Showing posts from 2016

Customize Your G-Suite 'Waffle'

Here is a quick tip for you when you are accessing information from you G-Suite 'waffle'. No, I am not talking about the food item. The waffle is an unofficial term that is used when talking about the drop down menu of options for G-Suite applications, once an user is logged into their account. Google pre-populates the icons in the waffle for you. However, many people do not know that you can actually move some of the applications around based on your liking. Check out the demonstration below:

Steps: Click on the waffle icon on the top right (make sure you are signed into your Google account.Click and drag the application that you want to move.
A Couple of Notes: It appears as though some tools will not show up until G-Suite notices that you use the tool. One example for me was Google Keep. I noticed that after I started accessing the website, the icon showed up in my waffle.Some applications cannot be moved. For instance, Google Classroom, will not show up in the top section of t…

Using Shortcuts with Screencastify

Screencastify has been a 'go to' tool for our school, especially since it works so nicely with chromebooks. For those of you who have not used Screencastify, I highly recommend that you check it out.

There are many uses of the tool:
Create a screencast demonstrating a taskCreate a screencast highlighting informationRecord conversation between peopleRecord an audio recording (by using the camera feature but blocking the camera so that it only records a black screen and picks up audio only)Film scenes for a project What I am most excited about is the fact that you can create your own shortcuts when using Screencastify. Sometimes, I do find it a bit clunky trying to start and stop the screencast without seeing the curser go off the screen. This can help with that. You can create (or use the existing) shortcuts for

Starting Screencastify
Pause/Resume Recording
Start/Stop Recording
Change Recording to Current Tab

Watch the gif below to see how easy this is.

For those of you who have…

Adobe Spark: Taking Design to the Next Level

Over the past month, I have been exploring around with a tool called Adobe Spark. Adobe Spark is a relatively new tool that provides a user an opportunity to create:

Visual Post, Video, Web Page

Adobe Spark works on the web (works great on Chromebooks) as well as through mobile apps (Adobe Spark Post, Adobe Spark Video, Adobe Spark Page). The user is able to log into Adobe Spark with their Google Account - it will ask for a birth date. (If you are planning on using this with students below 13, you should talk with your tech integrator to see if this is in fact a tool you should use with your students.) Below is an example of what you can do with Adobe Voice. This video speaks to the three components of Adobe Spark.

Examples of the Tool
This is an example of a Spark Post that I have created.

Clicking on this link will bring you to a Spark Page that I am currently working on for Hour of Code.

Using this Tool in Your Classroom

You could easily use Spark Post to highlight a song, quote, or …

BHS Becoming Social Media Savvy

For the past two years, tech 222 and counseling have worked together to help educate BHS students about social media use and their digital tattoo. One year, we put on a Social Media Awareness day. The second year, we celebrated social media over a course of a week.

This year, with input from administration and others, we decided to bring the conversation of social media throughout the school year. Each month, we will focus on a particular concept/aspect of social media. Our plan is to also come up with four different activities for students to participate in based on their grade level. We then hope that each advisory participates in the activity during one of the advisory days in that month.

To kick things off, we decided to focus on the positive aspects of social media. For the Freshmen class, they sat through a 30 minute presentation on "Social Media and Your Digital Tattoo" presentation. We focused on the goods, the bads and the cautions of social media. Students were ab…

Breaking Out with Co-Worker Collaboration: #BreakoutEDU

(I am embarrassed to say that this blog post was supposed to have been posted 2 months ago. Time just got away from me but still wanted to share and reflect on a great activity.)

In the spring of 2016, I attended a conference at Medfield Public School District where I experience Breakout EDU for the first time. After a short 45 minutes, I was HOOKED as I had a blast participating and could not wait to help bring it to BHS. If you have never participate in a breakout before or you want to learn more about the concept, watch this short video from the company itself.

In talking about what team bonding experience teachers should partake in this year on the first workshop day of the school year, it was determined that we should give #BreakoutEDU a try. So in a collaborative team effort, Zanna Blaney, Dean of Students, Jessica Gilcreast, librarian, Bill Hagen, Principal, and I, as well as other Bulldog team leaders (known as the Decade Dogs), we were able to pull off seven simultaneous Brea…

Chromebook Challenge #hyperdoc

Inspiration #1
Over the summer, I was introduced to a new term/concept known as a #hyperdoc. You might say well isn't a hyperdoc just a Google Document that has hyperdocs in it? Well, the answer is no. A hyperdoc is a document that has links to other artifacts, videos, articles, games, reviews, etc. Through these links students learn about a concept as well as share their own learning and thoughts with others. To learn more about #hyperdocs, and the work that Lisa Highfill, Kelly Hilton, and Sarah Landis have done, click HERE. I decided to make an attempt with creating a Chromebook challenge hyperdoc (even though it leans more on the side of students mostly learning information and not sharing as much information).

