Thursday, May 5, 2016

Collaboration in Slides with Q&A

I have never been a fan of PowerPoint, Slides or any other teacher-dominated presentations in the classroom. These are great tools for certain audiences, and I do use them when presenting at conferences and when speaking as an advocate for Asperger's Syndrome. However, I have never used the "lecture and present" format as a classroom teacher. In my opinion, this overused, instructional tool destroys classroom dialogue, and the "pre-packaging" of information prevents higher level thinking and reading skills that students need to develop.

That being said, teacher-driven presentations are still the preferred instructional method for many teachers, so I am always on the hunt for ways to make them better for the victims....errrr....students.  So, it is with great delight that I share the good news: Google has added some collaborative elements to Slides!

On "May the 4th be with you day", Google announced changes to Slides that are definitely a force to be reckoned with. Now the presenter can share a short link that allows the audience to ask questions as the presentation is ongoing. These questions can also be voted on by others, enabling the presenter to hone in on and answer those questions of greatest interest or concern.

WOW! This is a game changer! The back-channeling of questions is now part of the record in Google Slides, the audience is interacting with the ongoing presentation in live-time and the audience members are even interacting with one another by voting on posted questions.

Thank you Google!

Now, teachers, let's get those classroom presentation in the cloud, convert them to Google Slides, and get busy involving students in the questioning and learning process!

P.S.--if you start using Slides, they have a cool, new laser pointer to use as you present!!

Friday, March 4, 2016

"..a Kiddle eat ivy too, wouldn't you?"

Last week the new kid-friendly search engine, Kiddle, launched,  and the news was quickly tweeted, blogged, and  "Facebooked" to the computers of parents and educators, hungry for a safe internet experience for the little people they love.

Unfortunately, in the excitement, many of these first reports led to some misinformation. There was also some controversy involving keywords being blocked by Kiddle. In light of the questions I have received, I did a little reading to try and clarify these concerns for our parents and teachers.

First and foremost, Kiddle is NOT owned by Google.
It is powered by Google safe search.

Kiddle does offer a bold statement of safety:

They also offer a link for parents to request keyword blocking as well as site blocking.

When I tried Kiddle for myself, I was please with the filtering. The search engine even seemed to interpret some pretty severe "kid spellings", yielding appropriate search results.  For example, I typed "liyns", a common Kinder spelling for "lions", and I got......lions!!  I am thrilled by this! It is the perfect tool our teachers need to facilitate independent research in the lower grade levels!

One opinion piece had suggested that searches can allow access to inappropriate materials if words are misspelled or extra spaces added. I did try to replicate this but was blocked with an,"Oops, try again!", message.

So, what else does Kiddle proclaim?

  • Editors are involved in the selection of resources for searches
  • Kiddle collects no personal information and clears logs every 24 hours.
  • The Kiddle searches are "ranked":

As for the Kiddle controversy, there seem to be concerns surrounding the blocking of some key words. The BBC reports that "sex education", "LGBT", "lesbian", "gay" and "transgender" are blocked by Kiddle, disappointing some groups who deem this information valuable.

I myself am not concerned that the keywords included in this list will limit access to critical information desperately needed by children. There is always Google search out there, so Kiddle is just one more great tool in the technology toolbox for parents and educators.

Personally, I enjoyed my Kiddle experience! I loved the thumbnail images that accompany search results, the larger print (since I do wear bifocals) and the extra safety-net it might provide for the little people in my world!  However, I would remind everyone that, despite its heady promises, nothing can replace the watchful eyes of parents and teachers. So, be sure to keep up the good work of monitoring while enjoying Kiddle in your home or classroom!

And for those too young to know......."..a Kiddle eat ivy too, wouldn't you?"

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Flubaroo Now Shares Grades Through Google Drive!

