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Friday, April 29, 2016

A Puzzle Maker Worth Owning



Ok, so here's the scenario:
You're getting ready for the day when you realize that you need to fill about 10 or 15 minutes at the end of your class.  What do you do?  Well, I can recommend an iPad app that will help you while having the kids practice their vocabulary.
It's called "Make Your Own Puzzles."  It's a crossword and word search puzzle maker for iOS that's quick and easy.  Simply enter the words for a word search and the puzzle maker will fashion a word search to your specifications or...enter the definitions of the words for a quick crossword puzzle, again built to your specifications.
After your puzzle has been created, you have the option of printing out just the puzzle page, a puzzle page with a key, or, in the case of a crossword puzzle, a puzzle page with hints.
"Make My Own Puzzles" can be found on the iOS App Store for $1.99.  If you need a crossword/word search puzzle maker, this is the one to get.
One thing to remember, the app makes puzzles that are intended to be printed out.  It is not intended to make puzzles that are playable in the app.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Autocrat: Sheets and Docs Playing Together




They say that necessity is the mother of invention. Well, in my case, necessity was the mother of desperation. You see, I recently gave a presentation on Google Classroom to my colleagues. Each of the participants had a Chromebook with which to participate in the session (you'll see why this was a good idea in a second).

At the conclusion of the session, I wanted to send the attendees a certificate of completion but wasn't exactly sure how I could quickly do that. The operative word being "quickly." I didn't want to invest a bunch of time writing their names into each individual document, and then mailing it to each individual, one by one.  Then I remembered "Autocrat."

I had heard of Autocrat some months ago but didn't truly appreciate the power of it until I attended a Google Summit session on Autocrat. I thought, *I could use Autocrat to generate a certificate and email it to the attendees! This is great! I could continue to show the power of Google apps for education long after the session was over!*

To those not familiar with Autocrat, it can best be explained as being a Google Sheets add-on that can take data from a Google Sheet and merge it into a Google Doc.  If you're familiar mail merge, then you get what Autocrat is all about.

At the conclusion of the session, I had asked the attendees to fill out a Google Form on the session (this is where the Chromebooks came in handy). Some of the more important information I could use in order to send the certificates were their names and email addresses. Using that information and Autocrat, I prepared the certificates and wowed my attendees.

One of the cool things was that after telling them how I put together the certificates, many became even more interested in using Google Apps such as Docs and Sheets in their classroom.

If your looking for an easy way to merge information from a Google Sheet into a Google Doc, Autocrat is the way to go!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Google Slides and Google Classroom: Note-Taking At Your Own Pace.



Most of us have been there. You're lecturing on the topic at hand, using your particular presentation software of choice and a projector. You've thoughtfully put together each slide, detailing what the students need to know, when, after clicking to the next slide, you hear, "wait!" Another student exclaims, "you're going too fast, please slow down!" 

I was reminded of this after reading the article "My kid needs a teacher, not a Chromebook," http://goo.gl/n873yL.  The article discusses the value of taking notes, whether its done in the classroom or whether they're taken out of the textbook. It goes on to say that the introduction of Chromebooks have all but negated note taking in the classroom. I agree with the notion cited in the article that when students write information down, they're more apt to remember it. 

This is where Slides and Google Classroom come in.  Instead of presenting the slides to the students in the classroom as a whole, a teacher can put the notes on Google Classroom.  Students can then write the notes down, at their own pace, on a piece of notebook paper. 

Let's face it, we all write and comprehend information at different speeds. And it can be frustrating for not only a teacher, but for some students as well, when a few students slow the class down because it takes them a few more moments to write down the notes. And, coupled with Google Forms, you have yourself a great little note-taking exercise. 


By marrying Google Classroom with traditional note taking, a teacher can have the best of both worlds. The students are taking notes in a traditional way, writing them down on a piece of notebook paper, and at their own individual pace. The teacher can take the note-taking one step further with Google Forms.  After taking down the notes, the students can complete an assessment of the notes using Google Forms. The students will use their notes to answer the questions in the form. 

So there you have it! Technology and traditional note-taking, old school and new school if you will, living in harmony.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Chromebase is a Good Option for Schools

Chromebase computers are a good option for educational institutions. No, that's not a typo. I did say "Chromebase," not "Chromebook."