Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Drop It To Me! Receive Files into your Google Drive with just a link!

Drop It To Me is a free service that provides a simply way to receive files.  Drop It To Me was originally connected with only Dropbox, but now they have added the ability to get files sent to Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive.

The beauty of Drop It To Me (other than the catchy name) is that you can easily receive files from students, colleagues, parents or the public.  The sender does not need an account, email address, or app.  You give them the link to your Drop It To Me webpage.  After inputting the page's password, they are provided with an Upload button.  Any file type can be submitted, and that file is sent right into a dropittome folder in your Google Drive, Dropbox, or OneDrive.  This makes it easy to collect things such as permission slips from parents.

Here is how to Set Up a Page to Receive Files:

  • Go to and register for an account
  • Create a new page by setting up a new cloud connection to Google Drive, Dropbox, or OneDrive.  
  • Add page details - which includes choosing your page's slug.  The page's slug is the taniam of the URL  You get to indicate the title and description that will appear at the top of your page.  
  • Set a Password for your page.  I suggest keeping the password and simple.  The last part is to indicate if you want to receive an email notification each time you receive a file.
  • Send the link to the people that need access
How Others Send Files Through Your Page:
  • Follow the link to the Drop it To Me page.  A visitor simply enters a password for the page.
  • Click the Select to Upload button. This will open up a file picker.  After the file is selected, it is automatically synced to your Google Drive, Dropbox or OneDrive dropittome folder. (The sender should not close the window until a checkmark appears from the uploaded file's name to indicate a successful transfer.)

Monday, September 28, 2015

Resources to Support English Language Arts and ELL

I was lucky enough to make the time to attend #EdCamp Chicago this past Saturday. If you've never been to an #EdCamp you are missing out on something than can only be described as #AWESOME

I decided this year to attend at least one session that was outside of my normal comfort zone. If you've read any of my posts, you will quickly realize that my grasp of Language Arts is pretty shaky on a good day. I ain't no grammar learn write understand stuff me?

The second session I went to was title: Chrome Extensions and Apps (ELL/Special Ed). While I know a bit about Chrome Apps and Extensions, I have no good foundation in resources to support ELL and Special Education.

I walked away from the session with a bunch of great resources and ideas, but these 5 are my favorites out of the gate: 
  1. RefME WebClipper
    The RefME WebClipper is the easiest way to reference online resources. Create citations, reference lists and bibliographies directly from your browser. You can also add quotes to your reference by highlighting text on any page you visit.
    RefME Website
  2. writeabout (Website, not App or Extension.)
    Teachers: Get students WRITING. Support the writing process. Provide feedback on writing. Guide the sharing of writing. Connect with other teachers of writing. Have students write even more!
    Students: WRITE. Find creative inspiration to write. Make their writing better. Have fun writing. Share their writing. Read other students' writing. Respond to writing. Write some more.
  3. Cite This For Me: Web Citer
    Automatically create website citations in the APA, MLA, Chicago, or Harvard referencing styles at the click of a button.
  4. Google Docs Voice Typing
    Use the microphone on a device to dictate text in a Google Doc
  5. Grammarly Spell Checker & Grammar Checker
    The free Spell Checker & Grammar Checker by Grammarly helps you write clearly and confidently on Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Tumblr, and nearly anywhere else on the Web.
Here are the notes from the session: (I would have liked a little more direct special education tools, but most of the conversation was on Writing and Reading resources.) 

Want to learn more about some of the other great sessions at EdCamp? Here is the schedule that links to some great shared notes.

What resources do you recommend to support ELL or Special Education?

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Simplek12's Teacher Learning Community

Is this your goal: "This is the year for me to shed my shell, make myself a little vulnerable, and grow professionally in this digital world I live in." That's a fabulous goal! Oh the places you can go to shed your shell and grow! This is an awesome place to go, home of the blue bunny slippers!

This is the place to go for PD in your PJs. I've been a member since 2012, so I can speak from experience about this fabulous resourceful site! SimpleK12 is an online professional development tool that incorporates teacher learning into a social platform, and promotes engagement by letting teachers accumulate points that they can trade in for rewards.  You can create a profile, track your PD through a transcript of courses and outcomes, and access a broad range of content.

