Create "Google Expedition" Style Experiences

While you can not currently create your own Google Expeditions, you can create a 360° photo using the Google Street View app. This same app also allows you to view the photo using the Google cardboard. So while the teacher can not control the students experience, they can provide a experience to the students. 

There are already a ton of 360° photos in the app, so creation might not be necessary. 

Create 360 Photos with Google Street View App

  1. Download the Android App or iOS App
  2. Steps to Create a 360° Photo
  3. Steps to Publish a 360° Photo
  4. Steps to Share, Transfer, or Embed 360° Photos
  5. Steps to Blur or Remove a 360° Photo
Use Google Street View App with Google Cardboard
There is a mini cardboard icon on the top right corner of the street view image. Click on the icon, place the device in the cardboard and enjoy the experience. 

Integration ideas:

  • Have students create the 360° photo to showcase various concepts (science, math)
  • Create the 360° photos while visiting locations to share new cultures, surroundings, etc.

Add Voice Notes in Google Drive

In a recent #gafechat (Twitter chat centered around Google in Education), Kelsey Flynn shared a Chrome extension she recently discovered called Talk and Comment. I started playing with it that night, but somehow got squirreled and stopped. Fast forward one week later, where I woke up this morning to a Tweet from Joe Dale mentioning that it works in Google doc comments. So I immediately set out to test it out. Sure enough, the extension works perfectly in Google docs, sheets, slides, and drawings. Teachers and students can now leave voice feedback in the comment section of other people's papers. 

Here is a quick video showing how it works. 

I am so excited about this feature! I think teachers are going to love how easy this extension will be for making quick voice comments. 

Note: make sure students set their papers to 'anyone with the link can comment,' so other people can leave the voice comments for them. 

Mash-up: Online Article + Google Drawing = Blackout Poetry

If you haven't heard of Blackout Poetry, please check out the Austin Kleon website and Newspaper Blackout website. The concept is simple, but loads of fun and I felt empowered after my poetry creation. 

You can preselect the newspaper article or allow students to find an article of their choosing. While I am all about allowing students choice, I would be intrigued to see all of the poems that would come from one piece of published writing. 

Tools you will need:

  • Computer with internet access
  • Newspaper Website (any will do)
  • Screenshot tool (on the computer or Chrome extension, such as Awesome Screenshot)
  • Google Drawing

I wouldn't by any means consider myself a poet, but within 10 minutes I was able to take a screenshot of an article - the first one I came across - put it into Google, and create a poem. It might not be the best, but I am proud of my poem. 

Here is a video that will show you how students can perform this same activity. 

What a fun way to get students engaged in writing and creating masterpieces from someone else's published thoughts. 

Google Forms - Add Images as Answers

You can now add images as answers in a Google Forms. Happy Dance!!

One of my favorite activities is 'Which One Does Not Belong' because it gets the children to think about all the possible answers. I am so happy that you can now create Google Forms for this (see template here). The key to this activity is to make it so that there are multiple answers that could be correct. As long as the student can defend their answer correctly it should be accepted. Here is my example:

In this one, I would accept the following answers (not an exhaustive list):
  • Rhombus because the others have right angles.
  • Rhombus because the others have squares as part of the figure.
  • Pyramid because it has triangles as part of the figure.
  • Pyramid because it has one vertex.
  • Cube because it has the most faces.

Check out my tutorial on Google Forms if you need additional assistance with creating forms. 

Adding Audio Files to Google Classroom

There are a couple options for adding audio files to your Google Classroom and having students access that audio file. You can add an audio file that you have already placed into your Drive or you can attach an audio file from your computerYou can create audio files using Vocaroo. Check out my tutorial on this tool. 

Some ways for teachers to use audio files in class:

  • oral administration of assignment
  • read a story
  • audio version of notes
  • recorded lesson
  • famous speeches

Students can also record their own audio file and upload and turn it in via Google Classroom. 

If you need extra assistance with Google Classroom, please check out my resource that shows both the teacher and student view. 

Trick for Having Others Copy Your Google Form

Okay, so I might be late to the game, but I just discovered that you can force people to make a copy of your Google Form, just like you can with Google documents, spreadsheets, etc. I was getting so frustrated with the new switch to Google Forms because I had so many templates that I wanted to share with people, but I didn't like that I had to give everyone editing rights to my templates. Not that I didn't trust people, but if they forgot to make a copy and started editing my form then I had to redo it. With the 'force copy' feature all of my frustrations have gone out the door. Well with Google Forms that is...

