Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Video: The key to success? Grit

Interesting Ted Talk on why some students are more successful than others, and it has everything to do with good, old fashioned grit.
Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it's a marathon, not a sprint.
Visit the source page for this video to find a Grit Scale quiz.

h/t Brian Marks ‏@Yummymath

Monday, September 29, 2014

Google Apps: Chrome Bookmarks

Do you have post-its with web addresses all round your monitor? Is your desktop cluttered with shortcuts to sites on the Internet? Do you find yourself typing certain addresses into the address bar on a regular basis? Worse... are you using a search engine to access regularly used websites?

Consider using the bookmarks feature of your browser. Browser bookmarks are intended to provide quick access to frequently used sites.  Since we are a Google Apps for Education school, this post will focus on Chrome Browser; just know that nearly all browsers provide similar functionality to save links to favorite places on the Internet.

One of the reasons we ask that everyone in our district use Chrome is the ability to access all of your "stuff," regardless of which computer you log in to.  For more information on how Chrome works, visit a post from last year, Google Apps: Google Chrome.

Where is the Bookmark Bar?
If you do not see a menu bar below the address bar, press Control-Shift-B. Alternatively, press the Settings icon (upper right corner, 3 parallel bars), hover over "Bookmarks," click "Show bookmarks bar."

How To
  1. When viewing a page that you will want to revisit at a later time, click the white star icon at the far right of the URL bar.
  2. A small pop up box will appear, confirming that a bookmark has been added. The star will turn yellow; anytime you visit a page that has a yellow star, you must have bookmarked it at some point!
  3. To change the text that appears in the bookmark bar, edit the text in the name field. 
For sites with an identifiable icon (Gmail, Drive, Blogger, Yahoo, Amazon, Apple, etc.), removing the text shows only the icon. Below is a screen capture demonstrating how this abbreviated view looks. (Apps shortcut, Gmail, Tasks, Drive, Calendar, Quizlet, Blogger, Youtube, Classroom, various district sites, and a folder containing frequently used web 2.0 tools)

The default location for bookmarks is the bookmarks bar. But what happens if you have a lot of bookmarks, and they don't fit on the screen?

To reorganize the order in which bookmarks appear on the tool bar: click and hold, then drag and drop to the desired location on the bookmark bar.

Right-click on top of a bookmark on the bookmark bar to:
  • Open the link in a new tab or window
  • Edit the bookmark name or location
  • Delete the bookmark
To create folders, access the Bookmark Manager through Settings icon > Bookmarks (or use the keyboard shortcut Control-Shift-O). This will open in a new tab, showing all bookmarks and folders. From here, you may manually add new bookmarks, create folders and subfolders, and move individual bookmarks.

Using a Bookmark
When you want to visit a bookmarked page, simply click the bookmark and it will open in the current tab. To open a bookmark in a new tab or window, right-click on the bookmark and select the appropriate option.

Tips for Success
  • Students should be encouraged to bookmark frequently used pages.
  • As students engage in information seeking, encourage them to bookmark pages in a special folder. Should additional information be needed, students will be able to quickly return to the page for clarification or missed details.
  • Browser bookmarks can not easily be shared. For this, consider using a social bookmarking tool like delicious or diggo (pay attention to the Terms of Service, as well as the "social" aspect -- many do not provide the required privacy protections for underage students).

Additional Reading & Support
The Bookmarks page on Google Help Site provides additional information and support on this topic.

GTSD staff are encouraged to contact Mrs. Bond for assistance with this or any other Google Apps for Education tool.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Mouse Skills

When I first started working with children, learning to use a mouse was a challenge because students did not have computers at home. Now, many of my students have touch screen devices, and have no idea how to use this tool.

How to Hold the Mouse
Thumb and ring-finger rest on the sides of the mouse. Index and middle finger rest on top of the large buttons. Make sure that the wrist and arm are straight and in a comfortable position.

Below are some of my favorite resources for learning how to use a mouse properly.

  • My computer mouse: Educational song and video about the mouse. From British Council Learn English Kids site.
  • Click the Mouse: Kid friendly song that shares how a mouse works.


Mouse Movement
  • Spider  Move mouse around the screen to play a game of chase.
  • I See You!Eyes watch as cursor moves.

Click (Point and Select)
  • ABCya! Flappy Dragon: Students click to help the dragon fly through obstacles (similar to Flappy Bird).
  • ABCya! Make a House - Children's Activity  Build a house by clicking, selecting, dragging/dropping. 
  • Bubble Letters  Set up the game by choosing the letters on which to focus. Bubbles appear with the letters (lower and uppercase), voice says the letter and directs to pop, on pop says the sound.
  • Flower GardenClick, double click, drag/drop to create a virtual flower garden.
  • Hide n' Seek with Zoomer: Click to locate hiding cat in a small scene.
  • Mouse ConcentrationMouse matching game on author Jan Brett's site.
  • Mousercise: Series of simple computer mouse games that allow students to practice precision movement and clicking on screen objects. 
  • Tidy the Classroom: Students, click, double click, and drag/drop to straighten a classroom.

Drag and Drop
  • Feed the Monster:  Drag and drop food to feed the monster.
  • FireFlies: Catch fireflies, drop in jars, addition problem shows how many fireflies in total have been caught.
  • Mouse Practice MatchingDrag and drop to match colors.
  • As an extension of the drag and drop movement, also considering drawing tools, such as Microsoft Paint, Tux Paint, or Canvastic.

Double Click

Right Click

  • How to Use the Mouse: Video tutorial published by YPI EdTech.
  • Mouse Tutorial : Interactive tutorial from New Jersey's Burlington Country Library.
  • Mouse Tutorial  Step by step interactive tutorial on what a mouse is and how it can be used. Includes hyperlinks. From Rome Library.
  • Mouse Exercises: Designed for senior citizens, focuses on basic mouse skills. From

Monday, September 8, 2014

Google Apps: Simplified Sharing

Google is in the process of rolling out another new feature that will make quickly sharing a document a little bit easier.
To give access to your content to others, click the blue “Share” button (or select a file/folder in Drive and click the person icon), and you’ll see a new “Get shareable link” button and grey icon in the upper right corner of the pop-up window. With one click on “Get shareable link,” you’ll see your file’s link appear and that the icon turns from grey to green, meaning that the file is ready to be shared with view-only access.  
If you want anyone with the link to do more with your file, like leave comments and suggestions or make edits, just change “Can view” to “Can comment” or “Can edit” in the dropdown. And as always, if you only want certain people to be able to view, comment on, or edit your file, add their email addresses and we’ll send them a link that only they can access.

This will work well for teachers who want to post a link to a document or file to their wiki or website. This will also facilitate distributing a digital document to a small group (colleagues, students, families) via email.

To read more visit the Google Apps Updates feed.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

GTSD Tech Buzz

The September edition of the GTSD Tech Buzz has been sent via Genesis today. The Buzz is a short newsletter for district families that highlights technology, information, and media topics. This month is all about Google Apps for Education, school wikis, and library policies.