Monday, September 12, 2016

Digital Citizenship: Password Security

This week's Digital Citizenship topic is Security, specifically password safety. We are reminding students and staff:
  • Choose a secure password; Strong Password Generator and DinoPass are easy to use password generators.
    • Teacher accounts have access to confidential data; don't be the weak link.
  • Passwords are private. No sharing with friends or classmates.
  • Keep written passwords secure; avoid post-its on the monitor, never write on the board.
  • Do not say passwords out loud.
  • Learn to type your username and password quickly.
  • Always logoff shared computers; lock personal computers when not in use.

We shared this graphic with staff:

At the elementary school, we have the P455w0rD Rap:

The middle school reminder includes a comic playing on the Rumplestiltskin's "secret" name:


Thursday, September 1, 2016

Video: Life after Death by PowerPoint

How we present our ideas is just as important as what we have to share. In this video, teacher Diana Neebe presents research-based principles of multimedia learning.

Consider these questions as you watch: Are you using the right tool for the job? Does your presentation style match your teaching style? Do you ask students to create presentations, when you really want a detailed outline? Do you assign presentations that are never actually presented?


Monday, March 21, 2016

Google Drive: Set Expiration Date for Shared Files

Google announced a new feature for Google Drive, the ability to set an expiration date for shared files and folders. When the appointed hour arrives (11:59pm on the set date), the recipient's comment and visibility privileges are automatically revoked.

This feature will not work when the recipient has Edit access, which includes Google Forms collaborators. The expiration date is also not available for blanket shares (public, anyone with the link, or all within domain).

To set an expiration date:
  1. Share a file or folder with individual users or a Google Group email address.
  2. Once file or folder is shared, hover over the blank space between the username and level of access. A stopwatch will appear.
  3. Click the stopwatch to open the options.
  4. Choose 7 days, 30 days, or select a specific date. Note that you can return to this window to cancel the expiration.
  5. Click the blue Save Changes.

Google reports that this will rolled out gradually. We are starting to see it in GTSD, If you don't see it yet, be patient, it will be available to you soon!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Classroom: Automated Notifications and Your Overwhelmed Inbox

I love Google Classroom. Each of my Library/Media classes, and my Media Medics group, have a Classroom. I am able to be more efficient in sharing and receiving information, links, documents, and comments, so I can be more present while my students are present.

While the Classrooms allow me to more easily keep classwork and student work more organized, I have found two areas of frustration:
inefficient navigation and an overflowing inbox.

Inefficient Navigation
The simple solution would be for Google to allow a list view, as opposed to the block view. Until that happens (fingers crossed), I alternate use between two keyboard shortcuts:
  • Control-F: Search the page for a specific keyword or phrase.
  • Control-Minus: Zoom out, making screen content small and therefore showing more of the boxes.

Overflowing Inbox
Classroom automatically generates a message each time an assignment or question is posted. After the first grade level assignment, my inbox swelled with automatically generated notifications about postings and comments. The amount of information was so overwhelming that I decided to disable all Classroom notifications (via Classroom Settings page).

However, Classroom also lets me know each time a student sends a private message. With 20+ active Classrooms, I am not checking each assignment or section on a daily basis. For this reason I re-enabled the feature, and the deluge of messages that clutter my inbox. At this time, notifications are all or nothing. Perhaps at some point Google will allow teachers to enable or disable choose notification types (fingers crossed).

Until then, here are the steps to create a Gmail filter that automatically move these messages into a new label/folder and out of your inbox:
  1. Open Gmail.
  2. Click Gear icon, choose Settings.
  3. Click Filters and Blocked Addresses tab.
  4. At bottom of list, chose Create a new filter. A small popup will appear attached to the Gmail Search box.
  5. Paste "" (without the quotes) in the From field.
  6. Click "Create filter with this search" link (lower right corner of box). Gmail will perform a search using this criteria, you should only see the automated messages sent from Classroom.
  7. In the popup box check the box to Skip the Inbox (Archive it).
  8. Next check the box Apply the label. Click the dropdown for this option, choose New label. Enter Classroom as the label name, click Create.
  9. Click the checkbox to Also apply filter to matching conversations.
  10. Double check your settings, then click the blue Create filter button.
  11. You will see the new Classroom label/folder in the left margin. Click that to see your filtered messages.

If you want to get really fancy, it is possible to flag notifications for Private Comments differently than other messages. Add "Private comment" (without the quotes) to the subject field (step 5 above).


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Google Docs Add-on: Revision Assistant

Revision Assistant is a free add-on for Google Docs. This simple yet effective tool inputs formatted proofreading markings into a Document. These marks are tracked in the sidebar, making it a bit easier for teachers to evaluate and assess punctuation and grammar. Students will not be able to quickly click Resolve (Comments) or Accept (Suggestions) to ignore or incorporate corrections.

Marks are divided into two categories:
  • Conventions: apostrophe, capitalize, colon, comma, exclamation point, hyphen, insert, lower case, omit, period, question mark, quotation, semicolon, spelling, and spell out.
  • Structure: accuracy, comma splice, fragment, paragraph, run-on, space, and transpose.

This add-on also allows reviewers to gather existing Google Doc comments into a table at the bottom of the document. While there is not connection to the original document location, these comments become preserved and printable.

Only the teacher or editor needs to have the add-on installed to add the marks. To install this add-on:
  1. Open any Google Doc.
  2. On the menu bar, click Add-ons.
  3. Choose Get Add-ons.
  4. Search for Revision Assistant.
  5. Click the blue +Free icon and follow the steps.


