Monday, July 22, 2019

How to Make an Interactive Worksheet or Timeline in Google Drawings?

Want to take your Google Drawings skills to the next level? Check out my brief video on how to create an interactive worksheet or timeline using Google Drawings.


Need a Review on Creating a Quiz in Google Forms?

Need a review in creating a quiz in Google Forms? Here is a quick tutorial to help you get started!



Friday, July 12, 2019

Get Rid of Distractions with the Just Read Extension!

It doesn't take too long to get distracted while reading on the Internet. You are browsing through Twitter and find an amazing blog post, only to get distracted by the Amazon advertisement for that product you have been looking at.

Perhaps you want students to read an article and avoid those distracting ads or links. You can now get rid of these distractions on your Chrome Browser using the Just Read Chrome Extension.

How Does It Work? 

First, install Just Read from the Chrome Store.

Source: Just Read (2019)
Then, open up any website of your choice and select the Just Read extension.


Next, Just Read will open a new window containing your webpage. Use the tools in the top-right corner of your screen to create a custom version of your website.


  • Use the trash can icon to delete advertisements, links, images, text, and any other distractions. 
  • Use the pencil icon to customize the appearance of text, font color, and text size. 
  • Use the printer icon to print out your customized page or save as a PDF on a Mac. 

Want More Information? 

Check out this helpful video created by Just Read. 




Conclusion

In a highly distracting online environment, Just Read is an excellent tool to help students (and adults) self regulate and focus on reading content online without the distractions.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Add a Logo to Your QR Codes with QR-Monkey

QR Codes are very useful in education - especially with the number of mobile devices in today's classrooms. Although QR Codes are helpful, they sometimes get lost in the shuffle because we don't know where they go.

Creating a custom QR Code - with a logo or image inside of it could be a good solution. You can easily upload any image or logo to help students (and even colleagues) to help your audience understand the purpose of the code.

QR-Monkey is a great tool to do so. Check out my brief tutorial on how it works!




Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Increase Accessibility to Google Slides with Closed Captioning Feature

Google Slides introduced a Closed Captioning feature to make presentations more accessible for all students. Whether you have students who are hearing impaired, English language learners, or just need to see what you are saying, this tool is easy to use and very helpful!

How Does It Work? 

First, put your presentation into presentation mode.



Second, move your cursor to the bottom-left corner of your screen to access a variety of presentation tools.



Next, allow Google Slides to have access to your device's camera.

Finally, start speaking and Google Slides will automatically take spoken language and convert it to closed captioning. Check out my sample below!

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Schedule Feature in Gmail

Gmail just launched a new feature to make your life easier and more efficient! You now have the ability to schedule when you send email messages.

How Does It Work? 

Step 1: Open up Gmail and compose a message.

Step 2: Look for the "Send" button in the bottom left-corner of your screen. Click on the drop-down arrow and choose "Schedule Send"

Step 3: Choose when you want to send your email and Gmail will do the rest!


Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Changing the Writing Process with Google Classroom

How does the writing process typically work in many classrooms? Students are assigned a writing piece, they may write a draft, turn in their final copy, and get feedback a week or two later.

Google Classroom as a Solution

What if there was a better way to give students feedback? Google Classroom makes the writing process much easier! Here's how it works:

1. Create an assignment in Google Classroom

2. Have students open the assignment and attach their Google Doc (DO NOT hit "Turn In")

3. Have students complete the assignment. While students are working on their assignment, you can open up their Doc and see what they are doing in real-time. Add feedback and suggestions with just a click of the mouse.

4. When students are finished, they can open up the assignment in Google Classroom and hit "Turn In." This will change the student's permissions within the document from editing to view only.

Check out my video tutorial on how to do this!







Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Using Emojis to Increase Student Performance

Do you have trouble with students not paying attention to written instructions? You are not alone. This is a big frustration for many teachers. What if there was a solution to capture your student's attention?

Emojis? 

There might be a viable solution right underneath your thumbs! Our students use emojis all of the time for communication; however, why not use emojis to help add meaning to instructions?

