Google Earth

169 Tech Tip #114: Embed a Google Apps File

tech tipsIn these 169 tech-centric situations, you get an overview of pedagogy—the tech topics most important to your teaching—as well as practical strategies to address most classroom tech situations, how to scaffold these to learning, and where they provide the subtext to daily tech-infused education.

Today’s tip: #114–Embed Google Apps Files

Category: Google Apps

Sub-category: Classroom management

Q: So many colleagues are sharing their Google Apps documents by embedding them, but I don’t know how to do that. Can you help?

A: Here’s how you do it: When your Google Doc, Spreadsheet, or Slideshow is complete:

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Categories: Google Earth, Tech Tips | Tags:

Learn Smarter, Not Harder: 5 Essential Google Classroom Apps

A few weeks ago, I got an email from Nancy with a great suggestion for an article topic: Google Classroom. She writes from her perspective as a Kansas City teacher who loves teaching and blogging. I think you’ll enjoy her ideas on essential apps for her Google Classroom:

Not much time has passed since Google Classroom first entered K-12 and higher ed classes, outmaneuvering all other classroom software providers with its availability and a great variety of apps.

A well-known fact: A large portion of every teacher’s workflow is actually consumed by the assignment review, collecting the student work, notifying the class about upcoming events, changes in the timetable, revision, and grading.

In Google Classroom many educators like me found a great additional functionality and apps, which allowed managing the workflow efficiently, leaving more time for the teaching.

In our school we started using Google Classroom LMS as a way to collect, review and grade the assignment, now we use it as a basis for creating greater learning opportunities becoming real due to the apps that hugely extend the functional set and diversify the learning.

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Categories: classroom management, Google Earth | Tags:

10 Options for Polls and Forms in Your Class

Collecting class data, asking for feedback on activities, and pushing out quizzes used to be laboriously accomplished by passing out paper documents, collecting them as they dribbled in, and then collating the data into a spreadsheet where you could sort and shake to come up with the useful information.

These days, all of those tasks are accomplished much more easily with one of the many free/fee webtools designed to create and curate information. Uses include but are not limited to:

  • volunteer sign ups
  • feedback on events
  • class enrollments
  • donations and payments
  • consent forms for school activities
  • polls and surveys on upcoming or past events
  • data on parents and students
  • collection of student projects
  • sign-ups for student class presentations
  • signups for afterschool activities or summer classes
  • registrations for a Professional Development workshop
  • quizzes that are automatically evaluated providing students with their score and you with metrics

Besides the ease of use and their digital nature, students love forms because they are anonymous. This means when forms are used to collect feedback, input, and projects, students can participate at their own pace, as quietly as they’d like, with only the teacher being aware of their identity.

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Categories: classroom management, Google Earth, MS Office, teacher resources, Web 2.0 | Tags:

169 Tech Tip #78: Save a File so Everyone Can Read it

tech tipsIn these 169 tech-centric situations, you get an overview of pedagogy—the tech topics most important to your teaching—as well as practical strategies to address most classroom tech situations, how to scaffold these to learning, and where they provide the subtext to daily tech-infused education.

Today’s tip: #78–Save a File so Everyone Can Read it

Category: Google Apps

Sub-category: MS Office

Q: I need to make my document readable by colleagues that don’t have my software (such as I use MS Word and they don’t). What do I do?

A:  In both Google Apps and MS Office, you can save a document in a variety of formats, including the easy-to-read PDF. If you use Google Docs, you can also 1) share or 2) download in a variety of formations including PDF. This is also true of webtools that offer a wide variety of methods for saving and sharing. Pick the one best suited to the task, purpose, and audience.

In MS Office:

  • click ‘save as’ for your document
  • drop down the ‘save as type’ and select ‘PDF’
  • save

If the problem is that the recipient doesn’t have a current version of MS Word (say, you have 2010 and they have 2003), then save the doc as follows:

  • go to File-save as
  • select file type 97-2003 (see first inset below).

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Categories: Google Earth, MS Office, Tech Tips

169 Tech Tip #59: Alt Keys

tech tipsIn these 169 tech-centric situations, you get an overview of pedagogy—the tech topics most important to your teaching—as well as practical strategies to address most classroom tech situations, how to scaffold these to learning, and where they provide the subtext to daily tech-infused education.

Today’s tip: #59–Alt Keys Add Symbols

Category: Google Apps

Sub-category: MS Office, Webtools, Keyboarding, Problem-solving

Q: How do I create the copyright symbol (or another symbol) in Google Apps or Word?

