Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Hands-on with iPads and OSMO

At the elementary level, iPads are plentiful and one innovative way to utilize these devices in your classroom is with OSMO

If you have not had a chance to try OSMO in your classroom, I highly recommend it! This tech tool uses digital apps and hands-on pieces that students can manipulate. The iPad rests in the OSMO base and the red reflector that attaches to the iPad reflects the movement of the pieces into the camera so the app can respond accordingly. Here is a quick overview of the apps already installed on the iPads and OSMO kits we have available in the elementary buildings:

Newton-Physics, creativity, and problem-solving-students work to manipulate falling on-screen balls onto various targets. The more students succeed, the harder it gets! 

Masterpiece-Art-students can use their device to help them draw pictures of their choice. The app helps keep proportions and perspective correct, so any student can be an artist!

Words-Spelling and Vocabulary, which can be connected to any subject area-Students guess and spell the word corresponding to the on-screen image. Great for color words, sight words, geography, and more!

Tangram-problem-solving and spatial reasoning skills-Classic tangram puzzles where the students arrange the 7 tangram pieces to match the on-screen shapes. Puzzles range from easy to hard and are perfect for students of all ages.

Monster-art and creativity-This app brings students creations to life. They will see what they've drawn on the screen and it will become an animated part of the monster's activities! The students can't get enough of this one!

Numbers-Math-This app is a great way for younger students to practice subitizing and for older students to practice their facts and composing and decomposing numbers. Students use either the dot or digit tiles to build numbers. Students gain confidence and flexibility in working with numbers.

Pizza Co.-Math-Students run their own pizza shop and get lots of practice working with money, addition, subtraction, and fraction skills. Students do not need reading skills in this game and it can be adjusted to meet their ability levels.

Coding with Awbie-Coding, logic, and problem-solving-Students are introduced to coding using physical blocks. Again, students do not need reading skills so this is great for K-5.

Note: Newton and Masterpiece only require the iPad app and the base. All other games also need the kits, which we have in each of the elementary buildings.

Image result for osmo

Teachers can set-up a free OSMO account and keep track of what activities students complete. Through this account, teachers can also download custom word lists for the Words app, access lesson plans for OSMO activities, and see how other teachers are implementing OSMO in the teacher forum. 

OSMO is definitely an engaging tech tool that students love and is perfect for small groups, centers, and independent work. If you need some help getting started, please let one of us know or if this is a tool you're already rocking the the classroom, be on the lookout for the OSMO badge-coming soon!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Everyone Loves a Shortcut!

Last month, the blog featured some great tips for using the Chrome browser. This week's post will focus on some specific tips and shortcuts you can use with Gmail and Google Docs and stems from a personal experience from last week! 

I had just finished typing a school-wide email and, as I was proofreading it, found an error I needed to fix. I have no idea what I hit, but my entire text of my email disappeared. Of course it was saving my draft as I was typing, but what was saved was now a nice, blank email. I was super frustrated and couldn't even remember exactly what I had typed to try to redo it. Unlike typing in Google Docs, there was no "undo" button in my compose email window, however, I found a keyboard shortcut to undo my last action, which brought back my email text!

We have a toolbar in our compose window that has a lot of features most people use, like changing the font or adding a bulleted list. There are additional keyboard shortcuts that can be accessed by turning them on in the settings menu.

To turn on Gmail's keyboard shortcuts in your account:
  1. Click the Settings gear icon (⚙) near your Gmail's top right corner.
  2. Select Settings from the menu that appears.
  3. Go to the General tab.
  4. Make sure Keyboard shortcuts on is selected under Keyboard shortcuts:.
  5. Click Save Changes (if you did make any).

To see the entire list of shortcuts available, when you have Gmail open, hold SHIFT and press ?. 

I did find that I was able to undo my last action and recover the text I had typed in the email I referenced above by pressing CTRL and z. I did not have keyboard shortcuts enabled in my settings menu and this still worked, just FYI.

Google Docs:

There are also a lot of menu options in Google Docs. If you need to search these menus for a particular feature, you can use the ALT and z shortcut to pull up the search bar.

Here are a few commonly used shortcuts (similar to what you may have used in other word processing programs):

Copy- CTRL and c
Cut- CTRL and x
Paste- CTRL and v
Undo- CTRL and z
Print- CTRL and p

To pull up the entire list of shortcuts in Google Docs, press CTRL and /.  Note: You can also press CTRL and / while you are in Google Drive to see the full list of shortcuts that work with Google Drive!

Are there any shortcuts that you use often or would like to see? Let us know in the comments below!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Google Classroom Assignment Preview

This week's post is for the Google Classroom teachers who "Create assignments".

Especially those teachers who "Make a copy for each student". 
The teachers who assign work, by making a copy for each student do so in order to become part of the learning process & journeyThey aren't as interested in only seeing the final product.  Feedback during the creation process is invaluable.  Students have the opportunity to act on the feedback before the graded evaluation.  Feedback prompts change, then in turn, prompts learning. 


(If you know what type of doc you are asking from your students, 
(doc, slides, sheet, drawing, etc)  
Consider at least making a blank template copy for each student.  
You will be able to see everything from the moment they begin work.)

Watching your students work in real-time changes the way we teach, but it can be discouraging waiting for each page to load to see their progress.  This delay may cause us not to "check-in" as often as we would like. 

As my 7th graders were working this week I came across this guy: the assignment folder.

This folder will take you to the assignments in Google Drive.  The difference between viewing assignments in Google Drive versus Google Classroom is the option to Preview when you right click.

Assignments can be previewed much more quickly than fully opening the page.  
You can hit the arrow to scroll through all of your student's assignments in less than a minute.
Open & load only the assignments for which you want to make comments.  Saving you time.


Preview is a time-saving option for checking in on your students periodically during a project.  By doing periodic reviews, you will certainly spread out the workload on your end making it less time consuming after the final due date. 

Please share your questions, concerns and experiences below! 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Top 10 Chrome Tips for Teachers & Staff

Trim your tree this year with these tips for using your Google Chrome Internet browser.

With Gmail and Google Drive, along with the thousands of websites we use every day, we are constantly using an Internet browser to research, communicate and interact with technology.  It comes as no surprise that Google Chrome is my browser of choice, and today's post is here to enhance your daily web surfing experience.

#1 Search Google Drive & YouTube right from your address bar!

If you are looking for a particular file or folder in your Google Drive, simply type "drive" into the address bar (or omnibox) and hit TAB.  It will automatically prompt you to search within your Google Drive. Then, type the name of the file you are looking for and you will be automatically directed to your results!  

If that frosts your nose, try it with YouTube!    youtube + TAB

The TAB search feature can be setup with any website that has a search bar.   Make an appt to set up other searchable sites.

#2 Duplicate a Tab

Say you are researching on the Internet and you click on one of your search results. Now you want to keep that tab open, but also be able to go back to your original search.  Right click the tab and then select DUPLICATE TAB.  Now you can keep one search result open while going back in another tab to see the original list of results. 

#3 Reopen a Closed Tab

This one is so good I had to mention it again this year!  Ctl + Shift + T  will open up the last tab that you closed.  Great for when you close something by accident, or if you want to see what game your student was just playing instead of doing his lab report!

#4 Guest Window / Incognito Mode

I can't stress this one enough.  If someone is logging into their account on your device, have them use a Guest Window or Incognito Mode.  This will keep from account confusion later on with Mail, Drive, Docs & more. 

Incognito Mode - Ctrl + Shift + N  
(This is also a great way to test links that you plan on publishing for your students or colleagues.)

Guest mode can be found under your profile name next to the minimize button in the upper right.   (If you don't see your name, please click the person and sign-in to Chrome)  

#5 Arrange Your Icons

If you use your "waffle" to find icons for your Google Tools, you may want to consider reordering them to meet your needs.   Simply click on the icon you want to relocate and drag it to a new location in the menu.
Image result for google waffle

#6 Create Your Own Desktop Shortcuts

Throughout the years we have found that teachers love nothing more than a good icon to click on their desktop that will take them exactly where they want to go.  Now with a click and drag you can make your own! 

  1. First change your browser window so that it does not take up the whole screen. 
  2. Go to the exact page on the Internet for which you want a shortcut (Flextime, PowerSchool, SAMS, etc)
  3. Highlight the entire web address
  4. Click and drag it onto your desktop. 
  5. Voila! - Shortcut!

#7 Bookmark Your Favorite Sites By Dragging

Desktop Icons are convenient, but if you are already in your browser, it can be cumbersome to minimize everything to access your desktop.  (And for me, that is a lot of programs to close to find the top of my desk. Same is true for my physical desk these days!)  

Bookmarks can be made the same way as icons, simply drag them to your bookmark bar.   Don't see your book mark bar? Try Ctrl + Shift + B to show/hide your bookmarks. 

Already have bookmarks ?   Want to clean it up ?  
Right Click > Edit 
Here you can shorten or remove bookmark names all together for more space!

Image result for keyboard ninja#8 Flip Through Tabs Without the Mouse

This one is for my keyboard ninjas out there! 

Ctrl + 1, 2, 3...  Will give you the first, second, third tab in your browser. 

Ctrl + TAB will flip through your tabs in order until you find the one that you want. 

#9 Find What You Are Looking For.... Faster

This next tip can help you find what you are looking for in Chrome & elsewhere.  Ctrl+F will give you a "find" search box in the upper right.  Say you are looking for the part of this post about icons. Type "icons" into the box and hit Enter.  It will let you know where your text is matched throughout the page. 

#10 For The Last Minute Online-Shopper

I found this gem while Cyber Monday shopping this year.   When searching for bargains, or lesson resources ;-), hit Alt + → or Alt + to go back and forward.  Smart shoppers (& teachers!), shop around allowing this key can save you time. 

What are your favorite tips for using Google Chrome?  
Share below!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017