Friday, May 29, 2020

Organize Your Workflow with Google Chrome Tab Groups


Organize your tabs with tab groups in Google Chrome

Whether you're a Google Chrome tab minimalist or hoarder, this new Chrome update will be useful. In the past week, Google has pushed out Chrome Version 83 and part of this version is the ability to group tabs. The grouping are completely up to you. Group them to fit your workflow and how your brain works. 

For starters, you will need to update your Chrome browser to Version 83. To check, click on the three dots in top right corner of browser, select settings and, in settings, select About Chrome. 

Near the top, you'll see your Chrome Version. If it says up to date, you should be able to use Chrome Tab Groups. If not, you should see an option to update Chrome. Be sure to update to access this feature. (In my screenshot, I've already updated.)

Once updated and the feature is live, you access Chrome Tab Groups by right clicking on a tab.

You can rename the group by clicking on the colored dot just to the left of the first tab in the group.

Below the box where you rename the tab group, you can choose a color to color code your tab groups.

A way this has improved my workflow is how I have groups of tabs for each class period I teach. For each class period tab group, there is a a tab for that class' Google Classroom, Illuminate Online Gradebook, Flipgrid Grid, Quizizz game and Quizlet study set. For me, as a tab hoarder, this is great. This allows me to not have to go into any of those tabs and switch classes or accounts. Many times, during class period transitions, I forget to switch accounts for a new period and valuable time is lost while kids wait for me to get into the correct account. This way, they're all open and at a glance. In addition, I keep a group of tabs titled "Work" for my Gmail, Calendar, Drive, etc.

The silent video below shows you how to place a tab into a new group and move tabs to existing groups.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Flipgrid for Families

Flipgrid | Empower Every Voice

Flipgrid is absolutely one of my favorite education apps. They are always adding cool new features. I'm loving the new whiteboard and screencasting features. As a teacher of a large amount of English learners, it is a great app to foster listening and speaking skills. In our current situation of distance learning, Flipgrid is becoming more popular. Teachers are relying on it for student wellness check-ins, checking for understanding, learning demonstrations and more. 

If you're new to Flipgrid, like any tech tool, practicing with it in a non-formal, fun setting is a great way to learn how to use it for educational purposes. For example, I mastered Zoom by hosting video calls for virtual happy hours with friends and family. With Flipgrid, you can do the same. 

During the quarantine, my daughter Ashleigh turned nine. Her birthday, obviously, had to be augmented from the traditional birthday parties we've had for her in the past. Since we couldn't gather to sing her Happy Birthday, I shared a Flipgrid topic with friends and family on social media, via text and email. Using this topic, they were able to record a Happy Birthday greeting and or song.

20 people recorded a greeting. What really hit me about those who recorded the greeting is that the vast majority of them were not educators. Even amongst educators, Flipgrid is still growing, but to those outside the realm of K-12 education, it is virtually unknown. Many figured out relatively easily how to use the Flipgrid platform. Others messaged me for help before figuring it out. 

As I reflect on this experience, using Flipgrid for this manner was a very organic way learning the tool as an educator and for reaching parents. It gave parents an opportunity to learn a new app with their kids. As students use it more and more for academic purposes, finding ways to help parents help their kids with Flipgrid, and other apps, is important. Many of my non-educator friends and family thought Flipgrid was pretty cool and were excited to see their kids use it for school purposes in the future. 


Moral of the story is this. A great way to learn the ins and outs with Flipgrid, other "new to you" apps, is to experiment with friends and family. Set up a happy birthday Flipgrid topic for a loved one. At family game night, play Quizizz, Kahoot or Quizlet Live for a fun topic. Doing this can familiarize non-educator parents with these apps and help them better support their students when they use them for school purposes. 

Click here to see Grandma Jan, who has no Flipgrid experience, sing a great rendition of Happy Birthday.
Click here to see Ashleigh's friend Ella sing Happy Birthday. Ella is being assisted by her parents.

If you'd like to learn how to get started with Flipgrid for the first time, click the links below to access a slide deck and view a how-to video.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Setting Up External Speakers in Zoom and Google Meet

Since this whole distance learning adventure began, I have had the privilege of supporting hundreds of teachers who are learning to use Zoom and Google Meet. As teachers have gotten more comfortable with these tools, they have been taking more and more relative "tech risks".  Since they've been forced to work from home, many have invested their own money in new tech tools. A common purchase has been external, bluetooth speakers. Often times, the built-in computer speakers don't provide the sound quality to effectively participate in a video call with students and or colleagues. As more and more teachers have been making speaker purchases, I have received a number of requests for help enabling the speakers in Zoom and Google Meet. 

The images below shows you where to go to choose your external speaker instead of your default, built-in computer speakers when participating in Zoom and Google Meet. If using a bluetooth speaker, it must be paired and connected at that time with your computer to show as an option.

Change your speaker in Zoom (desktop client)

Change your speaker in Google Meet

If your external speaker is connected via bluetooth, it will appear in the circled list.

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