On the frontlines – teaching students; teaching teachers. A source for EdTech tips, tricks, and solutions.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Keyboard Shortcuts in iOS

Typing things out on a full size QWERTY keyboard is so much easier than on a smaller touch screen. You can set up easy keyboard shortcuts to type the more difficult things like email addresses which require different punctuation.

If you are frequently putting your email address into forms, emails, or log in screens, this tip can save you a lot of time.

Keyboard shortcuts are the new shorthand!

Shortcut your email address

  • Go to your settings app
  • Select General
  • Scroll down to Keyboard
  • Scroll down to Add New Shortcut...
  • Enter the phrase you want to shortcut
    •  I demo my email address
  • Enter the shortcut you want to use (I like using @@ for my primary email; @@@ for my secondary email)
  • Click save in the upper right corner

You're all good to go - keep your thumbs happy by not having to type so much! 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Make Goobric Count for You

I have been using Doctopus and Goobric (click link to see the walkthrough) extensively this semester already. One of the things that I was struggling with was that Goobric doesn't automatically add up the scores from a rubric so that I can easily enter the grade into a gradebook.

I was trying forever to figure this out, but then I realized how silly I was being. You can simply set up a SUM formula for the columns of the rubric so that it will automatically add up all of the elements of the graded rubric.

Create the formula:

  • Go to the column that says grade (create when you run Doctopus)
  • Goobric adds columns based on the categories of a rubric you assign to the document
  • In the grade column, enter the formula (or change based on the needs of your rubric):     
    •  =SUM (l2:r2) - I typed in each cell, just so you can see the range that this formula will do
  • Since my rubric is scored on columns l, m, n, o, p, q, r, I need to add those columns together **or however many columns you have for your rubric**
    • My rubric has 6 categories, so there are 6 cells that I am adding together
    • If your Goobric has 4 categories, your formula will look like: =SUM (l2:o2)

Even more magic:

Now, instead of entering this formula for every row (changing l2 to l3 etc.), there is a great trick to replicate that formula for every row. 

In the lower right hand corner of the cell with the grade, you have a blue box. Click the blue box and drag it down the column till the last student on your roster, and it will replicate that formula for every row. You'll see in the illustration that each row that has grades from the rubric will be added up in the grade column (J).  

This will save you time trying to add up each element of the rubric. And if you set up the formula before you grade it, your grade (sum) will show up even if you aren't in the spreadsheet. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

App Smash: Icebreaker Game with Socrative and Google Forms

I was looking for a way to do some ice-breaker activities with my classes. I've always loved the game "2 truths; 1 lie".  If you are unfamiliar with the game, the premise is you tell a small group of people 2 things about you that are true and one thing that false, in hopes that your group gets stumped and can't guess which one is the lie.  This would be manageable in a small group, but with 35 students it is a little different. I wanted all 35 students to participate at the same time to learn about each other. So I made it into a game show where students were responding to the student prompts using Socrative. I even chose students to be "Vanna White" to move from question to question and reveal the answers. Here's how it went down:

I collected data from Google Forms, and then imported that data as a quiz into Socrative. I ran a teacher-paced quiz to facilitate the game. Students got to choose what they thought was the lie through their phones or Chromebooks, and we would watch the live results as live  polling was happening.

Socrative User Guide

In Socrative, you have the ability to import a "quiz" from an Excel spreadsheet.

Download the Excel Template:

If you are working in Chrome, this could open up in a new tab as an editable Excel spreadsheet using Office Editing for Docs, Sheets & Slides - If this happens, you'll need to hit save now and save to your computer:
With the template that Socrative provides, you need to be working in Excel (at least for the time being. I couldn't figure out how to select the question type in box two in the online version. I will update if I figure it out). 

Here's what you should do for the Excel spreadsheet:
  1. Box 1: Rename the Quiz to whatever you want to find it as in Socrative
  2. Box 2: Question type: choose multiple choice so students get to choose from a list
  3. Box 3: this will be my first question from the form: their name
  4. Box 4: this will be the answer choices that they have to choose from, the 2 truths and 1 lie. 
  5. Box 5: You can select the right answer, but I didn't want to have that selected for my activity

Now send a Form to your students with the information you want: this is the one I used.

