Sunday, November 29, 2015

STEAM Wish List

Around this time of year various wish lists are abundant for many.  A few weeks ago, I was showing my students what is available and boy did their eyes get big!  After creating a list for a student and their family, why not turn it into a blog post for others?

It is the ultimate invention toolbox!  There are instructions for 12 different projects.  It is a “tech’ version of a lego!  There are many different kits you may choose in addition to this one.

Computer and Coding Kit that includes the affordable Raspberry Pi 2 Model B.  Students can make their own computer.  Raspberry Pi is known for making coding affordable and available to everyone! GREAT place to start!

If your student is interested in animation, this is a great place to start.  You will need the Easy Animator Studio App for students to make their own animations!

Ideal for students who want to program a robot using an app.  May be better suited for grades 3-6, but older students may enjoy it!  Students can program the robots to do many things and even interact with the world using sensors.

This is an app-enabled robotic ball with endless possibilities.  Through play, students learn principles of programming and other STEAM concepts!  If they are excited about Star Wars, Sphero came out with a Sphero BB-8 App-enabled Robot too!

Makey Makey - An Invention Kit for Everyone
This is a wonderful STEAM ‘toy’ that you can turn items like bananas into touchpads.  You student could use Makey Makey with some of the other products on this list as well!

There are MANY different kits and even a junior kit for younger students in elementary.  

A throwback to the 80’s but with a major update! This View-Master works with a smart device!  It is an affordable way to enter the world of Virtual Reality! You can see 360-degree environments. It also works with Google Cardboard (FREE). They do have experience packs or you can download the View-Master VR apps.

3D Printer (Polar 3D)

This is an expensive one for sure, but I added it to the list because more and more students are interested.  3D printers are expensive, but in January of 2015, Polar 3D launched.  Based out of Cincinnati, Ohio, they offer a personal 3D printer at a more affordable price ($599 for schools and $799 for individuals).  It also has a 1080P wide angle HD camera so you can remote view print jobs!  You can control and view your printer via the web/cloud.

Whether you are looking for items for a personal purchase or for your class, enjoy creating a STEAM playground or your own Makerspace!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Sign Out of you didn't know this!

A colleague of mine called my attention to this a few weeks ago.  Disconnecting your school Google account is essential.  In fact, it is a great digital citizenship skill for your students too!  When students or staff sign-in to their accounts, they should disconnect their accounts after use.  I recently had students move their seats around, but before they moved I taught them this trick!

Step 1:  Select the Hot Dog/Hamburger Icon

Step 2:  Select Settings

Step 3:  Disconnect your Google Account

Step 4: Disconnect account

Why would I want to do this?

By disconnecting your Google Account from a device, this stops Chrome from syncing to your Google Account.  If you work in a school district like I do, it keeps you account synched to specific devices throughout your district. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Google Classroom: Attach Google Forms

The update I have been waiting it is easier to add Google Forms to Google Classroom!  
Assign and select Google Drive

Select the Google Form you want to use in your assignment.

From here you can assign or save as a draft and assign to multiple sections/classes.

Once assigned, you can view responses right from Google Classroom!

Are you ready for the best part?  When a student completes the form, Google Classroom will automatically Mark as Done!  You just read that!  This is one update I will Keep Calm...I just might not have to Click Undo!  Thanks Google!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Tracking IEP and 504 Accommodations with Google Forms

In my state where I teach, we must track which accommodations we use with specific students who have an IEP or 504.  I decided to create a simple Google Form!  

I entered all of my students as a drop-down list and checkboxes for the accommodations.  The checkboxes allow me to select multiple accommodations, if needed.

Once I submitted all of my responses, they are timestamped and entered into a spreadsheet.  I can sort data from this spreadsheet, as needed! I can also adjust the accommodations as needed in my Google Form.  This is a real time-saver for me and detailed data needed for others!  Keep Calm, Click Undo!

Update:  I made a second Google Form for Tier I MTSS suggestions to track strategies for students!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Re-Use a Google Form

I have had a few colleagues want to use a Google Form from last year, but discover they do not know how to set up a new response form.

Change the Response Destination

In Google Forms, select Responses and choose Change response destination...

You will want to create a new spreadsheet and maybe add the school year to the title.  Select Create.

But I already sent out the what?

