Friday, April 29, 2016

Brainstorming Race and Share to Classroom

Brainstorming Race

Brainstorming Race is a fun Google add-on where the teacher can give temporary write access to a document. Students can quickly collaborate and generate a brainstorm list. As soon as the time is up, the students can no longer write on the document. The teacher can then highlight the responses and create an instant Google Form so that students can vote on their favorite response. This is a great way to engage in an interactive lecture. 

Believe it or not, a developer came up with this idea in collaboration with his/her child. What a great idea! Here is their tutorial if you are interested in an overview

The only trouble is the time and effort it takes to share the document with the students. You would need a list of usernames to copy and paste when you are ready to share the document to streamline the whole process. Then you would need to figure out how to share the link to the Google Form with them as well.

Share to Classroom to the rescue!!!

Share to Classroom is an amazing Chrome Extension. Sure, you can create assignments and questions directly from the extension, but what I really like is the opportunity to push content to student devices instantly. (See previous post on Share to Classroom.) It is certainly a resource that my teachers have been raving about as it saves a lot of time and allows for some spontaneity in their classroom.

By using Share to Classroom with Brainstorming Race, you can push the collaborative document to your students' Chromebooks within seconds! Just have the document open, select that they can edit the document, and push it to students! This saves a ton of time and streamlines the entire process of using Brainstorming Race. The teacher doesn't have to worry about forgetting usernames. The students just need to be in the teacher's Google Classroom and have the Share to Classroom Chrome extension. 

Want to see how it works? Watch my video. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Teacher Tech Tip - Voice Typing

Voice typing in Google Docs!

Voice Typing launched in the tools menu in Google Docs earlier this year. It has been widely publicized and rightfully so as it serves as a great asset to any user. Voice typing is simple as you can quickly dictate your thoughts and the text will appear in your Google Doc. I especially like it for creating quick feedback to students in their writing vs. typed responses. It is also handy for students that have a handwritten report and wanted it in a digital format. Students can read their responses aloud while voice typing does all the heavy lifting. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Five Cool Things Teachers Can Do with an iPad

From iPads to Chromebooks...

Next year will be a transition year for my kindergarten through second-grade teachers. We are officially in the phase of transitioning away from iPads in a 1:1 setting. This is quite a transition for me as well as the last four years of my career has been dedicated to the integration of iOS devices and helping/training teachers to do just that. 

Our device of choice for kindergarten through second grade will be the Asus Chromebook Flip. The main reason being that it has a touch screen. I am a firm believer that young students will need the touch enabled device in order to efficiently and effectively utilize technology in a 1:1 setting. It will be an exciting year! To help get my teachers geared up for next year, I created a little promotional video. 

What to do with all those iPads...

Suddenly we have an abundance of second generation iPads on our hands. Most of them we will be turning in as collateral for repairs on our existing Chromebook fleet. As for the rest of them, we will be giving out so that every teacher can have an iPad. This leads to the question: what can a teacher do with a single iPad? 

Five cool things teachers can do with an iPad

1. YouTube Capture - Take video, trim, combine, add music, and upload directly to your YouTube Channel.
2. Google Photos - Quickly create albums of videos and images to share with your class or the community.
3. Google Classroom - Upload images directly into assignments in Google Classroom.
4. Twitter - Share the learning happening through Twitter. Take images or video directly from the app.
5. Google Slides - Insert images from your iPad directly into your presentations. No need to upload elsewhere! 

Watch this video for more details:

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Teacher Tech Tip - Calendar Hangout

Let's Hangout!

This week's Teacher Tech Tip is dedicated to simplifying the Google Hangout. Many teachers are utilizing this fantastic tool to bridge the distance between colleagues and members of their personal learning network. Getting a number of individuals to participate at the same time can be a bit cumbersome. Who is supposed to initiate the Hangout session? Who has the list of individuals that plan on participating? How can you quickly contact everyone if there is an issue? Using Google Calendar in conjunction with Google Hangouts solves all of those issues. 

Whenever you create a calendar event, you can enable a scheduled video Hangout. The scheduler can also invite their colleagues to the event and it will prompt them to indicate whether or not they would like to attend. The entire list resides right there in the details of the event. If someone needs to contact the whole group, you can email the entire participant list with any questions, concerns, or materials necessary for the meeting. Lastly, participating in the Hangout is a breeze! The ability to join the video call is right there saved in the event. Just click to join! 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Voice Typing Makes Life Easy Any Way You (Orange) Slice It

Like Orange Slice? 

Orange Slice is an awesome resource for student feedback. The teacher rubric allows you to quickly build a rubric right within a Google Doc, score it, and return it back to a student with their grade on the document. It even works well with Google Classroom and other LMS products as it automatically changes the document file name with the grade added on it. For more detailed information about using Orange Slice, please check out my earlier post. 

There is also a student rubric. This allows the students to share the document with one another, give peer feedback, and allow the teacher to consider the peer feedback in the final grade. This is a great way for students to be a part of the learning process. As they read through a peer's work, they will also consider the same score indicators when revising their own writing. 

Like Voice Typing?

Voice Typing became a tool built right within Google Docs earlier during the 2015-2016 school year. It works especially well for your students that are able to verbalize their thoughts, but not communicate them in writing. It also works well if students have a handwritten piece of writing and they want to publish it in a Google Doc. My third grade daughter experienced this issue when she came home with e-learning assignments due to bad weather. She became frustrated quickly by the amount of typing she had to do. Voice Typing to the rescue! For more specific information on Voice Typing, click here

Orange Slice and Voice Typing...

