Overview of the New Google+

Google+ was updated a couple weeks ago and I am still getting used to the new changes. I compiled a list of the changes I have observed so far and updated my Google+ tutorial. I hope this helps you get familiar with the new updates. 

New Google+ Changes (classic Google+ refers to the old version):

  • the interface has a new simplistic interface
  • profile is  streamlined
  • collections have a more prominent role 
  • you now 'follow' people; once you 'follow' someone you can then place them into a circle
  • Google Hangouts is no longer in Google+ (check out its new location)
  • with the new Google+, you can only create events using an Android device; switch back to the classic Google+ to create an event using the computer. 
  • pages is no longer a part of Google+
  • you can no longer search within a community (super sad face)
  • you can only delete a community from an Android device (switch back to the old Google+ for this feature)
  • you can vote on a poll from the iOS app and computer, but can not create one. To create a poll use the Android app or switch back to the classic Google+
Check out this presentation to see the new changes in visual form.

Hour of Code Resources from #gafechat

We just had an Hour of Code discussion on #gafechat (moderated by Jaime Chanter) There were some great ideas and resources shared by some amazing educators. 

Hour of Code is more than just having students play with blocks. While I could go into all the benefits, I feel the picture that Sylvia Duckworth created from Brian Aspinall's list says it all.

While there were a lot of resources and ideas shared during the chat. Here are some of the main ones I want to highlight (you can view the full #gafechat Hour of Code discussion here).

New Google Hangouts

The new Google+ makeover officially booted Google Hangouts out to its new home - https://hangouts.google.com/.

During this transition, Google Hangouts video chats received its own makeover. While the new look is more streamlined, I am afraid I miss the apps you used to be able to integrate into your call. Those apps are still available in a Hangout on Air, as that has not received a makeover, but I admit I miss them in the video chat. 

Here is a tutorial that will help you see and understand the new Google Hangouts website. 

The Power of Google Drawing (with templates)

Google Drawing is the Drive tool least used, yet in my opinion is one of the best. Here is an example of a visual I created with Drawing. 

Students can use Google Drawing to create:
  • book covers
  • story illustrations
  • thinking maps/graphic organizers (templates)
  • posters
  • visuals of vocabulary words
  • visuals to demonstrate understanding
  • visual representations for math (fractions, number lines, geometric figures, etc.)
  • comic strips (template)
  • interactive image maps (similar to Thinglink)

In addition to above, teachers can use Google Drawing to create:

Here is a direct link to my folder with 30+ templates you can copy. 

Video Tutorial
The video tutorial below will show you some neat features of Google Drawing. In this video you will learn how to:
  • change the background color
  • create shapes in various colors
  • draw lines
  • mask images (see example below)
  • create word art
  • make drawing interactive with hyperlinks

Mash-Up: New Google Forms + Flubaroo = Grading Time Saver

There are several Google Form and Flubaroo videos out there, but I couldn't find one showcasing the new Google Forms with the last updates to Flubaroo. I created a couple tutorials, one with the new forms look and one with the old forms look. Both videos highlight the grading by hand feature in Flubaroo.  

New Google Forms + Flubaroo updates video:

'Old' Google Forms = Flubaroo Updates:

If you want to use Flubaroo with multiple classes, you will need to make sure that you make a copy of the Google Forms assessment for each of your classes. This will keep the students grades on separate spreadsheets. 

If you want to learn more about the new Google Forms, check out my tutorial here

8 Great Google Tips for Every Educator

There are a ton of Google tips and tricks out there. Here are eight tips that I feel every educator needs to know. 

Here are the eight tips highlighted in the above video:

Tip #1 - Force people to make a copy of your Google document, spreadsheet, drawing, or presentation.

In the URL, change edit to copy.

Tip #2 -  Share your Google presentation, document, drawing or spreadsheet with preview rights.

In the URL, change edit to preview.

Tip #3 -  Conduct a search for only Shockwave Flash files (Thanks to Kellie Lambert for this tip).

  1. Type in search
  2. Go to settings wheel
  3. Choose 'Advanced Settings'
  4. Change File type to 'Shockwave Flash.'
  5. Click 'Advanced Search'

Tip #4 - Start a timer instantly

In Google search type in amount of time + timer and hit enter.

Tip #5 - Work offline in Google Drive

  1. Click on settings wheel
  2. Select 'Settings'
  3. Check 'sync...offline'
Tip #6 - Restrict commenters and views from downloading, printing or making a copy of your Google document, spreadsheet, drawing, or presentation.

  1. Click 'Share'
  2. Click 'Advanced'
  3. Enter people’s name or change private to one of the other settings
  4. Check 'Disable options to download, print, and copy for commenters and viewers'

Tip #7 - Trim a YouTube video to a specific portion of the video.

  1. Copy YouTube URL
  2. Paste URL
  3. Select start and end time
  4. Click 'Chop It'
  5. Capture embed code or URL

Tip #8 - Only search for Google images that are free to reuse.

