Thursday, April 28, 2016

Tech Coach Log 4.28.16: Simple Project Recipe


Simple Project Recipe

There are many of us out there who have a Chromebook cart delivered to your classroom, stare at it and wonder what I am supposed to do with it.  After years of sharing carts, you wonder how to use it for more than searching, word processing and making slides.  For those of you in this position, give this a shot.  This recipe works under the assumption students have access to the apps listed below.

  • Google Sites
  • YouTube
  • Google Slides
  • Snagit Chrome Extension
  • Blogger
I recently used this recipe with 7th grade science students.  In science class, they were learning about biomes or ecosystems.  The teacher sent me the 6 brightest students who were better served to learn on their own rather than in a traditional class setting.  The teacher gave me a list of biomes or ecosystems and asked me to design self-guided learning experience for these students.  With that in mind, I developed this recipe.  This can be done with students of all ability and language levels provided they have been exposed and have access to the apps listed above.  

Step 1: Students were given time to research and take notes, on a Google Doc, about each of the assigned biomes or ecosystems.  They took notes on the characteristics, animals, climate, and locations on the planet.  

Step 2: Students created a Google Slides presentation for all the biomes.  They dedicated 1-2 slides per biome.  The slides included bulleted information, images and embedded YouTube videos.  

Step 3: Students used the Snagit Chrome Extension to screencast themselves "lecturing" over their Google Slides presentation.  Once finished, they uploaded their screencast to YouTube and did some minor editing.

Step 4: Students created a biome blog using Blogger.  They wrote a blog post going into detail describing each biome.  Think of the screencast as the "Reader's Digest version" and the blog post the more in-depth version.  

Step 5: Students created a Google Site where they embedded their YouTube video, presentation and blog.  Each had their own individual page

Step 6: Students emailed the link to their site to their teacher for review.  

This project was done virtually paper free. Some students wrote notes on paper to refer to when they recorded their screencast.  Others used whiteboards.  If you're class is 1:1, this project would be an excellent challenge for both teacher and students.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Tech Coach Log 4.27.16: My Favorite Chrome Extensions

My Favorite Chrome Extensions

Chrome extensions make your browsing experience more convenient and help your to be more productive.  Think of them as little backdoors to your favorite apps. This list, in no particular order, displays my favorites and the ones I use on a daily basis.

    • This extension allows me to stream Chrome Tabs to a display connected to Google Chromecast.  No wires necessary.  I use this when I do classroom demo lessons.  I can control the display wirelessly with my Chromebook or mobile device from anywhere in the room.  This conveniently makes my mobile device a remote control.  

    • This extension allows you to split your screen on a Chromebook.  It works on a PC, but is more suited for Chromebooks.  This is useful with students for digital notetaking.  They can open a tab with an article or website and a tab with a Google Doc.  Dualless splits the screen equally so they can read on one side and take notes simultaneously on the other. This can also be used to take notes on a YouTube or online video.

    • This extension allows you to easily take screenshots and have them saved automatically in your Google Drive.  In addition, it allows you to do screencasting.  Screencasting is a great way for teachers to implement blended learning and flipped lessons.  Students can turn their Google Slides presentations into videos and much more.

    • This extension allows you to have a shortcut to open Google Keep just above your bookmark bar.  It simply opens Google Keep in a new tab.

    • This extension allows you to save any website you're on to Google Keep.  It saves it on a note as a link.  You can then add your own notes to it.

    • This extension allows you to save any website, image or part of a website to Microsoft OneNote.  I use OneNote for academic notetaking. When doing research for my Master's, I used this extension to save articles or parts of articles to my notes in OneNote.  This is a great tool for students to do interactive notebooks.

    • This extension creates pop up notifications for Gmail.  In Microsoft Outlook, a pop up notification appears with each email.  This extension does the same for the web-based Gmail.  In addition, by clicking on the extension button, you can view your messages at a glance without having to go to your Gmail.

    • This extension creates pop up notifications for Google Calendar.  In Microsoft Outlook, a pop up notification appears with each calendar event.  This extension does the same for the web-based Google Calendar.  In addition, by clicking on the extension button, you can view your calendar at a glance without having to go to your Google Calendar.

    • This extension shows you how much time you spend on the websites you visit.  This may be helpful in monitoring your productivity.

    • This extension allows you to share web pages directly to students logged into your Google Classroom.  In addition, it provides a convenient back door to launch Google Classroom.  Google Classroom isn't the easiest app to access.  This extension can launch it directly from your browser as long as you are signed into Chrome.
  • Share Desktop!
    • This extension allows you to share your screen with others.  It creates a link for people to click on.  This link shows them your screen.
  • Tweetdeck Launcher
    • This extension simply opens Tweetdeck in a new tab.  
  • Ghostery
    • This extension allows you see who is tracking you while your browse the certain websites.  It blocks them from tracking your movements and clicks.  It does slow your browser down a little bit, but it's interesting to see who is watching.

