Throughout this journey of remote learning, Google has surely tried to keep up! So many updates have come out for all Google Products in the last two months. Trying to keep up with updates is a full-time job! Luckily, it really is my full-time job…so, without further ado, check out some my favorite updates (among many) below.
Also, be sure to check the end of this post for the latest trend in education – Bitmoji virtual classrooms. Thanks to my friend Nancy Carroll, tech integration specialist from Walpole, for the slide deck!
Add to Tasks: task button
Your email just got the task button! Woohoo!! It looks like this:
Why is this a great update? Check out this video below to see how to use tasks. It makes it so you no longer have to leave emails unread – you just add them to tasks and get a reminder embedded right into your Google Calendar.
Hyperlink Individual Words in Sheets
Sheets received a great update in the last week. If you ever wanted to use Sheets as a database, you may have noticed you could only hyperlink an entire cell, rather than a singular word or phrase. Well, that has changed! Now, just as in any other Google Product, you can hyperlink individual words.
Google Docs FIXED Images
One of the concerns I have received with Google Docs (over Word) is the lack of ability with inserting images. Recently, Docs received a great update in terms of image options. If you like to have a Google Docs newsletter or insert images for students, check out this new update!
Audio THROUGHOUT Slides
Drumroll please….this update is LONG awaited! Finally, you can have music or narration play THROUGHOUT Google Slides. This works really well with picture slideshows as well as student projects! Be sure to use copyright free audio when using this new feature. Get free music to use here or record your own narration with Vocaroo!!
The Latest Trend….
Have you seen the latest trend that’s popping up all over the internet? Bitmoji Virtual Classrooms or Slides? Well, they are quite cute and easy to make! Make a virtual classroom and insert yourself in! Use it as a Slide and insert Hyperlinks over different areas of your classroom (like your library, or math centers)
Where do I begin….Everything is very different, but one aspect of my life has remained the same: my love of educational technology. This recent turn of events has spotlighted my role a bit. My inbox has probably increased by 100% and I’m busier now more than ever. I think this is true for all teachers – being busier than ever. We’re all wearing many different hats right now. Every person in education is working hard; trying to learn new ways to do what they’ve always done: connect with kids. Google Meet is being used among MANY districts to connect with kids. Personally, I LOVE Google tools and I find that Meet has some real MEAT to it! Let’s take a look…
Why Google Meet?
I’m asked this question quite often, actually. There are many video conferencing tools out there, both paid and free. I prefer Meet over others and it’s simply due to the fact that I know I’m covered. In a Google For Education School District, there’s something called “the vault” in the Google Admin Panel. This vault, much like a bank vault, takes some power to open – but it stores highly important information if it is ever needed. Recording meetings, particularly with students, is not advised and can be against the law. It violates student privacy. The vault gives me that feeling of security when in a meeting, even if it is hijacked, I know it can be pulled up by the powers that be.
Google Meet can also be set to “Domain Only” meaning that only those inside your domain can join. This works with the Google Classroom or nickname feature.
Google Meet Classroom Integration
Did you notice the latest Google Classroom update? You can turn on Meet in settings of each classroom you own. This works like the nickname feature and only those inside the domain can join. Another safety measure!
Google Meet Nickname Feature
I’m a HUGE fan of the nickname feature with Google Meet. I simply set a meeting code for myself. Any meetings I have, participants just enter my nickname. Since I am not a classroom teacher, I find this method to work best for me. Take a look at how it works below:
Google Meet Attendance
Are you recording who is attending your Meets? This is a great extension that was recently developed! It’s called Google Meet Attendance and you can install it from the Chrome Web Store. With a click of a button, it takes attendance for you with a timestamp! My only hesitation with many of the new extensions coming our for Meet, at a rapid pace, is that they may conflict with others. For instance, I noticed Nod last week was causing the screen to chop off when paired with the Nickname option. Many of these extensions for Meet are by developers, so all of the bugs may not be worked out yet. If you notice Meet doesn’t run how you would like, simply uninstall the latest extension installed.
Google Meet Virtual Whiteboard Options
The latest extension to hit the scene allows you to show a whiteboard! You can install it here. Take a look at how it works!
Jamboard is in the Google App suite. This works well as a whiteboard if you plan to share your screen. What’s nice about Jamboard is you can also have students as editors as well, so it can be a shared whiteboard between everyone. It works just like a Google Slide or Doc, except it’s designed with Pens in mind. You can search my blog with the term “Jamboard” to learn more about the app. Check out the video below to see how to use it with Meet!
Classroom Screen is a GREAT tool that requires NO LOGINS or INSTALLING. Have it open in another tab and simply present your screen. You can use all of the tools on this site. Check out Classroom Screen below:
Lastest Meet Updates
Google Meet just recently received Grid View (not the extension) which now allows you to see 16 on a page. Personally, I’m keeping the Grid View extension because I like it better – but you may not, so check it out (and other updates) here!
Extras During Remote Learning…
GOOGLE SITES GETS AN ANNOUNCEMENT BANNER!!!!
Could I be any MORE excited about this….NO!!! This is a GREAT feature added to Google Sites. Do you want a little banner to pop up when people visit your site? Well, now you can! It’s in the settings gear of your site – SUPER easy! Don’t forget to click “publish” when you’re done!
I love these fancy looking templates from Slides Mania that have come out in light of Remote Learning. The creator of Slides Mania is a teacher herself! Check them out below!
I honestly have like a MILLION other things swimming in my brain that I would love to share with you, but they will have to wade for another post (hahaha)! I truly hope you ALL are well! Maybe we can “meet” up! Reach out 🙂
Where do I begin….A few weeks ago I wrote a post called Distance Learning. I did not anticipate when writing that post, that I would be where I am now. How are you doing? Are you okay? There are many feelings…many feelings, for everyone, including me. I’ve worked like I’ve never worked before. There is a constant flow of tasks, questions, meetings, and the like. I have a busy mind, so this has been great for me personally. A little challenging with three boys at home – but luckily they love being outside and I’m sure to give them extended recess every day. As expectations change throughout the state, what we’re doing as teachers will also change. Let’s think about how we can use what we’re doing now and in the future, to create stronger, better, classrooms and learning experiences.
Create items you can use later (and always)
I was thinking the other day, “If I had all of my lessons in Google Slides to begin with…with a screencasted video, links for practice, links for enrichment, and a check-in at the end, I would be all set right now.” So, let’s do that! If you’re making things to post for students during this time of closure – make them so you can use them regularly in the future! Screencastify is offering FREE premium accounts right now during Covid closure. Make a short video, embed it on your slide, add some links and a google form check-in. Voila! Lesson done and next year you can use this again. Plus, the kids would really LOVE to see your face! Access all of my Screencastify Resources by looking at the Vidoe category of my blog.
Have you always wanted to run a station rotation model? Well, there’s your station – the slide deck. Meanwhile, you can run a small group of reteaching or going further. The third group can work on something paper pencil for a blended experience. Eventually, we will be back in the classroom and these resources will serve you well, maybe even change your practice!
CLEAN your GOOGLE CLASSROOM – PLEASE!
Right now, Google Classroom is the vehicle of choice for many during this time of remote learning. The HARDEST thing for a student is to log in and have content EVERYWHERE. The students don’t know where to go, or where to begin. Help your students out – create a new topic each week of closing and post under it. It will help them TREMENDOUSLY. See the SHORT video below of what I mean and how to do this.
Virtual meetings are a hot button right now. There are many factors to consider when hosting an online meeting and it may or may not be for you. When choosing to do an online, live meeting, my tool of choice is Google Meet with Zoom being a close second. Google Meet can archive the meetings in your Google Education Domain. If there were ever an issue, your Google Admin could potentially pull up the Meet. Zoom will not archive in your domain. Are you wishing you could see ALL faces? Well, an extension recently came out (and I’ve tried it!) where you can see all faces on the screen. Check that out here. See my video below of how to set up a Meet and see the newest Google Meet Updates here – they are rolling them out at a rapid pace.
Most importantly, Remote Learning doesn’t mean Online Learning. Learning can happen in LOTS of different ways and it’s important for us all to remember that. There is a flood right now of tools, subscriptions, virtual field trips etc coming at us at a (too) rapid pace. However, we need to take care of our own minds first, calm our anxiety, and be in a good mental state before any remote learning can happen. For my family, it’s been getting outside. We are all learning, every day, how to exist in this new normal and some days that’s enough for me.
Whether you’re just thinking about distance learning now, or you’ve used a flipped model for years, there are so many (free) tools out there to assist you. The benefit is anything you make to use for distance learning can be used in the future for classroom learning. For instance, let’s say you start creating videos solely for the reason of school closure – those videos can be used again in the future as a practice resource or small group activity. Flipped instruction takes time upfront, but putting the time in now will allow for less time spent later! Let’s take a look at some great resources for distance or flipped instruction.
Google Classroom is an incredibly powerful option to engage students outside of our classroom walls. Post materials including videos and links, questions, assignments, and announcements to keep your learners current with the curriculum. I know in my own district of East Bridgewater, teachers use this tool frequently. When students come back from a trip or illness, a teacher will simply state, “Check Google Classroom for your missed work.” This is a wonderful way to make learning accessible. Below, I’ve included my tip of “Chrome at Home”which shows how students can sign in to their own Chrome account at home and access Google Classroom as well as a Google Classroom Tutorial that has many tips and tricks.
Screencastify integrates with Google Classroom as well and is a GREAT tool to provide students with video instruction. In 30 seconds or less, you can create the video, click a button and send it to Classroom. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it allows students access to your lesson via video. You could go one step further and use your video in Google Slides with PearDeck orpull it into EdPuzzle and add questions! This has been a favorite tool of mine for YEARS!
PearDeck Student Paced Mode
Do you already teach your class using Google Slides? If your answer is yes, consider putting your slides in student-paced mode. Students can then access your slides via Google Classroom and work on them at their own pace. You, as the teacher, can them return to the Slide Deck and see student responses. Click here to learn more.
If you do not have Pear Deck Premium and find that you will need it due to school closings, you can request access here.
I have included how to use Pear Deck for remote access below as well as a Pear Deck Slides Tutorial.
If you teach with video, including video you create, EdPuzzle is a great option that syncs with Google Classroom and will allow you to see REAL time data. You can see how many students, and which students, viewed the video. Even better, EdPuzzle prevents skipping so students HAVE to watch it. You can add questions and checkpoints and EdPuzzle will grade it for you! This is a VERY userfriendly tool to use. Check out this video below by Richard Byrne of how to use this great tool and access more information about EdPuzzle here.
If you are interested in this topic, check out the interview here that was recently conducted with an American teacher in China going through school closure, and distance learning, right now. It’s quite interesting.
Do you have a favorite tool for flipped instruction? Share it!
Gmail, you either love it or you hate it, right? For me, it’s a love/love relationship. However, I know to those other email users, Gmail can be a bit much to get used to. Upon the first time using it, it can layout quite differently than other email platforms. However, it has SO MUCH functionality and it only keeps improving! There are so many different ways you can harness this powerful Google App to make your life more streamlined and productive. So, let’s do that…let’s use this POWERFUL app to make life easier!
Do you find yourself writing a weekly email to families or colleagues? Do you have a few common responses you often reply to emails you receive? If your answer is yes to either question than Templates in Gmail are for you. Take a look below and I’ll walk you quickly through how to set up some templates to make your responses that much quicker!
Add Reminders and Tasks from Gmail
Confession: I am TERRIBLE with clearing out my email. I tend to leave emails unread, even though I’ve read them, so I remember to come back to them. Well, tasks can solve this problem! With a simple click of the three dots, I can add an email to my tasks, set a reminder, and not worry about the email anymore! Check it out below!
Schedule your Gmail
I LOVE scheduling Email. Every week, I schedule an email for Positive Sign Thursday! For example, if you send a newsletter or homework doc to parents each week, use templates and scheduling to send it weekly! As long as you have the link to a Live Doc – this is now off your plate!
Mute the Reply Alls
If I followed my own advice and did this tip, my inbox would be half as full! If you’ve ever been a member of a large group email, you know that you will get ALL of the replies. Well, you can actually MUTE the email. Take a look below:
If you would like to see ALL that Gmail has to offer, check out this product forum by Google!
I hope these little tips treat you well! I could certainly use them myself, lol!! Do you have a useful, Gmail tip? Share it!! We are all better together! 📧
I have to admit, I STRUGGLED with a title for this one. It’s not very good, and I’m sure in your head you’re thinking of something different for a title as you read through it, but….the content, I promise, is worth it. For the past few weeks, I have been knee-deep in STEAM and Maker-Ed. My pal and colleague, the wonderfully amazing Tori Cameron and I teamed up to bring our district a STEAM Cart. Tori came up with this great idea and it has been amazing working together to bring more STEAM into classrooms! The cart has created a buzz; particularly with the mobile green screen as well as the robots. It’s been great generating new ideas with Tori as well as other staff members of new ways we can bring technology and STEAM into the classroom.
