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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Handy Note Taking Chrome Extensions #edtech #googlechrome

I like being able to take notes sometimes when I'm using Chrome to jot down ideas or things, usually that I just want to keep for a short time.  I usually use a Chrome shortcut trick by adding a bookmark to "data:text/html, <html contenteditable>" in the address bar.  It makes an editable page that I can type on, but I can't save the notes without copying and pasting somewhere else.  It's great when I need to copy and paste a bunch of items or just jotting down quick ideas.

I read about a few Chrome extensions on the Educational Technology and Mobile Learning website that save your notes so the next time you visit a web site they are available to you.  The first one, Sidenotes, adds a sidebar for you to type notes on.  The second one, Notes Anywhere, puts stickies on any page that show up the next time you visit that page.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Create Quick Rubrics #edtech @StoryboardThat

For teachers, time is crucial.  Tools that make the classroom or preparation more efficient are invaluable.  A great rubric tool I've used in the past is called ThemeSpark and I love it because it's drop-dead simple.  Another one I came across today from +Alice Keeler is called Quick Rubric.  Like many of these types of tools you get a template to fill in with the scores and criteria and then you can save, print and share them.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Google Photos is Awesome #gafe #google #edtech #ipaded

Google products are great and they are here to stay.  One of my favorite tools on my iOS devices is Google Photos because it automatically backs up all of my photos and videos and stores them FOR FREE.  If you are a camera snob and want the highest possible resolution possible for your photos and don't want to lose the original then every photo you back up will count against your data quota.  But if you just want to take them, store them, and possibly use them later for something else then Google Photos is a great alternative to iCloud or putting them on your own external hard drive.

If you're a GAFE school and they are school photos and videos it's not a big deal since you have unlimited storage, but if it's your personal stuff then choose to backup your photos using the High Quality option in and you'll be able to back as much up as you want to a personal Google account.

Do I think Google is using my photos for some nefarious purpose?  No.  But are they somehow using all of the metadata from your photos to better their services and tailor offerings to you, possibly by spotting trends or locations?  Most likely, but that's a chance you have to take.  There is no free lunch and here's a good article about that.

In order for things to work nicely you have to have Google Drive on your device and Google Photos.  In Google Drive Settings you have to have Auto-Backup turned on.  Then in Google Photos you have to make sure Back Up and Sync is toggled on, then you're all set.

What caused me to write this post today was the feature Google just added which is the ability for Google Photos to automatically delete the photos from your device once they are securely backed up in the cloud, which is a great idea for those of us who don't have large capacity phones.  It's a bit scary taking this step because your won't have any more photos in your Photos app but it will give you back precious space.  If you want to grab a photo from Google Photos and put it back on your iOS device it's very easy to save it back into your Camera Roll by pressing the Share button and Save Image.

Another new feature is the ability to share albums with friends via SMS, email or instant message.  Simply create a new album, share the URL, then friends can view anything you put in it on their own device in Google Photos or on the web.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Hour of Code at Lincoln Elementary #hourofcode

Fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Nicpan-Brown from Abraham Lincoln Elementary, organized an Hour of Code event last night and the turnout was great.  Even though it was a cold, windy and rainy night, we had over 85 students and an additional number of parents come out and spend an hour coding.  Mrs. Nicpan Brown also had more than $500 in prizes to give away including a 7" tablet and lots of robot.

There were students from elementary, middle and preschools in Wenatchee as well as students from private schools too.  We have one more night (with prizes) this Thursday at 6pm at Lincoln Elementary and it's open to any K-7 students in the Wenatchee School District. Come on out and join the fun!  Chromebooks will be provided for those who do not have them.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Digital Challenge #2 - Family Stories #edtech #ipaded #wsdtech

Our technology department wanted to design an extension activity for our 1:1 students that wouldn't require the teachers to put in any effort, but would allow students to stretch their brains using their devices.  The idea that came about was a weekly Digital Challenge, or a a way for students to use their iPads and do some neat activities and projects outside of class.  We're using Google Classroom as our delivery tool and giving students one week to complete each challenge. So far we've had about 150 kids sign up!

Our second digital challenge was modeled after NPR's Story Corp and we wanted students to use their time over Thanksgiving break to interview a family member about their favorite holiday memory.  They had to use a recording app on their iPad and submit it through Google Classroom.  The winners are below.

Digital Challenge #2 Winners:

Winner - Annalise "Pie" - Judges were looking for clarity, an engaging story and the correct time length, all of which this short story had.  Annalise interviewed a family member who told us about a Thanksgiving meal during his time in the Navy when he invited his friends over for dinner.  Listen to the story to hear the humorous outcome.  Annalise wins two Little Caesar's pizzas delivered to hear at lunchtime to share with whomever she wishes!

