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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Deckset: Presentation software for those on the go.

Deckset is presentation software, simplified. It’s easy to use and can be a very handy tool should you have to produce a presentation in a pinch. Deckset, brought to you by the folks at Unsigned Integer, can take your notes and/or simple text that you’ve put into your favorite markdown text editor and translate them into an attractive presentation. It’s essentially a minimalist text editor for presentations. To effectively use Deckset, you should be familiar with markdown formatting.

Where Deckset really shines is in how it saves you time. You won’t have to spend a lot of effort putting slides together as you might with more elaborate software such as Keynote or Powerpoint. And, as the description of the software states, it not meant to replace either of those powerful programs.

It comes with many handy themes and the ability to change them on the fly as your taste suites you. If you find yourself pressed for time or simply want to add a brief slideshow to accompany a presentation, type a few handy terms or sentences into your favorite text editor, open Deckset, and you will be prompted for a markdown text file to translate into a new presentation. Choose the appropriate text file and there you have it, a presentation is created with little or no effort.

Many times, we spend too much time adding pictures, editing transitions, and manipulating the text in our presentations. Deckset allows us to focus on what we want to say and not spend all of our time focused on designing the slides.
To learn more about Deckset, it can be found in the Mac App Store or at the Deckset web site

Monday, June 20, 2016

Create Fun Study Guides with iBooks Author!

When iBooks Author for the Mac was first introduced, it was seen as fairly revolutionary. One could easily create their own textbooks and, furthermore, publish them in the iBooks store for all to read. The authoring Mac app makes it easy to not only publish your own textbook or novel (or short story for that matter), but it’s a great way to create interactive study guides for your students.

Provided your class has access to iBooks, iBooks Author provides the teacher with a fun way for students to not only learn new content, but review content as well. Most of today’s students are familiar with technology and have grown up with it. They’ve become accustomed to interacting with content, rather than just looking at something on a page. iBooks Author allows students to interact with slideshows, videos, and 3-D content like never before.

As a study guide, the books you create in iBooks Author allow the students to take notes right in the textbook. They simply swipe the content they want to add to their notes. Then, after their not taking session, they can change to note view to view all of the notes they’ve taken. Furthermore, the notes the students take appear on study cards, where they can add such things as definitions to vocabulary words to the back of the card.

Upon starting iBooks Author, you are presented with numerous templates for which to begin putting your book together. Choose the template that best fits what you want to do and your off! If you can drag and drop, you already know how to use iBooks Author. You can drag Pages or Word documents into your book, add Keynote presentations, or even add a short movie to help get your point across.

iBooks Author is a great way for students to interact with content. As a teacher, you can imbed your notes and presentations. iBooks Author is a tool that teachers can use to either provide study guides or provide a powerful, interactive supplement to their textbook.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Got the summer school blues? Use these online tools to brighten your day!

Summer high school teachers, we've all been there.  You have one class with the same students and the same subject for the entire day.  The day is dragging. Lecturing for hours is out of the question.  Having the students do book work for hours upon hours can be pretty boring and really make your day drag. But now there's The Internet and GAFE!  Make the day zip by while having your students learn the subject matter using online apps.

You say you don't have access to computers or a computer lab, well, there are ways around that, especially at the high school level.  Knowing that most of your students have cell phones will set you free of a day of classroom monotony. And, even if not all of the students have phones, they can still partner up with those that do.
Here's some ideas:

Socrative is a great way to spend a summer class session. Split the class up into teams using just a few cell phones and boom! You've got fun learning that can last as long as you need it or want it to.

Quizizz is another great way to keep the troops entertained while there is actual learning going on. Again, split the class into groups based on cell phone availability and review the days topic with your students. You can creamy a quiz beforehand or quickly use one that has already been created.

Pear Deck is a good activity to use when other reviewing content or going through it for the first time. Split the students into pairs and pose different questions to each group and have the students take notes on their classmates answers. Assign different parts of a text to different pairs and have them present the main points through Pear Deck on the big screen for all to see.

Google Slides Q & A could also work with pairs.  Have the students pair up and ask them to come up with questions or comments about the Google Slide presentation that you've given.  Students enjoy seeing their questions and comments on the big screen in front of the class.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

A GAFE Summit can Reinvigorate your Teaching!

A few months ago I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to attend a GAFE Summit in Southern California and I jumped at the chance.  I gotta tell ya', it was awesome!  If the opportunity should present itself, don't miss it!

The GAFE Summit worked for me on two levels.  It not only provided me with a wealth of information about Google Apps for Education, but it also reinvigorated my teaching.  I was excited to try out many of the new things I had learned at the summit so, believe it or not, I couldn't wait to see my students again!

For those of you who've attended a summit, you know exactly what I'm talking about.  Those of you who haven't been to a summit but are been curious about them, let me tell you, a GAFE Summit will do two things for you.  It will provide you with an excellent set of tools to take back to your classroom and, it will re-energize your teaching.

After an entertaining and informative keynote, you are presented with different breakout sessions at which you can attend.  Want to brush up on using Google Forms? There's a session for that!  Want to explore creative ways to use Google Slides in the classroom? There's a session for that too!  The point being that you attend the session that most suits your interest.  Everything from learning how to use Google Classroom to using Google Photos, there's something for everyone and at every skill level.

As I said before, attending a Google Summit worked for me on two levels.  I spoke about the first, but the second is even more important.  While at the summit you find yourself surrounded by educators that want to learn how they can refine and improve their craft.  It's exciting to be surrounded by other professionals who want to improve their teaching through the use of GAFE tools and who are excited to use them in their classrooms and present them to their schools.

At the conclusion of the summit, I found myself like many other teachers in attendance, you can't wait for the next school day so you can try out many of the new ideas that you've learned!  You really do feel a sense of being invigorated and ready to share what you've learned.

Again, a GAFE Summit will not only give you a slew of new skills, but it will re-energize you teaching!  If you have the opportunity, you gotta' go!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Playing Games with Quizizz

Quizizz ( is now integrated with Google Classroom!  This is great news as it will make it easier to integrate it into my classroom.  If you don't know, Quizizz is a great platform for reviewing material and assessing your students.  

Quizizz most certainly brings out the competitive spirit in your students as they compete against each other as to who will have the title of Review Champion!  Students enjoy the games as they compete to answer questions that were either created by you or by someone else.  You see, before creating a quiz, you have the option of selecting from numerous other quizzes that were created by others.  Simply type in the topic in the search bar and you are presented countless quizzes.  The cool thing about doing the search is that you are presented with a preview of each quiz on the right-hand side,  so you can look at the contents of a quiz before selecting it.  Searching for World War I provided me with over 4,700 quizzes.  As I said before, if you don't like the quizzes you are shown or if you want something a bit more specific to your subject matter, you can create your own.

Another great aspect of Quizizz is that you are provided with post game reports.  The reports provide the teacher with invaluable data such as the percentage of accuracy for your class, the percentage of correct answers for each question, as well as individual student answers for each question.  And, if you choose, you can either print the report or download as a spreadsheet.

If you're looking for a fun and easy way to review material with your students (and who isn't), you owe it to yourself to try Quizizz.