15+ Tools for Student Voice

In episode 28 of the Educational Duct Tape PodcastMike Mohammad joined me for a chit-chat.  One of the topics that we discussed was student voice.  I posed the question, “How can educators provide opportunities for student voice?

Mike promptly made the distinction between student voice and student choice.  While both are powerful things to leverage in the classroom, they are very different (though we often lump them together, as Mike pointed out).

I think that educators’ definitions for the term student voice are inconsistent – some seem to believe that it simply means
– hearing each student’s answer or thinking
– while others believe that it means empowering the students to have a voice in some (or all!) aspects of their education.

Mike made it clear in his response that he subscribes to the 2nd “definition” of student voice.  His response fits with the description that Edutopia usesstudent voice involves letting “students’ input and expertise … help shape their classroom, their school, and ultimately their own learning and growth.”

I definitely believe that that is the type of student voice that we want to strive for.  In a recent #EduDuctTape chat, educators shared their favorite tool for empowering student voice.  It’s important to note that simply using the tool doesn’t provide opportunity for or empowerment of student voice.  It’s all about how you use it.

Here are some of their responses:

Continue reading 15+ Tools for Student Voice

Graphic Design Tools in Google Slides: Align, Distribute & Center

On the Google Teacher Tribe podcast (one of my favorite podcasts) Kasey Bell & Matt Miller often refer to Google Slides as the “Swiss Army Knife of gSuite.”  And I agree!  There are so many things that you can do in Google Slides.  In this post, I’m going to show you 3 super useful Graphic Design tools that are available in Slides.

Align – When you select 2+ objects (images, shapes, text boxes, etc.) you can align them horizontally (left, right or center) or vertically (top, bottom or center) with each other!

Distribute – When you select 3+ objects (images, shapes, text boxes, etc.) you can distribute them horizontally or vertically in relation to each other.  This spaces the objects out evenly.  It’s important to note that it’s based off of the positions of the leftmost and rightmost objects.  So, get your left and right objects into place and then use this tool to distribute everything else out evenly in between.

Center on Page – This tool does exactly what you’d expect it to, but with one nice bonus – if you have multiple objects selected it will center them as a group.  So, the objects themselves may not be in the center of the slide, but they will be arranged with the center of the group at the center of the slide.

A note for the Google Drawings fans out there: each of these items are also available there and work in the same manner.

Check out the EduGIF of these 3 tools in action below and, if it moves too fast, check out the Pausable EduGIF here.

Align, Distribute & Center in Slides Animation

Making Silhouettes in Google Slides

Adjacent Possible.  Have you heard of it?  If you listen to the Educational Duct Tape Podcast, you probably have.  It’s this theory that a new set of possibilities is enabled by taking one step beyond the current state of things.  Every step opens up new possibilities, just like every conversation with a person can lead to new possibilities that you had not considered.

Well, I had an Adjacent Possible experience a few days ago while interviewing Tony Vincent for Episode 26 of the Educational Duct Tape podcast.  Tony was responding to a question about how to help students get to know each other.  He shared with me about this activity that he had done where his students took side profile pictures of themselves and then turned them into silhouettes of in Google Slides.  They then added in images and words that showed their interests.  The students presented their slides to their classmates and, later, those same slides were played on a loop on a screen in the room.  What I love about this activity is that, on the surface, it’s a great “getting to know each other” activity.  But, underneath that, it’s also a fantastic way to teacher kids some new skills with a tool that the teacher planned on using in class.

This is actually an activity that Tony teaches participants in his fantastic Classy Graphics course. If you’re interested in learning Graphic Design with Google Tools, you should check it out!

There are certainly ways to make these silhouettes that would be easier.  But that’s not the point. The point is, opening students’ eyes to the possibilities within the tools that they have access to.  As Tony shared in the episode, his students became highly capable at using Slides to create all sorts of things.  I don’t know about you, but I’m not surprised.  By doing this activity, his students saw slides as more than just a tool for presentations.  They saw it as a creation space.

Well, as you have probably already guessed, I was compelled to turn this into an #EduGIF, so here it is.  After the GIF, I’ll share step-by-step instructions for making these.  By the way, I’d be honored if you used this GIF and these instructions with your own students in class.  You can repay me by showing me some of their creations!

Continue reading Making Silhouettes in Google Slides

A Google Slides Hack to Replace ChatterPix or Blabberize

This idea–a true moment of educational duct tape (using technology to solve a classroom problem or goal)–actually came to me while recording an episode of my Educational Duct Tape Podcast!

In Episode 5, I played a question that Linda Hummer shared to the Educational Duct Tape Community FlipGrid along with Abbey Thomas’ answer.  Linda’s question was, essentially, what is an alternative to Chatterpix that works on Chromebooks?  Abbey’s answer was Blabberize. And the question was answered!  Or, so I thought…

After the episode aired, Dan Gallagher shared on that same grid some words of caution: Blabberize’s Terms of Service indicate that it’s not appropriate for all ages.  So, in Episode 6, I shared this and then, on the spot, found a hack for a solution:

I’ve posted about #StopMotionSlides a number of times (here are my tips for making them) and they make a pretty good solution for this.  Put a picture into a slide, use some careful cropping and then leverage a stop motion technique.  Not only can you make the mouth move up and down, but you can then publish the animation (#13 in these tips) and then record them with Screencastify (or your screencasting tool of choice) with a voiceover (#14 in these tips)!

Voila!  Not as easy as Chatterpix, but at least it eliminates the need of adding another tool and another set of terms of service to what you use with your students: you likely already use Google Slides & Screencastify!

Plus, unlike ChatterPix or Blabberize, you can have multiple characters, your characters can move, the scene change…  You–and your students–can get super creative!

Here’s an animated GIF of the process, followed by a step-by-step breakdown.

Google Slides ChatterPix Blabberize Hack Animation

Continue reading A Google Slides Hack to Replace ChatterPix or Blabberize

Keyboard Shortcuts for Bullets & Numbering

Sometimes, I think a trick, hack or shortcut that I do with technology is unimpressive and something that everyone either knows or doesn’t care about.  But then, when I mention it to someone, and they’re like “Whoa!” I think “Welp, this should be an EduGIF.”

Recently, I had the good fortune to be recording a guest appearance on the Shukes & Giff Podcast (er, maybe it’s the Shukes & Jake Podcast, now!? Kidding!).  When I was chatting about Emoji Bullets with Kim Pollishuke (a.k.a. “Shukes”), I mentioned, “So, I’ll just click Shift+Command+8 and then…” and she said “Wait, What!?”  And then I knew it, EduGIF time.  So here it is . . .

in most Google Tools:

  • Click CTRL (Command on Mac) + Shift + 7 for Numbering
  • Click it again to undo numbering
  • Click CTRL (Command on Mac) + Shift + 8 for Bullets
  • Click it again to undo bullets

Here’s the EduGIF!

Shortcuts for Bullets and Numbering GIF

Emoji Bullets

Want to add a little flair to your HyperDocs and some fun to your lesson plans? Ditch those boring bullets for some emoji bullets!

In many cases, this can obviously lead to a less-professional looking document or slideshow, but in the classroom . . . why not add a little fun? Our learners l-o-v-e emoji and it may just make schoolwork look a little more inviting.  So, here’s how to use them as bullets in Google Docs & Slides.  First up: a GIF animation, followed by the step-by-step.

Emoji Bullets Animation

  1. Click the appropriate button to add bullets.
  2. Add any of the default bullet styles.
  3. Right-Click (or two-finger click) on the first bullet and select More bullets.
  4. In the first dropdown menu, select Emoji.
  5. Now select your emoji!
  6. Right-click (or two-finger click) on the first emoji bullet if you’d like to change the size of the bullets.