A: It’s easier than you think. Hold down the Alt key and press 0169. ©. Use the keypad with the num lock on–don’t use the number row. I could not get this to work until someone pointed out that you must use the keypad. Duh.

Have students try out some others that would be useful for them. For example:

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Categories: Google Earth, Keyboarding, problem solving, Tech Tips | 1 Comment

169 Tech Tip #69: Instead of Emailing, Share

tech tipsIn these 169 tech-centric situations, you get an overview of pedagogy—the tech topics most important to your teaching—as well as practical strategies to address most classroom tech situations, how to scaffold these to learning, and where they provide the subtext to daily tech-infused education.

Today’s tip: #69–Instead of Emailing, Share

Category: Email

Sub-category: Internet, MS Office, Google Apps, Parents

Q: I want to share a class video with parents, but the file’s too large and I don’t know how to embed it into the class blog. What can I do?

A: Share it with Google Drive or Microsoft’s OneDrive. In fact, you can share from any cloud-based file folder including Dropbox and Box.

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Categories: Google Earth, Parent resources, Tech Tips | Tags: | Leave a comment

4 Great Alternatives to Google Classroom

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In today’s K-12 education ecosystem, most classroom management tools have moved online. This includes typical LMS (Learning Management Systems) functions like homework, classwork, schedules, quizzes, resources, and gradebooks so stakeholders–teachers and students–can access them from any location and any digital device. Because LMSs have a reputation for being complicated to understand and daunting to set up, lite versions that give up some of the robustness in favor of a more pleasant user experience have become popular. The first ‘lite’ option that most educators think of is Google Classroom. It’s easy to use, accessible from all devices, collaborative, and integrates with lots of education apps. You will find yourself most comfortable in the Google Classroom environment if the tools you use are aligned with Google Drive, your browser of choice is Chrome, and your digital device is a  Chromebook.

It turns out there are lots of other reasons schools and teachers don’t want to use Google Classroom:

  • It lacks many features that teachers want in classroom management such as syncing with popular non-Google apps and tools.
  • If you have an LMS you love, Google Classroom often won’t work well with it because it isn’t well-aligned with industry standards.
  • It’s only free if you have a G Suite for Education account.
  • It’s not well-suited if you use Microsoft Office programs.
  • It doesn’t allow a lot of customization. That makes it simpler to use but less adaptable to unique needs.
  • It’s too “googlish”. Toolbars and symbols are easy to understand if you’re into Google, not so much if you aren’t.

The biggest for many people: Privacy concerns continue, despite Google’s efforts to put them to bed. If you’re looking for a non-Google Classroom alternative, here are four:

Microsoft Teamsmicrosoft teams for education

Microsoft is late to the classroom management party but its Microsoft Teams is a worthy consideration. Its name doesn’t scream education though it is the sequel to the since-retired Microsoft Classroom preview. Once set up, the platform works hand-in-hand with OneNote Class Notebooks to provide a digital workspace where teachers can create collaborative classrooms, connect in professional learning communities, communicate with school staff, plan lessons, assign and grade homework, comment on work, and differentiate for student needs. Students can find and share assignments, receive feedback, and collaborate digitally. Overall, it offers similar features to Google Classroom in a different environment.

Free to schools who have Office 365 for Education, it is considered more user-friendly than Google Classroom by some while others disagree. What no one argues is that it works better with Office documents. If your school uses Word, PowerPoint, or Excel on iPads or PCs, this might be a better choice.

kiddom logoKiddom

Kiddom is a free standards-based classroom management platform designed to help teachers curate individual learning experiences. Its pages are visual and easy-to-understand, intuitive to set up, and agile in their responsiveness to varied student and class needs. With its rich analytic features, teachers can quickly determine how students are doing and where remediation is needed. Because many of the statistics are linked to foundational detail, teachers can quickly dig deeper without having to click around trying to find where that particular data lives.

If you are a Google school, you’ll like that Kiddom integrates with Google Drive. Teachers can share docs, sheets, and forms directly with students without leaving Kiddom’s ecosystem. In fact, with Kiddom, you get everything you love about Google Classroom as well as the features only Kiddom brings to learning such as:

  • the ability to plan, assess, and analyze via a free library of standards-aligned resources
  • quick lesson planning using an integrated curriculum planner that can personalize instruction
  • unlimited possibilities for student ownership as they submit work, track their own progress, and solicit feedback from teachers
  • standards-based lesson plans which allow teachers to track completion of skills
  • easy-to-read, actionable reports that help teachers understand individual student performance
  • a flexible curriculum planner that allows teachers to modify individual student learning pathways
Because Kiddom works with Google Classroom, this may be the best option for schools that like Google Classroom but need more.