If you already sent out the form, you may have your new responses, but they are below all of the rows you already deleted.  It may look something like this:

Not to worry, you need to remove the rows entirely!  Select the row heading (the numbers on the left).  If it is a large amount of rows, select the first row you want to delete scroll down to the last row you want to delete, hold down the Shift Key & Select that row.  The entire range of rows should be selected.  Right Click and a similar menu should appear.  Select Delete Row.

Now, your sheet should be fixed and you can Keep Calm, Click Undo!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Google Classroom: Student View Update

If you used Google Classroom last year, you are most likely familiar with the student screen.  I discovered a small change today.  The location of where students "Add" or "Create" in Google Classroom has moved.
Students select "Open" to the right of the assignment name.

Next, you will want to guide students to look below your assignment information for a similar image entitled "Your Work" and select "Add."

Students may choose to add or create.  For demonstration, I chose to "Create" a Doc.

Students will notice a Google Doc created with the assignment name and their name attached to it.  Students may open the document up to start working and they may turn in with the icon in the image or while they have their document open.

I hope this helps you out!  Remember...Keep Calm, Click Undo!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Google Forms Cheat Sheet 2016

With the August 2016 update to Google Forms, I made a cheat sheet to help us all out!  Feel free to make yourself a copy and change what you need.  Just remember my creative commons and give credit to other's work.
                                                                                                              New Google Forms

I hope this helps you Keep Calm, Click Undo this school year!

Share to Classroom Extension

You can add the Share to Classroom Chrome extension to share web content to your classes in three ways:  Push to Students, Make Announcement or Create Assignment.  The one item to remember is that your students and/or co-teacher must have the extension as well in order to share content with them.

Push to Students

Found a website that you want your class to go to?  Don't want to waste time with detailed directions?  You can push the website out to your students making class more interactive and saving time.  Once you push a website out, it will appear in all active students and co-teacher in the class.

Make Announcement

Found a great resource to share out with your class?  You can make an announcement to your class as well.  For now, it appears you can only post an announcement to one class at a time, but you can save it as a draft.

Create Assignment

Similar to Make Announcement.  You can only post to one class at a time, but you can save as a draft.

To view websites that were recently shared:

The one concern I have is all of the notification I will receive when students push a website to me.  You can mute this notification!  You have to open the notifications centers and uncheck the box!

To find the notification center:
  • Chrome OS: Press ALT+SHIFT+N
  • Windows Users: In the bottom right corner of your screen, click to up arrow, then click the notification bell icon.
  • Mac Users: At the top of your screen in the menu bar, click the notification bell icon. 
Next, click settings or the gear or wheel. Lastly, uncheck the box next to Share to Classroom.

The good news:  While you have muted the notifications, you can still see the pages shared by students to you by clicking Received from Students.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Back to School Google Updates

In a day or so, you should see quite a few changes to Google.  Voice Typing allows you to type in Doc without touching the keyboard.  You will be able to find Voice Typing in the Tools menu in Docs, then tap the microphone button.  Google Voice is available for more than 40 languages.  Google already has a nice help menu for Voice Typing

Brand New Look to Forms

Google has updated the look to Forms.  They have updated their themes and you can even insert your own image.  Much like the Google Classroom update, a menu is off to the right as you can see below:

See New Changes In a File

When you leave a document and come back to it later, you will be able to select "See New Changes"  and pick up where you left off.  I think this will be a real winner for collaborative assignments or group work!
Google is also launching new templates in Docs, Sheets and Slides.  

Explore in Sheets

Explore is like having your own analysts with you.  Explore will make it easier to analyze and decipher data.  It will also create charts and insights automatically.

New Extension:  Share to Classroom

With this new extension, teacher are able to push out a specific website to students in class and it opens immediately.  From my understanding, students are able to push websites to the teacher for review and in turn can push out to the entire class.  I do like the idea of saving time while students type in a specific URL and can focus more on the content we are learning especially for my students who struggle and my English Language Learners!

Don't be too surprised with all of the updates and changes coming to you over the next few weeks.  In the end, Google wants to make our school year as smooth as possible.  Remember, Keep Calm, Click Undo!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Interactive Flyers & Newsletters

Tired of the same old handouts?  Want to make them engaging and interactive?  Don't have time for a fancy website?  Smore just might be for you!  I love graphic design, but as a teacher I don't always have the time to create from scratch.