How can you use emojis from a laptop? A great solution is the Emoji Keyboard Chrome Extension from JoyPixels. I like this extension because it makes it easy to copy and paste emojis to tools like Google Classroom, Docs, Slides, etc. Its built-in search tool allows you to easily find emojis that will meet the needs of your students.

How Might This Work? 

Many of our students are visual! Using emojis can provide an extra set of scaffolding to capture their attention, improve efficiency, and increase engagement. 

For example, let's say that you are having students post an assignment to Google Classroom. Why not use emojis to help students stay on task, keep organized, and complete assignments correctly?

Here's a sample assignment from Google Classroom:


Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Use Photobooth for Green Screening!

There are a variety of ways to green screen in the classroom; however, you may want to consider using the Photobooth App if you have a MacBook. Want to learn how to do this? Check out my brief tutorial video below!


Monday, May 20, 2019

End of the Year Google Classroom Tips!

It's that time of year! Summer is almost here and many of us are starting to wrap up the school year. If you are a Google Classroom user, don't forget about archiving your classes!

There are several other helpful features that you might want to be aware of, such as accessing your archived classes, permanently deleting your classes, and making a copy for next school year.

Check out this helpful video to get you started!

Monday, May 6, 2019

Take Google Slides to the Next Level with Peardeck

Peardeck has been around for a while, but I have to admit that I have recently become fascinated with this awesome tool. If you are not familiar with it, Peardeck allows you to create interactive and dynamic presentations using Google Slides.

If you are a NearPod user, then you might be familiar with self-paced and interactive presentations. Peardeck is similar and has some really helpful features!

  • Google Slides Add-On - visit Google Slides and install the Peardeck Add-On so that you can create interactive presentations.  You can use existing Google Slides presentations so that you don't have to reinvent the wheel! Just use the Peardeck Add-On to make your presentation interactive. 


  • Make interactive slides at the beginning, during, and end of the lesson. There is a free and paid version, which gives you several different options to create interactive slides! Questions can be customized to the needs of your students and you can quickly receive feedback on student responses!


  • Present your lesson and have students access on a variety of devices. Much like Kahoot and Nearpod, students can access your Peardeck through a link and code. Presentations can be teacher-led or student-paced (even if you use the free version!). 










Monday, April 29, 2019

Use the Drop-Down Menu Option in Google Sheet to Create Self-Grading Rubric

Have you ever just wanted to create a Google Sheet with a dropdown menu of options? There are a variety of possibilities with this feature.

Several years ago, I had the idea of having my students grade me at the end of the grading quarter. I put together a rubric for my students to complete. To make the process easier, I could have utilized a drop-down menu to quickly tally up points. Here's how it would work? Check out my quick video!



Monday, April 15, 2019

4 Tips for Using Backchannels in Class through Yo Teach!

Backchanneling can be a helpful tool in the classroom when used effectively. For instance, if you are having your students watch a video in class, a back channel might be a helpful platform to ask questions, post observations, etc.  Perhaps you have a blended classroom and want to use a backchannel as a forum to ask questions or engage in online discussion.

Yo Teach!

I recently came across a backchannel site called Yo Teach! With the demise of Today's Meet, I have been searching for a viable alternative. This free tool helps you easily create an online chat forum, as well as share with students via a link or QR code.

It is easy to create and takes less than 5 minutes to set-up and share. Plus, there is no account that is needed!

I like the fact that students can share their thoughts in multiple ways, such as through text, a drawing, or upload a picture. Providing students with multiple avenues for participating helps increase engagement in the lesson. Not all students learn the same way - so why should we expect them to backchannel the same way?

