Monday, December 28, 2015

Screencasts - Powerful Teaching and Learning Tools


Screencasting can be a powerful way to share resources and allow students to share their learning. Students can use screencasts to visually and verbally demonstrate learning. Screencasts are great tools to engage learners in student-centered learning environments.

Screencasting in the Classroom
  • Students record how they use the web to research a concept.
  • Students create a presentation based on web resources. 
  • Students can create flipped tutorials to share with classmates.
  • Students can review key concepts presented by a teacher in a blended learning model.
  • Teachers can use screencasts to provide feedback on digital activities. 
  • Students can review a website or online reading.
  • Students can explain their thought process as they create a diagram or mind map. 
  • Students can record and narrate a traditional slide-based presentation. 
There are many great screencasting tools, here are a few of our web-based favorites for Chromebooks and Chrome
  • Screencastify
    Screencastify is a simple video screen capture software (aka. screencast recorder) for Chrome. It is able to record all screen activity inside a tab, including audio. Just press record and the content of your tab is recorded. So you can easily create a screencast for video tutorials, record presentations etc. It also supports desktop capturing, allowing you to record anything on your screen (not just tabs).
  • Nimbus
    Capture the web page, either part of it or the whole browser window, edit your screenshots in a very user-friendly interface. Record screencasts - record video from your screen.
  • WeVideo
    Record your computer's screen with WeVideo's Screen Capture Tool.
  • Explain Everything
    Explain Everything™ Interactive Whiteboard brings together an interactive screencasting whiteboard and a content discovery portal. Dynamic and easy-to-use interactive screencasting whiteboard
  • Screencast-O-Matic
    Use their world famous recorder to record on-screen activity for short tutorials, visual presentations, and communicate while you demonstrate!
iPad Screencasting Apps
How would you use screen casting to support learning in your classroom? 




Monday, December 21, 2015

What is your favorite #EdTech Resource?

A recent post by Simon Helton in the ISTE Commons proposed an "Ed tech virtual gift exchange: share your favorite tool or resource." After a bit of reflection, I realized that I don't know that I have a single favorite resource. I use a variety of resources and I love trying something different with my students whenever I get a chance to experiment.
I decided to share my current favorites in 6 categories we use to do most of our coaching. If you ask me the same question next week, I might have a completely different set of choices . . . Stay tuned.  (Many of these tools can be applied across multiple categories, so take the labels with a bit of skepticism.)

    • Collaboration: Google Drive 
      (Suite of resources to collaboratively create Documents, Presentations, Drawings, and much more.)
    • Communication: Remind 
      (Remind (formerly Remind101) is a safe, free way for teachers to text message students and keep in touch with parents.)
    • Creativity: Thinglink 
      (Annotate image and video content with notes and rich media links.)
    • Critical Thinking: TEDEd 
      (Build a lesson around any TED-Ed Original, TED Talk or YouTube video.)
    • Curiosity: Wonderopolis 
      (Check out a wonder of the day.)
    • Assessment: Formative 
      (Formative runs on any internet connected device and is optimized for an 1:1, BYOD, flipped or blended classroom.)
If you want a few more here is our full resource site built with the help of my PLN: Recharge Learning
Last year we stopped sending out emails with weekly tips and instead asked interested staff to subscribe to this collaborative blog: Teaching and Learning
Recently we've also started sharing a Chrome Extension of the week with staff on our Instructional Tech Page. Bitmoji was quite a hit during finals week. 
What are your favorite instructional technology tools or resources? 
Please share your favorite #EdTech Tool or Resource in the comments below!

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Thursday, December 17, 2015

RawShorts - Create Animated Video Presentations

Create short animated video presentations using RawShort's cloud based video maker.  It is a free online tool to create a professional presentation video.  There are many templates to use and graphics available.  Videos can easily be uploaded to Youtube. 