Just when you think Google Classroom and Flubaroo can't get any better, the integration improves! Now teachers have the option of sharing their Flubaroo grades directly to student Google Drives. Through the magic of Google, a folder will automatically be created in your teacher Drive called, "Flubaroo-Shared Grades". Each student will receive a Google doc that will have their grade, allow comments, and include the questions and answer key if selected. This Google doc will be located under "Shared with me" in their Google Drive.

This new feature opens up the ability for teachers to share grades with students even if student email is not activated within the district or for lower grade levels. The Google docs with questions and answers make great review sheets which can be easily moved and organized within the student Google drive.

For full instructions on this easy process, see "Share Grades via Drive" in the "Help Center" of Flubaroo.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Share to Google Classroom: OpenEd

One of the great additions to Google Classroom this school year has been the "Share to Google Classroom" button. It is popping up in technology tools that teachers already know, use, and love! Clicking this magic button automatically adds  resources right into your existing Google Classrooms with no muss and no fuss

One great resource site that is totally integrated into Google Classroom is OpenEd.
OpenEd added the "Share to Google Classroom" option this year but also allows teachers to import Google Classroom rosters. This makes access easier than ever before. If you are new to OpenEd, it has a huge online collection of lesson plans, videos, assignments and assessments for grades K-12. Though many of these resources can often be found in other places, like Khan Academy, it does provide that easy one-stop-shopping-spot and the Google Classroom integration that makes it SO sweet!

To get started:
  • Create  an OpenEd account using your school account---so you can get to your Google Classrooms!
  • Sign up using your Texas school so you see the TEKS !  Though it is fully aligned with Common Core standards, if you sign in as as Texas school, the Reading and Math TEKS will also be included in your list of standards to choose from. 
  • Start searching through their great resources.

There are two ways to work between Google Classroom and OpenEd:

Look for the "Share to Google Classroom" button in other tech tools that you are currently using!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Flubaroo is For You!

 Flubaroo is For You!

Last week our "Tech Trick and a Treat" training covered the use of Flubaroo. Flubaroo is a free add-on in Google sheets that allows you to quickly grade quizzes and tests created in Google forms. So, we create in forms and grade in sheets!

Now don't tune me out because you think this is just for the big kids! Flubaroo is a perfect tool for teachers throughout all grade levels. Since Google Forms can contain pictures followed by questions, even little ones can easily take a quiz in forms.

Today I am posting the basic steps we covered. If you are familiar with forms, sheets and add-ons in Google, then this quick list is all the information you will need. If you need this step-by-step guide with lots of pictures, then I have a document for that too:  Tech Trick and a Treat: Flubaroo is For You!

Warning: if you are creating as your walk through these steps, Flubaroo will not grade a spreadsheet until it has two or more responses--the key (which is your response) plus another response. Find a friend to take your quiz!

Step 1: Create a Google Form with your test questions
If you have created forms before, the only critical thing to remember here is to check the top, two boxes in the settings if you are sending within your school domain. This will allow you to email responses to students using their username.
Also, checking “only allow one response…” will limit students to taking the quiz just one time

If using outside of your school domain, you absolutely must collect names and emails as the first questions in your Google Form!
Step 2: Customize the look of your Google Form
Make it cute by selecting “Change Theme” on the top of the form. Select one of the themes on the right, or click “customize” to see even more options. There are so many ways to personalize your forms. Just get in there and play!
Step 3: Take your own test! 
This is an important step since this will be the KEY to your quiz. To easily do this, just select "View Live Form" at the top of the form you just created. Once you finish taking your quiz, go back to the tab with the form you were editing.
Step 4: Share your form with students so they can take your test!

Go to “Share” in top right corner of the form you created, and copy the link. Use the URL shortener in the pop-up window, and just paste this link where students can access. In Google Classroom, a Google form can be added as a link or directly from your Google drive.

