Friday, October 16, 2015

EdCamp Bluewater - Saturday, 11/7/15 (The best little PD you've probably never attended) #phsedtech #1phasd #miched #edcampbluewater

Saturday (8 a.m. - 3:15 p.m)

Don't wait!

Only 23 tickets remain for what is sure to be the BEST participant driven professional development opportunity this fall - Go to and register today.

EdCamps are new way of learning where you and the other participants who attend determine the focus of the day's learning. You can propose a discussion topic or offer to facilitate a session that you feel others would be interested in collaborating around. Facilitators are strongly encouraged to tap into the wisdom of the room rather than present a stand and deliver style lecture. And participants are strongly encouraged to use the "rule of two feet" if the session isn't meeting their need by politely excusing themselves from a session and then seeking out a better fit or creating an ad hoc gathering to meet their need.

What's new this year?

This year's EdCamp Bluewater is going to off the charts. Why? Because this year's EdCamp Bluewater will be held in the idyllic and awe inspiring setting of the Pine River Nature CenterIf you've never been to the PRNC, imagine hanging out in a beautiful log home with stunning views of the forest surrounded by hiking trails and a tree house!

Imagine hosting your EdCamp Bluewater session in a Tree House!
We are also planning to have a real live campfire with supplies for making S'mores, a chili cook-off contest, and fun challenge activities throughout the day that let you earn tickets for our fabulous giveaways.

This is professional learning like no other. For more information check out this informative 5 part video series describing last year's EdCamp Bluewater and visit our website

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Fixing Google Account Conflicts in the Chrome Browser #phsedtech

As the Google Chrome browser continues to evolve I have noticed that the old method of switching between Google Accounts can be glitchy. The old method (described here) involves clicking on your profile picture in upper right corner of most Google Apps products and adding an account(s). But I have found that switching between accounts this way doesn't always work and that Google Drive in particular will have issues. 

I recommend instead, that you use Chrome browser profiles to switch between multiple Google Accounts. To do this I recommend the following steps. 

  1. Go to the Chrome browser settings and delete all existing profiles. This will clear out any conflicting accounts you may have installed using the old method. (Don't worry you're bookmarks and extensions will be recovered when you login using the new Chrome browser profile option).
  2. You will be prompted to sign in to the Chrome Browser. Use your primary Google Account email and password. If your account is a School District issued email be sure to click the "Link Data" option when prompted.
  3. Use the Profile switch icon to add new accounts or switch between accounts.

Switching between accounts using the Chrome Profile switch icon is a much tidier method of using multiple Google Accounts on the same computer. In fact, it's the absolute best method for a shared family computer where mom, dad, and all the kiddos have Google Accounts for work and school. You'll see separate desktop icons and task bar icons to help you access each separate account and distinguish between which account you are using (tip: be sure use unique profile pictures for each account). To view a video demonstration of the steps click here.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Using Padlet for Formative Assessment plus student guides

One of my favorite digital tools is Padlet. Padlet is a collaborative digital cork board and classroom response system that let’s you collect and organize virtual stickies of information including text, images, audio and video.

At the recent 21st Century Learning Symposium I shared some strategies for using Padlet in support of Formative Assessment. During this session my intent was to model the versatility of Padlet whether you have a single internet connected device, a small set of 5-8 devices, or 1:1 student devices. I also modeled how Padlet can be used to support formative assessment strategies such as entry/exit tickets and cooperative learning structures. The resources for this session are embedded below. It includes guides and tips for creating your own Padlet boards.

I've also been developing a Student Guide that includes presentation slides and a video tutorial to help students begin using Padlet as a tool for research, presentations, and collaborative communication. I invite you to utilize this guide for use with your own students if you like.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Try the new Add to Google Classroom Extension #edtech

It's summertime, but that doesn't mean that nothing new is happening the in the Edtech world. I've been putting a lot of these new tricks on a shelf for later but thought this one was worth sharing today.

