Mash-Up: Google Doc + g(math) Add-on Handwriting Feature

The latest update to the g(math) add-on for Google documents is the handwriting feature. Here is a demonstration on how students can use this feature within a Google document to solve math problems on the computer. 

The drawback to this feature is the size of the handwriting screen, but it is still in beta, so perhaps that will change. 

For other mash-up videos, please visit my YouTube channel or Mash-Up page

Favorite Chrome Extensions - Week of April 27th

Here are my Chrome extensions picks for the week. 

#1: Bookmark My Tabs
Type: Productivity 
Summary: There are a lot of extensions out there that will save your tab groups, but this extension is different in that it saves to your bookmark bar. It will also open bookmark folders that you already have created. You have the ability pick and choose which tabs you want to save or just copy all of the open URLs to share with others. 

#2: RSS Feed Reader 
Type: News & Weather
Summary: Great way to keep track of all of your RSS and Atom feeds. Don't miss another blog again. 

#3: Magic Actions for YouTube 
Type: Productivity
Summary: This extension adds a tool bar under the YouTube video that allows you to control settings. It does Auto HD, ad block, cinema mode (which pulls the video up and takes away the distractions), screenshot, and more. With a 4.8 star rating from over 66,000 people, how could you not check this extension out. 

#4: Facts 
Type: Fun
Summary: I love learning, whether it be useful or useless information. It is the trivia geek in me. This extension isn't magical, but I find it fun getting a new fact everyday. If you aren't someone who gets excited about learning new random things then this extension is not for you. 

If you missed any of my past posts, check them out here.

CheckItOut Google Form Add-On

CheckItOut is a great Google Form add-on that will track items checked out and checked back in. This is very useful for shared classroom devices, shared school carts, class library books, etc. When someone checks out an item the add-on automatically transfers the item from check out to check in and vice versa. The owner can keep track of items easier and the user can see which items are available/unavailable.

Follow these steps to use the add-on:

Step 1: Add the CheckItOut add-on from the Chrome Webstore. 

Step 2From the add-ons wheel, select CheckItOut.

Step 3: Choose Add/Edit Question Set

Step 4: Choose check in/out set name (item, device, etc.), question type, and modify check out/in empty text (what appears if all items are checked out or checked in). Once filled out, click Add.

Step 5: Edit the Check Out question by adding the items to be checked out.

Step 6: Once the item has been checked out it will be removed from that question and appear on the check in question. 

Video Production with Students - Helpful Tips and Resources

Here are some takeaways from the April 21st  #gafechat discussion on Using Google Tools to Produce VideosThere were so many amazing tweets and ideas being shared. 

Benefit of Students Producing Videos

What to Consider When Producing Videos:

Examples of Videos Students Can Create & Possible Tools Needed 
  • Screen Capture for Tutorials/Demonstrate Understanding 
  • Stop Motion (example)
    • Stop motion camera
    • Google Slides and screen capture 
  • Argument Videos (thanks @MrSchoenbart for the example
    • Camera (mobile device, webcam, video camera, etc.)
    • Green screen app or green sheet
    • Editing software/website
  • Silent Films (thanks @Mizgibson for the examples)
    • Camera (mobile device, webcam, video camera, etc.)
    • GIF creator (Snagit)
  • Informational/Talk Show (thanks @Flems_English for the example
    • Camera (mobile device, webcam, video camera, etc.)
    • Editing software/website

Stages of Video Production & Helpful Resources 

Here are some of the stages that students will need to go through to produce a video. Depending on the type of video determines whether or not they need to complete each stage. 

The brainstorming part if crucial for students to be able to determine what type of film to produce. Tools students can use to brainstorm:

Students work on the writing process when creating a script. Pre-writing, drafts, revisions and collaboration are a huge portion of writing a script. Tools students can use to write a script:

Here is where students demonstrate their learning. You will be amazed at how engaged and focused a student can be when trying to capture the right shots. Tools students can use to film:

This requires students to think through a process from start to finish. Tools students can use to edit:

Students need to know that their work matters. It is also a great way for the students to gain feedback and then reflect on how they can improve for the next video. Ways students can share their work:
  • Social Network: Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube
  • Use videos in place marks in maps (thanks @alicebarr)
  • Create QR codes to place around the school
  • Upload into Google Drive and share link with parents, teachers, students, etc.

Here are a couple additional resources teachers can use with students to help through the production process:

Favorite Chrome Extensions - Week of April 20th

Here are my selections for the week. If you find something you love, make sure to share with others. 

#1: Point
Type: Social and Communication
Summary: This extension is great for anyone who likes to share and communicate about online articles. Both parties must have the extension installed for this to work. Find an article on the web, click the Point extension and share with another person. You can highlight portions of the web and leave a comment to guide people to certain portions of the reading. 

#2: Grammarly
Type: Productivity
Summary: This extension runs a spell and grammar check on your writing. Works great with Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Tumblr.

#3: Lightshot
Type: Productivity
Summary: Capture webpage screenshots. Annotate on screenshot, upload image, share on social media sites, search Google for similar images, print, copy, and save to desktop.

#4: Social Fixer for Facebook
Type: Social Networking
Summary: I will admit that I am not much of a Facebooker. I spend more of my social networking time on Twitter and Google+. With that said, I think this extension is pretty cool. I love that fact that I can tag a post as read so that it disappears from my feed. The extension creates tabs on the news feed and allows you to mark posts a read, save posts for later, and mark and mute posts so that they don't appear again (for those annoying ads). 

Click here to access my previous week's selections. 

Mash-up: Google Classroom + Interactive Whiteboard to Demonstrate Understanding

This mash-up showcases Google Classroom (or you can use any other LMS) and the interactive whiteboard website. When you combine both of these tools together you make it easy for students to demonstrate understanding of a given concept.

The website has just made a recent update that now allows you to put images on the whiteboard, as well as download the image to your computer. 

There are a ton of other ways you can use this new image feature, so make sure to look for more ideas in upcoming videos. 

Student Led Help Desk: Non-negotiable in a Technology Enriched Environment

I had the honor of spending last Thursday and Friday in Burlington, MA learning from the amazing tech team at Burlington Public Schools. I was accompanied by the Randi Harris, Campus Technologist, and Sabrina Hyden, Librarian, of one of our high schools. The purpose of the trip was to gain first hand knowledge of how a successful student help desk can be implemented in a school setting.

In my district, Leander ISD, we are in the beginning stages of deploying 1:1 in our middle and high schools and a 3:1 in our elementary schools. There are 5 high (with another opening in a year), 8 middle, and 24 elementary schools (with another opening next school year). We have a team of 8 instructional technologists and while the environment of our schools are about to drastically change, the budget constraints are not permitting us to hire any more support staff. So you can imagine the dilemma that we are facing. 

Jenn Scheffer, the Technology Integration Specialist/Mobile Learning Coach for Burlington High School (BHS), has gained global recognition regarding her student help desk program, also referred to as the student led genius bar. We were honored that Jenn and the Burlington Tech Team allowed us to come  spend some time with them.

Jenn Scheffer and her 2014-2015 Student Geniuses
Our trip was packed with information. In fact, we have 13 pages of notes from our two days there. While they have a student help desk program on a volunteer basis at the elementary and middle school level, this blog is going to highlight what I learned from Jenn, her high school students, and the Burlington tech team. 

Structure of the program
The students are enrolled in a Technology Innovation and Integration course where they spend one 45-minute period a day troubleshooting, fixing issues, writing blog posts, and creating resources to share. 

Jenn has a strong belief in allowing the students to bring their passion into the program, so 20% of the time is dedicated to genius hour. This allows the students to work on a project they are passionate about. 

The students are graded on their blog posts and tangible products (screencasts, videos, talk show, digital prints, etc). 

Student Selection
Any sophomore, junior or senior can apply to take the course. After the application has been reviewed the students are contacted for an interview. Jenn is looking for students from a wide range of strengths; fixers, problem solvers, speakers, creators, innovators, curators, writers, designers, etc. The students must be self motivated and have a willingness to learn. When students come to ask her how to do something she simply responds, "I don't know, go figure it out, and when you do come back, teach me."  

