Thursday, March 31, 2016

Tech Coach Log 3.31.16


TechSmith Snagit and Uploading to YouTube: Success and Potential Hurdle

We had a small, but satisfying success this morning.  I was working with a class of special needs 7th graders on creating Google Slides presentations.  Once they made their presentation, we had them "lecture" over their presentations to do a screencast using the Snagit Chrome extension.  

Their initial reaction to learning to do a screencast was one of wonder.  I next showed them how to upload their screencast to YouTube. I demonstrated on my end with no difficulty, but the first student who attempted to upload got a notification that they needed to connect their YouTube account.  After a few minutes of troubleshooting, I realized these students have never used the YouTube portion of their GAFE account for anything more than browsing and watching YouTube videos.  I learned they needed to set up their channel's username before having the ability to upload screencasts from Snagit.  

Before having students try to upload, have them go to YouTube and click upload. If it's the first time they've done anything more than browsing and watching videos, they will be prompted to create a YouTube username and choose gender.  Once they do these two steps, they will be able to easily upload to YouTube from Snagit.

When these students received the email that their video was live on YouTube, the look of pride on their faces were priceless.  After watching their own videos on YouTube, a few exclaimed "I am a YouTuber!"

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Student GAFE Account Misuse: My Idea for Dealing with This Issue

In the past year, my district's Chromebook usage and purchases have gone through the roof.  This is a good problem to have.  As expected, we are experiencing growing pains.  As more and more teachers have jumped head first into using Chromebooks on a daily basis, students have learned to use them for learning and, at the same time, transformed them into a weapon of mass distraction.  

As one would expect, the apps most frequently misused are YouTube and Hangouts.  We have had great success using Hangouts as a tool for facilitating academic conversations across classrooms and school sites.  But as you can predict, students will use Hangouts to "communicate" with each other when they should be working.  YouTube, as well, is known for drawing students off task.

Misuse of these apps can make classroom management a nightmare.  Teachers have become frustrated to the point where they want me to disable these apps completely.  With these teacher complaints in mind, I came up with this solution.  I created a "Probation" sub-OU in the Google Apps Admin Console.  When teachers identify students who are "repeat app misuse offenders", they send me the names and I move them into the Probation sub-OU.  When placed into this OU, their account is fully functional except for the "fun apps" such as YouTube, Hangouts, Google Cast, etc.  They can use Gmail, Drive, Calendar, Classroom, etc.  

Since implementing this idea, misuse of the apps have been on a decline.  We have used these misuse incidents as teachable moments for digital citizenship.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Blogger Trick for Embedding in Google Sites

As my website,, has evolved, I have looked for ways to integrate this blog on my site.  Not being a code expert or website builder ninja, I stumbled across a simple way to embed this blog onto my site.

Here's how I did it:

  1. Open your blog
  2. Right click in the top margin
  3. Select view page source
  4. The page source code appears in a new window.  
  5. Use CTRL A to select all
  6. Use CTRL C to copy
  7. Open your Google Site and the page your would like to embed your blog
  8. Click the Edit button
  9. Go to Insert > HTML Box
  10. Use CTRL V to paste the code
  11. Click Save
  12. Click Save (blue button) to save your progress and view your blog on that page in your site
This isn't an RSS feed.  It won't update automatically with each new blog post. You will have to repeat this process to update the website with the newest blog posts.

I am sure there is another, better and more efficient way to do this, but this is what has worked for me.

Just an Idea: "Damn Daniel!"

White Vans (shoes) have enjoyed a recent bump in popularity thanks to a couple of teenagers making silly videos.  If you've been online at all recently, it is likely you have "Damn Daniel" ringing through your head.  You've possibly quoted it to your own friends named Daniel.  I know I have.  After watching the viral "Damn Daniel" video, the creative history teacher in me got to thinking.  How could I adapt this to the classroom?

This could be a very engaging activity for students if we had them make a "Damn George" video about George Washington during the Revolution or "Damn Abe" video about Lincoln's presidency.  How about making a "Damn Thomas" video about Edison's inventions?  It would go "Damn Thomas, back at it again with the inventions." I could go on all day.

This could be an easy way to marry technology and history content.  Students could be very creative.  Students could select a series of 5-10 events in the life of a historical figure and pretend to follow them around with a camera shooting 5-10 second clips.  Students would have to create backgrounds, props and costumes. Another way could be have students piece together already made clips of the figure and do the "Damn [insert name]" voice over.

This is just a thought I had.  I am looking forward to experimenting with it soon.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Tech Coach Log: 3.10.16

Chromecast EDU

In my house, I have two Chromecasts.  One is upstairs in my man-cave and the other is in my daughters' playroom.  The ability to stream YouTube, pictures, MLB.TV, WatchESPN and many other apps is so convenient and fun.  As I have enjoyed this little "dongle" at home, I have developed ideas for classroom application.  Here is what I have come up with so far.  This list is in no particular order.

