11.29.2015

Using Your Own Google Drawings as Images in a Google Doc

From time to time, we all have wanted to include an image or picture of something in a Google Document. Google has made it very easy to make this happen.

  • Drag and drop an image anywhere on the Google Document
  • Insert an image by URL
  • Search 'free to use' images from Life and Stock Images databases
There are three ways to include a Google Drawing you have made in your Google Document. The most obvious method is just taking a screen shot of the final version of the Google Drawing and inserting it in the Google Document. The only disadvantage of this would be if an edit was made to the drawing after the screenshot was taken. An updated screenshot would then have to be inserted on the Google Document.

Below are two different ways an 'always current' Google Drawing can be included in a Google Document.

Inserting a 'Non-Existing' Google Drawing

STEP 1:
Place your curser where you would like to create your Google Drawing. Then select Drawing under the Insert menu.

STEP 2:
A drawing pop up window will appear for you to add your content. Once you are done, you will then hit the Save & Close button. It is important to know that a separate Google Drawing file will not be created since you are making this 'drawing' in the Google Document. You also cannot grab a pre-existing Google Drawing this way.

**NOTE: You are able to made edits to your drawing after you have saved it to the Google Document. To do this, double click on the drawing and the popup window will reappear.


Inserting a 'Live' Pre-Made Google Drawing

STEP 1:
Open the Google Drawing that you want to include in your Google Document. Then select, Publish to the Web under the File menu.


STEP 2:
Select the blue Publish button. This will provide a link that will be available for anyone in the world to view.
** NOTE: You do have the ability to restrict who can see this information under the Published content & settings drop down menu at the bottom of that window.

STEP 3:
Copy the provided link.
** NOTE: You have the ability to stop publishing your file, however if you ever choose to do this, you would loose the linked Google Drawing in your Google Doc.

STEP 4:
Select Image under the Insert menu and paste the link to the Google Drawing. Your drawing will then be embedded in your Google Document.




As always, if you ever have any questions - you know where to find me. Happy Drawing...

11.20.2015

Polling Students through Google Slides

Receiving formative feedback can be very helpful. There are many tools out there that help get that feedback, whether you use Kahoot!, Quizizz, Socrative, or Peardeck (to name a few).

Just recently, Poll Everywhere came out with a Chrome extension that allows Google Slide users the ability to embed Poll Everywhere questions right in a presentation.

I can see this being very useful when you know you want to ask your students a very quick question but don't want to spend the time to add the presentation in a Peardeck or Kahoot! Poll Everywhere does have a free educator account (which is great) but only limits you to 40 responses per question. So, those of you who have class sizes higher than that would not be able to use this tool.

So the next time you have that moment of 'I want to quickly add a question or two to a google slide presentation' give Poll Everywhere a try.

STEP 1:
Get the Poll Everywhere Chrome extension. The actual official title of this Chrome extension is: Polling in Google Slides (This chrome extension has already been pushed to the staff in my district).
It is important to note that you will not 'see' the chrome extension with the rest of the extensions in the Chrome browser. Instead, a new menu option will show up when you have a Google Slide opened on your screen.

STEP 2:
Go to Poll Everywhere and sign up for the free K-12 Educational Plan. Click HERE for the direct link.

STEP 3:
Open up a Google Slide presentation that you would like to include a question or two in your presentation. You will notice the new menu option: Poll Everywhere.

STEP 4:
Log in to your Poll Everywhere account.

STEP 5:
Then select Create Poll. A pop up window will appear for you to choose the type of question. Once you hit insert poll, it will automatically insert a slide with that poll question on it.

Important to Note: The actual poll question will not show until you are in present mode of your slide presentation. While in editing mode, you will see the following:


If you have any questions on how you can use this extension or you need assistance making this work for you, just let me know.

10.23.2015

QR Codes: Way to Get Students Moving Around with Chromebooks

Looking to do something different with students and have them moving around in your class? How about creating QR codes for students to scan with their chromebooks to complete tasks. This can be a great way of changing things up, besides playing Kahoot! games, pushing an assignment through Google Classroom, or having students fill out an exit ticket.

Examples of Implementation:
At times, I see teachers having students complete tasks in groups with the use of stations. The groups work on that particular task and once time is over, groups are instructed to move to the next station to solve another task.

Mrs. Cooney and Mrs. Hatzidakis did this for their roots classes this week and the activity proved to be successful. They had several stations where students needed to visit. One student from each group would have a chromebook and would scan the code to access the content needed for that station. The group then worked together to accomplish the task. Some codes opened up articles from databases, YouTube videos, Google Drive files, etc.

Another possibility is creating a QR code treasure hunt where students have to answer questions in order to move on through the use of QR codes. If you are interested in this, check out classtools - VERY easy to use. What I like about this tool is that the QR codes are automatically made for you.