Google Drawings in Google Classroom

A few weeks ago, I shared a post about putting Drawings in Google Docs that are assigned in Google Classroom. After seeing some of the reactions, I realized that some educators either weren’t aware of the powers of Google Drawings or had never thought of using them in assignments with Google Classroom.  I was all “whaaaaat!?”  So, now I’m here to dial it back a notch…  Let’s talk about assigning Google Drawings (not Drawings in Docs, just Drawings) in Google Classroom.  First up: an animated GIF for your viewing pleasure; and then: a quick step-by-step of how to use Drawings in Classroom.

Google Drawings in Classroom Animation

Continue reading Google Drawings in Google Classroom

Lunapic – Create Images with Transparent Backgrounds

When presenting about #StopMotionSlides, someone inevitably asks about cutting the background out of a picture so that it has a transparent background.  Up to this point, my answer has been Microsoft Word, but I wasn’t satisfied with that since it wouldn’t work on Chromebooks or on computers without Microsoft Word.  And then I listened to Episode 13 of the Shukes and Giff Podcast.  In it, Kim Pollishuke shared about Lunapic.

Lunapic is a free, web-based photo editing platform.  Along with a lot of other features (seriously, go to it and explore!), is the ability to make the background transparent.  If it’s a solid colored background (i.e., green screen), there are tools that automate it.  For images that don’t have a solid colored background (or have backgrounds that include colors that are in the main part of the image), you can also do it manually.  Check it out in the animated GIF below!  Side note: there’s even a Chrome extension so that you can edit images you find online more conveniently.

Lunapic Transparent Background Animation

Speech & Thought Bubbles in Google Drawings

On the Google Teacher Tribe podcast and on his site DitchThatTextbook.com, Matt Miller shared about his recommended use of thought bubbles (and speech bubbles) in Google Drawings.  When I first heard it, I thought – “Whoa!  What a simple, but powerful application of a technology tool.”  Think about it: students being able to comprehend a story or historical event well enough to synthesize the information back into what they predict a character/person may have been thinking or saying?  Not to mention, it’s quick and it’s much more engaging that writing it on a worksheet or in a Google Doc.  Matt recommends this as a Bell Ringer activity, which I think is an awesome idea, but certainly not the only way it can be used.

This can also be done in Google Slides–it would be neat to have each kid have their own slide–and through the “Insert > Drawing” option on Google Docs.  Just like with Google Docs, you can have students make copies of your drawing to add their own thought bubbles or you can use them as assignments in Google Classroom or other LMS’s.

Check it out in the Animated GIF below and then, after the GIF, is a published version of that Drawing, just to show how easy it is to post the completed project.

Speech & Thought Bubbles in Google Drawings Animation

Continue reading Speech & Thought Bubbles in Google Drawings

Posting Homework via Google Slides

I’m not a big fan of homework, but I am a big fan of making sure that communication between teachers, co-teachers, students and parents is as convenient and efficient as possible without detracting from the learning experience.  For many educators, their learning management system (LMS) or online gradebook already offer a platform for this.  However, for those that may need an alternative solution – or just a differentiated form of communication – this idea for communicating homework (and/or details about what was done during class) is a good one!  I heard it on Episode 39 of the Google Teacher Tribe Podcast, shared by Karen McKenna.

In Karen’s idea, teachers can use a Google Slides presentation and add a slide for each day of class. On that slide, they can include any important details from class that day, including the day’s homework.  Putting the newest slide at the beginning of the slideshow would make it easiest – saving the viewers from needing to scroll to the end of the slideshow to get the most recent details.

I love this idea for its simplicity and flexibility.  Need to email a parent what their kiddo missed when out sick? Send a link to the slides.  Have a Google Site for your class?  Embed the slides.  Work with intervention specialists, tutors and gifted educators who need to know what you did in your class?  Have them bookmark the slides.  Check out this animation to see how you can set it up:

Homework in Google Slides Animation