Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Embed Your Calendar into Gmail

Like most of you, I pretty much live on my gmail while at work. That's why I love, love, love this little calendar gadget that gives me a three-day at-a-glance view. I don't always remember to open up calendar every day to see what's happening so having this little gadget has really saved me from missing events and meetings (and even personal appointments since I have my personal calendar integrated into my work calendar. Here's how to do that.

My gadget only shows a chronological list of events, but you can also display a mini-calendar at the top. I don't do that because I have a ton of labels so space is limited on my gmail sidebar. From the gadget, you can do a couple of things:
  • see event details by clicking on an event
  • open Google Calendar in a different window
  • choose which calendars you want to be visible 

Inserting the calendar gadget is super easy! Here's a video on how to do it. Or if you prefer to read instructions, here you go!

  1. From your gmail, click on the gear icon on the far right 
  2. Click on Settings
  3. Once in Settings, click on Labs 
  4. If you don't see Google Calendar Gadget listed, search for it in the search bar 
  5. Once the gadget pops up, click Enable
  6. Be sure to scroll down and SAVE CHANGES!!!! 
  7.  Close Settings by clicking on the inbox label (left menu)
  8. Scroll down to the bottom of that left menu, past all the labels, and click on the three little dots, which is your gadget icon 
  9. The calendar gadget will pop up right above
  10. Click on Options to customize your calendar
And it's just that easy! 
Be sure to let me know how this tech tip is working for you!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Make YouTube Videos Interactive!

Videos can be useful learning tools but sometimes I am not confident my students are really paying attention or picking up on the information I want them to learn. In the past, I've used post-vid or as-you-watch questionnaires to help direct my students' attention but I've recently tried out a different strategy: cards. They work so much better!

Cards are not really cards at all, but little popups in a video. There are a couple of different kinds and most seem to be geared toward getting viewers to go to a website or watch some other video. There is one kind of card, however, that we teachers can use - the poll card. You can use it to ask a multiple choice or true/false question like the ones pictured above.

You can set your cards to pop up at crucial points in a video so you can highlight content, or you can have them all visible for however long you need them.

Follow these steps to insert cards into a YouTube video:

First, create a YouTube channel if you don't already have one IT'S SUPER EASY!!!. Here's a blog post (text) on how to do it). Here's video on how to do it.

Now you need a video to work with. The video has to be uploaded onto your own YouTube channel. 

Do you have a video that you created or that already lives on your computer or Google Drive? Here's how to upload it to your YouTube channel.   


Do you want to use a video you found on YouTube? Here's how to download it so you can upload it to your channel. Once you've downloaded it to your computer, follow the directions above to upload it to YouTube. 

Finally, once you have your video uploaded to your YouTube channel, you can create polling cards. 

Here's how to insert cards into a video you already have uploaded to YouTube:

Here's how to view your poll card results:

Creating polling cards on a video seems like a lot of work, but once you are comfortable downloading/uploading videos to YouTube creating the cards is actually pretty quick and easy. Give it a try and remember - I'm here to help!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Students Show What They Know, Beautifully

I have to share this really wonderful tool my 3rd - 5th grade students have been using to create posters and infographics called  Canva. I just used it to create that cool image up there in less than 5 minutes! 

My students love the tons of free templates and graphical elements they can combine to create beautiful media. As a teacher, I love the cognitive challenge that comes with having to translate a message into a visual medium. Having to figure out an effective way to fit all one's talking points into a limited space really helps students nail down key ideas and show relationships between them. 

It's also been a great way for students to practice problem-solving and persistence because while Canva is not difficult to use, it is a graphic design tool, which is not something mosts kids have had to work with before. There was a fair amount of trail-and-error learning happening. 

Canva has templates for posters and infographics as well as (get ready): mindmaps, flyers, brochures, reports, book covers, magazines, 5 circle Venn diagrams, charts, letters, resumes, and , and , and. Really, there is just so much.

I also like it because you can use your Google account to sign up for Canva and then log in every time. No new username and password to remember! Here's how

Before you reach for that poster board or butcher paper, I encourage you to give Canva a try. I bet you'll find it worth the effort (minimal effort)!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Rainbow Connections

Want a fun way to get kids at any grade level to interact with text?

Using a Google Doc and a little rainbow magic add on called Magic Rainbow Unicorns (silly name, super tool) you and your students can easily create rainbow text. The short video below shows you exactly how to do it and explains what add ons are, in case you are wondering.

How could a first grader use this?
Project a Google doc with some kind of text on it onto the whiteboard and have kids rainbowify sight words they recognize. 

How could a third grader use this?
Have students rainbowify main ideas in a paragraph. You can project a doc or give each student their own copy of a doc through Classroom or through Make a Copy

How could a fifth grader use this?
Students can rainbowify opinion statements and leave fact statements black. 

How could you use rainbow text to engage your students?

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Letting Talkers Have Their Say with Flipgrid

Picture the students you work with. Do you have any that are good talkers? I know you do because I have those kids too and I can picture them pretty clearly! These kids just seem to be able to find the right words and string them together in a way that lets them articulate exactly what they are thinking.

Do you also have some who find writing or even typing challenging? Of course you do. I wonder how much these kids don't share because they find the written word so frustrating to deal with.

I'd like to tell you about a great tool that benefits both the great talkers and the reluctant writers...

Instead of having kids demonstrate comprehension or creativity in writing, why not let them do it using a skill we know they have mastered? In short, Flipgrid lets you record a question, talking point, or instructions and lets the students record their responses.

Here's a Flipgrid that I did last year with the Kinders using an iPad. I had one iPad set up in a quietish corner of my room and the kids who wanted to tell me about their favorite book orally instead of in writing came up one-by-one to create a response. They figured out how to do it without my help. 

Here's why I think you should give Flipgrid a try:
  • Works on Chromebook, laptop, PC, iPad, iPhone, and Android devices. I use my phone to record questions pretty often. 
  • Students can record responses very easily using their Chromebooks or on an iPad
  • Students do not have to create an account to create a response. They simply go to the website and enter the topic code. 
  • Flipgrid is free. You get one grid (which is something like a virtual classroom) but you have unlimed topics, which means you can create as many questions as you like.
  • Flipgrid is very intuitive and easy to use for both teachers and students
  • Flipgrid is a lot of fun for students, who enjoy the stickers in particular
  • You can create a Flipgrid topic and get it to your students in about 5 minutes
If you want to see how easy it is to get started with Flipgrid, watch this video by Jamie Keet of Teacher's Tech.

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.