Friday, May 23, 2014

Takeout Your Data!

Google offers a fantastic resource called Google Takeout that will help you to backup and or store your data.  When making use of Google tools, your data is stored in the cloud. While we are promised that the data is secure, sometimes having a copy of your data "just in case" is nice.  Also, at this time of year, should you be moving or retiring, you might want to take a copy of your Google work with you.  While you might not like all the services archived, you can elect from many services as shown:

 A Google Takeout Archive is created, downloaded and can be taken with you easily.  Our friends in Franklin have created a great synopsis of Google Takeout in this tutorial:

Click here to launch video

Once you have exported your data, you are emailed a notification that your archive is ready for downloads.  This archive is downloaded as a zip file.  When the zip file is opened, you will find a folder that contains organized folders by the content service type.  This process is not only easy but a great way to archive valuable data.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Add-on Additions

Google Docs has a few new Add-Ons that are worth checking out! It had been a while since I check back into the Google Add-on menu.  I suspect that the resources available in the Google Docs Add-on page will grow quickly and in just the past few weeks there are some notable new ones.
If you are not familiar with Google Docs Add-ons, they appear in the main menu bar after opening a Google Doc or Sheet.  You will see different Add-ons depending on which App you are using.  The ones that run on a Google Spreadsheet (like the Doctopus Add-on) have no use for a Document, so they do not show when entering the Add-ons from a Document.  To explore the Add-ons first open a Document or Spreadsheet.  In the top menu bar, click Add-ons, and Get Add-ons as shown:
Much like you would see in the Google Store, you will see icons of the available Odd-ons.  Clicking on the icon will bring up information about that specific tool.  The benefit of Add-ons is that they work within the document type that you are working on and you do not have to leave the document to make use of the tool.  When this feature first become available, you just knew it was something that would take off, and I suspect it is beginning to!

Here are a few of the new Add-ons I am excited to explore how they can make a difference in the classroom as well as some that have been there from the start but are worth looking at again!:

Docs Add-ons


This Add-on addresses a problem that math teachers have complained about when using Google Docs for some time.  This tool will allow the user to create complex math and graphs from within the Google Doc from a sidebar tool.  There is a graph creator by which you type in an equation (y= formatted) and it will display the graph for the equation.  It also will create geometric signs, custom characters and formulas.  The creator of g(Math) has a great tutorial that will be valuable to those deciding if this is a worthwhile Add-on:


A second tool that is available in Google Docs is OpenClipArt.  This resources provides over 50,000 images as clip art from a sidebar in the Google Docs window.  This is a fantastic resource for educators and students wanting to add interest, color or image resources to their work.  

Sheets Add-ons


Doctopus is a well-loved scripts that you used to have to access through the scripts menu but is now and Add-on.  This script takes you class spreadsheet of names and emails and will organize and disseminate documents, assignments, and materials to certain or all students' Google Drives.  It will name the documents for each student and will even allow you to set up sharing settings.
This video should get you started:


Again, a well-loved script that is now available as an Add-on, Flubaroo is fantastic.  This script will support you as you assess students.  It will help you to grade, analyze and even email the students the results of the assessment.  An overview video should help you see what this script has to offer:

All of these Add-ons seem to be "adding on" quickly to keep checking back for more!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Teacher Appreciation Week - Thank You!

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week Google has published this beautiful video.  The comments on the page read:

Thank you to the millions of passionate teachers who inspire curiosity in their classrooms...lesson after lesson, unit after unit, year after year. We're fortunate to have had many of you in our lives, and we can't wait to see what the future will bring because of the work you're doing today.
Please give yourself the gift of watching!

Thank you to all the amazing teachers out there!

Boost Engagement with EverySlide

PowerPoints, Keynote and Google Presentations are not necessarily my favorite choice for sharing information with large groups of people, but sometimes they are just what is needed. If you are going to use a presentation, why not make it viewable and available for each student as the information is presented? It gets even better as you can also add interactivity to run a quick poll of the group using the information on the slide itself! Everyslide is super simple to use and does not require any type of install for you or the students.

It works like this:
  1. Upload any presentation you have already created to your free educator Everyslide account.
  2. Click "present".
  3. A unique code will be generated of which you can share with the class.
  4. Ask for feedback or run a poll as you present.
  5. Students will be prompted to enter their email addresses at the end of the presentation, if you want to collect data on the class. Information about the responses and students will be downloaded to a spreadsheet. 
Check out the introductory video:

Saturday, April 19, 2014

NoteOn Extension for Chrome

(A SMARTER Balanced Testing Toolkit Post!)

