Monday, February 29, 2016

Spell Checker & Grammar Checker by Grammarly

Spell check and grammar check as you type online. 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. 
  • Contextual spell checker Correctly spelled words used in the wrong context. Grammarly spots erroneous use of lose/loose, affect/effect, lie/lay, there/their/they’re, and many more commonly confused words. 
  • Grammar checker Grammarly scans your text for proper use of more than 250 advanced grammar rules, spanning everything from subject-verb agreement to article use to modifier placement.
  • Enhance your sentences with Grammarly’s word choice suggestions that optimize for the context of your document. 
Grammarly Premium Here’s what you get with an upgrade:
  • Checks for 150+ additional points of grammar 
  • Provides vocabulary enhancement suggestions 
  • Detects plagiarism and provides citation suggestions 
  • Comes with Microsoft Office Add-In, enabling you to use Grammarly inside Word Outlook 
  • Specialty checking for different document types: academic, technical, creative, etc.

Click here to learn more and install the extension from the Chrome Webstore. 
Click here to learn more about what educators are saying about Grammarly. 

Saturday, February 27, 2016

How Many Ways Can You Open a Google Doc?

How many ways are there to open a new Google Doc? Let's count the ways . . .
  1. This first way works when your Google Drive is not open on the tab you are currently working on, in fact, your Google Drive doesn't even need to be opened, you just have to be signed into Google Chrome . . . use the extension Google Docs Quick Create. I place this extension right next to the Omnibox so it's quick and easy to access.
  2. Did you know you can go to Try it and then bookmark it and you'll have two ways in one. This method brings you to a "home" base for all of your current Google Docs. It's a way to view your Drive and only see your Docs. It also gives you quick access to Doc templates. Click on the + to open a new Doc.
  3. Also outside of being in your Google Drive, click on the colorful Apps "Waffle" to reach your Apps page, which usually sits on the left side of your bookmarks bar. After clicking on that waffle if you don't immediately see an icon for Docs, add it through the Web Store and then position it so it's easy to see and to use quickly. 
  4. Then there is the "normal" way while in your Google Drive, just click the New button and
    select Docs. 
  5. You can also open a Google Doc by clicking on the 9 cubes on the right side your Google Drive.
  6. One other choice that shows the same options as the New button is clicking on the black and white My Drive located above the file listing of your Drive.
  7. With your Google Drive on the current tab, here's the quickest way that does not require you to take your fingers off the keyboard . . . use the shortcut: Shift+t.
  8. Finally, while in any app, Docs, Sheets, Drawings, or Sheets, click on File and hover over New for the fly out menu. Choose Docs from there.

There are a lot of ways to open a Google Doc. Which way is your favorite?

Monday, February 22, 2016

Spice Up Presentations - Movenote

Movenote is a beneficial resource and Google Drive App that gives users the option to create video presentations. Users can add content - from their computer or directly from the Google Drive - and then record a video in order to explain the content. If users don’t want their face to appear, Movenote also gives the option to only record audio. Teachers can use this for sub plans or a flipped classroom approach, and students can use this in order to bring any presentation to life.

Click here to download the app to your Google Drive
Click here to see Movenote in action

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Yet Another Cool Web-based Tool

Buncee is a web-based tool that makes it simple for students to create anything from digital stories and multimedia research reports, to interactive presentations. Students can easily complete creative online projects by combining personal media, Buncee artwork and animations, and other multimedia projects from their Google Drive, YouTube, plus more!

What is Buncee?

There is a free version with limited options, but for starting at $20 a year you can get the Plus version which has many options. Teachers can even create student accounts, price changes as students are added. There is also an option for an entire school or district. Trial the Plus version for 30 days!

Just about a 7-minute Webinar for Buncee

It's a really fun way to create multimedia projects for all age groups!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Adobe Slate for Beautiful Visual Stories

Create and share beautiful visual stories! 
Turn your next newsletter, report, invitation or travel adventure into a gorgeous visual story.

Adobe Slate is simple application for creating and publishing beautiful web pages. Your Slate story can have a combination of headings, text, quotes, hyperlinks, and images. After creating your story, use the given URL and share it with anyone or post it anywhere.

Students and teachers can use Adobe Slate to create visual stories, document a field trip, create visual handouts, and more!

Put a unique twist on anything you want to communicate — a book report, weekly customer newsletter or your latest travel adventure. Slate automatically adapts to any device, creating a delightful read on tablets, phones or computers.