After you have received the data from your students submitting their work, you can copy and paste it into your Excel spreadsheet template. Put your cursor in the B7 Box and paste the data.

It will automatically go into the correct boxes across the board. The template allows for 5 answer choices. You do not need to have all 5 answer choices for this to work. I only had the three (2 truths, 1 lie) and it worked perfectly.

Now return to Socrative, and import your Excel spreadsheet. If it worked perfectly, you will see a message appear that says quiz imported successfully.

You can now return to the Socrative Dashboard and launch the quiz. The quiz will be titled whatever you put into the template as the "quiz name" in Box 1.

I ran it as a teacher-paced quiz and had students watch the results on the screen. After each student, I asked them to clarify their answers and explain which one was the lie. If they managed to trick the whole class (by majority percentage from the "quiz"), they won a prize.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Hack Google Slides

I am a big fan of being able to manipulate a page to look however I want with the use of text boxes and images. In Google Docs, the formatting of pictures is temperamental at best. I love how Google Drawings and Slides allow you to change things up, but I don't so much like how they are limited to the slide or canvas.

Here's an idea - Especially if you are looking for a Microsoft Publisher type of functionality, use Google Slides to create beautiful magazines, newsletters, or anything else your mind can think of.

Wait, your telling me that that isn't what Google Slides is for? You're right! Hack away.  Here's a demonstration:

Go to file>Page setup - then choose custom size - for today's illustration of this hack, I am going to make a standard 8.5 x 11 inch slide, so if I print it out, it fits perfectly on a piece of printer paper (but who prints things up anymore?) - If you do print, you can choose to do one slide per page and have a handout, or you can do 2 slides per page and make it a little smaller.

Now that you have your slides set up so that they are the size of pieces of paper, you can delete any of the text boxes that are showing, and design the slide any way you want.

You will see one of the slideshows that I put together for students to create a newsmagazine about themselves for the first week of school. This will allow them to go in and edit, design, and add their information to the slideshow.

How I plan on using this with my students:

  • Their homework  in the first week will be to fill in their information on the slideshow, and then they can redesign if they are interested in doing so as long as the pertinent information is present.
  • Then, we will do small group presentations at their tables to introduce themselves to their table partners.
  • Then we can do a whole class activity where the table partners share something they learned about each person

Pro-Tip Solution:

Problem: If you are using Chromebooks when it comes to presenting your magazines, if you just press present, it will show up in the middle of the screen.  The problem is that it is smaller (especially on a Chromebook) than a normal slideshow.

Solution: After you hit present in Slides, press the keyboard shortcut Ctrl-Shift-F3 and it will rotate the screen 90 degrees and your page will take up most of the screen (it will look sideways until you hold the Chromebook like an actual book). It will be much easier to read and you can even hold them up for a gallery walk or presenters display.

Custom Page Settings in Google Apps

One thing that is often overlooked in the Google Apps suite is the option available to you in the page settings menu option. This is a rundown of your options

In Google Docs:

Click File>Page settings:
  • Change the orientation of the document (Portrait or Landscape)
  • Change the page size to a preset size for different purposes (tabloid, legal, etc.)
  • Change the margins of the document
    • This one is really important to me because I prefer narrow margins on all of my docs
  • Pro-Tip - Set the page settings that you like as the default and each new doc that opens will follow that default setting!

In Google Drawings:

Click File>Page setup
  • Change the size of your canvas to preset sizes
  • Customize the size of your canvas using a custom setting:
    • This is great for creating headers, website icons, buttons, etc. 
    • You can pick whatever size you need for your project

In Google Slides:

Click File>Page Setup
  • Change the format of your screens for different projectors (4:3, 16:9, 16:10)
  • Customize the size of your slides in custom settings using Inches, centimeters, points, or pixels

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Table of Contents Add-on

For my students, I have a reading guide that is through Google Docs. As they are doing each reading assignment, they are going through the document and answering questions & learning vocabulary. When the document gets to be rather large, it takes awhile to scroll to the bottom pages just to get to the assignment.

