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

#EduDuctTape Twitter Chat – 8/28/19

Well, the first #EduDuctTape Chat is in the books and it was a ūüĆ™¬†¬†of awesomeness! Wow! People shared some really, really cool stuff and now I want to share it all with you.

So, the questions all came from Episode 25 of the Educational Duct Tape Podcast which featured Stacey Roshan as the guest.

There were sooooo many amazing responses, but I tried to curate some of my favorites for you.  It was difficult to narrow down the list!

Below, you’ll find those selected responses in this order Q2, Q3, Q4 and then Q1.¬† Since Q1 was silly & fun, I’ve chosen to end with that one.¬† Check it all out below!

Continue reading #EduDuctTape Twitter Chat – 8/28/19

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

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.

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.

Add a Popup Message to your Google Docs

Ever wish that you could tell people something when they open up your Google Docs? Maybe “Make a copy of this document, answer the questions and share it with your teacher!” or “This is a draft!

Well, it’s possible.¬† Some simple coding in the script editor and you can make it happen.¬† I know that some of you¬†are thinking “Simple . . . . coding. . . !?” while making this face, but it’s true.¬† Just follow the steps below and you’ll make it happen.

Before we jump into the how, or what it looks like, a few notes:

  • Only Editors will be able to see the popup.¬† In my testing, someone who is “can view” or “can comment” does not see the popup.¬† Also, they have to be explicitly shared as editors, not just “anyone with the link can edit.”
  • If you copy the document within your own account, the popup will appear on the copy as well.
  • If someone shared on the document makes a copy, the popup will NOT appear on their copy.
  • If you send the document out on Google Classroom as “Make a Copy for Each Student” it will NOT include the popup in those copies.¬† I was bummed when I discovered this, because it would have been huge for teachers.

Now that you know those notes and limitations, let’s dive into it.¬† First, an animated GIF of how to do it and then, below the GIF, the step by step with code that you can just copy and paste.

Add Popup Message to Google Docs Animation

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. From within your Google Doc, click on Tools > Script Editor.
  2. Click on Untitled Project and rename the project.
  3. Replace the words myFunction with onOpen. (This is what tells it to run automatically)
  4. After the { type DocumentApp. (include the period)
  5. From the menu that pops up select getUi : Ui
  6. After {DocumentApp.getUi() type a period.
  7. From the menu that pops up select alert(String prompt) : Button
  8. In place of the word prompt type your popup message.
  9. Add quotation marks around your message (and inside of the parentheses).
  10. Click the save icon.
  11. Go back to your Doc, refresh and check it out!

Another note: You can actually edit the appearance of the popup with some HTML and CSS coding, but that would take me longer to explain that 1 GIF can handle!

Credits:¬†I learned this from one of Google’s Applied Digital Skills Courses in the “Code Welcome Screen” Activity.¬† You can learn about adding some formatting to your popup in that course.

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

The Problem with Fidget Spinners . . .

The Problem with Fidget Spinners . . .¬†is not the distractions. ¬†It’s not the noise. ¬†It’s not even the obsessive collecting. ¬†It ain’t the disruptions to classmates. ¬†It’s not the who’s-got-the-best-spinner drama either. ¬†It’s definitely not that they annoy some teachers. ¬†And it’s not that they may cost parents a lot of money.

It’s that kids need them. ¬†It’s that our youth – and our society in general – see school as an experience that is so mind-numbingly, torturously boring that we assume that kids need something to fidget with during it. ¬†It’s that learning, in many classrooms, is seen as a passive behavior and that students need something active to do with their hands while it happens.

Make learning experiences that make your students want to put their spinners away.