Monday, August 31, 2020

Extract Pages from a PDF with iLovePDF


We have all come across a PDF file that had the information and content that could help make a great lesson. But sometimes, the file has more than what you want. Sometimes, you just want a piece of that PDF and not the entire file. is the tool for you when in this situation arises. This website will allow you to extract select pages from a PDF file and merge those pages into a PDF file of its own for your purposes. 

Take a look at the steps and screenshots below to get started using

Step 1: Go to Click the Select PDF file button to choose a PDF from your computer or click the Google Drive button to choose a PDF file from your Drive.

Step 2: If you chose Google Drive, you will need to select your Google account as well as do steps 3-4. If you chose to pull a file from your computer, your computer's files manager would open up and you would select the file there and skip to step 5.

Step 3: Allow permission to access your Google Drive.

Step 4: Search your Google Drive for the PDF file you want and select it.

Step 5: Once a file is chosen and uploaded to, click the Extract pages button.

Step 6: Choose your pages by unchecking the pages you don't want or typing in the pages you do want. 

Step 7: Once the pages have been chosen, check the box to merge extracted pages in one PDF file and click the Split PDF button a the bottom.

Step 8: When the "PDF have been split!" notification appears, HOVER your mouse over the big button that says "Download split PDF" and it will download to your computer. You may also click the Google Drive button to add it to your Google Drive if you choose. 

Once the file is in your Google Drive or on your computer, you will be able to easily distribute the file to students via Google Classroom or LMS of your choice. The video below demonstrates each step in real time. 

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How To Use the Print Friendly & PDF Chrome Extension


There are some great articles online that can be down right littered with ads. The amount of ads can often be a deal breaker when deciding whether or not to use the article for assignments with students. Next time you find a great article littered with ads, use the Print Friendly & PDF Chrome Extension to generate an ad-free PDF file of the article that is much more palatable for students. 

The steps below show you how to get started installing the extension and how to use it.

Step 1: Go to the Chrome Web Store and search for Print Friendly PDF.

Step 2: Click Add to Chrome. (This screenshot shows Remove from Chrome since I have already added it. The Add to Chrome button is in the same spot if you haven't added it yet. If your district's domain does not allow you to add Chrome extensions, contact whoever is in charge of the domain and ask them to push the extension to teacher browsers or allow this one to be installed.)

Step 3: When the extension has been installed, it will appear in your Chrome browser. When you find the article you want, click the extension button. 

Step 4: After you click the extension button, a window will pop up and process the article like you see below. You will see most, if not all, ads removed. 

Step 5: As you scroll down, hover your mouse over areas you'd like to eliminate from the article and click the trash can. This is useful if there are ads that didn't get taken out or if there is text you believe is extra or irrelevant.

Step 6: When you are ready, click the PDF button at the top right of the window. Then click Download Your PDF to download the file to your computer.

When you download it to your computer, you should then upload it into Google Drive. From there, it can be assigned or attached in Google Classroom. The video below shows you each step in real time.

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Friday, August 28, 2020

Use to Jazz Up Your Slides is one of my favorite new websites. In a nutshell, it allows you to remove the background from images. When putting together slides for a lesson or presentation, this is very useful. It allows you to put pictures of yourself, an object or character right into a scene. It will definitely up your game if you are trying to create a cool Bitmoji Classroom. will save you the time from having to find the perfect transparent png image. You can turn virtually any image into a transparent png. 

The image below illustrates the difference between an image with a background and one with a transparent background. What you see below is the exact same image of a teacher desk, except the one on the right had the background erased with

Follow these steps to get started removing backgrounds of images with

Step 1: Find an image you want. Right click on it and select Copy Image Address.

Step 2: Open a new tab and go to

Step 3: Once on the site, click the URL button. 

Step 4: In the pop up window, paste the Image Address you copied earlier and click OK.