To get started, create an account and then choose the free template option on the left side of the page to view pre-made options or begin with a blank template to create your own design.  Name the design and launch the video builder.  Use options to add backgrounds, images, text and other features.  Videos include just five slides - keeping to the concept of creating SHORT presentations.  When complete, save and share your videos to social media or upload to Youtube.  Free accounts offer storage of 25MB and max resolution of 480SD.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Bitmoji Chrome Extension - Creative Communication

What is Bitmoji?
Bitmoji is your own personal emoji creator. That you can use right from your keyboard! Create an expressive cartoon avatar. Choose from a growing library of moods and stickers – featuring YOU!
How can these be used?
The Bitmoji Chrome extension works directly on many websites. Bitmojis can also be downloaded and inserted into most digital resources for display or printing. The extension is also directly compatible with Facebook, Twitter, Facebook, Slack, most email programs, and just about anywhere you might communicate on the web. You can insert Bitmojis as you type, or drag and drop your character into comments and posts.

Bitmoji in Education
  • Digital Badges
  • Student Projects
  • Awards
  • Feedback
  • Twitter Avatars
  • Digital or Print Classroom Signage
  • Online Posts
  • Google Docs
  • Presentations
I would not recommend that younger students use Bitmoji on their own. While most of the Bitmojis are pretty tame, there are a handful of created avatar poses that involve alcohol or mildly inappropriate suggestions.

Installing the Chrome Extension
1. Click here to access the extension in the Chrome Webstore.
2. Click on Add to Chrome and then Add extension in the pop-up.
3. The extension icon will appear in the top right of your browser window, and a sign-up screen will appear.
4. If you already have a bitmoji account you can log in. If you don't, click Sign Up with Email.
5. If you've used Bistrips in the past, you can retrieve the avatar from Facebook. Otherwise, skip this step, and you can create your avatar from scratch. Follow the onscreen instructions to create your avatar.
6. After choosing your avatar features, click on Save Avatar. (You can change your avatar and outfit at any time.)
7. Click on the bitmoji icon, and a window will open that allows you to Edit your Emoji, search by keyword, or browse the categories.
8. When you click on the Bitmoji extension icon you can drag and drop bitmojis onto compatible sites, or right-click to save them to your device, or right-click to copy / paste them.


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Search Better in Google Drive

Google Drive has always had some nice search features, but a recent update has made these features more accessible and easier to use. 

A month ago we shared some Google Drive Advanced Search Tips and Tricks. These advanced features still work, but the new search experience is much cleaner and user friendly. 

Here is part of a recent post from Google about these awesome changes:

When you store important files in Google Drive they’re not only safe, they’re accessible from any device. Finding these files again from any device should be super easy, so we’re rolling out a new search experience to get you better results — even faster.

Drive lets you search across all your files, regardless of the device they came from. To make that easier, you can use these new ways to find your files:
  • Narrow your search to a file type from the search box on Android, iOS, and the web.
  • Open advanced search instantly from the search box.
  • Access recent files or search Drive from the home screen using 3D Touch on iOS. 
  • Search Drive using the iOS search bar without opening the Drive app.
Link to Google Post

Drive always had an advanced search menu, but the new menu is much cleaner and easier. Here is a quick summary of the advanced search features. Search by: 
  • File Type (Image, PDFs, Text documents, Spreadsheets, Presentations, Audio, Videos, Archive(zip), Drawings, and Folders) - Love the folder option!
  • Date Modified (Choose ranges or a specific day) - Great to look for a specific day!
  • Name (Enter a term that matches part of the file name)
  • Keywords (Enter words found in the file)
  • Owner (Owned by me, Not owned by me, Specific person...)
  • Shared with (Enter a name or email address . . . )
  • Located in (Anywhere, Starred, or Trash) - Would be nice if this drop down included "Shared with me" and Recent"? 



Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Awesome Shortcuts for Sharing Google Docs (Copy or Preview)


Google Classroom is a great resource to share Google files with students or other teachers. Google Classroom allows you to quickly share viewable or editable documents. You can also have Google Classroom make a copy for each student enrolled in your classroom. Google classroom only supports this sharing for students and teachers enrolled in your classroom.

