Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Adding Icons to a Chromebook Shelf

So now that we have moved from staff laptops running Windows to Chromebooks, I've gotten the question, "How do I add shortcuts to my desktop?"......and the answer is, that you can't.  And although I talked about adding bookmarks to your bookmark bar in a previous post, here is another option for you.  Right in the Chrome web browser it allows you to pin a shortcut right to the shelf that is loaded at login.  By clicking the triple dots in the upper right corner of Chrome (sometimes referred to as the snowman) and choosing More Tools --> Add to Shelf you can add a "quick launch" icon to your app shelf.  If the website uses a favicon, that logo usually shows up for you as a great visual.  If you click and drag the icons on the app shelf, you can rearrange them so that are in the order that you use them most.  Looking for the quick tutorial video?  Click here to watch it on my YouTube channel.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

QR Codes in the Classroom

Looking to get started with QR codes in the classroom?  If your first question is....what are QR codes, you are not alone.  These little blocks of data are a lot more common than what we think.  They are probably already on your worksheets, flyers or information that you are giving to students.  So what is a QR Code?  Consider it a website shortcut.  A quick way of launching your web browser to a specific website or webpage.  If you have ever tried to get a student to type in a specific web address, you know why these little things were invented.  Scan the code with a QR Reader and you are sent off to whatever page it is linked to.  It can be a page, a form, a video, even a game.  Looking for an engaging way to get students to information without having to give them a web address.  Next time, look no further than a QR Code.  Below are some of my recommendations on QR Code Creators as well as Scanners.

QR Code Scanner for Chromebooks

QR Code Scanner for Android

QR Code Generator - Extension for Chrome

QR Code Generator - for the Web

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Inserting a Text Box in a Google Doc....Kind Of

One of the biggest complaints that I have gotten about Google Docs since we started using it years ago is it's inability to insert a text box.  And although there are a few work-arounds....I don't like any of them.  I think the mindset is quite backwards.  Rather than trying to find ways to get the job done in Docs, just use a product that already has the ability to insert a text box.  Google Slides and Google Docs, if set up correctly, work better than a Doc.....and dare I say it.....maybe better than Microsoft Word.  If you are using Google Classroom, you can assign the Slide or Drawing file to each student, who can then complete and turn in their digital file.  No more.....I lost my handout, I left it in my locker.....or my favorite, it was done, but my mom threw it away.  Slides and Drawing are great tools, let's starting giving them the attention that they deserve.

Looking for the video outlining out to set up Slides and Drawings to act more like a Doc with the ability to insert a Text Box....look no further.  Click here to watch the tutorial.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Using Templates in Docs, Sheets, Slides and Forms

Using a pre-designed template in any of the four Google products are an underutilized feature.  For teachers and students, it provides a great starting point rather than having to start from scratch.  This can be extremely helpful for those that have a writer or designer block.  Get the shell of the project started and just focus on content.  For years, the template gallery was old, clunky and hard to find.  No wonder it was never used....nobody even knew it existed.  But since the update that was pushed out on September 2015, there really wasn't much of a push to explore the gallery or submit your own templates to the gallery.  This would be a great feature for school districts to use if they wanted consistency and uniformity among professional documents.  You can access the template gallery two ways.  In Drive, click on New --> choose your product (templates are available for docs, sheets, slides and forms) and click on the arrow to the right.  You will get a menu that says Blank document or  From a template (see image below).  Secondly, you can go the the homepage for any of the Google tools.

I hope you found this post helpful and you find a template that helps to save you some design time in the future.  If you have any comments or questions, leave them in the comments section below.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Creating a Filter in Gmail

It happens to all of us.....we make a mistake and our inbox is suddenly bombarded with emails that we have to manage.  Or there are emails that we get from an individual or group that we want to just move neatly into an organized folder without me having to move them one at a time.  If you know something about the emails that will be coming into your inbox, why not set up a filter (either permanently or temporarily) to help Gmail manage your inbox for you.  Setting up a filter is actually pretty easy...and so is editing or deleting it if it isn't working the way you wanted it to.  In Gmail, click on the gear in the upper right hand corner and choose Settings.  Click on the "Filters and Blocked Email Addresses" tab.  Click "Create New Filter" and get started adding the information you want to filter.  The next step is to click on "Create filter with this search" and make the choices where you want emails with these parameters to go.  Click on Create Filter and your incoming emails will start to be filtered.  If you find that it isn't working the way that you wanted it to, just go back to the filters and either edit or delete your filter.

