Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Engage Students with Google Slides Q&A

If you’re looking for a way to actively engage your students in the classroom, try utilizing the Google Slides Q&A feature.
Last year, Google announced a new feature for Google Slides, Slides Q&A.  The feature allows for more interaction, as well as real-time feedback, and is fabulous for both classroom and professional development use. By simply submitting questions from any device, students can now be more engaged and directly involved in lessons.

Getting Started

To get started with Google Slides Q&A:
Click here to download poster.
  1. Open your Google Slide lesson. (If you don’t have one and want to try it out, open this Memorial Day Lesson.)
  2. Click the drop down arrow next to “Present.”
  3. Select “Presenter View.” A new Presenter View information box will appear.
  4. Make sure that you are under the “Audience Tools” tab and press “Start New.”
Note that a banner that contains a link is automatically generated at the top of your slides. Students can now go to that link to ask questions as you go through the day’s lesson.
Furthermore, students can also vote on the questions asked if they have the same question or feel like it was a good question to ask. In addition, if your students are logged in with their Google account, their name will appear next to their question.
As questions are asked, they will be sent in real time to the information box that appears. Most noteworthy, you have the option to present the questions on the screen by clicking on the “Present” button. This is perfect for doing whole-class review.

Classroom Implications of Slides Q&A

As a result of using Google Slides Q&A in the classroom, there are several vital implications for you and your students.
  1. Students are more engaged because they can actively participate in the lesson.
  2. Students who don’t want to speak up in class now have a place to ask questions.
  3. Teachers can see which questions students have that are similar by having students vote on questions they want answered.
  4. Students can ask questions immediately as the lesson is being delivered.
  5. Teachers are able to address questions immediately while going through the lesson.
Slides Q&A is such an easy feature to use with so many benefits. If you haven’t tried it in your classroom, I challenge you to do so. It’s a great way to get your students actively engaged!
This blog was originally posted at the TCEA Blog, http://tcea.org/blog.

Friday, April 28, 2017

10 Chrome-ifying Tips and Tricks

Are you an avid user of the Google Chrome browser? Did you know that Chrome is full of shortcuts and hidden functions that can save you time? I’ve compiled my favorite tips and tricks that will help you work faster and do more with your favorite web browser. All you have to do is carve out a few minutes and learn how to take advantage of them.

Save Web Pages as PDFs

Chrome Tips and Tricks Infographic
         Click on image to download infographic.
Google Chrome has a built-in PDF writer. Open any web page, press Ctrl+P on Windows (or Cmd+P on your Mac) and choose “Save as PDF” from the list of available printers in order to download that page as a PDF file. No extensions required.

Make Favicons Your Bookmarks

In Chrome, there is another way to get quick access to your favorite websites by creating a favicon of the website instead of whole URL text. To do this, first click on “Settings” (the vertical dots icon in the upper right-hand corner), select “Bookmarks,” and then select “Show bookmarks bar.” Next, bookmark a site by clicking on the Star in the omnibox (address box). Then right-click on the bookmark and delete the text in the name box, leaving only the favicon.

Pin Tabs

In Chrome, there is an option to pin a tab that can minimize the tab to display only the icon. When you have a number of tabs opened, this feature is very useful, as it will display the icons, leaving more space for multitasking. This option also avoids tabs lost on the side of the screen when you have numerous tabs open at one time. To pin a tab, right click on the tab, and select “Pin tab.”

Open Recently-Closed Tabs

You can open any recent tab that has been closed by mistake. To do this, press Ctrl + Shift + T. You can also reopen it by right-clicking on the title bar and selecting “Reopen closed tab.”

Go into Incognito Mode (Secret Mode)

For private browsing, you can enable incognito (secret) mode, where Chrome will not keep your browsing or download history. You can enable secret mode by pressing Ctrl + Shift + N, or by clicking on “Settings” and selecting “New incognito Window.” Using incognito mode is great for reserving hotels, booking flights, or shopping. This way, your email is not later plagued by spam or ads.

Navigate Between Tabs Quickly

You can navigate between open tabs very quickly by using some shortcut keys. Use Ctrl+Tab to navigate tabs one by one, Press Ctrl-1 to go to the first tab, Press Ctrl-2 to go to the second tab, and so on. You can also switch to the last tab by pressing Ctrl-9.

Open Multiple Pages on Start Up

You can control what page or pages appear when you launch Chrome on your computer. Rather than opening your browser with just one homepage, Chrome gives you an option to open several pages as it starts up, providing instant access to the different websites and services you prefer to start your day with. To set your startup pages, select “Settings” and then scroll to “Settings.” Under the On Startup section, select “Set pages” and enter the URLs of your preferred start-up pages.

Solve Mathematical Problems, Equations, and More 

The omnibox (the address bar in Chrome) can solve mathematical calculations. It can even solve questions such as “How many cups in 4 liters?” Try to add or multiply any math calculation in the omnibox without pressing the enter. For example, try typing, 60 x 90 and see what appears.