Copying and pasting content from the web isn't difficult but it does take time. I like tools that let me quickly share content to important groups with a click. The Add to Google Classroom Extension does just that. Found a great article for your Social Studies class? Want to quickly share that new math video tutorial you found on Youtube? The Add to Google Classroom Extension puts a small extension icon in your Google Chrome Browser tool bar that let's you add the link with a click. From there you'll find the necessary drop-down menus to select a specific class and choose whether to post as an assignment or an announcement.

Since it is summertime, don't expect to get a lot of use out of this extension right away, but be sure to add it now and perhaps set a little calendar reminder to check it out again when the school year fires up. Enjoy!

from Marysville Public Schools Education Technology Blog

Friday, March 13, 2015

Adding images into Google Slides on the iPad using Google Classroom 3/12/15

Update: After a few more trials we've learned that this process is still far from perfect. The original steps below will work initially, however, there are two key caveats.
  1. It appears to work best if a student only adds the assignment to Google Classroom as a last step with a finished product. Adding during the draft phase can cause issues and the "Turn-in" feature is not recommended.
  2. The teacher cannot edit or comment directly on the shared slides. This will break the sharing. The edits and comments will not be visible to the student. Only comment using Google Classroom's comment tools if needed.
For whatever reason, the Google Drive iPad apps still do not allow you to add images into Slides or Docs. Fortunately, there is a workaround for adding images in Google Slides that I recently learned about here. This method works well but in testing with students we ran into some hurdles getting the template out of Safari and into the Google Slides app. It was even more difficult if the student had the Google Chrome app installed because the "open-in" feature isn't available. 

This video tutorial demonstrates a method using Google Classroom that bypasses the Safari/Chrome method. To do this I recommend the following steps.


  1. Create a blank presentation in Microsoft Powerpoint, name the template, and save it.
  2. Open Google Drive and go to the Setting icon in the upper right of the screen, click on settings and uncheck the box for "Convert uploaded files to the Google Docs format". This step is important. The process will not work if the presentation is converted to Google Slides. 
  3. Upload the template file and then change the settings in step 3 back to "convert"
  4. Open Google Classroom and create a new assignment
  5. Add the Template by clicking the Google Drive icon
  6. Be sure to leave the file access set to "Students can View File" - Do Not select "Make a Copy for Each Student"
  1. Open the Google Classroom app and click on the assignment
  2. Open the template attachment - This will open the Google Slides app
  4. Click on the 3 vertical dots (settings), select Share, and then Make a Copy
  5. Click on the 3 vertical dots again and select details
  6. Look for the light grey edit pencil icon next to the title. Click on this to delete the title and rename it. Don't forget your name
  7. Go Back to Google Classroom, open the assignment and click on the Your Work tab.
  8. Click on the Add Attachment option and select the Google Slides presentation 
  9. Return to the presentation to edit and add images. Click on the + icon to select images from your camera roll or to take a picture with your camera

Friday, February 27, 2015

Voice record pro app - Soundcloud alternative for iPad #edtech

Soundcloud recently changed their iPad app, and it no longer allows you to record. The Voice Record Pro app is a free alternative that will let you record your audio on the iPad and then upload to Soundcloud (or Google Drive, Youtube, Dropbox, etc.).

Here’s a brief video tutorial to help you use the app and connect to Soundcloud. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Adding an image with a caption and hyperlink in Google Docs

Adding an image with caption and hyperlink in Google Slides

The slideshow below includes a video tutorial and step-by-step guide for adding an image with caption and hyperlink in Google Slides.

Google Apps on a shared iPad - Logging in and out #edtech

Now that Google has released an iPad app for Google Classroom, the ability to have students use Google Classroom and Google Drive on a shared iPad has become much easier. In the video below I demonstrate how students can set up folder on the shared iPad that contains all of the Google Apps and then demonstrate the proper method for signing in and out of the apps. Thankfully, if a student signs into or out of any of the apps, this simultaneously signs them in or out of all of the Google apps. This strategy will be particularly helpful for our 2nd - 4th grade students who are using Google Classroom and Google Drive on shared iPads.

from Marysville Public Schools Education Technology Blog


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Google Classroom - How the Turn-in feature affects the workflow of providing feedback

In this video I look at the advantages and disadvantages of using the Turn-in feature in Google Classroom. Depending on your style and method of providing feedback to students you may or may not want to have students use the Turn-in feature. 