Monday, March 7, 2016

Cool Tool: Flocabulary (subscription required)

Free is my favorite, but sometimes paid tools are worth the cost. For me, Flocabulary is one of those tools. If you are a current subscriber or considering a trial, here are few ideas on how to use Flocabulary in the classroom.
  • The Week in Rap? Let me walk you through the steps: Video shows how the Week In Rap is made each week. Share with students as a way to show all that goes into creating a professional media information product.
  • Grammar Videos: Watch videos on big grammar topics to reinforce important concepts. Use these videos to inspire students to create their own musical product.
  • Vocabulary Implementation: The Word Up Project teaches interdisciplinary Tier 2 words to boost reading skills across the curriculum. Engaging videos, exercises, games and quizzes provide a comprehensive resource for direct vocabulary instruction. Word Up is research-based, CCSS-aligned and proven to raise scores on state reading tests.
  • Writing Academic Rhymes: Guide your students to develop higher-order thinking skills through high-interest writing. Once students have listened to Flocabulary songs and learned information in any subject area, they can synthesize what they've learned by writing their own rhymes.
  • Worth 1000 Words: provides an outline for a simple activity to develop student media and information literacy skills. You can follow as written, or work it in to existing lessons as a way to engage students in a discussion about why certain media elements are selected (can also do this with Scholastic readers, book covers, CNN student news, textbooks, etc.). By comparing and contrasting information and media elements between stories/broadcasts can help students identify reliability, currency, authority, and bias. As they engage in academic or independent information seeking, this is the criteria students will use to evaluate their sources.

Looking for more ideas? Visit Teaching with Flocabulary to find links to teacher resources for using Flocabulary to support learning in all content areas.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Google Classroom: Reviewing the Basics

Classroom is a free web-based platform available only to Google Apps for Education accounts. Classroom can be used to distribute and turn in assignments, the home base for an online class, or everything in between. Teachers can quickly see who has or hasn't completed the work, and provide direct, real-time feedback and grades right in Classroom.

Classroom can be used in many different ways depending on your class structure and student needs. A few suggestions:
  • Assignment portal: Distribute and collect individual student work.
  • Whole class collaboration: share a Docs or Slides file with the whole class.
  • Share documents or other class materials: share study guides, lists, worksheets, video, images, or other digitized material.
  • Homework reflection: Enter homework assignment as a discussion. When students complete the offline work, they login to Classroom and complete the assignment by sharing what was easy, challenging, or interesting about the assignment.
  • Exit ticket: Assign a discussion with a key question regarding the day’s activities. Students respond prior to leaving the classroom, or as a short homework assignment.
  • Reflect on learning: Create a discussion and invite students to privately reflect on their learning.
  • One-sentence summary of day's lesson: Ask students to write a summary sentence that answers the "who, what where, when, why, how" questions about the day's lesson.
  • Class discussion portal: Begin a class-wide discussion in the Stream.
  • Project management: Create a separate Classroom for a group project to allow students to share documents, resources, and communicate.
  • Digital writing conference: Students submit work when they are ready for review. Teacher comments on product, returns to student who incorporates suggestions and continues working. This process can be repeated as many times as necessary.
  • Writers Workshop class: Students post their writing as a comment or read-only document. Classmates provide constructive feedback through in-document comments or by commenting directly to the post.
  • Multi-School collaborative class: This feature allows students and teachers from different schools to connect, communicate, and collaborate in a way they couldn’t do before. 

Assignment or Communication Types
To post an assignment, click the plus sign in the lower right corner. A menu will pop up. You have the choice to:
  • Reuse post: Go back and reuse an assignment or post published previously, in this class or any other where you are a teacher. Before republishing you will have the opportunity to review and modify the post.
  • Create question: Post a question and have students respond privately (to teachers only) or publicly (to the whole class). Some teachers use this as exit tickets, informal pre-assessment, opinion poll, or just a way to check-in with each student. 
  • Create assignment: Attach a template or even a blank file (Docs, Sheets, Slides, Images) and distribute an individual copy to each student. You have immediate access to student files to monitor progress and provide ongoing feedback. You can also attach any file type for students to view only (PDF, Word, etc.). Link to a specific website, Google Form, or YouTube video. It is possible to add multiple files and links to a single assignment, providing students with everything they need in one post. See the embedded video below for a demonstration.
  • Create announcement: Use this to remind students about upcoming deadlines, share an interesting web-find, or just make a general announcement.

Some things to consider:
  • Now that students can turn in assignments at any time, you may want to set a specific time deadline.
  • You may create a post in one class and assign to multiple classes or cores (you must be a teacher for each class).
  • Teachers and students may comment on posts (unless teachers change student posting privileges on the Students tab). Students have one more way to reach out to classmates (and teacher) regarding any confusion they have about an assignment. This is also a great way for students to practice social media etiquette and digital citizenship.
  • It is possible to limit student posts and comments. Click the drop down on the Students tab to allow students to post and comment, allow students to comment only, or disallow students from posting or commenting.
  • When digitally conferencing with students, use the grade column as a way to count the number of times work has been returned. 
  • Minor editing to an assignment or post is possible after it has been published.
  • Number your assignments so they are easier to find and follow in your Drive (all submitted files will be saved in the Classroom folder on Drive).

Supporting Tools
  • Orange Slice (Google Docs add-on) is a digital rubric tool. The teacher version allows for rubric generation and scoring. The student version allows students to self-assess using a holistic version of a teacher supplied rubric.
  • Share to Classroom (Chrome extension_ allows teachers to automatically push out a website to students (must have Classroom open), or for students to share a website with teachers (does not automatically open).
  • Alice Keeler Open Side by Side (Google Chrome extension) will assist teachers in more quickly viewing the assignment page and student work. This extension adds the ability to right-click a link and open it side-by-side the current window.