Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Google Slides Video Options

Disclaimer: I wrote this being completely free of Microsoft Office since the spring of 2015. I understand updates I have not experienced have occurred since then.

Google Drive 

It was six years ago that I first experienced using Google Drive. I've been a fan of Docs, Sheets, and Slides ever since. It long was before Microsoft had any live collaborative capabilities; prior to any decent cloud storage they had to offer. Access has always been the trump card over the Office counterparts.

Though it isn't as prevalent as it was six years ago, I still get naysayers that love their Office and fire back that it isn't fully functional. I can't really argue that point. For the most part, it is true that Office is much more powerful in regards to function. For the majority of tasks, Google will do the job. Especially for educators, Google will do the job. In some scenarios, Google does it better.

Common Slides questions

Since the dawn of Google Slides, I get some pretty standard questions. Here in the last few months, Google has resolved them for me.

Can you use videos from places other than YouTube in Google Slides?

Inserting video straight from Google Drive is now available. This provides a great alternative for teachers. Not everyone feels comfortable posting content on YouTube even with the privacy options that are available. When selecting Google Drive, you can search by file names or utilize the recent tab if the video is relevant chronologically.

What if I only want part of a video from YouTube? Can I insert just a section into Google Slides?

This was always a difficult question as it was possible; the question of whether or not you were breaking copyright came into play. To be on the safe side, I didn't offer advice on how to go about trimming a video and inserting it into Google Slides. I generally told teachers to state the start and end time in text format on their slides so that their students knew what section they should view. Users can now select a start and end time all while previewing the video straight from Google Slides. No need for a third-party app to trim and download a video. This feature is available whether you insert a video from YouTube or Google Drive.

Can I have a video automatically start when I'm presenting?

This feature is finally available. This will allow you and your students to have that streamlined presentation experience of having a slide automatically start a video without having to move over to the device manually. I'm still looking for the opportunity to have more control over the timing, but this is a step in the right direction. If Google adds the ability to animate a video into the Slides presentation, I'll be fully satisfied.

Can I automatically mute the audio on a video?

Just kidding about this one being a common question. I don't know that I've ever been asked this, but I thought I would make note of it since it is a feature that has been added to the video options. It is handy if you want merely want an animation without going through the trouble of creating an animated gif. You could even create a screencast using Screencastify and talk through the steps that were taken in a live presentation without bending over your device. This would be great in a keynote/traditional presentation scenario.

Video Options

For a quick overview of these features, check out my video below. It will demonstrate for you how to access the video options available in Google Slides.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Google Takeout Transfer

How do I download my stuff?

It was spring of 2016 and our senior class at Angola High School moved on to bigger and better things. I had just finished my first year at MSD of Steuben. My technology director, Chantell Manahan, had started in January and it was her first time in a position in the technology world as she was fresh out of the classroom. Admittedly, we had (still have) much to learn and much of that occurs through mistakes. It was at this time that Chantell and myself started to receive emails from parents and students requesting access to content that students had created in their Google Drive. 

We had made the senior class accounts go dormant in the summer of 2016. It had apparently slipped our minds that this would be a necessary step. In our Google Admin Console, we have it set so that students cannot log out of their school account nor utilize an incognito window. The current plan is to allow our senior class to launch an incognito window in the final quarter, create a new or utilize an existing Gmail account, and transfer their Google Drive and Gmail content to a personal account.

Staff retirees 

We also have quite a few staff members that would like access to their Google Drive content after they leave. Obviously, not all content is desired. Teachers will want to be sure that they are conscious of transferring documents containing personally sensitive materials to their own account. I would recommend removing those items prior to transfer. If this proves to be too difficult, it might be easier to download the desired content and upload it into your personal Google account. Either method would work. 

Why transfer?

You have quite a few options for moving your content. You could download all your content using Google Takeout. The majority of teachers would find it to be cumbersome to decide what elements to keep and then go through the process of transferring by manually uploading content. I like the idea of using the Google Takeout Transfer option because it only lets you choose between Gmail and Drive. That's usually all the content that teachers really want. Also, it automatically moves it over. There is no need for a teacher to go through the steps of uploading content to a personal account; Transfer does it for them. 

Want a quicker route for accessing the transfer site? Visit: 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Google Meet

Goodbye Hangouts

For the last year, there has been much discussion about the fate of Google Hangouts. Google announced the launch of Allo and Duo as messaging and video conference apps that would be available on mobile devices in the consumer market. Questions of what would happen to Hangouts flooded the Google world. It was then announced that Hangouts would remain for enterprise accounts (GSuite for Education). This was great. My teachers and staff have been using Hangouts all year. This has been especially helpful for my elementary teachers as they often do grade-level collaboration via Hangouts so that they can all meet at 3:00, finish at 3:30, and never leave the comfort of their classroom. 