What you could do is insert a table of contents on the top page and it will populate your headings and subheadings so that you can see it. But what happens when you are on page 20 and want to get back to the top?  The Blendastic-Bombastic Personalized PD team puts links to the table of contents in the footer so that you can easily click back to the table of contents. Brilliant idea if you ask me.

If you don't want to go through the process of navigating the links, the Table of Contents add on allows you to see the table of contents to the right of your document - at all times. It also gives the option to have the Table of Contents sidebar for anyone viewing the document.

In order for this to work, you need to make sure that you have used the heading styles as you would want them to appear on your doc.




Minor Heading

Google docs will automatically order the table of contents assuming you have used the styles for your headings and subheadings.

When the add on window shows up, if you click on "always open for this document", the table of contents on the side will always show up for anyone viewing the document.

An example of the TOC always showing up is my Doctopus Walkthrough doc: bit.ly/doctopusaddon

Here's how it looks in a pretty little .gif:

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Doctopus Walkthrough with GClass Folders & Goobric

Getting ready to start the year and want to play around with some add ons? Doctopus gives you some functionality that Google Classroom hasn't provided yet. This means it can be a great substitute or an extension of using Classroom. 

Feel free to make a copy of the following Google Doc to share with your colleagues & friends:

Getting Started:

What is an add-on?

  • An add-on is an app or extension to your Google Docs or Spreadsheets. They give you the ability to do something beyond what Google allows.
  • In the past, there was the option to use scripts, this has taken its place for most functions.

What this guide will help you with:

  • Doctopus - a digital photo-copier for your students
  • gClass Folders - an extension of Doctopus that creates folders for your classes from a spreadsheet
  • Goobric - A chrome/Doctopus extension that allows you to attach a rubric to any Google doc shared with Doctopus.

How to get Add-ons:

Open up an old/new spreadsheet or doc, select Add-ons from the file menu, then select get add-ons.

When the add-on store comes up, search for any add-on that you would like to use. For us, we will be searching for Doctopus.

You may have to deal with the pop-up blocker - if so, just override the error so that you can give Doctopus the rights it needs to run.

Any time that you “get” an add-on, you will have to give the add-on permissions for it to work its magic.

Creating a Roster:

In order for you to use Doctopus with your class, you need to have a roster with first names, last names, and gmail accounts.  *it is important to have the last name especially if you have students with the same name.

There are ways to export this information from most gradebook programs (ask your technology coach for help). If you are pressed for time, you can always create a Google Form to have students fill in their information. Either way will give you a class roster that you can use to build your roster.

Once you have your roster information, you can launch Doctopus.

Go to your Add-ons menu option again, and select Doctopus, then select set-up (This menu option will change depending on how much you have used Doctopus before)

From here, you will be working in the right hand sidebar for a few steps,

Step 1: Select/Build a roster

You will be given an option on the method to build your roster:
If you are starting everything from scratch, select “on this sheet”.  Then hit Create Roster

Step 2: Finalize/Save Roster

Now is where you get to put in all of the student’s information (names & emails).  Copy and pasting definitely works.  My example is just with my email since I don’t want to violate FERPA with any of my real students’ names.

  1. Fill in names and emails
  2. Give the roster a name (I use a different roster for each period/section of a class I teach)
  3. Click Create and Share folders (If you don’t want to create folders with your students, leave this box unchecked).  ***Keep in mind, you can always delete folders; you can delete later if you want.
    1. This is gClass Folders working with Doctopus. It populates the folders and sharing properties automatically. The folders created are:
      1. Student dropbox (A folder between just you and each individual student)
      2. Class Edit folder (Anything in this folder, the class can edit - great for collaborative notes)
      3. Class View Folder (Anything in this folder, the class can only view)

Doctopus will save all of your rosters, you just have to add each roster individually and save them in step 2 of Doctopus. You can also delete any roster from this same menu after it has been created.