Easy to Use

Smore has formatted templates or you may create from scratch using drag and drop!  Within just a few minutes, you can have a professional and stunning flyer or newsletter.  After you create your flyer, you can share it various ways from social media, email to a sharable link.  You can make your flyer public or private.  Private means that it is not indexed on Google and can only been seen if you have the address.  Even if you do not want to share digitally, you can still download and print up your Smore flyer!

Below is a Smore Flyer I made in about 10 minutes!

Free Accounts:

You can create and use a free account in Smore, you are limited to 200 emails a month and no custom backgrounds, but Smore has some really nice options for a free account.  Smore does offer a few paid accounts costing anywhere from $180 - $588 a year depending on the plan you select.  But wait!  Smore has special pricing for educators:  $59 a year!  They also include educational backgrounds to help us out with our designs in addition to the custom feature.  

You get the following with a paid educator account:

How can I use Smore?

There are endless possibilities.  I loved the quick informational flyer I sent out to fellow staff members as a follow-up to a question on technology integration.  I also created my course syllabus for all of my classes this year on Smore and placed the link on business cards from VistaPrint for each class.  I plan to insert the link of my syllabus onto my About page in Google Classroom and send it out via Remind!
With Smore, I plan to create more engaging flyers and newsletter quickly so I can Keep Calm, Click Undo!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Lesson Design in Google Classroom

I was an early adopter of Google Classroom.  I was one of those on the waiting list so I could use it right away!  As a former Moodle user, I LOVE Google Classroom for my type of classroom.  I do not need a full learning management system like Moodle.  The one aspect that I have had to really improve on is how I set-up my lessons or projects.


By June, I had figured out the best way to communicate to students the directions even if I was not in class that day.  This was so helpful for days I was away writing curriculum.  I discovered that giving a brief intro followed by numbered directions works best when there are multiple attachments in the assignment.  (Below is the Teacher View)

I also discovered that I had to really think about the order in which I place all of the attached files and documents.

Larger Projects:

Most of my classes are project-based.  I really love using Google Classroom for this purpose.  I am able to write a project description, give a copy to each student their design folder, rubric and examples of student work.  Making the rubric available at all times as well as the examples of student work is so valuable.  I observed students referring back to those files frequently. 

Towards the end of their lengthy project, I am able to add various announcements to aide in completing their design folder.  Even in announcements, I can attach example questions, a lovely Google Forms cheat sheet from Shake Up Learning and a few screencasts made by their lovely teacher to help them complete their newly acquired technology skills.
My students really appreciate when I make a screencast of how to execute and use a new technology skill.  Students were able to go back and watch my videos multiple times, pause and complete each step or even spit their viewing screens and complete it while watching my video.  The best part is that absent students can get their work they missed before I even see them in class if they choose.  

An added bonus:  If you invite your co-teachers or your various intervention teachers into your Google Classroom, they can refer back to your directions to assist their students too!

Web-Based Storytelling for Students

I remember when I was in 5th grade long ago, we focused on the writing process and created our own picture book.  My story was titled Kasey the Koala.  As a student, reading and writing was not my most favorite areas of learning.  I loved writing my own picture book and sharing it with parents as a special evening event.  It was a memorable engaging project for me!  With all of the new technology out there, we can amp up this project using Storybird.  

What is Storybird?

Storybird describes their website as "A platform for writers, readers and artists of all ages."  It is a web-based platform that works on ANY device with any curriculum!  Students can write their own picture books, longform stories and poetry.  Storybird also has artist-created illustrations students can use in their books.  

See Example Below:

Curriculum and Technology Integration

Storybird will align to any standards and district curriculum and gives educators the opportunity to integrate digital citizenship and appropriate social online interactions.  With an educator account, social online communication is kept safe within the teacher-created class and  work is easy for educators to view, monitor and facilitate.  

Storybird as a Fundraiser

As a parent, I would love to purchase my child's book that was created on Storybird.  Why not make it a fundraiser?  Parents can purchase their child's creation and in-turn Storybird will donate 30% of the sales back to the educators! As a parent and educator, it is a win all around!  I purchase a keepsake of my child's creative work and educators can use Storybird for free and earn funds for school needs.  Who wouldn't want a printed book of their child's work?