4 Tips for Using Backchanneling in Class

Regardless of your strategy or purpose, it is important to consider a few things:

  • Establish expectations with students. What does acceptable dialog look like? Realize that students are going to do and say things that are inappropriate at times. Does this mean you abort the technology or use it as a teachable moment? 
  • What is the purpose of establishing a backchannel? Is it just to have a "cool" new activity or will it enhance discussion? Knowing your purpose helps provide direction. 
  • Know your audience. If you are working with a bunch of 1st graders, is this the most appropriate tool for conversation? What is the maturity level of your students? What online experiences have they had in the past? If they haven't had much experience, how can you help them learn how to participate in an online environment. 
  • Establish a framework. Use a framework to guide your student's through the online discussion. Will they pose questions or share observations? Will they share 2 truths and a lie about the video? Are you using it as a 3-2-1 activity at the end of class? Structure helps keep the majority of students on task because they know the purpose. Without a purpose, students will often create their own purpose - even if it is unproductive. 

Friday, April 12, 2019

Using Google Docs to Create a Personalized Learning Profile

Getting to know your students is an important part of building a positive classroom environment, as well as setting the foundation for personalized learning. Whether you are using technology or not, it is important to understand who your students are, their learning preferences, and areas for growth. It may be helpful to develop a learning profile for your students.

Learning Profile

A few months ago, I worked with a school on personalized learning. The school wanted to develop personalized learning profiles for students, based on three different areas:


  • Access - which resources provided the best options for representing content in different ways? 
  • Engagement - what best-motivated students? How could we build a dynamic classroom ecosystem that provided voice and choice?
  • Expression - which tools helped students best demonstrate their knowledge? 

Conclusion

We developed a Google Doc, which students were able to continually add to throughout the course of the year. The questions provided us with their preferences, a better understanding of their personality, and areas of growth. 

Want your very own copy? Click on this link.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Cluster Chrome Extension: A More Efficient to Keep Your Browsing Organized

Are you one of those people who have dozens of tabs open all at the same time? If you are like me, you might need a way to keep yourself organized. Cluster is a window and tab manager, which will save you time and energy while browsing in Chrome.

Here are three features that I like about this Chrome Extension:

1 - Window Manager - this is a helpful tool if you want to keep yourself organized by using multiple windows, such as commonly used websites for school. You can use the windows manager for different things.

For example, you can create a window of commonly used websites like a grading system, attendance system, and Google. Y


2 - Save Window - let's say that you have a bunch of tabs open, which are related to your class. Choose the Save Window feature and you can save all open tabs on your screen. Use the Open Window feature to open up your saved tabs!


3 - Suspend or Unsuspend Tabs - Too many tabs open taking up too much memory? You can suspend tabs from loading and taking up too much memory or WiFi. When you want to load it back up, choose unsuspend.



Monday, March 4, 2019

ClassroomScreen: All-in-One Classroom Management Tools

Classroom management can be difficult in the digital age. There are so many tools and resources to keep your students on task, manage student behavior, and keep yourself organized. It can be frustrating to keep it all straight. What if there was a tool to keep everything organized and together?

A colleague of mine (thanks Courtney!) shared an awesome resource called ClassroomScreen with me! This website provides you with a website dashboard of tools that can help you stay organized, increase engagement and provide noise control.

Here's what it does:


  • Random Name Generator - need a tool to randomly call on students? Click "Random Name Generator" and add student name. Then you are all set! 

  • Sound Level - want an easy tool to provide noise control? The sound level feature is extremely helpful and easy to use. Just give the site permission to use your computer's microphone.


  • QR Code - need a quick way to share resources with your students? Use the QR Code tool to generate a QR code to quickly share resources with students on their mobile devices. 


  • Communication Tools - need to share a quick drawing, provide text instructions, or communicate with students? There are a variety of tools to help you do exactly that. I love the work symbols feature, which provides you with quick icons to communicate how you want students to work (whisper, work together, etc.). There is even a helpful stoplight feature too!

  • Clock and Timer - Need to share the time or need a timer? Use the clock and timer features to keep your students on task and on time. 







Thursday, February 28, 2019

Self-Paced Learning with Google Slides

Personalizing learning is a challenging, yet rewarding way of customizing instruction to meet the needs of all students. Want to create a self-paced learning experience for students? Check out how to use Google Slides to create a self-paced learning experience.



