Boomerang for Gmail

“You’ve got mail.” – America Online

Those used to be such exciting words.  The news of having email was exhilarating.  Nowadays, it’s nonstop.  It’s a constant battle to keep-up and it takes tons of tact to send emails that get read and acted on, because your recipients are overwhelmed, too.

I’ve been using Boomerang for Gmail to help me survive the Battle of the Inbox. These are the 3 main features that I love about Boomerang:

1. Send Later

If you’re like me, you end up sending some 11:45 PM emails.  And if your coworkers are like mine, most of them are not typically reading their email at 11:45 PM.  So, schedule it to send first thing in the morning.  Do lots of work on the weekend?  Schedule emails to send on Monday.  Find some spare time to send an email that actually needs to go out in two days?  Type it now, schedule it to send later.  Check it out:

Boomerang Send Later Animation

2. boomerang

This is the feature that the name came from.  We often get emails that aren’t important yet, but will be important later.  They’re not worthy of our focus at this point, but we should look at them before next Wednesday.  So, throw them away and set them to boomerang back on Tuesday.  Ah, that feels nice.  Check it out:

Boomerang Animation

3. boomerang if no response

Ever send out an email where there’s a time sensitive need for a response, but not get the response in time?  Ugh!  If I had known she wouldn’t respond in time, I would have texted her.  With this setting, you can send an email or send away a received email and set them to pop back up in your Inbox if no one else responds.  That way you know that you need to follow up with them in a different way!  It’s also helpful when you’re hoping that someone else on the chain will answer a question, but this way you can insure that the question gets answered sooner or later.  Check it out:

Note: I’m not affiliated in any way with Boomerang, nor am I being reimbursed for this endorsement.  I just like their tool.

BTW – Right Inbox is pretty rad too.  Boomerang is just my personal preference.

Inserting a Timer in Google Slides

One thing that helps a lesson or presentation run smoothly is good time management with a visual timer.  It’s a lacking tool in Google Slides.  But, of course, there’s a hack for that!

Click Insert > Video and search for a YouTube video titled “x minute timer” with the appropriate x value filled in.  Just about every time limit a teacher or presenter could ask for in available!

Timer in Google Slides Animation

Choose Your Own Adventure Google Slides

This isn’t my idea, but it’s one that I love, so I wanted to make one of my GIFs about it.  I think that I first heard the idea from Eric Curts (@ericcurts).

Anyhow, Choose Your Own Adventure stories are a favorite from my childhood and if we can leverage them to help students be more active and engaged in the way that they show their knowledge of content, writing abilities or creativity – I’m in!

Here’s how to do it, first as a GIF, followed by step-by-step instructions.  And remember, Eric’s post linked above is a great resource as well.

Choose Your Own Adventure Google Slides Animation

  1. Create your starting slide.
  2. In two separate text boxes (or with two separate pictures or with two separate words/phrases within a text box) provide options for the next step.
  3. Create 2 new slides – these are the possible next steps.
  4. Back on the starting slide, click on one of the text boxes, images or text within a text box.
  5. Use the hyperlink button (or Ctrl+k) to link to the appropriate slide.
  6. Repeat the process for the other option.
  7. Now . . . add steps that branch off of those 2 options . . .

If you or your students make a really phenomenal Choose Your Own Adventure Slides project, I’d love to see it!

 

Schoology – Requiring Assessment Mastery Before Moving on

In Sal Khan’s phenomenal TED Talk Let’s Teach for Mastery – Not Test Scores, he illustrates the lack of focus on mastery in most classrooms with this metaphor:

To appreciate how absurd [teaching based on a pacing guide, not mastery] is, imagine if we did other things in our life that way. Say, home-building.

So we bring in the contractor and say, “We were told we have two weeks to build a foundation. Do what you can.”

So they do what they can. Maybe it rains. Maybe some of the supplies don’t show up. And two weeks later, the inspector comes, looks around, says, “OK, the concrete is still wet right over there, that part’s not quite up to code … I’ll give it an 80 percent.”

You say, “Great! That’s a C. Let’s build the first floor.”

He continues with this great metaphor, but I’ll stop there because the point is clear: it’s silly to have students move to the next topic or skill before they’ve mastered the one they’re on.  With technology, we have tons of ways to ensure this mastery.

In Schoology, you can require students exceed a minimum assessment score prior to moving on to the upcoming content.  And, if they don’t do well enough?  Have them learn from their mistakes, get better, re-take the assessment and then move on.

Here’s how to do it, first in GIF form and then in step-by-step form.

Requiring Test Mastery in Schoology Animation

  1. Go to the Materials Page for your course.
  2. Click Add Materials > Assessment.
  3. Create your Assessment.
  4. Include in the instructions a note about the minimum score and their ability to retake the assessment.
  5. Go to “Settings” inside of the assessment.
  6. Change the Attempt Limit to Unlimited (or some other greater than 1 option)
  7. Decide how you’d like it to be graded.  I go with “highest score.”
  8. Turn on Submissions (if you’re ready)
  9. Go back to your materials page.
  10. Click on Options > Student Completion.
  11. Set up Student Completion for your pages and assignments.
  12. For the Assessment, Select “Member must score at least” and enter the minimum score you’d like students to obtain.

Embedding Google Docs in Schoology “Pages”

Pages are a nice Materials option in Schoology.  They give a teacher the ability to include more flexible learning content and are awesome in blended courses.

Sometimes you may want to add an already created Google Doc (or slides, sheet, etc.) along with some text content in a page.  Below is how you can do that (note that if you want just the doc without other content before or after it, you’d follow a different process).  First is an animated GIF, followed by the step-by-step instructions.