    • This extension is a companion to the web app AirDroid.  If you have an iPhone, this doesn't apply to you.  If you have an Android, download the AirDroid app, create a free account and log in.  Do the same on your computer in the Chrome Web Store.  This web app allows you to get all your phone notifications on computer.  You can manage phone storage and send/receive texts among many other features.  This extension allows you to receive those notifications no matter what website you are on.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Tech Coach Log 4.18.16 - Help English Learners Access Content with Screencasting and Google Slides

Help English Learners with Screencasting and Google Slides

With our influx of Chromebooks and iPads into our classrooms, we may become overwhelmed and easily lose sight of how to help English Learners.  Not to fear, these devices are great tools for helping ELs access the content.  ELs, like any student, are likely to be more engaged when using such devices.  Here's an idea for engaging the students and helping with language development.

Reading from a textbook or article can be a daunting task for an EL.  Doing an old fashioned read aloud isn't probably a good idea.  Normally, you'd choose a proficient reader to read aloud to the class or even choose yourself.  The logic is that hearing a good example of reading English will help ELs learn better.  True, but if you've ever heard someone speaking a language you aren't very familiar with, you get left behind as you try to translate every word you don't understand. In the end, you are behind.  

Nowadays, most curriculum comes with a digital version of textbooks, articles and auxiliary materials.  What I like to do is take part of my digital textbook and copy/paste the parts I want students to read into a Google Slides Presentation.  The rule of thumb is to have no more than one or two paragraphs per slide.  This way you can have a good size font that is easy on the eyes.  Once you've pasted the text you plan to have students read and follow along, use a screencasting tool.  I recommend Chrome extension such as Snagit or Screencastify.  

When ready, record yourself reading the content.  Be sure to enunciate trouble words.  You may want to highlight them in advance.  Read loud and clear.  When finished, using either of the recommended screencast tools, your video can be uploaded to YouTube where it can be further edited and easily shared with students.  If YouTube is blocked, the screencast tools will automatically save in your Google Drive.  You can share with students from there.  

The purpose of screencasting your read alouds is to give ELs the ability to pause and rewind as needed.  They cannot do that when you do a live read aloud in class.  In addition, you could even add your own commentary within your video to help aid with understanding and comprehension.  This idea works great for ELs and students of all levels.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Snapchat, "Damn Daniel" and Lewis and Clark: Student Project Idea in the Making


For your classroom, what does Snapchat, "Damn Daniel" and Lewis and Clark have in common?

At first glance, you probably think I'm crazy to suggest these three concepts have no connection whatsoever let alone a use in the classroom.  When Snapchat first became a fad, I gave it a shot. After a month, I gave up on it.  I saw no real value in it.  But, while I was at the CUE 2016 National Conference, I suddenly learned the value.  No, there wasn't any sessions on implementing Snapchat strategies in the classroom.  Being 6 hours away from my wife and kids, it became a quick and easy way to stay in touch throughout the day.  I could send short little video clips to my wife and kids and vice versa.  Having small kids who missed daddy, this made life for my wife easier.

In between sessions at CUE, I was browsing videos on YouTube and came across the infamous "Damn Daniel" boys on the Ellen Show.  The boys explained how their viral videos started just as a joke on Snapchat.  I continued browsing and came across some compilations of the the "Damn Daniel" videos and noticed these videos, like a Snapchat story, chronicle events.  The history teacher in me suddenly came up with an idea? What if historical figures had their own Damn Daniel-esque compilation.  What if George Washington had someone "snapchatting" him at various points of his storied career?  

This led me to Lewis and Clark.  The Lewis and Clark Expedition would be a great way to integrate Snapchat into the classroom. Students could use costumes, backgrounds, props and reenactments and have a classmate "Snapchat" important events during the Expedition.  Instead of "Damn Daniel, back at it again with the white Vans." It could be "Dang Lewis, back at again with the recording of the weather,"  Or, "Dang Clark, back at it again with the discovering of new species."  Or Dang Sacagawea, back it again with the translations."  Students could examine Lewis and Clark's diaries with a "Snapchat" lens.  They could be assigned a predetermined number of events on the Expedition to create "Snaps."  Roles in this activity could be cameraman, actors, editors, etc.  The roles could rotate for each event.  

This is just an idea I came up with and I will be piloting soon with some at risk 8th graders.  

If anyone reads this, and has some input, please feel free to interject.  If anyone is interested in learning more about this, feel free to contact me.


Tech Coach Log 4.1.16


Google Keep for Students: Homework Lists and Reminders

At the beginning of every year, we distribute planners to all students.  After the first month, they usually get covered in graffiti, destroyed or not used at all.  For student planners to be effective, students need to check them constantly and keep them in a safe, convenient place.  This being said, after a month or so, very few students use the planners effectively.  

If we are going to foster 21st century skills, if students have GAFE accounts, we should take advantage of Google Keep.  Google Keep is a great compliment to Google Calendar.  Google Calendar is great for students to input due dates for assignments, especially in a class with Google Classroom.  Google Keep allows students to make to do lists.  These to do lists can be set to remind students at a set time, or, using the mobile app, at a set location.  

Wouldn't it be great for students if they added to their homework to do list throughout the day and it reminded them to do the work as soon as they got home?

Here's how to do it with Google Keep Mobile App.

Here's how to do it with the Google Keep Web App.