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!

Updates in GSuite - Oct. 2016

Google Apps for Education has a new name!  It's now called G Suite.   Sweet.

All puns aside, the google apps for education suite has gotten a ton of new updates for this fall.  I'll list the newest ones here.  

However, don't forget that in each of the google apps, you can click the training icon to get tutorials for all of the features.

Docs Updates
  • Table of contents feature now includes page numbers for organization.
    • Great for those long documents
    • Perfect for year long meeting logs to jump to sections
    • Perfect for students creating a digital portfolio to jump to each section.
  • Explore feature- used for Docs, Slides, and Sheets 
    • Slides: assist in formatting
    • Docs:  replaces the former "research" tool - web citation has been removed :(  Please use one of the google docs add-ons or extensions to asssist with bibliographic citations, such as Easy Bib.
    • Sheets: helps to create formulas for you more easily
Google Classroom
  • Add topics to the stream at any time
    • You can list all of your topics ahead of time so that whenever you post something to the stream you can just choose your topic.  No need to create them on the fly.  
    • Topics allow you to sort or filter the stream based on topic.  Perfect for teachers and students attempting to locate materials.
  • New Android feature: 
  • New iOS features

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Google introduces Google Trips mobile apps

Google Trips mobile apps introduced

Would you like to have a personal travel agent?  Now you can with Google Trips mobile apps!

Google unveiled today its trip planning apps to help users while on vacation to create itineraries, find categories of information, including day plans, reservations, things to do, food & drink, and more.  And best yet, the entire app can be made available offline by simply downloading your trip.

Using Google Trips in Education

Imagine having your students plan an entire trip to a given location using the Google Trips app.  The students can use their knowledge of a particular landmark to visit key locations.  If you teach World Languages, your students can visit cities and show their understanding of the culture as well. 

Take a look at the announcement from Google on their blog and try out the app today.  As of now, the app is turned off for GAFE domains, but can be turned on by admin.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Quizzes in Google Forms

How to create a self graded quiz in Forms

Today, I tried the new feature in forms to create a self grading quiz.  Finally, my first quiz of the school year.  I knew how to create the quiz but had not experimented much with the release of scores to the users.  

So, it didn't go quite as planned.  I told my students that their scores were in their school email so they excitedly went to their mail and...NOTHING.  No email.  Zip. Zilch.  Nada.  Arrgh.

I forgot that our students' gmail accounts are locked down so that they cannot receive email from outside the domain.   I do not have access to our admin console, so I have to wait for our admin to whitelist the email address and allow the students to get their scores.  In the meantime, I will continue to double up and use Flubaroo and ask my students which one they like better for presentation of their answers and scores.  

If you 're interested in the directions on how to set up a quiz in forms, here they are:

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Teachers on Twitter - hashtags to follow

Teachers on Twitter - hashtags to follow

Before this past spring, I was not a fan of twitter.   I guess I'm getting old.  I did not like the format.  It was too random and busy for me.  However, after attending a google summit in May and I participated in posting a few tweets during the day, I was hooked!

What's so good about twitter?
For many teachers, we often hang out in our classroom most of the day in order to "get work done."  Unfortunately, that leaves us very isolated.  An isolated teacher does not have as much opportunity to share with others and continue to grow our teaching methods. That's where twitter comes in to the picture.  Teachers can connect with educators and professionals from across the globe easily and quickly by either searching for people they have met at conferences, went to school with or have met otherwise.  But the real magic comes in when you follow hashtags for popular conversation topics and also participate in "twitter chats" with professionals from across the globe.  

Popular hashtags for teachers
For those not familiar, posts can be labeled with a hashtag (#) to categorize the topic of the post. When you open twitter, click on the search option and enter the hashtag of choice and you will see a list of posts that people have tagged with that hashtag even if it is someone that you do not follow on twitter.  This is where you can easily virtually connect with new people of common interests.  You can correspond and choose to follow those with similar interests or in areas that you would like to learn more about.  Most subject areas have a "chat" hashtag to follow such as "scichat."  In order to "alert" others about a post that you have made on a particular topic, include the hashtag in your post.  This will also connect you with new people for those following the hashtag.  

Ex.  What a great article that I found today about virtual reality in the science classroom. #scichat

Below is a list of some of the more popular hashtags to follow for teachers:

  • #edchat
  • #pbl or #pblchat (problem based learning)
  • #scichat
  • #edtech
  • #ipadchat
  • #ntchat (new teacher)
  • #flipclass
  • #BYOD
  • #k12
  • #EdApps (education apps)
  • #elemchat
  • #middleschool
  • #highschool
Topic area hashtags:
  • #engchat
  • #litchat
  • #arted
  • #musedchat
  • #math
  • #mathchat
  • #science
  • #scichat
  • #sschat
  • #histedchat
  • #historyteaching

Twitter chats - virtual chats via twitter hashtags
Some of the popular hashtags have a meetup time that they use in order to discuss topics of the week.  There are many that even post questions and times to address each question of interest for the weekly chat. Twitter chats have been very enlightening for me as an educator connecting me with people that have very different ideas than those I work with daily.  One popular twitter chat that participate in is #satchat that has various hosts weekly.  

Where to find more hashtags to follow or Twitter chats
Simple enter a search into Google for twitter hastags to follow for education.  You'll be amazed at all of the hashtags out there.  There are also websites that host lists of hastags for education and even a calendar of Twitter chats to follow.