Change is brewing

In February, a new player emerged: Google Meet. Hangouts are still in existence and still being used. However, Google Meet is now available. It even appears very similar to Google Hangouts. Much of the same functions and interface are there. You can still screen-share and present to the whole audience. You can still send invitations via Google Calendar. You can still remove people that are being problematic. You can still mute your microphone or camera if necessary. It is almost exactly the same as Google Hangouts. 

What is different is performance. Google Meet is to be able to handle more attendees (30 in enterprise accounts) and provide better video/audio quality. It also is not available for the consumer market to launch meetings. They can join existing GSuite customers, but cannot launch their own Meet session. A link is simply provided via Google Calendar or the meeting organizer can copy the link to the session and email/message it to participants. It is also supposed to allow individuals to call in using their phones, but I do not see that option in my GSuite account during the time of this post. (I will be sure to revisit when it is available.)

For users on mobile devices (iPad, iPhone, Android, etc.), they will need to download the appropriate app to participate in a Meet session. You can download it for iOS here. The download for Android is available by clicking here. If your participants do not have the necessary apps, it will prompt them to download when they click on the Google Meet link provided at the session start in Calendar.

With the changes in performance and accessibility, Meet would provide a great opportunity to hold online conferences with parents/community members. With 30 participants at a time, the majority of your class could have parents sign up for an online informational meeting. How exciting is that?!?

GSuite change

Google Meet needs to be enabled for your school district. You can tell immediately if it is available by visiting Google Calendar. When you create an event, your video meeting details will say, "Joining info" instead. It will also state that it will be added once you save the event. Then when you enter the event again, the joining info will have a address. See below: 

What's in the video?

I created a video covering much of the topic of Google Meet. If it needs to be enabled, I included a small section showing how to enable it for your school's domain. That portion can be sent to your technology department to enable if necessary. I also quickly cover how to create an event and participate using Google Meet. If you have ever used Google Hangouts, it will not be a difficult transition. If this is brand new to you, I'd be happy to do a test run on Google Meet. Let me know if there is interest and I will schedule a practice event!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Streamline Hyperdocs with DocuTube


I love doing presentations on hyperdocs. Laying out learning experiences for students via Google Slides or Google Docs and using it for opportunities to differentiate and/or personalize learning is powerful. I love doing the same thing for teachers so that they can organize their thoughts and collaborate. As I was presenting on hyperdocs this week, we discussed why digital collaboration is valuable to a face-to-face meeting. One of my teachers said, "It is a springboard for the conversation." It creates focus. It creates purpose. I found it to be very profound.

I recently presented on the Indestructible Hyperdoc at the Indiana Google Summit. It is about editing the master in slides to organize and create learning experience for kids that they cannot easily destroy. Let's face it, you don't want kids deleting your questions or links to resources on the templates that you create for them. Using Google Slides resolves that issue. I also was always a big fan of using Slides because you could insert a YouTube video directly on the slide. It is even better now because you can even insert a video from Google Drive (game changer)! Using Google Slides as a hyperdoc provides so many opportunities for you as a teacher to customize the learning experience and also provide unique ways for students to respond.

Why DocuTube?

So with all the options that Google Slides offers, why bother with Google Docs? I still like the layout of a document. I like inserting tables and love how it automatically expands for students as they add their responses. It compacts a collaborative experience. I like utilizing colors within tables to categorize responses, groups, or even questions. (See example here.) The problem was still dealing with video. If you linked a video, it would take the students out of the document and lead them to YouTube. For students, this creates more distraction. For adults that struggle with technology, they don't like to deal with additional tabs. 

DocuTube solves this problem It is a Google Docs add-on that creates a pop-up within the Doc. Any YouTube videos linked in the doc will appear in that pop-up. It removes the suggested videos off to the side. It removes the need to venture off to YouTube. It removes distractions. 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Open Responses in Google Forms

"Done is better than perfect..." - Eric Curts

Keeping up with educational technology is not easy. To be honest, I can't say that I'm even remotely successful in the task. I know teachers certainly feel this way as this frustration is expressed every time I run a workshop or do a presentation. It is my full-time job to seek out digital tools and train teachers to use them; I certainly feel the pressure. My teachers take comfort in knowing that it is okay to feel behind.

I was listening to a podcast this morning on my way to school (time efficient professional development) that featured Eric Curts. The hosts (Brian Briggs and Ryan O'Donnell) asked the question of how Eric keeps up with all of the trends and changes that occur in the realm of educational technology. Eric proceeded to mention his method and that many others have different positions on the topic. "Done is better than perfect." was the conclusion to that segment of the podcast. 

Never would I suggest that my materials are perfect (I can hear you laughing). Much like my teachers take comfort in my pursuit of educational technology, it was a relief to hear those words from Eric. It is okay to make mistakes. It is okay to not have everything just right. Don't let your imperfections stop you from sharing. 

My mistake

I recently had a principal ask me about Google Forms Quizzes. Had I provided training on it? Had I created resources on it? "Yes, of course, I have." was my response. So when he showed m that a teacher was not sure how to deal with an open-ended response in a Google Forms Quiz, I started to doubt myself. I checked my archives and sure enough, I had not included information on how to grade open responses. 