  • Use a VGA to HDMI adapter to transform old monitors into digital signage in your classroom.  Save images of content and or student exemplars to your Google Photos account (free and part of any GAFE account).  Chromecast can be set to display images in a Google Photos account when not streaming an app.
  • Have students create a presentation, for any subject, with Google Slides.  Use the Chromecast Chrome extension for students to stream their presentation to the projector without having to "hijack" the teacher's computer.  If you trust your students, they can do the same with their mobile phone or iPod as long as they have the Google Slides app.  They can use a mobile device as a wireless remote.  In addition, when they create the presentation on a PC or Chromebook, they can add speaker notes which are easily seen on the mobile device when presenting.
  • In a math class, have students in groups or as individuals work on problems with an old fashioned whiteboard.  With the webcam on a Chromebook or PC, have students take a picture of their whiteboard.  They can then stream their picture to the projector screen for whole class error analysis.
  • A YouTube Scavenger Hunt (that's what I call it) is a fun way to do a jigsaw. Assign small groups topics from a section of curriculum the same way you would do a jigsaw.  Challenge each group to find a video, 4 minutes or less (teach them to filter search), that concisely describe the topic.  Have each group stream their video during the share-out portion of the exercise.  This can be done as an opening activity or review.  Be sure to approve videos before having students stream.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Tech Coach Log: 3.7.16

In our district, academic conversations is a major focus.  Students often lack the skills and or confidence to hold an academic conversation.  Any tool that can make students more comfortable communicating is welcomed.  Once students become more comfortable communicating, we are a step closer towards getting them engaged in academic conversations.

Students nowadays are adept at texting, instant messaging and "Facetiming".  With that in mind, why don't we put those skills to work for us?  We can use these skills as way of getting students started with academic conversations.  

Students may feel uncomfortable, at first, speaking, but they may be comfortable texting.  If we can get them to have an academic conversation via text, it can increase their level of comfort to eventually have a verbal academic conversation.

Some of my ELA 7 teachers have begun having students start academic conversations using Google Hangouts.  We started them with the instant message/texting function of the app.  After some practice, we paired them with other students on the other side of the room and they used the video chat function to have an academic conversation.  Recently, two ELA 7 teachers paired students with students from the other class and they used the video chat to have an academic conversation.  

Early returns are promising and we are looking to involve more teachers and subjects.  Many students who normally won't speak academically in class are fully participating when using Google Hangouts.  Hangouts has become a method of engagement.  

Monday, March 7, 2016

Tech Coach Log: 3.4.16

Google Drawings and Memes

When I was in the classroom, I completely embraced the "meme movement". Memes are captioned images intended to be clever, witty, funny and or sarcastic. When I first saw them, I immediately saw them as a great way to get students to think critically and creatively.  I challenged students to take the "boring history facts" learned in my class and use them as fodder for creating captions on memes. 

At first, they were hesitant and not very good, but as time went on, the students' creative juices began to flow.  I printed the best student memes and displayed them on the wall. At one point, you could walk into my room and get the jist of what we just learned by looking at student memes.  Test review was no longer done with PowerPoint and study guides.  I simply displayed memes from the chapter/unit and students would discuss the image and caption.  It was amazing to see how the memes jogged their memories.  Instead of recalling facts, they discussed and explained concepts and themes.

Usage of memes is a great way to engage students and inject some creativity into their work.  It is a great first step towards fostering critical thinking.  Google Drawings is an excellent tool for generating memes.  It is part of any Google Account and student memes are conveniently saved in Google Drive.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Tech Coach Log: 3.2.16

I big issue I deal with often is teachers not realizing the value of signing into Chrome.  As Google Apps Admin, I organize teachers into sub-organizations to I am able to have customized settings for them.  But if they don't sign in to Chrome, they don't get the customized settings.  In addition, teachers often sign in with personal Gmail accounts and often get their work settings and info mixed with personal stuff.  Great thing Google Chrome allows you to login to multiple accounts and toggle between them.  I usually have 3 accounts on at all times (personal, work, demo account).

For "tech newbie" teachers, I have found something as simple as a certificate, generated by me, goes a long way as an incentive to get them to be more adventurous in their implementation of tech.  As I look at my wall, I look with pride framed my various certifications.  "Tech newbie" teachers see my little certificates, given after I in-service their classes, as tangible evidence that they don't need to be afraid of the technology. This little gesture leads them to seek me out to continue their develop their implementation of education technology.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Tech Coach Log: 3.1.16

Busy is the best way to describe March 1, 2016.  Is it March already?  With CAASPP on the horizon and administration mandating the use of Chromebooks daily, March Madness began, for me, in February.  

I began the day working with 8th Grade science teachers on how to implement Doc Hub.  One drawback to Doc Hub is how the changes made within Doc Hub cannot be submitted through Google Classroom. Teachers are starting to get annoyed by that since students blow up their inbox when submitting Doc Hub assignments.  I'm going to have to contact Google and Doc Hub and integrating Google Classroom and Doc Hub edits.

7th Grade ELA teachers are jumped on my Google Hangouts bandwagon.  I conducted a demo with one class on how to use Hangouts and begin having Academic Conversations  via Hangouts.  Though Hangouts can be easily abused by middle schoolers, I am confident, with good classroom management, it will be be put to good, academic use.  

I continued my work with high school Spanish teachers as they are having students do all presentations via Google Slides and present them using Chromecast and the Google Cast Chrome extension.

As Google Apps Admin, I have been searching for ways to eliminate excuses for teachers not to use technology.  Since there has been a push to use Google Classroom and Gmail is the mandated email service, I set it up for those apps, and a few others, to open in separate tabs upon startup of Chrome.  As expected, some teachers freaked out and others questioned it.  Since, I have been working on separating grade levels into suborganizations to tailor the Chrome extensions and startup tabs to teacher preference.

Never a dull day in Orosi, CA.