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Categories: classroom management, Google Earth, online education | Tags:

How to Use Google Sheets in the K-12 Classroom

google sheetsNothing turns data into information like a spreadsheet. We as teachers understand that, which is why spreadsheets are a fundamental tool to critically analyze any data that includes numbers. There are many options (Numbers, Excel, and Open Office to name just a few), but arguably the most popular is Google Sheets. If you’re using Google Classroom or G Suite, you already have it. That means there’s no separate log-in required, no unique password for students to forget, and no special install required to push it out to students. It’s right there, as part of the education package.

Most spreadsheet programs have similar options, so what characteristics make Google Sheets stand out? Read on.

Pros

The most common positives mentioned by users are:

  • You can collaborate with friends and colleagues.
  • You can share the spreadsheet as an embed, either with viewing privileges or editing ones.
  • It can be synced across all devices, whether at home or school.
  • It works on all digital devices whether it’s a Mac, Windows, Chromebook, or iPad.
  • It provides a revision history, allowing you to scroll back to a better version of your work and/or track the contributions of collaborators.
  • It includes a chat window where collaborators can discuss their work before changing the spreadsheet.
  • Because Sheets is part of Google, it easily imports data from other Google Apps. It also exports nicely to the increasingly broad group of partners who work with Google Apps.

One more that I list as a Pro, but could be a Con: Sheets is easier to learn (that’s the Pro). The reason is there’s less to learn (that’s the Con). It focuses on the most popular functions, not the depth of need. If you’re a lite user of spreadsheets, this will serve you well, but if you are moderate to advanced, you may struggle to find the tool you were used to in Excel — if you can find it at all. For example, pivot tables are strictly an Excel tool.

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Categories: Google Earth, Reviews, Spreadsheets | Tags: | 1 Comment

169 Tech Tip #20: How to Add a Link to MS Word

tech tipsIn these 169 tech-centric situations, you get an overview of pedagogy—the tech topics most important to your teaching—as well as practical strategies to address most classroom tech situations, how to scaffold these to learning, and where they provide the subtext to daily tech-infused education.

Today’s tip: #20–How to add a link to MS Word

Category: EDIT/FORMAT

Sub-category: MS Office, Google Apps, Keyboarding

Q:  I want to link a resource in Word/Google Docs to a website. How do I do that?

A:  Follow these easy steps:

  • Go to the website you want to link to.
  • Copy the address from the address bar (Ctrl+C or Edit>copy from the menus).
  • Return to your doc (it’s waiting on the taskbar at the bottom of the screen or simply click Alt+Tab).
  • Highlight the words you want to link to the website.
  • Press Ctrl+K; press Ctrl+V; push enter.
  • The words turns blue with a line under them, showing it’s a link.
  • To use the link, Ctrl+click on the words.

There are sophisticated options that go along with adding links, but this is quick and easy.

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Categories: Google Earth, MS Office, Tech Tips, word processing | Tags: | Leave a comment

How to Use Google Apps

Here’s a collection of Ask a Tech Teacher articles addressing individual Google Apps:

Google Docs

Google Drawings

Google Forms

Google Hangouts

Google Keep

Google Voice

This isn’t meant to be comprehensive. Yet. If your favorite Google App isn’t listed and you’d like me to review it, fill out the form below:

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Categories: Google Earth, Web 2.0 | 2 Comments

What is Google Keep and Why Use it in Your Classroom?

Google Keep logo

My daughter just bought her first house (though it went on hold several times as the Navy threatened/offered to move her). We wanted a simple way to share a ToDo list that would be available on phones, iPads, and computers, and would auto-update with our ideas. I looked at a variety of options, but found something wrong with each of them.

Until I found Google Keep. It is marketed as a note-taking app — which it is — but trades sophisticated note-taking tools (like formatting) for simplicity. It is similar to iPhone Notes, but with more options, more visual, syncs across all devices, and allows collaboration. You can add thoughts by typing or speaking (mobile devices only), as a narrative note or a bullet list, and include images from your collection, your camera roll, or by taking one with the native camera (mobile devices only). The title is auto-formatted to stand out from the rest of the note. You can organize notes by category or color, search for a particular note, pin the most important to the top, and re-arrange the collection by dragging-dropping. As in Google Reminders, you can set a location-based reminder to pull up your grocery list when you get to the store or a time-based reminder to make sure you never miss a parent conference.