The second video is not mine but does a nice job of demonstrating how sharing permissions change on a document when using Google Classroom.

Have you experienced success or challenges using Turn-in? Feel free to reply below.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The new Google Docs Add-ons featuring the Text Help Study Skills Highlighting Tool

Last week Google Docs and Spreadsheets received an update called Add-ons. This new Add-ons tab connects documents with third party tools that add new features or functionality to the document. The Add-ons Store looks and feels very similar to the Chrome Web Store.

One of the new Add-ons that I feel could have great benefit in the classroom is the Text Help Study Skills highlighter. This is a premium feature in the Text Help Read and Write for Google extension so the fact that it is being released for free in the Add-ons store is notable. 

The new Add-ons tab is easy to use. You'll find it located on the Google Docs or Spreadsheet toolbar. Click on Get Add-ons to browse the Add-ons store. 

The Study Skills highlighter could be very helpful for teachers who like to mark-up student work by denoting specified colors for certain errors. The Study Skills highlighter makes this much more convenient than in the past using the built-in highlighting. The clear highlights option makes removing these mark-ups much simpler as well.

But one of the more exciting features of the Study Skills highlighter is the ability to extract highlights into a new document. This feature could be used to structure close and critical reading activities where students identify vocabulary, main ideas, and supporting evidence from a text, and then using the extract highlights tool as notes and/or as a form of assessment. I demonstrate this scenario in the video below.

In the video I also feature the (a website for leveled expository text and news) and the Clearly extension.

I'm looking forward to exploring the potential of the new Add-ons for Google Docs and Spreadsheets. Have you found a good Add-on? Please consider sharing by replying in the comments section.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Newsela - A differentiated News and Reading resource for schools

Newsela looks like an interesting new resource for teaching current events and reading strategies that dynamically adjusts reading levels for differentiated instruction. The site integrates with Google Accounts for easy sign-up and sign-in and allows you to create class groups for assigning and monitoring students. In addition, some of the articles include reading comprehension quizzes.

Learn more here 

Monday, March 3, 2014

The "One Click" QR Code

The “One Click”QR Code

  1. Open Google Chrome Browser
  2. Click Ctrl-shift-B to make sure the “bookmarks bar” is visible at all times
  3. Go to this QR Code Bookmarklet site
  4. Click on the red bookmarklet icon and drag it to the bookmarks bar and let go
  5. Go to the website or video you want to use
  6. Click on the QR coder button on the browser bookmark bar
  7. Right click and select print or ctrl-P to print

If you need to resize the QR code before printing

  1. Right click on the QR code
  2. Copy the QR code image
  3. Open Google Docs or Microsoft Word
  4. Paste the QR code image
  5. Click on the QR code to use the resize tools
  6. Drag the corners to resize the image
  7. Name and save your document
  8. Print your document

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Edmodo Q&A - Should I delete or archive last semester's class?

At the end of a semester, you may be wondering what to do with your Edmodo classes (groups). While the best choice always depends on several factors. The following guide may help you in deciding the best course of action. 

If you have a year-long course and expect minimal movement of students enrolling, dropping or moving between groups then the best course of action may be to manually move students,unenroll dropped students, and have new students add to the group using the group enrollment key.

However, if there will be significant movement of students or if your course is semester-long then archiving the current group and creating a new group for the second semester may be a better solution. 

As a general rule I rarely recommend deleting a group entirely since deleting the group will completely remove all record of activity including submitted work, quiz scores, etc. Archiving a group hides the group from your active list of groups and sets the group to read only for students. According the Edmodo help document,

Once a Group is archived, students will not be able to reply or post anything to the Group. Students in an archived Group will still be able to direct message you, but the Group activity is inactive.  All Posts and data from the group will be saved, and you can view the Posts and retrieve any previously created quizzes or assignments from your archived Groups.  You can also restore an archived group at any time, making it active again.