Sometimes you need to share a document outside of Google Classroom. The sharing options in Google Docs allow you to share a document directly with anyone. You can get a link that allows you to share a document as "Anyone Can view", "Anyone Can Comment", or "Anyone Can Edit". You can also share with specific users. Click here to learn more about Google sharing settings.

There are also several shortcuts that allow the owner of a document to have anyone who clicks on the link to either make a copy or preview the document.

Here's how you can force a copy or preview of a Google Document.
1. Make sure the document is not private. It must be a viewable document,
2. Click on the Share and the shareable link will appear in a popup window. If you copy the link it will look like this:
3. If you want to share the link and force users to make a copy, you just need to modify the shareable link. Delete the end of the link up to the forward slash (/). Then type the word copy at the end of the link so that it looks like this:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1SNpe_rMy5qWS_5L-NNoYAHw7Jx-fnD7nTUwVs1m49p4/copy
4. You can do the same thing if you just want them to see a preview of the document in their browser without the Google Drive menu bar. This would look like this:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1SNpe_rMy5qWS_5L-NNoYAHw7Jx-fnD7nTUwVs1m49p4/preview
5. Google Slides allows you to share presentations that open automatically in the Presentation View. Simply replace the end of the sharing url with the word present. It would look like this:
https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1S_4I2iAr1SQxRSSnZV8jPwNkcgW3KRRCsflUAGdPXxg/present
6. Share the link in an email or on a website. You can even use a URL shortener with the link to get the same results.
https://goo.gl/Vngj5j

Click on each of the links above to see the different options.
Here is a quick screenshot of the process. Let us know if you have any questions or additional shortcuts in the comments below.




Monday, December 7, 2015

Screencastify

Chrome Extension of the Week - Screencastify
Screencastify is a great video screen capture extension for Chrome that gives you the power to create videos for your classroom. Teachers can use Screencastify to flip their classrooms or share pertinent information with students and parents. Students can also use Screencastify to produce digital presentations. Screencastify is easy to use, and with one click, you can save your video to the Google Drive and YouTube.

Click here to install the extension and watch the included video in order to learn how to get and use Screencastify.


Sunday, December 6, 2015

Study Smarter, Not Harder - Resources for Students

Exams may be just around the corner, so here are a few resources to help you organize, prioritize, and prepare for just about any assessment. 

Tips for Studying Smarter, Not Harder
Digital Tools to Support Individual and Collaborative Studying
  • Concept and Vocabulary Review - Quizlet
    Start with flash cards. Students can make their own, or choose from millions of flashcards sets created by others. Students can use several study modes including multiple choice tests and study games.
  • Collaboration - Google+ Communities Students create online study groups in Google+ Communities. Students can create private communities to share resources and have discussions.
  • Organization - Google Keep Create and share notes. Create checklists and reminders.
  • Video Concepts - Khan Academy and Learning Bird Video lessons to support math, art, computer programming, economics, physics, chemistry, biology, medicine, finance, history, and more.
Video Resources
Additional Resources


Thursday, December 3, 2015

Google Search Tips you Probably Didn't Know About

I recently saw a post by The Gooru with a list of Google Search tricks that I didn't know about.  Here are a few that I thought I would pass along.....

  • Timer:  if you search "timer,"  you can pull up Google's timer, set it to how long you want.
  • Flights:  Looking for flights?  Just search "flights to_____" and google will bring you up available flight times as well as links to the airlines for easy booking.  Unlike other flight booking sites, google connects you directly to the airline and does not charge you a fee.
  • Graphing Calculator:  Google can now graph any function entered into the search bar as long as your enter graph before the function.
  • Comparisons:  looking for the difference between iPhone and Android?  Or the nutritional facts of a Sweet Potato and a Red potato?  Enter in the two options with "vs" in between and see a side by side comparison of the two items.
  • Can't remember all the words to what you are looking for?  Just substitute an * for the words you don't know.  Google will find terms that match the phrase using asterisks as variables.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Parent Teacher Conference Slam

Wow...it is already December! As with any school year, time is flying by, and we are already gearing up for final exams. November was a crazy month due to numerous professional conferences, parent teacher conferences, and Thanksgiving; however, we did some great things at Neuqua Valley High School that I wanted to share. 