Inspiration #2
I was inspired to produce a Chromebook challenge after hearing about how Lee's Summit R-7 School District created a Chromebook challenge for their students. Their great resource can be found on their technology website HERE. What I like about…

Guardian Resource for Google Classroom Email Summaries

Some teachers at our high school have decided to turn on the Guardian Email Summaries component to Google Classroom. This resource was created to help further explain what Guardian Email Summaries are all about for parents/guardians to reference (if need be). This video is linked on the teacher website letting guardians know that they turned on this feature.

Graph My Math!: Coordinate Plane Templates

A math colleague of mine, Stefan Fritz, found himself in a situation where he constantly was in the need for customized coordinate planes for worksheets, activities, assessments etc that he was creating for his students.

With the lack of great resources out there, he decided to create his own website. How COOL is that? What is this website you ask?

Here a user is able to indicate how they want to customize a coordinate plane to look:
scaling of x and y axislabeling of the axeslayout of the grid Once the user has their settings for the grid, they are able to select the download button. This file can then be added to a Google Doc or Google Slide, or any other product they wish. 
* NOTE: The downloaded file type will be a png file.
Big kudos to Stefan for solving a problem he found himself in and allowing other educators to benefit from his hard work in creating this great site!

Math Keyboard Shortcuts for Google Docs

Math teachers know that typing math notation in Google Docs takes a bit of work. Rachel Fairhurst, a middle school math teacher in the Bedford School District, created a Google Doc with a list of shortcuts for her students so that they can type math expressions efficiently and correctly without having to spend the time to find what they are looking for in the equation tool bar. A sample of shortcuts can be seen in the image below. To view the full list of shortcuts that Rachel felt were important for her students click on this Google Doc link.

The trick to getting started in a Google Doc is to open the equation editor in the Google Document under the insert window. There is even a shortcut to inserting an equation without the need of moving the curser to the insert window.

Chromebook Shortcut:Alt + I + E (Alt + I will open the Insert window. E then opens the Equation editor)

Mac Shortcut:Ctrl + Option + I + E (Ctrl + Option + I will open the Insert window. E then opens the Equation edit…

Gamifying Professional Development - #GoogleSheets

This past semester Jess Gilcreast, our librarian, and I worked together in creating ways our staff could earn professional development hours besides sitting in a formal training. Our goal was to help create flexibility and adhere to different learning styles. One such way that we accomplished this was through offering professional development training through Gamification, using Google Sheets.

The Inspiration
This inspiration came from Bob Petitto. Not only was I impressed with the work that he had published on his blog, but I was also inspired by his Chrome in 30 Day activity that he put together. I appreciated the fact that he provided a way for his staff to learn about the Chrome browser on their own time by completing 30 different tasks. His original blog post on his 30 day challenge can be found HERE.

I also was inspired by the work that our Freshmen humanities teachers put together, Heath Ahnert, Steph Burnham, Krystin Cooney, Jess Hatzidakis, Steward Pepper, and Meg Uliasz. Their…

No Connection Error? Play the Dinosaur Game!

From time to time, we have all seen this chrome message when our internet connection is not working. Well, have no fear as you can entertain yourself until the connection gets resolved or you find something else better to do.

To play the dinosaur game, hit the up arrow. Soon you will discover that your dinosaur on the top left corner of your screen will start running. But be careful, as there will be objects in your way that you must jump over.

The question that I have for you is, how many points can you get with your dinosaur?

iMovie + iPhone = Easy Movie Creation

I know that I am 'late to the party' on this one but I still felt it was important to share my thoughts on iMovie and on the iPhone. Each year for Intersession (our school shuts down for three days prior to Spring break for students and teachers to participate in some sort of learning outside of the classroom), I tend to be the one that gathers all of the pictures that were taken from our experiences and put them together in a movie. In past years, I have defaulted to using my iPad as this is what I had always used to make a movie. This time, I pushed myself to actually make the movie on my phone.

