8.02.2017

New Google Sites - "Page Level Permissions" with a Twist

Over the summer, I have been converting our tech website for the high school manually into the New Google Sites. In a way, it has been great because I have been able to truly look through what is on our tech website and weed through the items and information that is no longer valid. (That's one draw back from how quickly technology changes) That spring cleaning feel in the summer time!

In thinking about how I wanted to design the site, I was trying to find a way in which staff at the high school would only have access to certain pages, and not students. I had used the page level permission feature in the old Google Sites before. This was helpful - as long as the staff member was logged in with their Google account, they would see about 6 different tabs on the website where as students and the rest of the public would only see abut 3 tabs. Currently, the New Google Sites does not have page level permissions - maybe a feature that will show up in the future? Who knows...

I have heard some people share the tip of reenacting page level permissions through documents and files that are embedded on a page. In other words, if I wanted only staff to see content on a page, I could embed a Google Document on the page. Then with the blue share button in the Google Document, I would only share it with the staff group list. Thus, even though the public could see the page on the site, they would not see the content in the Google Document (unless the viewer was part of the staff group list). I knew I did not want to use this approach.

Instead, I wanted to make sure that only staff could find particular page with information that was just for them. Below, you will find a screenshot of a page that is not public. I have decided to hide it from the site's navigation. This page is a landing page for teachers where they could then select a subpage based on what they were looking to do. Thus, the landing page and its subpages are hidden from the public.


Hiding a Page in New Google Sites


In order to hide a page from the site navigation:

1. First Create the page(s) you plan to hide from the navigation

2. Hover over the page name and click on the three dots that appear on the right side.

3. From the drop down menu, select 'hide from navigation'. You will notice as a result, there is a link with a line through it for the Teacher Items page. This means that it is now hidden. Whereas Chromebook and Resources pages do not have this icon.











Giving Staff Access to Page - "Page Level Permissions" with a Twist

Again, I needed a way to get a page to staff without the ability to use Page Level Permissions. So, I...



1. I published the site.

2. I viewed the published site. (You will notice on the top right corner that Teacher Items page is not in the navigation of the website.

3. I will then use the google URL shortener to shorten the link. I will shorten the link to the Teacher Items page (not the home page). This is the link that I will ask staff to bookmark on their devices at the beginning of the school year. As long as staff access the tech website with this link, they will have access to everything that has been posted on the new tech website. If they access the website from the public link, which will be linked on the high school website, they will only have access to the public pages that are included in the navigation of the website.


To get a better understanding of what I am talking about:

Click HERE to view a sample site. You will notice in the navigation of the site,  Teacher Items Page is not listed.

Click HERE to view Teacher Items Page. This would be the link that I would ask teachers to bookmark.

Use of this Feature
Sure, not all of you might be in the same boat as I am with needing to hide pages to differentiate content between staff and students. But one way this feature might be useful is for those that are into integrating Breakout EDU into their curriculum. If you create a breakout using the New Google Sites, you could hide certain pages so that it is not easily accessible for students to get to - but yet you are still using one site to host all of the information/content.

Want to talk more about this feature, you know where to find me. And that is my Spiel...


6.09.2017

We All Have a Reason to Celebrate!

Sure, it is the end of the school year. Sure, we all are exhausted from all of the tasks that we have been asked to do along the year. Sure, we are tired from the work that has been completed outside of the school day hours. But it is important to take the time to reflect on the awesome work that has been accomplished in 16-17 school year.

Over the course of the year, I have enjoyed hearing about the success stories that teachers have had after a lesson. Not staying in the same place and doing the same lesson can be very beneficial. Pushing one's self is an important trait for all teachers and learners to have. It is like the Blockbuster vs. Netflix situation. Blockbuster did not move with the times and push themselves to think differently with their business model. Netflix however decided that it was important to change their business model as human interest and demands changed over the years. Netflix is still around because they decided to push themselves.

I know that I speak on behalf of the tech department at BHS when I say that we are very proud of what has been accomplished tech wise. Bulldogs have done some GREAT work! Here is just a sampling of some of the great things that have been implemented this past school year...

Google Classroom

  • More teachers this year implemented Google Classroom into their courses to help students and teachers keep organized

PearDeck

  • Wellness 1 teachers used PearDeck for the first time to get student viewpoints with the topics at hand
  • French teachers used PearDeck as a vocabulary enforcer where they had to 'dress the snowman' based on the clothing vocabulary that they were learning
Adobe Spark
  • Students in The American Dream classes used Adobe Spark Video to produce a PSA
  • Students in Marine Biology used Adobe Spark Page to curate information based on their findings from a field trip to the Boston Museum of Science (they documented their experience by taking pictures to use in their Adobe Spark Page). The teacher also created an Adobe Spark Page to curate all student work from the class to share with everyone else.
  • Students in Power of Nature classes used Adobe Spark Page to showcase information about particular volcanoes.
  • Adobe Spark Post was used to share information to the bulldog community through its social media accounts
Presenting at Conferences
  • For the first time, the Bedford School District hosted its own Tech conference on a district workshop day where all employees in the district got together to talk about best practices with tech integration. There were many, many staff members at the high school who stepped up and presented at the conference. It was a cool experience for everyone to learn from each other!
  • Many high school staff presented at Christa McAuliffe Technology Conference for the first time. Topics included: The Changing Landscape in a 1:1 Classroom, Librarian & Tech Collaboration, and #GoogleAddict.
  • Several staff members have already agreed upon sharing their knowledge at our 2nd annual district conference next school year in October
Becoming Social Media Savvy
  • Counseling department helped produce a topic a month relating to social media for students and staff. These topics were discussed in advisories. 

