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.

Stop Motion Slides

There are multiple options for creating animations (GoAnimate, Scratch, etc.) but my favorite way to do it is creating Stop Motion Slides.  I like that I can make it exactly how I want it in this format.  I think this has tons of potential in all subject areas (Please comment or share on Twitter with the hashtag #StopMotionSlides if you come up with any cool uses for it).

There are two main steps:

  1. Create a Google Slideshow where each slide is an incremental change from the previous one (like a flipbook).
  2. Open the slideshow up in Presenter view and use a screencasting tool (i.e., Camtasia, Screencastify, Screencast-o-matic) to record it as a video.

Here are a few of my tips for making it quick:

  • Ctrl+D or ⌘+D to Duplicate Slides
  • Use Arrows to Move Smoothly & Incrementally
  • Move in groups when appropriate
  • Rotate things incrementally
  • Change Colors gradually
  • Use Transparency
  • Use Ordering

Add Customizable Columns to Google Docs

One of the complaints from Day 1 with Google Docs was the inability to add columns.  Not too long ago, Google added this functionality, but it’s still sorely lacking in customizability.  So, here’s a workaround:

  1. Insert a Table
  2. Enter your text and images
  3. Make the table’s border 0 point (a.k.a., invisible)
  4. Find a microphone
  5. Drop it

Exploring the Number pi with Google Sheets & Forms

What better way to celebrate Pi Day than with a hands-on, tech-on exploration activity that helps students build their own understanding of what pi really is?  Well, probably a good piece of pie, but this is awesome nonetheless.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Get a bunch of fabric tape measures (using string and then measuring lengths on the string works too).
  2. Get a bunch of circular objects.
  3. Have kids measure the circumference and diameter of different circular objects.
  4. Instruct the kids to submit their measurements to a Google Form
    (note: my form doesn’t collect names, but it would be best to collect them so you can help kids who have measurement errors).
  5. Setup a QUERY formula to find the circumference/diameter for each entry.
    =QUERY(B2:C1000, “select B/C”)
  6. Fix that pesky 2 in the Query formula after the first submission – when the first entry inserts a row, it changes B2 to B3.  Change it after the first entry and you’re good to go.
  7. Setup an AVERAGE formula to find the mean of the circumference/diameter calculations.
  8. Project the spreadsheet as entries are recorded.  See what your kiddos notice about the numbers they see on their screen!

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

 

Adding Images with Captions in Google Docs

Years ago, I heard plenty of complaints about how Google Docs just didn’t measure up to Microsoft Word.  My response always centered around the ways that Google Docs could change the way we worked and students learned.  Most people have bought in, but I still occasionally hear complaints about missing features.  One of them is adding captions to pictures – a major informational text skill in the English Language Arts standards.

Check out the GIF below to see how to use the “Insert > Drawing” tool to perform this task.

I should note, as has been pointed out that me on Twitter, that this process will reduce the quality of the image. I think that, for a student’s project it’s still okay. Just, you know, maybe not for your doctoral research paper or school yearbook. 

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:

Searching Google Drive by Owner or Shared To

Sometimes you know who you collaborated on a doc with, but just can’t come up with a search that leads you to that doc.  Why not use their email address to track down the doc?

Searching Drive by Owner or To Animation

I discovered this search term when I was asked to track down all interactions between two specific students.  This gave me the capability to see all docs on which they had communicated, provide them to our administrator and delete the docs from the student accounts.

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.