Slate is also available as an iPad app.
Even though this video shows how to use the app on an iPad, it works just the same online! 
(About 12 minutes.)

View my first Adobe Slate creation!
My China Experience

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Formative Assessment - Powerful Teaching and Learning

A formative assessment is a tool to provide feedback to students. It is also used to help teachers check for understanding to guide future learning. Formative assessments can be digital or not. The traditional view of formative assessments is that they are not graded, but I would argue that a graded quiz can be a formative assessment if it is used to provide feedback and drive future instruction 

Why is formative assessment important for teachers and students?

Some of our favorite digital formative assessment tools: 
Some of our non-digital formative assessment tools:
  • Give 1 - Get 1
  • Whiteboarding
  • Note Card/ Post-Its Exit Slips
  • Fist to Five
  • Four Corners
  • 3 - 2 - 1
More assessment tools:

How do you use formative assessments in your classroom?

Monday, February 15, 2016

Mic Note - Voice Recorder & Notepad

Mic note is a Chrome Productivity App that is both a Notepad and Audio Recorder. There is both a free version and a paid version. 

Classroom applications:
  • Record audio as the students take note.
  • Record activities or experiments with a webcam as you add notes.
  • Insert images or diagrams and verbally describe them. 
  • Record an interview as you take notes on key points.
  • Practice writing and speaking in foreign languages. 
Key features: 

  • Auto timestamps Taking notes while recording voice in the same time, automatically inserts timestamps for your notes. The free version allows for 10-minute recording per note. The Pro Version is up to 4 Hours per note.
  • Insert resourcesThe notepad allows you to insert images, PDF files, and Google files from your device or Google Drive. 
  • TranscriptionA set of tools helps you transcribe recordings with full keyboard shortcuts. 
  • SharingShare notes on the web. 
  • Editing recordings (Pro Version only)After recording, you can edit recordings at any time, deletion, trimming, inserting, extracting.
The paid version currently has a one-time fee of $14.99. 
When you first add the App from the Chrome Store, it will include a two sample notes. The first includes some basic details and instructions to connect your notes to Google Drive or Dropbox. The second is a sample note with a recording of a Steve Jobs speech. 

How could you use Mic Note in your classroom?

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Rewordify: Help Students Understand what they Read

This powerful, free, online software can improve reading, learning, and teaching. This site can:

  • Intelligently simplify difficult English, for faster comprehension
  • Effectively teach words, for building a better vocabulary
  • Help teachers save time and produce engaging lessons
  • Help improve learning outcomes
Enter hard sentences (or whole chapters) into a yellow box at the top of the site. (You can also enter a web site URL.) Click Rewordify text and you'll instantly see an easier version, for fast understanding. The reworded words are highlighted— click them to hear and learn the original harder word.
I entered: The eloquent speaker evoked an emotional cascade of scintillating memories.  
Rewordify gave me: The very well-spoken/very well-written speaker reminded people of/brought out an emotional waterfall of pretty memories.

Clicking on the automatically highlighted "very well-spoken/very well-written" revealed this definition:

Parts of Speech
Legend: Click the legend words to toggle highlighting. Get help on this page.
The eloquent speaker evoked an emotional cascade of scintillating memories .
Caveat: No computerized (or human) part of speech tagger is perfect. 

It's free, ad-free, fast, and safe. Many other features are part of this site for teachers and students!

Go check it out! Rewordify

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Find Chrome's Saved Passwords

Passwords.    It's hard to keep track on them.  Everywhere you go nowadays seems like you need a password. I have a system for my more secure passwords but for all those other sights that require me to create an account and login, I often forget those.  If you use Chrome and have it set to save your passwords, you already have a repository of login and password details saved in your browser.  And it is easy to access from your primary device in case you need to look up a password.  All you have to do is go into your Chrome Settings->Show Advanced Settings and Under Passwords and forms, click on "Manage Passwords".  Here you will find all the saved logins and passwords.  Click on the hidden password field and Google will require you to enter a password before you can access the password.
It isn’t exactly a brand new feature, but it seems like it isn’t widely known.
If you’re apprehensive about letting Google store your passwords this way (anyone who gains access to your Google account could also find your other account details on this page), you have two options: either turn off password saving in Chrome or encrypt your browser data while syncing

If you choose the second option, Google will still save your login details, but they won’t be visible on the Passwords page. Here’s how to enable it:

Open the Settings menu in Chrome and click ‘Advanced sync settings…’
Encrypt all synced data with your own sync passphrase
Set a secure passphrase that you can memorize and click OK
And you’re done — Google’s Passwords page will no longer display any account details. If you want to bring them back, open the advanced sync settings menu again and click ‘Use default settings’.

