Friday, December 18, 2015

Google Gifts: Using Your Mobile Camera within Google Apps

Today, we "wrap up" our Google Gifts series.  We began our series with a post about images, so we will come full circle as we head out for Winter Break.  Today, we're sharing about using your mobile device camera within Google Apps.

If you have a mobile phone or a tablet, we'd highly recommend that you download the mobile versions of Google Apps.  If you have an Android device, they are installed already as part of the Android OS.  If you have an iOS device, you can install Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides (these are all separate installs).  In addition, we'd recommend installing the Google Photos app.  Once you have the apps installed, you can take advantage of using the camera in your mobile device.
Google Drive App Options (iOS)

Why would I use it?  What does it do?
One of the amazing things about using Google Drive as part of an EDU domain is that we have unlimited storage. File size is always a consideration when thinking about using images & video for teaching and learning, and Google Drive provides a good spot to store your media files and do the following:
  1. Use the Upload option in the Google Drive app to put videos or images from your camera roll or photos into a folder in Google Drive.  If you already have an existing folder where you'd like them to land, choose that before uploading the files.  Or, upload them to Google Drive and move them after the fact.
  2. Select Use Camera so that you can record video directly into Google Drive as an .mp4.  This is a great option if you'd like to capture video but don't necessarily want it to be hosted on YouTube or another video site.  The video files can be shared in the same way that other files are shared in Google Drive.  (You can do the same with photos: take them on the fly and save them into Google Drive).
  3. Use the Insert option (represented by the + icon) when in Google Slides to add images directly from your mobile device. This would come in handy if you wanted to create a slideshow of student work or add photos from something like a field trip to share with a wider audience (like parents).  You can also add images into Google Docs using the same icon.
  4. Use the Google Photos app to automatically (or manually) back-up any images on your mobile device to Google Drive.  This is a great option when traveling so that you can store your images online (be careful about your data plan if you're not on wifi).  And, because you can now share photo albums, you can collect images from multiple people in one place (kind of like ShutterFly).  This would work well for things like field trips or times when you'd like students to share images in a shared album for later use. 
Where can I learn more?
Like other aspects of Google, their mobile apps are constantly being updated and enhanced.  The best source of information for mobile apps updates is the Google Help Center for iOS or Android or the Google Apps Updates Blog.  If you are a freqent Google Apps user, you can subscribe to emailed alerts from their blog.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Google Gifts: PDF Options in Google Drive

During the weekdays of December, we're sharing one tool per day.  We're calling it our Google Gifts series.  Some of these come directly from Google, and others are tools that enhance Google Apps or Chrome.  Today, we're sharing PDF options inside of Google Drive.

One of the most common file types in terms of web access is the PDF.  The benefit of the PDF is that it isn't easy to modify.  The downside of the PDF is that it isn't easy to modify. :-) However, if you have some PDFs that you want to use with students, you do have some options.  Be careful, though, as many PDFs are bound by copyright and can't be modified or shared.  Check the copyright before working with or sharing PDFs.

Why would I use it?  What does it do?
Depending on how the PDF was created, Google Drive provides some ways to work with PDFs.  Here are some ideas for using PDFs within Google Drive.
  1. Upload & store PDFs in GoogleDrive so you can share them.  Like any other file in Google Drive, you can use the "Share" icon or button to provide access to someone else.  This doesn't mean that the PDF is collaborative like native Google files, but they are accessible.
  2. Embed a PDF in a website or Learning Management System (LMS).  When you use the "pop-out" icon in Preview mode, you'll see the option to "embed."  This will give you the code you need to embed the PDF somewhere else.  If you've got a sharable article that you want students to refer to when responding to several questions, embedding the PDF can be a handy way to provide them with the text.  The directions below are about embedding into Schoology, but you can paste the code anywhere that accepts HMTL:
  3. Convert a PDF in Google Docs so that you can make changes.  There are software programs that may provide this functionality (like Adobe Acrobat Pro), but if you upload a PDF into Google Drive, you can choose "open with" and select Google Docs from the list.  It will extract the text for you and will also give you a picture of the original page(s) so that you can reformat, if necessary.  Caveat: depending on the complexity of the file, it may take quite a bit of editing.  This is especially true with mathematical formulas, images, and tables.
  4. Use a Chrome extension like Kami (formally known as Notable PDF) to annotate a PDF. If you want to highlight text, add sticky notes, and edit, you can use the free extension to work with a PDF. One of the coolest things about Kami is that you can collaborate with others on an article (and those annotating don't necessarily need a login to interact with the file). Not only can you open PDFs stored in Google Drive, but you can save them back to Google Drive.
  5. Use the "download as" option for Google files to save them as PDFs.  You can also use the print dialog inside of Chrome to save something as a PDF (and save to Google Drive).
Where can I learn more?
If you need information on Kami, you can check their website to learn more.  In addition, you can find more information about the extension in the Chrome webstore.  

