Monday, July 13, 2015

I'm back!!!!

The end of the school year is such a busy time for schools, especially a one-person tech department for 1000 students!  I've missed so many of my Twitter chats and I'm definitely late in updating my blog.  So, I'm going to try and be better about blogging and sharing my ideas and ideas that I've learned from others.

Today, I attended #edcampLDR in Columbus, OH.  I've written about other edcamps I've participated in, but this one was different.  EdcampLDR was for school leaders - from teacher leaders all the way to superintendents.  It was another opportunity to connect with other Tech Directors and school leaders from not only Ohio, but West Virginia as well.  The Columbus edcamp was one of 15 edcampLDR unconferences going on concurrently around the country.  By following the #edcampLDR tag on Twitter, not only could I share things that I learned today, but also learned from others shared as well.  

Here are some of my takeaways from today's event.....

  1. Teachers need to be not only innovators of learning; but facilitators of student innovation as well.
  2. Questions are more important than the answers.
  3. We, as teachers and school leaders, need to tear down the cultural divides that get in the way of collaboration among education stakeholders.
  4. Building our brand is important.  Learn how to market your yourself to stand out in a crowd of candidates.
  5. PD at school should be done "edcamp" style.  Teachers will have increased buy-in and learn more if they can drive the learning.  Not everyone needs the same PD.
  6. Collaborating with your PLN is amazing!  You can share a link on Twitter asking for suggestions and get 7 pages of responses!!!  I asked for Chrome Apps and Extensions to use and here's what we got!
  7. We can learn more together than we can alone!

Want to find out more about what happened at #edcampldr today, check out the link to the archive below!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

My Thoughts about Google's Education on Air Conference

This past weekend, I was honored to participate in Google's 2nd Education on Air Conference.  I will tell you that I have never met a more amazing and passionate group of educators as I did here.  For those of you that were not able to participate, don't worry.... you still can.

Friday's keynotes were amazing.  I was most inspired by Bethany Wenger.  Bethany was the winner of the 2012 Google Science Fair.  As a breast cancer survivor, I was eager to hear how she created a cloud-based neural network to accurately assess breast cancer from fine needle aspirate samples.  The program she created when she was 17 years old correctly diagnosed 94% of cancer cases and correctly identified 99% of the cancerous cases.  (Fox News)  I was overwhelmed by the accomplishments of this young lady.

I was also inspired by Richard Curtis.  Richard, along with UNICEF, has started a movement to create the "World's Largest Lesson".  In September of 2015, the United Nations will announce the "Sustainable Development Goals".  These global goals will help drive change by providing a framework of targets to guide policy.  There are seven themes that the seventeen goals are a part of.  Richard's goal is to have teachers all over the world create lessons to introduce the Global Goals in their classrooms the week of September 27th.  Can you imagine teachers worldwide all working together to teach these goals to their students to help eradicate extreme poverty and more?

Day 2 of the online conference consisted of the individual sessions, presented by over 100 educators, administrators, IT staff, and more.  Sessions were available in four strands - Educators, Administrators, IT, and Anyone.  Sessions for educators ranged from Flipping your Classroom, Using Google Forms for Assessment, Intro to Google Classroom and other topics like Ditching your Textbooks, Using QR codes and many more topics.  I presented Building your Personal Learning Network (PLN).  There were so many good sessions that there was no way I could watch them all.  Luckily, Google has archived all of them on the conference website -  If the speaker posted resources, they are available there as well.

I met so many amazing people online during this conference.  Many of them connected with myself (and others!) on Twitter or Google+ afterwards.  The hashtag #GoogleEduOnAir was one of the top trending hashtags all weekend!   Folks from all over the world viewed these sessions and interacted with the presenters via the online Q & A sessions.  It's great to know that learning continues on outside the original event.  Some teachers have shared with me that what they learned this weekend was going to change the way they taught in their classroom.  Teachers were so inspired by what they learned and so was I.