Orange Slice already provides great feedback. However, it doesn't leave a lot of room for extra information other than what is built within the rubric. If you want to add extra notes to a document, but don't want to take the time to type on every students' work, give Voice Typing a try right within the box that Orange Slice has provided for you. 

In my video below, I demonstrate the workflow from Google Classroom to Orange Slice with Voice Typing and back. So if you feel that your workflow is not going well in Google Classroom, you'll want to check out my video as you receive some of those tips on top of integrating Voice Typing in a document graded by Orange Slice. 

Meet Matt

The creator of Orange Slice is actually a colleague of mine. I'm very proud to say that I know Matt Buchanan personally. If you'd like to get to know him more or get in contact with him, check out my interview post with him during The Hour of Code event in December.  He is in the process of building a whole line of video tutorials on the use of Orange Slice. Here is a link to his YouTube channel to check out his progress. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Teacher Tech Tip - Gmail Search Options

Get Your Search On!

It was just last week that I had a colleague that was disgruntled about Gmail. He claimed it was just too disorganized to sort through emails. If you had an email that got buried under days and days worth of email, it was difficult to recover. If you search for someone's email address in the search bar, it comes up with every email that they've sent, you've sent, and the emails in which you were both a part of a group email. Refining your search was not very user friendly. 

In that little hidden drop-down arrow beside the magnifying glass in your Gmail is list of search refining tools. You can search senders, emails you've sent, folders, according to date, or even if it has attachments. Not sure who sent the email but remember the contents of the message? Try using the 'has the words' option to dig through the actual contents of the email. You can refine it even more if you remember the time span when the message was set.  Either way, refining your search is super simple with the search options. 

Watch my video and refine the way you search!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Multiple Choice Classroom Questions

Why a multiple choice question?

The question feature in Google Classroom now provides the opportunity to ask a single multiple choice question. I'm not a fan of using multiple choice questions for assessment. I question the accuracy at which they measure learning. I am, however, a huge fan of polling an audience to lead a discussion. This works especially well in the Google Classroom environment as a user can add a video, document, or link to a website along with the question. This would allow the teacher to gather quick data on thoughts and feelings on the subject matter. For this reason, I see a lot of value in the multiple choice option. 

Another option would be for a super quick exit slip. I believe the original short-answer question was a better fit for an accurate read of student learning, but if you needed a quick data set for tomorrow's lesson, the single multiple choice question would work. 

See it in action

I attempted to make a quick video on the subject, but it ended up going longer as I wanted to show it from the student perspective as well. I hope you find it helpful.

Practical daily applications

There are also ways you could use the multiple choice feature on a regular basis throughout the day. It wouldn't have to be completely academic. 
  • Daily lunch choices
  • Poll recess activities
  • Current event opinions
  • Next class read aloud
  • Predictions or thoughts within a class read aloud
  • Groupings/roles for class projects
  • Differentiation based upon interest
  • Survey the class mood/attitude
  • Brain teasers - Podcasting for Everyone

Images from

Podcasts for everyone!

Podcasting is an awesome way for students to fine-tune their oral delivery of their learning. I love doing screencasts and presentations in front of the class, but students truly focus on the delivery when all they have to work with is their voice. Students can create a radio broadcast on any topic; what a fun way to do so with the mixture of music and voice.

Not long ago I posted about using to create podcasts on a Chromebook. It is a great tool and several teachers have grabbed hold of the concept. However, users under the age of 13 are not permitted to use it with personal accounts. Schools will need to purchase the educational version for students under 13 to participate. 

Never is here! 

With, students can create a free account and create their own podcasts. Students can go to the login screen and use their Google Apps for Education account immediately. Don't want students to log into the site? No problem. Students can actually use Soundation without an account. The tool is fully functional, but their progress won't be saved unless they create an account. 

Need an overview to get started?

I made an overview on the basics of using Soundation for the purpose of making a podcast. Soundation has more of a purpose for mixing audio and creating your own music. It still works very well for creating your very own podcasts. I apologize for the length of the video as I also demonstrate how to attain audio from YouTube's Audio Library. Students should avoid uploading the favorite songs that are currently on the radio. Those songs are under copyright. YouTube's Audio Library contains royalty free music that you can utilize and mix without penalty. 

Have Google Hangouts?

For students 13 and older, schools can make Google Hangouts available. Not sure you want students using Google Hangouts? Schools can even limit access to Google Hangouts by only allows users to contact individuals within their school domain? This means that they could only contact faculty and students through their education account. 

image from
Why do I bring up Google Hangouts? Students can actually collaborate on an audio track or podcast via Google Hangouts. That means they could work together on creating a song or Podcast without have to meet in a specific location. 

What should they podcast about?

  • Replace traditional presentations (Slides and Powerpoint) with podcasts
  • Interview characters in a story or historical people
  • Recreate a news broadcast for important events in history
  • Report about scientific discoveries
  • Perform poetry or creative writing projects written in a document
  • Perform a favorite part of a book
  • Interview classmates to report their learning on any topic

Monday, April 4, 2016

Teacher Tech Tip - Gmail to Google Calendar

This Teacher Tech Tip is inspired by Chantell Manahan!

Ever want an email to appear in your Google Calendar? There is a simple and quick way to do just that. Built within Gmail is the option to send emails to your task list. It doesn't really matter what kind of user you are with Google Tasks because you can send the item directly to your Google Calendar. By doing this, you can add a specific date, extra notes, and keep the email hidden away in your Google Calendar. If you need to refer to the email again, you can click on the reminder on your calendar and the related email will be waiting for you there.