Parent teacher conferences can be a stressful time for teachers. While it is always wonderful to meet the students' parents, it can take time to properly prepare for each conference if a teacher plans to share student artifacts from class. In an effort to help save teachers some time, frustration, and stress, we sent out various tips and tricks in order to help teachers DOMINATE their parent teacher conferences in our Parent Teacher Conference Slam video series.

What is a slam you might ask? A slam is a quick, fun, and energetic tutorial of some sort of app, skill, or idea. The goal….learn something awesome and use it in order to make your life easier! SLAM!


Live Polling in Your Classroom - Poll Everywhere in Google Slides

Reasons to poll your students frequently and consistently?
  • Discussion Starters
  • Quick Checks for Understanding
  • Enhance Communication Skills
  • Inspire Creative Thinking
  • Critically Evaluate Resources and Ideas
  • Jump Start Collaboration
Poll Everywhere is a recently released Chrome Extension that works with Google Slides to allow presenters to quickly and easily create quick survey questions in Google slides. Create a survey ahead of time or quickly insert one during a presentation. 
  • Polls can include multiple choice questions, open-ended questions, Q & A / Brainstorm, or even clickable images. 
  • Results can be displayed live on screen or hidden from the audience.
  • Students can respond via Text, via the Web, via a Mobile Browser, or even through Twitter. 
Initial Setup Guide:
  1. Click here to open the Poll Everywhere Extension description in the Chrome Web Store. 
  2. Click on the "Add to Chrome" button to install the extension. 
  3. A dialog appears letting you know about the types of data that the extension will be able to access. Click Add to grant the extension access to the data described and install the extension.
  4. The Poll Everywhere Extension will work in your Chrome Browser behind the scenes in the address bar. You will not see a Poll Everywhere icon in your row of extensions. It will appear as a menu option in Google Slides and be viewable
  5. While you can get started with the Poll Everywhere in Google slides, we recommend that you first sign up for a free educator account.  Click here to signup for a free Poll Everywhere K-12 Educator account.
  6. Open a new or existing Google Slides Presentation and you will see Poll Everywhere in the menu. You will need to login in the first time you insert a poll. You will be able to create a new poll or insert an existing poll from you account. You can only have 1 active poll at a time in slides.
  7. You can learn more about the setup and views in Google slides in the Poll Everywhere user guide. Click here to access the User Guide and then click on Control+F to search for "Google Slides" to learn more about the features of the Extension.
  8. We recommend testing out the features with a colleague or on your own using a mobile device before going live with a full classroom.
Click here to learn more about installing and managing all your Chrome Extensions.
How will you use Poll Everywhere with your students?


Thursday, November 26, 2015

Annual Online Holiday Shopping Tips and Tricks

Happy Holidays! Every year I share a revised guide to shopping online during the holiday season. It is a busy time of year and my wife and I find that doing the majority of our shopping online helps us both reduce our stress level and save a little bit of money. This guide is built for educators, but just about anyone can find some resources to save money online. Please let us know in the comments below if you have any additional suggestions or resources we can add to this guide!
Here are some tips to help teachers, their families, and just about anyone to save a little green this holiday season.