If you didn't get a chance to watch the live event, I challenge you to visit the website and view some of these sessions.  As teachers, it is important that we never stop learning.  We need to meet our students where they are at - not only socially, emotionally, and intellectually, but also technologically!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Digital Citizenship

Digital Citizenship is such an important topic when working with students.  Too many times, we hear heart-breaking stories on the news: how a child was abducted by someone they met online, a suicide that was caused by cyberbullying, and more.  Our students do not realize that what they do and say online can haunt them forever.  It is our responsibility as educators and technical staff to teach our students how to protect themselves online.  Fortunately, there is a tremendous amount of quality resources online to help us.

There are nine elements or themes of Digital Citizenship.  Each one is as important as the other and need to be addressed in our schools.  They are:

  1. Digital Access - full electronic participation in society
  2. Digital Commerce - electronic buying and selling of goods
  3. Digital Communications - electronic exchange of information
  4. Digital Literacy - process of teaching and learning about technology and the use of technology
  5. Digital Etiquette - electronic standards of conduct or procedure
  6. Digital Law - electronic responsibility for actions and deeds
  7. Digital Rights and Responsibilities - those freedoms extended to everyone in a digital world
  8. Digital Health and Wellness - physical and psychological well-being in a digital technology world
  9. Digital Security - electronic precautions to guarantee safety

Common Sense Media's mission is "dedicated to helping kids thrive in a world of media and technology."  They provide quality resources for both parents and school for educating students of all ages.  This is a free resource for teachers. On their website, there is a gadget that you can use to explore appropriate movies, games, tv shows, books, apps, websites and music by age level.   They also have their "Top Pics" for each of these forms of electronic media.  For parents, they help provide answers to questions about social media, cybersafety, privacy and internet safety and more.  For educators, they have developed curriculum to help teach online safety to children of all ages in a safe, but informational way.  You can even become a Common Sense Certified Educator.

They have also developed a platform called Graphite that helps educators "discover the best apps, games, and websites for classroom use."  I particularly like that you can search their Common Core Explorer by CCSS (currently only Math and Language Arts, Science coming soon!) for all grade levels for appropriate electronic resources that align to the standard(s) you are working on. They have Lesson Flows which are lesson plans with age-appropriate apps tied into the lesson.

i-SAFE was established as a non-profit Internet safety organization since 1998.  According to their website, they have "developed one of the most extensive e-Safety education curriculum libraries in the world."  I have previously used their curriculum in the past and found it to be very complete and thorough.  They have a new version of their curriculum which is web-based.  I've not found it as easy to use or to preview.  They have been very big on student involvement via assemblies and campaigns.  I've found their videos to be current and well made.  This program is not free, unlike Common Sense Media,

TeachInCtrl is a series of free standards-based lessons that were originally developed by Cable in the Classroom.  These lessons cover key digital citizenship concepts for students in grades 4-8.  These lessons involve inquiry-based activities and opportunities to collaborate with others.  Lessons include Communication & Collaboration, Digital Citizenship, Privacy, Media Literacy, Cyberbullying, Ethics/Copyright and Information Literacy.  There are also subject-specific ideas on how to integrate digital citizenship topics in to your classroom.  Lesson materials are provided for teachers.  

Even our friends at Google have a series of lessons for teachers on how to strengthen digital literacy skills in their classroom.  They offer an Introduction and a Basics module to help teachers understand how to address Digital Citizenship in class.  I have found Google's trainings on other topics to be very good.  I think that it is important to note that Google feels that it is important for those working on their Google certifications to be exposed to this as well.

Twitter chats are one of my favorite forms of professional development for teachers.  One of the most popular chats is #digcit.  This chat takes place every 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of the month at 7pm eastern.  Archives of the chat as well as resources for addressing Digital Citzenship in your classroom can be found there.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Little known apps available from Google

Google has a lot of great features that are hidden deep within their website.  They are more than just a search engine.  Most people know that Google provides free productivity tools (Google Apps) for schools and free email (Gmail) for everyone.  Did you know you know that you can use Google to create a digital sign or build an online course? This week's blog takes a look at some of these features.  