Google Forms is fantastic for creating quizzes and it will automatically grade a multiple choice quiz with ease. If your students need to respond with text, you will need to go through their responses and grade them individually. If a student misses and item, you can even provide text feedback and additional resources via a link directly to the question. The following video demonstrates how students can respond and you can grade the quiz within Google Forms. 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

NRec: Offline Chromebook Video

Chromebook woes

Frustration has set in this year as teachers and students alike have struggled with tools such as Screencastify and Nimbus. Performance has been a huge concern in regard to the creation of videos. Audio and video aren't syncing correctly. There are times when the audio is glitching or the video starts to jump. Again, this seems to be an issue directly related to the use of the Chromebook and these resources. These are issues that weren't as prevalent in years past. 

Many teachers, like myself, prefer to take their Chromebook home to do grading or create video lessons rather than lugging home a much larger PC laptop. The portability of the Chromebook is great, but only if it is working correctly. So if you are a student or a teacher that has been frustrated due to continual performance issues in regard to recording video; NRec might be the solution. This is also a great option for individuals that do not have an Internet connection. Videos can easily be saved to Google Drive via the files app.

What it is

NRec is a no-nonsense offline video recorder for Google Chrome. You can adjust resolution, click to record, and save your video to the device. (The default setting on a Chromebook is the download folder in the Files app.) For most teachers, using a document camera (iPevo Ziggy, Elmo, Hovercam  Solo) is the easiest way to create video lessons. You can utilize any USB document camera with NRec, but it will require some adjustments the first time you use it (see video below). There are not a lot of options...but it records well. You will be less likely to lose your video or have to rerecord due to poor performance. If teachers do not have access to a document camera, they could merely use the webcam and make a recording. Standing in front of the webcam with a dry erase board works. Videos do not have to be fancy.

What it isn't

NRec does not allow you to trim, voice over, or add any special effects to your recording. It is not a screencasting tool like Screencastify or Nimbus; it only records from a camera.  It is limited, but it works. 

How to get started

If you are using a document camera, you'll need to make some slight adjustments to the settings. Please check out my video below on how to make those adjustments, recording, and saving your video to Google Drive via the Files app. 

Friday, March 24, 2017

MSDSC Technology Team

Moonshot Thinking

My moonshot thinking started about a year ago. I had long collaborated with Chantell Manahan (Director of Technology) for the need of a team of teachers with which I could collaborate, train, and encourage to develop leadership skills. Around December, this committee started to be formed. Chantell and I made a list of individuals in each building and sent out invitations. With the invitations that were sent out, I received responses from 16 individuals that will participate in quarterly meetings with myself and other various members of the technology department. We will plan professional development opportunities, analyze district needs, and provide support as MSDSC has many experts on utilizing technology. By forming this team, the members can glean information and resources from one another as we journey down the road of utilizing Chromebooks in a 1:1 technology setting. 

Our team had their first meeting here in March of 2017. It was a great experience to discuss dreams, goals, and vision for our district. To kick things off, I asked them to do some moonshot thinking; what dreams do you have in your classroom if there were no boundaries? Some wanted new furniture options, additional subscriptions to software/websites, new and fun ways to display content. Regardless, my point was that I wanted them to take the time to dream without restrictions. 

Mentimeter Word Clouds

Since this was our first meeting, we needed to establish expectations for the group. I utilized a tool called Mentimeter to collect their thoughts. These thoughts populated into the form of a word cloud. Mentimeter has other interactive presentation options, but I liked the idea of an automatic word cloud generated to accentuate consistent thought with the group. Mentimeter is a free product, but you are limited to two interactive slides per presentation (upgrades available). 

I started with the question of what the expectations were for the group as we met during meetings. It is interesting as we all desire specific elements. We want the opportunity to collaborate, communicate, and the sharing of ideas. We desire the time to be able to share thinking in a positive environment. We all need that support. If I were to write expectations for the group myself, the outcome would have been similar. My goal is to provide this opportunity. 
We also discussed the need for collaboration via the web. The expectations could be similar, but online learning spaces pose some different struggles. Commitment was a common theme as we discussed other virtual learning experiences in the past. Online learning requires involvement and commitment. It also involved a consistent meeting space. Though it isn't necessarily as flexible as I'd like, Google Classroom is a common place for us to meet as teachers already visit it. A school's learning platform typically makes for the best choice rather than requiring teachers to create new accounts for an unknown tool. 

Another major theme that stood out was the need for consistent deadlines. The team felt it was important to have specific days to expect communication and specific days on which they were to respond. By doing so, we will solidify the necessity of commitment and involvement. I was encouraged by the great ideas developed as it helps me plan and pursue meeting their learning needs. 

Leadership Graphic Jam

This team isn't as much about technology as one would assume. The main goal I have is to provide opportunities to grow as leaders. Whether is is opportunities to present and share with staff or collaborative discussions around the role of teacher leaders, opportunities are abundant. 

