets and many other amazing things floating out in space.

Simply direct your web browser to the following link:,-87.4912982,23011087m/data=!3m1!1e3

And being exploring the space beyond our atmosphere.

You can also just direct yourself to and then choose the "Satellite" view and then begin zooming out.

When you get our outside of Earth zoom just a bit further to check out all of the other options of things to see in outer space.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

#TechTipTuesday - Snapchat Bitmoji Animations

For those of you who have been following along in my zany exploration of SnapChat/Bitmoji Animation filters I thought it may be worth while sharing how to actually create or use the filter. 

I created this short video to demonstrate how to add your Bitmoji Animation filter to your video or Snap.

If you have not yet followed me on SnapChat below is my SnapCode. If you have any questions on how to use the filter feel free to send me a SnapChat or tweet

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

#TechTipTuesday - Makin' copies

This week's Tech tip is one I learned just recently from @MsKraushaar and it is brilliant.

Sometimes you want to share your work inside Google, but then sometimes you want to share it so that a colleague can make it their own.

This past week I learned that by changing a simple word in the share link from a Google document (slide show, spreadsheet, etc) you can send a link which will force the clicker of said link to make a copy of the item you are sharing.

It is as easy as grabbing the url from a file you have in Google:

And then change this portion of the URL

to read like this

When you share the above link with someone they will be prompted to Make a copy of the document after they click it (see picture below)

Happy sharing.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

#TechTipTuesday - When is the last time you shut that phone all the way down?

When was the last time you turned your phone all the way off?

It is important to do this at least once a week. 

I know, it's not cool to have to do it, but you are carrying around a computer in your pocket. It is doing more processing than you think and needs a break every once and awhile.

So take a moment each week to power your phone all the way down, let it be off for a minute, then boot it back up. You may find that it helps fix those minor "glitches" you've noticed and just pushed aside, it may help speed up it's performance. But what it will do for your phone is invaluable.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

#TechTipTuesday - Instagram

Continuing our exploration of communication tools, this week we will look at Instagram.

If you are just starting out and looking to share more, then Insagram may just be the tool for you. This Facebook owned application is one of the fastest growing social media services out there, and is is excessively simple to use, while still remaining a very powerful tool.

Once you have created your account you can either follow others or chose not to. You can also connect multiple social media accounts to Instagram so that when you post a picture with a caption you can opt to have it also share directly in these other social media apps ALL FROM ONE PLACE.

This is probably one of the top sought after features when it comes to sharing. With a few clicks you are able to send the single picture to multiple places rather then having to post the same things 3 or 4 times.

I often encourage first time bloggers to start by just posting a picture a day. Capture a moment in your learning space and  tell the story of the deep learning taking place in a few short words. Instagram is designed for this and would be a great way to share with your families. 

Families can either follow you, if they have their own Instagram account, or they can just go directly to your page by entering in the unique url. For instance mine would be

For those of you wanting to share multiple pictures of the learning going on each day, you can post multiple pics in a single post. Doing this will not over run your followers streams with pictures. To do this, click the plus button to add a photo then click the button on the bottom right hand of the screen which looks like this

Then you will be able to choose multiple pictures for a single post.

For those of you interested in sharing more each day, you may want to check out the Instagram Stories Feature. 

By swiping to the right when inside instagram you will be taken to a "camera view" where you can take a picture inside of the app and then post to a story. (You can also load a picture previously taken by swiping down inside the camera mode)

The story is a place where photos you post there will go away 24 hours later. It is a quick and easy way to share loads of learning without having to feel like you must craft the perfect picture. You can also "go live" within the stories feature and stream the learning live.

Pro Tip: Photo's posted in Stories are best in portrait mode. 

I could spend two more posts writing about all the potential greatness you could do with Instagram, instead I am going to encourage you to go check it out today.