Chrome Sign Builder

You can use a Chromebox or other Chrome Device to create digital signage for your school.  Typically, schools would purchase expensive software or hardware to create displays near the school entrance, menus for the cafeteria, or announcement boards in a common space.  Chrome Sign Builder is a free app from Google that lets you do this for free!  You can schedule different messages to appear at specified times throughout the day.  For example, during the day important student information can rotate through on the digital displays in the common area.  However, that evening there is an Open House.  You can program the application to automatically display a Welcome message for parents and the Open House schedule to those monitors at 5:30pm.  Chrome Sign Builder displays Google Slide presentations, YouTube videos, and other web content.   You can get this app from the Chrome Web Store.

Google Cultural Institute

The Google Cultural Institute allows the world's culture to be accessible to everyone, everywhere.  There are three main projects:  Art Project, Historic Moments, and World Wonders.  These are virtual collections and exhibits from museums and archives from all over the world.  There are previously created galleries or you can create your own.  According to Google, the Cultural Institute is "an effort to make important cultural material accessible and available to everyone and to digitally preserve it to educate and inspire future generation".  Google has Teacher's Guides available for the World Wonders Project on how to use and incorporate it in the classroom.

Google Story Builder

This is a great tool to use with your students to develop their writing skills.   No Google account is needed (great for younger students) and it is easy for students to work their way through the steps of creating a story.  You start by creating your characters and then enter the "text" or storyline/conversation.  This is great for collaborative writing projects.  Once the story is written, students can then add music and create a video link to share their story with others.  There are also the Master's Edition which allows you to collaborate with famous authors.  Watch Google + for live collaboration opportunities with others as well!

Google Sky

Google Sky is part of the Google Earth project.  Google Sky allows you to explore the universe.  These images have been gathered from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, Digital Sky Survey, and the Hubble Space Telescope.  You can explore constellations, planets, and other galaxies.  Just type in what you want to look at and Google Sky will take you there.  There are explorations of the Moon and Mars available as well.

Google Course Builder

Google is a strong supporter of open, online education.  They have created an online toolkit to create your Massive Open Online Course or MOOC.  This is not for the faint of heart.  This takes a lot of planning and work to create.  However, the end product can be shared with others around the world.  I really feel that this is more for secondary and higher education classrooms.  Google provides a lot of resources and examples of finished products.   Here is an example of a MOOC for Educational Robots for Absolute Beginners - NXT Robots.

These are just a few examples of the hidden jewels that Google offers.  Keep a watch out on Google's blogs for more products that they offer.  There are several blogs that I like to follow.

Monday, March 23, 2015

"It's a Small World After All!"

"There is just one moon and one golden sun.  And a smile means friendship to everyone. Though the mountains divide and the oceans are wide, it's a small world after all!" - Sherman Brothers 

It's one of my family's favorite rides at Walt Disney World, but it also speaks a lot about how technology can make our world seem smaller.  Many of our students are not able to see what life is like in other countries by traveling there; some have never travelled outside of their own city.  Although the benefits of foreign travel are well worth the costs involved, it's just not feasible to many families.   Technology can allow us to connect, visit and share with other classrooms all over the world!

There are several tools that you can use to connect with other classrooms around the world.  The first is Mystery Skype.  Mystery Skype is a game of sorts.   The goal of the game is that students on each end of the Skype conversation ask each others questions in order to guess where the other class is.  This gives students the chance to discover more about geography, language, science, and even more in a virtual game of "20 Questions".    It's an amazing experience if you are able to do it live during the school day, but it doesn't have to be.  You can record video messages and send them back and forth as well.  Here's a great guide to using Skype in the classroom.

Google Hangouts is another tool teachers can use to connect with each other.  The folks at Lee's Summit R-7 school district in Missouri have created a great website explaining how teachers can use Google Hangouts to connect with other classes.  "Where can I find other classes to meet?  I don't know a lot of teachers outside of my state!"  Never fear, Google + to the rescue!   Join the Connected Classrooms Workshop G+ community to find other educators with similar interests, subjects, and grade levels to meet with.  Google also has the Google Connected Classrooms website to find virtual field trip opportunities.  

