Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Google Apps: Embedding Google Sheets Charts

I recently asked the middle school to identify the background image of the School Site. To capture responses I used a Google Form, requiring respondents to be logged in to their school GAFE account and limited their responses to only one. This reduced the chance of a vote brigade and also gave us more information should we wish to further analyze the results.

Once the poll was closed we could create a simple pie chart to share the responses on the School Site. Creating a chart was as simple as highlighting the column of guesses, clicking the Insert chart icon on the tool bar, choosing pie chart. There are a few options to personalize the chart, including presentation (flat or 3d), section colors, font color and size, background color, and aggregate type. While not as robust as Excel, there are just enough features for those learning to represent data.

To embed a chart:
  1. Click the little arrow in the upper right corner of the chart box.
  2. Choose Publish chart.
  3. Select the Embed tab.
  4. Choose whether or not the chart will be interactive or an image.
  5. Click Publish.
  6. Copy/paste the embed code to your page.

I like that the embedded chart offers some interactivity -- when you hover or click on the chart or legend, a small pop-up identifies the response and percentage. I also like that changes to data or chart style can be automatically pushed out to the embed.

What I don't like is that the order of items in the legend can not be changed (responses are listed alphabetically). It doesn't matter how the data is sorted in Sheets, there is no way to reorder in advanced settings.


Monday, November 2, 2015

Cool Tool: Doodle

Whenever I attempt to arrange a group meeting, finding a mutually agreeable day and time is slightly less difficult than forcing the planets to align. Long email chains, cumbersome spreadsheets, and even my favorite Google Forms tend to take more time to organize than the actual meeting.

Enter one of my new favorite tools: Doodle. Doodle presents itself as an "easy scheduling" tool. With or without an account, meeting planners can post suggested dates and times and share a direct link to the poll to participants. Link recipients can enter their name and select the days and times that work best for them. Once a few responses have been recorded, you can "Select Final Options" which quickly filters for the times that have the most agreement among participants.

With a little customization, Doodle can be used to do more than just narrow down a mutually convenient time. It can also be used to schedule multiple individual or small group meetings. Consider these optional settings (can be combined):
  • Yes-No-If Need Be: Allows respondents to show where they may have flexibility in their schedule.
  • Hidden Poll: Only the poll creator can see the answers.
  • Participant can choose only one option: A good choice when attempting to schedule small meetings with a lot of people.
  • Limit the number of participants per option: Another good choice for limiting the audience of a session.

Three account plans are available: Free (individuals), Private (individuals), and Business (for teams). Private and Business have a relatively low annual fee per user, which takes away advertisements and includes SSL encryption, and efficiency features. Business accounts also get custom design options, custom domain, and user management features. While large organizations will benefit greatly from the additional features, occasional meeting organizers will find the free plan good enough.

H/T Bruce Duboff, @brdbrutus

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Wild Reads - Round 1

Bulletin boards are not one of my strengths. I struggle each time a board or display case needs to be updated -- this is not something they taught in graduate school!

But I think I found one that works for me, in that it was not too difficult to put together, goes along with the school-wide theme (Wild About Learning), and encourages students to read something new.

Every few weeks I plan to ask 8 staff members for a reading recommendation. The only rule is that it has to be something available in our Media Center collection.

This month we asked one teacher from each grade, as well as the Media Center staff.

Friday, October 9, 2015

PD Archive: Motivating the Reluctant Reader (via EdWeb)

I stumbled upon a webinar recording through EdWeb, "Motivating the Reluctant Reader Through Technology: 25 Resources." Through this hour long talk, Dr. Furman passionately shares tips and tools for encouraging all readers, especially those who are reluctant to independently pick up a book.  This webinar also presents some activities to help students further engage with their reading choices through writing, conversation, and creative projects.

While this was originally recorded February 2013, much of the information is still relevant for today's classrooms. This webinar recording is free to access with only a name and email address (no account required).

Monday, October 5, 2015

September Crunch

I don't know about you, but I am so glad September is over. September is the start of school, the start of routines, the start of new programs. To ensure a smooth start for the students everything has a sense of urgency. I have spent the last month developing workshops, creating accounts, fixing accounts, creating schedules, revising schedules, cataloging new library books, planning library lessons, preparing for clubs, arranging one-on-one sessions with teachers, reviewing curricula and standards, developing tutorials and support pages for the staff intranet, preparing school sites and classroom pages, visiting classrooms, updating library links and resources, making sure technology is available and working, and so many other little things to help teachers teach and kids learn.

Outside of school I am taking a course on multi-media design through Rutgers. I also volunteered to support my state organization; I now chair the Website Committee of the New Jersey Association of School Librarians.

I don't do all of this on my own; I support and am supported by a fantastic network of professionals. We have all felt the September Crunch in our own way.

All of this is a lame attempt to explain why the blog has only had one post in September. Now that schedules have settled and routines are in motion I look forward to sharing great resources, tools, books, and media through this platform.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Video: Flash Mob "One More Day" (Les Mis) - West Des Moines Schools

One more day, GTSD!


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Video: Key & Peele - TeachingCenter

This video is making the rounds among educators...have you seen it yet?