Here are a few screen shots demonstrating the steps for archiving a group.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

New Google Image search tool for quickly locating images licensed for reuse

Being a good netizen means giving credit to resources we find and use on the web. Sometimes this can be a tricky and time consuming process. Fortunately, Google Images has recently updated the search tools feature to make finding Creative Commons licensed photos more friendly.

To get started, begin a Google Image search and locate the Search Tools selector.

Next, click on the Usage Rights selector.

Choose the reuse license that best fits your needs. In most cases this will be "labeled for reuse" unless you plan to modify the image or use the image in a business setting. 

The Usage Rights selector filters the images so that you are only browsing images that you have permission to reuse with the expectation that you will properly cite the image wherever it is used.Here's an example.

Mars Exploration Rover by NASA is licensed under public domain
I'll be honest. Proper citation takes more time than just copy and paste, but it is a skill that we need to model as teachers and teach
to our students. And at least it is getting easier to find these images in the first place.

Finally, there are some tools available to help automate the citation process if you use the Chrome Browser and are searching for Creative Commons images on Flickr. It may also be helpful to know that the Research Tool in Google Drive has a similar filtering option for finding Creative Commons licensed images.

Friday, November 8, 2013

A Guide to creating “Flipped” and Blended learning resources

cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo by Scott:
If you are thinking about Flipping direct instruction or creating blended learning resources that students can access independently but still have accountability for doing the work then I recommend using Google Forms or Moodle Quizzes for getting started.

Google Forms

The fastest and easiest starting point (in my opinion) is to use Google Forms to create what I call a “Fast flipping form”. I often use this example to demo the idea of a Flipped Form. Students open the form link, watch the embedded video, and answer a few formative questions. The teacher gets a spreadsheet that is time stamped, shows their user name, and provides data on their level of understanding. You also have a summary graph view for visualizing the aggregate scores on the assessment questions.

Here’s my visual guide and video tutorial for creating the “Fast flipping form”.  You can put the form link on a Moodle page, Weebly site, etc. It can also be embedded so that the form is viewable right on the Moodle page and not as a separate link.

Pros: Google “Flipped” Forms are fast to make, simple for students to access and use, and provide a quick at-a-glance dashboard (the spreadsheet) for checking who did and did not do the assignment and what they did or did not understand.

Possible Cons: The only videos you can embed currently are YouTube videos (the workaround is to put a link to any video or any web content in the description field), also the summary view graph for your data will reflect all students and isn’t able to be broken down by sections.
A few other suggestions:

  • I recommend collecting student names using two fields (last name) and (first name) to assist with sorting in the spreadsheet
  • Create a drop down or multiple choice listing for separate section hours. Again this is to assist with sorting the data.
  • Force students to be logged into the school’s Google Apps Account to view the Form to ensure that the data is tracked to the actual student.
  • Optional. Use Moodle to deliver the form and embed the form on a page. This would give you the ability to check if a student(s) are viewing the video resource fully by looking at the activity data which tracks the amount of time spent inside an activity. It’s a way to say “Look, I can check if I think you are opening the form and clicking through the questions without watching.” Also, constructed response questions that require some understanding to write the response can help with accountability.

Moodle Quizzes

Another way to structure a “Flipped” assignment based on video and assessment questions is to use the Moodle quiz feature. You create a quiz question and embed the video in the first question (see below), or use the “Description” option for displaying video content. You then add any additional questions that will help you assess student understanding.

Pros: You can provide automated feedback, remediation, or extension activities based on student answers. You have another question styles including matching, Cloze, and mathematical response. You have the ability to sort data by sections and to have longitudinal data of individual student activity because of Moodle’s grading and database features. It also automatically calculates a score (there is a way to do this with scripts in Google Forms). A quiz can be completed over multiple login sessions and automatically force the student to retake if they don’t master the material.

Cons: Not everyone has or uses Moodle. Moodle quizzes take longer to create and the construction of quizzes and analyzing the results is sometimes less intuitive.  