Monday, February 25, 2019

Google Classroom Feature: Get Rid of the Confusion on Stream with "Classwork on the Stream"

If you are a Google Classroom user, you might have grown a little frustrated with the way that the "new" Stream functioned. By default, it lists everything that you do, including posting assignments, questions, and updates.  This made things extremely confusing for teachers and students!

To get rid of this feature, Google Classroom recently provided a new option in the Settings menu called "Classwork on the Stream." You now have the ability to hide any notifications that you post from the Classwork tab.


Need to see it in action? Here's a quick video to help you out!


Friday, February 22, 2019

4 Ways to Use YouTube 360 in the Classroom

Have you used YouTube 360? If you haven't had the chance, you might want to check it out! It is YouTube's Virtual Reality channel, which provides you with a 360-degree view of a video with audio, visuals, text, etc.

How might you use this in the classroom?

1. Explore Your World

YouTube 360 provides you with an excellent way to save money and time by taking virtual field trips. For example, take an interactive field trip to Yosemite National Park. Check out some of the most amazing sites accompanied by interactive graphics!



2. Observations 

I recently came across a great example by @evagrace89 . She came up with a great way of using YouTube 360 to understand the difference between scientific observation and inferences. Students were asked to watch several YouTube 360 videos and use the following Google Doc (see below) to record their observations!



3. Immersive Storytelling

Watch stories unfold in front of you! One of my favorite videos is called 6 x 9, which takes you inside a prison cell to experience solitary confinement. The YouTube 360 platform changes the dynamic and makes the storytelling experience extremely engaging and unique.




4. Current Events

Check out the events and experiences that are changing the world! YouTube 360 provides a customized way of interacting with the world around you. I really enjoy Inside the World of Prayer Beads, which gives a unique insider look into something that has been around for centuries. 











Tuesday, February 12, 2019

2 Ways to Differentiate Using Google Classroom

Need to differentiate assignments? Google Classroom provides you with a quick tool to differentiate assignments.

How Do I Differentiate in Classroom?

Anytime that you give an assignment in Google Classroom, your assignments are automatically assigned to all students. Choose the box that says "All" and then check the boxes next to the names of students who you want to have access to the assignment.


If you have three versions of an assignment, students will only see the version assigned to them! You will see all three versions in the teacher feed.

How Can I Use This Feature? 

1 - Differentiate Assignments

Providing a few different versions of the assignment is one the most common and obvious ways of using this tool. For example, if you were giving an essay assignment, you could have three different versions of the assignment for three different groups of students.


2 - Collaborative Group Platform

Do you do a lot of group work in your classroom? Differentiate discussion questions based on groups. Have students use the differentiated discussion question as a platform to discuss their goals, assign tasks, etc.




Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Hyperdoc Science Lab Report Template

Hyperdocs are quickly becoming one of my favorite ways of using G Suite. I like to define the term as "a highly engaging and student-centered flexible learning tool, driving instruction through meaningful connections, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and communication."

There are many different models out there; however, I wanted to showcase a way of using Google Docs to develop Science Lab Reports.  Here is my sample Hyperdoc Science Lab Report Template.

Step 1: Develop a Basic Google Doc Template

First, I developed a template modeled after the Scientific Method in Google Docs. Obviously, this is not a "Hyperdoc" in its current form.

A basic Google Doc without "Hyperdoc" potential


Step 2: Add Interaction, Accountability, and Autonomy

Since a Hyperdoc is more than just a Google Doc with links, I added interactive components and options to make the learning student-centered. For example, students had autonomy to share their hypothesis and conclusion via text or Flipgrid. I also added additional opportunities to share results via their camera application and a Google Form.

Revamped "Hyperdoc" with Interaction, Autonomy, and Flexibility


Step 3: Share

You could share this resource with students via a classroom management system or a tool like Google Classroom. I like Google Classroom because it automatically makes a copy for students; however, if you don't use Classroom, you could very easily share the link in your LMS.



BONUS TIP: Not a Google Classroom User? 

Need a quick and easy way to force students to make a copy of any Google Doc? This is a great trick to force a copy and make a "template" for students. 

