Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Google Logo Coding Activity

--This week's guest post comes from Laura Smith at SSMSES --

Did you ever notice how Google changes their logo for holidays or just for fun? Recently, my 5th grade students, under the direction of Angie Catalone, completed a Google coding activity where they were able to create their own Google logo. We started by watching a video in the classroom to catch their interest and give them a brief summary of what they were going to be doing. We worked in the computer lab by first signing in and registering which went smoothly. The kids then had to watch short video clips of how to change different features of the Google logo. They did this on their own with headphones. They could create backgrounds, use themes, change the letters to swirl or animate, and many other things. The kids had a lot of fun doing this, and I was surprised how quickly they caught on. They were proud of their work. Each student created something very different and unique. It was a fun activity and I liked how they could work at their own pace. 

-- Laura Smith

If you would like to try the Google logo coding in your classroom click here:

Introduction Video

Save to Google Drive...With the Click of a Button!

The Save to Google Drive extension can be easily installed and used if you want to quickly grab information from a Google Chrome tab on the internet, and don't want to have to copy/paste that information into a new document. 

This little extension takes a screenshot of the current Chrome tab and saves that data in one of the following formats:
  • .png
  • .html (source of the page)
  • .mht (web archive)
  • Google Doc
*It also will allow you to save .pdf files directly to your Google drive.

Installing Save to Google Drive
  1. Open Chrome.
  2. Navigate to the Save to Chrome extension page.
  3. Click ADD TO CHROME.
  4. When prompted click Add Extension.
  5. Allow the installation to complete.
Configuring Save to Google Drive
Right-click the small Google Drive icon to the right of your Chrome address bar and select Options to configure the extension. From the Options page, you can set the following:
  • The Save To location for Google Drive (it will default to the root of your Google Drive)
  • Save As file format (.png, .html, .mht, or Google Doc)
  • Convert saved link to Google editor format

Using Save to Google Drive
Save to Google Drive is simple to use. When you're on a page you want to save, left-click the extension icon and the file will be saved. A popup window will appear, giving you the chance to rename or delete the file.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

November's Tech Badge Spotlight!

If you haven't had a chance to check out this year's Tech Badges, try to take a minute to stop by and check it out!

How to Get Started:
  1. Go to the TechSpot Badging Center.
  2. Select a category: Communication, Google, Assessment, Flipped Learning, Social Media... etc.
  3. Find a badge that you already deserve, or want to earn. If needed, use links to tutorials and/or meet up with a tech coach to learn more
  4. If you haven't already, start using the tool in your classroom
  5. Fill out the badge request form.
  6. Anxiously await the arrival of your digital and print badges
  7. Display them proudly on your door & website.  
  8. Share what you know with others.

Our spotlight badge of the month is the Hour of Code. 

Image result for hour of code picture

The Hour of Code started as a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify "code", to show that anybody can learn the basics, and to broaden participation in the field of computer science.  It has since become a worldwide effort to celebrate computer science, starting with 1-hour coding activities but expanding to all sorts of community efforts.  Check out the tutorials and activities here.  The official Computer Science Education week will be December 4-10, but you can participate in coding anytime!

What Should You Do To Get Started??

  • Go to code.org and click the Sign In box in the top right-hand corner of the screen.
  • Log in with your teacher account or create one if you don't have one.  
  • Create a New Section for your class and sign them up.  (You can delete out any old classes you may have in your account).
  • Print out sign-in cards so students will know how to log in.
If you have any questions or need help, feel free to contact a tech coach for assistance!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Share and Share Alike

Having access to the G-Suite apps within our district is an easy way to increase collaboration and productivity. By using shared folders and/or Team Drives in Google Drive, multiple people can have access to the same files. This can eliminate the need for trying to email documents to each other or worrying about whether you can all access the files from the shared drives on the district network. 

Sharing Folders:

Shared folders are great for grade-level or department teams who use a lot of the same files. Shared folders can also be beneficial if you have a personal Google account and want to be able to access those files from your school account-just share them with yourself!

1. Within Google Drive, click on the folder you want to share.

2. Click Share Add people (found toward the top right corner of your screen).
3. Enter the email addresses of the people you would like to share the folder with.
4. To choose how people can use the folder, click the down arrow Down Arrownext to the pencil, which is to the right of the addresses you've typed. You can set their permissions to "can organize, add, & edit" or "can view only." 
5. Finally, click the blue "Send" button and the people you've shared the folder with will receive an email letting them know. They will be able to find the shared folder here:

Team Drives:

Within a Team Drive, groups can share and store files that they can access from any device. For example, the MTSS team created a shared drive for our most recent presentation in Gettysburg, and it made it easy to collaborate even though we all work in different buildings. Fox and BV each have a team drive where we have folders to share photos and more. Again, this could be beneficial for grade-level and department teams, clubs, and tutors or other support staff.

Creating a team drive is easy, and once you have it created, you can add members, and add and organize folders/files. Check out the quick tutorial below!

If you have had success using shared folders or Team Drives, let us know in the comments below!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Tag, You're It!

This week's post comes from guest blogger, Jenn Ingram. Jenn is the 3rd grade teacher at BV Elementary and presented on her topic at our most recent in-service. She is currently using Class Tag in her classroom and has some great thoughts to share with you on this new communication tool for teachers. 