Sharing with Doctopus:

Now that we have created a roster and set up folders, we can now operate in a paperless classroom using Google Docs & Doctopus.

One of the great things about Doctopus is that it saves time by not having to have students make a copy of every document that they need to work with.
KEEP IN MIND: every document that you want to share with your students has to be in a folder; it cannot be housed in “My Drive”.  

Step 3: How do you want to share your document?

Step 3 (Cont) Sharing properties:

Step 4: Choose Assignment/Template

First thing about choosing the assignment is that you have to choose the folder the document/spreadsheet/presentation is in first.

After you choose the folder, then choose the document you want to share out in the dropdown menu

Step 5: File and Notification settings:

Choose the destination folder for the students’ copy of the document
  • Choose existing (Window pops up that you can choose a destination folder)
  • Create a folder named whatever you want
    • You must hit the create folder before proceeding to the next step

You can also send an email to students when you share this assignment (I don’t usually do this so I don’t flood their email boxes).

Step 6: Run, Copy, & Share:

Depending on the size of your class, this could take several minutes.

Your Doctopus Options after Sharing

Embargo Document for Grading:

If you want to grade something and not let students edit the document, you can turn the students’ rights to view only through the “Embargo Docs” for grading option.

Exclude Student

There is an exclude option which allows the Doctopus embargo to skip that document.  This is perfect for a student who needs extra time on assignments or if a student was absent from class the day the document was being used.

When you check exclude, you can run the embargo and it will skip that student.  

If you need to restore it, you can Unembargo the document again.

If you need to delete an exclusion, just highlight the cell for that student and delete the exclude.  

Doctopus Notes

Anytime you want to access these options on a spreadsheet where Doctopus was ran, just go to your Add-ons on the menu and launch Doctopus again.  

Everytime that you want to assign something using Google Docs, you just need to create a new spreadsheet and launch the Doctopus Add-on and walk through the steps again, without having to create new rosters.

Many wonder what Doctopus will look like after Google Classroom is introduced in the fall.  The creator of Doctopus, Andrew Stillman,  shares his thought on Google +.

Good Luck and email me if you have any questions about how this works: natebowuski@gmail.com

Continue reading for the Goobric Walkthrough

Goobric Tutorial

**Only available using Chrome as your web browser

Install Goobric Extension

Go to Chrome Extensions and search for Goobric

  • Add the extension by hitting +Free
  • Click add “Goobric” when the popup shows up
  • You will see a little logo show up on your address bar on any page that will allow a Goobric to be used (Google Docs)

Create a Rubric

You need to create a rubric on a Google Spreadsheet in order to use it for Doctopus

Here’s a sample of my Blog Rubric.

  • The categories need to be on the Y-Axis
  • The proficiency levels need to be on the X-Axis

Launching Goobric

To add a Rubric to an assignment from Doctopus, run the Doctopus add-on and select “Attach Goobric” from the choices.

You will have to authorize the Goobric Web App before selecting a rubric.

Select a rubric (it will only show spreadsheets to choose from - Super handy!).

You have added a rubric to every student’s assignments from the Doctopus spreadsheet.

Grading with Goobric:

  1. Now that you have added the rubric to the documents, you are ready to grade them.
  2. Remember that one special little icon from your address bar? ⇐Yeah, that one.
  3. Go ahead and click on that icon to open up your rubric.
  4. You will have to enter the number score in order for it to register the score.

You will have the option to email the rubric directly to student to provide immediate feedback. It will send them an email with the rubric and any comments added in the comments field.

After you press submit and paste to Doc, the rubric will show up at the end of the document (All fields that were chosen will be greyed).

One downfall of Goobric is that it doesn’t automatically populate a total score based on the entered scores.

Goobric in a Doctopus Spreadsheet:

After you have added a rubric with Goobric, there is a new sheet where the scores will show up for each rubric scored.  You will be able to see the scored documents.  

The document link will normally have the title of the document, so if you name the document with the student’s last name, it is easy to see the progress of each student.

On the roster sheet, you can scroll all the way to the right to see the scores.  The names stay locked so you can always keep track of the name and scores across the same row.

