Screencastify for Feedback

I’ve done a number of posts about Screencastify, but recently I was reading a blog post that presented an idea that I had not previously thought of.  In it, the author talks about using a screencasting tool to give both visual and auditory feedback on a student’s work.  It seems to me that this would be so much more useful for a student than just comments on the doc.  Plus they’d be more likely to view it.

Add in the ease of use with Screencastify – quickly sharing in Google Drive – and you’ve got a win-win.  Below is a GIF I made to share the process.  In the GIF, I am giving (fake) feedback on a Google Doc, but it could be anything.  I could even show how it falls on a rubric within the video!

You could even have students give each other feedback this way!

One last note – if you start doing this regularly, you could create one folder in your Drive for each of your students and then drag the videos into those folders for the students to view.

Screencastify for Feedback Animation

Private Google Docs in New Google Sites

Google Sites are an awesome tool for teachers to make sites, for students to make digital portfolios, for students to create projects and more! One of the best features is the ease of embedding Google files into them.  The most important thing to keep in mind when doing so, is to make sure that the Doc, Slides or whatever you’re hoping to embed has the appropriate sharing settings.  If they don’t, they might not be seen by your audience.  Check out in the GIF below what happens when you embed a private Google Doc onto a public Google Site.

Note: In the animation, I use an Incognito Tab to test the site.  If your site is intended for the public, this is a great way to make sure it’s set right!

Private Doc on a Google Site Animation

On Twitter, Micah Carlin-Goldberg reminded me of a great way to make sure that your docs are always “Anyone with the Link Can View” prior to putting them on your site:

I prevent the problem by adding (Shift+Z) all website items to a folder that has anyone with the link permissions. Because Drive permissions of a folder apply to the contents adding them to the folder makes them visible on the website.

Change your Default Font in Google Docs

Arial 11!?  Seriously, Google!?  Does anyone like their Docs to be typed in Arial 11?

Here’s how to change your default font style so that it’s what you typically use, so that you don’t have to do it each time.  In the GIF below, I show how to change your “Normal Text.”  Note that you can follow the same steps to change the default formatting for titles, headings, etc.

Here’s the animated process, followed by the step-by-step directions

Change Default Font Style Animation

Continue reading Change your Default Font in Google Docs

Representing the Writing Process with the Version History

Note: I’ve heard this mentioned elsewhere, so I’m not claiming to be the originator of the idea.  One place I heard it mentioned was in Episode 21 of the Google Teacher Tribe Podcast.  Another is in this great post by Eric Curts. I am, however, the creator of the GIF below.

I’ve gotta admit, I was apprehensive when Google renamed my beloved Revision History as the Version History.  I thought “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  But there is an added value in the format change – and that value rests mainly in the Writing classroom, but it applies in any classroom.

Now, you can name the versions in the Version History.  Pre-writing, First Draft, Peer Revision, Second Draft, Teacher Feedback, Final Draft, Published Version, you name it.  Students can now represent the stages of the Writing process with the names of their document versions.  With Writers’ Workshop being the trend in our writing classrooms, this seems like a no-brainer.

Name Versions of Version History Animation

Easy Citations in Google Docs

Digital citizens are constantly sharing other people’s content.  We are all cultivators of stuff.  Images, quotes, GIFs, artwork, you name it – we share it.  It is very important that we teach kids to give credit where credit’s due.

Unfortunately, students are very resistant to citing their sources when they do schoolwork.  Why?  I believe it’s because it’s a pain to do so.  Who would want to cite their source if you have to do tons of sleuth work to figure out who the original source really was?  Who would want to cite their source if you have to enter a boatload of information into a separate site to prepare the citation to put in your document?

In my book, the goal for students, especially those in middle school, should simply be to get them to cite their sources.  I’m not going to stress out about if it really is the accurate original source.  I also wouldn’t stress about them correctly placing their periods and commas in their MLA citation.  I just want them to recognize that the content is not their own and that the originator deserves credit.  Google Docs makes that easy with two tools.  Let’s check them out . . .

Using the Explore Tool in Google Docs

This will only work for resources on the web (not books), but it’s super easy to use.  It creates footnotes, which I’ve heard aren’t commonly used in K-12 writing.  However, as you’ll see in this animation, you can easily copy those footnotes and turn them into a Works Cited.  Check out this GIF to see how:

Using the EasyBib Add-On

This tool is great for citing books, but not as good at citing websites.  It keeps track of your entire bibliography until you’re ready to add it to your doc.  If you are using the Explore tool for your websites, you can just combine them when you’re done, just like I do in the animation below.

Disclaimer: I’ve heard from a few sources that these two tools do not always produce 100% accurate citations.  In my opinion, as stated above, this is a risk that I’m willing to take, at least until students are in college prep high school courses.

Text on Both Sides of Images in Google Docs

When you look at newspapers, magazines or newsletters, you often see centered pictures with 2 separate sets of text on either side of the image.  However, when you center an image in Google Docs and set it as Wrap, the text continues horizontally around the image.  This may be useful sometimes, but in general, doesn’t look like what we’d see in a professional publication.

Now, Columns in Google Docs can help you with this, assuming that you want only 2 or 3 columns and that you want them to be equal widths.  But, what if you want more columns?  Or widths that aren’t equal?

Well, here’s the hack for you.  Create a table, put the picture into the table and use the remaining cells to type your text.  When you’re all done, set your table borders to 0 point (a.k.a. invisible!) and you’re good to go.  Check it out:

Docs Text on Both Sides of Image 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

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.

Moving Stuff Out of your “Shared with Me”

Every household has a junk drawer.  And, for most Google Drive users, they have two: My Drive and Shared with Me.  Everything is in there.  Today, let’s focus on how to clean up your Shared with Me.

Here are 4 tips about cleaning up your Shared with Me, followed by a GIF displaying them:

  1. If there are files you are 100% sure that don’t want, go ahead and delete them.  You’ll still technically have access to them, but you won’t see them in your Shared with Me anymore (so good luck finding them).  The original sharer will have no idea that you removed them and it won’t affect them (because you’re not the owner).
  2. You can click Add to Drive to move files from your Shared with Me to your own Drive, where you can then organize it.
  3. You can drag & drop files from the Shared with Me to anywhere in your Drive to organize them.
  4. Once you’ve moved files into your Drive, you can delete them from your Shared with Me and they will stay in the location that you put them.

Move from Shared With Me Animation

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