Use Preview in Docs for a Quick Whole Class Progress Check

In a blended classroom, it can be tough to see who is on and off task and know who is behind on their work.  One trick that I often used in my STEM classes was to open the Google Drive folder that all of my students’ work was in and click through the previews of their docs.  The previews weren’t always the most current version (it’s likely the status of the file when you most recently opened up Drive), but I could easily identify students who may be behind (or off task) and then open up their docs to check for sure.  It was much faster than opening all of the docs would have been!  I also used this occasionally when assigning some pretty simple grades, especially if they were completion grades.

Use Preview for Quick Progress Check Animation

Top 5 Posts of 2017

Happy New Year! Before we look forward to all of the awesome learning that 2018 holds for us, I’m going to get all nostalgic for a quick sec…. here are my 5 most viewed posts from 2017:

  1. Adding Captions to Images in Google Docs
  2. Recreating Pop Hits as Content-Related Lyrics Videos 
  3. Change Your Default Font in Google Docs 
  4. Screencastify to FlipGrid 
  5. Adding Audio in Google Slides (hack)

We can’t take offense to them ignoring it before if they hear it NOW!

In a past school year, a colleague and I were trying hard to sell the teachers in our building on a certain technology tool.  The name of the tool doesn’t really matter.  All that mattered is, we considered it a top priority – a tool that could really benefit students.  So, we shared about it in emails, in team meetings, in staff meetings, in more casual conversations, anywhere that we could get an audience for it.

Later, one of the teachers attended a technology conference.  They came back and were super-excited about a fantastic, exciting, new technology tool.  They planned to use it the next day and couldn’t be prouder to have discovered it.

Yup, you guessed it: it was the same tool that we had been beating the drum for all year long.

My colleague was mad.

Colleague: “We’ve shared about this tool so many times and [this teacher] ignored us each time . . . and now she sees thinks she discovered it!?”

Me: “Who cares.

Colleague: “What!? How does this not make you mad?  You recorded videos, you wrote emails, you presented about it in meetings . . . “

Me: “But . . . what was our goal?”

Colleague: “To get teachers to use it.”

Me: “Then we’ve met our goal and the students will benefit.”

The truth is, it’s hard not to be frustrated and offended in this situation.  You pour yourself into your role as a tech coach (whether it’s official or unofficial) and work your tail off to try to expose teachers to the ideas that you believe in.  And when they ignore it, it hurts.  And when they discover it elsewhere and don’t even recall you sharing it, it hurts more.

But . . . it doesn’t matter.  As long as the improvement happens, as long as the students benefit, as long as they hear the message from someone – even if it’s not you – you’ve met your goal.  Take a deep breath and offer to support them in implementing that new tool!

We can’t take offense to them ignoring it before if they hear it NOW!

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

I am not a technician.

I am not a technician. Technicians spent long hours and put in lots of work to become qualified to fix software, network, server, hardware and other technology issues. I can’t perform the tasks they can.

I, on the other hand, spent long hours and put in lots of work to become qualified to lead in the integration of technology into the learning experience. For that reason, call me a Technology Integration Specialist. I’ll accept Tech Coach as well, but not technician. And please, don’t call either of us “tech guy” (or girl).

PS. If I help you fix something with your computer or other technology, it’s probably because fixing it benefits student learning and not fixing it detracts from student learning.  It’s all about the kids.  Not the tech.

PPS. If I help you fix something with your computer or other technology that does not relate to student learning, it still does not make me a technician. It makes me nice. And you should buy me a cup of coffee for that. Or a burrito. Or a taco. I will also accept nachos. Heck, I’d be happy with a “Thanks, bro!” and a fist bump.

Trying out FlipGrid

After seeing Amy Roediger‘s post about FlipGrid, I had to try it.

FlipGrid is a platform where (1) teacher poses a prompt or question, (2) students access that “grid” with a code, (3) students record their response, (4) students view each other’s responses and (5) students can comment on or like classmate’s response(s).

Amy’s example of the students showing, describing and explaining Chemistry lab experiments/demonstrations was phenomenal.  On her first attempt out of the gate, she went above and beyond the “record a video response” format.

So, I’m getting in on the action.  At this link, you’ll see a prompt from me.  Hopefully, you’ll also see other professionals’ responses.  And, even more hopefully (if that makes sense), you’ll record you response.  I can’t want to hear what you share!!

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

EdTech Insight from Google’s Cyrus Mistry on The Chromebook Classroom Podcast

In the first episode of The Chromebook Classroom podcast, John Sowash interviews Cyrus Mistry, Group Product Manager, Android & Chromebooks for Education.  The episode is full of interesting nuggets about the history and future of Chromebooks, but my favorite part was something that Cyrus said about education in this information age.  It happens at about the 20 minute mark:

A teacher that used to have a section on learning the 50 capitals of the U.S., steps back and says “You know what? having all of these kids already have that answer makes me want to give them a different type of skill: maybe more problem solving, maybe more critical thinking, maybe less memorization, maybe . . . ” Maybe it reminds them, that when the kid leaves or when they graduate, they’re all going to have Google in their pocket and the answer to every question.  So what they won’t have, though, is that ability to critically think and to analyze . . . We see [the teachers] moving to higher order learning.”

I think this is a really powerful point. Educational technology is not an opportunity for substitution.  It is not an opportunity for augmentation.  Nor is it an opportunity for modification.  It is  an opportunity for redefinition. (SAMR Model)

Check out the full episode below and follow John Sowash at @jrSowash.