Why you might ask?

My iPad is going on 4 years old.My iPad's camera is nothing compared to my iPhone.My iPhone is with me at all times.iMovie is a free app that works on iPhones (as well as iPads).
Link to iMovie App from iTunes
I thought that this would be a great opportunity to push myself to do something that I would not otherwise do. I can tell you that my experience with the a…

Use Google Form Templates for Exit Tickets & Course Evals

Over the past couple of days, I have spent some time looking at templates that Google has created for its products. More specifically, I came across some templates with Google Forms. Two of them that I feel could be very useful for teachers are the Exit Ticket and Course Evaluation templates. They are short sweet and to the point. I also like the fact that you have the ability to make any changes that you want with the templates by adding your own questions and/or deleting ones that you don't find useful/important.

To see the template options, go to the Google Forms direct link If you go the route of creating a new Google Form from your Google Drive account, you will not see the option to create a form from a template. But by hitting the back button, Google will bring you to their form's homepage where you will see the available templates. The video below will quickly explain how to get to the Google Form templates.

When it comes to exit tickets, I know that …

Google Slides - Using Drawing Features

This week, I was invited to attend Sophomore Humanities classes showing students how they can use Google Slides to help create a collaborative children's digital story book.  Most people are very comfortable with doing the 'basics' when it comes to Google Slides - add some text and images. In the Google Slide presentation below, you will find tips on how to change the page height and width of the slide presentation as well as using some of the drawing features in Google Slides.

Check it out for yourself...did you know you could do the following in Google Slides?

NOTE: You might be asking, why not just use Google Drawings for the draw features. You most certainly can do that however the big difference with Google Drawings is the number of pages. You are only allowed one Google Drawing page, while you have the ability to add multiple pages in Google Slides.

Commenting in Google Docs - Notice the Change?

Google has made it easier for you to enter in a comment in a Google Document. I noticed that we actually received the update today in our school domain. Check it out in the gif below:

1. Highlight the text 2. Select the Comment button on the right side of the Google Document 3. Type in your comment
It is that easy.

Flippity: Random Name Picker

There are lots of random name generators out there. They all have their advantages and disadvantages. However, in my mind, there is one that surpasses the others. has created their own random name generator. In four easy steps, you can have a great random generator at your finger tips. I will not replicate the process of how to use the tool as they are provided in clear step by step instructions on the Flippity website. Click HERE to follow the instructions.

I absolutely love this tool. With a click of a mouse or a tap on a track pad, you can immediately change a grouping or ordering of your students. This is a great tool for on the fly decisions as well as planned out activities. Below is a demonstration of my own roster of students and how quickly I can have Flippity change my preferences of groups or ordering my students.

Basically, you make a copy of a Google Sheet template that is provided on the Flippity website. You add the names of your students in class, then you…

Google Classroom: Return Assignments, Archive Classes & Reuse Posts

Here are some good reminders to Google Classroom, especially at the end of a semester.

Returning Assignments to Students
Since we do not use Google Classroom for reporting out grades to students, we can easily forget to return assignments to students. As a good practice, once assessment has been completed, assignments should be returned to students.

Step 1: Select the assignment you want to return to students

Step 2: Select which students you want to return the assignment to. If you want the assignment to be returned to all students, select the checkbox at the top left. Then select the Return button.

NOTE: If there are only 1 or 2 students you don't want to return the assignment to, select the checkbox at the top left and unselect the few students that should not get the assignment back.

Archiving Classes No Longer In Session
If you no longer need the class because the semester or the year has ended, you can archive the class. This not only will hide the classes you no longer need but …

Setting Up Conference Meetings using Google Calendar

Many of us can relate to having students sign up for a one-on-one conference with students for a particular project/assignment. Many of us passed around a sheet of paper and students signed up by putting their name on a piece of paper. Many of us had students email times that were good until we found a time that worked out great. There is nothing wrong with either of the above mentioned methods. However Google Calendar can help streamline and make this process a bit more efficient as well as remind you of your meeting time.

Google Calendar has a feature called Appointment Slots with all GAFE accounts. In other words, you cannot use this approach on a personal gmail account. It is also important to understand that in order to use the method, students MUST have a gmail account in order to sign up for an appointment slot.

Examples of this Feature:

Teachers setting up meetings with students during Midterm week for oral presentations that occur out of the classroomAdministrators giving teach…