Thursday, February 26, 2015

Quick Google Tips from #METC15: Drive, Docs, & Calendar

In my last post I listed some of my favorite Google things from #METC15 a few weeks ago. Today, I'd like to share some specifics. 

The following tips and tricks were presented in the "Google Like a Ninja" session led by Greg Lawrence (@greglawrence) and Michael McCann (@mccann1776), two Google Certified Teachers and instructional technology coaches in the Wentzville School District. Their "Google Ninja Showdown" slideshow is shared here, though it only lists what they demonstrated. Their presentation was a live demo in Google Apps, a showdown of rounds in each app with the audience voting on a winner (when they could connect to the internet, that is).

DRIVE - Force your students to COPY a file to their drive:

Sharing docs in Drive via a shareable link is a lifesaver for many of us. I love that uploading a document to Drive and using that link on Moodle lets me edit or update the file for a new school year without the multi-step process of uploading it to Moodle again. 

If I want every student to have her own copy of the file to edit (a worksheet, for example), but don't want all of my students to edit MY copy, I can follow these steps to simplify things in class when they need to access the file:

  1. In Drive, access the file you want to share (you can open it or simply select the file within drive)
  2. Click the SHARE button 
  3. Click "Get shareable link" and change the sharing settings to "anyone with the link" and "can view" or "People at [your organization] with the link can view" 
  4. Click the COPY LINK button or "Get Shareable Link" to copy the URL to the clipboard
  5. Click Done
  6. Go to the website, doc, email, or wherever you want to post your link
  7. Paste the URL into the space
  8. Note where the word "edit" is in the sharing URL:
  9. Replace the word "edit" with "copy" in the URL 
  10. When your students click the link, they will be prompted with this screen: 
  11. Students click the MAKE A COPY button and the file is now saved in their Drives
DOCS - Use "Replace with" codes for grading comments:

A simple tip for giving feedback in a Google Doc was to create your own special codes that Google recognizes and replaces with longer text. Helpful for those commonly used phrases when grading papers. In TurnItIn, we make them QuickMarks (or they are provided in the pre-made sets). This is a way to create a version of those marks in Google Docs.
  1. Open a Google Doc
  2. Under Tools, click on Preferences, which will show you this pop-up window: 
  3. You can see some of the commonly "replace with" codes. Add your own! Some examples:
  4. Use these codes when adding feedback for your students... but only in the body of the document. I thought our presenters said you could use the "replace with" feature in comments, but I cannot get them to work... I find that to be a bummer. Hopefully you can find other ways to use custom "replace with" options.
CALENDAR - Share attachments with your events:

I guess I never paid attention to the "Add attachment" option when editing the details of an event on Google Calendar before METC. Now that I'm a Google Ninja, though, I'm loving it. I see this as a great tool for my teachers who put their assignments on a Google Calendar that is embedded in their Moodle page (CJ teachers - I'd love to help you do this!). If they store their homework files (reading assignments, worksheets, project descriptions, etc.) in Google Drive and share them from there anyways, this is a great option. Also great for having people sign up for time slots for conferences, to bring food to an event, etc.
  1. Make sure you have the appropriate sharing settings applied to the Doc/Sheets/Slides/etc. file you are attaching
  2. Open your calendar
  3. Create your event or choose a previously existing one and click "Edit Event"
  4. On the event details page, click "Add attachment" next to Attachment (about halfway down the page, just above the Event color choices)
  5. Choose a file you already have in your Drive or click Upload to add a file from your computer
  6. Click the SELECT button
  7. The file name shows up next to "Attachment" on the event details page
  8. Click the red SAVE button at the top of the page
  9. Now when students view the event on the calendar and click "more details", the attachment will appear as a link in the window
Stay tuned for more #METC15 sharing - Google and beyond!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Google Domination at #METC15

I look forward to the Midwest Educational Technology Community Conference (METC) for approximately 362 days each year; give me a day to recover from it and I'm counting down to the next one.

