Thursday, May 25, 2017

How to get the most out of conferences

This past weekend, I attended the Capital Region EdTech Team Google Summit in Albany, NY.  I love going to the summits because I get to meet such amazing people that have similar interests.  It is so nice to be around a large group of people that are all excited to try new things in their classroom.  I also learn so much from everyone.

However, as we all know, sometimes, conferences can be overwhelming.  A summit style conference is a smorgasbord of topics that could appeal to almost anyone.  So, if you're not careful, you could leave at the end of the weekend with more ideas than you can implement in a lifetime, let alone implement effectively.  I have also found that if I try too many new ideas with my older students (juniors and seniors) they are a bit more resistant than my freshman. I think it is because they aren't used to using technology in their classes quite as much.  

So, here are my top tips to make the most out of attending a conference:

  1. Pick a theme - attend sessions that are centered around a theme that you can work with such as writing tools or video tools.  That will make it easier to implement in your class since the tools will theoretically work together.
  2. Choose your favorite - if you cannot stick to a theme, choose your favorite app or tool from the conference and try that out first.  Get good at it and let your students get comfortable using it before testing out another idea.  This will make it seem less like a technology carnival in your classroom.
  3. Start small - pick one lesson to implement a tool in and see how it goes.  Don't try to
    revamp an entire two week unit with a tool you have never used before.  If you start small testing it out, then hopefully if it does not go well, you can make small adjustments before using it again.  More importantly, it did not impact as many days of instruction and will be easier to fix. 
I hope this helps you to get some ideas on how to make the most of your education conferences that you attend in the future or if you are looking back at your notes from a recent conference.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Satellite imagery for topographic maps

Topographic maps online for science teachers

Did you know that you can access free topographic maps online that are searchable and interactive?  There are many out there, but I found one in particular that had an easy interface and good imaging.  Here's the link:

The site is awesome because you can zoom in to see more detail on the map, search for a location, obtain GPS coordinates, add shapes on the map and so much more. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The citation tool in Docs is back!!

Citing resources found within the Explore (formerly Research) feature in Google Docs is back!! Read the announcement below. All of the feedback must have helped Google realize that it was a highly prized tool for schools. 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Stickers and badges via Flubaroo Grading?

Who doesn't love stickers and badges?

Did you know that Flubaroo recently released the ability to add stickers and badges in the graded assignments/assessments? 

There is a gallery of pre-made stickers or you can create your own.  

Once you grade your assessment, choose Share Grades.  In the pop-up window, choose Show Advanced Options the Setup Sticker.  In the pop-up window:

  • Check the box to include a sticker
  • Enter the student's percent score at or above which a sticker will be included.
  • Choose the sticker you'd like to send.
    Scroll left and right to find one you like, and then click it to select.
 If you want to upload your own stickers, click the link that asks Want to add more stickers? Click here.

To create your own stickers: 

Create a folder in Google Drive called: "Flubaroo - Stickers":

Set the permissions on the folder to "Anyone with the link can View", to ensure that stickers added to this folder will always work properly in Flubaroo.

Your images will show up now when you choose to add a sticker to an assignment.

When creating images for stickers & badges, use the following guidelines:
  • PNG or JPG format only
  • Image height: 100px to 200px (200px is ideal)
  • Image width: 100px to 300px
All images will be formatted to show as 200px high in emails and documents. So an image that already has a height of 200px is ideal to ensure the image looks its best.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Virtual Field Trips

Some days, I wish I taught elementary school.  It seems as though there are so many fun programs available to the elementary level compared to when I was in school.  They're also not as tightly bound to the time constraints that the secondary level is with our bell schedule.  Today, I was reminded of the resource, Learn Around the World that provides amazing interactive virtual field trips and global virtual guest speakers to the classroom. 

 For the month of November, the field trips vary from Indonesian Temples, Komodo Dragon National Park, to the Pilgrims of Plymouth, MA.  

One feature that I truly love, is the fact that the presentations are leveled:
GEOshow Jr. is for Grades K-4
GEOshow is for Grades 5-8.

They reserve a certain number of spots for participating classes to chat with and be on-camera with the hosts of the field trip. Others are viewers and cannot interact directly.

In addition to the field trip itself, the site offers pre-show tasks, lesson plans, coordination with grade level standards and checklists for the day of the trip.

Overall, the trips offer experiences that help to bring our curriculum to life and enrich the lives of our students that may never get to visit the locations selected. Students might also have the chance to interact with experts in the field, which helps with their public speaking skills and introduces them to various career opportunities.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

New Google Drive Update

Today, as I uploaded a file to my drive and noticed this new popup window:

Apparently, I had already uploaded this exact file to my drive but forgot about it.  Drive notified me that I already had a version of that file.  It now will add it as a new version instead of duplicating the file.  This is an interesting new feature.  However, we need to be careful when uploading files of the same name. Luckily, in your upload window, you can choose to "Keep as separate file" if you just accidentally named the file the same.  You could then go back and rename one of the files to avoid confusion.

Thanks Google!

Friday, October 7, 2016

YouTube shortened link "hack" to view full screen

Shorten YouTube URLs to view full screen without suggested videos
Perfect hack for teachers to avoid distractions

I learned a new hack today for YouTube that I just have to share and document to remind myself at a later date.  Do the suggested videos on the side or comments displaying in YouTube distract you when you click a link to show a video to your class?   Some of the videos are not always quite appropriate either which can be troubling.  Fear no more!

Use the following format to force the video to play full screen without comments, ads or suggested videos on the side.  No add-ons or extra sites to go to.
  Original long link:
  Shortened Link:

   What did I do?  Replace  watch?v= with EMBED/ 

I love the new hack and hope you do too!