As always,
Stay tuned and stay connected

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

#TechTipTuesday - Blogger vs Google Sites

Continuing my series on communication tools,  as we get ever closer to the first day of school,  let's will explore just two of the offerings from the surplus that Google grants one. 

Blogger vs New Google Sites

While both are unique and awesome in their own ways, when you have a Google account you have access to both of these fantastic tools, and each of them is worth exploring. My hope for the future is that Blogger is integrated into the New Google Sites so that you can have all of the great googliness in one spot.

For the novice, Blogger has a quick and easy feel and setup time. One can simply go to sign in with their Google account and click the button "+ New Blog" and then choose from several pre made designs, which can be adjusted with a few clicks.

Once you've created the blog you can now start posting.  I always suggest keeping your blog simple in the beginning.

Do a post a day with a picture and a few words. I like to encourage Bloggers to share what they see in the picture. In our learning environments sometimes something that may look like a simple task may be filled with rich thought provoking learning and this tool allows us to show our viewers a glimpse into each day with a different perspective than their own.

One might also use a Blog as an active learning tool. Have one or multiple of your learners write up a daily or weekly summary of the learning which took place in your class. Allow families the opportunity to hear from the learners in the class and encourage your learners to reflect back on the day or weeks worth of learning.

Another fantastic option inside of Blogger are the built in widgets. A widget allows you to show case blog posts, show archived blog posts, and more. My favorite is "subscribe" which allows viewers to enter in their email address and get updates to their email when there is a new post.

New Google Sites

Back in November, Google launched a redesigned Google Sites dubbed New Google Sites. With this update came simple setup, mobile automation (instantly adjusts to mobile and tablet viewing) and more. 

Why might you use this tool?
  • It's a great way to setup a page with all the information your may want to share with your learners or families.
  • It integrates with Google Drive, Google Calendar, Google Maps, and YouTube
This integration of the Google suite is a pretty enticing feature. With a click you can add your Google calendar, upload an entire Google Drive folder, embed a YouTube video, add a whole document to your page, and more.

With some clever folder placement or embedding a Google slideshow on the page you can easily share photos from your learning environments, share learner work, or allow others to easily see what is coming up in the future within your Google calendar.

For anyone with a Google account and looking for a starting place for building their own website, check out the new Google Sites by visiting

So which tool should you use?
Check them both out, ask yourself what your intended purpose or goal is, and think about your audience. Each has the potential to be a powerful tool for sharing the learning which happens each and everyday in your learning spaces.

In the future I plan to do a video walk through of each of these tools.

As always Stay tuned and stay connected.

Looking for a new podcast? 
Check out 
Tech on the Side 
My new podcast for all learners and technology enthusiasts.

Search for Tech on the Side in your favorite podcasting app and subscribe!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

#TechTipTuesday - Google Classroom Guardian Summaries

As the new school year approaches it is time to starting thinking about how you will be communicating with your families about what is going on in your learning space, upcoming events, and for some of you sharing homework assignments.

As there are a plethora of tools available for you to do all these things I thought I would highlight a different communication tool each week leading up to school's start to help you explore and think about which method or methods you might employ this school year.

Up this week:

Google Classroom Guardian Summaries.

For those of you who are using or were thinking about using Google Classroom this year with your kids, you are in luck, as Google Classroom has built in a function where you can invite family members to receive emails from classroom regarding assignments and announcements in the class.

To do so, you must start by having kids assigned to your class (you can do this by sharing the code with them or manually adding them to your class).