In my #BFC530 chat this morning, I also learned about VIF's Learning Center.   This website/program lets you connect with educators from all over the world.  There are also lesson plans designed for a global classroom experience.  This is a great opportunity for project-based inquiry lessons on global topics.  Also, VIF provides Professional Development through a PBI designed program.

There are many benefits to connecting to other classrooms around the world.  I don't think that we as teachers have enough time to thoroughly teach globalization and explore world cultures.   Connecting with others gives us the chance to teach tolerance, understand global issues, and discover our place in this global community.

Some teachers use connected classrooms as a way of team teaching.  Teachers find a common topic/standard they wish to collaborate on and develop a lesson plan together, with each teacher presenting a different part.  You could also do this as a Book Group.  Students in both classes could be given a list of questions to discuss or even come up with their own questions.  Think about the possibilities of doing a Current Events chat as well (this is a great opportunity to talk about respecting each other's opinions and differences).  It's interesting to see what students outside of our country think about us - it can give our students a whole new perspective of ourselves.

Also, it's hard for teachers to be the "expert" on every topic.  That's just an unrealistic expectation.  Virtual field trips with leaders in the field of marine biology help students to understand the different ecosystems in our oceans.  Students can visit with museums all over the world to learn about science topics or visit an archeological site.  The possibilities are endless.

"All this sounds great, but don't I need special, expensive equipment to do this?"   No, all you really need is a computer with a built-in webcam and microphone, or an external webcam and desktop microphone.  If you have a projector you can use to share your screen with, it will make it easier for your students to see the other group.  You'll also need access to a high-speed internet connection, which a large majority of schools have.  That's it!  With the exception of Google Hangouts being enabled if you are a Google Apps school or having the Skype software installed, there is nothing special needed.  If you are in a 1:1 program at both locations, you could even have your students do individual hangouts (must be over the age of 13 to use Google Hangouts individually).

I hope you'll take the opportunity to explore the world of connected classrooms.   This is an amazing opportunity to show our students the world and create, communicate, and collaborate with others!

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Edcamp Experience

This past weekend, I was fortunate enough to participate in EdCamp Columbus. I love Edcamps. This is the third one I've attended and have one more to go to this spring. It is a great place to reenergize, make connections, and gain new ideas to use in your classroom.

What is an Edcamp? According to, an Edcamp is,
"Edcamp is a form of unconference designed specifically for teachers and their needs.What makes Edcamp an unconference? Unlike traditional conferences which have schedules set months in advance by the people running the conference, Edcamp has an agenda that’s created by the participants at the start of the event. Instead of one person standing in front of the room talking for an hour, people are encouraged to have discussions and hands-on sessions."

photo credit: Keith Millard @scarletandgray

Edcamps are participant-driven discussions really.  A person can choose to "present" a topic or an idea, but the best Edcamp sessions tend to be discussions, often passionate, about things that matter most to educators.  Unlike tradition conferences, attendees can walk freely in and out of sessions, often referred to as "voting with two feet".  It is not considered rude to do this.  There is usually so many good sessions that folks move in and out to gain as much information as possible.  If the session is not what a participant wants, then they move on to another.  Best of all, they are FREE!

Edcamp is not just for teachers.  It's for teachers (pre-service and veteran), principals, superintendents, anyone excited and passionate about education.  I've seen a few professors in attendance too.  I think that's important.  Sometimes, college educators are too far removed from the classroom.  This gives them a chance to see what teachers are passionate about today!