Photo of Annalise and Principal Brown

Second Place - Kalynn "Mariners" - She interview her mom about her favorite childhood memory.  An embarrassing dance contest and the Mariners were involved.  She won a set of earbuds and a stylus.

Photo of Kalynn and Vice-Principal Bucholz
Next week's challenge is to make a trailer using the iMovie app.  We are looking for exciting, engaging, inspiring, or otherwise great trailers.

Quizalize to Make Learning Fun @Quizalizeapp #edtech #gamification

There are a handful of really good online tools and apps that make assessing and learning fun for students.  The ones that immediately come to mind are Kahoot! and Quizziz and Socrative and I'm sure there are more out there I'm not aware of.  One that came across my radar the other day that I'm really starting to like is called Quizalize.  It allows you to create quizzes like the other ones do but also has some neat features that make it worth checking out.

It has a Team Game View that allows a teacher to see, or display for the class, where students are at answering the questions.  It shows horizontally which students have answered which questions and shows vertically where students are at answering questions correctly.  It divides the class into two teams so there is an element of competition involved too.

The Live Dashboard shows real-time results on how each student is doing overall and also lets you drill down to see which questions students struggled with, which I know Kahoot! does too.  After the students complete the quiz they also get personal diagnostics that show number of questions correctly answered, how long it took them, and how many points they earned.

Plus, it's free!  And, it also has a Marketplace where quiz creators can buy and sell quizzes they've created.  And, and, and it has Google Classroom integration so you can assign a quiz directly to a class.  Nice features all around and well thought out.  I highly recommend not only teachers using it but having students use it to challenge their classmates and demonstrate their knowledge of content by creating their own quizzes.  Oh, and it has Google sign in to boot.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Digital Challenge #1 - And the Winner is... #edtech #ipaded #wsdtech

Our technology department wanted to design an extension activity for our 1:1 students that wouldn't require the teachers to put in any effort, but would allow students to stretch their brains using their devices.  The idea that came about was a weekly Digital Challenge, or a a way for students to use their iPads and do some neat activities and projects outside of class.  We're using Google Classroom as our delivery tool and giving students one week to complete each challenge. So far we've had about 150 kids sign up!

Our first digital challenge wasn't too hard, who could take the best black and white picture.  Each student could enter up to three images and we had close to 75 we had to judge.  The winners are below.

This week's challenge is following the model of NPR's Story Corp and students have to interview someone over Thanksgiving break who can share their favorite story about family.

Digital Challenge #1 Winners:

Winner - Emily B "Sleeping Girl" Pioneer - Judges like the candid shot of the girl with the great lighting and contrast between the ruffles of the blanket and the smooth pillow and hair. This one told a great story without using any words.
1st runner up - Annalise "Garage with Hoop" - Judges liked the tough gritty look of this picture with the peeling paint and the clarity and lighting of the sky.
2nd runner up - Annalise  "Alley with Truck" - Judges liked the perspective of this picture and how it led you down the alley toward the mountain. It reminded us of a Depression-era photo with the old truck and rough features.
Honorable Mention - Abigail D "Frosty Leaf" - We really liked this image because of the frost on the leaf and the blades of grass. This was a great shot of nature.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

PollEverywhere Integration with Google Slides @polleverywhere #edtech #gafe #googleslides

It's like that old Reese's commercial, "You got your peanut butter stuck in my chocolate!"  Today PollEverywhere released a Google Chrome extension that allows you to add live polling to your Google Slide presentations.  Both of these tools are very useful but putting them together makes them both that much better.

Once I installed the extension and jumped over to a Google Slide presentation there was new contextual menu at the top for Poll Everywhere.  Clicking on that allowed me to insert a poll onto my current slide.  Pressing present showed the live poll results.  Awesome!  Now I'm hungry for a Reese's peanut butter cup though.

Wonderopolis - Great Short Reading Stories for Elementary #edtech #reading @Wonderopolis

So I was looking at Twitter and saw a Periscope about an online space for kids to read and take many times did we say that even two years ago.  Never.  But that's the reality of today's connected world.  But that's not the point of this post.

The reading site I saw is called Wonderopolis and it has tons of content.  The goal of the website, besides getting kids to enjoy reading, is to bring out their inner wonder; to help them ask questions about their world and discover the answers.