Here is how it works:

1. Open up your item (Doc, Sheet, Slide, or Drawing)

2. At the end of your item's URL, you should see the word "edit." Change the word "edit" to "copy."


3. Make a copy of your URL and share with your audience

Now you have a quick and painless way to help your viewers make a copy of a document, presentation, spreadsheet, or drawing.



Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Going Beyond One-Size-Fits-All Online Discussion Questions with Flipgrid and Classroom

Online discussion questions have been around since the dawn of online learning; however, is this an effective one-size-fits-all approach to learning? Brain science is revealing that variability is the rule and not the exception. If variability is the rule, then why do we expect our students to have online discussions the same way?

Flexible Discussion

Let's say that you want to have your students participate in a discussion question. If you can provide flexibility, then why not try to post the question in Google Classroom and Flipgrid?  Here's how it might work.

Here's a video tutorial and text instructions below:



Step 1: Create a New Topic in FlipGrid

If you are new to Flipgrid, you might want to check out my tutorial prior to this step. You will want to create a new Topic in your Flipgrid. A topic is your discussion question. Choose "Create Topic" after you add in your title, description, and video response time.


Step 2: Share Your Topic

It might be easier to open up your topic and choose "Share Topic." When you do this, you will be able to share directly to your Google Classroom.


Step 3: Choose Your Google Classroom

Choose the Google Classroom icon and select your class. Then choose how you want the video to be posted. For this example, I will use the Question format. Type in your instructions and post. I decided that I was going to give students the option to type their response in Google Classroom or record their response in Flipgrid. See example.



Monday, January 21, 2019

3 Ways to Keep Students Accountable on iPads

Managing student devices is always a challenge; however, with the right tools and strategies, you can proactively address student use and misuse of devices. In my experience, I have found effective classroom management begins with keeping it "REAL" with technology:

1. Routines - establishing routines for student use of technology, workflow, etc.

2. Expectations - clear, consistent, and realistic expectations.

3. Accountability - realistic and appropriate consequences for student misuse.

4. Learning Opportunities - provide students with a safe environment to learn from their mistakes and make adjustments.

Over the next few posts, I will concentrate on providing you strategies for proactively addressing student use of technology. Today I want to concentrate on tools for keeping students accountable with iPads:

Tip # 1 - Screens Bright and In Sight

I usually have a rule for students to have bright screens (50% or higher). Dark screens often lead to trouble; therefore, I feel that it is imperative to keep student devices within viewing distance. I realize that this is not always feasible in every classroom, but even being able to view a student's eyes can help increase accountability.



Tip # 2 - Apple Classroom

Apple Classroom is a game changer for managing student iPads. Essentially, the App provides teachers with a way of monitoring, controlling, and sharing resources with student iPads. Here is a brief tutorial on how to use it.


Tip # 3 - Use the Battery Feature in Settings

A little-known feature of iOS 12 is the Battery Settings feature, which provides information on which apps were used and for how long. This is a very useful feature when keeping students accountable. For example, if you asked a student to write an essay in Google Docs, you can go into the Battery Settings feature to verify if the student's actions were in question. Here is a brief video I made for staff at my school on using the feature:










Wednesday, January 16, 2019

3 Resources to Get You Started (and Connected) with Flipgrid

Getting started is one of the biggest challenges for educators who want to utilize new technologies. A lack of confidence or understanding often paralyzes the good intentions that we all have. Flipgrid has provided some amazing resources for educators to get started in minutes, rather than days! Here are three resources to get you started:

1. Educator Innovation Station

The Educator Innovation Station is your one-stop shop for learning how to use Flipgrid, how to use Flipgrid with Docs, and learn best practices for using the tool in your classroom. The Innovation Station is a great place for you to connect with other like-minded educators, who want to use this tool to the best of their ability. You can also find out how to become Flipgrid Certified and how to connect with Flipgrid on social media!



2. Disco Library

The Disco Library is an excellent place to see examples of Flipgrid in action. Search for topics by grade level, subject area, and topic goals. Do you like one of the topics? You can make a copy and customize it to your needs! This is a great time saver and support for educators, who might not feel comfortable developing a topic.