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Google Gifts: Writing Feedback with the JoeZoo Express Add-on for Google Docs

During the weekdays of December, we're sharing one tool per day.  We're calling it our Google Gifts series.  Some of these come directly from Google, and others are tools that enhance Google Apps or Chrome.  

Previously this week, we shared Google Classroom and Grammarly.  Today, we're sharing JoeZoo Express, an add-on that helps provide writing feedback and rubrics within Google Docs.

As an add-on, this is something you would install inside of a Google Doc.  Once installed, though, it will be available for other docs in Google.  There are other add-ons that provide enhanced commenting features (Kaizena) or rubric-building (Orange Slice), but what sets JoeZoo apart is that it doesn't require the student to install the add-on, it has 88 pre-loaded comments for common areas of writing feedback, it color-codes the feedback into 5 major categories (formatting, grammar, mechanics, punctuation, and structure), and has a rubric tool built in.

Why would I use it?  What does it do?
According to John Hattie in Visible Learning, �� when feedback is combined with a correctional review, feedback and instruction become intertwined until �the process itself takes on the forms of new instruction, rather than informing the student solely about correctness.� � (p. 174)  So, it's important to think not only about providing feedback but making it "visible" and meaningful to the learner.   Here is a brief overview of the 3 main areas within JoeZoo Express:

This is a relatively new add-on which will likely have significant improvements in the coming months.  Its strength is in helping provide customizable, color-coded and preloaded comments for frequently used feedback sets.  However, the rubrics in Schoology are much more flexible, sharable, can be used on mobile devices, and track student performance over time (which is visible to both students & parents).  We'd recommend using JoeZoo during the writing process and using Schoology for rubric grading.

Where can I learn more?
JoeZoo's website has video tutorials to help teachers learn how to install the add-on, add feedback, and build rubrics.  If this is a tool that you think you will use, they also have an option to receive an email when new updates are added.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Google Gifts: Google Classroom

During the weekdays of December, we're sharing one tool per day.  We're calling it our Google Gifts series.  Some of these come directly from Google, and others are tools that enhance Google Apps or Chrome.  Today, we're sharing the gift of: Google Classroom.

While Schoology is CCSD's learning management system, Google Classroom is the document management system that you've been looking for.  Google Classroom can be accessed via their website, Chrome extension (which includes easy access to the website and more) or their Chrome app.  Google Classroom is a Google product so it functions best using the Chrome browser.

Why would I use Google Classroom?  What does it do?

Google Classroom a rare tool which our team can "advertise" by highlighting some of the challenges which emerge when teachers use Google Documents in a classroom setting.  The days of getting large amounts of emails when kids share a document with you, students not naming the document they share with you correctly, students not giving you the rights you need within a document, and the organizational "chaos" which can occur in a teacher's Google Drive are over.  Google Classroom addresses all these things and much more.

As far as the basics and what it does, our team has written pretty extensively about Google Classroom's features in the past.  Please refer to posts on our blog herehere, and here.

As with everything Google, there are ongoing updates to this tool.  Some new features, which came along with the release of their Chrome Extension, included the ability for a teacher to quickly and easily push a website to their students (even when the students aren't on the Google Classroom site.)  Another fairly recent update included the opportunity to add a co-teacher to a course as well as the chance to host a classroom discussion within Google Classroom.  We're not exactly sure what's coming in the future for Google Classroom, but we do know it is going to continue to get better and better (when it's already great!)

Many educational websites are making Google Classroom integration simpler by adding an easy to use "Share on Classroom" button/function.  Definitely keep an eye out for this.  Sites like Quizlet (example shown below), PBS, American Museum of Natural History, Discovery Education, Duolingo, TIME Edge, and Zaption already have this feature available with many more to come.

Google Classroom is only available in educational domains and is currently accessible to all CCSD teachers and students.  Several hundred K-12 teachers in CCSD are already using it and the overwhelmingly positive feedback our team consistently receives about Google Classroom speaks for itself.