PLN - Simplek12 is a great place to expand your PLN! Connect with teachers through forums and email-like messages. Find other teachers from all over the world who teach your same subject and collaborate. You can upload resources to share with others, access resources shared by others all while gaining points as you participate in the Community. These points can be used to redeem merchandise (you have to get a pair of their bunny slippers), membership or content.

Webinars - SimpleK12 offers a plethora of webinars. Their presenters are very enthusiastic and passionate about their content. You can watch them live or watch at your own pace on-demand. The subjects range from organizational skills to the Common Core, and technology galore! What's more, you can answer their "Call for Presenters" and become a webinar presenter yourself!

Toolkits - SimpleK12 also offers a number of self-paced toolkits. These toolkits are mini courses. These courses are divided into segments and Simplek12 tracks your completion status.

Membership - Full access to the Simplek12 Community requires a membership fee. However, there is free limited-access to some of the features. Many of the webinars are offered to the public for free. After attending one of these webinars, a significant discount is offered to attendees. You won't ever regret joining this Community! If you are fortunate like I am, this year my District purchased three-year memberships for all our teachers and administrators!

In a nutshell, if professional growth is your goal, oh, this is the place to go - Simplek12 Teacher Learning Community! Follow them on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Linkedin, and Youtube to find out what's going on and what's coming up in the Community.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Tips for an Organized Google Drive

Staying organized during the school year can be hard - especially when you are managing multiple classes, teaching hundreds of students and collaborating with our colleagues.    As GAFE products and usage has increased, so has the size of your Google Drive. 

Here are a few different ways you can organize your school documents using Google Drive:
  1. Create Folders:  Folders allow you to organize similar documents into a folder in order to organize your files.  To create a new tile, click the "New" button the left-hand side, the select "Folder." Write the name of the new folder
  2. Color Code Your Files:  You can change the color of your folders to keep track of different classes.   To change the color of a folder
            1. Right-Click on the Folder
            2. Select "Change Color"
            3. Choose your color
  3. *Star* a File:  You can star any folder or file by right clicking the item then selecting "add star."  This basically creates a bookmark in Drive - which can be accessed from the "Starred option on the left-hand menu
  4. Grid View vs List View:  You have the option to display your files in either grid view or list view.  Grid View shows a thumbnail with a preview of the file..  List View arranges the files in a list.
  5. Add files in "Shared with me" to your Drive:  If you would like to organize documents that have been shared with you into your Drive folders, you can add the file from the Shared with me folder to your drive.  Find the file in shared with me.  click on the file  at the top or from the right click menu, click Add to My Drive.
  6. Add numbers to file names:  you can choose the order in which files show up, from alphabetical naming order to most recent files.  If you know exactly what you want to go to, number your files from the most important to least important.  That way, the files you really want will always be on top.  Right Click on the file of your choice and click on the Rename option.  From there, go ahead and put them in number order.
  7. The Difference between Add and Move:  A file or folder in Google Drive can be moved by dragging  it to a new location or by selection the items and clicking the "Move to" folder icon.  Moving a file or folder from a shared folder into My Drive (or any other folder) is a move - not a copy, so the moved content is removed from the shared folder.  As a result:  Users will no longer see the moved files or folders in the shared folder.  Any permissions on the moved content that were inherited from the shared folder will be removed, and new permissions will be inherited from the destination folder. If you want to have the file in more than one folder location, simply Ctrl-Click when moving the file.  Then it will say that the file has been "added to the new folder instead of moved to that new folder.  When you "add" to your drive, the permissions are staying the same.

Monday, September 21, 2015

More Google Maps Tools for Critical Thinking and Creativity

Google Maps is a useful tool for many of us in our day to day lives, but many classrooms don't take advantage of some of the incredible resources that are connected to Google Maps.

Google maps can provide classrooms with some incredible opportunities to create lessons based on creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration. 

