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Sunday, March 12, 2017

Five Ways to Turn Up the Power of Google Sheets

Google Sheets can be much more than a simple spreadsheet application. Turn up the power of Sheets with these five add-on's!


Attched to a Google Sheet, Flubaroo is a powerful grading tool. Not only can it grade assignments that in a Google Sheet, but if you have the student email, you can return their grades to their shared folder.  Using one of my favorite application in Pear Deck?  You can send your Pear Deck results to a Google Sheet and use Flubaroo to grade them.


Doctopus is a great way to distribute classroom assignments in a paperless classroom. Students simply look in their "Shared With Me" folder for their assignment. The thing that's great about Doctopus (of which Google Classroom recently added) is that it provides a way to differntiate assignments among the students in your class. Want student "A" to do all of the questions on the worksheet while student "B" should only do half of them, it's easy to send out separate assignments. Once the due date for the assignment has arrived, you can "ingest" the assignment for grading and return the digital copy.


Goobric takes that rubric you have on a Google Sheet and attaches it to student work for easy grading. It works hand in hand with Doctopus. Once you've got the student work in Doctopus, attach the Goobric, grade and return--it's really easy to do and makes grading simple.


Rostersync is heaven sent for those that are typing rosters into a spreadsheat to use for different applications such as grading apps. It works in conjunction with Google Classroom in that it pulls your roster from Classroom or vice versa sending a roster from your spreadsheet to Google Classroom. It works great when you want to set up a class with Doctopus.


Autocrat is a document merge app that takes information you have on a spreadsheet and moves it to a Google Doc or PDF. For example, you've asked the students to sign in using Google Forms when attending an after school study session because want to give the students a certificate of participation. The Google Form is connected to a Google Sheet for easy reference. You can take the information on the Google Sheet and create certificates of participation using Autocrat. It's also great for use at staff meetings. The staff signs in through a Google Form that's tied to a Google Sheet. Use Autocrat to create a certificate of attendance.

Present with Maximum Student Participation with Pear Deck

I can't tout how great Pear Deck is enough.  If you want maximum student presentation during a presentation, you gotta use Pear Deck!

Pear Deck is probably the app that I use the most.  It works like any other presentation software.  You add slides using the Pear Deck editor or you can import your own from another presentation app, and add to it from there.  The thing that separates Pear Deck from PowerPoint, Keynote, and Google Slides is that the students participate IN the slide show!

What do I mean by "IN the slideshow?"  Well, instead of the 20th Century way of passive participation, with the students taking notes as the teacher presents the information, with Pear Deck, the students are forced to answer short or long answer questions, draw, answer multiple choice questions, or choose from true or false.  Students simply login with their Google for Education accounts and away they go.

Another cool thing is that they can see their answers as well as their classmate's answers projected at the front of the classroom.  They get a kick out of seeing each other's drawings and answers to the various questions.  To top it off, the students can receive a copy of the Pear Deck along with their answers for use as a study guide when the Pear Deck presentation is complete.

Teachers are in control with Pear Deck.  They have a dashboard where they can see every student's answers, set a timer for particular questions, and set it so students can work at their own pace through the slides.  At any time, the teacher can show student answers on the front screen.  Students aren't afraid of answering for fear of what their classmates might say with Pear Deck because answers are shown anonymously.

Granted, in order for Pear Deck to be effective, students have to have their own device connected to the internet.  In today's education world, more and more schools are either equipping themselves with Chromebook carts, iPad carts or are one to one with their devices so devices are becoming less of an issue.

Pear Deck is also compatible with Google Classroom, which makes it easy to import rosters and share the "takeaway" after the presentation is over.

If you haven't checked out Pear Deck yet and have access to devices for your students, there's no better time than now to give it a look!  Go create your first Pear Deck!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Five Ways Teachers Can Use Google Forms For Classroom Administrative Tasks

There are a number of ways a teacher can incorporate Google Forms into their lesson plans. But what about the administrative side of teaching?  We know that there are many classroom administrative tasks that teachers do in order to keep their classroom running like a well oiled machine.  Here are five ways Google Forms can help with some of those administrative tasks.

1. Sign out form.

If you keep a sign out sheet for when students leave the classroom, Google Forms is a great way to keep it paperless!  Simply create a form with pertinent information such as name, period, reason, leave time.  Link the form to a Google Sheet and you've got a record of students that leave the classroom.

