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.

Coming Soon: Classroom-Changing Learning Opportunities

10066382993Beginning Monday, January 9 the HyperDocs girls, Lisa, Sarah, and Kelly, are hosting a one month HyperDocs bootcamp. Learn about planning, designing, building engaging blended lessons for your students so you can free up your time for more classroom interactions. Click here for more information and to sign up.

For those who missed the #DitchSummit during the winter break, for a limited time only, the videos and supporting materials will be available for 1 week beginning January 12th. Click here to subscribe. Watch 1 or 2, or watch them all, but hurry before time runs out!

Rich Kiker of Kiker Learning and the MCIU are hosting four Google Edu classroom and content-specific workshops starting the end of January through the end of February. Great for elementary through secondary education teachers.

Make time for awesome!

Epic Updates and a Day-long

27992885494_5fd46d6f0c_mThis week I have two epic updates to share that you will love!

First off, actual updates to Epic!, an amazing site I have posted about before.This week while on Twitter I saw this fantastic post by Sara Malchow which naturally piqued my interest since it is about reading and connecting with other classes.  As you might know, Epic! is a  FREE (for teachers and librarians), fantastic, browser-based site and app for books. It is “the Netflix of books” as they are known, and now with recent updates, as recent as last week, teachers can now create collections of books and then assign those collections to their students! Imagine the possibilities here: you have groups of students in your class researching various topics (as a group)- you can create a collection of books that they can read for information (or for fun), then assign that group the collection. You can differentiate based on interests, reading level, topic, etc. You can pull together collections of books for thematic units; the possibilities are nearly endless! Sara has created a collection of books and padlet activities for the month of November that you and your elementary classes can easily participate in. She has the primary and intermediate versions here that you can print out, hang in your classroom, and use a QR code scanner for the activities (or share with your students via Google Drive). This is a great way to read and connect with others around thematic and seasonal books.

Next is an epic update to Google forms. As you might recall, one of the things you can do with Google forms other than collect information, is create self-graded quizzes. While it used to be that you had to use only multiple choice, true/false, or drop-down questions, now you can assign point values to short or longer answer questions, grade them, and then return the graded quizzes to your students. Eric Curts’ post does a great job of explaining and showing exactly how to do this in a step-by-step fashion. Now you can get your students’ higher order thinking on- hooray!

Speaking of Google, it is just one month until the Google Education On Air online conference begins in the Americas with the keynotes starting at noon on December 3. Breakout sessions led in English and Spanish will go all day from 1:30PM until 7PM with sessions geared to teachers, leaders, IT professionals, and everyone. Themes range from hacking the classroom, using Google tools, empowering students, professional development and more. I am looking forward to hearing from Lisa Highfill, Kelly Hilton, and Sarah Landis as they speak about HyperDocs at 5:00PM (Hyperdocs? Read my recent post). Of course there are many other exciting sessions that I will tune in to and will happily share my learning with you once it is all over.

Feeling like you want more? Check out the Shipley PLN Lower & Middle School Edition for great articles like this on how a happy school can lead to successful students and this on adding mindful pauses to your classroom to engage your students.

photo credit: Say It With A Camera Find My Epic via photopin (license)

Back to School, Back to Sharing

6142869933

Summer break has come and gone and the new school year is off and running. With the new school year comes new things to share, do, read, and try. Here are some of my picks for this week!

Google Cast for Education is a brand new app that allows you to easily and seamlessly share your screen with any or all of your students, and your students to share their screen with you. No need to connect student laptops to projectors, ask them to airdrop, or share (well, it will not replace sharing) in order to project their work, now your students can request to “Cast” to you and you can then project their screen. Take a look at this video to see how it works. @WendyE40 and I tried it and it is pretty cool.

Want to give it a try? We have already pushed this out to all laptops! You will find the Google Cast for Ed app on your school Chrome home page AND as an app when you go into or launch (F4 key) your apps.

If you love Google forms, you will love this Quiz option. Now you can create immediate feedback quizzes for multiple choice, drop-down, and checkbox questions when you choose the Quiz template.

Looking for a good book or two to read aloud to your classroom? Last night I was browsing around for read aloud options and I came across this fantastic 2016 grade-by-grade read aloud book list.

Next is an article that I saw posted (on Twitter I believe) and I like it because it reminds us of four important focal points we can use to guide our teaching: Outcomes, Big Questions, Passion for the subject, and Value of learning.

This is something that I literally stumbled upon. OK, perhaps I did not actually trip over it, but I did accidentally come across it when I was just looking through the Shipley PLN Lower & Middle School Edition’s (slight name alteration to include my middle school colleagues)  #sschat (Social Studies chat) section. This one is one I think my fifth grade team will love as it is all about exploring ancient Egypt using Nova’s interactive site to see 360 degree views of the Pyramids of Giza, the sphinx, temples, tombs, and more. But don’t stop there– while you are put exploring, you can explore North America, Australia, and other areas of our world. Yet one more reason why I continue to mention PBS in my shares.

 

Two Days in Bootcamp: No Sweat

9063325065_5aa5cf2915_q

“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)

There’s Always More to Learn

tree_of_knowledge

“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.”
Michel Legrand

This post is all about learning. Many of us can get into a routine of doing things the same way we always have and thinking that we know all there is on or about a particular subject. This is not the case.