1. Online Cashback
There are many sites that take advantage of online advertising to provide the consumer with coupons and cash back for major retailers. They also provide links to some great online coupons from most retailers. They are free and easy to use. Combine this with rewards on a credit card and it can really start to add up.
  • Mr. Rebates - Cash Back rebates of up to 30% on all of your online shopping plus get free money-saving coupons at over 2000 online stores. 
  • Ebates - Find coupons and earn cash back at over 1800 stores when you shop at Ebates! Save with online rebates, deals, promo codes and discounts. 
  • Mainstreet Shares - MainStreetSHARES gives you more than just cash back when you shop. We help you turn your shopping into an investment in you! 
  • Fat Wallet - Find coupons, cash back, hottest deals from hundreds of top retailers. Get deals shared by our huge community of frugal shoppers. 
2. Apple / Google / Amazon
What Tech are you looking for this year? Smartphone, iPad, iPod, Tablet, Kindle, Wearables, Chromebooks or Macbook? Most major tech retailers will have online and in-store sales.
3. Educator Union Membership Card
Did you know that the IEA / NEA / AFT posts some excellent deals for teachers? These deals include merchandise, restaurants, and travel.
4. Shopping and Coupon Websites
Many websites that compile information about sales, coupons, and deals year round.
5. Protecting Your Credit Card Online
Most online stores / credit card companies do a great job taking care of credit card purchases, but a great way to pay for many online purchases is to use PayPal. It’s free and provides an extra layer of security between your credit card and online shopping.
6. Amazon, half.com, and eBay
Great places to shop for just about everything new and used. All three sites have great customer support.
7. Electronic Reviews and Retailers
I know many of you are searching the best gifts for your favorite educators. Here are some great places to research and by electronics for teachers.
Get the Reviews – What’s good or not so good? A couple of sites that I use to decide what I want.
  • c|net (Great Reviews of Just About Everything Electronic)
  • Consumer Reports (Great Reviews and Guides to Lot’s of Stuff)
  • PCMag (Main Focus is on Computer Tech)
Online Electronic Retailers – Good prices and excellent service.
  • newegg (New and Refurbished Electronics – Just about everything)
  • TigerDirect (Tiger Direct and CompUSA all in one – They even have a warehouse on 59 near the mall if you want to save on shipping. 
  • geeks.com (Great deals on new and refurbished electronics)
Fun Stuff for the Geek at Heart


Monday, November 23, 2015

Learning To Be An Instructional Coach

I've watched the role of Technology Coaches evolve in some powerful ways in recent years. The first generation of Technology Coaches focused on finding and teaching the tools. Pedagogy for most was secondary to the shiny new web resources or device. We put the old proverbial carriage before the horse. We made huge strides integrating technology into classrooms, but many questioned if we made any significant impact on the ways we teach and learn. A webquest after all was frequently little more than a digital worksheet. 
Times they are a changing.  The new generation of technology coaches no longer focus on the tools first. In fact, I've begun to see many districts replace the title of technology coach with the title instructional coach. Today's instructional coach is no long just an expert on how to use different technologies. We instead focus on technology to enhance good teaching methodologies. Good pedagogy usually comes first, with the tools added in as an enhancement. 

We've tried to model pedagogy before tech tools with our staff in several ways:
  • First, we focus on the why before the tool. When a teacher is looking to get something done, we first try to focus on essential student skills connected to the task before finding the tool to support the activity. 
  • Second, we look for tools that can be used for students across content areas. We prefer tools that support students throughout their day. Instead of focusing on tools that only support a science classroom, we instead look first for tools that can support different activities in multiple classrooms. 
  • Finally, we try to always emphasize that technology alone does not have the power make a bad lesson great. Technology at its best only enhances what is already there. Great teaching must come first or the power of the instructional technology is often reduced. 
As an instructional coach, I try to focus on these 5 broad areas as I look to support teachers and students: 
Here are a few resources we use to plan our professional development activities: 




Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Grading Online? You need Permanent Clipboard - Chrome Extension!

As a former English teacher, I remember grading stacks of papers and writing comments on the side of the student's paper.  I would write the same comment over and over again on multiple papers. The Chrome extension Permanent Clipboard is a tool that allows you to save phrases with a friendly name at your fingertips.  You no longer need to type "What?"  "Watch Subject/Verb agreement" on every paper.  This extension will save these phrases for you and you can insert them where you deem fit.