Without the Green (FREE)
The STEAM cart has a mobile green screen, iPads, and the DoInk App. However, we have three buildings and only ONE me! Carrying one screen between buildings can be a challenge. So, we bought another to store at the Junior-Senior High School along with iPads and the DoInk App. As I worked on the Nonfiction Science and ELA Book project with 8th grade this week, I came across the newest feature in Apple IOS – iMovie which is on the iPads/iPhones has an option for GREEN (or Blue) Screen! In fact, you don’t even NEED a green screen – just a blank space! This video shows it perfectly, and this is a great option for student video if you have students with iPhones (and no green screen) or you use iPads.
Using the Screen ($$)
If you do happen to have a green screen or low-cost alternative, there is quite a bit you can do in terms of editing and creativity. To learn myself, I made a SUPER basic video (below). I used a green screen, iPad, and DoInk. The advantage of using DoInk is having the ability to move the person (me) anywhere you want and also being able to resize myself among many other features. The sky is really the limit with this (paid) app!
Green Screen Resources
Want to try this, but needs ideas?
Green Screen Gal aka Erika Sandstrom is the local GURU on Green Screening and all that you can do. She posts regularly to her YouTube Channel as well as Twitter with many different ideas and lessons!
Tori Cameron posts AMAZING student projects on Instagram from her STEAM lab using the green screen! She also has a GREAT episode on her podcast with Green Screen Gal that highlights so many amazing ideas!
DoInk posts great tutorials on how to use their app and interesting ideas of how to use it!
Build your own – if you WANT to have a “green” area for filming so you can go further (and just have more space) check out this resource for many low-cost options.
Green screens are an exciting way to make learning visible, but also allow teachers to share student work with the public. Once your students are comfortable creating green screen works, consider having a movie showcase at your next family night or open house, where you project the videos onto a screen, or have them queued up on tablets around the classroom. Additionally, you can share entire portfolios of student works with parents by uploading the videos with an app like Seesaw. (Bonus — Seesaw also opens up another line of communication with parents!)
However you use them, green screens are a fun and easy way to engage students in creative learning. Now, let’s get filming.
Happy New Year Everyone! Welcome back!!! We are now into January and it is a BRAND NEW DECADE – 2020 my friends. Some of us are looking to be more efficient, more innovative, and just more BETTER in the New Year. A fresh start – so what do you plan for 2020? More of the same, or something different? Want to try something pretty easy in the New Year – how about a QR code? They’re pretty nifty and you can do quite a bit. Want to know more? Check out more about CODes below….(get it COD, like fish? I know…that was a stretch, even for me)
What is a QR Code? 🤔
According to Kemble Flynn from Rockingham School, QR codes are much like bar codes in that they contain information and can be scanned. Bar codes only contain information from left to right but a QR code can contain information from left to right or up and down. A QR code works like a bar code in that it can be scanned and linked to a set of data. Unlike bar codes, a QR code can pack much more information into a smaller space – up to 4, 000 characters. QR stands for Quick Response which refers to the instant information access hidden in the Code. They are customizable, both in function and design, and are the best channel for connecting traditional print media with any interactive online content.
You can find QR codes everywhere if you take a look around! They are even on my Amazon packages when they arrive!
How do I scan QR Codes? 📷
According to Android, the best way to figure out if your mobile device can read QR Codes is to open your Camera app and point it steadily for 2-3 seconds towards the QR Code you want to scan. Whenever scanning is enabled, a notification will appear. If nothing happens, you may have to go to your Settings app and enable QR Code scanning. If QR Codes aren’t an option in your settings, your device, unfortunately, can’t scan QR Codes natively. Don’t worry, this only means you’ll have to download a third-party QR Code reader app. If you are using a Chromebook, you may need to go to the Chrome Web Store and install a QR Code Reader Extension.
The Chrome Web Browser App for any mobile device can scan a QR code. Simply long hold, or right-click, the Chrome App and you will have the option to scan a QR code. The benefit to this over the camera app is that the information will now open up in Chrome rather than in Safari. If you’re a regular Google for EDU user this has many benefits in terms of login time and bookmarking the items.