2. Contact form.

This is a great way to keep all of the times students and/or parents have been in contact organized.  Create a Contact Form with such information as parent or student name, best contact email, and reason for contact.  Imbed the form in your website (especially easy to do if your using the new Google Sites) in your Google Classroom site.

3. Discipline referral.

A reality of teaching is that sometimes students need to be referred to the administration or discipline office.  A Google Form can easily help with the appropriate referral form.  Simply create the form with the relevant information that your school needs.  Then, on the occasion that it becomes necessary to use, you can simply and quickly fill out the form.  You can print it, email it, or share it with the appropriate person.  This is also great for keeping track of discipline referrals when linked to a Google Spreadsheet.

4. Teacher lesson plans.

Another way to stay organized with your lesson plans.  You can create drop down menu's for grade level and standards.  Use text areas for your objectives and other relevant information.  Link to Google Sheets to keep all of your lesson plans quickly accessible and organized.  If needed, you can quickly email the spreadsheet to an administrator.

5. Material check out.

There are times when a student wants to borrow a book or some other classroom item.  Instead of trying to remember or jotting it down on a piece of paper (which you'll lose), set up a check out form.  You can easily refer to the attached spreadsheet to see who has what item.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Five Ways Students Can Use Their Cell Phones in the Classroom

Five Ways Students Can Use Their Cell Phones in the Classroom 


Want to do something that will shock your students?  Ask them to take out their cell phones in class!  Usually, teachers are fighting the good fight and asking students to put their phones away during class.  But, with these five interactive teaching methods, students can use their phones in class to their hearts content.


Kahoot is a fun game that the whole class can participate in.  Kids learn and and fun doing it at the same time.  Kahoot presents teacher made multiple choice questions where the students answer and in doing so, compete against their classmates.  Students simply download the accompanying app, sign in to the Kahoot that you created, and off you go. Students uses their phones to choose the best answer that is presented in front of the class. 


Create an account and you’re off and running.  As the teacher, create your quiz, make it public (where anyone can search and use it) or make it private.  Create your quiz adding pictures and time limits for each question.  Quizizz works great with math classes as there is a symbol dash board.  Teacher’s also have the option to play the quiz live or share it for homework.  When the quiz is done, go to your dashboard and click on a particular report for that quiz to view specific results.

Pear Deck


Pear Deck is an awesome classroom tool where students can use their phone to participate in a variety of questions.  Questions in Pear Deck question types include short or long answer, true/false, and multiple choice.  Drawing answers in Pear Deck is also possible.  Pear Deck also has a feature called "Takeaways" where the student can view the questions and their answer at the conclusion of the session.  When combined with the Google Sheets add-on Flubaroo, teachers can use Pear Deck as a formal assessment tool.

Google Slides Q & A

Slides Q & A uses the power of Google Slides to get kids thinking and inquire about certain aspects of a Google Slides presentation.  The cool thing is, this is done while you're giving it!  Students use their phone to pose questions about your Slides presentation.  While doing so, they can see other questions posed by other students and vote those questions up if they have the same question.   The teacher can view the questions as they come in on their dashboard.  At the conclusion of the presentation, the teacher can address those questions with the most votes while displaying them in front of the class.



It’s the Space Race game that gets students excited about Socretive.  But there are other ways to use Socrative.  You can use it as a quiz, as an exit ticket question, or asking a "quick question" to do a quick check for understanding.  To join, students simply use their phone to enter their room name and their off and running!  But it's the Space Race that really get's the students involved.  Students team up (could be pairs or small groups) and choose a color.  Teams answer at their own pace.  Each right answer moves their rocket ship closer to the end.  Give a wrong answer, and your ship remains stagnant.  The winner is the ship that either reaches the end or gets closest to it.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Ten Great Uses for Google Slides in the Classroom

Ten Great Uses for Google Slides in the Classroom

Google Slides is not only useful for teachers to present information, it’s a great tool for students too.  Here are ten great ways Google Slides can be used in the classroom:

1. Use Google Slides Q & A.  This is great way to be interactive with your class while presenting a Google Slide deck.  While in the presentation, click the drop down menu.  Select presenter view.  Make sure you’re in “Audience Tools,” tab, then press “Start New.”  A link will be generated at the top of your presentation that can be accessed by any device.  Students can ask questions which will be seen by you in real time.

2. Students create vocabulary slides.  Students can use each slide to describe vocabulary words.  Put the word on the top of the slide, ask students to include a definition as well as pictures from the internet that describes the vocabulary word.