Creating QR Codes
Step 1: Find/Create items
You will first need to create or find things that you want to be scanned by your students. This can be a range of things from Google Documents with problems/questions on the, to an article on a website, to an image you want them to ponder about.

Step 2: Creating QR Codes
Once you have the items you want to use, you must then create your QR Codes. There is a Chrome extension that I use for this purpose. It is called goo.gl URL shortener.

It is very easy to use. Have the website, video, or Google Document you want to create a QR code for opened. Then click on the goo.gl URL shortener Icon where all of your chrome extensions are located (top right corner of chrome browser). A window will open like the one below.

All you need to do is click on the words QR Code and a QR code will appear. Below is what that will look like. Then, click and drag your QR code to your desktop so that you can put it in a Google Document that you will print to post somewhere in your classroom or around the school.

Step 3: Getting the QR Scanner Chrome App
Before students can scan, they must have a particular Chrome App, called ScanQR. They can download this to their chromebook or you might need the administrator to your school domain to push this to your students. All students at BHS have this app pushed to them.

Step 4: Using ScanQR App
Student must then open the Chrome App on their Chromebook. For those students who have a swivel camera, they can flip the camera and scan the QR code. Once scanned, a window will appear with options. More than likely they will select Go to URL.


As always, if you have any questions on how to use this tool, you know where to find me.

10.02.2015

Have You Shared with Classroom Yet?

Google has created a Chrome extension that allows teachers to be able to share information easily to students that are enrolled in their Google Classroom without having to log into classroom.google.com. The name of the extension is Share to Classroom.

In order to effectively use the power behind this extension, your students will need to have this extension in their account as well. (This Chrome Extension will be pushed to all BHS students in the very near future as this will work nicely with chromebooks.)

What You Can Do...
  • Push a website, article, video, document to students right on the spot without making an assignment/announcement
  • Push an assignment to the class
  • Make an announcement to the class
Push Content
I am a big fan of this feature. Everyday, we make spontaneous decisions based on where discussions are leading us. This extension helps support information you want students to access right on the spot. By using this chrome extension, you can send all students who have their device open a link to a website, video, article etc. This is similar to Google Tone (another Chrome extension) but I like how this is tied to a Google Classroom so that only those students in the class get the pushed site - not other students. 

For instructions and demonstration on how this works:

Posing Assignment and Announcement
You are able to post assignments and announcements in Google Classroom without having to be logged into classroom.google.com.

For instructions and demonstration on how this works:

As always, if you have any questions, let me know!


9.23.2015

Calendar Integration with Google Classroom

It is finally here! Google Calendar has been integrated with Google Classroom.

Two Big Advantages:

  • Students are able to see all of their assignments for all of their classes in one view right in Google Classroom

  • Teachers are able to embed the calendar on their Teacher Website for parents without having to post content in both places. HUGE time saver!

9.19.2015

Hiding Morning and Night Times in Google Calendar

The default to Google Calendar is for the entire day (24 hours) to show. There is a way however to set a particular range of time - times that you work or times that make most sense to you. You must enable a Google Calendar lab called Hide Morning and Night. The following screencast will walk you through the steps.


9.09.2015

Customize Your Feedback in Google Docs

Earlier this year, I provided a blog post on how you can create shortcuts in Google Documents so that you are not wasting time when providing valuable feedback to your students. To read this previous post, click HERE.

Last week, Mr. Geddes, came to Kerri Lunn and I asking how he can mimic a way of providing feedback he has done in the past by hand. He wanted a way to provide a check mark, like he would have with his pen as a means of agreeing with the statement the student shared. At first, we did not think it was possible until we looked further.

This is what we came up with:

STEP 1:
Find a check and an x that you will want to use to insert in a Google Document. To do this, open up a blank Google Document. Then choose Special Characters - found under the Insert Menu.

STEP 2:
Use the draw symbol box on the right hand side to find what you are looking for. You will notice that we drew in a check mark. Then, choose the green check mark so that it can be seen easily in a student's paper. By selecting it, it will be inserted on your blank Google Document.
We did the same thing for finding an x to use.


STEP 3:
Copy the inserted check mark on your blank Google Document so that the shortcut can be created. To do this, click Preferences under the Tools menu.

We had Mr. Geddes type gpp (representing good point). This means anytime he types the letters gpp when providing feedback, Google will automatically replace it with a green check mark. You might be asking, why gpp? We did this so that incase Mr. Geddes would ever type the letters gp together it would not produce a check mark. By adding gpp, we have eliminated possibilities of those letters ever being together.

