Google Slides Flash Cards

There are plenty of flash cards sites, apps and ideas out there.  And many of them are great.  But… it’s nice to not have to add another tool to your classroom, another site to your list of resources, another password for your students to remember and possibly another account for your students to access.

So, if you don’t need a fully-featured flash cards solution, stick with what you’ve got (and know): Google Slides.

  • Students can work together to create the cards.
  • You can assign each kid a card to make . . . and 5 minutes later you have a whole deck.
  • Cards can involve pictures from a Google image search, pictures from students’ Drive or webcams, drawings and videos.
  • You can project it in class to have a class-wide review.
  • Students can use it to study from their cell phones and other devices.
  • If you have a class website, you can embed the Slides on the site.
  • Students can make a copy of the Slides to make them their own, add information that helps them, delete cards they already know and add cards for terms they struggle with.

Google Slides Flash Cards Animation

*Disclaimer: I’m really not a flash cards, vocabulary kind of guy.  Knowing the lingo has some value, but in general… memorization of stuff that fits on a flash card is just that: memorization.  Since I know that it’s an important part of a lot of classrooms, I want to share this strategy for doing it, but I hope that you do it along with other types of learning experiences, like Project-Based Learning and other inquiry-based strategies.

Concat, Concatenate and &

Nope.  They have nothing to do with cats.  Sorry.  If you’re here for the cat memes, you’re going to have to look elsewhere.

They are two Google Sheets formulas that are very useful if you’re organizing information in Google Sheets.  Have first names in one column and last names in another, but need them combined?  Concat has your back.  Have a student’s grade number, but need it to be written out (7th grade instead of just 7) for a mail merge?  Concat is here to help.

Need to combine more than 2 things?  i.e., first, middle & last name?  Concatenate can help you out.  It’s the same as Concat but it works for more than 2 items.

The & operator can perform the same tasks.  It’s all personal preference.

Some tips are listed below the GIF.

Concat & Concatenate Animation

  • Basic format: =CONCAT(first thing, second thing)
    • =CONCATENATE(first thing, second thing, third thing, fourth thing….)
    • =first thing & second thing & third thing
  • The items in the formula can be cell references like here: =CONCAT(A1, B1)
  • The items in the formula can be regular text, just use quotation marks: =CONCAT(“me”, “ow)”.
  • When combining text strings, it puts them together with nothing in between them, so if you want a space, you’ll have to add it yourself – use ” ” if needed – the space is held between those quotation marks.

Pre-Filled Google Forms

Have a form that you fill out regularly?  Create a pre-filled form link that is partially filled in for you.

Sending a form out to a certain group who will all have the same response to a certain question (i.e., grade level)?  Create a pre-filled form link to save them a few moments.

Directions are underneath the GIF

Pre-Filled Google Forms Animation

Here’s how:

  1. Click the 3 dots in the top right corner.
  2. Select “Get Pre-Filled Link.”
  3. Enter the answers you’d like to pre fill.
  4. Click Submit.
  5. Copy the link.  All done!

Suggested Edits in Google Docs

This post is about a useful feature that most people don’t notice in Google Docs: Suggesting Mode.  This is fantastic for students doing peer revisions or even teachers collaborating on projects.  It allows you to show people what you think should be changed, without actually changing it.  The choice is ultimately theirs.

I recommend this when students do any peer revisions in class: if you’re suggesting a specific grammatical, punctuation or word change, use Suggested Edits.  However, if you’re giving more general feedback or suggesting a change be made, but not identifying what to change to, use a Comment.

Anyhow, here’s how it works: Up in the top right corner you’ll see the word or icon for EditingCommenting or Viewing.  Click on that and switch to Suggesting.  Now, act as though you’re actually editing the document (type, backspace, etc.), but your “edits” will show as “suggested edits.”  Awesome!

Suggested Edits in Google Docs Animation

Recreating Pop Hits as Content-Related Lyrics Videos

Never gonna go to war, never gonna drop a bomb
Never gonna shoot a gun and hurt you
Switzerland is never gonna say let’s fight
Never gonna tell a lie, Neutrality

These are not lyrics by Rick Astley.  They’re by me, and they’re really lame.  But . . . .they serve as a pretty good intro to the idea of having students record their own videos/songs of pop hits recreated with content-related lyrics.

If you know me, you know that I love a good “Rick Roll.”  You also know that I love the idea of students proving their mastery of content by creating things rather than by filling in bubbles.

This idea mixes students love of 1) being creative and 2) lyrics videos on YouTube.  Here’s a video (with even worse lyrics), followed by the steps.

Continue reading Recreating Pop Hits as Content-Related Lyrics Videos

Calendar Lab in Gmail

I don’t know about you, but I’m often reading and responding to emails that relate to scheduling things.  When I am doing that, it’s great to have my calendar handy.  Using the Google Calendar Gadget Lab in Gmail makes that possible.  I can see my calendar, add events to it and quickly get to the details for certain events.  Check it out:

Calendar Lab in GMail Animation

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.