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: