Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Instagram Template with Google Slides

For better or for worse, students are all over Social Media - so why not give them a little of what they love mixed in with the learning?  My friend Ryan O'Donnell, (@creativeedtech), is quite talented with creating templates and he made an Instagram post template in Google Slides that caught my eye and sparked my imagination.  There are so many fun ways to use this in the classroom!  You can get a copy of his template by clicking the link I provide at the end of this post.  Here is a glance at what he has created:


How could you use this in the classroom, you ask?  Here are a few examples:

Summarizing chapters or sections of a book:
It takes quite a bit of skill to boil a summary down to a few sentences that truly capture the main ideas of a chapter.  Students can create a Slides file from the template where each slide becomes the summary for each section of text you assign.  They will need to choose a screen handle and profile picture that are appropriate for the character they are impersonating.  They will also choose a picture and some text for their "post".  This is an example for Chapter 1 of Charlotte's Web.

Baby pig photo from Michael Kappel

Responding to a historical event:
Students will need to choose a screen handle and picture appropriate for the historical person they are impersonating.  They will find a profile picture and "post" some text. This can be used to summarize an event or show their understanding of an event and/or its importance. 



Animal Study:
Students will take on the perspective of the animal and make posts to show their knowledge of that animal's life, habits, habitat, and diet, etc.  Think of something like "If an iguana had Instagram".  I'll tell you what, I learned quite a bit about Iguanas while creating these "posts" for this example!



Wild Plum photo from Forest and Kim Starr


Some other ideas are:
  • Highlight a scientific discovery or invention
  • Make a post that a book character would make about a certain event from the story if they had an Instagram account and lived in our day and age
  • Make a post to show their knowledge of why a noteworthy person is well known


There are so many ways to utilize this type of template.  I'd love to hear how you decide to use it, and so would Ryan!  Feel free to tweet it out and tag us both (@TeachingTechNix and @creativeedtech).

You can get a copy of Ryan's Instagram template by clicking here.  On the page that opens up, click the blue "Use Template" button in the upper right corner.

Check out Ryan's website for more amazing templates for all sorts of fun things.

*If you liked this Instagram template, you might also like my Fake Tweet Template.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Google Slides: Grid View

There is a new feature in Google Slides and I just can't contain my excitement!  Google has finally added the grid view feature!  This was the last remaining thing I missed from PowerPoint and I'm thrilled Google has given it to us in Slides.

To view your slides in Grid View, click on "View" across the top and choose "Grid view" from the list.  You can also look at the bottom left corner of your Slides window and see the little icons to swap from standard view to grid view.





There are a few more features they just added, like Add-ons and Google Keep integration, that you can read about in this post from Google.  

If you don't see the "Grid view" option in your "View" menu - don't worry.  It is still in the process of rolling out to all domains.  Hang tight and you should see it soon!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Time is Now

A few weeks ago, I attended the 2017 CUE National Conference and I had the opportunity and privilege of taking eight teachers and two administrators with me.  It was an outstanding learning experience for all.  If you ever have the chance to attend a CUE National Conference - I highly recommend it.

I always come home with some fun and useful things I've learned, but this year I came home with much more than that - in fact, my whole team did.  It is an overwhelming sense of urgency.  The time is now.


I think we can all recognize that there are some significant shifts happening in education right now.  The way our students learn and relate to their world, the skills they will need to be successful in their future jobs, and the way teaching and learning need to change due to the presence of technology.  This list can go on and on.  We are irrefutably in the midst of a huge transformation in our education system.  At this point, we can agree technology isn't a fad - it isn't going anywhere.  Our students learn differently and have different needs because of the way our world has changed.  Don't we owe it to them to change the way we educate them to match the world we are educating them for?

We are at the point where we can no longer wait and see how things go.  We can't keep saying, "I'll try it next year, next unit, next time."  The time is now.  Right now.  We cannot continue to stand on the sidelines and watch others do the changing.  It is time to jump into the trenches as fellow teachers and figure this stuff out!  We are told our students need more collaboration - it's true - but so do we!  Let's hunker down together and try new things, share our successes and our failures, observe each other and learn from one another.  The time has come to take our toes out of the water and dive in.  The time has come to try new things and learn through all the victories and the mistakes.

"The best chance you have to change the future walks through your classroom doors every morning." - James Sanders 

Look at your students as they walk through the door.  They need us.  They need us to climb out of our comfort zones, set aside our fears - of failure, of technology, of going "off the lesson plan".  They need us today.  The time is now.