Some of the great features are the vocabulary support.  For example, many of the challenging words you can hover over and get an instant definition.  There are also content and vocabulary quizzes as well to keep the kids accountable for what they're reading.  Beyond that there are lots of tools for kids to stay engaged, including a place for them to ask questions that could potentially be the wonder of the day.  There's even a teacher space called WonderGround and a forum.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Minecraft Comes to Hour of Code #edtech #hourofcode #minecraft

The Hour of Code is a great introduction for kids to coding and way of understanding the language of the digital world around them.  In the past the Hour of Code has allowed students to create great games like Flappy Bird.  This year they've upped the ante and are bringing not only Star Wars but Minecraft.

If you've never participated in the Hour before, make time during the week of December 7-13th to help your students learn to code.

Free Twitter Visualizations #twitter #edtech

I've been playing with a few tools lately that display Tweets in a slideshow or presentation format.  These are useful when you're giving a presentation or at a conference and you want current, updated content to show on the screen.  A few that I like so far (that are free) include:

Friday, November 13, 2015

RowCall - Google Sheets Add-on for Easy Sorting into Tabs #gafe #edtech #googleclassroom @rmbyrne @alicekeeler

I've been working with a colleague to track students' work habits throughout the day so they are self-reporting on how they're doing based on Work Completion, Participation, and Citizenship/Behavior.  We created a Google Form that takes the kids about 5 seconds to complete and she gets data for every kid, for every period.  Whether or not the data is valid is another issue, but at least there is some reflection by kids on how they think they're doing and it gives the teacher a bit of accountability and helps start discussions with other teachers, students, parents and admin.

We even put in some conditional formatting to change the color of the students' responses so at a glance the teacher can get a good read on how students think they're doing.  We talked about sorting the data to clump a student's responses together so sorting columns.  But then another colleague showed me a Google Sheets add-on he uses called RowCall that looks at your data, finds a common denominator, like a student's name, and creates a new tab on the bottom of the sheet with all of that student's data.  He uses it for his bathroom pass so he can quickly see how many trips a student has been taking to check their phone in their locker go to the bathroom.  Pretty slick.

Even slicker is the fact that the newly tabbed sheets will update too with new data.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Stock Photos for Free Use #edtech #images @dustin

One thing I've made a point of doing this year is using images in my blog and presentations that are free to use, with no copyright issues.  In my new role I need to practice what I preach to students and teachers instead of just taking the quickest route and using Google.  You can use Google's Advanced Search to narrow things down or with a few clicks you can find images that are free to use.

Yesterday on Twitter I came across this post by Dustin Senos that lists a ton of great places that have free stock photos.  Even better are all of the comments where other people have listed free image sites.  The more I use sites like this the easier it becomes to find images and I don't have the angel and the devil on my shoulder prodding me one way or another.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Mapping on Google Sheets #gafe #google #edtech @rmbyrne

I think Google Maps is often overlooked when it comes to Google's amazing suite of tools, but I keep finding great uses for it besides just looking at locations.  Last week I presented at a conference and showed off the Mapping Sheets extension that allows you to make a sheet with locations, (or get data from a Google Form) and, with a few clicks of your mouse, plot those locations on a Google Map.

Today I read on FreeTech4Teachers about how Google already has that capability baked in.  Simply create a sheet with a column called 'Location', in Google Drive go to New > More > Google My Maps to create your map.  On the left sidebar under the first layer you can import your Google Sheet and the locations will appear.  You have to point it to the Google Sheet with the data and tell it which column has the locations.

In a social studies class you could use this to plot where all of our stuff comes from by looking at labels and tags.  It's quite eye-opening.  In an ELA class you could also plot a character's movements around the globe, complete with additional information that shows up on the map.  It's worth checking out and then letting your students figure out stuff to map on it.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Kid Picker

I went to a great Google Summit in White River, WA over the weekend and picked up a lot of great ideas.  One of those was Kid Picker.  It's a script that runs that creates a Google Sheet where you put student names, then it randomly chooses them when you press the button.  It has an 'absent' button so someone's name doesn't keep popping up if they're not there.  It's very simple to use and keeps the kids on the edge of their seats!

Check Out Kid Picker Here

Friday, September 11, 2015

Kahoot! at OMS #kahoot #gamification #learningisfun

I've had the privilege to spend a lot of time at Orchard Middle School this week getting to know the kids and helping them get their iPads set up.  Today I spent about ten minutes watching Mr. Merriman teach his kids about appropriate iPad usage using a Kahoot! game.  Kids were engaged, having fun, laughing, cheering, and learning.  Imagine that.  You'd be hard-pressed to find a traditional classroom with this level of engagement that only takes a few clicks to setup.

