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!

How Many Hot Dog Topping Combinations?

It was 6:12 PM EST.  We were eating dinner on our deck.  My sister messaged me.  She had a very important question.  Her and her colleagues were in a heated debate.  Just how many topping combinations were there at Cleveland’s fun hot dog restaurants Happy Dog?  I know, right?  This is a big deal.  Could I swoop in and save the day?  Yes.  Er, well, with the help of my trusty sidekick Google Sheets I could.  (Excel would have worked, but what if I need to access the calculations on the go?  or share them?  Yup, I made the right choice.  gSuite’s trusted cloud-based spreadsheet is the way to go here.)

So, I got the details.  There are 50 toppings possible.  No limits (you can do all 50, as my oldest son might choose) or minimums (0 toppings, as my youngest son prefers them, counts too).  Variations on the dog (veggie?  black bean!?) or bun (bleck, wheat?) were to be ignored.

I set right to it.  I picked a trusty Google Sheets formula – Combin – and got to work.  That formula deals with a common mathematics formula that finds the number of combinations of something.  You need only know two things – how many possible things and how many are to be chosen (i.e., 50 toppings choose 1, 50 toppings choose 2, etc.).  Now, don’t get this mixed up with permutations where order matters, because no one cares if you go peanut butter, sriracha, alien relish or alien relish, peanut butter, sriracha or … well … you get it.

COMBIN(nk) where n is the size of the pool of objects to choose from and k is the number of objects to choose.

The rest is history.  Check it out in the GIF below.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot to tell you the answer: 1,125,899,906,842,620 – one quadrillion, one hundred twenty-five trillion, eight hundred ninety-nine billion, nine hundred six million, eight hundred forty-two thousand, six hundred twenty combinations.

Side note to math teachers: I love how the numbers are symmetrical (i.e., there are 1,225 different 2-topping dogs and 1,225 different 48-topping dogs).  Could be a great discussion with math students.

Now, here’s how I did it:

Happy Dog Combinations Animations

Deleting Larger Files from your Mac

Is your Mac running out of space?  Do you need a quick solution?

When you don’t have time to go through all of your folders and files to cleanup, a good, quick solution is deleting your larger files.  The process for doing this in the GIF below, or in the steps below the GIF.

Mac Delete Larger files Animation

  1. Open Finder.
  2. Go to Finder>Preferences.
  3. Make sure “All My Files” is checked.
  4. Go to “All My Files” in your Finder menu.
  5. The files are now sorted with the largest at the top.  Go through these files and identify things you can delete.  Drag them to your Trash.
  6. Don’t forget to empty your trash!

Schoology: Creating Course Content Prior to the Course

Many educators spend time over the summer working on content for their courses.  If you use Schoology, you can create actual Schoology content for your courses before they actually start. Check out this GIF (and the list of steps below it) to see how:

Create Schoology Content in Resources Animation

  1. Go to Resources > Personal
  2. Open or Create a Resource Folder (not necessary, but let’s be organized!)
  3. Click on Add Resource and create your content
  4. When your course starts, add the content from your resources!

Google Drive Folder Basics

Organization can help relieve stress.  One great way to organize in Google Drive is to create and utilize folders.  Here are the basics . . .

Creating folders:
  • Folders can be created by selecting New > New Folder
  • Folders can also be created in some locations by right-clicking & selecting New Folder
  • Folders can be nested (folders inside of folders)
  • Folders can be color-coded (pretty!)

Create Drive Folders Animation

Putting Content into Folders:
  • Drag & Drop
  • Use the Move To button in the top toolbar
  • Use the Move To button in the right-click options
  • Hold down shift to highlight more than 1 file and then move them together

Move Files into Folders Animation

Put Files in More than One Location

Check out this post to see how you can have your Google Drive files in more than one folder.

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

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!