Force Make a Copy

Thou shalt make a copy. – Jake Miller

Ok, so, I never said that.  Well, actually, I guess I just did.  Anyhow, it’s a trick that’s known in most edtech circles, but it’s useful enough to make sure that everyone knows it:

Change the “/edit” or “/view” (or whatever) at the end of a Google Apps file’s URL to “/copy” and it will force the person clicking the link to make a copy of it (as if they had clicked File > Make a Copy).

Important: make sure the doc is shared, at least as “Can View,” prior to using this.  You can’t copy a doc that you can’t view!

With the rise of Google Classroom and other LMS options, it’s not as useful as it used to be, but it has its use cases: sharing a resource on your website, posting forms for use in your school district, sharing optional activities for classes or clubs and much more.  It works in Drawings, Sheets and Slides as well! Here’s how to do it:

Force Make a Copy Animation

Just in case, here are those steps:

  1. Share the doc as “Anyone with the Link Can View.”
  2. Copy the link to the doc.
  3. Change the “/edit” or “/view” or “/edit?usp=sharing” to “/copy

Test your Chromebook Battery

As another school year comes to a close, many schools are packing up their Chromebooks for a 3rd, 4th or even 5th year.  These older Chromebooks are likely (or will soon start) experiencing battery issues.  This is a great time to check their battery health in preparation for next school year.  Here’s how (there’s also a GIF at the bottom of the post):

  1. Close all open tabs.
  2. Open Crosh (Chrome OS Developer Shell) using Ctrl+Alt+T
  3. Type “battery_test 30” and press enter.
  4. The first number that reads out is your battery’s health (from 0-100%).  The higher it is, the better.  As a general rule of thumb, if it’s over 50% on an older Chromebook, you’re in pretty good shape.
  5. After 30 seconds (the number you typed in above) you’ll see how fast your Chromebook is discharging.  You could’ve typed in a smaller number to make it go faster, but the test may not have been as reliable.  If it’s discharging at a rate of more than 0.10% in 30 seconds, you may have issues in the future.

Of course, a weak or rapidly discharging battery is not a big deal if the device can be plugged in throughout the day.  But if you’re in a 1-to-1 school where students carry Chromebooks from class to class, a battery that is under 50% health and discharging faster than 0.10% in 30 seconds won’t make it through the day.

Chromebook Battery Test Animation

Clear your Cache & Cookies

It’s important that you clear your browsers cache and cookies regularly.  Doing it daily isn’t necessary, but doing it monthly (or even more regularly) would be wise.

In layman’s terms, cache and cookies are like little pieces of the websites that you visit.  In the short term, they help you load that site faster when you visit it next.  In the long term, however, as the sites change, the cache & cookies start clogging up processes (often because they are no longer part of the sites that you visit).  Clearing them will help your browser run more smoothly!

Here’s how to do it in Google Chrome:

Clear Cookies and Cache Animation

Note: it was really hard to make it through this post without using a lame pun with the words cache or cookie.   In fact, I think that my self-restraint earned me a cookie…. oops.

Differentiation in Google Forms

Google Forms are great for collecting information and delivering assessments, but did you know Forms had some differentiation swag?

Yup, it’s true. Use “Go to Section Based on Answer” with a Multiple Choice question to have right answers and wrong answers lead to different sections. A general mockup of what this could look like, and steps for creating it, are below the GIF.

Differentiated Google Forms Animation

Steps:

  1. Add a question with a correct answer and (at least one) wrong answer.
  2. Add a section after that question.
  3. Put your remedial content in that section. YouTube videos work well.  You could even make your own video to put in there.  You could also include a follow-up question to give your students a chance to re-assess.
  4. Add a section after the remedial content.
  5. Put your next content here.  This is the section where students who got the correct answer will land.  It will probably also be where you have students who completed the remedial step will land.
  6. Go back to your initial question.
  7. Select “Go to Section Based on Answer.”
  8. Have the incorrect choice(s) go to the remedial section.
  9. Have the correct choice(s) skip to the section after the remedial one.
  10. Sit back and enjoy the differentiated learning experience!

General Layout:

  • Section 1: includes the question the differentiation is based on
  • Section 2: the remedial section – whatever content you want the students who got the previous question incorrect to see (video, explanation, follow-up question)
  • Section 3: the “next step” – the slide that the students with the correct answer jump to, also where the students with the incorrect answers land after completing the remedial section.

Note: you can add multiple levels of this in one Form, but it can get hard to manage.  I once created a Form that went: Question 1, Remedial Video & Question 1a, Remedial Video & Question 1b, Question 2, Remedial Video & Question 2a, Remedial Video & Question 2b, etc.  As you may guess, I had to create a complex flowchart to make sure I had everything jumping to the correct places.

Adding Audio in Google Slides (Hack)

Listen, I get it – when you’re showing your students the chambers of the heart, you want to have “Total Eclipse of the Heart” playing.  And, when you teach your class about the food chain, you need “Hungry Like the Wolf” rocking out of your speakers.  But, guess who doesn’t get it?  Google.  No audio in Google Slides.  Sorry, no music for you.

But!  I’ve got your back.  When you present about the states of water, you need to be playing this, or maybe this.  I didn’t invent this hack, but I created a GIF to showcase it for you.

Step by step instructions are below the GIF.

Adding Audio in Google Slides Animation

  1. Insert > Video
  2. Search for & Insert the video for the song you want from YouTube
  3. Right Click, Video Options
  4. Select “Autoplay when presenting”
  5. If desired, set a specific start time
  6. Make the video tiny
  7. Rock out when in presentation mode
  8. Keep in mind – your song will stop when you move on to the next slide, so plan accordingly

Note – this is a copyright gray area (or worse), for sure. I always try to use Vevo videos, because we at least we know that those were uploaded by the companies that own the rights to those music videos.

The Problem with Fidget Spinners . . .

The Problem with Fidget Spinners . . . is not the distractions.  It’s not the noise.  It’s not even the obsessive collecting.  It ain’t the disruptions to classmates.  It’s not the who’s-got-the-best-spinner drama either.  It’s definitely not that they annoy some teachers.  And it’s not that they may cost parents a lot of money.

It’s that kids need them.  It’s that our youth – and our society in general – see school as an experience that is so mind-numbingly, torturously boring that we assume that kids need something to fidget with during it.  It’s that learning, in many classrooms, is seen as a passive behavior and that students need something active to do with their hands while it happens.

Make learning experiences that make your students want to put their spinners away.

Practice Speeches in Screencastify

Giving speeches or presentations in front of their peers can be a really nerve-wrecking activity for students.  We often encourage them to practice, but . . . what’s practice without reflection and self-assessment?

Students can use the free Google Chrome extension Screencastify to record themselves giving their speech or presentation.  Then, they can view that recording and reflect on how they did.

Practice Speeches in Screencastify Animation

Screencastify automatically saves to their Google Drive and is not public, unless the student chooses to upload to YouTube or share the Google Drive file.

The steps:

  1. Install the Chrome Extension.
  2. Click on the extension and follow the prompts to set it up.
  3. When ready, click on the extension to record.
  4. Select Desktop (recording entire screen), Tab (recording just the current tab, even if you navigate away from it) or Cam (recording only the camera).  If doing Desktop or Tab, decide if you want the webcam on or not.
  5. Click Record and start talking!
  6. Click stop and then watch your masterpiece.  Remember that it’s also saved in your Google Drive in a “Screencastify” folder.