In case you don't know the 'force copy' trick, here are the steps. They apply the same with documents, spreadsheets, drawings, presentations, and of course forms. Again, why did I not test this out earlier. 

Step 1: Change the sharing permissions of the Google Form to 'anyone with the link can edit' or 'anyone within (domain) with the link can edit.' I have found that public on the web can get "glitchy" with this feature. 

Step 2: Change the ending of the URL from edit to copy

Step 3: Share the URL (with copy at the end) with anyone you want and when they open the URL, they will be prompted to make a copy. 

Here is a link to my presentation that shows how to create a Google Form and has the majority of my Google Form templates (templates start on slide 34). Feel free to copy any and all templates. 

EZ Query Google Sheets Add-on - Perfect for Google Form Submissions

The EZ Query Add-on for Google Sheets is the perfect add-on for when you want to have information automatically transferred from the main sheet onto another sheet based on certain criteria. 

This add-on works best when you use multiple choice or dropdown style questions, as the data must match exactly in order for the transfer to work. For names, I suggest automatically capturing their username because if you have them write their name and they accidentally misspell it or don't capitalize the name then the add-on will not recognize it as an exact match. 

Step 1: Add the EZ Query add-on

Step 2: From the Google sheet, click on Add-on, and select Create Sheet.

Step 3: Choose 'Single sheet' or 'Unique from column' (and select the column that would have the unique data)
Step 4: Enter the name for the new sheet
Step 5: Choose which columns you want the data to transfer to the new sheet 

Step 6: Create a filter by clicking on the + and setting the criteria for the new sheet. The information you enter must match the data in the column exactly (spelling and capitalization counts)

Step 7: Add another filter (optional) or click 'Create'

Here is my example:

Now every time some one submits an entry that matches your filter, it will automatically transfer to the new sheet you created. 

(g)Math Google Form Add-on - Perfect for Teachers and Students

I love that the g(Math) Google Form Add-on allows teachers to create math expressions, graphs, statistical displays, handwriting examples, and make multiple choice questions. In addition, you can now allow students to answer in the form using g(math). 

If you are not familiar with creating a Google Form, please see this tutorial.

Here are the steps you need to take to add the add-on to your Google Forms. 

Here is a run down of all the cool things you can do with g(Math). 

Creating 24/7 Learning Experiences for Teachers

My district, Leander ISD, is in process of going 1:1 for all 6th-12th grade students. With the new onset of devices being put into the hands of the students there had to be a push to educate the teachers on digital tools.

With the new rollout, I received the chance to work two days a week at one of our middle schools. My role on campus was to help prepare and train the teachers on digital tools. My problem was that I am only there twice a week. I knew I had to do something different to make sure that the teachers had plenty of learning experiences. I asked myself, how can you reach teachers 24/7 and ensure that they have the resources available regardless of your physical presence. My answer was online self-guided learning experiences

I took the idea to the principal back in November and she was on board. This post is going to show you how I set up the learning opportunities and website. Keep in mind that it is a work in progress. 

"Leveled" Categories
We always talk about how professional development is not differentiated enough for teachers. I knew that I had to do something different because there are teachers of various technology proficiency levels at the school. While I could have done beginning, intermediate, and advanced learning opportunities, I didn't really like the way that it sounded. Being a student who grew up struggling with reading I hate labels, so I didn't want to put those labels on the teachers. Not being technology savvy doesn't mean you are an inadequate teacher, it just means you need more time and practice than others to catch up to the digital times. 

The more I thought about how educators learn new tools the easier it was for me to figure out how I was going to differentiate the learning. I came up with three categories to tag the learning opportunities: self, class, and student. 

Self denotes that the teacher is going to be learning about a new digital tool for their own personal growth. Examples of self experiences would be learning how to use Google Drive, building a practice Google Classroom to get comfortable with the features, using a new tool to curate digital resources, etc. 

Learning opportunities tagged as Class mean that the teacher is learning a new tool while creating something to share with the class (or students). The teacher is the one doing the creating. Examples of class experiences would be creating a Padlet for students to collaborate with one another, creating a custom search engine for students to use during research, creating a video to showcase a concept, etc. 

The last type is Student, where the teacher gives the student the resources needed to create something using a digital tool. Examples of student experiences would be teachers providing differentiated opportunities in Google Classroom, students creating an animated dictionary, podcast, video, e-portfolio, etc. While I don't like labels, I think many will agree that Student is the category we want most teachers to reach. 