Play Media Files in Google Chrome

Did you know that you can play a wide variety of movie and music files (.avi, .mov, .mp4, .mp3, .mkv, .ogv, .ogm,.webm, .wav etc) using Google Chrome? Simply drag your file into the search bar and enjoy listening or watching it play. Chrome can even be used to view images and open Microsoft Office files and PDF files as well.

Bookmark All Tabs

If you have several tabs open and want to bookmark them all at once, all you have to do is right-click on one of the tabs and scroll to “Bookmark all tabs.” A bookmark popup dialog box will appear asking you where you want to save your bookmarks.
This blog was originally published at http://www.tcea.org/blog.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Easily Analyzing Student Data with Google Explore

Teachers are responsible for monitoring student learning on a regular basis. One way to do this is by analyzing student data, and if you have that data in Google Sheets, you’ll really appreciate how Google Explore makes it so much easier to connect you to your students and their learning.

What Is Google Explore?

Google Explore is a built-in application interface that monitors what you type and responds with related, on-the-fly content. It was introduced in the fall of 2016 and is available for not only Google Sheets, but for Google Docs and Slides as well. You can also find it on Android and now on iOS, too. Think of it as another set of hands (and eyes!) to help you examine student data to better ensure mastery.
Explore in Sheets helps you decipher your data easily, whether you’re new to spreadsheets or are a pro with them. Just ask Explore and get answers about your data. You can ask questions like “Which person has the top score?” This equates to less time spent crunching numbers and more time finding key insights and using them to help your students.

How to Get Answers About Your Data

As you examine how to use Google Explore, use this Example Grade Sheet I created that contains some simple data.
To use Google Explore:
  1.  Open a spreadsheet in Google Sheets.explore_icon
  2. In the bottom right, click the green Explore icon.
  3. Under “Answers,” type your question in the box and press the Enter key. Try asking some of these questions:
    • Which student has the top score on Test 1?” (Note: You must use the fields that exist in your spreadsheet. For example “student” and “test 1”)
    • Which five students have the lowest score on Test 1?
    • What is the average of Assignment 1?
  4.  Google will give you some suggestions to explore as well. To see the suggestions, click on the suggestions under the text box.

See Automatic Chartsexplore_chart

To see automatic charts about your data:
  1. Open the Example Grade Sheet, if you don’t already have it open.
  2. In the bottom right, click Explore and scroll down.
  3. Charts and an analysis will appear showing trends and patterns from the data in your spreadsheet. Hover over a chart to see which data in the spreadsheet is being used in that chart.
  4. The charts can easily be inserted into your sheet by clicking on the insert chart icon or by clicking on the chart and dragging it into your sheet.
  5. Once a chart is added into your spreadsheet, you can use the Advanced edit option from the drop-down menu in the top right of the chart to further edit the chart.

View Even More Analyses

To see more information about a specific portion of your data, try the following:
  1. Open the Example Grade Sheet, if you don’t already have it open.
  2. In the bottom right, click Explore.
  3. Highlight column E and see what happens.
  4. Try highlighting different sets of data as well.

Depend on Google Explore

The next time you need to analyze student data, don’t forget about Google Explore. It’s incredibly helpful, easy-to-use, and will become a tool you can depend upon.
This blog was originally published at http://www.tcea.org/blog

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Transform your Classroom into a Game Show

The ever popular TV game show Jeopardy can provide an enjoyable way of reviewing content with students. At a recent Google workshop, I divided participants into teams and we played the game. Immediately, the participants’ eyes lit up and everyone was actively learning together.
I created the Jeopardy game using Flippity. Flippity is a great service that offers a handful of templates for creating interactive games that you can use in the classroom. There are 11 tools that you can select from:
  • Flashcards
  • Quiz Show
  • Bingo
  • Hangman
  • Spelling Words
  • Random Picker
  • Mix and Match
  • Badge Tracker
  • Progress Indicator
  • MadLibs
  • Certificate Quiz
Each tool has a link to a demo page, so you can see it in action, and a link to the step-by-step instructions for the tool. In addition, each tool also has a Google Sheets template that you can make a copy of and then fill in with your own information.

Steps for Making Your Own Game Show

If you want to make your own Jeopardy quiz show, follow the steps below:
Step 1: Modify the Google Spreadsheet Template
• Make a copy of this template. (You’ll need to sign-in with your Google account.)
• Edit all the Quiz Show Questions (and answers and categories) to fit your content.
• Do not edit any cell with a blue background and don’t delete rows or columns.
Step 2: Publish Your Spreadsheet
• Go to File, Publish to the Web, and then click Publish.
Step 3: Get Your Flippity Link
• Click on the Get the Link Here tab of the template (at the bottom).
• Click on the Flippity.net link to test out your game.
Step 4: Bookmark, Share, and Play
• Make a shortcut or bookmark to get back to the game whenever you want to play.
• Share the game with your colleagues and have them try it out.
• Play the game with your students.