It requires a Google account and — as with other Google Apps — the amount of space you get for saved notes depends upon your Google Drive size. It works on iOS, the web, Chrome (with an add-on), and Android.

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How to Use Google Drawings

google appsGoogle Drawings is a free, web-based drawing tool that allows users to collaborate and work together in real time to create flowcharts, organizational charts, website wireframes, mind maps, concept maps, drawings, and more. It is included in GAFE, Google Classroom, G Suite, and Google Drive (this may vary in managed domains, depending upon whether the administrator turns on access to this tool).

To use Google Drawing, here’s what you do:

  • Open your Google Drive account; go to New and select Google Drawings. 
  • Insert shapes, lines, an image, or text with the editing tools.
  • When finished, add this drawing to another Google Doc, slideshow, or spreadsheet, save it as a stand-alone file, and/or share it with others in a wide variety of methods. 

There are a lot of drawing programs available — SumoPaint, KidPix, and TuxPaint to name a few. All wonderful in their own right. So why use Google Drawings instead of a tool you are already familiar with? Here are seven reasons:

  • it’s collaborative
  • projects are easily shared with teacher 
  • it can be used at home and school — and synced between the two locations
  • it is minimalist — the project is easy to find in the student’s Google Drive (if they attend a Google school). No tracking it down and wondering, “What tool did I use to create this project?”
  • changes or edits are easy to add — just open the project in Google Drive and edit
  • project can be embedded into student digital portfolio or class gallery
  • project can be downloaded as an image file, a vector graphic, or a PDF

Be aware: Each drawing program mentioned above may have some of these, but few have all. Except, of course, Google Drawings.

Here are eight projects that are perfect for Google Drawings:

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Categories: Google Earth, Reviews | 1 Comment

How Google Docs Improves Writing

google docsGoogle Docs is a free word processing program that does 99% of everything a student will ever need to do when writing. What isn’t included as part of the Google Docs program tool can be augmented with mostly free third-party add-ons, extensions, and apps. It operates in the cloud so there’re no download foibles, pesky maintenance, or expensive yearly upgrades. The end result is a learning tool that is powerful, robust, scalable, and because it’s free, is the equitable solution to so many concerns over education’s digital divide.

It’s no surprise that Google Docs and its sister programs — Google Spreadsheets, Google Slideshows, Google Draw, and Google Forms — have taken education by storm, usually in a package like Google Apps for Education (GAFE) or Google Classroom. While it does have a moderate learning curve (no worse than MS Word), once traveled, teachers quickly adopt it as their own and find many reasons why this has become their favorite tool. Here are the top eleven reasons from the educators I talk to:

Always up

I’ve never had the experience of logging into Google Drive (where Google Docs live) and having it not open. On the other hand, I have often experienced that heart-stopping occurrence with MS Word when it suddenly won’t work or a Word file has become corrupted for no reason I can tell. Using Google Docs has probably added years to my life just in the lowered stress levels.

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Categories: Google Earth, writing | 2 Comments

How to Use Google Forms in the Classroom

google formsThere are lots of free survey and polling sites (two popular options are PollDaddy and Survey Monkey), but often they limit the number of surveys you can create or how many questions you can include without ‘leveling up’ to a premium version. Among the teachers I know who are always looking for ways to save their limited pennies, Google Forms is a run-away favorite. It is intuitive, flexible, professional, can be adapted to school colors and images, and can be shared as a link or an embed. You can work alone or with colleagues and there are a wide variety of options that tweak the form to your needs.

Using available templates, a customized form can be completed in under five minutes. Responses are collected to a Google Spreadsheet that can be private or shared with participants and can be sorted and analyzed like any other spreadsheet.

Google Forms integrates well with Google Apps for Education, Google Classroom and many LMSs such as Blackboard.

How to use it

Google Forms is simple to use. Just follow these steps:

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Categories: Google Earth, teacher resources, Tech Tips | 18 Comments

9 Google Apps Tips You Don’t Want to Miss

gafeHere are the top 9 nine Google Apps tips according to Ask a Tech Teacher readers:

  1. Embed a File from Google Drive
  2. Google Apps lesson plan
  3. 8 Google Apps Tricks Every Teacher Should Know
  4. Google Hangouts–Are You Using Them Yet?
  5. How to Embed Student Work into Digital Portfolios
  6. Book Review: Google Apps Meets Common Core
  7. Dear Otto: How do I teach Google Drive to K/1?
  8. Google Gravity
  9. Google Apps Support Bloom’s Taxonomy–Take a Look

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