I’ve included a couple of screenshots to help you visualize what a Moodle “Flipped” activity would look like.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Quick Guide to Collaborative Google Presentations

Collaborative presentations can be a great way to start using Google Drive in the classroom because “slides” act as a personal workspace for each student or group of students but with the added ability to view and even co-edit the slides of others. It’s also a great way to demonstrate the power of collaborative cloud based document creation. But remember! - Collaborative means that some decisions can affect the whole group. For instance, changing a theme impacts everyones’ slides. This is a great opportunity to discuss digital citizenship norms  and respecting the work of others. Some of the suggestions below will help you to manage a collaborative document and consider the best approach for your classroom.

Step 1 - Create a presentation

Click on the create icon from the Google Drive homepage and select Presentations. You’ll be prompted to pick a theme.

Step 2 - Create a title slide that includes directions for the activity and specifies the slide criteria

Step 3 - Make a model

I find that it’s helpful to have a slide that the teacher creates ahead of time modeling the format and content examples. You can even make a template slide and use the duplicate slide feature to provide each student with a scaffolded workspace.

Step 4 - Pre-number or Pre-name the slides (optional)
You may want to pre-create the slides and label these ahead of time to designate whose space is whose. This is handy especially for first time users.

Step 5 - Sharing

Share by email - if you have a list of every student’s email (Google Forms are great for collecting these) then you can add individual students to the presentation. Click on the blue share tab in the upper right hand corner of the presentation or right click on the file from the Google Drive homepage.

The advantage to this method is that students will have access to the document via the “shared with me” tab of their Google Drive homepage and that all changes to the presentation are tracked to the user who made them. Students who tamper with the presentation can be identified using the revision history and unwanted modifications can be reversed.

Share by weblink - if you can’t add students individual via their email address you can create a public or semi-public link that allows students to access the document anonymously.

The advantage to this method is that it does not require your students to even have a Google Account. The link can be easily shared if the teacher has a webpage or uses a service like Edmodo or Moodle. A URL shortener like or are helpful for making the links shorter in the case of teachers who do not have a classroom website. The disadvantage is that anonymous can sabotage a project if expectations are unclear and monitoring is minimal. The good news is that the revision history may allow you to restore work that was mistakenly or purposely modified.  

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Digital Citizenship Week

You may or may not have been aware of the fact that October 21-25th is Digital Citizenship week. Helping our students become good digital citizens is a responsibility that we all share. Displaying posters, having classroom discussions, and practicing netiquette in online educational environments is a great way to model the behaviors and attitudes we want to see reflected by our students.

One of my favorite resources for Digital Citizenship is They have a great K-12 Digital Citizenship Curriculumresources for families and parents, and even some games for teaching concepts of Digital Citizenship to students. 

Not sure where to start? I recommend reading this blog post from Common Sense Media about Digital Citizenship week and the many resources available to educators looking to integrate Digital Citizenship instruction into their classrooms.

Edmodo and Common Sense Media have also partnered up to offer several Digital Citizenship resources including a Webinar on Oct. 23rd and an Edmodo Community dedicated to supporting Digital Citizenship in classrooms.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

How to enable "Offline" access and editing in Google Drive and protect against lost work during a wifi outage

Yesterday a student came to me with a Google Drive issue due to intermittent wifi connectivity at home. Sometime during the night as she was composing her essay she lost wifi connectivity on her Chromebook and subsequently lost all of her work during that period of time.

Fortunately, there is a solution to protect against this type of data loss in Google Drive and as an added bonus have the ability to edit Google Docs, Presentations and Drawings even when there is no internet connection available.

Please note that you can only enable "offline" access and editing in Google Drive on a Chromebook or on a computer using the Chrome browser. 

How to enable "offline" access and editing in Google Drive
  1. Open the Google Drive menu (Inbox)
  2. Click on the "more" tab on the left hand side menu 
  3. Click on "offline" 
  4. Syncing should begin immediately for Chromebook users
  5. If you are using the Chrome browser on a computer you will need to click on "enable offline
Be patient when switching between offline and online mode. It can sometimes take a few seconds for changes to be updated when syncing between modes.