Once you type gpp in the replace box, paste the green check mark you copied from the blank Google document. Then hit the OK button. 
STEP 4:
Repeat step 3 for the red check mark. This time, we had Mr. Geddes use wpp as the shortcut for the red x to appear.

STEP 5:
Open up a paper that you need to provide feedback on and use the shortcuts that you have created.

Note: Once you create a shortcut, they will always be available to you.

This solution may not solve all situations you might be used to/faced with when grading physical papers but at least this shows you possibilities that are available with assessing in Google Documents.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask - you know where to find me. As I have already tweeted out, we thank Mr. Geddes for pushing us. It is all about learning!

9.01.2015

How Technology Can Be Used During Open House

Lots of us have open house coming up in the very near future. Why not have technology help you with the process...below are some ideas.

Going to be Absent to Your Own Class?
Whether you are a teacher who cannot attend Open House yourself OR you want to be able to reach all of your parents (even those that could not attend), why not create a quick screencast of your presentation? Making screencasts are very easy to do now. You could record yourself talking through the presentation OR you could just turn on your webcam and talk to the computer.

If this is the route that you want to go, I would recommend using the Chrome Extension Screencastify. Below are instructions on how to use the tool if you have never used it before.



Worried about privacy and YouTube? No worries, just save your screencast to your Google Drive account with 'anyone with the link' sharing permission. When it is time to share, provide a link or QR code on your door if you are going to be absent. You can also email your screencast and/or embed the video on your teacher website for all parents to see.

Want to Have Fun with Parents?
In past years, some teachers have created a Jeopardy Game for the parents to play - this is a great way of getting parents engaged and involved. If you are interested in going this route, you can create a quick Jeopardy game using Flippity.net and Google Sheets. Instructions on how to do this can be found from a previous blog post that I wrote.

Up for a different competition game? Why not have parents participate in a fun game of Kahoot! We know that our students love participating in the game - might be great to share the fun. You could ask parents questions pertaining to your class and then go into more detail about the answers. It is important to note that parents would have to be willing to use their mobile device to make this work.



Need to Get Feedback?
It is important to know that both options below would require a parent to use their mobile device to provide feedback.

Are you one that likes to collect information from parents? How about making a Google Form to have parents fill out instead of passing around a piece of paper.
Another great option is using the Exit Ticket option from Socrative. This could be a great way of asking parents/guardians what they want you to know about their son/daughter.



The possibilities are endless as to what you can do. The most important thing is to make sure that you are having fun during open house as well as the parents.  Stop by room 222 if you would like to talk more about what you can do with technology during open house.

Happy Beginning of the School Year!

8.27.2015

Embedding a YouTube Playlist in Google Sites


A colleague of mine, Ms. Mac, shared a fun fact that I was unaware of. Rather than linking a YouTube playlist to a Google Site, she shared with me how you can actually have the YouTube playlist be embedded on a page in a Google Site.



The Process
The video below will walk you through step by step on how you can embed a YouTube playlist on a page in Google Sites.





Why I prefer this approach?
Now I know the end result is the same no matter which approach you use, whether you embed a YouTube Playlist or provide a link to the Playlist. However, when it comes to YouTube Playlist, I like...
  • how the user stays on your website to view the important content
  • the ability of viewing the other videos by clicking on the icon on the top left corner
  • that the website is not full of individual embedded videos
  • that the user can find the videos easily (instead of searching for a link somewhere on the page to click on)

If you would like help on how to make a YouTube playlist, let me know and I can assist.

5.02.2015

How to Make Your Own GIF File

A couple of people have asked me how I have been creating GIF files. It is rather quite simple. For those of you who might be scratching your head as to what a GIF file is, a sample is provided below.


Basically, a GIF file is an animated graphics file (most just think of it as a 'video' file). This file extension just plays on repeat. It is great for showcasing a simple task that you want people to follow - but might be easier to explain through animating steps rather than writing the steps out.


In order to begin, you will need to use the Chrome browser and download Techsmith Snagit (if you don't already have it). Once it has been downloaded, the Chrome extension will show up on the top right corner of the browser.

Good to Note

There are a couple of things to note with this extension:

  • In order to use this Chrome extension, it will ask you to log into Chrome, if you are not already signed into the browser. 
  • This extension is not just for creating GIF files - you can annotate images as well as take video.
  • Techsmith saves all of your files in a folder that can be found in your Google Drive account. 
  • In order to make a GIF file, it has to be 15 seconds or less (at least I think it does)
Steps for Creating a GIF File
  • Determine what you want to 'animate'
  • When ready, click on the Snagit chrome extension (top right corner of the browser) and select the Screen option.
  • Snagit will ask you what you would like to record - based on what is already opened on your computer. Once you select the 'screen' you want to record, Snagit will start recording. In the image below, Snagit can record my entire screen, a Google Sheet that I have open, another tab that has my blog, or a file that is opened in Preview.
  • Once you are done with your recording, hit the stop sharing button.
  • Then, name your video at the top of the screen. Next select animated GIF from the menu on the bottom left.
  • Lastly, Snagit will create a link as well as give you the ability to download your GIF file to upload on a website or blog post. Keep in mind that you can access these files right from your Google Drive in the Techsmith folder. (I also like the fact that you can upload video files right to YouTube as well.)