One way I'm working on my own development as a leader is through a few books I've been reading. (Which I am proud to say I've been doing while running on a treadmill. An amazing feat, I know.) One book in particular that I've found very useful is Gamestorming by Dave Gray, Sunni Brown, and James Macanufe. This book has very little with being a teacher, but all about organizing teams and developing vision/direction. It is full of great brainstorming activities to motivate groups and drive project refinement. The game we used in our session is "graphic jam". 

During our graphic jam session, we looked at the 8 Characteristics of an Innovative Leader by George Couros. I took each characteristic and wrote it on the dry erase board. Participants then took post-it notes and attempted to visualize what those words meant or what came to mind as they thought about that word. They brainstormed in silence and posted their thoughts on the board. (Can you believe a technology coordinator is having the technology leadership team use post-its on a dry erase board?) 

A post shared by Lance Yoder (@edgaged) on

When it was all said and done, we did a gallery walk and discussed thoughts and impressions from the responses. We discussed what a leader was and that they have the potential to be leaders even if they do not encompass the eight characteristics George mentions in his blog post. We as a team can be that leader as we all have certain characteristics that stand out more than others. That balance is important as some characteristics are more pertinent depending upon the situation.

I did digitize this activity on my own. I did take each image and drop it into Google Slides. This will be an online activity shared with them to allow additional reflection and conversation as these teachers will explore how they can develop into leaders.

Technology Showcase

As part of the leadership building process, I asked the team to come with one technology tool they either use to aid in their teaching or have their students use. I gave each member five minutes to share examples, discuss use cases, and field questions from the group. Presenting in front of peers is an important skill to develop in a position of leadership. Most teachers will tell you that they can talk in front of their students all day, but once they get in front of their colleagues, fear takes over.

The goal here was two-fold:

  1. Provide the opportunity to present in front of a safe audience. This is a group of people that had already stated clearly that they wanted to be able to share and discuss in an environment free of judgment. 
  2. Introduce technology tools and tips that could aid in the growth of the entire team. 
Videos were created of each member's presentation. I took each video and put it into a shared Google Slides presentation. I promised the group that I would not share their videos publicly this round but hoped that it was something they would feel comfortable doing in the future. For now, I can share one of mine so that you get a feel for what took place: 

Final moonshot

I'm excited for this team of teachers. I'm excited to work with them and help them build confidence as leaders in their schools and across the district. Bringing a moonshot thought to the close of this post is very fitting. What if one of these members becomes a leader in education in the state of Indiana or even nationally?

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Google Docs Assigning Tasks

Let's get organized!

For quite some time, Google Docs has been the king of online collaboration spaces. They changed the way we work together. Google Docs has certainly spawned much of the collaborative online spaces that exist today. Even other technology giants have found their hand forced to rethink cloud-based workspaces due to Google's influence.

As a teacher or organizational leader, the tasks built within a Google Doc (Sheets and Slides as well) is fantastic. It allows the user to use the comment feature to highlight specific parts within a collaborative document and assign that highlight directly to an individual. To do this, add a comment (ctrl+alt+m), add a plus sign along with the user's email address. The comment box will suddenly populate with users within your organization and allow you to assign the task to that user. The assigned task will then alert the user via email and provide a checkbox within the document for when the task is completed.

Check it out:

In the classroom

Teachers can use this to guide and direct student group projects. As groups collaborate and build lists of needs to plan and prep their project, the teacher can assign specific tasks to students using the task feature. The teacher will then receive an alert when the task has been marked as completed. This is great for reminders to check in with that group when work time rolls around again. 

Using the assigned tasks feature would be great for students as well. Every group project needs a leader. The leader can assign tasks and receive the feedback to help manage the group. Their partners will know what jobs they need to complete in the grand scheme of the entire project. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Google Classroom Speed Grading


A teacher's time is so valuable. Technology is intended to aid in the ability to save time. Google Classroom is a tool that can do just that. You can instantly distribute content to students with just a few clicks. The teacher has an automatic checklist of who has completed an assignment and who hasn't without having to flip through a pile of papers and check off names. Teachers can access classwork everywhere! It is like having your paper turn-in tray everywhere you go as you can easily access Classroom via the web or mobile app. Earlier this year I posted how you can utilize an iPad or an Android device to handwrite on the students' assignments. This was a nice feature added that bridges the gap between our individuals that like to mark papers with a pen and technology.

With all of these positive aspects of Google Classroom, I still hear a cry for help as Classroom and grading is not a match made in heaven. The teachers I hear this complaint from are correct. There are still issues in the workflow. When teachers open a student's document/slide presentation, it takes a lot of time to load. If the teacher holds down control, he/she can click on multiple docs and they will open in separate tabs. Again, this requires a lot of load time. There has to be a faster way as teachers do not want to go through this process for every single assignment.

Speed Grading!

