Friday, May 26, 2017

Visually Appealing Google Forms

Depth of Knowledge

Mr. Bounds, the assistant principal of Angola Middle School, is really challenging his staff to contemplate the types of assessment his teachers administer. By utilizing Webb's Depth of Knowledge, teachers are analyzing the tasks given to students and thinking of ways to increase the rigor to get a more accurate representation of student learning. I'm not attempting to play "buzzword bingo" here, but technology has certainly played a big part in the need to question how to assess students. I've posted in the past in regard to Google Forms that my greatest concern is that questions being asked can be looked up with a simple Google search. Certainly, that doesn't accurately represent the student's knowledge on a subject. 

My colleague had a concern regarding Google Forms. As the contemplate the type of questions, they often require more elements. There aren't a lot of formatting options in Google Forms and sometimes you need that capability in order to differentiate between questions and additional content. Visual cues are especially relevant at the elementary level. To solve this problem, one could use Google Docs, Slides, or Drawings to customize the visual appearance of the content and insert it into the Form.

Google Drawings

Google Drawings provides a great opportunity to enhance the tasks. Charts, call-outs, shapes, text boxes, and word art are just a few elements that can be added. This would allow the user to take screenshots of bits of information or even copy and paste the text directly onto the canvas; allowing for the teacher to make adjustments to the font size and style. Once the teacher is finished with the question, they will need to download the drawing as an image (file>download as>png image>.

Then the teacher merely needs to upload it to the Google Form using the image option in the question like in the image below.

What's in the video?

I recognize that my video is slightly lengthy. It goes beyond my rule of thumb of going beyond five minutes. However, I cover a little more than just using Google Drawings. I give a poor example of inserting text into a Google Form to demonstrate  I also chat about using the screenshot tool built into the Chromebook (alt+shift+R) and also how you can accomplish much of the same using Nimbus Screenshot and Screencast if you are using a PC or Mac. I wrap it up with Google Drawings and much of what you can add into a drawing to enhance your question. Drawings is a fun tool. I use it almost every day. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Voice Over in Google Slides

"How do I add voice in Google Slides? PowerPoint does it."

This question should get frequent flyer miles. For so long my canned response was to use Screencastify or SnagIt (RIP) to record a video of the Slides presentation. To do this, students had to be good at using the Screencastify shortcuts to get a clean project without doing video editing. Sometimes this proved to be difficult for students as they could use a keyboard shortcut to pause the video. This typically caused confusion as to when they were actually recording. This was a frustration for a classroom of students that were fairly new to using Screencastify. There is certainly a learning curve when it comes to creating a good quality recording.

Autoplay Saves the Day

Google added a few features earlier this year that makes the process of creating a voice over in Google Slides much more palatable. By palatable, I mean that users no longer have to record the entire Slides presentation as a video. They no longer have to wonder whether or not the video is paused when they need to take a break. They can now record each slide separately, insert the video into the Slides presentation, and even trim the beginning and/or ending of each recording if needed. Let's check out the process.

The first great option was to be able to use videos directly from Google Drive. No longer is it required that you use YouTube to host video. This is important as YouTube is not accessible by users under the age of 13 according to Google's privacy policy. However, Google Drive is considered a "core service." Core Services are accessible by all students with parent permission. So when students use Screencastify, the video is uploaded directly to their Google Drive account in a Screencastify folder. This allows the student to quickly make the video accessible to viewers and insert it directly into a Slides presentation. 
click image to view these features in more detail
The next awesome feature that Google added was the ability to autoplay videos in Slides. When the slideshow begins, the student can make the video automatically start. This is a great option as the video can merely be used for the audio. To do this, I resize the video to a very small box and move it to the corner of the slide. Now when the slide is viewed, all links are clickable, animations do not have to be timed, and the audio will start immediately when the Slide is accessed. (Only in presentation mode.) 

The last great option that Google included was the ability to trim the beginning or end of your video. So if a student makes a mistake or takes too much time at the beginning or end of a recording, it can be trimmed off instead of re-recording the entire presentation. This will reduce the need to continually re-record. If a student stumbles at the beginning of the video, they don't have to stop the recording. The user can catch his/her breath, start speaking again and trim off the mistake at the beginning. (This feature is not in my video below, but you can see how to trim video by clicking the Google Slides Video Options banner.)