Here is a short video that shows you how to install it and how it works:

Monday, November 16, 2015

Google Apps for Education - Math Resources for K-12

Chrome Apps and Extensions, along with Google Drive Add-ons and Apps, can provide valuable support for Math Classrooms.

Recently Jennifer Carey posted  4 Math Add ons for Google Docs on the Free Technology for Teachers Blog. The post included several add-ons that I have never used, so I decided it was time to update my own list of resources connecting Math to Google Apps for Education.


The included resources cross over multiple categories of curricular skills. Clicking on a resource link will give a longer description that will include images and sometimes an introductory video.

Here are the three resources I added based on Jennifer's post:
Sometimes you just want a simple calculator! No more rearranging windows or clicking back and forth, just to do some basic math.
Use Wizkids CAS to plot graphs and solve equations with the powerful math tool in your document.
Formula Editor lets you to easily type mathematical equations from the sidebar in your Google Doc.

What would you add (pun intended) that we've missed?

Monday, November 9, 2015

GAFE Workflow - Using Chrome to Be More Efficient Online


The Chrome Browser is a power tool to enhance your learning experience and save you time while online. Understanding how Chrome can help teachers and students be more efficient with their time online is an essential skill. 

Getting Started with Chrome

Open Chrome and make sure you are signed into Chrome on the device you are using. Click here if you need help signing into Chrome. When you sign in to Chrome, you can save and sync things like your history, bookmarks, and passwords, so you can get to them on any device.

Chrome Browser Essentials

Chrome Learning Activity 1:
Review the Chrome Essentials Document and learn more about the following aspects of Chrome:
  • Making Chrome the Default Browser
  • Setting Homepage
  • Setting Startup Pages
  • Incognito Window
  • Bookmarks
  • Omnibox
  • Tabs 
  • Shortcut Keys
Chrome Learning Activity 2: Explore the Chrome Store Web Store and find an Extension or App that could be used to support teaching and learning.

Click here to share an Extension or App.
Click here to view responses.

Learn more about Chrome Browser

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Google Sheets Add-On Every Teacher Should be Using!

I attended a conference this summer and one of the presenters left a quote that really stuck with me.  "With all that teachers have to do, if an activity could be automatically graded for you, why wouldn't you use it"!  

Introducing or Reintroducing Flubaroo.  




 Flubaroo will quickly or grade multiple choice or fill in the blank assignments.  Flubaroo is a powerful tool that you Add-On to a Google Sheet that is receiving responses from a Google Form. But Flubaroo is much more than a grading tool, Flubaroo will analyze your students submissions.


More Flubaroo Can Do For YOU!


  • Compute the average assignment score
  • Compute average score per question and flags low scoring questions
  • Shows you a grade distribution graph
  • Give you the option to email each student their grade and the answer key
  • Lets you send individualized feedback to each student

Try Flubaroo as a Student

Check Your Email for Your Results After Submitting

Set Up Your Own Flubaroo

There are FIVE Steps to Take to Make this Magical Tool Work for You.
  • Create an Assignment Using Google Forms
  • Be the First Person to Complete the Assignment
    • Be Sure to Get All the Answers Correct - This Becomes Your Answer Key! 
  • Assign It to Your Students.
    • Give them the Link to the Google Form, Post the Form in Google Classroom or on Your Class Website, Whatever Works Best with Your Class Workflow.
  • Install Flubaroo in the Add-Ons Menu or Click Here and Click to Grade the Assignment
  • Review Your Student Submissions
The creator of Flubaroo has posted these five steps as well.  

(Watch a Demo of Flubaroo)


Please post any questions you may have on using Flubaroo or Google Forms as well as any unique ways you have used Flubaroo with your students.  Hope you found this post to be valuable and that you will take advantage of this great resource! 