I have been looking around for a good extension that could be added to student accounts ahead of SMARTER Balanced or research projects that would allow students better practice in the process of taking notes digitally with a mini-window while viewing content on another window.  This is a task students will see more and more with testing and in digital work. 
Practicing the concept of taking notes, capturing the main idea, collecting data and information from various text, graphs, and online sources is an incredibly difficult but useful skill kids need to learn. In my search for a good app or extension, I have come across many different resources, although NoteOn seems to be the best one thus far.  What I like about the NoteOn extension is that the extension icon (as shown):
 is obviously a note app.    Students can title the note, carry the note from different pages, and they can organize the saved notes by color scheme.  Best of all: it auto saves!

Just a few great uses for NoteOn in the classroom might include:
  • A research tool for organizing notes as students navigate around the web.
  • A place to store citations, websites, etc. on a different topic as students explore a specific topic.
  • Using the colors assigned to notes, help students assign a color scheme to the types of notes (dates, main idea, famous people, etc.) and/or areas of research within a larger topic.

Monday, April 14, 2014

10 Productivity and Practice Ideas with Tab Glue and Scissors

(A SMARTER Balanced Testing Toolkit Post!)
Helping students be more productive using technology tools is a great thing.  What's even better is when that same tool supports learning as well.  What is beyond better (epic?) is when a tool also support students in preparing for activities they will be asked to do on state testing, in Wisconsin the SMARTER Balanced Assessment.  Tab Scissors and Tab Glue are two Google Chrome Web Store Extensions that I have used all year as a productivity tool, but one that I recommend teachers work with students to use in the classroom.
Tab Glue and Tab Scissors are extensions so they will sit in the space to the left of the OmniBox of your browser (the URL address bar).  When you add them, through the Chrome Web Store, they will look like this:
As we are not working within Google Apps for Education so much of our work including preparation of presentations, work processing, etc. happens in a browser between many tabs. Sometimes you find yourself frequently switching between tabs.  While it would be convenient if we all had a second monitor to place one window on each monitor while we work, that is often not the case.   Tab Scissors allows you to split your browser window into two separated windows  at the tabs you indicate.  Simply click the tab of which you want Tab Scissors to split the browser window, click on the Tab Scissor icon, and your page will refresh as two perfectly split pages allowing you to see both tabs simultaneously.  Tab Glue, when clicked, will paste these tabs back together as one.  

See the image for an example:
Working between two tabs
Using Tab Scissors to split the window:
Split window notes
So what does this mean in the classroom and how can it help my students? 
As our students are becoming more and more proficient with taking notes, identifying important information, paraphrasing content, and talking in multiple visual cues, we need to find ways to incorporate those skills into everyday teaching.  The SMARTER Balanced Assessment had students working with a split screen throughout the entire testing situation.  The content on wither side of the window can change, but if they are not practiced at attending and using both windows, they will struggle there and in other areas of digital literacy.  Why not practice this concepts with our current content so it does not seem so foreign as we go into testing situations?  Here a few suggestions for learning experiences that might help our students become proficient in using side-by-side windows.

  1. Note taking - As shown above a website on one side, notes or a presentation on the other.
  2. Video Notes - While there are some tools for video note taking, this might also be a way to have students view a video and take notes. (Students could even be doing this collaboratively!)
  3. Graphics - Interpretation of a graphic or map 
  4. Question sets - Create a Google Form with questions to match the media on the other side of the split screens.
  5. Resources - provide students with an important resource on the left such as a multiplication table or other reference material as they work.
  6. Direction or Steps - Use one screen as a reminder tool for those that need to see directions or steps while they work.
  7. Maps - Allow students to have a map as a resource while they watch a video or read resources about a new area of the country.
  8. Vocabulary - Provide a vocabulary key or have students develop a vocabulary list as they deal with difficult literature.
  9. Review - Have students take a practice test or pretest for a unit of study and capture notes on what they need to study additionally.
  10. Back-channel - Have students in small groups collaborate on a shared Google Doc as a Back-channel discussion while working with digital content.  

Monday, April 7, 2014

TextHelp Highlighting Tools - SMARTER Balanced Assessment and Classroom Practice

This past few weeks I have been in many classrooms that are piloting the SMARTER Balanced Assessment.  While I am not a fan of practicing for a test, I do not have any problem with using quality techniques to teach  that will help our students to practice a processes.  Especially if that process includes a solid use of technology integration that will be used in their future as a learner. As I watched students taking the SMARTER Balanced Assessment pilots, I found that I frequently thought to myself, "Wow, I don't think our kids learn in regular classroom processes in that way" or " I bet our students would do better at this is they had some experience taking in information in this way."  Then I got to thinking about how I could provide resources, lessons and or opportunities for teachers to give our students practice in instructional strategies.  This is the first of a series of blog posts to share ideas of how teachers might practice the process that students will encounter in the SMARTER Balanced Assessment.  They are intended to be used with regular curricular activities so that when students encounter them in a testing situation, they don't seem foreign and unusual.