Tag, you're it!

With so many parents and students connected to their devices, it only makes sense for teacher communication to be transitioning into an online environment as well. ClassTag is an online platform designed for teachers to engage parents in their classroom community. Gone are the days of paper newsletters! ClassTag provides teachers with a social media outlet to share announcements and photos in a secured, online environment. With ClassTag, teachers are presented with a two-way, mobile friendly, transparent communication tool to send messages, seek volunteers, plan events, and track goals. 

Navigating ClassTag is as easy as navigating Facebook. To begin, visit classtag.com to set up your free classroom environment and enter your classroom roster. Each parent will be provided with their own unique code to enter your classroom community. If a child comes from a multiple-parent family, all caregivers can be easily added so that everyone is receiving identical communication. Parents then have the option of choosing to receive their ClassTag updates via email, text, or the ClassTag app. ClassTag also provides options on their website to print information for families without digital capabilities, and to translate your communication for ESL families. As you set up your classroom, ClassTag will provide you with automatic tutorials to walk you through the process on your class page.

Once connected, teachers post to a generic ClassTag 'wall,' just as they would in a Facebook environment. Events can be added to a classroom calendar, and automatic reminders will be sent as the activities approach. Photos can be uploaded directly from your phone, eliminating the hassle of uploading from a camera. Volunteer and to-do requests can be viewed and coordinated. Automated newsletters will be sent, summarizing the events of the week. One-on-one and group messaging options are available for easy contact between parents and teachers. Teachers with the app receive push notifications that immediately notify them that a parent has reached out with a question or concern without the need of checking their email. Parent teacher communication has never been quicker or easier! 

For more information on how to get started, check out the link below! Happy tagging!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

October Tech Badging Spotlight

Again, this year, one of our goals is to transition from a TechPoints system to a TechBadging system. The idea is to have our district's amazing teachers share their tech talents with others. Here is a quick reminder of how the new system works:

How to get started: 
  1. Go to the TechSpot Badging Center.
  2. Select a category: Communication, Google, Assessment, Flipped Learning, Social Media... etc.
  3. Find a badge that you already deserve, or want to earn. If needed, use links to tutorials and/or meet up with a teach coach to learn more
  4. If you haven't already, start using the tool in your classroom
  5. Fill out the badge request form.
  6. Anxiously await the arrival of your digital and print badges
  7. Display them proudly on your door & website.  
  8. Share what you know with others.

Our spotlight badge of the month is the assessment tool Quizlet. 

Teachers can use Quizlet to provide differentiated practice for students both in and out of class by creating study sets and pushing out links to the study sets on your website or Google Classroom. With the same study set, teachers can combine technology with collaboration, teamwork and perseverance in class with Quizlet Live. This formative assessment gives teachers the data they need to effectively plan future lessons based on the needs of students.

Check out the Quizlet quickstart guide here and our original post on Quizlet Live here.

If Quizlet is a tool you already use often or now feel comfortable with, follow the steps above to get your Tech Badge and share your expertise with others!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

New Updates with iOS 11

Get the most out of the Apple devices in your classroom! Our district now has numerous iPads and iPods available for classroom use, especially at the elementary level. Now, our job as teachers is to put the devices in the hands of the students and help maximize their learning! iPad usage will be maximized when we can have students using their devices for production more often than consumption.

Apple recently rolled out an update to their operating system with iOS 11 and with it came some great new features that can be used in the classroom. Here are 4 new features that you and your students may find useful, as well as some other changes you may notice.

1. Scan QR Codes with the Camera App:

There are many QR code reader apps available for download, but now there’s no need to worry about finding one or whether it will work when you need it to. With the new iOS 11 update, the camera app will act as a QR code reader. All students need to do is open the camera app and point the camera at the QR code. The camera app will scan the code and provide a notification to access the content.

2. Record Your iPad Screen

This is a quick and easy way to have students document their learning on an iPad. We have a wide range of apps available that students can use to explain, analyze, describe, and/or draw what they are learning. Now they can also use the record feature to record their screen and voice too. Recorded videos will be saved right to the Photo app and can then be shared! This is also a great feature for those teachers who are incorporating flipped learning into the classroom. If you need help adding the record feature to the control panel, check out the video below!

3. Annotate screenshots

If a student is working in an app and has completed something to share with the teacher, he/she can take a screenshot and annotate over the image. A screenshot can be taken by pressing the home button and the power button simultaneously. Then when students click on the screenshot, which appears in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen, a menu pops up with writing/drawing tools. Students can mark-up the image and then share with the teacher, including through Google Drive.

4. Scan Documents and Annotate

With iOS 11, you and your students can now scan documents with the built in Notes app and can then use the markup feature to annotate over what’s been scanned. Worksheets, graphic organizers, and other documents can be scanned by students using the iPad and then they can annotate over the document to complete their work. The scanned documents can be shared with other apps and with the teacher, which would be a great fit for those using Google Classroom in conjunction with the iPads!

Additional changes you may notice with iOS 11 include a floating dock for frequently used apps, augmented reality capabilities (with recently released apps), ability to use a split screen, and drag & drop for pictures, text, and links.

Check out this 4 minute video to see some of these new features in action:

If you need any help accessing these new features, please ask! Have you noticed anything new with iOS 11 that you really like or something you don't? Leave a comment and let us know!