The Kahoot! platform is great for all levels of students and abilities.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

New Google for Education Tools #gafe #google #googleclassroom #chrome

Today is the first day of school in our district and there were some welcome surprises from Google to greet us.  You can read the entire post on the Google for Education blog or my favorite parts below.

  • Voice Typing - In a Google Doc, under the Tools menu, is a new tool that allows you to type using your voice.  This furthers Google's plans to free you from your keyboard and is slowly creeping into most of their apps.  It's available in 40 languages and also allows you to make corrections on the fly.
  • See New Changes - Now when you leave a document and come back to it there is a new link that allows you to see any changes that have been made in the document.  You can still do that via File > See Revision History, but this is a quicker route.
  • Google Forms - There are some new themes, which are always fun.
  • New Templates - Docs, Sheets, and Slides all have new templates that allow you to choose from pre-made documents, instead of having to create your own.
  • Explore in Sheets - This tool creates charts and insights automatically to help you visualize your data.
  • Share to Google Classroom Chrome Extension - Sometimes it's hard to share URLs because they take a long time to type.  This extension makes that easy by sending the current URL to your Google Classroom.
Plus, Google has a new logo!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Flipboard Likes and Dislikes #edtech

Besides Twitter, Flipboard is my go-to source for news (this is being written prior to Apple's News app which is coming out in iOS 9 in a few weeks).  I like the easy of use and ability to craft the categories to my liking.  I wrote about how I Flip for Flipboard here.

It has a place in the classroom because it encourages students not only to be engaged in the world around them by understanding what's going on, but it also delivers content to kids that they're more likely to read.

The latest update goes one step further in that it allows you to give a thumbs up and thumbs down to specific stories, which in turn allows you to tell Flipboard that you want more or less of the categories associated with the story.  For example, in the Sports category there are a lot of English Premier League Soccer stories, most of which I'm not interested in.  By pressing the little down arrow at the top of the story I can choose 'More Like This' or 'Less Like This' and therefore finetune Flipboard to my liking.  Within the main stories that Flipboard thinks you'll like you can only give a thumbs up and down.  But inside the categories you've chosen you can tell Flipboard to turn off certain tags that accompany each story.  So I can turn off Soccer Transfers, Serie A, Italian Football, but leave Soccer on.

I've been playing with it for about a week now and although it's hard to tell if things are really changing, I get the sense they are.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Gradebook Split Chrome Extension #edtech @alicekeeler #grading

Alice Keeler is someone you should follow on Twitter because she always offers useful and up-to-date tips on how to navigate the digital teacher world.  Not only is her blog great but she has a few Chrome and Google Drive extensions that make life much easier.

Gradebook Split is a Chrome extension that allows you to have your students' work on the left side of your screen while opening your online gradebook on the right side, all with one click.  You can also use it to have any website pop up automatically, but the idea behind the extension is for grading and entering scores.

Here is her blog post about the extension and I've linked the movie below

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Add to Google Drive Chrome Extension #gafe #edtech #googlechrome

As we use Google Drive more and more as a depository for everything, it becomes increasingly useful to have tools and extensions to make using it more efficient and easier.  The Save to Google Drive extension will take a screenshot of the page you're on and automatically drop it into your Google Drive.  It got me to thinking about a lot of clutter in my Google Drive and made me wish there was a filtering system in Drive that took incoming files with a certain name or extension and put them into the correct folder.

Bookaround - Allows Ss to Share Video Book Recommendations #edtech #reading #literacy @thebookaround

Bookaround is a relatively new site that allows students and teachers to record short, 25 second, videos giving a book review.  We have something similar in our district with Destiny Quest, which allows students to connect, but it doesn't have the video component.

Teachers create a free account and give a code to their students.  Students use the code to access their teachers page and from there they can recommend books, invite their friends to view their 'bookshelf', and view their friends' recommendations.  The interface does not work on iPads but if you get your kids to the lab or grab some Chromebooks you're all set.  Students enter the title and the author of the book and then get a four easy emoticon buttons to press to tell what they thought of it.  After pressing 'Allow' to enable the camera and microphone they can start to record their thoughts, which are then shared with anyone else who has access to their bookshelf.  Teachers get instant access to all of their students' bookshelves.

Not only will most students enjoy this format but there are a few other plusses that this service brings.  It allows students a place to practice digital citizenship by posting and using the tool for the better of the class and their followers.  It builds community within a classroom and gives voice to those who might not normally speak up in class.  It can motivate readers because they have an audience to share their passions with and it can help them discover new books to read from those who have similar tastes.