What might be scary about Twitter for Teachers
You will be putting yourself out there publicly which some teachers are not comfortable with.  However, teachers can create a separate profile for school if you do not want to mix school and personal accounts.  This will also help you to keep a professional following on your educator twitter account.  

Go ahead and give twitter a try. You do not have to post anything initially but you can simply "lurk" instead.  Choose wisely what to post and if you keep it separate from a personal account it will be easy. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Using Google Forms as a beginning of the year tool

Using Google Forms as a Beginning of the Year Tool

It seems as though every year teachers struggle to learn tidbits about their new students such as how they like to learn, what study skills they need help with, and more.  

How often have you collected this information only to realize later that you cannot really make much sense of it all?  

Try using Google Forms to collect your student information instead and sort the information with Sheets.  

Using Forms can help you with the following:

  • The simple pie charts give you a quick snapshot of student answers.  
  • Collect user names automatically
  • Sheets allows you to sort the data based of various parameters or create filters to only see that data you're interested in at the time  For example: 
    • Sort by students that prefer auditory learning, visual learners, etc. 
    • Sort based on topics students struggle with
    • Sort based on test taking or study strengths for group work
How to sort in Sheets

  • Each column and row can be formatted to your liking, just as in docs.  You can also rearrange the data or SORT it based on various factors.  Don’t worry that the data will become jumbled, sheets is smart and will keep your data in line so it doesn’t get scrambled.  
  • To SORT a column of data


Sheets can filter the data so you only see the data that is important to you or so it can highlight the important data. For example, if you want to filter the data so that you only see the students who answered “small intestine” for question #2 then you could create a filter just for that.

  • In the menu, choose DATA >Filter.  You’ll notice the columns get highlighted and have an arrow next to it.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Infographic to help explain plagiarism

Great infographic to share with students to clarify examples of plagiarism
As we are asking students to use more digitally based tools, pointing out the different examples of plagiarism might be helpful.

Many of our students believe that plagiarism is just when they copy a large amount of text word for word from a source.  However, it doesn't just end there according to writers.  

You can use this handy guide for students to ask themselves if they have plagiarized a source for their paper.  It came from  Follow the link for the full story. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Chromebooks in the classroom

Chromebook reform in the classroom

Last year was my first year with chromebooks for every student but for only one class.  I think it was a great way for me to start off small and try a few new things to see what worked without getting overwhelmed attempting to reform all of my classes at once.  This year, I should have chromebooks for all classes.  

I would like to share 5 of my favorite tools how we used them throughout the year:

1. Google Classroom

It is a lifesaver for staying organized with assignments, making copies of digital resources for students and sharing other resources quickly.  I love Classroom's ease of use and speed of posting and collecting assignments.  I no longer hand out any paper copies of assignments at all and my students complete all of their lab reports digitally.  No longer do I hear the comments -"I lost my lab Mrs. Cauthers, can I have another copy?" or "I forgot my lab at home."  There are a few small cons, such as turning in and grading group work.  It's not very seamless, but there are many ways around it, such as having students submitting a google form that has a shared link for their digital assignment for a project.  

2. Google Slides
     We used slides for almost anything in our class.  Here are just a few applications:

  • Hyperdocs - I like the slide by slide organization for portions of assignments to create interactive unit long assignments that have videos, notes, online resources, areas for reflection, creation and assessment.
  • Student projects - students can each submit a slide for a class presentation, allows for embedding video, images, and charts.  Easily organizes content. Can create image maps that are interactive too.
  • Q&A- interactive questions and answers during class discussions, polling during class and formative assessments
  • Digital plan book - I created all of my lesson plans for each unit in slides, embedding my videos, digital notes, and even links to the google classroom assignments
3. Screencastify

Students created tutorials, paperslides, and video reviews of many topics and were able to do this with screencastify and the chromebook web cam.  Our goal this year is to create a student video library for each topic.

4. Google Drawings

This is a great tool for students to create concept maps, interactive/hyperlinked images, and lab drawings.  The drawings can be embedded into a Google Slide show, web page, and so much more.  Students could even use slides and screencastify to animate their drawings.

5. YouTube

I know it is cliche, but teenagers use YouTube for almost anything.  Why not leverage it in the classroom?  I used YouTube as a resource where students would critically analyze a video they found, a library of video notes and explanations and lab setup explanations instead of repeating myself.  This coming year, I would like students to create their own YouTube channels to showcase their personal creations for class, such as video reviews on a topic, lab summaries, and more. 

I have so many ideas for this coming school year, but try no to overwhelm my students with too many resources all at once.  I like to see them get proficient with a few tools and find what works best for them along the way before we add more.  

I would love to hear any ideas that you would like to share for your personal favorites. 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Update on clickable images in Google Slides and Drawings

Update on Clickable Images in Google Slides and Drawings:
When I first posted this tutorial, I was unaware of a trick on using the web clipboard to copy and paste my Google Drawings into other apps without losing the interactive features.  Prior to this, I was forced to download them as a .jpeg or .png and they were just images, not interactive.  Thank you to +Robert McAllister for teaching me this tip!

Here are the steps on how to copy from the web clipboard.
  1. View your interactive image in Google Drawings. 
  2. Deselect all (CTRL-D or click outside of image)
  3. Edit >Web Clipboard >Copy Entire Drawing to Web Clipboard
  4. Open a presentation in Google Slides and click on a slide where you want to paste your image.
  5. Choose Edit >Web Clipboard > Drawing to paste your drawing
Note:  Any previous images copied to the web clipboard will also appear, so you will need to either clear the clipboard periodically or know which ones you want to paste.

Video animation of steps: