“New” Google Sites

With as fast as technology moves nowadays, you can’t really call the “New” Google Sites new – I mean, it’s been more than a year since the upgrade was announced.  But still, you have to manually select to jump to the New Google Sites.  The GIF below shows how and, like Nike says, “Just Do It” – the kinda New Google Sites is much better than the “Classic” Google Sites.

Go to New Google Sites 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.

Boomerang for Gmail

“You’ve got mail.” – America Online

Those used to be such exciting words.  The news of having email was exhilarating.  Nowadays, it’s nonstop.  It’s a constant battle to keep-up and it takes tons of tact to send emails that get read and acted on, because your recipients are overwhelmed, too.

I’ve been using Boomerang for Gmail to help me survive the Battle of the Inbox. These are the 3 main features that I love about Boomerang:

1. Send Later

If you’re like me, you end up sending some 11:45 PM emails.  And if your coworkers are like mine, most of them are not typically reading their email at 11:45 PM.  So, schedule it to send first thing in the morning.  Do lots of work on the weekend?  Schedule emails to send on Monday.  Find some spare time to send an email that actually needs to go out in two days?  Type it now, schedule it to send later.  Check it out:

Boomerang Send Later Animation

2. boomerang

This is the feature that the name came from.  We often get emails that aren’t important yet, but will be important later.  They’re not worthy of our focus at this point, but we should look at them before next Wednesday.  So, throw them away and set them to boomerang back on Tuesday.  Ah, that feels nice.  Check it out:

Boomerang Animation

3. boomerang if no response

Ever send out an email where there’s a time sensitive need for a response, but not get the response in time?  Ugh!  If I had known she wouldn’t respond in time, I would have texted her.  With this setting, you can send an email or send away a received email and set them to pop back up in your Inbox if no one else responds.  That way you know that you need to follow up with them in a different way!  It’s also helpful when you’re hoping that someone else on the chain will answer a question, but this way you can insure that the question gets answered sooner or later.  Check it out:

Note: I’m not affiliated in any way with Boomerang, nor am I being reimbursed for this endorsement.  I just like their tool.

BTW – Right Inbox is pretty rad too.  Boomerang is just my personal preference.

Inserting a Timer in Google Slides

One thing that helps a lesson or presentation run smoothly is good time management with a visual timer.  It’s a lacking tool in Google Slides.  But, of course, there’s a hack for that!

Click Insert > Video and search for a YouTube video titled “x minute timer” with the appropriate x value filled in.  Just about every time limit a teacher or presenter could ask for in available!

Timer in Google Slides Animation

Choose Your Own Adventure Google Slides

This isn’t my idea, but it’s one that I love, so I wanted to make one of my GIFs about it.  I think that I first heard the idea from Eric Curts (@ericcurts).

Anyhow, Choose Your Own Adventure stories are a favorite from my childhood and if we can leverage them to help students be more active and engaged in the way that they show their knowledge of content, writing abilities or creativity – I’m in!

Here’s how to do it, first as a GIF, followed by step-by-step instructions.  And remember, Eric’s post linked above is a great resource as well.

Choose Your Own Adventure Google Slides Animation

  1. Create your starting slide.
  2. In two separate text boxes (or with two separate pictures or with two separate words/phrases within a text box) provide options for the next step.
  3. Create 2 new slides – these are the possible next steps.
  4. Back on the starting slide, click on one of the text boxes, images or text within a text box.
  5. Use the hyperlink button (or Ctrl+k) to link to the appropriate slide.
  6. Repeat the process for the other option.
  7. Now . . . add steps that branch off of those 2 options . . .

If you or your students make a really phenomenal Choose Your Own Adventure Slides project, I’d love to see it!

 

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.

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.

Calendar Lab in Gmail

I don’t know about you, but I’m often reading and responding to emails that relate to scheduling things.  When I am doing that, it’s great to have my calendar handy.  Using the Google Calendar Gadget Lab in Gmail makes that possible.  I can see my calendar, add events to it and quickly get to the details for certain events.  Check it out:

Calendar Lab in GMail Animation

Force Make a Copy

Thou shalt make a copy. – Jake Miller

Ok, so, I never said that.  Well, actually, I guess I just did.  Anyhow, it’s a trick that’s known in most edtech circles, but it’s useful enough to make sure that everyone knows it:

Change the “/edit” or “/view” (or whatever) at the end of a Google Apps file’s URL to “/copy” and it will force the person clicking the link to make a copy of it (as if they had clicked File > Make a Copy).

Important: make sure the doc is shared, at least as “Can View,” prior to using this.  You can’t copy a doc that you can’t view!

With the rise of Google Classroom and other LMS options, it’s not as useful as it used to be, but it has its use cases: sharing a resource on your website, posting forms for use in your school district, sharing optional activities for classes or clubs and much more.  It works in Drawings, Sheets and Slides as well! Here’s how to do it:

Force Make a Copy Animation

Just in case, here are those steps:

  1. Share the doc as “Anyone with the Link Can View.”
  2. Copy the link to the doc.
  3. Change the “/edit” or “/view” or “/edit?usp=sharing” to “/copy

Clear your Cache & Cookies

It’s important that you clear your browsers cache and cookies regularly.  Doing it daily isn’t necessary, but doing it monthly (or even more regularly) would be wise.

In layman’s terms, cache and cookies are like little pieces of the websites that you visit.  In the short term, they help you load that site faster when you visit it next.  In the long term, however, as the sites change, the cache & cookies start clogging up processes (often because they are no longer part of the sites that you visit).  Clearing them will help your browser run more smoothly!

Here’s how to do it in Google Chrome:

Clear Cookies and Cache Animation

Note: it was really hard to make it through this post without using a lame pun with the words cache or cookie.   In fact, I think that my self-restraint earned me a cookie…. oops.