It's also a great tool for teachers to assess where their students are at and if they're truly reading the material they're supposed to be reading.  This video gives more information on creating a Bookaround classroom and here is Bookaround's YouTube channel for all of their tutorials.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Tab Scissors and Glue - Split Tabs #googlechrome #edtech #gafe #wsdtech

Last year I wrote about a Chrome extension called Panel Tabs that allows you to take one of your open tabs and separate it from the rest so you can put tabs side by side for comparison.  Today I learned about a different extension that allows you to do something similar but I think in a better way.  Tab Scissors takes the current tab and separates it from your current tabs and automatically puts it side by side with your other tabs.  The reason I like it better than Panel Tabs is you don't have to spend any time resizing the windows, it does it for you.

If you cut something apart you have to glue it back together and that's where the Tab Glue extension comes to the party.  It takes the tab you recently split and merges it back with the other tabs, nice and neat.  The educational part of me sees a teacher using this to easily multiple items with a class without having to constantly switch back and forth between tabs.  A presenter getting ready for a presentation could have their Google Slides on one side and presentation notes on the other.  Lots of uses.

The one downside, ironically, is that I wish the two extensions were glued into one so I don't have another thing littering my task bar, but somehow I'll survive.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Google Classroom Updates #gafe #google #googleclassroom #edtech

Google Classroom just keeps getting better and better.  Just last week I was very excited about EduSync because it had Google Classroom integration, and while it's still a great tool with lots of options, one of the biggest reasons I liked it was its Google Calendar integration.  With the latest updates to Google Classroom coming out soon that integration in now baked right into your Classroom environment.

Calendar Integration 

In the next month, Classroom will automatically create a calendar for each of your classes in Google Calendar. All assignments with a due date will be automatically added to your class calendar and kept up to date. You’ll be able to view your calendar from within Classroom or on Google Calendar, where you can manually add class events like field trips or guest speakers.

A few of the other noteworthy updates include the ability to reuse posts from previous years, question-driven questions in your activity stream with the ability for students to reply to other students' comments (or not), the ability to bump a post to the top of the stream, optional due dates, and the ability to add a Google Form to a post.

Read the whole post here

Friday, August 21, 2015

Quick Hit Google Tips @TheGoogleGooru #edtech #gafe #google #googleedu #edchat #gafechat

@TheGoogleGooru is someone I recently followed on Twitter and has some great quick tips to share about Google products.  The idea behind the tips below are that you can print out little cards to give to staff members as a quick reminders on how to accomplish tasks in Google.  You could even print them for kids and place them on a key chain ring for easy reference.  Give them a follow on Twitter for great tips or check out some of the cards below.

Faster Customized Searching in Chrome #gafe #chrome #edtech

If your preferred web browser is Chrome and you use Google Drive as your work hub, then you need to know about this search shortcut.  Many times I can simply go into Chrome's Omnibar and start typing the name of a Google document and it will pop up and I can choose it.  I've found this to be an incredibly easy way to access documents I use often.  But sometimes that doesn't work and I have to dig around in my Drive to find it.  But waste time no more!

You can create your own customized Google search engines inside the browser for websites that you frequently search.

1. Open Chrome Preferences
2. Go to Search > Manage Search Engines
3. Go to Other Search Engines
4. At the bottom of that list are three boxes where you can add a title for your search, a keyword, and the website you want to search

Here are some common sites to cut and paste:
  1. Google Drive (enter your own keyword or letter):
  2. YouTube (enter your own keyword or letter):
  3. Twitter (enter your own keyword or letter):

Now when you go into the search bar you can type in the letter of your shortcut and hit the Tab key and you'll be searching whatever site you entered in there.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Small Bytes - Short Tech Videos #gafe #edtech @NKeithBlend

I saw a retweet of some short tech videos and thought it was worth a blog post.  Many things today are becoming shorter and to the point.  Twitter is now referred to as micro-blogging and more and more we're digesting little bits of information and forming our own learning.  One idea I've seen floating around the Interwebs lately is what I would call micro-learning, or getting your professional development in short chunks rather than full day sit-and-get sessions.