You may or may not have noticed it in Google Classroom, but there is a link leading directly to the Google Drive folder where the students are uploading their assignments. (It isn't the most obvious link; so don't feel bad if you have never noticed it!) When you arrive in your Google Drive folder containing the assignments, the teacher can then right-click on one assignment and see the preview button. Instantly the preview of the doc/slide assignment will appear with the student's name attached to the document name and nifty arrow keys appear to the left and right of the preview screen. The teacher can merely click on those arrows to move to the next student's assignment or even use the arrow keys on the keyboard! 

There is a catch! You cannot leave feedback directly on a document in the preview screen. So for the teacher to give feedback, it works best to have Google Classroom open in another tab, second screen, or a separate device. The teacher can then use the private comment feature in the assignment on the left column where all the student names reside. Grades can also be inserted. 

To see it in video action, check out my video on the entire process.


Sometimes typed comments are not enough. Think about how long it would take to go through a two to three-page paper and use the typed comments in Google Classroom. In these scenarios, you'll need reinforcements. In my example, I am utilizing Screencastify to create video feedback for the student. There are plenty of other options out there that you could use to create video comments. I am only using Screencastify because it is easy to create shared links to the videos and post them in the comments section in Google Classroom.

If you are unfamiliar with Screencastify, click here to view my previous posts.

Here's how to utilize Screencastify to create video feedback:

What's working for you?

Are you a Google Classroom pro? What tips and tricks do you have that are great to know for workflow? Please share those in the comments section! 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Google Keep and G Suite

Keepin' it real

Being a longtime fan of Google Keep, the recent news of Google including it as part of their GSuite products is exciting news! I've utilized Google Keep for a variety of purposes and Google continues to add to the awesomeness. It is simple, easy to use, and very versatile...finally available for all students to use. I have posted about Google Keep in the past but felt it was necessary to revisit it due to recent news.

What does Google Keep have to offer?


In a nutshell, Google keep is digital post-it notes. Just like the real post-its, you can select from a variety of colors, make quick lists, organize them however you want, and then throw them away when you are finished (or archive if you think you might need it later.) Create checklists, take notes, and share with your peers. It works across the platform as users can access by visiting or downloading the Android or iOS app.


Need to make a shared list? Add collaborators to your lists for projects or notes for meetings. Collaborators can add text, images, and drawings to the notes just as if it were their own. Drawings and annotated images are not live while the illustration takes place, but it will update after a user returns the image to the note. What a great idea for collaboration in class. Have a shared note and each student could add a drawing/annotated image related to the learning experience. Instantly, all participants can see a collection of ideas. 


OCR stands for Optical Character Recognition. Users can take a picture or find an image online and it will take the text from the image and convert it to typed text into the note. It works as well with drawings but is not as accurate as it has to overcome different handwriting styles. 

Copy to Doc

OCR is very valuable due to the fact that you can take the text captured in the image and instantly transfer it over to a Google Doc. This is also and awesome option for teachers taking notes using Google Keep. It causes me to recall the days that I used transparencies. Now teachers can take their written notes (using a touchscreen Chromebook or Android device) and share them with students via a doc shared through Google Classroom. 

Organize Thoughts

Users can organize thoughts several different ways:
  1. Color coding
  2. Drag and drop
  3. Labels
These are post-it notes. Old-school notes allowed you to write separate thoughts in any color you like. Users can move these items around on their desk in order to organize and adjust planning and thinking. The advantage of the digital version is that you can label these notes. As soon as you click on the desired label, all notes associated with the label of choice will appear. Almost like the user can separate the workspace. Users can also pin important notes so that they constantly appear at the top of their feed. 


Reminders can be created in two ways for Google Keep notes. One way is by time. Set a specific time and the note will pop up with an alert on all devices associated with the Google account. The other option is to use location reminders. I use this frequently as I create notes when I need to visit a store or arrive at my school. It instantly appears on my phone when I arrive on location.

An Overview

Google Keep Extension

Google keep is also a great tool for research. Students and teachers can use the Google Keep Chrome Extension to quickly take notes. When I am on a site and highlight text, I can instantly place the text into a note. As I continue my research, I can highlight new pieces of information and include them in the same note. With notes accessible in an unobtrusive manner, Google Keep makes for a great research resource. When I'm all finished, I can revisit Google Keep and see my notes along with a link directly the site from which it came. Easy access when I need to continue my path of learning.

New Feature in Google Docs!

Now Google keep notes are available with the Keep Notepad in the tools drop-down within Google Docs. Upon clicking on the Keep Notepad, the notes and resources that have been gathered can be accessed and pulled into your document. This is a really cool idea for teachers that utilize hyperdocs. Students could gather resources or create sketchnotes and have access to them in one collaborative document! This is perfect if you are a Google Classroom user as you can quickly set up a shared document with all students having edit access!  