"Tweet" Template with Google Slides

When you can't take your kids to Twitter, take Twitter to your kids!  Often age limits, privacy laws, and school policies prevent you from having your students use Twitter.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes having your students write a tweet works very well with your lesson plan.  After all, summarizing something into a 140 character tweet is more of a skill than you'd think.

There is a 5th grade teacher at my site who wanted her students to form a tweet, so I created a single tweet template in Google Slides.  I edited the master slide so the template became the background of the slide, and the only things the students could edit were the text boxes they needed.  Doing this made it so that they couldn't accidently delete the images in the template.  If you want to see how to edit the master slide - watch this quick video tutorial.

Here is what the template looks like:


We didn't have a ton of time for the activity, so instead of having students take a picture of themselves and put it in the image box, I placed some profile icon choices in the gray workspace around the slide so they could drag and drop the one they wanted to use.

If you'd like to use this template - feel free to click here and get your own copy.  You can edit the master slide to change the date and time on the tweet if you wish.  

Happy "tweeting"!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Google Forms: Digital Assignment Tracking


You can use a Google Form to easily keep track of the turn-in rate of homework or other student assignments.  Make the first question the name of the assignment for easy sorting.  As the second question, use a multiple choice grid with each row being a student name and each column being a turn-in status.  You can even make it a required question so that you force yourself to never skip a student.  

This type of form could also be used to take a quick snapshot of student mastery or progress on a particular skill.  The first question would be used to identify the skill or subject you are assessing.  For the second question, the multiple choice grid, you would use the rows again as student names, but make the columns be progress indicators - struggling, emergent, proficient, mastered, etc.

Make this even better by using the add-on for Sheets called Row Call.  This could put the responses for each unique topic or subject into their own tab in the spreadsheet for a more organized view of the responses.

I always mark the option to provide a link to submit another response, so after I submit, I’m ready for the next assignment or topic.

Thank you to Kyra Bowers (@KyraBowers) for sharing this idea with me!

What to ask?

  • Assignment name, Topic, or Skill
  • Multiple Choice Grid with student names as rows and assessment criteria as the columns. 
If you'd like to see a sample form - click here.

If you'd like to copy a sample form to make it your own - click here.  

Google Forms: Anecdotal Student Notes

I have tried all kinds of ways to take anecdotal notes.  Spiral notebooks, 3x5 cards, Evernote, Google Docs with table of contents, you name it, I’ve tried it.  Nothing was just what I was looking for.  I wanted something easily accessible, private while I’m taking notes, organized, and not something that someone can find lying around my desk.  Then it dawned on me - Google Forms!


I made a form that I use over and over again to take notes on students and it puts all the information into a sortable, searchable spreadsheet in my Drive.  I can sort by date, subject, or student.  Perfect!

I always mark the option to provide a link to submit another response, so after I submit, I’m ready for the next student.

What to ask?

  • Student Name - you can always enter your students in ahead of time so you just pick them from a drop down menu.  Saves time!
  • Date
  • Subject
  • Leave a field for comments
If you want to get fancy - you can use an add-on for Google Sheets called rowCall to make a separate tab in your spreadsheet for each child.  This means you will have every note for Tommy in one tab, every note for Suzie in another tab, etc.  Try it - it's amazing!

If you'd like to view a sample of my anecdotal notes Google Form - click here.  

If you'd like a copy of this form so you can make it your own - click here.




Monday, March 13, 2017

Google Docs: Editing, Suggesting, and Viewing

Did you know there are 3 modes with which to view your Google Documents?  As long as you have editing rights to the document, you can move freely between the three modes.  They each have a specific purpose.


If you look at the top right corner of your Google Doc, you will see the word "Editing" with a little pencil icon next to it.  By default, you are put into editing mode when you create a new Google Doc.  Editing mode is exactly what it sounds like, it allows you to edit your document.

Suggesting mode is when you are suggesting changes to someone else's document you are looking over or working on collaboratively.  Once you are in this mode, you can type directly into the doc and it will track your changes in green.  It then puts in a comment letting others know what you are suggesting.  They can click to accept your changes or comment back to you.


Viewing mode is just how it sounds - it gives you view only access to the document.  This is great for testing links, table of contents, bookmarks, etc.

There you go!  All three modes explained.

Helping teachers incorporate technology, one tech tip at a time.