Thursday, April 30, 2015

Pear Deck!

As I was poking around GAFE (Google Apps for Education) a few weeks ago, I stumbled onto Pear Deck.  As I started to tinker around and explore with one of my 7th grade classes, we discovered it has the ability to make those PowerPoints, Google Slides and PDFs interactive!  

I have used Google Classroom almost daily to deliver my lessons and projects.  My students are used to having all their material when they sign-in.  My role as a teacher has shifted from lecturing or direct teaching to facilitating learning.  Students want to discover and move in my computer lab.  They want to collaborate and be interactive.  The only time my students seem to be antsy is when I deliver a more 'traditional' style of lesson.  The lesson where I lecture with a presentation to deliver material or as I call them "Sit and Gets."  To be honest, they are so bored when I switch into that mode, call it my own little experiment.  Enter Pear Deck.  How does it work?
Pear Deck allows you to upload your presentations and make them interactive!  You can also create a presentation from scratch in Pear Deck.  Pear Deck fosters inquiry-based learning and attracts every learner.  One feature I am really impressed with is when a student submits their own answer or opinion, I can see the answer and who responded, but it also has the ability to share student responses anonymously.    

Pear Deck helps promote social learning.  I love making it less scary for students to share and participate.  It also ensures every student participates and that participation can be a form of formative assessment.  It also fosters students to identify patterns, notice a mistake and discuss each other's ideas.

Still interested?  Check out this detailed set-up video.
Pear Deck would be great with Chromebook carts, computers, BYOD or iPads!  It is so versatile.  You can even set up the presentation on your projected device for students and connect a tablet or iPad to control the Pear Deck.  How great is it to get away from your teaching station?

Mussleman, K. (2014) Nutrition[PowerPoint].

The variety of responses is wonderful.  Yes they have multiple choice, true/false, short answer, but they have what Pear Deck calls, draggables and you can draw your responses.   The image above is a slide of foods that students had to divide into the My Plate.  I quickly added a response for students to draw their favorite snack or food from the list.
As you can see from one of their drawings, they could add details, however I am not sure pizza was on the list, but they are 7th graders!  As a teacher, I found the variety of ways to assess students exciting.

As if Pear Deck couldn't get any better, it did!  You can export your data from Pear Deck to Google and use the Add-On, Flubaroo to grade student responses.  I use Flubaroo often with Google Forms, as well.
Lastly, yes you can use Pear Deck for free, but there is a premium option that gives you a lot of bells and whistles that you may want.  If you are looking for a way to make your BYOD or 1:1 experience meaningful and engaging, try Pear Deck.  Keep Calm, Click Undo!


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Google Slides Update

I love having students work with slides for the collaborative reasons.  They have created some really great projects like a Guitar Timeline!  However, it has a ways to go to catch-up to the versatility of MS PowerPoint, but Slides got better with today's update!  Google added more options to animations!

As you can see in the image, there are more options for the fly in and fly out with specific directions.  Google also added two new animations Appear and Disappear.  

I hope you enjoy the new animations and remember to Keep Calm, Click Undo!

Monday, April 27, 2015


This week I am going to introduce my 6th grade students to Canva.  Canva is an amazing site to use in Graphic Design.  Their tagline on their website, "Amazingly Simple Graphic Design" and I have to agree!  Students (and adults) search and drag..that is about it!  It is FREE to use and great for BYOD schools.  The only items you may be wondering about are the images that cost $1 each.  Students can design with those images, they would have to pay before they print/download.  Classroom teachers can work around this in our paperless world!

One of the best gems I found was their Design School.  In their design school, they have tutorials and teaching materials!  They are GREAT materials!
I was about to start creating a presentation to introduce this site to my students and WOW...they have it already done...just for us!  
There are four workshops, but I plan to use Workshop One: This is Canva.  There is a workshop on fonts, colors and images; backgrounds, shapes and layouts; branding basics as well.
The best part, I can link the presentation into my Google Classroom!  As you can see on the image to the right, it even includes lecture notes!  As a teacher who is always creating content and presentations, I am super excited to use Canva's!

You will also notice under the workshops are lesson plans from REAL teachers!  They are wonderful examples with a variety of topics and levels of instruction.

Some of you may be wondering how I am using this wonderful Graphic Design 6th graders working on a unit to learn about Entrepreneurship.  They are starting their own restaurant.  They have researched, surveyed and decided on a cuisine and logo.  They created a professional business letter asking for funding and ready to design their menu!  Rather than creating a menu using MS Publisher, I wanted to change things up when I saw Canva's menu templates with their vivid images and choice of images!

I plan to have students design in Canva and upload their sharable link into Google Classroom!  No printing, no lost papers and I can see their exact design!