Step 5: Watch as the background magically disappears. Based on the complexity of the image, some background aspects may not completely be erased. If you click the Edit button above the image, you can manually erase anything missed.

Step 6: When the background has been completely erased, all you will see is a gray and white checker pattern behind the image. At this point, right click on the image and select Copy Image.

Step 7: Go to the Slide or Drawing where you want to insert the image, right click and select Paste.

Below you see the image with transparent background from now on my Slide.

This video below demonstrates everything in real time shown in this blog post.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Use Google Tasks to Stay on top of Google Classroom Notifications in Gmail

If you've been using Google Classroom at all, you know how the email notifications you receive when students turn in work late and leave comments can be both useful and aggravating. Focusing on the positive, these email notifications for late work and comments are valuable in helping maintain students' grades as well as providing prompt feedback. 

For teachers, especially now in a distance learning environment, it can be difficult to stay on top of these notifications. Students require prompt feedback more than ever. Feedback on late work and comments about assignments are things needed to be successful. With so many emails flooding our inbox these days, any tip for staying on top of "action item emails" such as late work and student comments is extremely useful.

Within Gmail, after you've opened an email message, at the top toolbar, you'll see a button called Add to Tasks. This button will push that email to Google Tasks located on the right side panel in Gmail. See the image below. 

When you click this button, you'll see the email subject become the title of a task. In addition, you'll see a link below the title of the task that, in one click, brings you back to that email when you are ready to act on it. When you need to find the mail later, you don't need to go fishing in your inbox. Open Tasks on the side panel and click the link on the appropriate task. (You can also add an email to Tasks by dragging it to the side panel.) I like to call these types of emails action items. These are emails that I need to act upon, but want to do it later. See the image below.

If you click the edit button within the task, you can set a time/day reminder. This will put the task on your calendar and you'll receive a notification on your phone. 
As your list of Tasks in the side panel grows longer, be sure to address each task as promptly as possible. When you do, click the little circle button next to each task to "cross it off" your list. There is something quite satisfying in crossing tasks off the list. If you are fortunate to clear your list completely, a little congratulations graphic will appear. 

The "skill" of adding emails to Tasks is something that appears on the Google Certified Level 1 Exam. If you are preparing for it, this is one way to continue to hone your skills. The video below shows you step by step how to do everything above.

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Monday, August 24, 2020

After Hours: Schedule Your Emails


Since this distance learning journey began, we have found ourselves working harder and longer than ever before. Often times, our commitment to student learning has us working late at night during the week and on weekends. Sometimes, we have an idea that we want to communicate ASAP before we forget. These are things I am guilty for sure, and I know I have annoyed some coworkers with emails at odd hours and on weekends. 

To combat this, Gmail has a scheduling feature built right in. The next time you have that great idea or file you want to share after hours or on weekends, schedule the email to be sent at a time within contracted hours. Take a look below on how to do this.

Step 1: Compose your message, but instead of clicking Send, click the little arrow next to Send.


Step 2: When Schedule send appears, click it. 

Step 3: Choose one of the preset times or click Pick date & time to send at an exact date and time of your choosing.

Step 4: Click Schedule send when ready.

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Friday, August 21, 2020

Use a Second Screen to See Your Students While Sharing Screen in Zoom


One of the most common questions I get asked is about how to see my students while sharing my screen on Zoom. It's not the easiest thing in the world to do, but it is possible. To pull this off, you will need a second screen. If you're not sure how to set up a second screen, please contact me and we can discuss options as it depends on your computer and the input/output ports. 

The way I do it is with an old monitor I had in my home office. This monitor has an HDMI input. My laptop is a MacBook Pro. At Walmart, for $30, I found a USB-C to HDMI cable to connect my monitor to my MacBook. Once connected, I adjusted the display settings to extend my screen.

When my students are in my Zoom meeting, I select Gallery View.  I share my screen and choose Desktop 2. When I share the screen, I can see my students in a column. This column can be stretched horizontally on my laptop's screen. This allows me to see the kids on the laptop and share my "lesson" screen on the monitor. 