These Small Bytes tech videos fall into that category.  Focusing on Google Drive, Slides, Docs, Classroom, Forms and other programs like AutoCrat and Nearpod, the creator offers up little bits of information that you can take in when you want.  Don't want to sit through a ton of un-information just to get to what you need?  Small Bytes will help.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

EduSync Syncs your Google Calendar to Google Classroom #gafe #google #edtech @builtbyteachers

EduSync is an online tool that I looked at last year and while I liked it, I dismissed it because it either didn't do what I wanted or I already had a tool that could do what it does.  But a few days ago the developer, @builtbyteachers, made a post on Twitter hinting that there would soon be Google Classroom integration and that got me excited.  Low and behold, now there is.

EduSync allows teachers to sync the calendar interface on EduSync's site to their Google Calendar AND to Google Classroom.  So instead of teachers trying to maintain a Google Calendar and also post announcements and assignments to Classroom, it can be done all at once.

On the EduSync site teachers can easily add their classes and units and access the calendar.  The interface is very easy to use with lots of options for teachers to identify the type of event, add dates and standards, and give instructions and objectives.  It's very well thought out and you can tell it was designed by teachers, PLUS it's free forever.

To add an event simply click on the day on the calendar, adjust the details for your event and save.  The beauty of it for me is the Google Classroom button on the bottom left that allows you to instantly add the event as an assignment or announcement to your Google Classroom.  No more dancing between programs and cutting and pasting.

There are a few steps to pay attention to in order to sync your EduSync calendar with your Google tools, but it's as simple as ticking a few boxes in Settings.

They also have a mobile app called EddyCal that is slated to come out soon that students will be able to use as a calendar.  You can request to be a part of their pilot for EddyCall here.

Great stuff.  Here is a video about the product.

Google Classroom Chrome Extension #gafe #googleclassroom #edtech

Google Classroom is a game-changing tool for classroom teachers, whether they are in a 1:1 environment or just get occasional time for kids on computers.  It links all of the creative work teachers do in Google Drive to the students and it just keeps getting better.

Today I learned about a Chrome extension called Add to Google Classroom that allows you take a website that you're visiting and add it to your Google Classroom as an announcement or an assignment with only a few, easy clicks.  If you're an avid Google Classroom user you'll be excited to check it out.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Blendspace - Bundle Lessons and Organize Student Work #edtech @blendspace

Blendspace is a great site that a colleague showed me that does a few things very well.  It helps teachers to organize all kinds of documents, links,  and media in one convenient location.  Plus, it gives a teacher a place to easily add student work onto one page to compile and show off what they've done.  It's like a virtual corkboard that you would normally see on the walls of a traditional classroom.

Right off the bat you get to sign in with your Google credentials, which is becoming more and more popular, and rightly so, especially when you're dealing with kids who can't remember passwords (and teachers too).  Once you're in you can create a lesson and you are presented with tiles on the left side that represent spaces where you can add stuff.  The list of things you can add and the places you can add them from is pretty impressive: YouTube, Google Search, Flickr, Educreations, Gooru, any webpage, upload media from your computer, DropBox, Google Drive, and Common Core Standards.

I highly recommend you check it out as well as the video below.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

All New - Jeopardy Rocks 2 #edtech #learning #jeopardy @teammuno

I've written in a previous post about how Jeopardy-style games are great in the classroom for allowing kids to show what they've learned, challenge their peers, and have fun.  One of the best sites out there for creating Jeopardy games is Jeopardy Rocks and today I learned they just came out with version 2.  Their email blast said it now features image, video and equation uploading, printing games, accounts and more.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Allow Public Uploads to Google Drive #gafe #google #edtech

I read about a Google script that allows you to open a folder in your Google Drive account that other users can upload files into, even if they don't have a Google account.  It doesn't require any coding at all and even a beginner can easily use this tool by following the simple steps in the video below.  There are a lot of obvious advantages to this, like students turning in homework, uploading pictures, or just having a common place to store stuff.

After you run the script you will get a url that you can share with whomever you wish.  Users add their name, choose their file, and press 'Upload'.

I tried it with on an iPad too and it allows a user to upload a file from Google Drive or the camera roll, or take an image with the camera to upload.

Google Drive Changes #gafe #googledocs #google #edtech

Google made a very slight change today and it made me smile.  In the past, whenever you wanted to change the name of a file, usually from 'Unnamed document' to something that you really want, Google made you click on the file name, then it opened up a new dialog box that you had to click in, type in, then close.  Now all you have to do is click on the document name, start typing the new name, then press 'Enter'.  Small change, big impact for my efficient brain.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Google Keep

Update: Google Keep just came out on iOS.