Here are a few resources connected to Google Maps that classroom teachers will find useful:
  • Geoguessr
    Game using StreetView images that drops the player in a random location and challenges them to work out where they are.
    Create Your Own Geoguessr with Geosettr
  • Smarty Pins
    A fun and interactive game that tests players’ trivia and geography knowledge
  • My Maps
    Create custom maps to share online with Google My Maps We recently used My Maps as part of our Biome Unit.
  • Google Cultural Institute World Wonders
    The World Wonders Project is a valuable resource for students and scholars who can now virtually discover some of the most famous sites on earth.
  • Street View Treks
    Trek the world with Google Maps. Travel with the team as they collect Street View imagery cultural, historical and geographical wonders.
  • Google Drawings
    While not a mapping tool, a map can be inserted and manipulated using the drawing tools. Click here for a few tips about using Google Drawings in the classroom.
Here is a bit more information on Google Maps in Education:

How could you incorporate these into your student's learning? What other Google Maps resources do you use? 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Favorite Chrome Extensions

There are so many Chrome extensions available. How do you know which ones to use/choose? Well collaborate with others and see what they find useful. Share what you find useful! With that in mind, here are six of my favorites:

This extension lets you set up frequently used grading sayings -- "Is this a complete sentence?" "Did you check your spelling?" "Did you cite your resource?", etc., save them and paste them in as you are grading. The extension appears on the extension bar as well as on the right click as a fly out menu so you can select the saved comment. 

1-Click Timer
This productivity extension is a great timer. Click on it, adjust the hands of the clock to set your timer, click, and let it go! It will count down for you in the background and play a lovely piece of music that your students will mimic in no time at all! It can be set to a maximum of one hour. You can open it in a new tab so the timer is on full display. To stop the alarm, simply click on the center of the clock. 

Google Calendar (By Google) 

With this extension you can easily check your Google Calendar and add new events from websites you visit. You don't even have to leave your current page to check. 
If you have more than one calendar, you can select options to display all or some of the calendars. There is also an option that will allow you to look at the icon and know how many more minutes or days until your next event. 

TweetDeck Launcher
If you use Twitter, this is definitely the extension for you! This is essential for the Twitter fanatic! TweetDeck makes it easier for you to track the conversations going on in your Twitter feed. It allows custom layouts that let you keep up with the people and topics that you follow. You can join the conversation by tweeting, sharing photos and links to news stories. Add a variety of columns of hashtags and watch the conversation or join in! 

The Great Suspender
If you like to have a whole bunch of tabs open in Chrome, then this extension is for you! It will automatically "suspend" a tab by unloading it and yet retain its favicon and title text so you can see which tab is which. If you need that tab again, simply click anywhere on the page to restore it. If you have a tab that you do not ever want to suspend, simply "whitelist it." That option comes up when the page is suspended, just click on that option and it will not be suspended again. You can also tell it when to suspend. Mine will suspend after one-hour of inactivity. Change it as you need. 

Automatically create website citations in the APA, MLA, Chicago, or Harvard styles at the click of a button. Just browse to the page you want to cite and click the button to generate a correctly formatted citation. Students can then copy and paste the citation into an assignment, or add it to a document to use later.

I could go on . . . but I'll stop here. Now it's your turn to share below one of your favorite extensions!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Classroom Split - Chrome Extension

Now that many teachers are using Google Classroom to disseminate information to their students, students are having to adjust to working in an online environment.  Many were going struggling with going back and forth between their assignment that was posted in Google Classroom and their work.  Classroom Split Chrome extension allows students to view Google Classroom page side by side with their work.
Here is what the screen looks like for the student:
(photo and content courtesy of Alice Keeler)

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Mumblings of a Google Enthusiast

Google Apps for Education is a powerful tool that keeps getting better and better. It's estimated that GAFE will reach 110 Million users by 2020!*  I don't ever recall reading a Tweet or blog post that stated, "I hate Google and GAFE is useless." (Nor do I go looking for such negativity!) All I ever see is how much GAFE has enhanced teaching. I see tons of ways other teachers have found to incorporate technology in their classrooms. I see many examples of how this powerful tool opens a world of interesting possibilities. 

I wonder . . . With all that GAFE can do, why are some still not embracing it? 
I think one reason is FEAR. Fear of technology. Fear is crippling. Fear of not knowing as much as the students we teach. These students are practically born with some sort of device in their hands! I can empathize with that fear. There is a learning curve that one must get through in order to embrace technology. That curve will get more and more difficult if we continue to put off becoming a digital educator. As highly educated individuals, it's not always easy to admit what we don't know. This truly takes humility. The problem is that the use of technology in the classroom is not going away. Those among us who have not yet embraced Google Apps For Education are going to have to more sooner than later. 

"Aaaarrrrgggg," some may be screaming. "I don't want to!" they may be ranting, or should I say, temper-tantruming. "I can't do it!" is the resultant feeling of defeat. However, what do we do or say when a student says, "I can't do it! I'm just not cut out for this!"? Do we just accept it and mark off that naysayer as helpless? Of course not! We do all we can to find out how to reach and help each and every student in our care, especially those with this inner self-struggle! We would not accept the I-can't-do-it attitude from our students, why do we accept it from ourselves?

"What can I do?" you may ask. Start simple, but please do start! Chisel out moments in your busy day to learn something new. 

Here's a list of simple ways to begin:
  • Start using Google Calendar - keep track of your appointments on your personal calendar. Create a class calendar and keep track of assignments and other projects. Share that calendar with your students so they can have access to those reminders too. Check out this 17 minute video to learn the basics:
  • Start using Google Docs - Google Docs is like using Microsoft Word on steroids. Creating a document is easy. Not having to hit save because Google Docs automatically saves is a thing of the past. Not only that, if you access your Drive from home, what you started at school is there waiting for you. You can share documents with colleagues and students and work on them at the same time. (Hmm, try that with Microsoft Word! Well, don't because it won't work.) Check out this 29 minute video: 
  • Create a simple survey using Google Form. Survey your students to find out some of their favorite things. Check out this 6 minute video: (Google Form recently changed, but the basics are covered here.)
  • Make Chrome your default browser. Sign into Chrome on computers you use regularly and "Link" your profile. When you set bookmarks, those same bookmarks will show on all devices you sign into. Check out this 23 minute video: 
  • Sign into Google+ and join communities that support GAFE. Read posts, submit your questions, and express your apprehensions. Others are so willing to share their ideas to support you. Develop your PLN.
  • Speaking about PLNs, join Twitter, follow and connect with others who are successful at implementing GAFE in their classroom. Collaborating with other enthusiasts will make the Google bug easier to catch and spread. 
Another great site for enhancing your learning more about Google Apps for Education is provided by our District at

Dabbling in these areas is a good place to start to begin to feel a bit of comfort. Change that I-can't-do-it attitude to an I-will-try-it and I-will-succeed attitude instead. Chisel out a bit of time daily or weekly . . . before you know it, you'll be a Google enthusiast too!

*This entry was posted in AnnouncementsCompany NewsGoogle Apps for EducationGoogle Apps News and tagged  on  by .

Monday, September 7, 2015

Geeking Out - Google Updates

Life is good….Google released even MORE updates yesterday to the tools we all know and love. (Yes…we are geeking out) #Googledomination
Now for the updates….(Here is a quick preview list. Click on the links below in order to read more about the updates and see them in action)
1.   Voice typing in Google Docs
2.      Easily see new changes in Google Docs
3.      Revamped Google Forms (You have to opt in to try the new Google Forms)
4.      Google Fonts preserved in Microsoft products
5.      The new Explore option in Google Sheets – analyzes your data and automatically creates charts and surfaces based on the information (Seems pretty powerful)
6.      Partial cell formatting in Google Sheets
7.      Templates in Docs, Sheets, and Slides – Numerous options in order to help you focus on content and not formatting (Some really great options available)
8.      New themes/color schemes in Google Slides
Click here for more information about these awesome updates.
In addition to the Google Drive/productivity updates, Google rolled out a new Chrome extension called Share to Classroom, and it is a wonderful tool for classroom use! Teachers can push websites directly out to students, and it will automatically open up in the students’ Chrome browser. (Students must have this extension downloaded and enabled in order for it to work) If you are interested in using this new extension, click here to read more about its capabilities.

I will leave you with this…If you are looking for a great daily bell ringer activity, just Google Search Fun Facts.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Google Form Add-on: copyDown

"Get your Google Form submissions up on the dance floor with the power of 
~Andrew Stillman

Are you doing the copyDown dance? If not, you'll be dancing happily when you realize the power that this add-on adds to Google Form submissions especially when used in conjunction with a mail merge feature. 

Here's a scenario I faced: Parents sign up for our school's Library Book Club using a Google Form. That's a time-saver, you might say. True, however, as I use their submissions along with these add-ons: autoCrat and formMule, I run into a few merging troubles. For instance, sometimes parents don't capitalize their child's name, or they use full caps. I also need to be able to use certain pronouns depending on if the child is a boy or a girl--I really don't want "Which pronouns do you use with regards to your child?" to be a question on my Form! The solution: copyDown.

Before I go on and on with how it all works . . . try it for yourself first. Go to my form and complete it and make sure to include your true email address. Try it as a parent and then again as the staff member option to see how autoCrat and FormMule work. Either full cap or don't capitalize your names so you can see what happens with copyDown. Check your email! If you are interested . . . come back and read on to see how it's done! Click here for the Form. I'll wait for your return . . .

The Form obviously captures all your responses. Now you need some responses fixed or figured out. That's where copyDown comes to the rescue because you can't put formulas on each line in anticipation of submission responses . . . form submissions will erase the waiting formulas. 

Here's how it works:
Create your form. 
Go live and complete your form to get one row of submissions. 
View your responses. 
Install the Google Sheets add-on copyDown.
Now add the necessary formulas to the immediate right of your form responses. 
Here are the formulas I used:
If a parent types their child's information without capitalizing or full caps the name, the formula =proper(C2) (where C2 is the cell containing the first name) will correct it. 
Since parents included a son or daughter response, I use these three if statements to get the correct pronouns to use in the merge document:
=if($B2="Daughter","she",if($B2="Son","he",if($B2="I'm a staff member","")))
=if($B2="Daughter","her",if($B2="Son","his",if($B2="I'm a staff member","")))
=if($B2="Daughter","her",if($B2="Son","him",if($B2="I'm a staff member","")))
For the birth date, I use this formula: =E2  
You can then format the date to only display the month and date. (Format> Number> More Formats> More Date and Time Formats> choose Month and Day. 
You can take a look at the positioning of the formulas in my Sheet: The Sheet

Once you have all the necessary formulas, go to Add-Ons and launch copyDown. copyDown will use row 2 submissions and look for formulas there. Click the switch to turn it on. You will see a list of your formulas. For me, I usually always select Paste as Values (this eliminates the formulas once they have been calculated leaving only the results in each cell). To make it easy, you can scroll down to the bottom of your list and Select/Deselect All. Then click Save Settings. copyDown places a column in your document with a purple heading. copyDown is triggered by each form submission. Test it again and see how it calculates your formulas. The purple headed column will also give you status of completion for each submission. 

If you gave my Form a test run, you also saw autoCrat (for the student response merge) and formMule (for the staff response email) at work! My sample Sheet also shows the status of each of these Add-Ons. These are two other really powerful Add-ons that you should know. To learn more now, visit: New Visions Cloud Lab and look under Add-Ons. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Create clips/segments from YouTube Videos with Tube Chop

Ever need just a short clip of a longer video that you find on YouTube?  Instead of fast forwarding through the video and stopping it at the end of the clip, try TubeChop.  TubeChop will clip your video for free.  Simply copy the URL of the YouTube video in the menu bar.  When the video shows up, you can play the video and enter in the "Start" time of the clip you would like to have and the "End" time of the clip and click "Chop it" and  TubeChop will create a video file of your clip!
It will give you a link to your newly chopped video!