Where can I learn more?

With four million plus users of the Share to Classroom Google Classroom Extension and over ten million teachers and students already using Google Classroom throughout the world, resources and tutorials are fairly easy to find.  Here's a list to at least get you started.

EdTech advocate, Alice Keeler, shares about Google Classroom extensively.  Follow her on Twitter here and read her Google Classroom blog posts here.

Google Classroom's review page on (including a review by yours truly)

If you would like some support getting started with Google Classroom please be in touch with your building's district instructional technology coaches via our request form.  We would be happy to help you and your kids begin leveraging this powerful Google (classroom) tool.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Google Gifts: Grammarly

During the weekdays of December, we're sharing one tool per day.  We're calling it our Google Gifts series.  Some of these come directly from Google, and others are tools that enhance Google Apps or Chrome.  Today, we're sharing the gift of Grammarly.

Description:  What is it?

Grammarly is both a Google extension and a website.   You can add Grammarly from the Chrome Web Store.  Once added, you can use Grammarly to check your grammar and usage within any dialogue box, on any browser or Microsoft Office.  Grammarly works in emails, documents, social media posts and messages.  You can also create a Grammarly account, where you draft text within the site.  For me, the real power of this tool comes from its ability to check my grammar, spelling, and usage in my everyday online typing (e.g.: forms, dialogue boxes, emails).  Grammarly is free for use.  There is a paid version that checks for over 250 types of grammatical errors, provides vocabulary enhancements, detects plagiarism, and provides citation suggestions.
Why would I use it?  What does it do?

Grammarly, in no way, replaces good grammar instruction in the context of written assignments. Instead, it offers a great resource for students and professionals because of its instant feedback and accuracy.  Whether you are writing a dissertation, or an email to a colleague, Grammarly improves communication by helping users find and correct writing mistakes.

With so much communication happening digitally, both students and teachers need to be able to communicate effectively both inside and outside of the classroom.  Grammarly helps students do this efficiently and effectively. Teachers should always be promoting digital citizenship and responsibility. This includes using correct grammar and sentence structure when communicating with others. Grammarly is both a teacher and student tool.  Personally, I�ve been using it for all my online, digital writing.  In fact, I used the website  to compose this blog post (ISTE-T.4, "Promote and model digital citizenship and responsibility"; ISTE-S.2, "Communication and collaboration)

Student privacy is of utmost importance, so it is important to note that Grammarly is COPPA compliant, and does not collect personal information from anyone unless you set up an account. Students do not need to set up an account in order to begin using Grammarly.  Teachers can have the Grammarly extension available to students, and it is ready to use.  If you do create an account, Grammarly does collect your username, email address, and contact preferences.  


Where can I learn more?

Friday, December 11, 2015

Google Gifts: OpenClipArt Add-on for Google Docs

During the weekdays of December, we're sharing one tool per day.  We're calling it our Google Gifts series.  Some of these come directly from Google, and others are tools that enhance Google Apps or Chrome.  Today, we're sharing the OpenClipArt add-on for Google Docs.

As an add-on for Google Docs, this is something you can install to add functionality into documents (see Google's help page if you're not sure what an add-on is).  Once you add it into one document, it will be available for others by using the "Add-ons" menu while in a Google Doc.

Why would I use it?  What does it do?
We posted earlier about using images for learning and how you can use the "Insert" menu to add images into a document.   

Another option (helpful if you are just looking for clip art) is to use this add-on, which works similarly to the Research Tool (see the previous blog post for more information).  When you use this add-on, it opens a window on the right side of your window where you can search for clipart by keyword. 

Like the Research Tool, any image that you want to use can be dragged into your document.  Once there, you can resize it as you would any other inserted object.  And, because these come from Openclipart, you don't need to worry about usage rights and copyright.  Currently, there are 50,000 images from which to choose.

Where can I learn more?
You can find this add-on in the Chrome web store, but, it's pretty simple and intuitive.  And it might be a good solution for kid-friendly images that can be easily inserted into a document.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Google Gifts: Horizontal Navigation Templates in Google Slides

During the weekdays of December, we're sharing one tool per day.  We're calling it our Google Gifts series.  Some of these come directly from Google, and others are tools that enhance Google Apps or Chrome.  

Shared Templates in Google Drive
Today we�re re-sharing (and re-gifting) multiple tabbed templates in Google Slides.

