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Thursday, April 30, 2015

iOS Apps to Access Google Drive for Audio Files #edtech #ipaded #technology #gafe

Students in our district store lots of files on their Google Drive, documents, presentations, videos, and audio.  But playing certain audio files doesn't always work.  For example, students who are listening to audio books on an iOS device that are shared with them or saved on their Google Drive can't do it if it's an mp3 or mp4.  We used to be able to use the gDrive for Google app but Google changed their API which essentially allows other people to write code to access the information on their site and now it doesn't work anymore.

There are also a handful of recording apps that allow you to play files but it's an extra step because you have to go into Google Drive, choose Open In, and then choose the playback app and download it.

But I found a few replacements that step in nicely and allow access to your Google Drive for playback.  File Hub is a paid app but the WSD purchased copies when it was free.  In order to request it for your iOS device you will need to fill out this form.  The second one, called File Manager, is completely free.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Android Tablets at Pybus Market #edtech #pybusmarket #digitalclassroom

Congratulations to Mrs. Brown's 5th grade classroom from Lincoln Elementary in Wenatchee, WA for winning a grant that will allow them to take a field trip to Pybus Market.  I know Mrs. Brown has some great technology experiences ready for her students, including making QR codes that Pybus has agreed to leave up over the summer that give details and facts about the market.  What a great way for her students to reach outside of the classroom into the community and make an impact.

Here is Mrs. Brown's take on the reasons for the field trip:
"I am a 5th grade teacher who integrates STEM, one to one tablet devices and exercise breaks. I am a huge fan of Pybus Market. The feat of turning something old into something new, all the small local business and public spaces that allow us to enjoy our riverfront. I would love to take the kids to Pybus and look at the structural engineering component of the building as part of a STEM unit. Then work with the local vendors to have a "Taste of Pybus". Using the $300, I would work with the vendors to allow kids to have local cheese, smoked sausage, gelato and fresh fruits unknown to them. What a great way to expose students to the engineering and local business side of our valley. We have just completed our Beauty of Bronze field experience, which focuses on the bronze art along the river. We could then walk the riverfront to look at the sculptures we did not interact with on the experience. It is important to me that my students are aware of our local offerings beyond Taco Bell, McDonald's and the mall. I feel this would be a great way to expose our young students into future Wenatchee citizens that support local efforts to beautify and sustain our community. " 
Press Release

Collaborative Magnetic Poetry #edtech #edchat #gafe #poetry @shakeuplearning

Collaborative Magnetic Poetry has been trending in the #edtech circles on Twitter for a few weeks and I finally got a chance to check it out.  Little did I know that National Poetry Month is winding down and luckily my daughter discovered Shel Silverstein this past week too.  So this post is very timely.

Collaborative Magnetic Poetry is a way for your students to collaborate around a shared Google Drawing.  When you make a copy of the drawing you get a template with a refrigerator and some magnetic poetry words on the side.  There are a lot of ways that students could interact with the document from here.  Students can collaboratively move the words around and come up with a poem or you could assign the drawing to one student per night, and thus fill up the whole month with one student per day.  Or students could create their own words and make their own poetry or even design their own background and create their own scene with their own words.  Lots of possibilities.

Here is the template

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Monday, April 27, 2015

Great Seesaw Updates #edtech #digitalclassroom @seesawedu

Seesaw is a great app that helps students and teachers maintain a digital presence in the form of an online portfolio.  If you haven't checked it out yet it's well worth your time, even if you don't have an abundance of devices in your classroom.  They rolled out a great update today with a bunch of notable features:
  • Calendar View: No more scrolling back forever to find old items! Switch to calendar view and easily navigate back to a specific date to see older items. Watch the video.
  • Link Type: Now you can add links to web pages or other student creations that don't export to the camera roll (ThingLink, EduCreations, etc.) to journals.  You can do this directly from Safari (tap Share and then More and turn on Seesaw) or by cutting and pasting a link to the iPad clipboard. Watch the video.
  • Audio Comments: Now teachers & parents can leave audio comments on journal items.
  • Front Facing Camera: You can now enable the front facing camera in the Seesaw camera.

School Yourself - Free Online Math Lessons #edtech #math

School Yourself is a free online way to learn math in a highly interactive format.  I love when companies and universities create free tools for teachers and students because it is the right thing to do.  I found School Yourself through a link from Books that Grow (another free service for reading).  Very cool and interactive math lessons.  One of the best things about the service is that the user interacts with the video by clicking, dragging, answering, etc. Thanks to those giving back to education!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Extensity - Google Chrome Add-on to Easily Toggle Extensions #edchat #gafe #chrome

If you use Google Chrome then you may have heard about extensions, which add some functionality to Google Chrome by adding on little programs.  Some of these programs make working with Chrome more efficient or do things that Google's browser just isn't programmed to do.  A few of my favorites will check my email for me, help me with screenshots, or let me put unicorns all over my screen.

