Tuesday, June 2, 2015

5 Awesome Google Form Add-ons

I'm watching sessions from Google Education on Air and came across a great session from Ryan Archer @ArcherEdTech. He presented three add-ons for Google Forms that I hadn't tried before, but will now! Here's the link!

1. FormMule - This mail merge add-on lets you setup emails that are triggered when someone completes the form. Different emails can be created and specified per form choice. Great for PD sign-ups and reminders.

2. Form Values - Quickly populate form fields with this add-on. It is installed in forms and lets you setup lists of items you can use later. When selected, the designated field is populated with what you setup without having to retype or copy/paste each time.

3. Choice Eliminator - Let students select topics from a list and have them be removed when you get the desired number of students. Let's pretend my students were researching authors. I could create a form of the authors they could pick from. I only want each author assigned once. With Choice Eliminator, when a student picks a person, it is removed from the list so others cannot pick it..

A couple of add-ons that I use on a regular basis are Flubaroo and Autocrat.

4. Flubaroo - Turn your Google form into a Quiz or Test. Run this add-on to grade student responses against a key that you create.

5. Autocrat - Similar to FormMule, Autocrat lets you setup emails to be triggered on form submission. These can send documents with the email. I used this add-on when my Maintenance director needed to inspect campuses and send a report to the campus principal. He completed the form from his smartphone and when submitted, the report was emailed to the designated recipient. I also used this tool to get feedback on PD and distribute certificates of attendance from the same form.

Google Education on Air

I really love the innovation and creativity of Google. They have been focused on users from the beginning. Their efforts in Education are no different. I am a huge fan of GAfE and the tools provided for teachers and students at no cost. I enjoy working with a cart of Chromebooks in my classroom and the many apps available for use from the Chrome Web Store.

Google wants to help educators use these tools better and just hosted its first Education on Air conference in early May 2015. The theme was Practical Innovation. Speakers and attendees connected from 185 countries around the world.

All the sessions are available to view on demand. The first day has several panels and keynotes with fresh ideas on skills needed and way to affect change. The second day is filled with breakout sessions grouped by audience interest. Educators at every level can find something new to learn from this event.

Here is the link: https://educationonair.withgoogle.com/

As I began watching some sessions I realized what a great opportunity this conference could be for schools requiring summer Professional Development in Technology for their teachers. A district could use Google Classroom as their LMS and assign sessions, quizzes, reflections, and projects to teachers over the summer.

Benefits for schools:

1. It is free!

2. Teachers could learn from home (in their pjs)!

3. Teachers can learn at their own pace as their summer schedule allows.

4. Encourages teachers to use the tools they learn about in the sessions.

5. Supports the use of GAfE if you are a district using that product.

Using Google Education on Air for summer PD is a win-win!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Cool Games - According to my teen

My fifteen year old daughter is a tech junkie. Not only did she take Computer Science for her Foreign Language this year, she also got the award for Highest Average in the class. This year also saw her earn the Highest Average in BIM class as well as placing 6th at UIL Region in Computer Applications. She is a self-proclaimed member of the Nerd Herd.

She is always bringing me cool apps and games she and her friends find. The school she attends in a GAFE school so they look for Chrome Apps that they can play on the Chromebooks in her classes.

Here are her latest suggestions:

1. Little Alchemy - This game is more like a puzzle. Players start with four basic elements and then must combine then to create new things. There are a total of 530 possible combinations and the elements grow as you add more combinations. For example, fire + earth = lava, lava + earth = volcano, volcano + energy = eruption + ash and so on. What a great little puzzle to experience chemical reactions.

2. Cube Slam - This Google Experiment resurrects the classic pong format (I remember playing it with joysticks on an Atari!). The added twist is that you can either play the computer or send a friend a link and challenge them. It uses the web cam and mic on the computer so you can see and hear your opponent. Each level adds more difficulty and challenges.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Dewey Decimal System

Organization is important in all aspects of life, but no place more important than the library! How would we ever find the book we needed without organization?!?

The Dewey Decimal System is the system most school libraries use for collection organization. Students need to learn how it works and there are tons of resources online to help teach it:

1. Videos on YouTube - Below is a cool one for elementary student using puppets:

2. Shelver - Mrs. Lodge has a great little game on her site that lets students practice organization books using the Dewey Decimal System. The game is called Shelver and works on PCs and tablets.

3. SmartBoard games - If you have a SmartBoard in your library, use games that have been shared through Smart Exchange

4. And don't forget Pinterest!

Google "Dewey Decimal System" and see what else you find.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Kindness Matters

Fakebook Biography Projects with some A-has!

About five years ago I started using Classtools.net for their Random Namepicker template. I have used it for picking names, topics, characters, really anything that needs random selection. My students (even secondary) love to use the interactive board and "spin the wheel" for their topics. Much better than the teacher assigning it or drawing from a bag.

This six weeks, I decided to use the Fakebook template for their book project. They had to  read a biography and create a Fakebook profile for their person. I created a rubric for assessing the project and gave it to them ahead of time. I used Google Classroom for the assignment and link turn-in location.

The goal was for the students to really think about their people and imagine being them. Who would their friends be? How would they interact?

Here are a couple of the finished projects:

Nikolai Romanov

Nelson Mandela

Some project surprises;

1. Save often - Since we are a GAFE district, the students are spoiled to the autosave. I remember many times as a student when I lost work from lack of saving or a brief power blip. I too have become less of a saver since I started using Google. With the Fakebook template, you have to save and remember the link and password to edit it later. Many students were frustrated by lost work.

2. Old School Facebook - Many of my students did not know how Facebook worked. They use Twitter, Instagram and SnapChat stories as Social Media. Facebook is for old people, like their parents.

Will I do this project again? Probably. I like the "outside of the box" thinking that is required more than just read and regurgitate information on a poster or slide show. I may rethink my rubric and teach a bit more about expectations. Always room for tweaking!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Plickers with Pics!

I love using Plickers in my classroom! It is a quick way to get the pulse of the group without having them get out any technology. I just use the app from my iPhone to scan their cards and the results are viewable on the screen.

Here is a link to a blog post of how it works:


Now Plickers has added the ability to upload images as part of the question. Great addition for Math, Social Studies, Art, Science, etc.

We are currently reading The Diary of Anne Frank in my ELAR classes. Since it is a true story, I can use images of the actual people for my questions. Like this:

Great additional feature with possibilities for any grade level and subject.