Function Categories
Once I had my three types of learning opportunities, I created the different categories you would use to describe digital tools. This led me to the function of the tool and not the actual tool itself. I don't care about the tool. I care about what the tool allows teachers and students to do. Digital tools come and go, but the function will never die. To date, the learning opportunities fall under one or more of these categories. 

Learning Experiences
Now that I had my types and function, it was time to start building the learning experiences. This will always be a work in progress. I am constantly thinking and receiving feedback on new ways to improve. Sometimes I highlight one specific digital tool, while other times I give several options and allow the teachers to choose the one that fits best for them. Again, it comes down to the function of the tool and whether or not there multiple tools that fit that particular function at the moment. 

Here is how I have chosen to structure the learning experiences:

As I mentioned prior, some of the learning opportunities focus on a specific tool and the function that tool provides, while others provide choice in tools to try. As in the example above, Padlet is the tool and the function is communication, collaboration, assessment of/for learning, curation. Here is an example of when I suggested various tools to try.

Once I had several learning opportunities developed it was time to build the website. I chose a Google Sites for a couple options. 

  1. I know Google Sites like the back of my hand.
  2. Awesome Tables scripts works with Google Sites. 
  3. We are a Google for Education district and I wanted to model for the teachers something they could use (awesome table) on their website. 

If you have never heard of or seen Awesome Tables you are in for a treat. I used the 'cards' tool to create the interactive piece on the main page of the website. The teachers could then sort by function or type to choose the learning opportunity they want to focus on at that moment. The cards show the name of the learning experience, the badge they will earn (more about badging in a future blog post), and a summary of the experience. When they click on the experience that interests them, they are taken to the document with all of the information. 

I am not going to lie, this was and is a lot of work. But it is work that I felt was necessary in order to provide the 24/7 learning experiences that the teachers need in order to help create a digital classroom. My next challenge, as I am moving to the Instruction and Professional Learning Department next school year, is how to make this district wide. 

New Q&A Feature for Google Slides

One day after announcing that you can now schedule posts in Google Classroom, Google comes out with another great new feature. This time the update comes to the almost always neglected Google Slides. Google's new announcement is a Q&A feature, which will allow your audience to ask questions and vote on other people's questions. This is great news for those of us that were a little sad when Google Moderator was put to rest.

Please note, if you are in a Google for Education district, this feature might not have hit your domain yet. But it is active in your personal Google account. Here is a quick run down on how it works. 

To access the feature, click on the drop down next to present and select 'Presenter view.'

Next, click on 'Start new.'

Presenter's Screen

The presenter will get a pop-up window that shows the audience tools. You are able to switch back and forth with your speaker notes. When your presentation is being displayed, each slide will have a header added showcasing the question URL. After the presentation, you have the ability to turn off the Q&A feature. Upon enabling it again, you will be prompted to continue or reset (for next presentation). 

Presenter's Screen

Displayed Presentation

When your participants go to the provided URL, they are allowed to ask a question and vote on other people's questions. Each time a question gets a 'thumbs up' it moves up the list to be ranked higher, while a 'thumbs down' moves the question farther down the list. This is a great feature for when the presenter is only able to answer a certain number of questions. This ensures that the top ranking questions are asked first. 

Audience's Screen

As a presenter, you can present the question to the audience while you are answering it. After answering the question, hit the 'hide' button on the question and answer pop-up and it will return back to your presentation. 

Presenter's Screen

Displayed Question

I love this new feature, as it opens the door to allow everyone in the room a voice to ask questions. Best part is that you don't have to switch back and forth from one tool to another. Thanks, Google!

Exploring the World Through Virtual Field Trips

One of my favorite things to do is go to places I have never been. While I have been to 25 different countries so far, there is so much of the world that I still need to explore. With the technology available today, I am able to explore a dream location without leaving my house. While this might not be as fun, I will take this type of trip over never exploring it at all. 

In schools, students get on a bus once a year to take a class field trip. Unfortunately, the majority of the time the trip lands them in a location that is near where they currently live. While this can be a great learning experience, it generally happens once a year. With virtual field trips you can take students to locations around the world whenever you want. The students can go scuba diving in Australia, climb to the top of Machu Picchu, explore the International Space Station, hike Mount Everest, wander around a museum in London, and so much more. 

Here is my Exploring the World Around Us Through Virtual Field Trip presentation. It showcases over 15 different virtual field trips students can take, with example activities that accompany the location. This is a work in progress, so please leave a comment if you know of a resource I should include. 