  1. In Google Images, type in search term
  2. Click on 'Search Tools'
  3. Change usage rights to one that permits reuse.

Google Drive: Set Date/Time to Auto Expire for Shared File/Folder

One of the best features of Google Drive is the ability to communicate and collaborate with other people. When you share files and folders with other people, you must manually take those permissions away. Sometimes you want to be able to share with other people for just a short period of time. The auto expire script keeps you on top of things and does the work for you. 

Steps to activate the script:

Step 1: Click on this link to access the script (it will automatically make a copy for you).

Step 2: In line #3, replace the existing URL with the URL of your shared Drive file or folder.

Step 3: In line #7, replace the existing date and time with the date and time you want the file/folder to automatically remove permissions. Note, the time must be according to the 24 hour clock, i.e. 3:00pm would be 15:00.

Step 4: Click on File, select 'Project Properties,' and choose your time zone.

Step 5: Click on Run, select start, and authorize to run. 

Close the script editor window, sit back, and relax because the script will do all the work for you. 

Explore the World through GeoGuessr

GeoGuessr is perfect for engaging students through game-based learning. The game drops you into 5 different locations around the world using Google's Street View. Your task is to figure out the location. You can move forward, backwards and turn 360 degrees around. You earn points based on how close your guess is to the actual location. 

I am addicted to GeoGuessr and play it all the time. My friend, Kellie Lambert, and I showcased the tool during a presentation at the 2015 Texas ASCD Conference. The following day we were approached by several people who stated they too are now addicts, too.  

To some this might look like just a game. To me it is a way to get students to think critically, while sharpening their problem-solving skills. It brings the world to them and allows them to explore. 

Things to consider when playing: 

  • What language are the signs in?
  • What side of the road are the cars driving on?
  • What kind of vegetation do you see?
  • Find signs to help you in further investigation (searching on the web).
  • What materials are used to construct the buildings?

Here are a example activities/ways to integrate GeoGuessr with students:

  • Have students figure out the algorithm for points awarded. Example spreadsheet.
  • As a teaser to the book, have students explore these five locations from The Outsiders.
  • Have students go through a GeoGuessr Biome Animal Challenge to identify animals that learn in various biomes around the world.
  • Challenge students to identify the common theme in this GeoGuessr Challenge (answer: all places President Ronald Reagan has lived)
  • Study various cultures around the world
  • Compare and contrast their current city with the places they visit
  • Use the locations as setting for a story
  • Have students create a descriptive paragraph on one of the locations.

Check out this quick video (no audio) showcasing how it works. 

You have been forewarned...this game is addicting. Happy traveling the world!! 

Newest Features in Screencastify

Screencastify is one of my go-to tools for screen recording because it is so easy to use and uploads to Google Drive or YouTube automatically. The free version allows you to record video up to ten minutes. 

The extension recently had an update that now allows the recorder to highlight important areas on the screen with a mouse pointer or pen feature. Here is a quick video that will show you the latest updates. 

If your Screencastify hasn't made the update you can right click on the Chrome extension, remove from Chrome and then re-add in from the web store. 

The new tab tools (mouse pointer and pen) work on the majority of websites. If you start recording and the tools don't appear you know you have found one of those websites where the tools are not enabled. 

Using Collections in TweetDeck to Save Tweets

TweetDeck is the perfect tool for following along during a Twitter chat because it allows you to build columns to keep track of the chat feed, notifications, mentions, home feed, etc.

If you have ever participated in a twitter chat then you know how hard it can be to check out the resources shared and keep up with the chat. There are many different methods for 'saving' the resources shared. I personally use the collections feature in TweetDeck to gather those resources to review at a later time.

Here is how to add a collection and start saving those wonderful resources people are sharing. 

Step 1: Click on Add Column

Step 2: Click on Collections

Step 3: Click on Create Collection

Step 4: Name Collection

Step 5: Check the Collection Name and Click Done

Create a Custom Search Engine for Your Students

As more and more classrooms are moving in the digital age, teachers are encouraging students to conduct research online. After all textbooks are becoming outdated the minute they are printed. While the internet is great for finding answers it can also be a daunting experience for students.  Custom Search Engine is the perfect way for teachers to control which websites the students are directed to when conducting a search. 

Custom Search Engine should not be used for everything, as teaching students how to decipher the online world of information is important. With that said, there are times when you want to guide students into a more focused search. 

Below will show you how to create a custom search engine in five easy steps.

Step 1: Open the Custom Search Engine website. 

Step 2: Enter sites students can pull information from
 Step 3: Name the search
Step 4: Click Create

Step 5: Get the public URL and share with students

Here is what students see when they click on the teacher's custom search link:

Participate Learning - One Stop Shop to Find, Collect, and Share Digital Resources

As an educational technologist, I am always looking for new tools to learn and then share with educators. To find digital resources, I search online, read blog posts, and scour through social media. I save the resources using the Tweetdecks collection feature, Pocket, or Citable, so when time permits I could review the tool. I then share the resources via my blog, website, email, social media, etc. The process is quite daunting and takes a great amount of time and effort. Don't get me wrong, I love my job, but until now I didn't have a very efficient method for my madness.  