Google Keep for Research

The video I put together on how to use Google Keep for research focuses on the use of the Google Keep Extension in conjunction with the new Googke Keep Notepad available within Google Docs. Using these tools together allows for a smooth workflow and amazing research experience for both students and teachers. 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Google Calendar Appointment Slots


A nifty update to Google Calendar is the option for appointment slots. Create an event on your Google Calendar, select the appointment slots option before you save your event and you are well on your way. It will give you an exclusive link to the appointment slots available on your Google Calendar. The link would merely need to be posted and available for all participants to access. It could be sent out via text, Remind, email, or even social media outlets. (This should probably be limited to closed formats to avoid unwanted scheduling. A closed Facebook Group would be a good example of where you could post appointment slots.) This would be a great option for scheduling appointments for parent/teacher conferences (with some limitations that I'll list later) or principals that need to schedule evaluation meetings with teachers.

What about students?

Could you utilize appointment slots with students? Of course! Teachers could post time slots for project conferences. Students could use it to communicate that they need the teacher to evaluate their progress or as a final grading of their presentation/report/project. This would be especially applicable to the Flipped Classroom model if students are moving at their own pace. When students hit a wall, need direction, or are ready to move on to the next unit of study, they could easily use the appointment slots to see when a teacher has time to meet with them. If you are a Google Classroom user, this is especially applicable as a separate calendar is created for every Classroom you own. (I highly recommend using the Classroom calendar associated with the class you are teaching so that other class appointments do not get mixed in and create confusion.)

I think back to when I taught fourth-grade and I could have used the appointment slots feature for students in writer's workshop. I would require a final conference before students turned in their work. They could easily do this by scheduling an appointment so that students that finish earlier can get their final evaluation completed and students that need additional time could schedule later. Great way to keep your schedule on the right track!

Possible issues...

This isn't perfect. Here are a few issues:
  • One issue I see is that you really need to use separate calendars depending on the audience you are using. If you use appointment slots on the same calendar, the next set of visitors would be able to schedule an appointment on a previous/later event. 
  • A second issue is that users must have a Google account. Most people do, but I'm sure that teachers scheduling appointments with community members may run into issues. It is a blessing at the same time as it does automatically tie the username to the appointment and place it on their own Google Calendar.
  • A third issue is that it currently does not integrate well on mobile devices. When I attempted to access it from my phone, it would not open properly in my Google Calendar app. Since most community members use their phones for receiving/sending email, it could cause a problem. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Google Play for Schools

Where I'm From...

I've provided technology integration training for Windows machines, iPads, and Chromebooks. I spent four years primarily focusing on using the iPad as I worked in two elementary buildings. All the while, I used a Chromebook at home and my phone of choice was and still is an Android. In the Summer of 2015, I was provided with a new job opportunity as technology coordinator at MSD of Steuben County. It seemed like a great fit as I have love for both the iPad and the Chromebook; here I had both. At the start of this year, we took our aging iPad 2's from our kindergarten through second-grade classrooms and provided them with the Asus Chromebook Flip. I thought the transition from iPad to Chromebook would be smoother since we were dealing with a touchscreen device.

In reality, the transition from iPad world to Chromebook has been a love/hate relationship. I love all the Google has to offer, but I always felt that the touch-friendly app realm of the iPad was a natural fit for younger learners. The iPad app world is very multimedia friendly. They have apps that will prepackage images and videos into a cool animation or presentation in a matter of minutes; processes that take much longer on the Chrome OS platform with web-based services.

From a techie's standpoint, the Chromebook is a much easier device to manage. I can log in from any location and push out what I want to any group of students. If a device breaks, I can enroll a new one into our domain with a mere email address and login. As soon as the student signs into their device, everything loads back onto the Chromebook that was there before. It is as if the malfunction never took place. If students need to access Google products, the Chromebook is a perfect fit. You don't have to use an app version that is missing key elements. Students get the full-blown version of the Google Suite without the limitations of the app.

Google Play for Schools is at MSDSC!

A few weeks ago, the option to install Android on our Chromebooks appeared in our district Google Admin Console. For the last week, I've been slowly making Android apps available for staff and students that have the Chromebook Flip (kindergarten through second grade). Some teachers are aware as I've been introducing some of their new options in passing through the hallways or at lunch. Excitement has been brewing as many of the old tools they used on the iPad are now available for their students again.

