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

Keyboard Shortcuts in Google Calendar

The new school year started for my colleagues and I a few weeks ago.  One process that I have to go through at the beginning of each school year is getting all of the year’s events onto my Google Calendar.  This is a tedious process, but it’s an important one for me.  The main task here is copying events from our school’s calendar onto my calendar.  The school calendar is jam-packed with stuff and I only need a subset of those events.

While going week-by-week through the school year, I thought “There has got to be a quicker way to navigate through this!”  Well, I did a little poking around and found my answer! Keyboard Shortcuts!

If you go into Settings, you can turn on Keyboard shortcuts.  First, let’s look at how to do this and then I’ll share some of my favorite shortcuts.

So, that animation showed you our first 2 keyboard shortcuts:
– / brings up the search, all ready for you to find that special event you were looking for.
– ? brings up all of the keyboard shortcuts, for when you forget some of them (which you will).

Here are the other ones that I’ve added to my repertoire:

Continue reading Keyboard Shortcuts in Google Calendar

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.

3 Screencastify Features You (Probably) Didn’t Know About

Screencastify is my favorite “lightweight” screen recording tool. I prefer it because 1) it works on Chromebooks, 2) it syncs to Drive and 3) it has all 3 important options (webcam, screen and webcam + screen).  Recently, I discovered 3 features that I hadn’t realized were there – and I’m guessing you hadn’t either.  So, here we go!

 

1. Move, Resize & toggle the webcam

I believe that including webcam video in a screencast is best practice.  However, it doesn’t need to be there for the entire video and sometimes it gets in the way.  So, in Screencastify’s Tab Recording mode, it’s super convenient that you can toggle the webcam off, resize it and move it – mid-recording!  You can also flip the camera, which is nice if you need to hold up something with text on it or, you know, if you have a non-symmetrical hairstyle. 🤪  Note that (currently) you cannot customize your webcam in Desktop Recording Mode.

Screencastify Tab Recording Webcam Features Animation

2. Cursor effects

If you’re recording a tutorial on your computer, cursor effects–like click animations or highlighting the cursor–are essential.  They’re available in both Desktop and Tab Recording Mode.

Screencastify Cursor Effects Animation

3. Switch tabs

Tab Recording Mode is nice for a number of reasons: it lets you reference things “off camera,” lets you customize the webcam window (see above), creates smaller file sizes and lets your computer run more smoothly. But, what if you realize that you need to record a different tab mid-video? Just click on the extension and select “Record This Tab.”

Screencastify Switch Tabs Animation

Note: I learned of many of these features on Screencastify’s blog.

Paint Roller Tool in Google Sheets

I’m a big fan of the Paint Roller (Paint Format) tool in the gSuite platform.  I’ve posted before about using it in Google Docs, as well as in Google Slides.  I probably use it most often, though, in Google Sheets.  I love a nice, organized Google Sheet and this tool helps a lot with that.  My favorite part about it is that it even applies to number formatting (i.e., decimal places, date format, currency, etc.).  Check it out in the animated GIF below!

Paint Format in Google Sheets Animation