How has Google Changed Teaching and Learning?

How has Google Changed Teaching and Learning in Your Classroom?

Google parent Alphabet recently passed Apple as the world’s most valuable company. This should hardly come as a surprise. Do a quick search using your favorite search engine with the keywords Google / Alphabet and you will see a connection to just about every segment of our daily lives.

In the education field Google Drive, Chromebooks, Google Classroom, YouTube, and many other Google resources have impacted the way many teachers and students engage in learning. There is an almost unlimited collection of resources and ideas connected to Google Apps for Education. As many classrooms become more student-centered the learning shifts from finding answers to exploring questions.

I’ve made no secret that I am all in when it comes to Google in my Classroom. I can’t think of another resource that has had a bigger impact on how I organize my classroom and support my students.

How has Google impacted the pedagogy of your classroom? What resources can you share to help educators make the most of Google Resources and EdTech?

Here are some resources connected to GAFE:

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Infographics for Student Presentations

In the course of my teaching career, I've tried many tools and strategies to engage students with presentations. In a learner-centered classroom, I've tried to focus more on student presentations. Good presentation tools should allow students to collaborate easily and express their creativity in a variety of ways. 

There are are many great strategies and tools to support student presentations. A list of top web-based presentation tools to support collaboration and creativity might include: 

Prezi  |  WeVideo  |  Glogster  |  Canva  |  Powtoons  |  Google Slides

A list of creative presentation styles could include: 

Regardless of the tool, one of my greatest struggles has been to convince kids to limit the text and to not just read off the screen. This past year I have been experimenting more with having students use infographics and then share them with the class as a "presentation". Students enjoy the process and an added benefit is students read less from the screen and are a bit more creative in their attempts to engage the audience. 

When designing an activity with an infographic my top priorities include:
  • Ease of Use
  • Free Features
  • Collaboration Features
  • Ability to share online. 
A list of our favorite infographic creation tools includes:
Additional resources to support increased engagement in presentations:

Monday, February 8, 2016

Padlet - Organization and Collaboration at its Finest

Padlet is a free online resource that allows users to create a bulletin board-type display. It is great for organization, collaboration, brainstorming, and production. Users can add images, links, videos, and more. Click here to visit Padlet’s site. Click here to add it to your Google Apps.  

Padlet mini is an extension that allows Padlet users to bookmark web pages and add them to their Padlet bulletin board. It makes it easier to your favorite stuff to various Padlet boards as you find it! Click here to download the extension.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

GAFE Interactive - Google Skills to Support the 4Cs

This interactive guide is designed to be learner-centered and focused on skills to enhance and transform learning in the classroom connected to the 4Cs in Education. The different sections of this interactive include tutorials, resources, and learning activities. Users of this guide are encouraged to complete the learning activities in each section. Differentiated learning is encouraged, and users have the choice of digging deep into a few activities or browsing across all activities.
Interactive Table of Contents
  1. GAFE Workflow (Additional GAFE Resource)
  2. Google Classroom (Additional GAFE Resource)
  3. Assessment and Reflective Learning (Additional GAFE Resource)
  4. More Google Resources (Additional GAFE Resource)

Even More Google Goodness

Google Classroom and Google Drive (Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, and more.) our powerful resources to support teaching and learning.
There are many other powerful resources that are not as well know that can support teachers and students.
We've designed an interactive guide to share some of our favorite lesser know Google Resources. The guide is designed to be learner-centered and focused on skills to enhance and transform learning in the classroom connected to the 4Cs in Education. The different sections of this interactive include tutorials, resources, and learning activities. Users of this guide are encouraged to complete the learning activities in each section. Differentiated learning is encouraged, and users have the choice of digging deep into a few activities or browsing across all activities.

What are your favorite Google Tools? How do you use them with your students?

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Chrome Extension of the Week

If you don't know about Tab Scissors and Tab Glue, keep reading!

These two Chrome extensions improve the way students handle two tabs at the same time. If they are in the process of researching and taking notes with an open Google Doc and an online information source, this is perfect!

When two tabs are positioned next to each other, clicking on the extension will split the screen into two equal screens. Students can now efficiently take notes and transfer information needed for the research project. Don't forget to use the Chrome extension Cite This For Me: Web Citer to be sure to remember to cite the sites used!