This is an oldie but a goodie.  Back in November 2014 we blogged about a couple of sites for keeping tasks and lists.  One of them was Google Keep.   With summer upon on I had a resurrected need to keep track of some task lists, projects, to-dos, and reminders.  If I don't go into July with these out of my brain and on a list, I will assuredly forget them in August when returning. is the root site for this tool and you can use your school or home gmail account.  I love its ability to have several lists, colored, with checkboxes, and they look good.  The best features for me though are its ability to share a list/note with anyone that has a google account. This would be a great strategy to teach students to use for keeping track of anything, but also for the busy professional, and nobody is as busy as a classroom teacher.  Also it's ability to set reminders of many kinds on the item within the list is perfect for me, since I don't act until my phone buzzes and tells me to!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Great Google Sheets Add-on - Mapping Sheets #edtech #gafe #wsdtech

I'm preparing a presentation I'm going to be giving at a few conferences in the future and am surfing around looking for great Google Add-ons.  I came across Mapping Sheets today and fell in love with it.  It's not often that I say out loud to my computer, "That's awesome."  She rarely answers back.

Mapping Sheets allows you to take a list of addresses in a Google Sheet and by triggering the add-on, create a Google Map that shows the location of every entry with a pushpin as well as other data that you have collected.  I tried it with some very broad locations like China, Australia, and Montana and it pulled a map just fine.  Then I tried it with some Washington city names and the state and it did that fine too.

I can see the applications of this in a few ways, one being in a social studies class to track where items we buy are from.  Another might be in an English class to track the movements of a character in a book.  Or if you're giving a presentation, like I will be, to show the location of all of the attendees.  It's fun just to play around with too!

Check out the video below or watch it here

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Quizizz for Real Time Classroom Quizzes #edtech #changingeducation #ipaded #wsdtech

Playing games in class is always a good motivator for students and gamification is starting to take root in a lot of classrooms because teachers are seeing that kids can learn AND have fun at the same time.  Imagine that.  Kids learn better if they're engaged and having fun and, more importantly I believe, that kids who create games for other kids get a double benefit.  Not only do they have to become masters of their content in order to create and administer the game, but they get immediate feedback and satisfaction from seeing their classmates play the game they've created.

I've recommended Kahoot! since it came out as a great way to deliver multi-player, game-show style games to students but I read a Tweet about today and gave it a shot and I really like it.  It's very similar to Kahoot! in that it has pre-made games available and it lets you create your own games, plus it also is a free service.

The teacher get the game ready and students simply go to and enter the code for the particular game, put in their name, and they're in.  The teacher starts the game and the fun begins!  Check out the video below:

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Mute Unwanted Sound on Tabs in Chrome #edtech #chrome #gafe

This is a great tip and although it's in beta it works really well.  I often work with a lot of tabs open, especially when I'm reading the news.  I'll open five or six tabs of stories I want to read but I hate it when there is a video that starts playing on one of the tabs and I have to dig through all of them and figure out which one it is.  Grrr...

But there is a trick you do to Chrome that gives you the option to click on the little audio symbol that shows up on Chrome tabs and mute the audio on that tab.  Follow the directions on this site to activate it.  Happy muting!

Monday, June 8, 2015

3D Printing at Washington #edtech

I got a guided tour this morning of students at Washington Elementary doing some 3D printing and it was great to see.  Students were designing things using the 123D Design iPad app.  They were in the process of printing a chess piece while I was there.  Students are engaged and excited and it's great to see our schools using technology that is engaging and also on the forefront of where they should be.  Here are some photos Sara Rolfs shared with me:

School Spirit from Foothills Middle School #edtech #schoolspirit

Here's a great school spirit video shot, edited, and produced on an iPad entirely by students at Foothills Middle School.  Go Falcons!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Use Notebookcast for Collaborative Whiteboards #edtech #ipaded #education @notebookcast

One of the best features of having connected devices is the ability to simultaneously work on a project or document at the same time, like collaborating in Google Drive.  I've always been a fan of collaborative whiteboards for a few reasons:

  1. they're fun and it's cool to see your stuff on someone else's screen
  2. they create a place where students have to learn to cooperate and work together
  3. they help create a collaborative environment
I came across one today called that is fairly simple not only in it's functionality but in it's ease of use.  Simply start a session, invite others via email or a code, and you're suddenly working together.  It has the ability to change the background, add images and shapes, and one of the best features...a laser pointer!  Here are some details from their website:

  • Real-time shared online whiteboard in your browser supporting up to ten users simultaneously
  • No need to install any software, compatible with modern browsers
  • Write and Sketch with you tablets PC digitizer or touch screen
  • Draw shapes or add pictures to your board
  • Integrated chat
  • Save your boards for later use
  • https secured connection

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Apricot - Easily Deliver Writing Prompts to Students (andParents) #edtech #ipaded #writing @justapricot

Apricot is a neat tool I read about today on that allows teachers to quickly and easily deliver writing prompts to students.  There are a few things about this free service that I really like, the first being that it's free.  Actually, the first should be that there is a website that wants to help students become better writers, but free comes a close second.  The second is that it's very simple for students and parents to become a part of a teacher's class.  Websites that make signing up for their service tedious and difficult need to learn from sites like Apricot.  Give the students a code to sign up, don't put the onus upon the teacher to do all of the work.

