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?

Image result for google drawings   Image result for google drawings   Image result for google drawings

Image result for google drawings    Image result for google drawings

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

3 Great Tools that Make Writing Fun

Here are three (free) writing tools that are proven winners with the Kinder - Grade 5 crowd. I like how these tools ignite creativity in even reluctant writers, can be used to reinforce learning in any subject, and how they allow for several different publishing options such as printing or getting a link.

Writing Digitally by Jennifer Rowe BBRSD  

StoryMaker on ABCYA.com is the free form option that lets younger students create a picture and then write about it using a lined paper template to reinforce those early writing skills. Kids can either print or save their creations. Potential use: Have kids describe the science or math lesson they just had. 

Mystorymaker from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh guides kids through the process of creating a short story while also letting them act out the story using characters, actions, moods, settings, and objects. Stories can be saved and accessed via a link. Potential use: Have kids reenact an event they just learned about in history or social studies. 

Storybird uses beautiful artwork to inspire creative writing in the form of poetry, long stories, or picture books with captions. Sign in is required but students can use their Google accounts so the process is simple and because Storybird is an educational tool, student won't be spammed later with promotional emails. Potential use: Have kids keep a weekly journal using the chapter book format. Kids can select images that match their emotional profile for the week  and write about it (good way to reinforce social/ behavioral awareness too!). 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Get to Your Google Apps From Anywhere

Sometimes when I am forced to use a foreign computer I have trouble getting to my trusty Google apps like Gmail or Drive because I can't find the apps launcher or any bookmarks. This can happen if I am using a browser like Firefox or Safari. It can also happen if I am on someone else's Chrome profile  that has a fancy theme. Sooo irritating! 

If you ever find yourself in this unhappy situation, here's a way out: use Google's back door. 

Simply type the name of the app you want, like mail, into the url address bar followed by dot google dot com. Like this: mail.google.com.  This will take you right to your app although you might have to sign into Google first. It works will all of Google's apps, too. 

Sometimes, it's helpful to see a video demonstration. 

Do you know of any other way to access Google apps?

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Paper Keyboarding for Littles

This post was inspired by first grade teacher, Amy Gaucher, who  saw something similar on Teachers Pay Teachers. Thanks for sharing, Amy!

Download your own blank paper keyboard here.

Spelling by Jennifer Rowe BBRSD