Chrome Tips Every Teacher Should Know About

Chrome is browser packed full of amazing features that can make your browsing experience easier and more productive.  I have been working a lot with teachers on why they should use Chrome and the benefits to using Chrome.  I emphasize that these tips will enable them to save, sync and access their Chrome date and bookmarks across different devices, easily access and manage their installed apps, use shortcuts to perform quick tasks in Chrome, restore closed tabs and windows,

  • Importance of signing in to Chrome:  Chrome is part of Google's suite of products - meaning if you have a Google account you can use the same login info to sign in to your Chrome.  Once signed in, all your Chrome's settings, bookmarks, apps, extensions, browsing history, themes, and other data are saved and synced to your Google account.  You can access all of this data when you use Chrome on any other device provided you sign in to the same account. This is especially helpful in when you work on different computers for instance one at home and another at work…etc. Follow these steps to sign in to Chrome 
    • Open Chrome.
    • In the top-right corner of the browser window, click the button with an icon of a person or your name or email address.
    • Click Sign in to Chrome.
    • Sign in with your Google Account.
    • To customize your sync settings, click Settings. This lets you choose what information to share across other devices where you're signed into Chrome.
  • Install Chrome Extensions/Apps:  Extensions are small software programs that get installed on your browser and these extension modify and enhance the functionality of your browser.  Chrome Apps are often enhanced shortcuts to websites. You can find Chrome Apps in the Chrome store.  
  • Drag and Drop:  In Chrome, you can easily take a word or phrase, and drag and drop it into the search bar (or as Chrome calls it, the Omnibox) and it will automatically search those terms.  Similarly, you can drag a URL directly on the Bookmark Bar to save it as a bookmark. You can also drag URL links directly to your desktop and Chrome automatically creates a clickable icon.
  • Open Specific Pages at Start:  If you use the web like me, you end up going to the same sites every time you log on.  Conveniently, you can set Chrome up to open to those same websites ever time you start up.  In the Settings menu, go to the section "On Startup" (or just type chrome://settings/startup in the omnibox) and click on the option to "Open to specific page or set of pages."  Next to that option is a "Set pages" link, which allows you to choose your starting sites.
  • Open Accidentally Closed Tabs:  Have you ever mistakenly closed a tab?  We all have.  But, thankfully Chrome is a forgiving browser and makes it possible to get it all back.  All you have to do is press Control-Shift-T and Chrome will reopen any recently closed tabs.  
  • Create another Profile:  If you have multiple Google accounts (say for professional and personal use) you can create another profile and switch back and forth between the two.  First, create a new profile by going to Settings>People>Add person.  Name that profile and then login.  Note:  Chrome also gives you the ability to "Control and view the websites this person visits."  This can be useful if you have children that you would like to monitor their online activity.  

Monday, November 2, 2015

Table Formatter | Google Docs Add-on


Google Drive Add-ons allow users to add functionality to Google Documents. There are many great add-ons for Forms, Docs, and Sheets.

Google Drive Add-on Tutorial

I recently learned about a great add-on for Google Docs called Table Formatter. While the table tools
in Google Docs have improved greatly since Docs first rolled out, they are still somewhat limited. Table Formatter allows users to use many of the MS Word table features in Docs. Users can customize styles and backgrounds and even create their own templates. If you are using Google Docs and are looking for more table formatting options, this could be a great resource.




Monday, October 26, 2015

Seesaw - Student Driven Digital Portfolios

There are many great resources for students to create digital portfolios to document their work and share it with classmates, teachers, and parents. Recently I stumbled across Seesaw. Seesaw looks like a great tool for students and teachers to share their work.

Seesaw makes it incredibly easy for students to take their work and make it digital. While it started as an iPad app, it now works across multiple devices.

From the Website: 

WHAT IS SEESAW?
Seesaw empowers students of any age to independently document what they are learning at school.
Students capture learning with photos and videos of physical work, or by adding digital creations. Everything is uploaded and kept organized for teachers.
Teachers can invite families to Seesaw so parents get an immediate, personalized window into their child's learning.




