Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Instagram Template with Google Slides

*Update - See the new updated Instagram Template here.

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.  You can also find my updated templates for 2019 and 2022. Here is a glance at what he 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
  • Assume the role of Social Media manager for a specific state and make multiple posts showing the important things about your state, including all the things you might include in a state report

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 original Instagram template by clicking here and view my 2019 template here.  I've recently updated the template with a new 2022 version, which you can view 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 280 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 copy a sample form to make it your own - click here

Here is what this form could look like:

Google Forms: Anecdotal Student Notes

I have tried all kinds of ways to take anecdotal notes.  Spiral notebooks, 3x5 cards, Evernote, Google Docs with a 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 dropdown 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 do this, I recommend using a dropdown for student names instead of typing them in each time to make sure you always put their names in the same way.  This will allow rowCall to do its magic correctly each time.

Here is what my form looks like:

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.

Google Docs: Insert Table of Contents

Did you know you can make a clickable table of contents in Google Docs with just a few clicks?  You can - and it's simple.

Highlight all the parts in the text that you'd like to become a 'title' in your table of contents.  Then click on the drop down to the left of the font title and change "Normal text" to any of the heading options.

After all your 'titles' are changed to a heading setting, like "Heading 1", you can go up to the "Insert" menu and choose "Table of Contents" at the bottom of the menu.  Then you can choose to have your table of contents show as blue links or black text with page numbers.

Now all of the things you've marked as a heading style are titles in the table of contents!  You can personalize the table of contents by highlighting it and changing the size, font, or color.  You can change the size, font, and color of the things in the table of contents, just as long as they are still designated as a heading style.

If you want to be taken to a certain part of the document, click on the link in the table of contents.  It will pop up a small link.  Click on it, and off you go!  This works really well when you are working with a long document.

If you want to update your table of contents after editing your document, simply click somewhere in the table of contents and then click on the refresh button you see appear.  It will take any additional titles and add them into your table of contents, or take away any you may have deleted.

It's quick, it's easy, it's useful!  Thanks, Google!

Google Keep Chrome Extension

I've introduced you to Google Keep before - basically a website where you can store digital sticky notes with access across all your mobile devices.  Click here to get more information about Google Keep.

They now have a Google Keep extension for Chrome that is just wonderful!  You can click on the extension and it will take the web address and title of the web page you are on and let you add a note to it.  It will put it directly in your Google Keep notepad without you having to actually browse to the site.  Super useful!

To get this handy extension - browse to the Chrome Web Store or click this link.  Search for "Google Keep" and watch for it under the extensions - NOT apps.  Go ahead and click the blue "Add to Chrome" button.

It will prompt you for permission.  Click "Add extension".

Now you will see the Google Keep icon next to your address bar (Omnibox).

Next time you are on a website that you'd like to save for a specific purpose, you can just click on your Google Keep icon and it will pop up a little box for you to add a note to.  When you are finished typing your note, just click the Google Keep icon again to close it.   It saves automatically.

Now when you visit Google Keep on your computer or mobile device, your note will be there along with the web address ready for you to return when you need it again.

So handy!  I know I'll certainly make good use of it!  Hopefully, you will too.

TabCloud Chrome Extension

There are times when I know I need a certain set of tabs open in my Chrome browser.  For a specific lesson or presentation, I'd like certain things to be open each time I start.  TabCloud is my hero in these situations.

TabCloud is a Google Chrome Extension that takes all the tabs I have open in my Chrome window and saves them.  I can give that tab set a name, and then reopen it on any device I'm logged into that has a full Chrome browser (does not work on iPad, tablet, etc.).  Whenever I need that tab set, I can click on the TabCloud icon and load my saved set.  It's a beautiful thing.

To get TabCloud, head on over to the Chrome Web Store and search for TabCloud (one word).  Then click on the blue "Add to Chrome" button.

It will ask you for permission - click "Add extension".

Now you will see the little TabCloud icon in the upper right of your Chrome Browser.  The first time you use it will ask you to click to log in, then you will have to allow it access to your account.  You should only have to do that once.  After that, whenever you have a set of open tabs you'd like to save, click on the cloud, name your set, and click the little disk icon to save it.

To load a saved set, click on the TabCloud icon and click the green plus sign next to the set you'd like to load.  Then watch the tabs open right before your eyes.

Now when you go to teach a lesson or do a presentation where you need multiple tabs open - the preparation is quick and easy.  Walk in, log in, load your saved TabCloud and you are ready to go in just a few clicks.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

10 Ways to Use Socrative Student Response

Socrative is a very simple and versatile student response tool.  It allows you to ask questions (open-ended, multiple choice, true false) and get answers from students using any device - without a student account needed.  You can do whole class activities or self-paced activities students can do independently.  If you'd like to see more details about Socrative, feel free to check out this resource document.  It includes some nice tutorials on how to use this product.  *Just so you know, there is a new paid version of this product, but the free version will give you plenty of functionality.

Socrative is a tool every teacher should have in their digital toolbox.  I highly encourage you to give it a try.  To get your creative thoughts churning, here are some ideas of how you can use Socrative in the classroom:

  • Before a unit begins to gauge prior knowledge
  • Before a big test to review and check progress
  • A self-paced activity where students can work on their own, or with partners/small groups, to answer questions, write or evaluate statements, build arguments, etc.
  • Writing skill practice - have students write a few lines or a paragraph showing a particular skill.  Have students vote anonymously on which was best.  Discuss why it was best.  Another prompt, another vote, another discussion, etc.  This hones their skill as they go.  
  • Suggesting topics, events, ideas, class party ideas, snack choices, etc.  The class can then vote - no muss, no fuss, no counting hands or small slips of paper.
  • Homework assignment - you can leave the room open for multiple days.
  • Study guide - leave it open and allow students to repeat the activity as many times as needed.
  • Daily/Weekly Reading Quiz
  • Quick prompt - (question to answer, prompt to respond to, math problem, etc.) no pre-planning required.  Simply give the problem or prompt verbally or on the board, or they can answer one that is on a worksheet or in a textbook.  
  • Exit ticket

There are so many more ways to engage your students with Socrative, but these should get you started!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Google Chrome: Save Space on Your Bookmarks Bar

You can't have too many bookmarks.  If you look carefully, most bookmark icons are highly identifiable.  Capitalize on that and save a ton of space on your Bookmarks Bar.

Here is a little .gif that shows the process.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Quizlet Live

I know many of you use Quizlet, a digital flashcard website/app that allows you (and your students if they are over the age of 13) to create study sets and practice using a variety of activities.  There is a new feature to Quizlet that I just have to share - Quizlet Live!  Quizlet live allows teachers to launch a Quizlet Live activity based on a study set (yours - or one you found online) for the whole class to participate in.  This works with all ages because students do NOT need a Quizlet account in order to participate - they just need a device - ANY device!

Students get put into teams automatically and because teammates each get a different list of answers, they must work together (collaboration and communication) to select the right answers.  It is a whole lot of fun and students LOVE it!

You can watch this video (click here) to see a little more about Quizlet Live.  You can also check out these two resources to help you learn more:

Quizlet Live Home Page
How to Use Quizlet Live

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