Add Doc into Schoology Page Animation

  1. Make sure you’ve connected the Google Drive App.
    1. (inside Resources > Apps)
  2. Create your Google Doc
  3. Go to Materials Page in your Schoology Course
  4. Click Add Materials
  5. Click Add Page
  6. Click the Insert Content Button
  7. Select the Google Drive Resource App
  8. Click the checkbox by the file you want to add
  9. Click Insert > Embed.
  10. Add text or other content before or after the doc if you’d like.

TodaysMeet

Never judge a book by its cover.  Because, if you did, TodaysMeet would seem like a boring, unimpressive tool from at least a decade ago.

But, “open the book” and you’ll realize that TodaysMeet is a super useful tool in the classroom.  It is very simple to use and, in less than 5 minutes you can have a chat-room like discussion setup for your class.  It may be a “bare bones” site with 0 flashiness, but it makes up for that in function.

Ideas for use:
  1. Backchannel chat during a movie, speaker or other situation where you want actively engaged quiet students.  This Edutopia article by Beth Hollanddefines a backchannel chat is a “a digital conversation that runs concurrently with a face-to-face activity
  2. Digital Office Hours – a teacher that I work with uses TodaysMeet in the evening before big projects are due to give students a chance to ask for help.
  3. Quick Questions – there are tons of great tools for asking students for their opinions to questions in class, but TodaysMeet is nice because it’s so quick, easy and simple.  When you have more than 1 question, you can either setup separate rooms or just ask the questions in succession.
  4. Got some others?  I’d love to hear about them.
How to use todaysMeet:

First a GIF, followed by the step-by-step instructions:

TodaysMeet Animation

  1. Go to todaysmeet.com
  2. Create an account.
  3. Under Open a new room pick a name for your room. This does become part of the URL, so it’s nice to pick something easy for your students to type (though there’s a shortened URL too).
  4. Decide how long to keep the room open for. (If there’s not the right time option for you, note that you can close the room manually)
  5. Decide if you want “anyone” access or “logged in” access.  I stick with anyone, but if you use TodaysMeet regularly, there may be benefits of the logged in option.
  6. Decide if you’d like to require a password for entry to your room.  If you’re worried about safety or about having kids only enter the room after completing a previous activity, this may be beneficial.
  7. Open your room.
  8. Give students either the URL from your address bar (todaysmeet.com/yourroomname) or the shortened URL that you can see by clicking on Room Tools.
  9. Click on Projector View if you’d like to have a better view of the chat to project on your screen.
  10. Save your transcript at the end, if needed.

Note that you can also embed the TodaysMeet chat onto a different site!  Pick “Live Stream” if you want the page’s visitors to participate in the chat and/or see it live.

Show All Comments in Google Sheets

The ability to comment on cells in Google Sheets is super useful.  The ability to find those comments, however . . . pretty stinkin’ difficult.  That little yellow triangle in the corner just ain’t cutting it.  In a big spreadsheet, it can be easy to miss some comments.

You can show all of the comments in the currently open spreadsheet tab by either hovering over or clicking on the comments icon on the sheet tab at the bottom.  Clicking keeps them open while you move your mouse around or scroll.  If you hover, the comments are hidden again as soon as you move your mouse.

Show All Comments in Google Sheets Animation

Emoji in Google Docs

They’re on your phone.  They’re in a movie.  They’re on clothes.  They’re on social media.  They’re probably tattooed on people.  And yes . . . they’re in Google Docs.

Here’s how to enter Emoji (and other symbols) in Google Docs, Slides or Drawings. Once you click Insert > Special Characters you have 3 options:

  1. Change the dropdown that initially says “Symbol” to say “Emoji” and navigate to the Emoji that you want.
  2. Search by keyword.
  3. Search by drawing the Emoji.

Tip: The emojis are text items, not pictures.  That means that their size is dependent on your selected font size.

Emoji in Docs Animation

We can’t take offense to them ignoring it before if they hear it NOW!

In a past school year, a colleague and I were trying hard to sell the teachers in our building on a certain technology tool.  The name of the tool doesn’t really matter.  All that mattered is, we considered it a top priority – a tool that could really benefit students.  So, we shared about it in emails, in team meetings, in staff meetings, in more casual conversations, anywhere that we could get an audience for it.

Later, one of the teachers attended a technology conference.  They came back and were super-excited about a fantastic, exciting, new technology tool.  They planned to use it the next day and couldn’t be prouder to have discovered it.

Yup, you guessed it: it was the same tool that we had been beating the drum for all year long.

My colleague was mad.

Colleague: “We’ve shared about this tool so many times and [this teacher] ignored us each time . . . and now she sees thinks she discovered it!?”

Me: “Who cares.

Colleague: “What!? How does this not make you mad?  You recorded videos, you wrote emails, you presented about it in meetings . . . “

Me: “But . . . what was our goal?”

Colleague: “To get teachers to use it.”

Me: “Then we’ve met our goal and the students will benefit.”

The truth is, it’s hard not to be frustrated and offended in this situation.  You pour yourself into your role as a tech coach (whether it’s official or unofficial) and work your tail off to try to expose teachers to the ideas that you believe in.  And when they ignore it, it hurts.  And when they discover it elsewhere and don’t even recall you sharing it, it hurts more.

But . . . it doesn’t matter.  As long as the improvement happens, as long as the students benefit, as long as they hear the message from someone – even if it’s not you – you’ve met your goal.  Take a deep breath and offer to support them in implementing that new tool!

We can’t take offense to them ignoring it before if they hear it NOW!

Emoji on Mac

Everyone loves emoji.  If you have a Mac computer, here’s how to access emoji (and other symbols) quickly.

  1. Click in a text box (it appears that this doesn’t work for Google Docs)
  2. At the same time, click control + command⌘ + space
  3. Double-click on the emoji (or symbol) that you’d like to add

Emoji on Mac Animation