Learn more on the Seesaw YouTube Channel.

What other tools would you recommend for digital portfolios? 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Twitter Curator Add-On

With the wealth of information, Twitter can serve as "walls and halls of the 21st century classroom." Part of building capacity and understanding among students is helping them develop an understanding of effective tweets.  The Google Doc add-on Twitter Curator is the perfect tool in facilitating this process.  Twitter Curator, once installed, lets you find and curate tweets right inside a Google Spreadsheet or GoogleDoc.  It allows you to search hashtags, tweets and then save them right into a GoogleDoc or Spreadsheet.  The tool is extremely easy to use, and it is an easy way to display tweets from students or other professionals.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Connected Educator Resources to Support Personal Learning Networks

Collaborative networks can be used to communicate and collaborate. These networks are great resources to build critical thinking skills and inspire creative thinking. Collaborative digital tools can be powerful resources to amplify student voices, teacher voices, and a school voice.

Connected educators use Social Networks to:
1. Get the word out about school events and resources.
2. Share resources and classroom conversations.
3. Engage in Personal Learning Networks to improve teaching and learning.

Learn more about how to get started, manage, and engage in Social Networks to support teaching and learning with this interactive set of tutorials:


Please share your ideas, resource, and tips in the comment section below. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Figment - A Writing and Reading Community

I heard about Figment.com today . . . since I don't know much about it, here's their Fact Page about Figment Groups especially designed for classroom teachers. Users have to be at least 13 years old!

So what is Figment?

Figment is an online community where young adults and teens come together to create, discover, and share new reading and writing.
Figment is also an innovative, exciting teaching tool, already being used in classroomslibraries, and other educational settings around the country to inspire and engage young readers and writers.

And what are Figment Groups?

Figment offers two types of groups—public open groups for our general users to connect over anything from poetry writing to Bieber-mania; and private closed groups for our educator community.
Private groups look very similar to the public groups, but with added benefits. You can limit membership to your class, library, or organizational community, and other Figment users can’t see inside your group.
Through these user-friendly, intuitive virtual writers’ workshops:
  • Students can create and revise writings in the safe space of a private group, sharing their works-in-progress, as well as commenting and reviewing, only with other members and their teacher.
  • Teachers can post and update assignments, share links to relevant materials around the web, and monitor student writing.
  • Using the group discussion tool, students and teachers can have class discussions, ask questions, and share outside resources.
  • Once complete, students can publish their writings to the entire Figment community, therein taking advantage of one of the largest authentic audiences for student writing on the web.

http://figment.com/signup/educators

Focus on the Content to Teach Essential Skills - #EdTech PD

Many educators get excited about the latest and greatest shiny new EdTech tool, but over the years we've discovered that this does not always move teachers forward in their teaching. Many teachers also struggle when a tool they fell in love with either disappeared or was no longer free. Too often the phrase, "Why should we use this if it is gone in a year?" was heard. 

We've begun to steer our Profesional Development away from the tools first. For district required Tech Tools (Gradebooks, LMS, etc.) we do create online tutorials and offer periodic face to face help sessions. 

We plan professional development with the idea that we want to model a student-centered learning environment. Instructional Technology PD focuses on specific teacher and student skills rather than the tools, with these two foundations:
  • We model our PD around learner-centered activities, with this infographic as our foundation: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teachers Who Use Technology. We ask teachers to approach PD and planning with 1 or more of these in mind. We design any pd offerings with 1 or more of these in mind.
  • Our second primary goal is to support a shift to learner-centered classrooms where teachers use the 4Cs. We believe that EdTech tools can help a teacher use their course content to help students develop skills connected to Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking, and Creativity. Here is one of our resources sites connected to this idea: Recharge Learning
In the big picture, the two resources that have given us the most leverage to shift our teaching and learning with EdTech are GAFE and Digital Assessment Tools: