Tuesday, July 28, 2015

So Happy Together.....Google Drive and Microsoft Office Edition

While we know and love that many teachers are going Google, there are still plenty of teachers who prefer Microsoft Office and worry that due to their differences, the two cannot work together. While people can upload Microsoft files to the Google Drive, it often becomes tedious because if any changes are made to the Microsoft files, the user has to re-upload them to the Google Drive in order to store the most current file.

Extra work = more time = frustrating

Well...the good news is that there is a new Google Drive plug-in for Microsoft Office. What's up!

This plug-in allows Office users to open their Microsoft files that are stored in the Google Drive and then save any changes they make right back onto their Drives. Also, if a person is working on a document, spreadsheet, or presentation on his/her computer, the plug-in gives the option to save the file directly to the Google Drive from the Office apps.

Microsoft Office and Google Drive users, rejoice!

Click here to download the plug-in
Official Google Release (My Resource)

Privacy in your Google Doc - DocSecrets

Privacy is one of the biggest concerns when it comes to teachers and students collaborating in the Google Drive. As Google Apps for Education continues to improve their security, numerous apps, extensions, and add-ons can also help do the trick. DocSecrets is a new add-on that allows users the option to keep certain parts of a Google doc private to other collaborators, even if these collaborators have editing privileges. 

DocSecrets places color over certain parts of the doc that are password protected by the owner. After the owner installs and clicks on DocSecrets from the add-on bar, he/she is asked to create a password and then gets to choose what needs to be private from other users. When other users open up the document, the privileges granted by the owner will stay the same, but the text that was marked as private by the owner will not be viewable. The owner can then decide to make this text viewable as needed. 

Click here to learn more about this new add-on. 
Google Guru's overview and video 
Get DocSecrets

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

New Owner Controls for Google Drive Files

I rarely feel need to protect anything connected to my teaching and learning online. I believe that sharing my resources without restrictions is a great way to support my PLN. 
That being said, I realize that it is sometimes necessary to protect a file online. Google Drive has given educators some control over who can access a document through the sharing settings.

Today I learned that Google has added some new "Owner settings" in the advanced sharing options in Google Drive. 

Owners of a Drive file can now:
  • Prevent editors from changing access and adding new people
  • Disable options to download, print, and copy for commenters and viewers
These are two new great options for file owners who want to protect their own work, sensitive materials, and copyrighted digital resources. 

Learn more about Drive Owner Controls
Learn more about Drive Sharing Settings
Google Apps Update Post with more information

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Yet Another Useful Chrome Extension

It's important to know the difference between an app and an extension in Chrome. So here's a quick rundown:
  • Apps are like websites that allow you to do interesting things, just like an app on your Android device or iPad, but in your Chrome browser instead - they are also connected to your Google account. 
  • Extensions are little add-ons that you can attach to your Chrome Browser to give it some extra functions - "extending" the ability of your browser. 
There are many amazing extensions and apps available in the Chrome Store. After you install and accept an extension, the icon will appear to the right of the Omnibox. An app will usually appear on the bookmark bar, making access to both apps and extensions one click away! (If you can't see your bookmark bar, try this shortcut: ctrl+shift+b to turn it off or on.)

Here's a useful extension: CraftyText 
This extension allows you to display, in really large text, information across your screen. You have a website you want your students to visit, you already created a shortened url but now they need to see the link. Usually you have to open a document, paste in the link, then increase the size so all can see . . . well, CraftyText takes away all of those extra steps. Click on the installed extension, paste in the link, hit enter and your link is displayed in huge letters for all to see.

This company also has two other extensions you may find useful! Visit their site to learn more: http://www.crafty184.com/ 

Monday, July 6, 2015

The 5th C of Curiosity

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
I have been very focused on incorporating the 4Cs in my classroom and to support our teacher professional development for the past several years. I was initially inspired by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. Recently I have begun to add the 5th C of curiosity into my teaching and learning. Robert Frost's the Road Not Taken is a great example of how curiosity can impact a student's future in profound ways.

If you've ever been in a car with a curious child you will recognize that a child's curiosity is endless. They will bombard you with question after question as they seek to understand the world around them. This is an incredible aspect of our human intellect that must be nurtured and encouraged through adulthood. We must encourage our students to never stop asking questions and pursuing the answers.  This is how the world becomes a better place. We need more innovators.

I fully realize that curiosity is a difficult skill to understand and nurture curiosity in a world of standardized testing, but I don't think we can let that be an excuse to not try.  I personally plan to to encourage more exploration in my classroom Not easy in an AP Curriculum, but I hope I can make it work.

I've started to put together some resources to support and encourage creativity in the classroom.
What resources or ideas do you have to support curiosity in your classroom?