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

Monday, May 1, 2017

Why Do I Care if my Online Activity is Tracked?

This month, the 5th graders are learning how to craft a safe online identity and be a great digital citizen. In the process we have come across several videos that explain just how our online activity is tracked, collected, and brokered. I want to share with you one particular video (2.29 minutes) because it does a great job answering a question many of us raise ....


Video: Digital Trail Animation by Common Sense Media

In class we talked about the  pros and cons of a tailored web experience and agreed that it is nice to not be peppered with ads for Pampers, but the info bubble it creates certainly makes it difficult to cultivate a broad perspective. 

What do you think?

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Let me introduce you to my new best friend...Google Drawings!

I've been in love with Google Drawings lately because it's such a versatile tool. It's also easy to use since is has the same tool bar as Docs and Slides.  It actually lives alongside all the other Google apps we use all the time like Docs in Google Drive.

Here's why I think you should jump on my Drawings bandwagon:
  • Drawings is actually a PUBLISHING TOOL, which means you can create flyers, brochures, infographics, postcards - just about anything with it. Size-wise it is completely customizable. 
  • Drawings is also an IMAGE EDITING TOOL (like a low-end Photoshop). Upload your pic and then crop, recolor, add overlays, add text, shapes...You can actually do some pretty sophisticated stuff and there are plenty of videos out there to help you figure it out. 
  • Drawings is also a DIAGRAMMING/GRAPHIC ORGANIZER TOOL that can be used to create visual representations of more-abstract concepts such as life-cycles, fractions, and travel over distances. I had third graders create concept maps about people they interviewed. 
  • Drawing offers a way for students to create VISUAL ANSWERS on assessments, even when using a Google Forms assessment. Here's how to do that.
Take 10 minutes to check out this Google Drawings 101 video and see if you don't think Drawings is the best thing since April vacation as well. 

Here are some examples of what other's have done in Drawings. How do you see yourself using Drawings in the classroom?

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