When students finish with an information source, simply glue the screens back together. The extension will make the tab on the left the main screen.

One search for Tab Scissors in the Chrome Web Store will give you both extensions!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Google Curricular Resources

The Chrome Browser combined with Google Drive, Google Classroom, Web Applications, and Extensions is a powerful learning tool for teachers and students in learner-centered environments. Chrome Apps and Extensions, along with Google Drive Add-ons and Apps, can provide valuable support for teachers and students in today's classroom.

Thanks to my PLN we've compiled several collections of subject specific Google resources.

To learn more about the power of the Chrome Browser, please visit our Recharge Learning Chrome 101 Website.

Do you have a favorite Google resource we can add to the list?

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

2016 ICE Conference Breakout Sessions - Highlights From My PLN

Last week, I put together a list of some great workshops being facilitated by members of my PLN at this year's Illinois Computer Educators Conference. This is a great conference that connects #EdTech to teaching and learning. K-12 Educators of all subject areas will find a rich collection of sessions waiting for them.

Today I would like to share some of the Breakout Sessions on Thursday and Friday that are being facilitated by my PLN. This is by no means a complete list and there are many other excellent breakout sessions.

Thursday, February 25th, 2016

  • Digital Differentiation with Google Apps Kasey Bell ‑Shake Up Learning/Region 10 ESC
  • Effective Tech Tools & Twitter Tips for Teachers Maggie Maslowski ‑Joliet West High School
  • Connecting Classrooms to the World Matt Miller ‑North Central Parke Schools
  • Automagical Add‑ons and Excellent Extensions Anne Truger ‑Waukegan Public Schools Dist 60, Mary Mlinar‑Stephens ‑Waukegan Public Schools Dist 60
  • Untangling the Web Adam Bellow ‑
  • The Golden Treasures of Google! Kasey Bell ‑Shake Up Learning/Region 10 ESC
  • Shake Things Up with Google Apps! Kasey Bell ‑Shake Up Learning/Region 10 ESC
  • Video projects: Making them practical and fun! Matt Miller ‑North Central Parke Schools
  • Add Google Forms to Your Technology Integration Toolkit Andy Fekete ‑Indian Prairie School District 204
  • Developing a Design Mind: An Introduction to Design Thinking David Jakes ‑Education Consultant
  • Thinking about going 1:1? Phil Hintz ‑Gurnee School District 56
  • Google Genius: Practical Activities for Class TOMORROW! Matt Miller ‑North Central Parke Schools
  • Learn to Code with Google Apps Script James Eichmiller ‑Downers Grove Grade School District 58
  • Getting Creative with Google Classroom Eric Hansen ‑Community Consolidated School District 21
  • What is Breakout Edu? James Sanders ‑EdTechTeam
  • Come Together: Cooperative Learning Structures in an Online Environment Jon Orech ‑Downers Grove South High School
  • Digital Literacy: A Blended / Competency‑Based Approach Philip Lacey ‑NTHS 219
Friday, February 26th, 2016

  • They’re Not Digital Stickers: Let’s Get Educational Badging Right! Daniel Rezac ‑Quest Academy
  • Google Secrets for Educators Steve Wick ‑Neuqua Valley High School / IPSD #204, Melissa Wilson ‑Indian Prairie School District
  • 10 Ideas for Using Tech to Wonder Together Michael Biondo ‑Maine South High School, District 207
  • Make to Learn! Makerspace in the Elementary Classroom Tammy Lind ‑South Milwaukee School District, Kristin Brouchoud ‑Green Bay Public Schools
  • Technologist Remix Joe Macchia ‑Oak Lawn‑Hometown SD 123
  • Better than Management: Energize the 1:1 Classroom Allison Sobotka ‑Park Ridge District 64, Megan Preis ‑Park Ridge District 64
  • So Many Choices, So Little Time, How Do I Choose? Tina Sabatello ‑Maine Township DIstrict 207
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Feedback Katie Diebold ‑Elmhurst CUSD 205, Jill Heaton ‑Elmhurst 205
  • The Seven Factors of Sticky David Jakes ‑Education Consultant
  • Google for Education Certifications & Training Center Steven Butschi ‑Google
  • Browser Battles...Why Chrome Reigns Supreme? Andy Fekete ‑Indian Prairie School District 204
  • Social Networks for Teachers / Being a Connected Educator Matt Miller ‑Ditch That Textbook