How do I GET a QR code? 💡
If you Google “QR Code Generator” you will find many available websites that will generate a QR code for you. However, my favorite site to generate codes is Bit.do. Take a look at the video below to see why!
Why would I use QR Codes? 🤷
A resource for Parents 🤳
Want parents to take a look at something when they’re waiting for parent-teacher conferences? How about posting a QR code in the room! They could take a look at your website, or even sign up for something!
Quick HW Check ✅
A teacher reached out and asked for a quick way to enter student homework so she can easily track it! She wants to walk around the room and easily do this. Well, a QR code would be great EXCEPT we don’t want the students to be able to access the Google Form. SO, we embedded it on a Google Site!
Scavenger Hunt 😲
How about sending students, or teachers, on a scavenger hunt? Link forms to QR codes and send them on their way!
Connect an audio clip to a QR code and send it home 🏠
A great way to say “Welcome” to both parents and students when staring the school year is in the form of a letter or postcard arriving before school. What if YOU could be heard reading it to them?! Record your voice with Vocaroo and turn the recording into a QR code for your letter. Suggest parents scan it to hear you reading the letter! What a nice personal touch! You could also have students do this! Imagine hearing your child giving you a special message every time you scan his or her picture? Put the QR code on the back of a project! Take a look below to see how!
Google Form to QR Codes for behavior tracking 📋
How about a quick way for students to tell you how they’re feeling? Check it out below! Even if it’s not in a QR code, this Google Form is a great option to have posted in your classroom. The Google Sheet can be set to alert you when a student fills it out.
If you’re using QR Codes, let minnow! I love new ideas!
Hello friends!! Can you believe this is my last entry of 2019?!! Thanks for sticking with me and reading all of my fishy posts – 33 entries in the year of 2019! It has been a great year in education and there have been so many AWESOME experiences, tools, and lessons that have come up throughout the year. As I reflect on 2019, a professional highlight for me has been the work our district has done with UDL, Universal Design for Learning. I’ve seen educators really transform from good to great when implementing these principles. Technology can play a very important role in UDL – offering many opportunities to engage learners, represent content in different ways, and allow learners different opportunities to express their knowledge. Sharing tech tools and practices that capitalize on UDL has been a passion of mine throughout 2019. Anyone reading knows I LOVE to share; and although I share many great ideas, a few are certainly on the top of my list. Care to sea 👀 my top ten of 2019 (in no particular order)? Let’s take a look below!
My Favorite Organization ❤️️
In 2019, I became a board member of the MassCUE organization. MassCUE stands for Massachusetts Computer Using Educators and is a chapter of the larger, national organization, CUE. To say that I simply love MassCUE and all that it stands for would be an understatement. For years, I was a fangirl of MassCUE, it’s board members, and it’s events. I remember attending the fall conference and running up to Rayna Freedman (now president), like Buddy the Elf, exclaiming “Hey I know you!” Now, I am a much larger part of the organization and help it to run. MassCUE has so much to offer educators in the commonwealth. From free PD both online and in person, to Podcasts, Twitter chats, local meetups called CUE-ups, and the largest state-wide conference – MassCUE has something for everyone. Consider joining today – I promise you will NOT regret it. Click here to learn more about MassCUE.
My Favorite Conference 🧡
This past spring Medfield Public Schools held its annual DLD conference. However, this year, they changed the theme from “Digital Learning Day” to “Design Your Learning Day.” Offering many choices centering around good teaching practices. This conference has always been a highlight of the year for me since I started attending in 2017. Neal Sonnenberg, an integration specialist in Medfield, has become a dear friend of mine and does so much work behind the scenes with an amazing team to organize a great day. The keynote for DLD 2019 was a group of teachers or integrators who each gave a passion pitch. This “passion pitch” was an innovative idea that got away from bloated keynotes and really focused on the WHY of teaching. This idea caught on and other districts are now implementing it. Medfield DLD gives a lot of choices in its offerings throughout the day as well. You can really personalize and maximize your day of learning. I can’t say enough about this conference! Maybe you’d like to present? Click here to check out Medfield DLD.