Breakout EDU
  • At the beginning of the school year, staff participated in a Breakout EDU. Since then, many teachers used the Breakout boxes in their classes.
  • Some teachers challenged themselves to participate in a digital Breakout during a Workshop training.
Hyperdocs
  • Staff members throughout all disciplines created hyperdocs to help students discover, explore, apply, and share their learning
Google Keep
  • Several teachers have stayed organized over the year with using Google Keep
  • A couple teachers have explored around with DocStickers
GeoGebra
  • Geometry teachers used GeoGebra this year to help students visualize their learning - seeing as though all students have Chromebooks and the tool that they had before did not allow students to use with their Chromebook
Team Drive

  • Several teams and committees, such as the Leadership Team and the Self Management Committee, realized that they could be more efficient if they utilize the Team Drive feature in Google Drive
Google Expeditions
  • Counselors gave college virtual tours to Juniors in advisories
  • Google Expeditions were also given in math and science classes
  • Google recognized Toni Taylor's use of Google Expedition in a weekly Tuesday tweet
360 Filming
  • Film students explored around with creating 360 films for the first time
  • Teachers traveling with students to Machu Picchu during intersession used a 360 camera to document the experience - this will then be used in Spanish curriculum in the future

Screencasting
  • Several teachers in different disciplines implemented screencastify chrome extension. This was used either to film a project, record oneself with a piece of writing, or record a presentation. This has particularly been helpful in American Sign Language, and Humanities courses.
Osmo
  • Our life skills students were exposed to Osmo for the first time this year. They have had fun with making pizzas and giving change, using tangrams, exploring around with coding, spelling, and performing math operations.
1:1 Visits

  • Teachers willingly opened up their classrooms to visitors from other schools who were interested in learning how Chromebooks were used in BHS classes
LOTS TO BE PROUD OF! Obviously, I do not have every single new thing that happened this year. This is just a sampling of what I could remember. (If you think of something that I should add, let me know). Good things have been accomplished. Looking forward to the new possibilities next school year. #proudbulldog

And that is my Spiel...

5.31.2017

It's All About Design


Throughout this school year, I have been thinking about how content is shared with students. Before any 1:1 program, we as teachers would put something together in a Google Doc (or lets be honest and say Microsoft Word) and print the document out for each student. You might have tried to keep text to a page. Very little graphics, if any, were included.

Fast forward to today where students have a device. We can think about creating and designing content on a document that has more of a design element to it.

At the beginning of the school year, I was fortunate to participate in a YouTube Live conversation with Lisa Highfill and Kelly Hilton, co-creators of the term Hyperdocs. You can watch the recorded conversation HERE. I also previously wrote a blog post about Hyperdocs which can be found HERE. Basically, their main objective with hyperdocs is to help guide students through an informal, reflective journey. This can be accomplished through the following steps:  Engage, Explore, Explain, Apply, Share, Reflect, and Extend. More information can be found on the hyperdocs website.

There are times however where you don't want to create a hyperdoc for students but still need to share information. This is where an element of design, in terms of layout, color, and style come into play.

Two different examples come to mind when I think of the design element. One has to deal with sharing information to staff about two senior project celebration days (days where we do not hold classes, but instead learn from our students and their senior projects) and the other about sharing information to students over the course of a unit in a Global Humanities course.

It is important to note that there is not one 'right way' of putting information together. The whole point of this blog post is to help people think about how they are sharing information to others.

  • Should everything be in Times New Roman font, size 12, black font?
  • Should there be some color?
  • Should tables be involved?
  • Should a different file type be used besides Google Docs?
If students have a device in front of them, should things be more visual? Is the expectation for people to print said file - if that is the case maybe there shouldn't be much color. One could argue for or against each of the questions above. It is up to you as an educator to make your best judgement.

Senior Project Celebration Days

What: Teachers must be informed with how two days at the end of the school year are run to accommodate student presentations.
Problem to Solve: Before curating information, several (10-20) emails were sent out on the school wide group email causing staff to not know when or what was sent. As a result, a member of the committee, Ms. Doyle, came up with an idea last year to put all of the important information together in a Google Sheet.


This year, the decision was made to organize the information differently to help staff out. Again, keeping in mind that the committee didn't want to send several emails out, they decided to put all of the information together in a Google Drawing.

Both the Google Sheet and the Google Drawing share the same information - it is just presented differently.  Each file had links that opened up different files. Ask yourself, which would you rather look at? Your answer might be different from a friend of yours. I hope however, you think to yourself, how can/should I share information out with students beyond just typing text.

Unit Study in Global Studies

What: Students must 'Go the Distance' to learn and extend themselves in a Global Studies Unit.
Problem to Solve: The teachers, Mrs. Cooney and Mrs. Hatzidakis, wanted a way to curate and share the steps and procedure they wanted their students to take along their journey. Below are three different versions of the same information. Which one would you rather be on the receiving end if you were the student in their class?

Version 1 (White background with black text)
Version 2 (Purple background, with tables, different font)
Version 3 (Circular workflow process table, with different font and colors)

I know...I don't have the all the answers or the 'right way' of putting content together. Hope that this has gotten you to think about design however. If you have any questions or you would like to talk about this topic with me, you know where to find me.

It all comes down to design! And that is my Spiel...