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

Add your Google Drawings into your Google Docs!

On 1/7/19, Google announced that you could now embed previously created Google Drawings into Google Docs.  Before this announcement, you could create new Drawings from within a Doc, but you could not pull in Drawings created in the regular Drawings platform.

This was limiting, because the Drawings tool within Docs was only provided a small workspace and had less tools.  It was also frustrating that a Drawing couldn’t be in both places – a Drawing and Doc – without copying and pasting or using the following workaround.

Up to this point, the best workaround was to download the Drawing as an image and then insert that image into the Doc.  This was frustrating for a few reasons: it involved inconvenient extra steps and it meant that the Drawing in the Doc would not update if the actual Drawing was updated.

Well, now Google has made good on fixing this.  In the Google Docs Insert menu, go to Drawing and now you can select New to create a new one or From Drive to select one that you created in the Google Drawings platform.  When the drawing is changed in Drawings, you’ll see an Update option in the Doc to show the changes (unless you selected Unlink when you added the Drawing).  Check it out in the animated GIF below:

Embed Drawings into Docs GIF

Using Answer Tables in Google Docs

A few weeks ago, I posted a little hack that I like to use for making student answers in Google Docs easier to find.  You can see that post here.  Multiple people reminded me of a practice that many elementary educators love using:

Instead of just pre-formatting the answer space, actually create an answer table.  This makes it less likely that students accidentally mess up the pre-existing content in the doc and makes their answers easier to find.  This is a great practice when assigning these Docs as Make a Copy for Each Student in Google Classroom.

There are 3 different ways to do this.  I’ll show each in the GIF below and then go over them in some additional detail below the GIF.

Tables in Docs for Answers

More details on what you see in the GIF below . . . Continue reading Using Answer Tables in Google Docs

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

Creating & Locking Google Slides Backgrounds

If you’ve ever created assignments in Google Docs, Slides or Drawings for students to complete, you’re all too familiar with this struggle: students accidentally deleting, moving or modifying elements of the assignment.

Well, in Google Slides, there are 2 ways to prevent this from happening and here’s the easier of the two: put the content of the assignment in as a background.  Then, the only way a student can delete, move or modify it would be to actually go into the background settings and change it…. which can’t be done by accident.

Let me show you how, first with an animated GIF and then with step-by-step instructions.Creating & Locking Google Slides Backgrounds Animation

  1. Set up your slide with any text, images, etc.
  2. File > Download as > PNG Image (JPEG will work too)
  3. Clear off the slide.
  4. Click Background, then, next to Image, click Choose.
  5. Click the downloaded image file from Step 2.
  6. Voila!  Send your assignment out in Classroom (or share it with students or have them make a copy).

Insert Drawings into Docs Being Assigned in Classroom

When given the chance, I’m always going to pick an assignment where students are creating their own representations of their mastery of learning standards.  However, I know that it’s not realistic to expect this all the time.  So, I can see the value in annotating images rather than just typing.  Google Drawings and Google Slides are great platforms for this . . . but what if it’s part of a bigger activity that does involve typing?  Well, insert a drawing into a document, put the picture in, and tell the students to annotate it!  Check it out in the animated GIF below (typed instructions follow the GIF).

Drawings in Docs with Google Classroom Animation

  1. In the Google Docs menu, click Insert > Drawing.
  2. In the Drawing that pops up, copy and paste in an image (or drag it in from a separate tab as I did in the GIF).
  3. Add instructions within the Drawing as needed.
  4. Click Save and Close to finish preparing the drawing.
  5. Assign the document in Google Classroom as Make a Copy for Each Student.
  6. When students open the document, instruct them to double-click on the image that they see to open up the drawing and annotate it.

Pre-Format Student Answers

Grading stinks.  Anything that we can do to make it better–without sacrificing the quality of the pedagogy or feedback–is worth doing!  Here’s a little trick to make it easier to locate student answers in Google Docs (or other files) that you assign in Google Classroom . . .

Pre-Format Classroom Answers Animation

Saving Images from Google Docs

When edtech rockstar Matt Miller says “Hey Jake, you should make this into an #EduGIF!” you listen.  He was right, too.  It was an awesome tip.

It was a pickle that I had been in before, but I had never known the solution.  You’re preparing something–a lesson, a blog post, whatever–and you need a picture.  Not just any picture, but a picture that you’ve used before.  It’s in that one Google Doc, but you can’t get to the picture from anywhere else.  So, you right-click on it in that Google Doc . . . but there’s no Save Image option.

There are a handful of ways that you can get that image saved as a file on your computer, but the one that Matt sent to me is pretty awesome.  It’s just a few steps and super easy.  And it’s even more convenient if you have multiple images that you need from the same Google Doc.  So, let’s get to it – first an animated #EduGIF and then the steps for those of you who like to read words.

Save Images from Docs Animation

  1. Open the Google Doc
  2. Select File > Download As > Web Page (.html, zipped)
  3. Locate the saved file on your computer
  4. Unzip the file (on my Mac, all that I have to do is double-click)
  5. A new folder should have been created. Inside of that folder will be all of the images that are in that Google Doc.  Feel free to move your image out of there and delete the other files as well as the zipped file.

SAMR ain’t *That* Simple

I’ve developed a new pet peeve recently. It’s handy-dandy graphics that tell you exactly which educational technologies match up with the different levels of the SAMR model (or Bloom’s or DoK, etc.).  Are they handy? Yes.  Are they dandy? Um, sure, I guess.  Are they 100% accurate? Nope.

What gives?  Why is Jake so down on these easy to follow graphics that conveniently tell us that ThingLink and Google Search are Substitution, while YouTube and Explain Everything are Redefinition?  Because it ain’t that simple.

If you think that just by using YouTube, you’re at Redefinition, you should just hand in your teacher’s license now.  Starbucks needs another barista.  You’ll know exactly how to make drinks anyhow because you probably love this graphic too.  Okay, okay, don’t quit teaching; just keep reading so I can help you.  (BTW – apologies to the creator of that graphic. It’s not that bad, but it’s just not my cup of . . . coffee)

Seriously, one of the graphics I’ve seen says that Twitter is Substitution.  And then, on the same graph, has Prezi as RedefinitionThe creator of that one may have consumed too many PSL’s.  What, praytell (I’ve always wanted to say praytell in a blog post), is the equivalent non-tech activity that using an engaging global social media tool (Twitter) is a substitution for!?  And Prezi, the tool that’s essentially a slideshow with a side of vertigo is Redefinition!?

Listen, can Prezi have a key role in a fantastic, engaging, empowering learning experience? Certainly.  Can it also be part of a trainwreck lesson? Of course!  And the same can be said of Twitter.

So, how do we match technologies up with the levels of the SAMR model? Well, as I said before – It ain’t that simple.  We have to look at the factors of these educational experiences that these handy-dandy graphics are ignoring:

  • The students. What is the right tool for this group of students? What will engage and empower them?
  • The standards. What are we trying to teach? Different technologies impact different learning standards in different ways.
  • The pedagogy. The method and practice of teaching. It just can’t be boiled down to a handy-dandy chart.

In closing, these charts are wrong . . . sometimes.  But they are also right . . . sometimes.  What we need to realize is that good teachers are skilled, knowledgeable and talented in their craft and that they make difficult, informed decisions about what benefits their students.  Stop trying to make graphics that make a skilled profession simple.  Even the best educational technologies require rockstar teachers.