3. #GridPals 

#GridPals is a great way to connect with other educators who use Flipgrid in your geographic location. This is a great way to connect with teachers who teach similar grades and subject areas!



Conclusion

We are not meant to do life - nor teach - alone, because there is power in numbers. It helps us grow, challenges our skillset, and provides us with another layer of accountability. Flipgrid provides an excellent model for helping educators connect and grow through this amazing tool!




Monday, January 14, 2019

Book Cover Predictions with Flipgrid

Flipgrid is quickly becoming one of my favorite tools because it is a powerful video discussion tool, which can be used across platforms. This is ideal for the 1:1 or shared device classroom.

For an in-depth look at Flipgrid, check out my previous post

Book Cover Predictions:

Today, I worked with a teacher who used Flipgrid in a unique way! To begin their latest group book in class, the teacher decided to have students predict what they thought that the book would be about. She created a Flipgrid discussion, where students would look at the book cover, make their prediction, and describe their prediction on Flipgrid in 30 seconds or less.

Organizing your thoughts and describing them in a succinct way is a valuable skill that many students struggle with. Flipgrid provides students with an excellent venue to try this! 

Once students responded with their prediction, they were encouraged to look at 3 other classmates' posts. After they viewed each post, they were asked to respond to one classmate's post. They were asked to describe whether they agreed or disagreed with their classmate and why. 

Conclusion:

I like how Flipgrid was used as a scaffold and support for classroom discussion. Many of our students struggle with putting their thoughts together and providing an opinion. Flipgrid provided students with a safe environment, where they could practice valuable reasoning and conversation skills! 

Friday, January 11, 2019

3 Ways to Use Clips After the New Year

Clips is quickly becoming one of my favorite iOS Apps. If you have not used Clips before, please feel free to check out my tutorial. Here are three ways you may want to consider using this App:

1. Share New Year's Resolutions 

I was working in a first-grade classroom this morning, where we used Clips as a tool for students to reflect on a book they read about New Year's Resolutions. Students used the camera on their iPad to take a picture of the book cover, a New Year's selfie, and a picture of a writing piece that they wrote.

Students recorded a summary of the book and read their writing piece, which described their New Year's Resolution for the school year. Once we were finished, we published the video to SeeSaw.

2. Set Goals 

Why not use Clips as a way for students to develop a SMART Goal for the classroom? Remember that SMART Goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.

Have students use the tool to reflect on their progress periodically. This could be a great way of engaging students in making and attaining goals. Students can publish their video to SeeSaw, Google Classroom, or another Learning Management System that you might use.

3. Summarize a Reading Assignment

Clips can be a great tool to summarize reading content. Whether you have a book with illustrations or not, it might be helpful for students to take several pictures related to key events in the story.  Students can take pictures from the text or their own pictures and add a voiceover to describe the events. Students can use stickers, emojis, and posters to emphasize key points!

Conclusion:

Video is a powerful tool for our students to express their thoughts, opinions, and reflect on learning. Whether you are using Clips or another platform, it is important to have different ideas for using this valuable tool.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Noisli: A Customized Concentration Solution for Any Device

Many teachers turn to ambient noise, classical music, or meditation music to help students with concentration and relaxation, which may be effective for some students and not so effective for others.

A Customized Concentration Solution

Whether you want to provide a one-size-fits-all solution for your entire class or give your students a chance to customize their noise solution, the Noisli is extremely helpful to use!

There are three different versions of Noisli that you can use:



Noisli is very simple to use. Choose a noise combination that will work best for you, whether you want to increase productivity, relax, a random set of sounds, or create your own customized set of noises. Noisli has a vast library of sounds, such as rain, a fan, and noise from a coffee shop.

Next, choose whether not you want to use the timer feature. Set the timer for a specific amount of time and enjoy!



Conclusion:

Concentration is such a valuable commodity in a noisy and hyperconnected world. Today's classrooms are no different - often containing a simultaneous array of individual and small group activities occurring. Noisli is a great solution regardless of the device that students use!