One of my favorite trips is scuba diving in exotic places around the world. Close the blinds, turn off the lights, put on ocean sounds and let the students dive into the ocean to explore a shipwreck, swim with sharks, or examine the coral reefs. 

Chrome Hacks: Mind-Blowing Tips and Tricks

I love Chrome. I refuse to use any other browser, unless I am forced to and even then I am kicking and screaming. 

Here are my favorite Chrome Hacks. Please share these tips with fellow educators and students. They will love you for it. 

If I failed to mention your favorite Chrome tip, please share in the comment section below. 

Set an Expiration Date for Doc, Sheet, and Slide Files

I am so excited that Google added the 'Expiration Date' feature in Google Drive and even more excited that it is finally available in our district. The latest update to sharing will now allow you to remove access to a file from those whom you give commenting or viewing rights. 

The feature is only available for Google Apps customers, so don't go looking for this in your personal Google account. It is available for all Drive files, except for Drawing (which I personally hope comes soon). This feature will come in extremely hand when sharing files with students, parents, student teachers, and teaching fellows. 

Recommended Educational Twitter Chats

Twitter chats are topic centered conversations that take place on Twitter through a specific hashtag. There are generally two different types of chats. The first is referred to as a 'slow' chat, which means that a question is posed every day or week and people answer the question when they have time. The second and most popular kind is a 'live' chat, which takes place on a certain day and time and people engage in a live conversation. 

If you have never participated in a Twitter chat, I suggest you start slow as not to overwhelm yourself. Some chats move so fast that your head can start to spin. By slow, I mean don't feel you have to answer every question. Pick and choose or spend the entire time 'lurking' and not participating. It is okay to lurk during a chat until you get comfortable with the format and flow.

My list of recommended live Twitter chats:

#tosachat - Chat for Teachers on Special Assignment (TOSA) 
Description: The chat covers a wide range of topics, such as STEAM, Coding, Having Hard Conversations, Tool & Templates, and PBL. While the chat focuses on discussions for educators who support other educators, anyone can benefit from the conversation.
Website (check out chat transcripts on homepage)
Date: Every Monday
Time: 10:00-11:00 pm (CST)
Founders/Moderators: Ben Cogswell, Karly Moura, Joe Young, Kelly Martin
#educoach - Chat for Instructional Coaches
Description: The chat covers a wide range of topics to help Instructional Coaches with their job, such as teacher isolation, helping teachers develop growth mindset, leading professional development, and crucial conversations. 
Website (check out chat transcripts on Archives page)
Date: Every Wednesday
Time: 9:00-10:00 pm (CST)

#tlap - Chat for Teachers
Description: The chat is centered around Dave Burgess, Teach Like a Pirate book. The chat covers a wide range of topics teachers can use to increase student engagement.
Website: none
Date: Every Monday
Time: 8:00-9:00 pm (CST)
Founder/ModeratorDave Burgess

#gafechat - Chat for Google (Apps) for Education Educators/Districts
Description: The chat is centered around Google (Apps) for Education topics. Some times the discussion will be centered all around a particular Google tool, such as Sites. Other times the discussion will center around using Google during a specific instructional strategy/best practice, such as Genius Hour. 
Website (check out chat transcripts on Chat Archives page)
Date: 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month
Time: 8:00-9:00 pm (CST)
Founder/Moderator: Kelly Fitzgerald (me)

There are so many Twitter chats, I couldn't possible mention them all. If you are interested in learning more about the various Twitter chats offered throughout the week, please visit the following resources:

Twitter is my favorite form of professional development, with edcamps being second. The majority of what I learn professionally comes from following certain hashtags and participating in Twitter chats. I encourage you to check out one of the chats mentioned above. I strongly believe that you will not be disappointed. 

Online Assessments with Quizizz

Quizizz is a great relatively new website that allows teachers to steal, borrow, and create online assessments for students. Quizizz has been compared to Kahoot, as it awards points for answering questions correctly, but there are a couple features that I found I like better. First, it shows the question and answers on the student devices, so no more looking back and forth from teacher's display to student device. Second, it allows the students to take the quiz at their own pace (up to 15 minutes per question). In addition, it has a homework feature. 

