Monday, February 6, 2017

Monster Mash

Great idea I heard from Dr. Rios from the Fort Sam Houston school district this morning -

Have students create a monster in their Makerspace using paper, cups, etc. Then they need to use a Google Doc to write explicit instructions on how to put it together. They should rewrite it until it is accurate.  Then share an extra set of the same materials with another school/class and those students must use the instructions to create the same monster.  Once they are finished the teacher can hold a Google Hangout for the two classes to compare monsters so the students can see how close the other groups came to re-creating their monster.

Great way to move up the SAMR ladder! We just involved technology and collaboration to an authentic writing activity.

Monday, January 9, 2017


DriveSlides is a new extension (created by Matt Miller and Alice Keeler) that allows you to create a Google Slides presentation from a folder of images located on your Google Drive.

In Drive, create a new folder that contains images - they must be image types that work on the web (JPG, PNG, or GIF). Click on the DriveSlides icon in your extension gallery and choose Options. You must set and save the maximum amount of images you want in your presentation. Then go to your Google Drive and open the folder you want to use. Make sure it has some images in it.  Once you have the folder open, the extension will light up (it is grayed out until that point). That means you can use Drive Slides here. Click on the button and all the images in your folder will be dumped into a slide presentation.

A new Slides presentation is created in that same images folder. Once it is finished it will open and you will see all the images in the presentation. Any non-image file in the folder will be ignored.

So, what is this extension good for? Well, you can easily dump images from an event and have an instant presentation. Perhaps you are doing a unit and want images related to the content you are teaching? Easy deal there. Want it to automatically advance and loop so it is constantly playing? Not an issue in Slides!

DriveSlides is an extremely easy way to import a large number of images into a presentation. Once in there, you are free to edit, move, change slide order, etc. I see this as being a huge time saver.  Let's face it - many of us detest the normal slide presentations created from bulleted lists with a standard template. I'd always much rather use images to get my point across and then vocalize my talking points.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Text Reduction Strategy using Google Docs

Ever need a simple way to use Google Docs in your classroom?  No bells and whistles, no apps or extensions, just pure and simple Google Docs!

Let's try using a strategy called Text Reduction to help students with comprehension and summarization skills. Find the text you want to use and copy/paste the text into a Google Doc.  My favorite source to find text is Newsela because you can chose the lexile level you wish to use and it always has stories that are up to date and current.

The rules are simple -
Use Google Highlight tool to blackout unimportant details in the story, leaving only the main idea of the paragraph showing. You can also use the same technique to select the main idea and then highlight with a different color two details that support what you chose as the main idea.

It is also a great tool to use for teaching math story problems!  One of the reasons students find story problems so difficult is that they don't know what details are important and what filler acts as a red herring.  Black out all the text that isn't important to creating the equation and then it is much simpler!

The highlight tool can be found on the main toolbar. It doubles as a tool to change the color of the text AND to highlight text.See?  Simple and easy!!  Just send a copy of the document out through Google Classroom so each student receives a copy.  When they are finished they can turn it in for credit.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Add the ability to save to your Google Drive from any Windows program on your computer.

I love using Google Drive to store my files. Now I also have a way to open files directly from my Drive within a program or to save to my Drive.  You must have the Google Drive app added to your PC Desktop for this to work. Google Drive Desktop app found here. Once you install it and sync it the first time you can begin the next step!

Now let's add a reference to the Drive app to the Documents folder in your Library.  Open My Computer and locate the Documents folder. Documents will be the first listing under Libraries on the left side of your screen. Right-mouse click on it and select Properties. Click "Include a Folder" and navigate to your Google Drive folder. Click the Include folder button. Click Okay at the bottom.

Now when you are in an application your click File-->Open like normal, then click Libraries on the left side, then Documents.

When the Documents folder is open, you will see two sections - one that shows the files in My Documents and one below it that shows the contents of your Google Drive.

Now I open and save files from my Google Drive just like I would if they were on a network drive or computer drive!!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Opening Desktop Application Files in Google Drive

I like the idea of using Google Drive. I have unlimited capacity, I can get to it anywhere, but I just wish I could open Photoshop files directly from my Drive.  Oh, wait!  Now I can!

First you must install the Google Drive app to your computer (PC only, not for Mac). You can download it here.  Next. configure it and get it synced up with your account.

Next you must install the Application Launcher for Drive extension from the Chrome Web Store. You can get it here. 

Now we're ready to work!  Open Drive and find a non-Google file.  Perhaps a Word file, Photoshop or Illustrator file.  Double click it to open it. This will open it in Preview Mode. Click the popout icon to open it in a new window. At the top you will see "Open" with a down arrow beside it.  Normally this only allows you to open associated web apps, but here you'll see desktop applications instead. Because the file below is an Adobe Photoshop file, you will even see the Photoshop logo beside it.

Google Drive just keeps getting better and better!!!   Yes, there is also a way to save files directly to your Google Drive from all desktop applications, but that is a topic for another post!! Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Password Protecting Your Google Form

Okay, you can't really password protect your Google Form, but this neat work-around has merit.  When creating a form, just make the first question on the form a text box that requires a specific word before the user can go on to the next page.

 If you like to assess your students using Google Forms and don't want students not in class to be able to view the assessment, this is the way to accomplish that. You can duplicate the form and change the specific word in the text box for each hour (if you like). Right before the students take the assessment, write the word on the board or give it orally. Once all students have completed the quiz, you can also change the password.

Here is a video giving complete instructions on how to do this.

New Google Classroom Updates

Google Classroom just keeps getting better and better! The updates released this week are welcome additions for classroom teachers.

The biggest update, and definitely one of the most requested features is the addition of new question and answer discussions. You can post questions to your class and allow students to have discussions by responding to each other’s answers (or not, depending on the setting you choose). For example, you could post a video and ask students to answer a question about it, or post an article and ask them to write a paragraph in response. Other new Classroom additions include the ability to reuse content (announcements, assignments, or questions) and bump up assignments or announcements in the order they are seen on the page.

A big update scheduled for next month - Google Classroom will automatically create a Google Calendar for each of your courses and populate it with all content.  It will be viewable in both Classroom and Calendar!