Flippity Add-On

This past November, the Flippity Add-on for Google Sheets became available. Now it is easier than ever to create games. With this add-on, even your students can create review games with Flippity.
To get the Flippity Add-On:
1. Open a new Google Sheet and click on the “Add-ons” menu.
2. Search for “Flippity” and click on the blue “Free” button to install the add-on.
3. Allow the add-on to connect to your Google account.
4. Go back to the Add-ons menu and click on Flippity–>Pick a Template.
5. After you select your template, your Google sheet is reformatted and you are ready to enter your data.
pick a template_border


Flippity can be a great learning tool for students. I think it is a powerful and fun way for them to review content at home, too. The fact that they can use the review games on their phones and/or tablets makes Flippity even more appealing. Turn your classroom into a game show by giving it a try or by having your students give it a try! It’s certainly a fun way to prepare your students.
Please share your creations in the comments below.
This blog was originally published at http://www.tcea.org/blog.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Quick, Draw! with Google

At the recent TCEA Convention and Exposition, I learned about an experiment from Google called Quick, Draw!. Quick, Draw!, which launched last November, is a game built with machine learning. Players are prompted to sketch an object on a 20-second clock using the mouse or touchscreen. While the player doodles, the neural network throws out its best guesses of the subject, stopping mid-sketch if it guesses correctly.

How Quick, Draw Works

I gave it a try on my laptop and my iPhone. However, I have to admit, I’m not very good at it. My first time playing on the laptop, I only got two out of six. My iPhone try went a bit better, but that’s probably because the objects were fairly simple.
An interesting feature of Quick, Draw! is the insight players can gain about how the network works. After you complete a game, just select one of the drawings and you’ll see two sets of results. Let’s use my pathetic attempt at a bee as an example (try not to laugh). First, you see what kind of object the computer thought you were going to draw.
Scroll down and you’ll see the images that  the neural network thinks a bee looks like.
what does a bee look like
Give it a try and see how many of your doodles can be recognized.

Classroom Uses of Quick, Draw!

So, I asked myself, how can this be used in the classroom? I was quickly reminded of the Quick Draw strategy, where students are asked to respond to a piece of text (literary or expository) through illustrations. Students are encouraged to quickly draw as many simple sketches as possible. The notion is for students to capture as many details as they can during the time period.
I can easily see Quick, Draw! being used with English Language Learners, especially those who are at the low-beginning to mid-beginning levels in writing English as their second language.
Some ideas for classroom application include:
  • Have students summarize one of their illustrations, describing what they just drew through a voluntary share aloud or a Timed RoundRobin.
  • Ask students to screen capture one of their images and write a story about it.
  • Have students listen to the words the computer is guessing to see how many they recognize.
  • For images that weren’t recognized, have students identify and define the images the machine thought they were drawing.
  •  During whole-class sharing, allow students to speak about one of their illustrations that couldn’t be guessed and have the entire class share details of how they would have drawn the image.
  • Allow the students to explain some of their illustrations that might have special connections in their lives.
  • Let students make predictions or inferences about their illustrations.

In Conclusion

Quick, Draw! by Google is a fun and quick way for students to learn. Share in the comments how you are incorporating drawing in your classroom.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Researching and Sharing with Google Tools

“How do you activate engagement, motivation, and interest with research tools?” Researching and sharing meaningful findings can be daunting for students. That’s why two tools, Google Scholar and Tour Builder, can be used to create a virtual tour of student learning.
During a recent TCEA Google Educator Level 2 Bootcamp, participants learned ways they can use some lesser-known aspects of Google’s suite of tools available to students to enhance engagement. “If students are not paying attention, they are not engaged; and, hence, they are not learning” (Pat Wolfe, as cited in Digital Media in Today’s Classrooms). If students are not engaged, they simply report facts and information without real meaning (Source). Google tools like Scholar and Tour Builder make learning more engaging for students of varying ages.
Teachers say a top priority in today’s classrooms should be teaching students how to “judge the quality of online information.” A significant portion of the teachers surveyed report spending class time discussing with students how search engines work, how to assess the reliability of the information they find online, and how to improve their search skills. (Excerpt from Pew Research study How Teens Do Research in the Digital World)

Tool #1 – Google Scholar

Not familiar with Google Scholar? Scholar can be a boon to high school students keen on researching a topic. It provides one virtual space where they can find scholarly literature and locate documents through the library or via the web. Furthermore, publications, authors, references, and citations can be searched and accessed. Google Scholar boasts a detailed set of support documents for learners.

Sample Search: Immigration Reform

One potential big question an educator might pose is: “How have immigration policies changed from the 1950s to present?” With Google Scholar, students can do a simple search on immigration reform and then work through the results to develop a portrait. They can also focus results through a range of years:
Scholar offers students access to high quality research, a level above a traditional Google search. Combine this approach with an information problem-solving approach (e.g. Big6, Super 3) or Guided Inquiry Design (shown below).

Tool #2 – Google Tour Builder

Students can interact with research data in a different way. They can learn to situate research within a geo-spatial context. Tour Builder enables students to create a virtual tour of their research data, adding photos, text, and video as needed. This map-based approach enables students to organize their research according to location and impact, which is appropriate for a topic like African immigration in colonial America. They can combine research, life stories, images, and video to make a compelling case for their research thesis.


As you can see, Google Scholar and Google Tour Builder together can provide access to sources and offer a way to create interactional research conclusions. The next time you consider creating a research assignment, move beyond more traditional approaches.