Yet another thing is Apricot's interface.  It's very simple to use and the writing platform is just geared for writing, not a lot of bells and whistles, which can often get in the way of student's expression.  I don't care that you know how to use the Olde English Font in pink and size 72.  Finally, I love that it makes parents a part of the equation.  In today's digital world, having a teacher or a service send work directly to a parent's phone or laptop is priceless stuff.

In a nutshell, a teacher adds a prompt and the students are prompted to respond.  They click on the link, write away and turn in their work.  The teacher then gets a copy of each response on the Apricot site and then has the option to send that work out to parents.  Parents will get a copy of their own students work as well as the option to see three other students' work without the names provided.

Overall Apricot seems to have a nice niche in the writing delivery and collection department.  How is this different from using Google Classroom?  I think the nice feature of inviting parents into the environment is useful as well as the fact that all of the work stays right in the tool, it doesn't open up anything else to get the job done.

Image result for justapricot

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Easy website for mobile.

Tonight is our 3rd annual Technology and STEM showcase at Wenatchee High School.

In the process of prepping for the event we wanted a "mobile" app for the attendees to register, get maps, bios, etc.  without any knowledge of programming a real app, Ray created a Google Site and optimized it for mobile.  If you keep mobile in mind and use 100% widths on your items, Google sites make a super simple great mobile site.  

The site even has the live stream from YouTube that some of our students are presenting from the event.

If you are a Google apps school or non-profit it makes sense to use the tools within Google sites to create these unique event sites.  The beauty of them is that you can so easily collaborate on the site.  Ray started the site and we both edited to get it ready for our event.

Google on!

Ron Brown

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Create Rubrics in Google Sheets - Grade & Email Results #edtech #gafe #ipaded

Many times Google Drive add-ons that I find do fun things, other times it's useful things.  File this one under useful (and helpful and wonderful).  Online Rubric is a Google Sheets add-on that allows you to create a rubric, enter scores for your students and then the results get emailed to them.  This is an ideal tool for teachers in a 1:1 setting or for a teacher who has students who have email addresses.

Like most Google add-ons, there is a wizard that walks you through the process of adding your students, adding your rubric with the number of points, categories, and descriptors.  Then you simply go to the Score tab, enter each student's score and then email the results.  In their email, the recipient gets the title of the rubric, the descriptors and their scores, nice and net.

This is a great tool.  One final feature is the ability to export/import a rubric, which makes it easy to share.  And sharing is caring.

Friday, May 8, 2015


Recently I read a great article from dangerously ! irrelevant and it inspired me to participate and give back my 2 cents.  Scott was challenging those in educational leadership to post a response to the following:  When it comes to education, what are 5 things that we have to stop pretending?

Here is my response:

When it comes to education, we have to stop pretending…

  • that we need to be "trained" in person to learn the technology
  • that we know what students are passionate about the same things we are teaching
  • that teachers need the technology first
  • that students don't have a voice and choice in their learning
  • that replacing paper worksheets with digital ones will be any more engaging.
Opinion of Ron Brown

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Google Drive OCR Feature Reads Text on Images and PDFs #edtech #gafe

I learned today about a feature in Google Drive that allows you to take an image or a PDF and use the OCR (optical character recognition) to access the text.  Once you have the text you can edit, change, or copy it.  To use the feature, find a PDF or an image in your Google Drive and right-click (control-click) on it and choose "Open with... > Google Drive".  You'll see your image or PDF on the top and the text from it down below.  That'a a very useful feature, especially for teachers and students who have not had access to edit PDFs in the past.  Oh, and it works with 200 languages

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

iPad Peek - See How a Website Looks on an iOS Device #edtech

I saw while watching a tutorial and I liked it immediately.  It allows you to see how a website is going to render on an iOS device so you can see if it's going to look good or not.  Just enter the URL into the address bar and press 'Enter' and take a peek.  It also got me thinking that there are probably a lot of those type of sites out there, and there are.

Image result for ipad