3. Use it for introductions.  This is great at the beginning of the year.  Not only do they tell the class about themselves, but they are also introduced to the idea of using technology in the classroom which sets the tone for the rest of the year.  Students create a Google Slide show describing themselves with not only text, but find pictures from the internet and include them in their presentation.

4. Create a timeline.  Students create a timeline of events by using each slide as a particular part of time.  This is great for a history class.  Each slide can contain a year, a description, and pictures that represent the event.

5. Note taking at their own speed.  Students review the Google Slides presentation and write down the notes at their own pace.  After taking the notes, the students can be required to complete a question sheet or Google Form assessment based on the notes.

6. Play Jeopardy!  There are Google Slides templates out there that you can copy into your Google Drive and edit as you please.  Great for a review game.

7. Create a PDF ebook.  Creating a PDF ebook is a good way to create your own study guide or other information that can be easily given out to the students.  Simpler create a slide presentation and download as a PDF.  Distribute as you please.

8. Create a Story Book.  This is great for summarizing information.  Much like a timeline, students scour the internet finding appropriate images to go along with their story. Each slide contains a piece of the story and an appropriate picture.

9. Create a class shared presentation.  Another cool way to review.  The teacher would create a Google Slide presentation and assign a slide to each student in the class with a particular topic attached to it.  Share the slides with the class and have each student complete their individual slide.  Share the slideshow with the class when complete.  This works for assessment as well.  Assign each student a certain slide with a particular question.  Share the slides and have each student answer their assigned question.  Share the questions and answers with the class.

10. Take the class on a virtual tour slideshow.  This is a great history exercise using Google Earth or Google Tour Builder.  Students can present a tour of a historic place by simply taking screenshots of a particular location and pasting it into a Google Slides presentation.  Walk historic places and battlefields.  Show where historical events occurred.  In language arts, show where a particular story takes place.  

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Prevent Parent Backlash Against Tech in the Classroom With These Tips

Prevent Parent Backlash Against Tech in the Classroom With These Tips
Some parents are questioning whether technology is the right thing for their child. They report that when they ask their child what they did in class today, the child replies that they simply used the computers again. This leaves the parent questioning the amount of differentiation that’s going on in the classroom. Parents wonder if their child is simply staring at a screen all day without much direction or interaction.

These are valid concerns, but concerns that can be alleviated by keeping both parents and administrators in the loop about how you are using technology in the classroom. Here are a few simple tips to avoid technology backlash, in no particular order:
1. Keep a website: Keep a website with class announcements and information about what the students are doing in the class. Provide class work examples for parents to see.
2. Provide parents an opportunity to use the technology: At back to school night or open house, provide parents with the same technology that you use in the classroom. Provide them with example lessons of what their students will be or are doing in class. If possible, invite parents to your own personal open house, where parents can come in and “play” with the Chromebook’s or iPad’s.
3. Use “Remind”: Keep parents in the know with the Remind app. Send out brief notes about upcoming due dates as well as information about class assignments.
4. Let parents join your class, virtually: This is especially easy if you’re using Google Classroom. Give parents the class code and they will be assigned the various assignments that their children are doing. Of course they don’t have to do them, but at least they’ll know exactly what the assignment is and how to go about doing it.
5. Provide parents with an acceptable use policy: Inform parents of what their children can and cannot do with the iPad’s or Chromebook’s in your classroom. This will reassure them that their kids won’t be staring at a screen playing games or chatting away on their device. That the devices will be used strictly for educational purposes.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Show Your Students the World with Google Tour Builder

Google Tour Builder allows you to take your class on a tour of the world. 

Tour Builder is a great new way to take your class on an adventure.  It can be used in place of the traditional slide show app. Google Tour Builder uses the power of Google Earth, so if you're familiar with Google Earth, you know how useful Google Tour Builder can be.  Tour Builder lets you pick the locations right on the map, add in photos, text, and video, and then share your creation with your class.

Tour Builder can be especially useful for social studies and English classes. For example, if your teaching your class about the major battles of World War II, you can take your class on a virtual tour of the battlefields.  If your teaching a novel in English class, you can show relevant locations of the book. 

And, to top it off, Tour Builder is simple to use.  Simply type in a location and Tour Builder will locate it for you. Or, if you prefer, you can drag an icon where you want it in the world. Once you've identified a place on the map, you can add pictures, video, and text explaining the significance of the destination. Once done, you can set another point on the map and do the same thing. Tour Builder will hop from location to location as you progress through your presentation. 
Check it out at Google Tour Builder.