So this is the official announcement for my kindergarten through second-grade teachers that they are able and their students are able to utilize the tools provided for them in our own Google Play for Schools Store. You and the students cannot explore the entire Google Play Store. It is only what I make available via the Google Admin Console. In my video below, I run through the process of how to access and download Android apps, but there are a few things you should know.
  1. Your Chromebook is essentially running two different platforms. You have Chrome OS which is what the students have been using this school year. You also are running Android...kind of. I made available Google Drive, Google Slides, and Google Classroom for Android. They are very different than the web versions you are used to using. They are a mobile version. Reason two is why I made them available. 
  2. If your students color a picture or save a video that they create with Toontastic, they need a place to save it. It will not save to the Files app in Chrome OS. If you want students to save something, they will need either the Google Drive app or they could send things directly to you using the Google Classroom app. When they want to export something they create, they will have to select share. If they have installed Google Drive or Google Classroom, it will give them the option to export to those locations. Saving to the web version is not an option at this point. (2/24/2017)
  3. When you download an app in the Google Play Store, it will be available with your Chrome apps when you press on the launcher. You can sort and organize these like you do on a smartphone or tablet. You can also drag apps to the "shelf" at the bottom of the Chromebook. 
  4. Apps will initially be launched in a smaller screen. Some apps do not perform well when you put them into full-screen mode. You will figure that out as you use them. 
  5. Google Play for Schools is still in beta. So if the app is buggy...that is why. Don't lean heavily on everything working perfectly.

Why I'm Excited

This week I also had the opportunity to give an are school district a small tour of our Chromebook initiative. They visited several schools with differing devices. They wanted to see the Chromebooks in action at the elementary level. This was exciting for me as I've had experience with integrating three different platforms. 

I heard many comments about how well the touch capabilities and the option of a keyboard with the touchpad make the Chromebook a great option for students. From the techies, we discussed the management side of it and how it fits the scheme of a smaller technology team well. They were excited at the opportunities that Google and the touch-enabled Chromebooks had to offer. At one point in time, I would have countered that the Chromebook is not a perfect fit for all grade levels. With the ability to use Android apps enabled, it really is almost perfect. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Chromebook On-Screen Keyboard


Walk into a classroom and a teacher is tasked with meeting a variety of needs. This is no secret, but what may not be as apparent are the options that are available to meet the need. I'm going to quickly offer up three different options that exist in the on-screen keyboard available on the Chromebook. 

Voice Typing

Don't have a touch enabled screen on your Chromebook? No problem! This first option works with every Chromebook and is a great for students that struggle with typing. Voice typing has been well known within Google Docs, but did you know there is a built-in option for any text field you come across? No extra installations required. The user can dictate complete sentences and pause whenever necessary. The real key is knowing how to activate your on-screen keyboard without access to a touch screen Chromebook. Make sure you check the later half of the following video to find out. 

Finger Swiping

If your students are using a touch enabled Chromebook, one option is to use the swipe feature. Android users have long been accustomed to using finger swiping in order to quickly write messages on their cell phones. iOS later added this feature, but users had to download a separate keyboard to accomplish the task. Finger swiping merely allows you to start with the first letter of a word and quickly drag your finger from letter to letter on a word. If this is new to you, the key is to not lift your finger until you are finished with the word. Another tip is to remember that Google will give you plenty of suggestions based upon your swiping motion at the top of the keyboard. 

Pen Input

The final option of the three mentioned is to use the hand-writing feature. (In fact, I'm using it right now.) The option to write the words directly on the screen is great for primary grades. A common complaint I get about Chromebooks is that it will take away from handwriting skills. In a lot of ways, I think the option of writing on the screen would help with more precise letter creation as Google has to create typed text by recognizing the written words. Much like voice typing is a great resource for students receiving speech services. Precision is key. The user really needs to focus to get the desired outcome. Check out my video and try it out!


All of these input methods have a bit of a learning curve. Give them a try. See which options work best for the plethora of needs in your classroom. See which method works best for you.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Slide to Slide

Slides as Hyperdocs

Using Google Slides as a hyperdoc is a great way to organize learning experiences for students. Especially if you are using the edit master feature so that you can create templates with "unmovable" objects. "The Indestructible Hyperdoc" is what I title it when I present/train on this topic. The teachers that have attended my workshops have found it to be extremely valuable as they want to create custom learning experiences to differentiate in their blended learning environments. (If you aren't sure what a hyperdoc is, here are all of my posts on the topic

Slides offers some different opportunities for organizing learning over Docs, Forms, or even Google Sites. I built a chart to kind of overview the advantages/purposes of using various Google Apps for hyperdocs. 

File:Google docs.png
Formsisu.jpg ...
  • Great for small/large group collaboration
  • Allows for links, images, and ease of organization
  • Tables work wonders for organization
  • Easily shared and customized
  • Integrated Google Drawings applet
  • Works offline
  • Requires little time to build
  • Requires basic word processing skills
  • Can select items to be movable
  • Can transfer from one slides presentation to another with ease
  • Less distracting space if students are responding on their own slide
  • Great for YouTube video as it is directly embedded into the slide
  • Great for creative responses using images, shapes, and text
  • Better for small group collaboration due to load time
  • Works offline
  • Not collaborative
  • Better for content and immediate student response
  • Students can select answers by selecting image icons the teacher imported
  • Can be automatically graded
  • Requires Internet
  • Very easy to build and reuse
  • Instant graphs and data
  • YouTube integration
  • Teachers can require responses to be completed before submission

Google Slides Import

As teachers are creating hyperdocs via Google Slides, they are realizing it is advantageous to create templates or graphic organizers that can be reused due to the sheer amount of time it takes to build. So as they are creating Venn diagrams or KWL charts, they don't want to have to remake them for every hyperdoc they create. A simple solution is to use the import feature in Google Slides. I highly recommend creating a bank of interactive tools within Slides. Then as you build learning experiences for students you can get your videos/resources linked and directions set to your liking, and finally import some of your templates/graphic organizers you built in the past. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Google Forms: Choice Eliminator

Google Forms

Forms is a great resource anytime you want to collect information and have it in a convenient location. Use it for quizzes/tests. Use it for survey's. Use it to layout learning experiences for students. Use it to even progress monitor students. The possibilities are endless as it is easily customized and flexible.