In the tutorial video you will learn:
  • how to duplicate an entire quiz from someone else
  • how to edit someone else's quiz to make your own
  • how to create your own quiz
  • how to borrow individual questions off of someone else's quiz
  • how to adjust time limit per question
  • how to reorder questions
  • how to push out assessment live or as homework
  • what the teacher view looks like during and after a quiz
  • what the student view looks like during and after a quiz

Kahoot Redefined: Allowing Processing, Collaboration, Discussion Time

Kahoot is a fun game for students play in order to reinforce their learning. With that said, I have a couple issues with the game. First, the game awards the students who have a faster processing time. I would consider myself a smart person, but I am not necessarily the fastest processor. Therefore, I usually don't "perform" well in the rankings. But if I was given time to process the question ahead of time then I would perform better. Second, moving from question to question without discussion time doesn't allow for students who didn't answer it correct see where they went wrong (pun intended). 

This is where Kahoot Redefined comes in. This isn't some prize winning idea, but one that I found teachers haven't thought about. Combining the template below with Kahoot allows for the fun game play, but gives students processing time prior to answering the question on the game. It also allows for there to be a class discussion prior to moving on to the next question. 

The Google Slides Template below can be copied and modified as you see fit. Simply add your Kahoot questions and move the slides around to the order that works best for your class. There are notes below the slides to guide you in how to use each slide. 

Creating Study Sets with Quizlet

Quizlet is a free website that allows the user to create study sets. Teachers and students can both create study sets. Teachers can push the sets out to the students via Quizlet, Google Classroom, link, or embed code. You can add images and audio. 

No time to create a study set, not worries you can find and use other people's. You can also have a student create the study set for you to push it out to the class. 

Here is a quick tutorial on Quizlet:

A nice feature, that I failed to highlight in the video, that it will play the term and definition for the students. You don't have to do the recording, it automatically does text to speech for you. 

Creating & Editing Slideshows in YouTube

Many people don't know that you can easily create a custom slideshow in YouTube, with text, transitions, music, filters, and so much more. 

I recently introduced this to a couple teachers at the middle school I work at part time and they already have some of their students using it to create a PSA. While the students were able to create the slideshows easily, without my assistance of the assistance of the teacher, they ran into an issue when it was the end of class. When you create a slideshow there was no way to save and come back later. You have to create the slideshow video or you lose all of your work. This is where I had to intervene and show them how they could use the video editor to come back next class period and continue editing their work. 

If you have never created a slideshow before, here is the video for you: 

If you have created a slideshow, but want to know how to edit it after it has already been created, here is the video for you: 

20 YouTube Channels for Educators

YouTube has proven to be a go-to place when you want to learn something new. You can find educational videos on how to round numbers, educational experts giving speeches, how to use Google Classroom, and so much more. 

I recently presented YouTube Can Do That?! at the annual TCEA Conference. One of the participants came up to me afterwards to ask where to find good educational channels. That prompted me to create this list of the educational channels I recommend.

Professional Development on Digital Tools 

Focusing on Google for Education tools
  • Google for Education - official channel of Google for Education
  • Google Chrome official YouTube channel for the Chrome browser, OS, Web Store, and Chromebooks
  • The Gooru - great informational resource to learn about Google for Education tools. 
  • Eric Curts - information and tutorials for educational technology resources centered around Google for Education. 

Teaching Strategies
  • Edutopia - highlights the evidence-based teaching strategies, such as project-based learning, STEAM, response to intervention, tech literacy, etc. 
  • Buck Institute for Education - centered around project based learning (PBL). 

Inspirational Videos
  • Ted-Ed - collection of inspiring videos in animation format
  • TedX - videos from TedX talks around the globe
  • Big Think - showcasing videos from educational experts
  • Infinite Thinkingengaging Internet TV show for educators to inspire creativity and innovation

Content Specific
  • Amoeba Sisters - videos focusing on explaining difficult science concepts through animation and humor. 
  • Khan Academy - content based teaching videos
  • Discovery Educationstories and experiences from the world of science, natural history, anthropology, survival, geography, and engineering.
  • National Geographic - videos featuring stories on natural history, wildlife, and so much more
  • SciShowexplores the unexpected of science
  • Mathantics - fun videos centered around math concepts
  • Educator - instructional videos in math & science 

Tools for Cropping YouTube Videos

YouTube is a great tool to use with students, but sometimes you don't always want students to have to watch the entire video. Here are some cool tools to use to crop YouTube Videos:

Force a YouTube Video to Start a Certain Timestamp
Use this feature to have a YouTube video automatically start a certain timestamp.

Use TubeChop to crop the beginning and end of a YouTube video. 

Tammy Worcester's YouTube Video Clipper
This is perfect if students do not have access to YouTube. Please see her post for directions on using this tool.