New! from Google
Google announced a new set of shortcuts that you may find useful. Now to open up a new doc, sheet, or slide, simply type new.doc or new.sheets, etc. into the omnibox (address bar).
This should prove to be a time saver and is easy to remember!
Check It! Finally a spelling/grammar checker in Google Docs, courtesy of Texthelp and Read&Write for Google Chrome! We are fortunate to have R & W pushed out to the entire district, so everyone can benefit from this new feature. Kasey Bell, over at Shake Up Learning has a nice post about this. Remember, if you need to boost your skills in Read & Write, or just want to explore their offerings, they have a great training resource here.
While I was meandering about on Texthelp's YouTube channel, I noticed something else that was new to me- DataDesk. This enables the teacher to lock in features on a student's R&W toolbar for a period of time. It is hooked into Google Classroom. Now, I don't think this tool has widespread use- but for example, if I have a student who is easily distracted and I want him to work on highlighting and defining all the vocab words in a passage, I could shut off all the other features and just leave the highlighting tools on. Check out the video below and see if this tool is useful for you.
Math Type for Google Docs
I know that some of you have been waiting for this one to come along for awhile. MathType is now up and running in Google Docs as an add-on. Note- it is currently free, but they are giving you a heads up that it will require a license in the future. So, if LaTex or Equatio aren't making you happy, now you can try MathType. There is also built-in support for chemical equations.
Now for "Secrets" from Matt Miller
I try to keep up with Matt Miller's blog, his podcasts, his tweets, since he is in the classroom and has great practical ideas. This week's blog post has 10 "secrets" "Find the tips, tricks and features of your favorite G Suite tools that you didn’t know existed!" Take a quick trip over to Ditch That Textbook and check out Matt's ideas. There were a couple I didn't know.
Stop Motion Movie Making
To Test or To Teach/Learn
I was reading through some recent work on Modern Learner and I have to say- the title:
"The Testing Emperor Finally Has No Clothes" hooked me. Bruce Dixon has pulled together a very thoughtful article around the "tyranny of testing". Although I don't often agree with Alfie Kohn, thinking that he likes to stir the waters and stand back and watch, this quote, "90 percent of the variations in test scores among schools or states have nothing to do with the quality of instruction." really struck close to home. Just go read the article.
Then come back... and read about how they are changing education in Singapore. This is the title of that article: Children in Singapore will no longer be ranked by exam results. Here's why A quote: "“Learning is not a competition,” states Ong Ye Kung, Singapore’s Education Minister. The Ministry of Education (MOE) is planning a series of changes aimed at discouraging comparisons between student performance and encourage individuals to concentrate on their own learning development."
If you still feel like reading, try this one from the Irish Times: Classroom of 2030: A flashforward to learning techniques. Education to not only use technology as tools but also to inculcate computational thinking.
The world is changing rapidly. Our education system is not. These kids are our future.
Are we gonna just test 'em or learn with them?
VICKI DAVIS presented an excellent webinar this afternoon called 15 Best Tools for G Suite for Education. I was late, but she went over a couple tools that I hadn't heard of/tried before. She also shared a great PDF with her tool list! One tool, a Google Doc add-on that I am planning to try, is Pro Writing Aid, which "... is a Google Doc add-on that assists students by checking their writing for consistency, grammar mistakes, cliches, acronyms, and more. " I've tried Grammarly and although I know that many, many teachers and students love it, it kind of drove me crazy and I felt like it was in my way. But, please try it! Everyone likes different things.
I also didn't know that Easybib now does a web site credibility check. I still like the SAS Writing Navigator Tool from SAS Curriculum Pathways to help students organize their writing, even if it didn't make the top 15 list. It's a chrome app as well as being a Google Docs add-on. She also shared some really cool math tools, some basic teacher tools and one last one I want to mention- the educational templates in Lucid Charts. Need a graphic organizer- they've got 'em and they are pretty cool. Read more from Vicki, and don't forget to check out the extra goodies from this webinar- The Hemingway App. Thanks, Vicki!
Improved Voice Typing in Docs
Google also recently announced yet more changes in Voice Typing in Docs. It is the best speech to text I have seen, especially for young voices. And... it's free! Here's the list of commands. If you haven't tried it.. super easy, but the commands will take a bit of getting used to. Here's a quick video as a refresher or an intro.
TextHelp continues to add more functionality to Read & Write for Google Chrome with a new Read-Aloud feature. Remember this is free for everyone in our domain- all staff, faculty and students. It's a pretty robust tool. I got an email from them the other day as they are looking for teachers to help develop a new writing assessment tool. It sounds really cool and if you help them out, you may get the tool free- forever! Check it out here.
LAST, but not LEast...
I spent the day at #EdCampAccessNY on Saturday. Among the many resources shared, were a couple that I plan to check out in the coming weeks. One for Early Readers got glowing reviews from a NY teacher who is using it. She claimed it was better that RAZ kids. Now, that's going some. Check out Reading Eggs and let me know what you think. The other web site is Literably, a site to help assess reading fluency and comprehension. Check it out and see if it can help you.
As the school year draws to a close, I would like to share a few of the many vendor emails I get on a daily basis. These actually have something to offer busy teachers. Check out new developments at ReadWorks, Symbaloo, JoeZoo and EasyBib.
There are 2 new, exciting updates from ReadWorks coming next fall. There will be a new digital website and a new K-5 Article-A-Day program.
The new ReadWorks Digital website will be available for all teachers and students.
Read Works - Article a Day
"ReadWorks Introduces Article-A-Day for Kindergarten - 5th grade
In just 10-15 minutes each day you can dramatically improve your students’ reading comprehension by systematically building their background knowledge and vocabulary with Article-A-Day.
Learn more about Article-A-Day"
Symbaloo Edu Lesson Plans
Symbaloo, which we use at HES for a start page for students ( with a separate start page for teachers), recently rolled out a new service using their platform- Lesson Plans for students. Essentially this is like a pathfinder. Here's their promo:
Engage your students with truly personalized learning by creating your own lesson plans and fully customizing the look and feel. Simply add videos, documents, quizzes and educational games that guide students through custom learning paths from start to finish. View the progress of your students in real time, chat with them to help them with the assignment and utilize the built-in grading tool to make your life easier. You can now get started with creating your first lesson plan. How? By taking your first lesson: A lesson plan explaining Symbaloo Lesson Plans. See what we did there? ;-)
Joe Zoo is a Google Add On, built for teachers to help with rubrics, grading and feedback. It is relatively new and has made some good upgrades recently. It is integrated with Google Classroom.
Check it out here. The video below is just a short promo video, but there is a complete playlist of how to videos on YouTube
Easy Bib Edu
I got this from Easy Bib recently. Easy Bib is an easy to use citation service and has a Google Docs add on. Click on the link to the form to get this for free if you would like to be able to view and manage student accounts. They also have a helpful resource for educators- with articles like Teaching Students How To Summarize and Paraphrase in their Own Words, or How to Conquer the Dreaded Blank Page with Writing Prompts
Questions? Check the FAQ page
To get right to it: we heard you when you said that your students loved using EasyBib, so we’re excited to let you know that you and your students can have FULL ACCESS to EasyBib EDU for free, starting with the 2016-2017 school year and beyond! This means:
We’ll keep improving EasyBib throughout the upcoming school year, adding enhancements such as a new and improved notebook, an annotation tool to help your students find and capture important information, and an improved Google Docs add-on with notes and outline support to assist students throughout the writing process.
Stay tuned for more updates and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to let us know, and don’t forget to sign up for EasyBib EDU here.
Thanks and we will be in touch!
The Imagine Easy Team
I spent a great day on Saturday at #edcampWorcester. It was a relatively small edcamp, but had some very dynamic educators and lots of good conversations. One thing that came up was which Chrome extensions folks found useful. As more and more schools are moving to GAFE and chromebooks, we are seeing more extensions being created and it can be hard to find something useful in the myriad of choices on the chrome web store.
Chrome extensions, apps, add-ons...
So, what are these things, what are the differences between them and why should you care?
A chrome extension adds functionality. An example of this is screencastify- it allows you record audio and video online. Accounts managed by Hadley Schools have some restrictions by "organizational unit". The teachers should be able to access just about anything, however student accounts are restricted to those extensions that have been whitelisted by IT.
A chrome app is simply a link to a website. This can be useful for older students who can set up their own accounts on sites, but we do not use a lot of these at the elementary level as the accounts are centrally managed. An example of this goanimate. The app is simply a link to the site. The students at HES have accounts set up on the managed goanimate for schools site- not this general site.
Add Ons are a little bit different- not restricted to the chrome browser, but associated with various Google applications. It gets confusing because some add ons are also listed as extensions. An example of an add on for Google Docs is Easy Accents- which helps you put the correct diacritical marks on words in various languages. An example of an add on in Google Sheets might be Flubaroo or Save as Doc. Forms have their own add ons...
Why should you care? These tools can make your life easier- or at least more productive.
Finding the Most Useful Extensions
Our current list of whitelisted extensions can be found here. We are in the process of setting up a dedicated Hadley chrome web storefront for students. The students will be able click on a link like the one on the image to the left and see the approved apps and extensions, rather than randomly trying to find the whitelisted ones.
However, our current list is ever changing and isn't really set up for educators to use. I did not put additional information or categories on this list- which would be really helpful. But- there are many other lists you, as teachers, can access to see what you would like to use. If you find an extension that you wish to be accessible for students- please send the chrome web store url to both Mike and I. I know that our current list of 90+ may seem like a lot, but wait til you look at other lists...
Here is an excellent presentation from Kelly Fitzgerald- with twice as many apps- and she has them in categories... She has an excellent website with lists of favorite chrome extensions every week.
Lists and More Lists