My Favorite Google App 💛
I. LOVE. GOOGLE. Really, this one is a tough choice because all of the core Google Apps have so many hidden bells and whistles. Although, there is one Google App that went through a lot of change for 2019. This particular app is amazing for accessibility, offering choices for students, and encouraging collaboration between teachers. My favorite app of 2019 is Google Classroom! The student selector on the IOS version of Classroom was a pretty nifty little add – but my favorite changes to this app this year has been the BETAs Google is testing out. Originality reports and rubrics are a great improvement to Classroom. I simply cannot say enough about this tool! If you’re not using Classroom to it’s fullest potential, or even if you think you are, check out my tutorial below. I bet you’ll learn something new! You can also check my previous blog post on Classroom here which contains many video tips!
My Favorite Ed-Tech Tool 💚
I have so many Ed-Tech tools that I like and that I try to encourage teachers to use such as KaHoot, Quizizz, Quizlet, Flippity, Flipgrid, Brush Ninja, Tall Tweets, SeeSaw, Epic, and EdPuzzle just to name a few. The tool I always come back to, however, and that I find to be a true game-changer, is Pear Deck. The Pear Deck platform offers every learner a voice. There is so much choice built-in to this tool when designing a lesson. You can have the deck run whole group or student-paced; you can ask open-ended questions, have students draw an answer, or create a match type question; You can embed videos or websites into the deck. You can even ask unplanned questions on the fly and hear from EVERY student, not just the singular hand raised. The sky is the limit with this tool. This year, as in all years, they continue to improve and change. Pear Deck paired (haha) up with NEWSELA this year to bring you premade decks that go along with articles. They also offered more lessons in the Orchard for you to try and an improved menu in the add-on for Slides! Pear Deck even joined forces with Microsoft and now works with PowerPoint as well as Google Slides. I believe in the power of this tool so much that I even have a whole category on my blog devoted to it. You can check that out here. Please reach out if you’d like to try this tool – I would LOVE to SHARE THE PEAR 🍐 help you get started!
My Favorite Ed-Tech Blogger 💙
There’s probably no surprise here. Anyone who knows me, knows I talk about one particular blogger and his great ideas quite frequently. I follow and/or subscribe to many excellent ed-tech/education blogs: Practical Ed Tech by Richard Byrne, I Heart EDU by Meagan Kelly, Tech Tips 411 by Jennifer Hall, Ditch That Textbook by Matt Miller, The #EDUGif Guy Jake Miller, and many more. Keeping up with all of the great ideas out there is a job within itself, but one particular Ed-Tech blogger makes it pretty easy. It’s none other than Eric Curts author of Control Alt Achieve. Not only does he have a great blog, but he also hosts a monthly live meeting that anyone can join. My schedule has only allowed me to join once, but I’ve watched the videos back of these meetings quite often. Eric is the ultimate sharer; he creates really great activities using Google Apps and puts them out there (for free). He also finds many great activities using Google Apps and puts them out there as well, highlighting other AWESOME teachers. If you’re looking for a great Ed-Tech blog to follow – Eric’s is my top choice!
My Favorite Video Tool 💜
Video is a great option when looking at representation or action and expression – two principles of UDL. Video is another way to reach all learners and can be very engaging. Take a look at our students today – how often in their free time are they watching YouTube? So, why not use video in the classroom! Let them view videos of content on platforms such as YouTube, Discovery, Edpuzzle, Khan, or let them create videos with platforms such as Flipgrid, Adobe Spark, or SeeSaw. Video is powerful and I, myself, use it often as a teaching tool. I even respond to emails with instructions using video. I feel that it can reach more learners having the video to see and even pairing in the text with closed captioning to read. My favorite video tool to use is Screencastify! I like this tool so very much because it’s an extension for Google Chrome, which means I do not have to login or go to a separate website to use. The videos go right into my Google Drive and it’s so very quick to get them out to viewers. This tool works seamlessly with YouTube, Wakelet, EdPuzzle, Flipgrid and many other video hosting platforms. Again, there is so much choice within Screencastify in terms of showing the webcam or not, using drawing tools to show a skill, recording internal audio, pausing the video in the middle, and so much more. To learn more about this FABULOUS tool that is my favorite video tool of 2019, click here!
My Favorite Extension ❤️️
I have so many Google Chrome extensions, it’s really hard to pick a favorite. You can find an extension for anything! A few extensions I use daily such as Grammarly, Bitmoji, and Emoji Keyboard for Chrome. I love extensions so much that I used to run into the problem where I had so many running that my browser slowed down. Well, that’s where my FAVORITE extension comes in. Extensity is a great extension that allows you to turn on and off extensions with a simple click of the mouse. This keeps your Chrome Web Browser running at top speed, while also allowing you to use your favorite extensions when you need them. Check out how to use it below!