The last few months has been great as I've introduced Forms to many of my teachers for the very first time. Quite a few weren't aware of many of the great updates that have taken place within the last year. So the fact that you can now do things like add images in the questions and answer choices has made it seem like a whole new product. Also, teachers can now have the form automatically grade responses without an add-on or sending the data to a spreadsheet. Both new features have certainly been a game changer as I can officially say that a Google form is a resource for all grade levels.


Along with many of said changes has been the location of add-ons. In the past, add-ons were only available in the spreadsheet of the form. Now many add-ons have merged over to the Google Forms platform itself. One great option is the Choice Eliminator 2 add-on. It is simple and easy to use and does exactly as it says. As items are selected and submitted,  they disappear from the form as choices. 

So when is this handy? Let's say you need to organize the need for roles in projects. You can designate how many individuals you need for a role. When those positions are filled, they disappear from the options for the next set of visitors. This concept is also great for scheduling. What if you sent a form out for parents to select a time slot? As parents make their choice, it disappears from the list for the next user. Need supplies for a project? No problem with the Choice Eliminator add-on in Google Forms. Just keep in mind that items will not disappear until the selection has been submitted by a user. The next user would need to refresh to see the updated version. 

More about Google Forms

Here are a couple of other resources for you to refer to if you need to know more about Google Forms: 

Friday, January 27, 2017

Teacher Tech Tip: Microphone and Camera Access

Once upon a time...

This post makes me nostalgic of my early days as a technology coach at East Noble School Corporation. We had just adopted iPads as our device of choice to put in the hands of every student. Lots of cool apps were coming out that allowed you to create cool recordings and flashy videos. Whenever a student accessed an app that required microphone or camera access, the iPad would pop up with a box. These boxes caused some panic as students would deny access to their camera or microphone left and right. This brought these fun technology projects to a screeching halt. So I quickly made a video to send out to staff so that they can go into the settings and fix the problem if a student made such mistake. 

Now that I'm in a Chromebook school district (MSD of Steuben County), we are having the same issue. Students don't do it on purpose. When a box pops up on the screen, they aren't actually reading what it has to say. Instead, they take their chances and choose either "allow" or "block" when a website wants to access their camera or microphone.
Please click allow

So if you have a student that is in Google Slides and they can't take a picture with their camera, this might be why. If your student cannot voice type in Google Docs, they may have clicked on block when the white box appears. The following video demonstrates how to resolve the issue. 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Google Classroom Differentiated Assignments

January 2017 Update

Google recently updated Google Classroom with a feature that has been much needed. One of the most common questions I get when training teachers on Google Classroom is what to do about differentiated/personalized instruction. In the past, I've recommended to those teachers that if they want to differentiate they will either need to create separate classrooms for each group or use a consistent title for the assignments when dealing with groups of students. The problem with that theory is that groups are often ever changing. As teachers continue to assess, students will continue to shift around in learning experiences/expectations. Within the last year, the edition of topics helped with that issue as the teacher could then at least categorize posts. The students could then click on the topic in order to see only the stream of what pertained to their group. Regardless, Classroom didn't seem to be the friendliest to the differentiated teacher. 

With this update, questions, announcements, and assignments can be pushed out to selected students instead of the entire class. This is great in the instance that you need to provide special instruction for various students, and yet the teacher does not have to switch from Classroom to Classroom as it is all contained in his/her Stream. Along with the feature to be able to select students, I recommend using the topics feature because it would allow the teacher to quickly filter through Google Classroom from the groups he/she has created. Using topics to quickly select is much more time efficient than creating separate Google Classrooms and switching between them. 

What's in the Video?

In the video, I demonstrate how to utilizing the tool to select specific students in an assignment. I also demonstrate how to organize collaborative groups with it along side using the topics feature. Being able to select students aids in organizing collaborative experiences as Google Classroom will not be near as crowded with extra information in the Stream. 

I hope you find this demonstration helpful. Let me know if you have questions in the comments box. 

Google Classroom Guide

I went ahead and updated my Google Classroom Guide with my update. If you need video resources on how to use Google Classroom, you can find them here. I attempt to update it regularly. There is quite a bit of content on it and some of it is of older versions of Google Classroom. I apologize if some materials do not appear exactly the same.