The Help Desk is located in a room off of the library. There is a main desk to welcome people as they arrive, an area with comfortable chairs for visitors to wait, an area for team collaboration, and a workstation with Mac desktops.

Help Desk Marketing
The students first project for the year is to create promotional material to market themselves to the staff and students. The students are put into teams and allowed to choose the material they would like to create. Some options are business cards, commercial, promotional video, digital print ad, or touchcast. There is also a student who is put in charge of the Help Desk's Twitter account. Everything is laid out in the Help Desk Promotion Campaign guidelines

Customer Service
The program demands a high level of customer service. One of the first assignments is for the students to do a critical analysis of a customer service experience. She believes that students can't give good customer service until they experience what that means first hand. Jenn has also created W.I.R.E.D - 5 Steps to Great Customer Service that the students must abide by.

Student Online Presence
Each student must have a blog, through Blogger, and YouTube channel. The students are responsible for authoring a weekly blog post to demonstrate their learning and share resources created. The students blogs are all linked from the main Burlington High School Help Desk site

Jenn is a strong component of students building a positive digital footprint. All of her students must create and maintain a professional online presence via LinkedIn, About Me, and Re.Vu. She coaches the students and must approve everything they submit.

She wants her students to be recognized for their hard work and build a social presence they will be proud to share with future employers and colleges.

Student Geniuses
Speaking to the students was one of the best parts of the trip. I was amazed by the maturity of the students and the products they were creating. These are 10th-12th graders who travel around presenting at conferences, blogging for CEOs, giving interviews with media companies, and so much more. The course is designed to truly create student leaders, ones who have the passion to make a difference in the world. 

While all the students we spoke to were all amazing, I want to highlight a couple students that I found extraordinary. 

Siddhartha Srivastava
Sid, a junior, is one of those people who truly has a passion for helping people. I was blown away from my conversation with him. He took his passion for computer languages and started an after-school club, where he teaches 18-20 students how to code. 

He has also recently developed a strong passion for educating people on the dangers of cyberbullying. This passion came to him from seeing how people criticize others online instead of using it to communicate. He would to start a club and inspire other schools to follow suite. He has his club proposal and is awaiting a club sponsor. 

Check out Sid's blog and YouTube channel.

Cat Hoyt
Cat, a senior, is a very well spoken young lady. She speaks in front of the BHS staff and students, presents at conferences, and has her own TED talk. Here are a couple things she has produced. 

Burlington Help Desk Promotional Video

No Excuses: A Distracted Driving PSA Video
(check out blog post about the project)

Check out Cat's blog and YouTube channel.

Insight from the Director
Dennis Villano, Director of Technology Integration, gave us some insight on his take of the program and his vision for the future. He believes the reason the district is so successful is because of the student online presence via blogs and YouTube. A district can send out newsletters to highlight student work, but it doesn't have the same impact as a student showcasing their work. For this reason, Burlington Public Schools encourages the students to blog, upload videos, and share their work for the world to see. They want the students telling the district's story, not the district telling stories about the students. 

In the future, he envisions one help desk for the entire district. A place where all students contribute to that one site. He feels there are too many blogs out there and it is hard for people to find the resources they need. Next year, they are looking to create a Help Desk Facebook page to reach more parents.  

He would also like to see the students take a digital literacy online course prior to getting the device. The course would required the students to watch videos and answer questions. 

Huge Thank You!
I want to thank Jenn Scheffer, Dennis Villano, and the students in the Help Desk for opening up your doors and educating us on what needs to be done to develop a successful student led help desk program. 

Check out the Burlington High School Help Desk website for more information on this amazing program. 

Favorite Chrome Extensions - Week of April 13th

Here are my Chrome extensions for the week. 

#1: One Click Google Hangout

Type: Social & Communication
Summary: I love this extension. You can instantly create a Google Hangout simply by clicking the extension icon. The Google Hangout window pops up, while instantly copying the link to the hangout on your clipboard, so you can quickly share. Keep in mind it this works for a regular Hangout, not a Hangout on Air.

#2: Quickmarks
Type: Productivity
Summary: If you are someone who bookmarks a lot of sites on your bookmark bar then this is a must have. Once installed, type 'b + tab' in the omnibar, type in the name of your bookmark, hit enter and it will immediately open. 