My Favorite Font 🧡
My favorite Google Font(s) of 2019 is the newly added Lexend font(s). This year Google teamed up with Thomas Jockin typeface designer and founder of TypeThursday. Together they instituted the Lexend fonts in Google Docs which have been researched and are meant to improve reading speed. You can read more about these cool fonts here!
My Favorite Google Add-On 💛
Google add-ons, much like Chrome Extensions, extend the productivity of Google Applications. You can do so much with add-ons. Autocrat is one of my favorite add-ons for Sheets. I love how it creates a mail merge and allows you to automate emails with a click of a button. Although I do love Autocrat and the cool things it can do, by far my favorite Google Add-on is MAGIC RAINBOW UNICORN. Simply because it’s fun! This add-on works for both Docs and Slides!
My Favorite Google Docs Trick 💚
This year Google Docs released a live word count tool that counts as you type! You have to manually turn this on, but what a great visual for students to have especially for those college essays! See the video below of how to use this great tool!
Wow! I could go on and on with more of my favorites, but a top ten seems just right for now! What are your favorites?
Stay tuned as I post in 2020 about GIFs, QR CODES and MORE!
Brrrr….baby it’s cold outside! It’s that time of year again, December!! When the snow starts falling and the kids get restless and excited for the holidays ahead! Are you “fishing” for some holiday fun? There is SO much anticipation this month that it can be a tough 15 days of learning in December. However, fear not! Below are some holiday activities I’ve collected through the years that can help! I have printable activities as well as digital. There are word puzzles, math games, art activities, writing activities, read alouds, and more! I’ll be updating this doc(click to open or view below) regularly this month with new finds. If you find something good, let me know and I’ll add it!
I hope you are all doing well at this time of year.
Have you ever heard of clickbait? You know, those ads that say “Click here for your $200 Walmart gift card!” Admit it, even if just to yourself, you’ve clicked on some sort of clickbait once in your life. For me, it’s the shopping ads that appear in my social media feeds. I can’t tell you how many of those I fall for.
How about some GIF bait? What is GIF bait you ask? Well, aside from a cute fish pun, it’s using GIFs to engage your learners. GIFs are fun, and are everywhere! Even when we text, we have a GIF menu. Our learners love using apps such as Snapchat or TikTok to make short videos, similar to GIFs. GIFs can engage!! If you’re unsure how to use or create GIFs, give a read below for some great ideas!
Brush Ninja is SUCH a fun tool! Not only it is engaging, it is also very user-friendly and doesn’t even require a sign-up or login. Anytime I’ve seen students use it, they love it! Personally, I like to use it to show cycles – but you could create a GIF on anything really. Recently, Kelly DeMolles, a High School Science Teacher here in East Bridgewater, explored this tool to show Chemical bonds. She really enjoyed using it and plans to do so with her students as a way to demonstrate knowledge. See her example below!
For an overview on Brush ninja, watch the tutorial video included below:
Another amazing Gif Creator, that doesn’t require drawing, is Tall Tweets. Basically, design what you would like to animate in Google Slides. Then, go to Tall Tweets and add your slides. From there, you can alter the settings of how fast you want your Gif to move. I took a GIF and made it my Google Classroom Background! Tall Tweets comes in handy with screenshot Gifs too for instructions. The Gif below was created from these slides (click here) if you’d like to see how it works!
Take a look at the quick tutorial below on how to use this tool!
Text Gif Generators
Glitter Text Online
Perhaps a favorite of many around here is Glitter Text Online. It is EXACTLY what it sounds like – you write the text, and you pick the glitter! You can customize this in so many ways and then copy and paste it wherever you’d like! Here’s an example below:
Sometimes I like the look of typing text. This is a great site where you can generate a Gif that looks like you’re typing!
Where to find already-made GIFs
When I need a good GIF or Sticker, I go to GIPHY. Personally, I like the sticker option on the site more so than the GIF option. You can check out the site here and feel good about what you use because it is all copyright free! You can even create them here if you’d like!
My Challenge to you:
Create some BAIT! Want to engage kids? Put a GIF on the assignment or step it up a notch and CREATE one! Let me know how it works out!