Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Dyn-O-Mite Learning!

This week I am borrowing a really fantastic post on Dynamic Learning by Kasey Bell who writes the Shake Up Learning blog. Her Dynamic Learning vs. Static Learning infographic below is handy way to quickly get the gist of what dynamic learning is and how you can put it into practice with your students. Just click on the image to dig deeper.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Differentiate Learning in Google Classrooms

It's difficult to tailor assignments to meet the unique learning needs of each student. I teach about 400 students so I get it. I can usually figure out HOW to modify assignments. It's the creating multiple materials that is the hard part. I also don't want to call attention to the the fact that some students' work looks different from the rest of the class. Here's my secrete weapon in the differentiate discreetly game: GOOGLE CLASSROOM.
--Special Public Annoucement--

Kinder - Grade 3 teachers, before you close this window and delete the email know that your students are either already in Google Classrooms or will be by February. Grades 2 & 3 use Classroom with me now. Grade 1 will be onboard in November and Kinder will be in by February. And you can use Google Classroom on an iPad. 

--Back to our original programming--

How I quickly modify assignments using a Google product
To modify an assignment I have created on a Doc or Slide, for example, I will start with my original document then
  • Make a copy of it  
    • Click on File at top left 
    • Click on Make a copy
  • Change the title to something that makes sense 
  • Make the modifications

How to discreetly get the modified assignment into the hands of my students

  • In Classroom create or reuse and assignment/question/announcement
  • In the popup, deselect All Students and then select only the students you wish to have the assignment.

Your Stream will show all of the work you have assigned collectively so if you assigned three different versions of one particular thing, your Stream will show all three assignments. Your students, however, will only see the version assigned to them. 

The ability to quickly copy and modify documents and then assign different documents, videos, etc. to different students has been a game changer in my classes and all of us (even me!) are enjoying more success. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Insert Special Characters into a Google Doc

Here's a neat and relatively recent update to Google docs: Special Character Tool. No, using this tool won't make you or your students behave in a more principled and virtuous way, but it does allow you to insert many, many characters that are not found on the regular keyboard. And unlike regular images, these are always appropriately sized and will not create formatting horrors. I, of course, favor the emoji selection ✌.

Yes, I know this image is too big for the space 😉

In your document click insert then special characters and then choose your character from the various menus. That's it!

Have fun!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Let Me Just Remind You...

Can you relate to this?

If so, you might suffer from sticky-syndrome (a.k.a. my-post-it notes-are-out-of-control condition). Sticky notes are convenient, but they're unreliable. They loose their stick after a while and disappear, or worse, they fall to the floor so a helpful student can find them, pick them up, and remark loudly, "Looks like someone needs to buy toilet paper today!" I also hate how the edges curl up after a day or so and how the writing rubs off if I use pencil.

Thankfully (and thanks to Anna Amaral for the inspiration), there's a better way to remind yourself. It's called RemindMe and it will live right on your computer. And it will be just in your face enough to get your attention, but not so much that it causes a disruption. And it's awesome!

Here's how to get it and set it up:
RemindMe is a Windows app so you get it from the Windows app store.

You can get into the Windows app store several ways, depending on your computer (see the image above):
  1. Click on the start menu. That's the window icon at the very bottom left on your computer screen. Then, get to the S section and click on Store. If you don't see a list of apps appear, click on all apps first. -or-
  2. Click on the start menu (window icon at bottom left of your screen). You might have the Store icon hanging out with all the other app icons to the right. -or-
  3. You might have the Store icon pinned to your taskbar, which is the black strip that runs along the bottom of your computer screen. 
Once in the Store, search for RemindMe. It will pop up as RemindMe for Windows. 
This is the icon

Click the blue GET button and follow the install/download instructions. Once installed, start reminding yourself!

I attempted to make a gif of a notification. The sound didn't make it, but you get the idea. 

I hope you remember to try out RemindMe!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Jazz Up Those Slides

Have you noticed that the templates in Google Slides are pretty boring (or even "ugly" as one of our esteemed leaders has commented)? PowerPoint has a much better selection of templates, but let's face it, even those are getting pretty tired by now.

Here's the solution to the boring slide deck rut: SLIDE CARNIVAL!!

Simply find a template you want. Download it (or make a copy if using Google). Customize it. Then wait for your audience to be grateful they don't have to endure another boring looking presentation! 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Difference Between Google, Chrome, & Chrome Profiles

Do you ever find Google - the Googleverse, I mean - confusing? There's Google, Chrome, profiles, apps, themes, extensions, accounts, web store....Yikes! What is all this stuff?

Well, there's a lot to unpack when it comes to Google and it will take awhile to get to it all, but for starters....

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Find Your Stuff on Drive

If you're like me, you have at least a million files on your Google Drive...

...and a lot trouble finding the exact one you need because you can't remember where you put it exactly or what the file is named. Most of my stuff is organized into folders, which looks tidy, but doesn't help much when I KNOW I have that one file but DON'T REMEMBER what folder it's in. 

Here's an easy way to fix the issue: Type a keyword into the SEARCH box at the top of your Drive

Google will pull up all the files of any type that contain the keyword as a filename or even if the keyword is embedded inside a document, slide, or sheet. Google will also pull up files associated with the keyword so if your keyword is mountain, Google will also list images that contain mountains. 

For example, if I wanted to find a file that I know had to do with avatars, I could type the word avatar in the search box, hit ENTER, and all the files that contained that word somewhere would be listed. For example:

My avatar search resulted in lesson plans, an image, a slide deck, and several other things that have the word avatar in them. Very handy!

I learned this trick from a Teacher"s Tech video, which you can view here. FYI - this video  part of a longer video that discusses seven Drive tips so I have the link beginning in the middle of the video. 

Happy (and easy) searching!