8+ Tools for Developing Learner Profiles

Mike Mohammad joined me in episode 28 of the Educational Duct Tape Podcast to discuss 2 questions that an educator might have.  One of the topics that we discussed was learner profiles.  Mike posed the question, “How can students create a profile of themselves as a learner to share with an audience beyond the classroom?

Tools for Learner Profiles Title Image

While Mike and I did not discuss the it during the show, I want to quickly compare and contrast the terms learner profile and digital portfolio.  While there are similarities (both are typically curated by the student, both showcase the students work in school and both are often done digitally) there are also some differences (typically, digital portfolios are a showcase of academic work and growth while learner profiles also often focus on the students’ capabilities, characteristics and aptitudes as a learner).

Regardless of which end result you’re looking to cultivate in your school (learner profile, digital portfolio or a blend of both), there are plenty of tools that you can leverage.

A week after the episode in which Mike and I discusssed this aired, I hosted a Twitter chat about the questions from our talk.

Here are some of the participants’ responses to the question about learner profiles:

Continue reading 8+ Tools for Developing Learner Profiles

Searching for Images with Transparent Backgrounds in Google Image Search

There are lots of reasons that you might need images with transparent backgrounds! Maybe it’s for a #StopMotionSlides project!  Maybe it’s for a graphic design project!  Maybe it’s for a green screen video or image!

No matter what your reason is for wanting an image with a transparent background, the easiest option is the same: do a Google Image Search for images with a transparent background!

There are ways to take images and remove their background, but if we can start with no background, that’s even better!

Search in Google > Images > Tools > Color > Transparent

Note: Unfortunately, this is not a perfect process.  Using this strategy misses some images with transparent backgrounds and includes some images that it should have left out.

Check out the #EduGIF below.  A Pausable #EduGIF is available here.

Google Transparent Image Search Animation

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.

Font Formatting in Google Comments

Did you ever really, really, really want a student (or colleague) to understand your feedback on a portion of a Google Doc?  Well, my friend, I have got news for you.  Surround a word (or group of words) in a Google Docs (or Slides, Sheets, Drawings…) Comment with asterisks (*) and you’ve got bold text. 💥Boom💥 Surround them with underscores ( _ ) and you’ve got italicized text. 💥Boom💥

🤔❓Why does using the underscore lead to italicized text instead of underlined text!?  I have no idea.  Ask the Googs.❓🤔

Even more puzzling, there’s no option to create underlined text.  But hey, 3 minutes ago, you didn’t know about how to do bold or italics, so calm it down, buddy.

Here’s the real head-scratcher: some people seem to want strikethrough text in a comment.  🤷🏻‍♂️  Why?  I dunno.  But it’s possible.  Just surround your text with hyphens (-) and you’ve got strikethrough.  Medium-half-excited-don’t-know-why-anyone-wants-this-feature-💥Boom💥.  But again, 4 minutes ago, you were clueless that this was even within the realm of possibility, so turn your snark dial down, Francis.  Anyhow, here’s a GIF.  Please enjoy.

Formatting Font in Comments GIF

 

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

Paint Roller Tool in Google Slides

One of the more underutilized tools within Google Docs, Slides, Drawings & Sheets is the Paint Roller (Paint Format) Tool.  It’s purpose is simple – when you want some text or an object to be formatted just like another set of text or an object, the Paint Roller is the tool that you need.  Click once on the already-formatted object/text, then on the Paint Roller and then on the to-be-formatted object/text.

I’ve posted before about how it works in Google Docs, but I wanted to share an animated GIF about how it works in Google Slides!  Notice that it works on text boxes, as well as on shapes, lines and images!  With text boxes, you can even apply it to certain words in the box rather than the entire box.

Paint Roller in Google Slides Animation