One that I learned about today from a presentation at the NCESD Technology Roundtable is called Extensity.  It's only job is to allow you to quickly toggle your Chrome extensions on and off.  The more you use extensions the more you'll understand why it's nice to turn them off and/or hide them.Image result for extensity

FutureMe - Write a Letter, Receive it in the Future #edtech

FutureMe is a neat site that allows you to write yourself a letter, set the date that you want to receive it, and then you can read what you wrote to your future self when you receive it.  The tool is dead simple, just put in your email address, subject, write your letter, and put in the date you want to get your letter.  This would be a great tool to use to do reminders or for students to write themselves a letter at the beginning of the year and see how much they've changed in 9 months.  It's free so give it a shot!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

VideoGrabby - Easily Grab Internet Videos and Audio #edtech #edchat #ipaded

The other day I blogged about a great service at that allows you to quickly and easily grab a video or audio from the Internet for those times when you can't view a video on a blocked network or you know there might be sketchy Internet access and you need a video.  Another site I've used often is which just recently became available in Chrome, so now I only use one browser for everything!

Today on Twitter I read about another service that is drop-dead simple called VideoGrabby.  Simply paste the URL of the video you're looking for and press the Download Video or Download MP3 button and it does its thing and deposits the file wherever your downloads are saved.  Super simple and super quick.  The site says it can grab video and audio from YouTube, Vimeo, SoundCloud and more.

One cool feature they promote is that if you find a video on YouTube that you want to download you can simply type 'vg' in front of 'youtube' in the URL and press 'Enter'.  You will be automatically redirected to and the video you chose will be pre-slugged into the tool.


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Leveled Reading with Books that Grow #edtech #ipaded @donnalimon @cathyreasor @lynntpearl #reading @shakeuplearning

I came across a great tool today on the ShakeUpLearning blog called Books that Grow that falls in line with services like NewsELA and Fluency Tutor for Google.  It's a Chrome app that allows teachers to assign free books to students.  That's nothing new, but the real power in the app is that teachers can either assign a reading level or allow students to choose their own reading level and the story will auto-adjust based on their choice.

One of the goals of having technology is to allow personalized learning, and although we're getting closer with every app and website, we're not quite there (nor do I ever think we will be officially "there").  This app is a great push in that direction.  Teachers can add students or give them a code and have them self-register, which is always easiest.  Once students are in the app they can either browse books or read books from their library that have been assigned to them by their teacher.

At the end of each story students answer questions and teachers have the ability to monitor their classrooms.  There is also a handy Text Complexity Equivalence chart that correlates common reading systems to help you figure out where a student should start.

The real beauty behind this system is that a teacher can assign the same book to different students at different reading levels and each student doesn't know which level the other student is at.  It's worth checking out by downloading here!  Plus, there is also an iPad app for teachers and students to use.

Monday, April 13, 2015 - Get Free, SAFE, Properly Cited Images for the Digital Presentations @jmattmiller #edtech @StoryboardThat

In today's digital age it's very easy to find images for digital presentations.  In many cases, for the classroom setting you can grab an image from Google without an afterthought, knowing the only ones who are going to see it are your students for a short time.  But as more and more of what educators and students do becomes global not only is it important to find images that can be reused and repurposed freely, but it's also important to cite those images to give credit to those who took or created them.

That's where a site like comes in.  Not only does it search only G-rated images, but when you download an image it puts the correct citation on the bottom of the image so students don't have to worry about getting the format correct.  Furthermore, all of the images are from Flickr and part of Creative Commons and licensed for school use.

By using a service like you kill two birds with one stone.  You can teach students about proper attribution and citation and increase their digital citizenship all in one fell swoop.

Slides Carnival - Free Google Slides Templates #gafe #edtech @jmattmiller

I was checking out Matt Miller's great site and one of his site recommendations is called Slides Carnival.  This site gives you a whole bunch of free, good-looking Google Slides templates.  You can browse the site and find one you're looking for and then open in it.  It will open in Google Drive as a view-only option but then you can go to File > Make a Copy and then it becomes yours and you can edit it to your heart's content.

The templates are broken down into seven categories (playful, formal, inspirational, creative, simple, startup, elegant) and in total there are about 30 to choose from.  This is a great resource to give students and presenters more choice than what Google has to offer.