The day starts at around 9:00 am and moves on very quickly.  Most discussions are 50 minutes long.  To be honest, them seem much shorter than that.  There is about an hour break for lunch and then sessions resume until about 3:00.  Everyone gathers for a "smackdown" - sharing of your favorite takeaways from the session you attend.   Then, there are door prizes, usually sponsored by edtech companies.  Sometimes, you win a year's license to a popular or new educational website, small trinkets such as stylus, cups, pens/pencils, or lunch bags, and also cool edtech hardware such as document cameras or interactive whiteboards.  I've been fortunate enough to win software and an interactive whiteboard (now only if it worked with my Chromebook!).

photo credit : Aric Thomas @Ar1cTh0mas

Another reason I like Edcamps is that it gives me the opportunity to meet face to face with some of my PLN (Personal Learning Network).  I've met a lot of folks on Twitter, G+, and other sites/listsrvs.  It's always great to put a face with a name.   I've also started to follow some folks as a result of meeting them at Edcamps.  Again, it's all about builidng your PLN and taking charge of your learning.

I'd like to organize an Edcamp for a local university/college.  I think it is important for pre-service teachers to attend.  It gives them a chance to make connections with veteran teachers and having a venue to ask questions they have about teaching.  It's a win-win relationship because veteran teachers get energized by young teachers - full of passion and excitement about their chosen future profession.  Maybe I'll get a chance to do that soon.

Want to check out the Edcamp calendar?  You can go to and check it out.   My next Edcamp is edcampOhio on April 25th.  If you get a chance, go to an Edcamp.  It's life changing!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Tips and Tricks for Teachers

This week's post is a compilation of some of my favorite Tips and Tricks that I share with my teachers.  Hope you find them useful!

Love YouTube but hate the advertisements and suggested videos that go with it.  Try ViewPure.  ViewPure allows you to view YouTube videos without all the added garbage!  

Need to edit pictures online?  PicMonkey is one site which is easy to use.  It's also a Chrome App and Extension.  You can save your image directly to Google Drive, too!

Ever have long URLs that you want to share with your students????  TinyURL has been great in the past but now their is another URL shortener which is even easier! will shorten the long URLs into something simple.  If you are logged into Chrome, you can add it as an extension or just visit the website.  Paste in the URL you want to shorten and voila!  Short and sweet!

"Save to Google Drive" is another popular extension.  It allows you to save an image or screen capture directly to Google Drive.  You can get this extension from the Chrome Web Store. 

Puzzled with how to use Google Forms?  Lindsay Fuller posted "79 Interesting Ways to Use Google Forms in the Classroom" on her blog "Tales of a 6th Grade Classroom".  There are a lot of great suggestions here.

Get rid of your paper planner and use Google Calendar and Tasks!

Try a Scavenger Hunt with your classes using QR codes.  CJ has done this and it's worked out well.  We have iPads with a QR reader on them .  Use this app (QR Code Generator)  to create QR codes and this app (Scan QR) to scan QR codes. 

Ever thought about collaborating with classes from around the world?  Use Google + to join Connected Classrooms Workshop.  Teachers from all around the world in different content and grade levels are looking for other classes to collaborate with!  You can use Google Hangouts to do this!  How do you get to Google +?  Up by the App Launcher, you'll see the + with your name next to it (ie - +Nickie).  Click on this and create your Google + Profile.  See the website below for ways to use Google Hangouts.

Ever wanted to work on SMART Notebook™ but didn't have the software on your laptop.  Maybe you had your iPad with you and didn't want to buy the app.  Now there is SMART Notebook Express™!  You can go to this website on your laptop, iPad, Chromebook, etc. and create SMART notebook files.  No more software to install!  I am in need of some beta testers for this program so please let me know if you are interested......  there may be some food/sweets involved as payment!!!!!

Need to create a video for your class because you are going to be out.  SnagIt is now available as a Chrome App/Extension.  You must install both on your laptop/Chromebook in able to use it.  You can also take screenshots of your screen as well.  This could be useful in creating your SMART Notebook Express presentations.  There is training available on YouTube on how to use this program or come ask me!