#3: TimeStats

Type: Productivity
Summary: This extension gives you a breakdown of the sites you visit daily, monthly, and more visited. It gives you the amount of time spent at each site, complete list of the domains from most to least visited, the days you spend the largest amount of time, and more. You can place the sites into categories to help you track the type of sites you spend most of your time. 

#4: Calculator
Type: Productivity
Summary: This is a scientific calculator that will open up in the tab/window you are in. Sure you can open the calculator in Google, but this takes you away from the page that you are on. There is nothing magical about this extension, it won't do the math steps for you, but it will allow you to quickly compute the answer. Some people think that calculators should be kept from students. I disagree. I think that students should use calculators when they are practicing problems to help them see if their answer is correct. It won't do the steps for the student and in no way should it replace the students working through the problem. It is just a way for students compare their answer to the calculators answer. 

Did you learn any new extensions that you are looking forward to using? 

Rubrics: Help or Hinder?

I spent the day with Jenn Scheffer at Burlington High School in Burlington, MA today. I was there with two co-workers, Randi and Sabrina, learning about how she has structured her student help desk. So much was learned and I received great inspiration on all that Jenn and her team are doing with the students. In a nut shell it was an amazing day, which I will blog more about later. Right now I want to reflect on a comment that Jenn made that really got me thinking. 

We were discussing the course structure and specifically on how the students receive credit. Out of Jenn's mouth came, "I do not like rubrics." In my mind, I was thinking, "WOW! How can someone not like rubrics." Then she followed up the comment by saying, "Rubrics teach mediocrity. We shouldn't show students how to be average. We should give them the highest expectation and expect kids to reach it and not stop until they do" (this is not verbatim, but a close rendition).  This really got me thinking, do rubrics help or hinder?

I can see both sides. On one side, I see how rubrics can help students self-assess and see what steps need to be taken to 'perfect' their work. I mean if students can't see where they are now, how can they see where they need to go. On the other side, I see how giving the students a guideline on what needs to be done, just to get by, can hinder some students. Are teachers showing students the rubrics to show expectations or is the rubric solely for the benefit of the teachers so they can grade objectively? Why should we give a range? Are the students only doing the minimum to get a passing grade? If we want students to reach a certain expectation then what is the point of showing them lower expectations. 

I am glad that Jenn made the comment because it truly has challenged a belief that I thought I was solid on. I can see both sides and am not sure I will choose a side anytime soon. Then again do I need to? Can rubrics be helpful in some cases, but a hinderance in others?

Still much to ponder...

Read Google Forms Submissions Easier Using the Transpose Formula

Sometimes it is hard to read people Google Forms submission because you have to scroll so far. I have found that sometimes transposing the responses makes it easier for me to see what each person has submitted.

Here is a short video tutorial to show you how to use this formula.

Favorite Chrome Extensions - Week of April 6th

Here are my Chrome Extensions for the week.

#1: Tab Packager
Type: Productivity
Summary: This extension is amazing when you want to share multiple links with people. Click on the extension and it will turn all of your open tabs into one shortened link. Share that one link with people. When someone opens your link a page will appear with all of the links you had copied. You also have the ability to share the link directly with several social networking sites and email. 

#2: Synergyse
Type: Productivity
Summary: This is a must have extension for anyone who is a Google user. It will give you interactive, in application training for the Google tool. When enabled it will give show the Synergyse icon, simply click on the icon and it will show you all the video tutorials for the tool. 

#3: AdGuard Adblocker
Type: Productivity
SummaryUnmatched adblock extension against advertising and pop-ups. Blocks ads on Facebook, Youtube and all other websites. It has a 5 star rating from 7,300 ratings. With this extension those annoying ads disappear. I am especially happy to see those video ads that play prior to the video disappear. 

#4: Picture in Picture Viewer
Type: Productivity
Summary: This allows you to have a tab open inside another tab. This is great for watching a video and taking notes, having your Google Hangouts window open while working, and more. You must enable panels for this extension to work. To do this follow these steps:

  1. Go to chrome://flags/
  2. Search for 'enable flags' using Control/Command + F
  3. Click enable under 'Enable Panels'