Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Google Calendar: Lesson Planning

I've talked about setting up a Google calendar's Google calendar tip is really easy.  I connect my Google calendar to my school district's calendar so I can see all the events.

Select the plus sign on the Google Calendar you wish to add, then select Yes, add this calendar.

Under More button, choose print. Print the calendar for the work week.

Once I print the calendar I input a brief statement/activity for each class of the week.  It's hard to see here but on Friday there is a field trip so I note the number of students that will be on the field trip and plan my activity according to the other activities at the school.  Since I added the school calendar I can note when there is a major athletic contest that may interfere with several students completing homework.  This is a brief overview before getting to the real plan with precise instructions, standards, and objectives but one more reason for centering my planning around my calendar.

Share how you use Google Calendar in your lesson planning via the comments.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Use Your LMS to Organize Your Year

I posted my reasons for using a learning management system (LMS) for organizing your classroom and delivering content to students in the past. An LMS can be a great organizational tools for teachers to use to organize their year even if there is no intent of having students login to the online classroom.  I believe the LMS is a better way to deliver assignments than posting links to your webpage but having a classroom webpage can be a great start to get all students on the same page.

Today’s tip is about using the LMS to organize you independent of student work. I choose to work with Schoology.  I use Schoology because students can upload content from a number of different resources and it links with Google Drive, YouTube, Khan Academy, etc.  The difference with something like Google Classroom or is proprietary software is designed for sharing their resources and I like a little more variety and control. I can setup my entire classroom, align standards to assignments, and set due dates and see them in a calendar.  Even if I print out PDF pages or never collect an assignment online I’m able to archive the entire course and the next time I teach it add or remove resources. 

See how I have folders for each Unit with a description of what’s in the unit.  

Then if you look inside those units you can see individual resources sometimes links to other websites, sometimes a video, and sometimes a discussion post or assignment.

Have you ever saved something to use later?  Maybe you have not used it for 5 years or maybe something you used every year for the last 10 years is now out of date.  You don’t have to get rid of the file, but you can take it out of your course.  I save things to my Resources if I don’t want to get rid of it but it doesn’t pertain to this course this year.

Use the LMS to organize you! This works for all grades!  Then all you have to do is login to the LMS from any computer to access the content.  No worries about forgetting your flash drive or you forgot to charge your laptop, just login to another computer because the LMS stores everything in the cloud.  

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Presenting and presentations

My tech tip this week is about PechaKucha.  PechaKucha 20x20 is a presentation format that takes 20 images and they automatically advance every 20 seconds while the presenter talks about them.  This is a great way for you as a teacher to present a new topic or for students to give a non-typical presentation. 

It’s not a PowerPoint, it’s not a Prezi.  PowerPoint or Google Slides can be used to create a PechaKucha.
In PowerPoint you can rehearse timings and add narration in the Slide Show ribbon.  Or the presentation can be given live with the slides advancing and the conversation/speech given on the spot.  This is a great way in a speech class to force students to practice what they are going to say because the slide will automatically advance. 
See a sample here:PechaKucha sample

Learn how to auto-advance PowerPoint slides:

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Create a Google Form to track professional and parent contact

Why a form?
By using a form you don't have to remember what information to log and all the information is in one place and easy to access.  This type of information makes sense if you want to track all communication or log time spent on activities all in one place.  If you prefer to log information per student this might make more sense to put in your gradebook.  You can always copy the information from the form responses into your gradebook comments to keep a log AND keep with student records.  I find it easiest to keep all contacts in one place.  Emails are easy to save but you still may want to log emails and reference the save location in case you need documentation.  Either way, it's smart to log your communication somewhere and I found this to be a quick and easy fix.  The initial form takes 20 minutes to make and logging contacts at the time is a breeze.

 Start with a form that allows you to select the type of contact Parent or Professional

Question type choose from a list.
Then you can choose the box go to page based on answer if the form will be different based on the contact type.

I then select the information I want to collect.  I make sure I add a time/date option but the form will be automatically time stamped for the date you fill it out so if you fill it out at the time of the conversation you don’t have to put in a separate time/date.

The results will print to a spreadsheet for you to have a log.

Finally, share your link with yourself on your desktop.  I put it on my webpage.  It could be a resource in Schoology or you can put the link in a Word document and save the document to your desktop for easy access.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Creating Hyperlinks

Often we want to include a hyperlink in a document or email.  This used to be a bit of a process but now we are used to the software recognizing email and website addresses and linking them appropriately.  That occasionally causes issues.  For example:  if I type I expect the software to hyperlink my text.  Within this blog space however, the links are not created automatically.

Sometimes, especially in web-based and Microsoft Office software the link is generated because the software recognizes a specific format.  Sometimes it helps us too much.  Example
 This happens because the link itself still has the . even if it's not part of the text.  This is an easy problem to fix.
In the program with the non-responsive link, highlight the text
right-click, select Hyperlink, Edit Hyperlink
Then edit the link portion.  You should find that there is a section for text people see, and the link that will be visited.  It doesn't matter what the display text says so long as the link is accurate.

Once the link is accurate, hopefully, it will work when you share it. :-)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Snow Day Slump

The art of YouTube.  I use YouTube a lot these days.  I must confess it started as a way to show math concepts to students, often I thought they'd understand it better if someone ELSE explained it. Then I found techniques for taking Praxis tests (what's a Praxix test?).  I used it for students and for me.  I guess I was behind the trend as my students were using YouTube for entertainment.

Today's tip is for the snow day slump.  We aren't getting out and doing much exercise these days, at least I'm not but I created a playlist on YouTube and added 5 10-minute workout videos.  I can do them all at once or if I only have 10 minutes do one of them.  It took some time to find the ones that suited me but now that they are in a playlist I don't have to hunt for videos I just pull up my playlist and workout.

If you have Chromecast or Apple TV and depending on the device you are using you can show the videos on your TV, that's what I do.

For help making a YouTube playlist:

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Making Sense of the PARCC “Tech Prep” Tools (Part 1)


It seems that there are plenty of tools to help you prepare your students for the demands of online testing such as PARCC but what tools should you use and when?  Can any of these tools be implemented into the daily curriculum of your class?  Should these tools be used for teaching computer/tech skills OR should they be used specifically to prepare for THE test?  I try to make sense of this “stuff” for my technology classroom and how to connect with classroom teachers in this post.  I’m not saying I have the answers, I cannot even say how these methods help students prepare or perform on the tests…they haven’t happened yet, but this is how I’m making sense of them.

Recommendation #1 – take the practice test yourself.  Find the grade/subject you teach and take the test closest to your course so you know what is expected and how it works.

                There are two things teachers will notice when taking a practice test. 
  1. Types of questions being asked (what content students need to know)
  2. What technology skills they need to be able to complete a task 

I will focus on technology skills in this post because that’s what I teach.  

Different online tools will be helpful for preparing for the new content assessed and the skills needed to complete.

Click and Drag aka Drag and Drop
                Practice tests ask students to find statements in boxes and click on a box and drag it to another location and drop it.  Some students will want to click on it once to select it but actually you have to click, hold in the mouse button, drag, and then release the mouse when the box is moved to the proper location. For students to practice this skill visit:
This onlinepractice allows students to practice highlighting and inserting text in a sample word processor.
Features that are holiday themed on also allow students to practice
Drag and drop features
Drag to highlight features
In Ohio Infohio resources are available for many schools/districts/communities.  Using and choosing BookFlix Puzzlers will allow students to practice the drag and drop feature and allow students to practice comprehension after reading a story.

Multiple Choice/Dropdown lists
Google Forms: Sample
                       Make your own see video 
Schoology Tests/Quizzes
Join sample course: 3J9FZ-J4R4K
Make assessments see video

Scroll to see entire page
A lot of this will depend on screen resolution.  Have students practice visiting webpages and use the scroll wheel, click on the scroll bar and drag and use the mouse pad such as on a Chromebook. 
It is important that they can click the scroll bar and drag the scroll as well as use the scroll wheel.  I had a student tell me they couldn’t view the entire page because the mouse was broken…the scroll was broken but the mouse still allowed for scrolling.  Students need to be able to do simple trouble-shooting while testing.

Keying Text
Schoology Discussion Posts
Google Forms
Microsoft Word Text Boxes – using text boxes is important because the tests are not traditional word processors, they are boxes and windows.