When we originally shared multiple tabbed Google Slide templates (or multiple source templates), it was within the context of providing a structure for students to have multiple sources of information to synthesize into a written response (kind of like the types of questions they would see on PARCC and are part of our literacy standards).  So, a teacher could have 1 slide with a video, 1 slide with text, and 1 slide with a map (for example) to provide a rich set of resources.   Because these are built in Google Slides, these could be embedded into just about anything, including our Learning Management System, Schoology.

The real gift of the tabbed templates, though, is that they provide horizontal navigation. And one of the reasons we are re-gifting them to you is that they have now been updated and color-coded (different color choices are available), which makes them visually appealing as well as helping a reader or viewer access content.

In addition to using them for multiple source synthesis questions, here are 5 other ways to use these �gift-ed� templates for teaching & learning (notice the top navigation!):

The templates provided in this shared folder all have the word �Tab� in the tabs; however, if you would like to modify the template, you can change it to something else. Be careful not to delete the text box when you change it -- it is linked to certain slides and deleting the text box will �break� the navigation. In addition, remember to change the text tabs for all slides so they all look the same.

If you will be using modified templates with students, it might be a good idea to either �force a copy� via shared link (see information in our previous blog post) or use Google Classroom to push them out to students. This will keep the navigation links intact and provide them with the structure you�d like them to use.

The flexibility and visual appeal of these layouts make them a great instructional gift! Happy tabbing!

Special thanks to Amber Paynter, who created & designed the templates that we�re sharing with you.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Google Gifts: Google Maps

During the weekdays of December, we're sharing one tool per day. We're calling it our Google Gifts series.  Some of these come directly from Google, and others are tools that enhance Google Apps or Chrome.  Today, we're sharing the gift of Google Maps.

Description:  What is it?
Cover artI�d like to admit something to you all: My name is Adrian Neibauer and I have a horrible sense of direction.  I�ve been lost so many times, that even my own children don�t trust me to drive them anywhere.  �Dad, are you sure you know where you�re going? Did you check with Mom first?�  Luckily, Google Maps gives me the ability to function in society, so that I am not lost wandering in a forest somewhere.  Google Maps is exactly what it says: a Google mapping service that offers satellite imagery, street maps, 360panoramic views of streets (Street View), real-time traffic conditions (Google Traffic), and route planning for traveling by foot, car, bicycles, and public transportation.

Why would I use it?  What does it do?
Most people use Google Maps for getting them from Point A to Point B.  However, Google Maps offers some really great features, such as creating a custom �My Map� with locations of interest.  People can also embed multiple layers onto a custom map, enabling them to see various items.  Although Google Maps is mainly used for navigation, few people understand the powerful potential of using Google Maps in the classroom.

Students : Creativity and Innovation
Teachers : Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity Teachers : Model Digital Age Work and Learning
Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility

Google Maps is both a teacher and student tool.  Teachers can create custom historical maps. Students can use Google Maps to measure distances, perimeter and area.  Teachers and students will need to make sure they are logged in using their Google/CCSD credentials, such as:

Once created, custom Google maps can be shared like any Google app creation (e.g.: Docs, Slides, Forms, Drawings).  

For example, James Sanders from Classroom in the Future and Breakout EDU recently presented at The Colorado Summit featuring Google for Education.  As part of his fantastic presentation �How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse with Google.�  Our particular team went for a yoga theme.  It was great fun creating multiple layers such as (1) Zombie infested area; (2) Yoga studio locations as safe havens; and (3) Yoga supplies to defeat the zombies.  Check out our final map here: A Yogi�s Guide to Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse.

Where can I learn more?
If you want specific step-by-step directions on how to create a custom map, with multiple layers, visit this Google Maps Tutorial.  

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Google Gift: Flippity Random Name Picker

During the weekdays of December, we're sharing one tool per day.  We're calling it our Google Gifts series.  Some of these come directly from Google, and others are tools that enhance Google Apps or Chrome.  Today, we're sharing Flippity: Random Name Picker.
Teachers, get your bookmarks ready because you are going to want to use this site often!  It is truly a gift for every teacher at every level.