Do you ever have a student bring you their Chromebook and their screen has been rotated +/- 90°?  If you are like me, you are probably wondering how the heck that happened!!!!!  Here is a link to a Google Help page with many useful Keyboard shortcuts, including how to fix the notorious rotated screen (hint - press Ctrl - Shift - ↻ until it is the right layout).

While writing this blog, I've used a number of special characters like ™ and °.  I have no idea how to create these using a Chromebook!!!!!  The website makes using symbols, some common fractions,  and special characters so much easier.  Simply visit the website, find the character you are looking for, click on it, and then paste (or Ctrl-V) it into your document, blog, etc.  Voila!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Snow Day Challenges - Keeping the Learning Going!

I don't know about you, but I've just about had enough of the snow and cold.  We've lost 6 days of instruction due to the weather so far this year.  I'm just thankful I don't live in New England!  I'm lucky enough to work in a school that is in session 7.5 hours a day and 178 days so we don't have to make up any time (we're WAY over the minimum hours in our state!).

The topic of this morning's #sunchat on Twitter was keeping the momentum up during snow days.  This is a struggle for many teachers, seasoned and new to the profession.  There were a lot of great ideas tweeted this morning.  I'd like to share some of them with you, plus a few of my own!

1)  My favorite way to keep the learning going is to keep acting like it's a normal day.  Schools who use Learning Management Systems (LMS) like Google Classroom, Edmodo, and Schoology can do that easily.  Just make it an E-Learning day!  Post your lessons, flipped videos, and more online where it is available to all your students.  Even if your student's do not have internet at home, many still have smartphones and can still access your e-classroom.  My teachers do this already when they are going to be out sick.  It makes life much easier for our subs - students know what is expected and many times the teacher is still available online for questions.

2)   Remind is a great way to communicate with your students without having 1:1 devices at home.  Remind allows you communicate with students and parents via a SMS text message.  Most of our students/parents have a cell phone that can receive these messages.  You can send out assignments or other messages out with this free service.  Best of all, it doesn't show your personal cell phone number!

3)  Host a Twitter chat with your students.  Create your own hashtag and host a discussion about anything going on in your classroom.  Maybe you have been discussing "innovations of the 21st century" or a book you have been reading together.  Students can be challenged to put their thoughts into 144 characters.  You can hold your discussions just like we do in our PLN Twitter chats in a Q1, Q2 and A1, A2 format.   Again, this can be done via cellphones, tablets, or laptops/chromebooks.

4)  How about some no tech, low tech ideas?  At the beginning of the "Snowy season", issue a Reading Challenge to your students.  Challenge them to spend 1 hour a day or more reading. Have them track it on a Reading Log, Bingo Card, whatever!  Here's some ideas to get you started!

Reading Challenge Genre sheet -

Snow Day Reading Challenge - me!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Mainframe 2 - run Windows apps on your Chromebook!

Happy (?) Snow/Cold Day!

One of the biggest complaints I hear from students is that they can not access Google Earth or SketchUp from their Chromebooks.  For a year now, I have commiserated with them - even keeping a Windows computer lab open so that they could use these applications.

This weekend, I discovered Mainframe2 during one of my PLN chats.  Mainframe2 will allow you to run those Windows apps from a Chromebook. How can you do this?  Mainframe2 runs your apps in the cloud via their servers, very much like a Virtual Machine (VM).  Everything is browser-based, no apps to install on the Chromebook.   According to their website, you can even invite collaborators to work on the same project. I've not tried this yet so I'm not sure how well this works.   Apparently, this is a new tool for education as they launched their EDU product at TCEA 2015 earlier this year.

I requested an invite from their website.  Once the invitation was received (less than 24 hours), I created a free (so far) account for my school in a matter of minutes.  I chose the Workstation account which provided approximate 100 hours of use.