Participate Learning, is a free website that allows educators to search, collect and share digital resources all in one location.  Quickly search the websites database for digital resources by keyword, content, topic, or grade level. 

You can narrow your search down by price, type, and/or grade level in order to find tools that will work for you and your students. Read reviews of the digital resources by Participate Learning experts. 

Gather the resources you find into collections that can be shared via link, email, embed code or through social media. Easily add additional web resources or upload files, photos or videos into your collections. I use the Participate Learning Chrome Extension to bookmark the resources I find, so I can easily add them to my collections. Control who has access to your collections by changing the visibility setting. Everything that I used to do with multiple tools can now be done with Participate Learning.

Here is one of the collections I am currently building around Creativity Tools.

In addition, you can add collaborators to your collections in order to build a collection of resources together. Now team/departments can create one collection for their students or the curriculum department can create a collection for teachers. 

If you are interested in learning more, please check out this brief overview of Participate Learning

Participate Learning should be a go-to website for any educator looking to curate digital resources for themselves and their students. Happy curating!

Use Crafty Text Extension to Project Text Bigger

Crafty Text Chrome Extension makes text appear bigger in the center of your screen. It works on top of any website. 

Click on the Crafty Text extension, enter text into pop-up, hit enter, and voilĂ 

Need to project a shortened URL? Use the goo.gl Chrome Extension to create the URL and then paste the address into Crafty Text. Now everyone can see it!

Mash-up: Student Created Animated Dictionaries

I just learned about a new website from Bruce Mercer, called SumoPaint. It is free, online photoshop style website. I love combining tools to create new unique learning experiences and when I saw what SumoPaint could do, I instantly knew this would be great combined with GIFs. 

SumoPaint, combined with Google Slides and the MakeGif Video Capture Chrome Extension, will allow students to create animated dictionaries. What a great way for students to take ownership of their learning by creating individual animated dictionaries. You could also turn it into group or whole class collaborative unit dictionary, if limited on devices.  

Here is a quick video showing you some examples and the steps I took to create the slides. 

Another option: If you find SumoPaint to be too challenging,  you can have the students create word art on the Google slide, fill with transparent, and make the line weight a high pixel. It won't have the same look, but you would remove the Sumo Paint step. 

Implementation Ideas:
  • Create a dictionary for each unit, assign in Classroom, and collaboratively as a class have students built based on unit vocabulary.
  • Group students and assign various roles (example: GIF Maker, Word Maker, Definer).
  • Have students collaboratively create a whole class animated dictionary.
  • Have students create individual dictionaries and share with one another.

18 EdTech Integration Ideas for the Language Arts Classroom

During the September 15th #gafechat Twitter chat, I posed content specific questions to drive conversation and sharing of ideas around 'Creating Digital Awareness'. If you missed the chat, you can find the full archives here.

Here is the Language Arts question that I posed:

Here are some of the ideas that the participants shared. 

The students could...
  1. do an exquisite corpse - have each student write for two minutes and then have students switch and another student continue the story. (@mbswoods)
  2. write using the new Voice feature in Google documents (@alicebarr)
  3. write a collaborative story using a Google Document. Each student can take turns writing a sentence. (@LISDTechie)
  4. summarize in "tweet" style (140 characters or less) (@curryhj2000)
  5. Tweet a writer on Twitter to ask questions about a book (@curryhj2000)
  6. blog and share their thoughts with the class or world. (@TeachingFactor)
  7. create a writing E-portfolio on Google Slides and add images to support. (@TeachingFactor)
  8. write stories together using Story Wars (@ShakeUpLearning)
  9. write a story on a Google document and use the Research Feature to include images to support. (@LISDTechie)
  10. post a question in Google Classroom and have them respond (@MLunoff)
  11. create an online flipbook using FlipSmackEDU (@nsattler) 
  12. record their reflection/thoughts using Vocaroo, save in Google Drive and share with others. (@LISDTechie)
  13. compare and contrast two images provided by the teacher via a Google Form inserted image and paragraph text box. (@tntechgal)
  14. create a Choose Your Own Adventure story using Google Slides or Google Forms (@LISDTechie)
  15. create editorial style blog posts about current events. Have other students comment on posts. (@ospikes) Google Document with commenting rights is great for this. 
  16. compose a quick conversation between two characters (historical, mathematical, fictional, etc.) using Story Builder. (@LISDTechie
  17. draft, write, edit, revise, and then record a podcast using SoundTrap (@AlexaSchlechter
  18. participate in quadblogging to infuse an authentic audience to engage students (@kilgoretech)
Additional Resources Shared:

Check out these posts for other edtech integration ideas: