After a mostly wintery April vacation, it was nice to finally see the sunshine. Hoping to have the last of the snow leave my gardens this week. I have a lot of little catchup items to share this time.
I went down to Connecticut today to attend the Greenwich Country Day School's Maker Faire. Although I was very disappointed that the scheduled keynote speaker, Colleen Graves was unable to attend due to a family emergency, I did enjoy listening to Ron Beghetto speak about creativity.
A couple points that resonated with me:
My favorite workshop of the day was with Rush Hambleton- "Meet the Microbit". It was fun to experiment with this relatively inexpensive, easy to use pocket size computer that lets you get creative with digital technology. I had played around with these a little bit, but working in small groups I learned a lot more than I had previously tried by myself. With the new version of Scratch coming out in August children will be able to program physical devices (like micro:bit).
Catch Up Time
Finally, the wonderful set of tools is free for both teachers and students- and is now COPPA compliant so kids under 13 can use it with supervision. A couple of our 4th grade classes have used this on some of the global projects they have done in the past and now we can give them accounts that they can use for so many projects! Richard Byrne has a nice roundup of the features on his blog.
Images for student work
We have a tab on our HES Symbaloo with a lot of these links, but Tony Vincent recently put up a nice post with some that we don't currently have listed. Check them outhere.
Checkboxes in Google Sheets
One of the things I really like about Google Keep is the quick and easy way to create checkboxes. Now, for all the spreadsheet fans- you can create checkboxes in Google Sheets. Alice Keeler writes about it here and shows you how- step by step.
Two great updates from FlipGrid to share. First- and this is happening soon- Wednesday, May 9th - World Record Wednesday.
Quote from the blog:
"It starts with you. It starts with us!
On May 9, 2018, you can be part of history! Our Global Classroom will aim for the student voice record books and attempt a World Record on Flipgrid. 24 Hours, all nations, all learners, across the globe, sharing the same message. We are calling on students, educators, digital citizens and global ambassadors to join together using your phone, tablet, or computer to record a message uniting The World"
One more from FlipGrid... AppSmashBash. Want to do more with FlipGrid? Looking for ideas? Check out the webinar #App SmashBash.
O.K... it's impossible.
No one keeps up with all the changes, however we can try to stay on top of the changes that affect what we do and how we do it. One of the nice changes I saw recently was a training push by Texthelp... the good folks who created Read & Write for Google Chrome, They have created a training portal on their site to help you walk through how to get the most out of Read & Write for you and your students. This fundamentals course covers use of R & W in Google Docs, in the web toolbar and in PDFs and ePubs. They have also updated their quick reference guide- downloadable here.
Explore - New functionality across Google Docs, Sheets and Slides
This just came out last week. You can read more about it here. Essentially the goal is to make you work more productively. However, there is already a hue and cry in the edtech edu sector because the research tool in Google Docs has "disappeared". The explore button does some of what the Research Tool did, but you cannot search easily for dictionary meanings or quotes. The ability to search for images by license is missing. However it does return images which seem to be copyright-free, but it also sticks the attribution right under the image instead of in the footnote. It looks like you will need to use Easybib or Noodle Tools, etc. to build the bibliography as that is also missing from the explore button. So, either they will respond the numerous complaints they are getting online, or we can get used to a different, "improved" version.
The functionality improvements in Sheets look pretty cool. It looks like they are continuing to try to make working with data easier and more intuitive, allowing questions in more natural language. You can read more about them here. John Sowash created a quick overview of the Explore button in sheets. Richard Byrne also created a little video about the changes in Google Slides.
Since Mike Duffy has worked so hard to get all of the chromebook carts up and running at both schools, here is just a quick reminder of all of the "hidden" features on the chromebook keyboard. Now, these keyboards can vary from one manufacturer to the next, but here's a quick animated gif from chrome48.info. How do you get this to come up on your chromebook?
Simply press Control Alt ? and you will see the initial screen. Hold down control and you will see all the shortcuts that start with control, or hold down alt or shift and see more. Some folks love shortcuts, others hardly ever use them. To get out of the screen- click esc.
Note, this is for chromebooks- not the chrome browser on your PC or Mac.
So what are add-ons? Add-ons are additional programs or functionality that can be manually added right from the Google application. How do you get them/find them? On the top navigation bar of your Google Document-click on Add ons. Then click on Get Add ons... Add-ons vary from docs to sheets to forms, etc.
My favorite used to be the speech recognition tool, but now that you can get an even better speech to text tool from Voice Typing- right in Tools, I think my favorite is the SAS Writing Reviser. You do have to create a free SAS curriculum pathways account. There is an app with a 4 part writing process built in, but this SAS Writing Reviser is right in Google Docs. If you've never checked out their resources, it is worth your time.
Here's a quick video to show you some other favorites- including some for math teachers/students and world language teachers.
Add-ons for Google Sheets
My favorite add-on for Google Sheets are Save as Doc and Autocrat. Autocrat lets you take the info collected from a form or a spreadsheet and put it into a document. Save as Doc lets you quickly and easily consolidate data into a text document instead of a spreadsheet. Here's another quick video to show these and a couple others
Add-ons for Google Forms
This surprised me... the add-ons for forms have disappeared in the new version of Google Forms... but I know that they are coming back. I can see them in my personal Google account forms, but they have not been rolled out yet on the District accounts. Here's a very quick overview of where to find these- once they come back- and a Google Hangout with a lot more info- but it's over an hour long. Jenn Judkins is an expert as is Erik! Here's a link to the resource doc for that one. This is a link to one of Jenn's Google Forms Cheat Sheets. If you love to play with data, this is for you. New to forms and excel sheets... skip this one.