Looking for the video tutorial on how to create, edit or delete filters, click here.  Google also has a great page on filter tutorials, click here to access it.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Using Google Hangouts in the Classroom

I recently gave a presentation to our upper elementary staff on how to use Google Hangouts.  And while the focus was on how they can use it professionally to connect with teachers in other buildings or for some "just in time" support without an actual trip to their building, like all great teachers they wanted to know, "How can I use this in my classroom?"  So rather than simply respond with an email, I figured I would create a post.  Below are a few ways how teachers can find a way to use Google Hangouts in their classroom with their students.

Guest Teacher:  How about having a guest teacher for a lesson?  My guess is that students might be pretty excited to have a teacher from within our own school district be a "guest teacher" for a specific assignment or lesson?  Is there a teacher from another school building that is an expert on earth formation?  Why not invite them to present the lesson to everyone.  And if they don't know who the teacher is, they probably know a student or two in their class.  Students from 12 different classes getting the benefit of a teacher that is passionate about a specific subject area.

Form a Virtual Book Club: Classes that are reading the same book or materials can discuss novels together and recommend books to one another. Before the Hangout, have each class brainstorm questions they want to ask their book club partners. Then, send the questions to the other class before the meeting date to allow students ample time to construct their answers. When the classes meet, they each take turns asking and answering one another’s questions.

Participate in a “Mystery” Hangout: In this activity, two classrooms video-chat with each other, but do not reveal their individual locations. Before meeting online, both classes research facts about their own state and create clues about their location. Then, each class takes turns asking “yes” or “no”-type questions in a race to solve the mystery. To find classes to connect with yours, visit the Mystery Location Calls Google+ Community or reach out to members of the Connected Classrooms Workshop Google+ Community.

Work on Projects Together:  While most posts talk about connecting with students from another class, why not start with the people that we know?  We have grade level classes that are spread across 4 different elementary buildings.  Why not use a Hangout to connect classes within our own school district?  How about 4th grade students at Lincoln Park working with 4th grade students at Churchill?  Or 5th graders from Campbell working on a collaborative project with 5th graders from Ross Park?  No longer do we have to have "partners" in our own class.  Talk about a real world example of collaboration.

Invite Guest Speakers: Inviting a speaker into the classroom has never been easier … or less expensive. Video-calling enables anyone from around the world to “visit” a school. Also, as an added plus, Google Hangouts has the ability to handle up to 25 people in a video call using an Education domain. So rather than having a guest speaker into a single classroom, we can invite them to speak to all of our classes at the same time.

If you have any other ideas on how to use Hangouts in the classroom, feel free to share them in the comments below.  If you need more information, here’s a quick “Get Started With Hangouts” guide from Google.

The list above was copies/adapted from an original 2015 post from WonderTechEdu.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

30 in 30: Day 31 - Rearranging the Icons in the Google Apps Launcher

I know, it was supposed to stop at 30.  But I figured there are 31 days in January so I might as well just go ahead and create a bonus post for those few that are actually following this series.  Have I told you that I love me some Google?  I've been using it for nearly a decade as a teacher.  I created my first Google account in 2008 to use with my newspaper students and had them create their own accounts as well.  I saw the power that they had harnessed with collaboration and sharing and needed to use it in the classroom.  As the G Suite has evolved, so has my love for Google and all of the products that they offer me as a teacher and to our students.  Some of the Apps I use every day, like Gmail, Drive, Docs, Sheets while others I only use occasionally.  What I like is that Google allows me to move my apps around in the launcher so that the ones that I use the most often I can move to the top and arrange them how I like.  Just click and drag them around and drop them where you want them.  Click here to watch it in action.