Instructional methods regarding grouping changes based off of the best delivery method for a particular lesson.  Teachers consider instructional strategies such as whole group, teams, groups, pairs, and individual work. Flexible grouping supports differentiated instruction by allowing students to collaborate with classmates based off of readiness, interests, learning patterns or simply being selected at random.  Flippity is the perfect site for quickly grouping students randomly.  Seriously, I am Flipping Out over Flippity! You are also able to use Flippity as a random name picker. #NoMorePopsicleSticks

Here is a Flippity sample of groups made up of 4:

How to Use Flippity in Four Steps: The directions can be found on Flippity: Random Name Picker as well

Step 1: Modify the Google Spreadsheet Template
  • Make a copy of this template. (You'll need to sign-in with your Google account.)
  • Edit the names to match your class.  Side note: you can always add more names
  • Rename your Google Spreadsheet
Step 2: Publish Your Spreadsheet
  • Go to File, Publish to the Web�, then click the Publish button.
  • Copy the link under the Link tab.
Step 3: Get Your Link
  • Click on the Get the Link Here tab of the template (at the bottom near #1)
  • Paste the link in the light green cell (A3- #2) to get the link to your Flippity Random Name Picker (#3)
Link.pngStep 4: Click, Bookmark and Share
  • Click on the link to pick a random name, lineup, group, team, or seating arrangement.
  • Bookmark the page to find it again quickly.
    • Add a bookmark for each class
    • You can add names to your Google Spreadsheet any time and it will automatically update your class list on Flippity! Woo-Hoo!
Check out this lineup below. It is a random list of students, but the view provides students a heads up of the order. To check out other views click here.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Google Gifts: Google Templates

During the weekdays of December, we're sharing one tool per day.  We're calling it our Google Gifts series.  Some of these come directly from Google, and others are tools that enhance Google Apps or Chrome.  Today, we're sharing Google templates.

Viewing Templates Others Have Shared

Sample Jeopardy templates in the public gallery
When creating documents or presentations, you may want to see if someone else has already created something that you can adapt and use.  A good place to search is the Google templates public gallery.  If you are a Google Apps user, you may have one specifically for your domain (CCSD folks can access ours here).  

The easiest way to get there is to use a direct link provided above (although you can also connect a "Template Gallery" app in Google Drive or use the File -> New -> From Template option within a Google file).

Some that you might find useful are:

Sharing Templates That You've Created

If you want to "gift" something that you have created (ISTE-T.2, "Design and Develop Digital Age Learning Experiences & Assessments"), currently you can submit it to the template gallery, or you can share by using the shared link ("anyone with the link" or "publicly available on the web").  The slick trick for this to change the end of the URL so it will force a copy.  That means the person won't have to go through the step of "Make a Copy."  

How do you force a copy?  Change the URL by replacing "edit" and anything after it with "copy":

Original shared URL:

Forced Copy URL:

Want to see it in action?  Use the links above (KWL template for Google Apps for Ed PD).

Where can I learn more?

Google has recently added some new templates for Google Apps, which isn't the same thing as public template galleries.  For more information, see their support article:

Friday, December 4, 2015

Google Gifts: Research Tool in Google Docs, Drawings, & Slides

During the weekdays of December, we're sharing one tool per day.  We're calling it our Google Gifts series.  Some of these come directly from Google, and others are tools that enhance Google Apps or Chrome.  Today, we're sharing the Research Tool that you can find inside of Google Docs, Google Drawings, and Google Slides.

The Research Tool is one of your options when you use the "Tools" pull-down in Docs, Drawings, and Slides.  Once selected, it opens a window on the right side with different research options.  If you have a word highlighted or have your cursor in a word, it automatically enters that as your search term.

Why would I use it?  What does it do?

Research & information fluency is not only one of our ISTE standards (ISTE-S.3), but it's addressed in Common Core as well (CCRA.W.8).   For students, having external information (or images) that can be pulled into a document from within the document can be a time-saver. For sources, you can specify which citation format you want to use (MLA, APA, or Chicago), and it will insert it for you.   

Instructionally, this won't replace an online database for formal research, but if you want students to reinforce their ideas with images, incorporate famous quotations, and/or if you would like them to start learning about citations, this could be a good entry point.  

Google Search
Image Search
Quotes Search

When doing an image search, you can limit your results to only display those that are free to use.  You can then just drag the picture you like into your document.

Where can I learn more?

Google has a support article on using the Research tool.  And, in addition to finding this option on the web version of Google Docs, Android users can use this on their mobile devices.

CCSD Bright Spot: 5th Graders Create YouTube Style How-To Videos Using WeVideo

When Technology Teacher Jen Sevy from Fox Hollow Elementary kept hearing her 5th grade students explain how they learned to do things they...