Today I spent the day with Rich Kiker for the first of two days of Google Educator Certification Boot Camp and while I thought I knew a lot about Google tools, today proved there is always more to learn.

Example #1 Set an Expiration Date for Shared Items

I thought I knew all about sharing, but I did not know that there is a new feature that allows you to share items for a limited time. Just hover over one of the people with whom you’ve shared something and a little stopwatch icon appears. Just set up the expiration date for the item and you’re good to go!

Example #2 Advanced Search Within Drive

If you are really organized and use proper naming conventions and folders then you probably do not have much of an issue with finding your files. But if you have been using and creating items in your Drive then you may fall into the category of people who can’t remember where they’ve put things or what they called them. Google Drive has a robust search feature which goes beyond just typing some words into the search bar and offers advanced features like searching by owner, file type, date, and more. Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 9.32.56 AM.png

Example #3 Automatically Search and Hyperlink Text Using the Research Pane

While you are working in a document, select a set of words, open the research pane and voila! your words are already in the search bar. Then new features in the results allow you to preview the page, link to it, or cite the result. If you choose to link, the original words in your document are now hyperlinks. Cool!

For more on Day 1 and some really cool tools and tips, you can check out my Storify (which I like to use to collect my notes).

Tree of Knowledge Image from WPClipart

 

 

 

 

I Went to the Chrome Store and I Got . . .

Icono_web_storeWho does not love to shop?! Actually, I don’t love it and have to be in the mood, meaning I have to begin to feel withdrawal. And when I am in the mood, I rarely enjoy shopping if it involves going to the mall. This is why I enjoy “shopping” in the Chrome Store.

One of the (many) things I love about Chrome is the Chrome Store and I can get lost browsing the many apps, extensions, and themes all while on my way to looking for something else. So this post is my list of some recent Chrome additions and ones I think could be useful (and fun) to you and your students.

But first, some vocabulary.

App: Installs on your Chrome home page. Some act like shortcuts to sites, others allow for productivity (like Sheets, Slides, Docs, Drive), and still others just open in a separate window (like the Whiteboard app below).

Extension: These are tools that live on your bookmark bar

Theme: Colorful, fun decor for your Chrome home page, bookmark bar and Tabs (perhaps you have recently seen snow falling on your kids’ screens or beautiful flower blossoms on your colleague’s screen. These are themes.

This all started while I was looking for an online whiteboard app so that students who use a laptop can create math tutorials to show evidence of learning. I popped into the Chrome Store the other afternoon for what I planned on being about 5 minutes so I could do a quick search and found two to try: Ziteboard and Whiteboard Lite. After trying both, I am recommending Whiteboard Lite for its ease of use and the different tool options. You can add text, shapes, change colors, change background (to include something you upload) and change line thickness. Since we have Quick Time installed on our Macbooks, there is no immediate need for a different tool to record the screen, but if you do not, my friend and colleague Wendy recommends Screencastify. The whiteboard is a must.

Like Stacey’s Pita Chips and other salty foods, it is difficult to stop at just one and there are so many apps that I got caught up browsing the other educational tools.

I added the Highlight Key Words for Google Search extension so that when I run a search, my search words will be highlighted when I open a link. This will allow me to easily and quickly locate the info for which I am searching. This is one I am going to have my students install so that it will help make their research time more efficient.

Student-Created.TV is a fantastic site of tutorials on all subjects created by (6th grade) students for students. I first heard about this from Alan November’s, Who Owns the Learning and landed there again when I was looking for examples of math tutorials. Imagine how thrilled I was to see this can also be an app your students can add to their Chrome home page so that they can learn anytime. Then, they can use the Whiteboard Lite app and create their own!

Revolutionary War Guess My Name and Civil War Guess My Name are two “guess who” games will make learning studying the Revolutionary and Civil Wars feel more like a challenge than a test. There are four different modes: quiz, game, learn, and review so your students can get to know the various players in these important historical events. Clues are given and students choose between four possible answers. Add these apps to Chrome and your students can easily access it right from their Chrome home page.

Fraction Puzzles, Fraction Wall, Number Golf, Hundreds Grid Chart– Math game apps that your students can use to practice their math facts in a fun, interactive way. Add these apps to your Chrome and make this an option for your fast finishers. Both Fraction Puzzles and Number Golf are games within one site from MathPapa and would be great for all ages of elementary, middle, and quite possibly early high school math as they go from basic math facts, positive and negative numbers, to algebra and graphing. What I like about the Hundreds Grid Chart is that the chart can change from whole numbers, positive and negative, and decimals; it also includes a built-in calculator, a coloring tool, and the option to print. Additionally, it goes beyond numbers to 100. Fraction Wall by Visnos is an excellent visual of fractions, equivalent fractions, percents, and more. From simple to advanced, this interactive wall has many options for you and your students to practice and learn fractions.

Of course, there are countless others but I will save those for another day. . .

I went shopping in the Chrome Store and I got all these apps and extensions; what will you get?

Icono web store” by Google Inc. – Chrome Web Store. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.