Once I was signed in, I downloaded my school's license of SketchUp Pro via the Chrome browser that was a part of my account's installation.  It installed easily and was ready quickly.  (Note - you install your apps in a sandbox site and can then move it to production once you've tested it and made sure it works.)  There are a few apps installed by default, Google Earth is one of them!  You can try their installation of Google Earth on their website -  

Couple of things, I'm not sure how long this will be free.  Once I run out of hours, I don't know how much it will cost to continue to use it.  I've not figured out entirely how to push the apps out to my users, but then, I've only got about an hour of time put into this so far!  If nothing else, my students will be able to explore the earth via Google Earth as long as the VM is available on their website.  Also, their Terms of Service states this is only for students over 13.  I will be using this with my high school students so we'll be good to go there.

Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Add-ons for Google Apps

There have been quite a few updates made to the Add-ons available for many of the Google Apps.  Here are some of the ones I find most useful.  Add-ons are a great way to enhance your use and the capabilities of the different apps.

Google Forms

1)  formLimiter

formLimiter turns off a Google Form after a max number of responses, at a set date and time, or when a spreadsheet cell equals a value.  Best use I can think of is to turn off access to a form at the end of the period/day for testing purposes.

2)  docAppender

docAppender appends Google Form question responses to the bottom of selected Google Docs.  This would be great for peer reviews of student docs.

3)  g(Math)

Math teachers.....  you've been wanting to know how to insert graphs and complex math equations directly in your forms.  Now you can with g(Math)!   Also available for gSheets!

Also, did you know that you can now shuffle the question order in forms?  Great for helping to keep wandering eyes from look for answers on a neighbor's Chromebook!

Google Docs

1)  EasyBib

EasyBib allows you to automatically cite books, journal articles, and websites by entering in titles or URLs.  You can format you citations in either MLA, APA, or Chicago style.

2)  Thesaurus

This add-on will allow you to search for synonyms, antonyms, and more from within gDocs.  There is support for multiple languages as well!

3)  GFormIt 

This add-on lets users create Google Forms based on the content of Google Docs.  This will auto-generate Forms without having to create it from the Forms editor.

How do I find the Add-on in Docs, Sheets, or Forms?

It's simple!  Once you have opened your document, sheet, or form just go to Add-ons in the Menu bar and click "Get Add-ons". 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

OETC 2015 and my Personal/Professional Learning Network

Sometimes, we can't rely on our Professional Development Committee to provide the training we want.  It's not their fault, there's just a lack of funding to send us to all the meetings and conferences we want to go to.  That's why I like to volunteer at conferences in exchange for free admission.  That's what I've done this week at the Ohio Educational Technology Conference.  OETC is the largest state sponsored educational technology conference and I'm proud to say it's in my home state.  I've attended this conference several times and it's outstanding!  OETC has a side conference, or "un-conference" as they like to call it, called OETCx.  This was an amazing day sharing tweets and experiences with people like myself (EdTech professionals) sharing their passion for learning and their students.  People like @ericcurts, @rmbyrne, @mdroush and more keep me energized about my love of technology and motivated to do more!

I've learned alot about useful websites and tools for the classroom as well.  Plickers is my new favorite! It's a great high-tech, low-tech assessment tool.  Print out enough cards for the students in the class, create your class on line, and have your students hold up their answer with their card and scan your whole class with your iPad/iPhone.  Easy for students and teachers to use - plus it will graph your data for you!

I've been tweeting a lot as part of my Personal/Professional Learning Network (PLN). This has been the best thing I have done for myself this year.  I've connected with educators and edtech folks from all over the world and participated in Twitter chats.  There are soooo many to choose from, an extensive list can be found here.  I choose to participate in #edchat, #edtechchat, #ohedchat, and #gafechat on a regular basis.  The topics on many of these challenge me to rethink about the way I feel about education and the changes going on.  It also gives me the opportunity to share what works for my school with others and to help them incorporate tools such as Google Apps for Education in their classroom.  Technology has made the world a global classroom.  We are no longer limited by our geographical boundaries.  I can chat with my counterparts in New Zealand, California, England, wherever from the warmth and comfort of my own home.  TweetDeck has been a huge help to me!  I can follow conversations easily and even see if anyone else likes what I have to say!  Always a good ego boost for someone new to the Twittersphere!  