Once you have kids in your Google Classroom you'll need to activate Guardian summaries
1. Click class
2.Click students
3. Toggle the switch labeled "turn on guardian summaries"
4. Choose the classes you want to have this feature

Now that you have the function turned on it's time to invite families to receive the summary

1. Click the class
2. At the top, click Students.
3. Next to a student's name, click Invite Guardians
4. In the text field, enter a guardians email address.
     (To invite multiple guardians, insert a comma between email address for a single student)
5. Click Invite to send the invitation

Some pros:

1. If you are actively using the assignment feature this is a great way to keep families in the loop about projects and assignments automatically. 
2. You can email all guardians in the class right from Classroom to keep them informed or remind them about upcoming events.
3. It's Google, so you know that they will continue to add new features to help make this tool even better

Some cons:
1. If you do not keep accurate information about assignments in Classroom family members may get summaries of things even though there may not be something that has to be "turned in"
2. The initial setup makes you have to enter in each email address for each kid (though I have been told by some kids that their parents were able to join the classroom themselves, no on has yet showed me how they would've managed this...testing this in the near future)

Over all it is a great function to use for keeping your kids and their families informed about assignments and events taking place with your classroom.

Check it out for yourself by visiting

As always,

Stay tuned and stay connected.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

#TechTipTuesday - Podcasting Made even more easy

 For those of you ever interested in creating your very own Podcast then look no further than

By using the Anchor app on your phone or tablet, you can now create a podcast on the go with ease. 

Start by grabbing the iOS or Andorid app and setting up your free account. (You can always change the name of your account and profile picture later so do not sweat it)

Once you have your account setup all you need to do is create your first recording. This will then be live on your station for 24 hours after you post it.

If you want to add it as a permanent posting you can do that and then submit your station to become a Podcast to show up in most major Podcasting tools. And the best part, Anchor will do all the heavy lifting for you.

Follow the steps below to setup your first episode to your station and follow through to submit it to major podcasting networks

Step 1: Click on the profile avatar (located on the bottom right of the app) then  click on Epsiode

Step 2: Choose the content you want to be part of your first permanent episode. Start by clicking the +Episode Button and follow the prompts

Choose what you what you want your listeners to hear. Click the play button by each clip to listen to it before you decide to add it to your station

Step 3: After you have your content click the next button (top right) and then Title your Episode 

Clicking next should pop up the option to make your station into a Podcast (able to be found on podcasting networks such as iTunes) If you'd like to do that click "Get Started!"

The App will walk you through the next steps in creating your official podcast, just follow through until you click Finish.

Give your Podcast a name

Add your name or preferred internet handle as the author of the podcast (or perhaps this is a classroom podcast so let the kids choose a handle)

Next choose an image for your podcast (something you might want to have setup and downloaded on your phone  or tablet's camera roll before starting the whole process)

Pick a category for your podcast. What type of Podcast is it? Who is the intended audience? What are you going to be talking about?

Once you have all the above chosen click Finish!

You will now have your first episode setup on your Station as well as have submitted your first episode for your podcast!

Anchor will keep you informed of the process of your podcast getting picked up by another podcast network (ie when it will show up in iTunes)

Hope today's tip helps you figure out how to use to create your very own podcast. If you join, be sure to favorite my station and others that you enjoy listening to.

Once it is an official podcast be sure to encourage others to subscribe to it

As always,
Stay tuned and stay connected 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

#TechTipTuesday - The magic of Shift + Z in Google Drive

 If you have not yet used the function Shift + Z while inside Google drive, then I would like to formally introduce you to it.

This key combination will allow you to create a single document (slide show, drawing, spreadsheet, etc) inside multiple folders within Google Drive. This beats the old school method of creating a copy of the same work in multiple folders which you would need to make changes to individually should a change be necessary.

Here's how you go about trying this function out:

Start by loading Google drive, create or locate a file you'd like to show up in multiple folders within Google drive then single click on it, then press the shift key and z key together to get the following menu:

Next click into the folder you would like this document to appear in as well (again this is not a copy of the document it is the same document, if you need to make a change to it you can in either place and the changes will appear ) Then click Add.

The document, slideshow, drawing, spreadsheet, etc will now appear in both places.

Pro tip: If you have multiple documents you want to appear in multiple  locations start by moving them all to a single place then go through the above steps, but use shift click to select all of the documents you want to appear in the other location then press Shift +Z to add them to the new locations.

As Always,
Stay tuned and stay connected