Step 5: View Responses in Google Sheets and add Flubaroo!
We now select “View Responses” from the top of the form. Every Google form magically creates a corresponding spreadsheet to collect information. You may need to select "create new spreadsheet" the first time you view responses. Now you should see all of your student responses. 
Here's where the Flubaroo part comes in:
  1. In the spreadsheet with student responses, click “Add-Ons” 
  2. Select “Get add-ons”
  3. Search for Flubaroo--it usually is the first one there--and click the +Add
  4. You must agree to the access it requires--it will include email since it sends from your email

Step 6: Select your new Flubaroo Add-on and Grade!
  1. Click “Add-Ons” again
  2. Select Flubaroo (it may ask to enable Flubaroo on that spreadsheet)
  3. Select “Grade assignment” in the drop down menu
  4. There will be two pop-up windows to set-up the grading:
Step 1:Determine which information is a question or student information 
  • if it is username, name, period etc...choose “student information”
  • If it is a question, set to “grade” and weight the question (1,2,....10)
  • You can also “skip grading” for questions
  • or use the new feature: grade by hand (For info:  )
  • then “continue”

Step 2: Pick the Key--it should be your own name/user account --(the test you took first)
Hint: if you forgot to take your own quiz. exit the grading and take it! Then go back to grade again. Your name will be at the bottom of that list.
  1. Now Grade! (click "continue")
  2. Once grading is complete, “X” out of the pop-up window to view the grades.
  3. The spreadsheet will have two “tabs”: the one with everyone’s answers, and the one with the grades.
Step 7: Email results to your students
  1. Go back to “add-ons” on your sheet with the grades
  2. choose Flubaroo
  3. Choose “Email Grades”
  4. From the pop-up window, select the cells which contain the email for your students--in our district, this is “username”
  5. Check the items you wish to include: scores, questions and answer, personal message      
  6. Hint: if your quiz is a review, including the correct answers creates a study sheet for students 
  7. Click “continue”and grades are emailed! 
Now do do need more visual to walk through this process? Try the "Fluabroo is For You" Tech Trick and a Treat training doc!

Visit the Flubaroo Help Center for additional information such as using numerical ranges and auto-grading!
Enjoy your tech trick!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Help! I Can't Open my Office Documents in Google Drive!

Yes, unless you own a Chromebook that awesomely and automatically updates, then this can happen to you. Don't panic! Check the following to make sure you have exactly what you need to open those Office products in your Google drive without changing their format.

1. If you can usually open Office documents in your Google drive without an issue on your computer, make sure you are logged into your Chrome browser so that all of your extensions are ready to go.

2. If this is all new to you, then we probably just need to add the Office Editing for Docs, Sheets & Slides extension to your Chrome browser. Don't worry! It's easy, and you should only have to do it once!

  • Click the blue button to "add to Chrome"
  • You will have to give it permission to access all kinds of stuff, but just close your eyes and do it!
  • Once it finishes adding itself to your Chrome browser, try to open your Office document again.
  • Now, the Office document  should open. The extension can clearly be seen in the URL 
  • When you open the Word document, you can also see that the extension is working by clicking on "File" and seeing the words, "Office Compatibility Mode".

You are good to go!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Converting Office Documents to Google Docs

You have an Office document safely backed up in your Google Drive, and now you need to share it with your team. But, wait! You can't share documents saved in their original Office format.
No worries. Let's  convert that document to a Google doc,. "Convert" really creates a new copy, so you even get to keep your original just the way it is!

To convert:
  • Double-click to open the original Word document in your Google drive that you wish to convert
  • The Word document will open in a new tab, and the tab will have the big "W" for "Word" at the top.
  • Now for the conversion part:
    • Go to "File"  ,"Save as Google Doc" or 
    • Go to "Share", and the pop-up will  give you the option to convert
  • The Google doc version will now open in a new tab with the Google doc icon at the tab-top
  • Your Google Drive will now have two version of this document: one in the original Office format and one in Google doc format
This process is so simple and easy, that pretty soon you will become a real "convert" and create everything in Google Drive!

Confused by the duplicate documents? Look at the icons!

As you start converting Office documents to Google docs, slides, and sheets (and you will!), you can easily tell the two products apart by their icons. Seems silly, but it helps when the drive gets crowded.