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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.