More Cool Tools for Schools

8297369596Learn as if you were to live forever ~Mahatma Gandhi

This past week I learned about some great tools and upgrades that I am happy to share with you.

First off is Pixiclip which I heard about from Richard Byrne’s Practical EdTech Guide. Pixiclip is like a marriage of an online whiteboard and Screencastify or Quick Time or Jing. You get my point. It is your online tool for making whiteboard explainer videos. What is great about it is that it starts recording as soon as you start working on the whiteboard. You can type, draw, and record yourself or your microphone. You can upload your own images and then mark them up while recording your mouse movements. It’s not only great for teachers to use but for students as well.

Next up are two great extensions from Alice Keeler and Matt Miller, two names you should remember from my previous post about the #DitchSummit among other mentions. From Alice Keeler comes Slideshot, a Chrome extension that takes a screenshot of your work once a minute (or you can do it manually) and then creates a slide presentation of those images. For your students, it is a great way to see their progress in a time-lapse sort of way. You may remember my mentioning Slideshot before the winter break but it is worth mentioning it again because it works so nicely with this next extension created by Keeler and Miller. DriveSlides takes photos from a folder in your Google Drive and automatically creates a Slides presentation with them. Miller explains how it can be used and gives great, step-by-step instructions in both video and text formats that you can read about here.

This afternoon, at precisely 12:03 when my TechCrunch email arrived in my inbox, I heard about a new FREE digital storytelling app from Google called Toontastic 3D. Yes, that’s right, 3-D. Using Toontastic 3D kids can draw pictures, animate, insert images, and narrate while moving their characters around the screen to make their story come alive. What makes this app even more exciting are the story arc options kids can choose from to plot our their tale. From “family flicks” to “social lessons”, “cooking shows” to “documentaries” and more, there are a variety of ways for students to tell their story. In just a handful of steps – literally 5 – you can go from ideas to export.

Just when you thought Google couldn’t get any better comes an upgrade to Google Classroom that I think teachers are going to love! In the past teachers had to post assignments to everyone in their class; now teachers can assign to individual or small groups of students. This is something that I personally know my colleagues love about Edmodo, now they can differentiate in Classroom as well.

Two Days in Bootcamp: No Sweat

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“We now accept the fact that learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change. And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn.” ~Peter Drucker

Today was the second of two days of the Google Educator Certification Boot Camp led by Rich Kiker. If you have ever watched any of Lee LeFever’s in Plain English Commoncraft videos– and I recommend that you do because they are excellent explanations of what can be difficult concepts- you will absolutely think that Rich has been doing voiceovers and using a pseudonym because he sounds just like LeFever. But I digress. Rich made the two days of learning fun and informative and left many of us thinking, “Is there nothing that Google does not or cannot do or has not thought of!”

It is easy to get excited by the tools because Google has made it their business to make our workflow as simple, smooth, and as positive experience as possible.

Here is just a handful of things I learned today:

#1 Copy grades from Google Classroom to Sheets

If you are using Google Classroom and you are assigning points to student work, then you will want to choose the option to Copy All Grades to Google Sheets. Now all assignments, students, and grades are automatically added to a grade book that lives in your Classroom folder. Even better– this grade book can then be imported into tools like Power School and other online grade books that your school may use. Talk about ease of use and making life simpler for teachers, this one is amazing!

#2 Start a Google Hangout right from your calendar

Yes, that’s right. If you create a meeting appointment on your calendar, a link to a hangout is automatically created. If you invite someone outside of your organization, an invitation will be sent along with a link to join the hangout. You can open the event in your calendar and start the hangout when it’s time. Easy as pie.

#3 Senders Remorse or Undo Send an Email

Have you ever clicked send in an email and then realized there was a mistake, or worse- like Gloria in Modern Family you said things in the heat of the moment and wished you could un-send it? Well, now you can- within 30 seconds. In your mail settings you can enable undo send and choose from 10-30 seconds within which you will have that capability. Emails that you recall will automatically be moved to your drafts where you can leave it until you are ready to edit, send, or delete it.

#4 Right Click Your Way to Options

You may have used the right click/command click option in a window, document, or even a cell in Sheets, but have you right clicked on a tab in your Chrome browser? Try it.

#5 Step Onstage with the Orchestra

Have you ever dreamed of performing on stage at Carnegie Hall but you know it will never happen because you are not talented in that way? Google can put you on stage with their 360° experience. Give it a try!

For more on today’s boot camp, and to hear about some really cool tools you can check out my Storify of tweets. Trust me, there are things there you won’t want to miss.

 

photo credit: Tough Mudder Training Week 1 via photopin (license)