You can also follow Matt on Twitter here.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Use for Free Online Teleprompter #edtech #moviemaking #ipaded is a great website that allows you to use your browser as a teleprompter.  Simply type or cut/paste your script into the box and adjust the settings, like text size, color, and screen size, and press 'Start Prompter'.  A new tab will open and your script will appear and you can use your spacebar to start/stop the scroll and up/down arrows to control the speed.

This is a great tool for students making newscasts or movies who want a simple teleprompter or do not want to buy an app that does the same thing.  Works on mobile devices too!

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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Dirpy - Easily Download Video and Audio #edtech

I'm always looking for ways to get content from one place to another.  Sometimes the site you want is blocked where you're at or you want to make sure that even if you don't have Internet access that you can show a video or play some audio.  I've used sites like before and the occasional bookmark or add-on to Chrome, but one I read about today,, does a great job too.

In a nutshell, you paste the URL from a video that you want to download and then you have some options.  You can just download the audio as an mp3 in various levels of quality or you can do the same with video.  Then press the Record button and you're done.  I tried a YouTube, Vimeo, and TeacherTube video and they were all recognized by the system.  In fact, did a good job of grabbing some videos that weren't available using other tools.

Best of all is free and has no advertisements!  There is also a bookmarklet you can drag into your browser's bookmarks bar and when you come across a YouTube video you want simply press the bookmarklet and it takes you to and has the video ready to download.  Great tool!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Easy Room Scheduler Google Add-On @rmbyrne #gafe #edtech

Here's a great tip I picked up from about using a Google Sheets add-on to make a room scheduler.  If your school has computer labs or equipment to be checked out, this is an easy, free way to have your own scheduler to keep things straight.  Simple enable the add-on, follow the wizard to configure it, and share the resulting sheet with colleagues.

Here is the add-on

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

CheckItOut Google Forms Extension - Create Simple Check In/Check Out for Devices, Books, Anything #edtech #gafe @edlisten

I read about a great Google Forms add-on today on called CheckItOut.  What it allows you to do is create a form that allows the user to see which materials are available for check out and which materials they might need to check in.  For example, if you have a classroom library you could put all of your books on a form and when a student wanted to check one out they would visit the form, put in their name and choose the title and they're done.  Now another student cannot check that same book out until it's returned.  Plus, you get a handy spreadsheet of who has checked out all of your materials.  This would obviously work for any technology you have that students are able to use like devices, video cameras, or keyboards.

Once you install the add-on you simply click on it under the Add-ons menu to enable it.  In the first section you'll want to put a place for students to put their name.  The next section will be what material it is they're checking out, for example, Chromebook #1, Chromebook #2, etc.  The final section just leave as is.  Now when you visit your form you'll see the proper sections ready for students to use.  As said, this probably won't replace an entire library checkout system, but is a good alternative for small-scale operations, like classrooms or school-wide resource libraries.

Monday, April 6, 2015

10 Uses for Google Maps in the Classroom - Thanks @jutecht #edtech #gafe #googlemaps

Jeff Utecht is an educator and presenter I've had the privilege of seeing a few times over the past year and he is very engaging and forward-thinking.  I suggest you follow him on Twitter and take a look at his Thinking Stick blog on occasion.  One of his latest posts has to do with using Google Maps in the Classroom and there are some great and fun activities for classrooms (not just students or teachers).

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RealtimeBoard for Collaborative Whiteboards - Free (Premium) Educational Accounts #edtech #edtech @realtimeboard

Today I played with a great tool called Realtime Board that allows you to open a collaborative white board space and invite others to collaborate in real time.  I played with it for about 15 minutes and found it to be a very intuitive and easy-to-use tool that I believe has a great place in the classroom setting.  Their free account allows you to have 3 unlimited white boards but they have educational pricing that allows educators to apply for an educational account that will give you unlimited white boards.  It took less than 24 hours for them to approve my educational account.

There is no app for iOS or Android, but that's okay because the service has been written in HTML 5 and avoids that pesky, battery-hogging Flash.  Just open a browser on any device and away you go.  The tools are very easy to use and included are a pencil, shape creator, text tool, sticky notes, comments, and object linking.  Within minutes I was able to create a white board, share it with another account, and see changes happening in real time on each screen.

Students will love this tool and it's full featured enough to do many classroom activities.  You also have the ability to download your board as an image, PDF, and save to your Google Drive, so teachers using Google Classroom could have students turn in work they've done in Realtime Board.

One note of caution is that once students open up this tool and start playing around with it they will want to spend some time monkeying around with everything and seeing it show up on each other's screens.  My word of advice is instead of clamping down on that creative collaboration, give them a few minutes to play around, possibly with a fun purpose that is unrelated to your lesson plan.  They once they're figured out the tool and played around a bit turn them loose on the task you have in mind.

Also, their help section is pretty extensive and they do have occasional webinars.