Another tool that works well with Twitter is Storify.  Storify allows you to capture Twitter conversations by hashtag.  You can also include posts from Facebook and Google +.  There's a Chrome extension as well! Here's an example of a Storify from @StacyHaw from a keynote this week.  Just think, you could have a classroom discussion outside of the typical school day and make a Storify from it for students to review.  Lots of possibilities here!

Google+ is another piece of my PLN.  There are lots of communities or circles you can follow for all sorts of things.  My favorites are Connected Classrooms Workshop, Educators on Google+, GEG Ohio, GAFE Admins, and many, many more!  You can post questions, share articles, find classes around the world to collaborate with, and bounce ideas off of the heads of other educators.   This has been an invaluable piece of my PLN group.   Conversations are easier to follow on G+, in my opinion.  An added plus is that if you have a Google+ account, you can also host/broadcast Hangouts on Air as well (and then post those Hangouts on YouTube!). 

Last but not least is Pinterest.  Don't laugh, but Pinterest is a valuable part of my PLN.  I'm able to create boards for different topics of interest.  For example, I have boards such as Education, Chromebooks and Google Apps, iPads in Education, and EdTechieness.  These are great places for "pinning" ideas and resources to use later.  These can be websites, pictures, YouTube videos, and more!  There are a lot of times I don't have the time to review entire sites, but I can pin them to come back to later.   Of course, I also have my recipes, travel ideas, and other fun boards as well.  :)  It's nice that I can share a link to these boards to share ideas with others as well.  

I'd like to encourage you to try these resources or find even more to create your own Personal/Professional Learning Network.  You'll make lifelong connections with other education professionals from around the world.  Professional development is no longer just the responsibility of your school, it's the learner's responsibility as well.

You can follow me at @nsattler on Twitter, +NickieSattler on Google+, and here on Pinterest.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Teacher Life Hacks for Chromebooks!

Ok, so I know I said I'd do Chromebook apps for Science next, but I've been working on a presentation all week for work.  So.... I thought I'd share it with you first!

Hope you find some helpful tips and tricks!  Feel free to leave a comment on what you like best!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Favorite Apps for Chromebooks - Language Arts

Language Arts teachers have quite a few apps available for their use in the classroom.  Here's some of my favorites that I recommend to my teachers!

1) Google Apps for Education - ok, that's a no brainer!  Google Docs allow for creation, communication, and collaboration!  Students can peer review each others work ("3 before me!" is one of my favorite quotes), do research directly from gDocs, create their Works Cited, and much more!  Through the use of Google Classroom, teachers can more easily distribute and collect assignments; thus, becoming a paperless classroom.  I've not found much not to love about GAFE!

docs.png Google Classroom Logo.png

2) EasyBib - EasyBib is a Google Docs add-on. EasyBib allows you to automatically cite boots, journal articles, and websites by entering in titles or URLS.  You can format your citations in either MLA, APA or Chicago style. It also helps students learn about plagarism and copyright.

3)  Newsela - Newsela contains high-interest, non-fiction articles whose reading level can be adjusted by Lexile scores.  These articles offer comprehension quizzes, also based upon reading levels.  Teachers can assign articles and Lexile levels to their students and track their progress over time.  Now all students in your classroom can read the same article at their own level.  Helps to support differentiated learning in the classroom.

4)  iStoryBooks - iStoryBooks contains free, interactive children's books.  These books are read aloud to the student.  These books are primarily geared towards Pre-K through 1st grade.  New books are published every 2 weeks.

5)  Kindle Cloud Reader - Kindle Cloud Reader works with Amazon's Whispersync service to distribute eBooks to your students and then "collect" them when finished.  Students can look up the meaning of words, hear them pronounced, create notes, and bookmark their book virtually.  No more lost library books!

6)  Overdrive - Check out eBooks from your local library.  No more late/lost book fees.   Great to expand your student's reading choices from what is just available in your classroom/school.  

Next post - Science apps for Chromebooks!