That last box labeled “Count” is the number of times that the document was graded using a rubric.

Goobric Notes:

A couple things to know about using the Goobric extension:
  • When you are grading in the extension, if you click anywhere outside of the popup, your popup will disappear, but it should save what you have entered.
  • Your scores will not be saved officially until you click the submit and paste button.
  • Goobric doesn’t automatically add up or tally the score from the rubric; this is something you will have to do manually.
  • If you amend a scored rubric, it will append the document with the new version of the rubric after the old rubric.  Both will show up.  
  • When you grade using Goobric, there is a “Count” column that lets you know how many times you have graded that documents.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Chrome Extension Review - Ruul

Ruul is an extension that acts as ruler and measuring tool for webpages in Chrome. What I love about this extension is that it allows me to measure banners, pictures, and cover photo areas so that if I am working in Google Drawings, Adobe Illustrator, Pixlr Editor, etc., I can find out the exact dimension of the area that I am want to fill with a photo or graphic. 

When you launch the extension, you have a few options to add a "ruul":
  • Resizable  - Allows you to create a box to  measure a specific area in inches, centimeters, or in pixels.
  • Add a ruler - Select one of the predesigned rulers to put on a web page.  The measurements of the ruler are in pixels.
I have used this in finding the measurements for headers on Google Sites, or cover photos in G+.  I can see the use of this in yearbook and newspaper classes when measuring out sample template ideas, in geometry classes who are blended and working a lot online through Google Docs and Drawings. 

Here's a little .gif to see the functionality:

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Productivity with Keyboard Shortcuts (Mac OSX)

A couple months ago, I was at a conference where I was presenting with a bunch of friends. One night as we were putting some final touches on one of our sessions, my friend Chris, was basically in awe at how I was working on my Macbook.  To paraphrase his awe: "I sold Apple computers at the Apple store and I didn't even know you could do that."

Since that night, if the question comes up about a keyboard shortcut for something, I'm their go to person.

Here are some of the keyboard shortcuts that I use on a regular basis to keep the work flow smooth. Many of these will transfer over to Windows or Chromebooks by using the Control button instead of Command (⌘).

Google Chrome:

Command(⌘)-L - Take control and highlight all text in the Omnibox (address bar)
  • Great for quickly going to new addresses or starting new searches without clicking on the mouse
Command(⌘)-T - Open a new tab in Chrome
  • Extension of this, hold command as you click a link to open the link in a new tab
⌘-Shift-T - Open the previously closed tab
  • This also will continue working for a while as it will keep opening previously closed tabs
⌘-`(~) - Switch between open windows of a program
  • This is great for running multiple user accounts in Chrome and quickly switching between the user windows
⌘-D - Bookmark the address that you are currently viewing

⌘-Number Keys - Go to that number tab open in the window (1-9)

⌘-opt-shift-v - Paste and match destination formatting
  • Great for pasting into Google Docs from another site where the font is different

Bonus Google Chrome:

Some individual Chrome extensions allow the ability to assign keyboard shortcuts to launch an extension or perform a function.  Example: with Evernote WebClipper, pressing `(~) will launch the web clipper extension.

Mac OSx

⌘-Spacebar - Go to Spotlight Search bar 
  • Once again, launch an application by doing the shortcut and starting to type the application name and press enter...no cursor or mouse clicking.
⌘-shift-3 - Take a screenshot of the whole screen

⌘-shift-4 - Take a screenshot after cropping/capturing a certain area

⌘-shift-4 then Spacebar - Take a screenshot of a certain window (the cursor turns into a camera)
  • Even more options for this as well: Click on a menu option in the window, do the shortcut, and take a picture of just the drop down menu
⌘-Tab - Switch between open application on your computer - continuously press the tab button while holding down the ⌘ button and you can keep moving through your applications

⌘-option-Esc - Force Quit - if an application has stopped responding, hit the shortcut and select the app to close

This is the bulk of them for now, but I have some good shortcuts for using the trackpad on a MacBook Pro or Magic Trackpad and some reminders of the shortcuts in Google Apps.