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.

Nupedia

Nupedia was a revolutionary idea. Ever heard of it? I didn’t think so; because I had never heard of it either. It was started by Jimmy Wales, who later started . . . Wikipedia.  I bet you’ve heard of that one. So, what led to Jimmy’s switch from Nupedia to Wikipedia?

Well, it’s something that educators can learn a lot from.  So listen up.

Jimmy started Nupedia, “the free encyclopedia”, in 2000.  But, after a year, it only had 21 articles on it.  Why, when there are now millions of articles on Wikipedia, were there so few on its predecessor after 1 year?  According to Jimmy on this episode of the How I Built This Podcast, he made the decision to do something that all educators should take note of.  He realized “I just need to go through this process myself to see what’s wrong with it or how can we [sic] improve it.”  I’ll let you listen to the podcast to find out what he discovered, but for us educators, the important lesson is this:

That was really the moment when I said, ‘Okay, look this isn’t going to work. This isn’t fun’ . . . So that was a really crucial moment, the moment when I tried to get something through the system.

The lesson for educators? Always, always, try it out before asking your students to do it.  If it feels tedious, boring, torturous or needlessly difficult to you, imagine how it will feel to a kid. Do you feel empowered when you try out your lesson or activity?  Do you feel engaged when you complete that assignment?

You don’t necessarily need to take a full walkthrough of an activity – and if you differentiate well, it might not be possible for you to do a full trial run of every activity or assignment – but you should be putting yourself in the shoes of your students with everything that you ask them to do.

In the world of design, this is referred to as User Experience (UX) Design. Simply put, this means that when you create something (an app, a website, a device, a classroom activity) you focus on the experience that your user will have.  Always, always, keep your students’ experience in mind when designing your instruction!

Enhanced Sharing Settings on New Google Sites

As soon as it came out, I thought the New Google Sites made a pretty awesome Digital Portfolio tool.  However, there was one important feature missing – sharing settings that allow you to choose to not make student work public.  Well, it’s there now!

First up, a quick overview of this in Animated GIF form, followed by detailed information about the options.

Sharing Settings in New Google Sites

You have a few publishing options with New Google Sites, assuming you’re on a gSuite for Education domain.  Here they are:

Continue reading Enhanced Sharing Settings on New Google Sites

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