Hope this is helpful.

3.22.2015

Creating "Fill In" Responses in Google Docs

Why not have Google Docs work for you...you can turn a Google Document into a 'fillable form' by making questionnaires, investigations, worksheets, etc. I know that Google Forms exist and you can ask questions for people to fill out but sometimes, you just do not want your responses to be located in one big Google Sheet.

Where I see this method work great is for investigations or worksheets that students might typically have done with paper and pencil in the past. That is right, students can do the same work electronically, allowing them to 'turn it in' through Google Classroom or other electronic collection means.

Examples
Below are some examples of how I see this working out:

1. Questionnaire or Form - wanting to collect basic information from people but need the information separate from others in a document.


2. Investigation or Worksheet - students completing their work electronically in a document - getting away from the traditional paper and pencil method.


Process

There is a little trick to this madness. Follow these steps and you will be golden:
  1. First you must determine the questions that you want to ask. 
  2. Then you must insert tables in your document. This is how you create those text boxes for users to fill out.
  3. Next, you need to customize the look of your tables so that they don't look like tables. It is also recommended that if you want the responses to have its own style, you will want to customize that as well.

Things to Know/Consider
  • If you are going to use this method for all of your required course work, you will want to be consistent. In other words, keep your response boxes the same color, type of font, etc.
  • When choosing a color for your box, do not choose a dark color. It might be good to just keep it basic and choose a light grey color.
  • Depending on responses - documents may look different. What I mean by this is if a response by a student is extra thoughtful, it will push all content below it - which might result in things showing up on a different page.
Why this Method?

I like this method as students know exactly what is expected of them. There is no confusion for students as they know where a response must be given. There is no room for 'well I didn't know I had to answer that'!

Just this year, our administration team had all teachers complete their professional goals and self reflections in an Google Document that was set up as a questionnaire. Again, this allowed teachers to know exactly what they had to fill out and complete.

As always, if you want to learn more as to how you can use this tool in your classroom/curriculum, you know where to find me!

3.19.2015

Finding Key Words

We all are in situations from time to time where we are either reading a multi-page Google Document or article on a website and all you want to do is find a particular part. Sometimes skimming takes longer than it would have taken if you just read the article to begin with.

The trick you ask? By using shortcut keys, you can have a search window pop up to locate the word or words that you are looking for.

Shortcut Keys

Mac Users: 
  • command key and f key
Chromebook Users:
  • control key and f key


No matter if you are on the web browsing a website or in a Google Product, a similar window will show up (in the image above) for you to type in the key word you are looking for. In my particular example, the key word Wellness showed up 11 times in this particular Google Sheet. With the help of the arrows next to the key word, you are able to quickly jump through the page to locate the exact thing you are trying to find.


2.09.2015

So You Want to Create Columns in Google Documents?


I would say that the number one complaint that I get about Google Documents is the unability to create columns. Some think that this is a common task that people use and wonder why it has not been implemented. There is however a work around to getting columns to show up on a Google Document - done by using a table. Below is an example of how a table can actually be made to look like two column section in a Google Document (check out the red text in the Google Document).

IMPORTANT TO NOTE: Unlike traditional columns, you have to determine when you want to start typing into the second column on the Google Document. For those people used to using columns in Word, you know what I am talking about. Word automatically starts typing into the next column when it gets to the bottom of a page. In this instance, since we are not using a traditional column setting, you have to tell Google Documents that you are done typing in one cell of a table and want to type in the second cell of the table.

STEPS TO MAKING THIS HAPPEN:

  • Place your cursor where you want to 'insert columns'. Then select a 2 x 1 table from the Table Menu.

  • Suggestion: Write all of your content in the first cell of the table. Once you are done with editing your content, count the total number of lines and divide it by two. This will then tell you what you need to highlight and copy in the second cell so that the text will line up perfectly. This could become annoying when it comes down to editing your content - but at least you can get your ‘column feel’ when creating columns is not an option in Google Documents. Your table will look something like this:
  • Highlight the entire table and right click. Choose 'Table Properties'

  • Be sure to change the border color to white so that the borders of the cells no longer show to make the text look like it was never created in a table.


While this is not a perfect way of making columns happen in Google Documents, at least it gives you a bit more flexibility with how text can appear. Hope this helps!