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!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Google Apps Training Customized for YOU

The end of the school year is quickly approaching, which means you will finally have time to really learn how to use some of those Google apps everyone is always raving about.

Stop laughing.

Seriously, summer is a great time to get down some of those skills, such as using Google Classroom or interactive Google maps, that will make you feel more confident and inspired as an educator in today's digital world.

The best part is, YOU CHOOSE what you want to learn and when you want to learn it....for FREE! Here's the deal:

Google for Education offers free online training. It's very well organized, very thorough, very customizable to meet your specific needs. You can go for a certification, but you don't have to. There are two levels of training: Fundamentals and Advanced.

Each level is broken down into units that cover a host of skills and some light online pedagogy.  In each unit you are told exactly

  • what you will learn,
  • the Google products involved, 
  • what skills you will need. Here the training links to resources to help you learn the skill if you need it. For example, if you need to know how to use filters on a Google search, you will be linked to articles or videos showing you how to do that. 
There are plenty of knowledge checks to help you know whether or not you are getting it. 

Some of the things you can learn:
  • What apps (products) are available in G Suite for Education, which is the collection of apps Google puts together for schools 
  • How to use all of the apps
  • How to choose the right app for you objective and your available resources
  • Where to find other how-to and inspiration resources 
You'll also probably get pretty excited about all the cool things you can do, especially with your students!

Click on the image to go to the Google Training Center and get started

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Organizing Gmail Using Labels

Is your inbox out of control? Do you need a  refresher course in math in order to read that number in parentheses next to your inbox? Or, would you just appreciate an easy way to declutter and organize your Gmail? Yes? This post is just for you, friend.

No one has time for lengthy how-to vids or blog posts so I broke the process of organizing your inbox down into two parts. Part 1 is a 4.26 minute video that explains what labels are and why they are awesome. Part 2 is a 4.0 video demonstrating how to actually use labels.

Part I: What are Gmail Labels and Why Use Them?

Here is the transcript of the Part I video if you prefer to read it. 

Part II: How to Actually Use Labels in Gmail