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!

 

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

4 Ways to Upload to Google Drive

There are 4 main ways to upload files to Google Drive. If you include syncing your computer to Drive, downloading Drive or the other ways to access the “New” menu (right-click, clicking on “My Drive” at the top) there are even more. But the 4 main ones are below, first as a list and then shown in a GIF:

  1. Click New > File Upload
  2. Click New > Folder Upload
  3. Click New > File Upload and use shift+click or ctrl+click to select multiple files
  4. Drag & Drop into the Google Drive window

Upload to Drive Animation

Embedding Google Forms in Schoology

Schoology offers a quality platform for classroom assessments, but no platform for collecting information that isn’t intended to be an assessment.  In that situation, Google Forms is a great option.  However, using a link and forcing students to go “out” of Schoology can be inconvenient and lead to some internet-wandering.  So, let’s embed the Google From right into Schoology!  Forms can be embedded in pages as well as assignments.

This is beneficial in a number of other situations:

  • Schoology assessments can’t differentiate based on answers (i.e., seeing remedial content after getting a question wrong), but Forms can.
  • If the data coming from the questions is actually going to someone else (i.e., your school guidance counselor), you’d be able to share the Google Forms results easily with them.
  • If you’re looking to trigger some action (i.e., mail merge) with the responses, the Add-Ons offered in Google Sheets would work.
  • If you’re looking to use the functionality offered by Google Forms Add-Ons like FormRanger and FormLimiter.
  • If you need to use formulas or create data representations, Google Sheets are ideal.

Option 1: Add as an External Tool

This option requires the least steps, but has one major drawback – you can’t include any other text or images on the Schoology “page” – just the content from the form.  (If you need to include other stuff, check out Option 2, below).

Check out the GIF below, followed by step-by-step instructions, to see how to do this:

Embed Form as External Tool in Schoology Animation

Option 2: Embed the Form into a Page, Assignment or Discussion

This option is preferable if you’d like to add some text or other content on the same “screen” as the form.

Check out the GIF below, followed by step-by-step instructions, to see how to do this:

Embed Form in Schoology Animation

  1. Create your Google Form.
  2. Click the Send (paper airplane) button.
  3. Select the <> Embed option.
  4. Modify the dimensions, if you’d like.  You can do that in Schoology later as well.
  5. Click on the embed code.
  6. Click Copy.
  7. Go to your class Materials page in Schoology.
  8. Click Add Materials.
  9. Click Add Page (or whatever option you’re choosing).
  10. Click the button on the right, above the text box, with the two dots.  It’s the Switch to HTML View button.  (If you’re in an Assignment, you may have to click a > button to get to the expanded view)
  11. Paste the embed code.
  12. Click Create and you’re done!
  13. If you switch back to the Standard View, you can also enter other content (text, pictures, etc.) above or below the Google Form.

Speeding Up YouTube Videos

Ben Franklin coined the phrase “Time is money.”  Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim invented YouTube.   It’s a match made in heaven.  Well, kinda.

There is so much content available for educators and their students to learn from on YouTube.  Unfortunately, sometimes we don’t have enough time to watch those videos.

Know of a 20 minute tutorial that you’d like to watch, but only have 15 minutes available?  I’ve got the solution for you!

Click the gear in the bottom-right corner of a YouTube video to access the speed settings.  I recommend 1.5x for most videos, 1.25x if it’s highly technical.  When I’m watching my own videos to “proof” them or look for a certain spot in the video, I go with 2x.

But the best advice I can give you – check out this video in 2x and 0.5x speed.  You’re welcome.

YouTube Speed Animation

AutoText in Google Docs

Improving your efficiency is a great feeling.  Typing the same thing over and over again?  Not such a good feeling.  To add some efficiency, avoid repeatedly typing the same thing and save a few seconds, I’d like to show you how to add some AutoText or AutoComplete automation in Google Docs.

I love using the Chrome Extension “Auto Text Expander,” but it doesn’t work in Google Docs.  So, here’s the solution.  First – a GIF and second – the step-by-step.

Autocomplete in Google Docs Animation

  1. Open a Google Doc.
  2. Go to Tools > Preferences.
  3. In the table, put the shortcut you’d like to type under “Replace.”
  4. Put the corresponding expanded text under “With.”
  5. Click OK.  It will now work in all of your Google Docs on this account.

Tips:

  • Choose shortcuts that you’ll never type.  You wouldn’t want to use cheese as a shortcut for cheeseburger, because sometimes you just need to type cheese!  Starting shortcuts with a rarely used symbol like a ~ or ^ is a good way to do this.
  • Capital letters won’t work.  I’m not sure why, but if your expanded text is long enough, the hassle of going back to capitalize a few letters is worth it.
  • Note that the options need to be check-marked in the preferences window to work.  This can be convenient if you have shortcuts that you only use sometimes – turn them on when you need them and off when you don’t.

CopyDown Add-On

Years ago, as a STEM teacher, I had my students build basswood bridges.  We’d then test them by hanging weights from them.  I’d submit the results to a Google Form, which would kick it to a Google Spreadsheet, where a formula was all set up to calculate the “Engineering Efficiency” (a measure that leveled the playing field between heavy, strong bridges and light, strong bridges).  Unfortunately, formulas don’t automatically apply to the new rows created by new Form Submissions. I had to have a student manually drag the formula down each time a new result was submitted.

Enter the CopyDown Add-On

I later discovered this wonderful little add-on.  It automatically pulls that formula down to a each new form submission.  No manual dragging necessary.  This is super, super useful when your Form & Sheet are part of a bigger system that triggers other actions in other add-ons (i.e., autoCrat, formMule) that require those formulas.

Here’s a GIF of how it works, followed by a step-by-step guide to using it:

CopyDown Add-On Animation

  1. Set up your Google Form.
  2. Open up the connected Spreadsheet.
  3. Start with an initial form submission.  You’ll need this in the next step.
  4. Create your formulas in Row 2 (the row with your first submission).
  5. Click Add-Ons and follow the steps to add CopyDown.
  6. Click Add-Ons > CopyDown > CopyDown Settings.
  7. Flip the switch to “On.”
  8. Generally, I select to paste the results “as values” (otherwise it puts the formula itself into each cell which, if it’s a lengthy spreadsheet, will ultimately slow it down).
  9. Save Settings.
  10. Start gathering form submissions!