My time at METC this year ended up overwhelmingly Google-influenced. Yes, I chose to attend a few sessions that had Google in the title. But even if the session wasn't declared to be all about Google, there was some kind of Google influence. Maybe the fact that Jaime Casap (@jcasap), Global Education Evangelist at Google, Inc., was a keynote speaker had something to do with it, I don't know. Check out his address here - well worth a watch! He was full of insights, an engaging speaker, and really delved into the nitty gritty of the past and future of education and technology. Some favorite nuggets:

I'll be devoting a few future blog posts to more detailed explorations of favorite tools, tricks, and concepts from the various presentations. And any resources from sessions are available on the METC website for anyone to view, so take a look! But in the meantime, a rundown of JUST the Google topics/tools I loved would be...
  • Using "replace with" codes for adding quick comments (so simple!)
  • Lab-scheduler add-on for Sheets
  • g(Math) add-on for forms
  • Using Drawings within Docs to format a template
  • Changing the word "edit" to "copy" at the end of your sharing URL to force students to make a copy of a shared file
  • Adding attachments (collaborative docs?) to events in calendar
  • Research tool
  • Using Google forms for a plethora of formative assessment: exit slips, 3-2-1, performance rubrics, quick writes, etc.
  • Google Drive Template Gallery for school-wide document templates
  • Doctopus and Goobric (mind blown!)
  • Saving Forms to a tablet or smartphone home screen for quick, on-the-go access to save classroom observations, to-do lists, etc.
I'll add some links above as I find them. And I'm excited to share more details about the above tools and tricks. 

For now, I'll just leave you with this...

Monday, February 2, 2015

Turn it in to TurnItIn in Moodle

Nothing makes me happier at work than a teacher getting more excited than me about something in technology. Last Thursday was a really happy day for me.

After a few weeks of silly errors and issues, I finally had our new TurnItIn Moodle Direct integration ready to deploy and was playing around with a TurnItIn rubric when a teacher looked over my shoulder and asked if she could watch what I was doing. This prompted me to explain my latest project - encouraging more people to use our TurnItIn subscription by letting them use TurnItIn from within Moodle. And her response was my favorite kind. Excited about this new prospect, she went directly back to her desk and not only created her own first TurnItIn assignment in Moodle, complete with grading form, but also told the rest of her PLC right away. And got THEM excited for it.

I thought I was going to have to beg people to try this. Apparently not.

So why do this? 

The reasons to use TurnItIn are numerous. Paperless assignments, originality checking, online grading, digital portfolios, and data collection are a few. Since I started using TurnItIn ten years ago, I have seen vast improvements to the GradeMark program, especially the new Grade Anything platform that allows teachers to grade any kind of file, presentation, performance, etc within GradeMark. The iPad app is something I would have loved eight years ago when I was lamenting my decision to collect essays only via TurnItIn, but was headed for a twelve hour car ride with no internet connection - with the iPad app, you don't need an internet connection once you sync a set of assignments. Easy. Lovely.

Now it's even easier to use here at CJ. No need for teachers or students to log into another account to use the main features of TurnItIn. For everyday use, they can simply create and upload assignments via Moodle... which is an essential part of almost every class here. Logging into TurnItIn will still be useful to gather data from GradeMark Reports, but it isn't necessary every day, nor is it needed by the students. 

From the reaction I've gotten from just a few teachers, I'm thinking this will be a good thing.


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Social Media: What Teens Can Teach Us

The first thing I did when I opened by computer today was read "tweets" from sophomores in the Honors World Literature class here at CJ. They were tasked with summarizing sections of Oedipus Rex in 140 characters or less and to share them in a forum on their Moodle page. I had helped the teacher design the assignment earlier in the week, suggesting a discussion forum on Moodle as a venue for students to share/turn in their Tweets. 

Though the students mostly ended up paraphrasing instead of summarizing, the result of the assignment was a "feed" of "tweets" that both captured the essence of the play's drama (they were working with the end of the play - secrets revealed, eyes gouged out, etc.) and displayed a witty use of that simple symbol that has taken over social media - the hashtag. I had to share a few of them here:

The teacher who gave this assignment was pleased with the results and is considering make it a regular task in the class - good practice with an essential skill and a little bit of fun make for a good assignment in my eyes. That the students embraced this assignment and got creative with these hashtags signifies a victory - and I'm pretty sure the teacher (not on Twitter or Facebook... or any social media, if I recall correctly) learned something about Twitter and hashtags via this simple assignment.


A bit later, another colleague stopped by my desk to share a blog post with me... and it was very enlightening. I'm sure it has made its way around social media already, since it is all about social media, but I'd still like to share it here. And wow, did it make me feel old and out of it...

The author, Andrew Watts (@thatswattsup), gives an overview of what he has observed about social media from the perspective of teens - and between his initial article and a follow-up post, he covers all the big ones.

I hadn't heard of many of the apps and platforms he explains, and many of them just don't seem relevant to me at this stage in my life. But as an educator working with teens and technology, it's good information to have.

Time to go exploring...