The Draftback Extension

One of the earliest edtech tools that I recommended to the teachers involved in the Writing Ourselves project, which I am the Technology Director for, was the DraftBack Extension.  Once enabled, the extension allows you to playback your writing process for any doc that you are an editor on.  Obviously, the best use case for this would be to have students do this.

What a powerful way for students to reflect on their writing process and for educators to assess (and offer feedback on) the way that they go about the writing craft.  Awesome sauce.

Draftback animation

Creating a Restricted Access Group in the Google Admin Console

Let me start with this . . . I think the best thing that we can do for children in regards to the dangerous, disruptive and distorted content on the internet is to teach them to identify and avoid it.  However, some students have difficulties with this and during intermediary times while helping them to develop better/safer online habits, an alternative support may be necessary.

One option is to use a separate Google Admin Organizational Unit (OU) that is has restricted internet access.  In it, you can block all online content except for content that that you and your educators have identified as being a part of students’ learning experience.  (The last thing that you would want to do is limit or prohibit their learning)

To do this:

  1. Login to the Google Admin Console
  2. Go to Device Management > Chrome Management > User Settings
  3. Select the appropriate OU (Organizational Unit)
  4. Scroll down to the URL Blocking Section
  5. In the URL Blacklist section enter only a *.  This blocks ALL internet content.
  6. In the URL Blacklist Exception section, list every site that you do want your students to have access to.  Keep in mind that an address like khanacademy.org will unblock anything starting with khanacademy.org, including things like khanacademy.org/math.

A few tips:

  • When placing students into this group, you may need to move them in Active Directory in order for them to stay in the Google Admin Organizational Unit.  It all depends on your setup.
  • Maintain a Google Doc that teachers can access to see what sites are unblocked.  That way, they can double-check their sites that they intend to use . . . and send you additions.
  • Consider using an instructional piece about appropriate internet use to help students learn to make better choices so that they can be moved out of this group after an appropriate amount of time.

Again, this is not a perfect solution, but different students need different supports and scaffolds as we prepare them for their futures in our technology-obsessed society.

Note: These limitations will only be apply 1) in Chrome, 2) with the student logged into Chrome.

Locate your Collaborator by Clicking on their Icon

Wait, what page are you on?
I’m confused.  What slide are you referring to?
Ugh, what cell are you in!?

GSuite’s tools make collaboration–both between adults and between students–a piece of cake, but it can still be tough to keep up with one another, especially in lengthy Docs, Sheets or Slide decks.  Did you know that if you click on their icon it will jump you right to their location?  You’re welcome.

Check out the two GIFs below . . .

Click on Collaborator Icon to Locate Them Animation

 

Add Files to Multiple Locations in Google Drive

Ever wish you could put the same file in each students’ folder without making copies?  Have a project that belongs in your Science folder and your English Language Arts folder?  Any time that you need a Google Drive file to be in multiple locations, use Shift+Z to open up the “Add To” option.  The same file will be in each location – edit it in one location, it updates in the other.  Awesome sauce.

Duplicating Google Forms Tabs

The Duplicate Tabs button is probably an under-used option for most people.  However, it can really come in handy.  Every now and then, I need to keep a specific email open, but get back to my inbox.  Duplicate Tab.  Sometimes, I need to have a course in Schoology open, but open another.  Duplicate Tab.  One of my favorite uses, though, is when I have more than one Google Form submission that I have to fill out and they all have some similar entries (i.e., multiple session proposals for a conference, discipline referrals for the same incident with different students).  Dup-li-cate Tab! Check out how that looks in the GIF below:

7 Ways to Make the Most of Your Chrome Bookmarks Bar

1. Folders

It’s nice to have easy access to lots of sites, but that bookmarks bar can get crowded.  Use Bookmark folders on your bar to categorize them while still having convenient access.

2. Shorten those bookmark titles.

Shorter bookmark titles take up less bookmark bar space. Take the title out to just use the sites logo. If the site doesn’t have a logo, or it doesn’t make the destination clear (like a docs logo), use short words or even emojis to save space!

3. Create Bookmarks for Creating New Docs or Slides

Did you know that docs.google.com/create opens up a fresh new Doc?  Or that slides.google.com/create does the same with Google Slides?  Create bookmarks for those links and have quick access to that capability.

 

4. Different Bookmarks for Different sections of your Drive.

Do you go to your Starred files often?  Need quick access to Shared with Me when someone sends you a file in a meeting?  Do you have a folder for all of your students’ assignments that you go to daily?  Make a special bookmark for different locations!

5. Different Bookmarks for Different Parts of Docs, Slides or Sheets

Different tabs in Sheets, Headings in Docs and slides in Slides have different URL’s.  That means you can make your bookmark (or a link you send in an email or message to someone) direct you (or the recipient) to a specific spot.  It’s nice when you want to send someone to today’s meeting agenda in the massive Doc with all meeting agendas in it.  It’s also super convenient if you regularly access a certain spreadsheet tab.

6. Bookmark specific sections of GMail

Have a certain GMail label you access regularly?  Want quick access to your starred or important files?  Want to be able to get to emails from your admin or boss quickly? Create a bookmark for that exact part of your Gmail.

7. Bookmark specific Calendar Views

Want to be able to access Day, Week, Month, Agenda or a Custom View quickly?  Make it a bookmark.

 

Chromebook Management ideas from @MrGrifftastic

In the episode below of The Chromebook Classroom Podcast, John Sowash interviewed Eric Griffith.  Eric had some really great insights for going 1:1 with Chromebooks.  Here are a few of my favorite things that are different from what we currently do at my school . . . but may consider adopting in the future: Continue reading Chromebook Management ideas from @MrGrifftastic