Big Bonus for Education!
The best part is Storybird recently made their accounts FREE, yes FREE to educators!  I encourage my colleagues to give Storybird a try from an adult who was one of those reluctant readers and writers!  

An extra bonus:  My daughter was looking over my shoulder as I wrote this post and asked, "Can I try this?"  This is a BIG bonus as a parent.  During her last weeks of Summer vacation and she wants to write her own stories!  Thank you Storybird!

New Share Settings in Google

With a recent update, Google added to the advanced share settings.
Instead of entering emails or getting the sharable link, select Advanced.

You can still enter names and choose for the collaborator to edit, comment or view.  Remember if you set it to view, collaborators can still make a copy of your file.
You can still choose the prevent people with editing rights from changing the access and adding new people to your documents.  New - you can prevent and disable the ability to download, print and coy from commenter and viewers giving your document extra protection!  

The only concern I have with students is taking screenshots of the documents with a personal device and using shortcuts on the computer.  I still love the added choices for how you choose to share and collaborate.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Copy a Google Drive Folder

I am working with a colleague on a project and discovered you cannot share an entire folder in Google Drive.  Thank goodness for add-ons and Google Sheets!  Watch this video to find out how:

This little gem reminded me to Keep Calm, Click Undo...

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Safe Email for Kids and Teens (Free Too!)

Tocomail is a way to offer email to your children under 13!  It is available on iOS and Google Play.  Kids get their own email address to communicate with friends and family.  There is a simplified version for younger kids as well.  Tocomail allows kids to draw a piece of artwork and send to their Grandparents, for example.
Let's talk safety.  Parents approve a contact list for your child.  You approve who can and cannot email your child.  If your child gets an email that is not on the safe list, it is quarantined until a parent approves or rejects the email.  Tocomail also filters profanity and bullying too!

Tocomail for Gmail is designed for teens.  Integrating with their own gmail account, this allows parents a way to bridge the gap.  Parents can still create a safelist of trusted contacts and parents will receive any quarantined emails to approve or reject.  The Tocomail for Gmail is a great way to teach proper communication via email and messaging.

I started my own daughter using Tocomail in third grade as a means to justify the question, "Why do I have to learn how to type?"  Instantly, she found a reason and purpose.  She communicates with grandparents, friends and her third grade teacher.  It was so kind of her teacher to ask to be on her email safelist.  It has also been a wonderful tool to teach digital citizenship and how to communicate via email.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Broadcast a URL!

Have you ever sat next to someone and want them to get to the same web page as you?  Do you go through the 'directions' click here, no on the blue thingy, then look down and click here and so on until you get frustrated and you haven't even gotten to the web page yet?  Well, try Google Tone found in the Chrome Web Store!  I was shown this at the CUE Rockstar Camp I attended and thought of a ton of times this would have come in handy with fellow teachers, struggling students and entire classes! Check out this video:
I found that by afternoon many of us in the same session were shouting out "Send a Tone" and in seconds we were all on the same webpage.  I am going to use this with students, but will have to give my middle school students a few minutes to play with it....just like I did when I first discovered it! 

 Take a moment and add the Google Tone Extension.  Keep Calm, Click Undo!

The Best Bag Ever!

I needed a new bag to carry all of my tech gear.  I discovered the Baggallini Alfa Laptop Tote.  

The bag only weighs 2 pounds 1 ounce!  I can carry my MacBook, iPad and iPhone with plenty of room for cords and accessories!  The bag also has spots for cards and a coin purse with additional space for papers or files.  It has a straps for the shoulder, a removable cross body strap and a luggage access zipper.  I really like the versatility and the ability to leave a purse at home reducing the number of bags to carry.     

There are a lot of fancy gadgets to keep your cords organized, but I decided to purchase the Velcro One-Wrap Ties to keep my cords organized in my bag.  They cost a little more than $3 for a pack of 5 wraps!  

I purchased my bag from ebags on sale!  You can also find the Alfa Tote on Amazon and it does come in a variety of colors: Black/Tan, Charcoal/Fuschia, Mulberry and Pewter/Cheetah.  I personally own the Charcoal with Fuschia on the inside.  The bright color really helps me see and find what I need in the very bottom of my bag!