What you see above is a countdown timer I displayed for students during some work time. On the laptop, I can see all my students while they are working. 

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Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Facilitate Thin Slides within Google Classroom


Thin Slides is a versatile and simple way to get students engaged by listening, speaking, presenting and more. For teachers, you can use it to activate prior knowledge, check for understanding and break up the monotony of a lesson. 

Normally, this is done by creating a slidedeck in Google Slides, setting the permissions to Can Edit and pushing the link out to students via email, Share or Google Classroom. 

Doing it those ways works just fine, but there are some drawbacks. One common drawback is students not staying on their slide, accidentally or purposefully. Below is my idea to facilitate this activity, but avoiding accidental or purposeful errors on the students' parts.

Step 1: Start an assignment in Google Classroom. Click Create and choose Slides. Be sure to put detailed instructions and expectation.

Step 2: Title your slidedeck. Only put one slide.

Step 3: In the assignment, select Make a copy for each student.

Step 4: Open the assignment to view the student submissions.

Step 5: After students have submitted their slides, open the first student's slidedeck when ready to present. Use the arrows to go to next student's slide as you move through the Thin Slides activity.

The GIF below shows what it would look like presenting each student's slide.

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Thursday, August 13, 2020

Chefs Taste Their Food, Teachers Add Themselves as Students in Google Classroom

Great chefs and cooks like to taste their food while they cook. They do this to try to ensure the restaurant patron's culinary experience is the best it possibly can be. Teaching with Google Classroom is no different. To ensure your lesson delivery and student experience is the best it can be, the teacher needs to see the student end of Google Classroom. My advice for doing this is to add yourself as a student in your Google Classrooms. 

You can do this by going to the People Tab and inviting your personal Gmail account as a student. Granted, your school or district's domain must allow for outside the domain accounts to join. If so, your personal Gmail account can allow you to have the student perspective of all of your Google Classrooms.

After doing this, one piece of advice would be to turn off the Google Classroom notifications in your personal account. Every time you assign or post something, from the teacher perspective, your personal Gmail address will be getting a notification. It could get a little annoying. 

Step 1: Go to People Tab and click the Invite button in the Students section

Step 2: Enter your personal Gmail address, select it and click Invite

The personal Gmail address will appear greyed out and it will say "(invited)" until you open the invitation in your personal account and accept the invitation. Upon acceptance, the account will appear the same as any other student enrolled in your Google Classroom.

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Google Tasks and Calendar for Students and Teachers

Distance teaching and learning poses a variety of challenges. One of those challenges is staying on top of the seemingly endless stream of emails.  One way to help stay on top of email action items is to use Google Tasks. 

Google Tasks can be found in the side panel of Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Docs, Slides and Sheets. Tasks allows you to create quick, at-a-glance "to-do's" that can have time-based reminders. If you attach a time-based reminder, this task will also appear on your Calendar. 

An email message in Gmail can be turned into a task in Google Tasks. If you have action items or required work in an email, you can simply add that message to your Google Tasks to help you remember to complete the action. The series of screenshots below shows you how. 

The examples below are for a student. These processes will work the same for teachers. Each time a student gets an assignment or announcement in Google Classroom, an email is generated. Students can take that email, from Classroom, and it to Google Tasks to set a reminder to do the work.

Step 1: Open the email message and click the Add to Tasks button.

Step 2: After clicking the Add to Tasks button, the email message will appear in Google Tasks on the side panel. Click Edit (pencil button) to augment the task

Step 3: After clicking the Edit button, you edit the title, add details below, add a date/time reminder and set it to repeat if you want.

This is what it looks like with added details and a time/date reminder.

Step 4: Make sure Tasks is turned on Google Calendar. This will allow any task with a time/date reminder to appear in your Google Calendar.

This is what it will look like when Tasks is turned on Google Calendar.

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