Public Display

These features will work well for public displays. Maybe there is some signage on a television for a special event? Maybe you want to send out a message to families? By using the public link, you can automate your Slides presentation to automatically start and change Slides. In the next video, I talk about considering the length of your audio in each Slide. You'll want to make sure that your messages are fairly similar in length. Otherwise, you'll end up with long awkward pauses between each Slide. This would be a good tip for student projects when they are ready to publish as well. 

Let me know how it goes. Send your samples my way. I'd love to see how students like this workflow over the old method of recording the entire presentation. I love to hear feedback!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Ten Tinkercad Tips

3D Printing

What an opportunity we have as educators to bring creativity into the classroom. 3D printing is a process that allows users to dream up an idea and make it a reality. I recently worked with sixth graders through this process. For many, this was the first time they had ever seen a 3D printer. It was an obscure concept to them. Once they jumped into Tinkercad and saw it in action, students experienced scale, the metric system, and how ideas can be fabricated into reality. 

A post shared by Lance Yoder (@edgaged) on


Workflow is key. Just like any other technology, there is a learning curve when it comes to using Tinkercad. The experience of knowing how to operate your tools and how it will affect the outcome plays a big factor int he usability in class. The common denominator when it comes to teachers not wanting to venture into the realm of 3D printing and using Tinkercad is the issue of time. It takes time to learn. It takes time to create. To help with that issue, I created ten Tinkercad tips that will assist with workflow. 

Ctrl to Move

Using the control button in conjunction with the touchpad/mouse will allow users to quickly rotate and move around an object. Otherwise, the user will need to use the navigation cube to rotate the camera angle around the object. Depending on how much you need to move around the object, holding control can save the user time.

Scroll to Zoom

To zoom in to or out from an object, users can use the + or - icon on the left-hand side of the screen. If a user has a mouse with a scroll wheel or a touchpad that has a scroll option (Chromebook = swipe up or down with two fingers.) The instant zoom can help you pinpoint and refine your designs at a more efficient rate.


Use the duplicate icon to quickly manufacture repeated objects. For example, I once was helping a student build a model of the Parthenon. He needed to be able to create the exact same column several times. Using the duplicate option, it not only copied my columns, it also evenly spaced the copied object in relation to my first two. This saves a lot of time with not having to precisely move every object that needs to be copied. 

Type Specific Sizes

Attempting to get a precise dimension size on an object can be frustrating using a touchpad or mouse. If there is a dimensional constraint, the user can click on the object, click on the white boxes that allow for dimensional changes, and then click on the numerical dimension. It will then allow you to type in the specific dimension you are seeking. 

Arrow Keys

Users can move objects around using the arrow keys. The default setting for the metric system is one mm per movement. The amount of movement can be adjusted for smaller units. That way precise connections can be made. On the lower, right-hand corner, there is a small drop-down menu called the snap grid. You can adjust the amount of movement per keystroke down to a tenth of a mm. 

Select All and Move

It is often that a person begins a project and wants to make some considerable changes to his/her design. This often requires moving objects around. By clicking away from all of your objects and drawing an invisible box around all of the shapes, they become selected. You can now move multiple objects simultaneously. 

Select All and Resize

Just like the previous move, you can draw an invisible box around all objects and instantly resize all objects simultaneously. This allows you to scale objects evenly across the board in no time at all. 

Group Objects

If you select several objects, they can be grouped into one cohesive unit. This allows the builder to essentially create their own custom shapes with the combining of several shapes. By grouping them, they cannot be easily separated and will stay together until the user deems unnecessary.


Using shapes and turning them into holes instead of solids will allow you to create some unique shapes to fit your specifications. This is great if you are building an object that is intended to be a container.

Lock Editing

You can lock objects or even groups of objects into place. This is a must when you are attempting to make precise movements with one object in particular. Fewer mistakes of clicking and moving the wrong object will occur by use of this tool. 

What's in the video? 

All of the tips listed are in my video below. I put them all in video format so that you could see them in action. This video is a little more lengthy than I like, so I put a table of contents near the beginning of my video so that you can quickly identify when I begin demonstrating one of the tips. Merely find which one you want to see visually and move the scrubber to the indicated time-stamp.