As you can see to the right, students select share and can copy their link and paste it into Google Classroom and select Turn In!

I will keep you updated and hope to share some wonderful work from my 6th graders!

I am going to remind myself tomorrow to Keep Calm, Click Undo!

Thinking About Google Classroom?

Google Classroom 101

     As a teacher, I was super excited in the Spring of 2014 to hear about Google Classroom.  I peeked at my early preview and in September, I dove right in!  As a technology teacher, I loved to be as paperless as possible.  I love seeing student work in color or animated or with music.  In addition I can see work from other links, photos of students in action for their "assignment'..but that is another blog post.

So, you want to try it out and not sure where to start?  After training quite a few teachers in my district, I finally sat down and created a very detailed presentation to accompany my training including updates from last week!  I want to disclose a few of my photos were borrowed from Google..Thanks Google!

Enjoy!  I hope you find this helpful and remember, Keep Calm, Click Undo!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Google Photos...Something New in Your Google Drive

Google Photos

Did you see this in your Google Drive? 

You can manage your photos in Google Drive and even create a folder in your "My Drive."  If you like to keep things organized like I do, you will love the folder in your drive!  You can organize your photos and videos into folders.  If you use Google+, you will enjoy this feature.  I just learned about this new feature on Saturday and by Sunday it is!

You may want to start using your Google + again.  In Google+ you can now create albums, edit your photos and share them...videos too!  

You can edit photos in Google+ and it will remain in the original form in Google Drive, but if you want the edited photo in your Drive, you can upload that one as well.

You can view your photos and videos in Google Drive from your computer, chromebook, android and iOS devices.  On a computer or chromebook you can view through Google Drive.  For android and iOS devices, select the Google Drive app, select the menu icon, then Google Photos.  

It looks like a few of my apps like TechSmith Snagit and other apps that use photos will be able to access your Google Photos too!

Enjoy exploring Google Photos as I will too.  Remember, Keep Calm, Click Undo!

Saved Drafts in Google Classroom

Saved Drafts!

     As a teacher, I love Google Classroom.  I used Moodle until the launch of Classroom this year.  I think Moodle is great, just not for my use.  What I like best about Google Classroom is how easy it is for my 6th - 8th grade students can quickly "upload" or as Google says - "Turn In" their assignments.  For about 90% of the time it is a simple click of the mouse, students get real-time feedback that it was submitted and it is updated in my account in real-time too! That is it!  Using Moodle, it was a entire class period, about 15 clicks and 4 pages of screenshot directions for the students and I had to constantly refresh to pull the information through.  Many times, the process had to be repeated for a student.

   As I dig into Google Classroom more, one frustration I had was being able to load an announcement or assignment while prepping and on the day of use being able to post it or set a date and time to post...well with Tuesday's updates we now have it!  You can create an announcement or assignment and it will autosave and place into draft mode!

     From the image above, I entered an assignment with a document photocopied out to students and a reference sheet.  I now have a choice to assign or save daft.  Google Classroom will by default save as a draft, but you can select if it makes you feel better!

     In your Stream Tab, you will now see a Draft area.  When you select the more arrow, it will expand to display the items you have been working on!
     From here you can choose to select the X to delete or choose to "assign" it to your students.

     Overall, I am very happy with this update, but I would have liked the ability to "assign" from the draft mode to specific sections of classes.  I teach on a block schedule and would like to assign on different days.  As of now, once you assign out of draft mode, it assigns every class you set this up for.  If I want to assign on separate days, I have to set up the assignment for each day of classes separately.  It would also be nice to have a date and time to "assign" from draft mode so that the assignment posts in the stream automatically instead of clicking the assignment myself. 

     Even though draft mode has a ways to go, I am so pleased with the update.  Considering a year ago Google Classroom was only an announcement to us, it has come a long way in a short amount of time.

     I hope you enjoy this tip and remember to Keep Calm, Click Undo!

My New Adventure!

How I Got Here:

     For the past 5 years, I have transitioned from a middle school instrumental music teacher to a middle school technology teacher.  From instruments to gadgets...that's me!  I did not choose this path, it chose me.  What I have truly discovered is that what I love most about teaching is the middle school student, not the subject matter.  Along the way, I have searched, read, investigated, taken risks, had success and failures to get to where I am today.  I am now a teacher technology leader in my district, giving feedback on district initiatives and technology, providing professional development and training and writing technology curriculum.  I am excited about my latest adventure; Certified Google Educator Trainer.

I plan to use this blog as a resource for others as I discover ways to integrate technology into the classroom.  I hope you are ready to take this journey with me and remember to Keep Calm, Click Undo!