Thursday, September 26, 2013

Adding Audio and QR Codes to Projects using Google Drive

They are everywhere. They're on purchased products, magazine ads, posters, store signs, and even your morning cereal box. Those pesky black speckled squares! Those mysterious QR codes! But what are they really used for? What do you do with them and why are they so important? They are an easy and quick way to access a web link, file, document, or a million other things online. Wouldn't it be great if you could have your smartphone or tablet scan a QR Code and play your students' voice describing a project? You can! Here is an easy way to have students create an audio file and attach it to a project. This can be a writing sample they made, an art project they created, or a poster they designed. Putting a student's voice on their work helps explain details and gives even more ownership to their work...and it is really easy! Here are 7 easy steps to do this. All you need is an audio recording, Google account, and internet access!

7 steps to Adding Audio to Student Projects

  • Step 1: You will need to get an audio recording of the student describing, reading, or retelling their story/project. This can be done with apps for tablets or a computer program like Audacity or Garage Band. Best output is WAV file (plays better with Google Drive).
  • Step 2: Once you have the recording on a computer, the student will need to upload this audio file to their Google Drive. I suggest creating a folder for Audio Files. 
  • Step 3: Share the audio file. I recommend making the file viewable to anyone with the link.
  • Step 4: Copy the link and paste it into a QR code making site. I use because it is easy and free. This will generate the QR code image. Save this to your desktop.
  • Step 5: Attach this image to your project. You may have to print this out or insert it as an image in your document.
  • Step 7: Sit back and look like a Tech Ninja!

Here is a screencast showing how to do all 7 steps. Watch it and get QR'ing!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Fall Conference Schedule

Here is a PDF and video to help Gull Lake staff edit last year's Conference Schedule to work for this year. All that needs to be done is to change the dates to match this year's calendar. Below is a link to the PDF for full instructions if you need them.

How to Change the Dates:

Step-By-Step "How-To" Set it All Up

Friday, September 20, 2013

Tech Chat Episode 1: Moodle in a 4th Grade Classroom

Here is my first attempt at "Tech Chat". I hope to make a series of short videos showcasing Gull Lake Community Schools teachers showing how they use technology with students in their classrooms. This one is about a fourth grade teacher, Mr. Fuehr, discussing how he uses Moodle to assess students.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Twitter Hashtags Every Teacher Should Know About

Twitter chats are a great way to stay informed of current educational trends. By following the right people and hashtags you can learn great teaching methods, techniques, resources, tools, programs, and almost anything else that relates to the classroom. Most Twitter chats are held weekly at a set time.  They are a good opportunity to chat online with like-minded educators, sharing ideas that work for you, and continue to add/gain from an endless PLC community.  Below is a collection of Twitter chats that are great for all kinds of educators.

These Twitter chats cover anything and everything in education, and represent a great jumping off point for those just getting started in Twitter education chats.

  • #edchat – Talk to a variety of educators around the world through #edchat, Tuesdays at noon and 7 p.m. EST.
  • #lrnchat – Every Thursday night from 8:30-10 p.m. EST, you can connect with other educators and discuss learning.
  • #edbkchat – On Wednesdays at 4 p.m. EST, you can discuss educational books and topics in learning and pedagogy.
  • #spnchat – Find out about successful practices in education and education reform through #spnchat Tuesdays at 9 p.m.
  • #ptchat – Wednesdays at 9 p.m. EST, parents and educators around the world can open the lines of communication on #ptchat.
  • #urbaned – This Twitter chat for educators discusses topics relevant to urban education and beyond, every first and third Sunday of the month at 9 p.m. EST.
  • #teachchat – Connect with other teachers and find out what they’re doing in their classrooms on #teachchat Wednesdays at 9 p.m. EST.
  • #teaching2030 – Discuss big picture education issues, strategies, and reform through the #teaching2030 chat, every third Thursday at 8:30 p.m.
  • #smedu – Wednesdays at noon and 9 p.m. EST social media professionals, students, educators, and more can discuss using social media in education in this chat.
  • #ntchat – New teachers can learn more about their profession with ideas, collaboration, and more for getting starting through #ntchat on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. EST.
  • #educoach – Wednesdays at 10 p.m. EST, you can find instructional coaching for improving education.
  • #gtchat – Fridays at noon and 7 p.m. EST, gifted and talented educators, administrators, parents, and students can discuss new developments in developing gifted and talented programs around the world.
  • #spedchat – Follow this weekly discussion on issues for students and teachers in special education Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m. EST.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Google Voice: An Alternative Number

I am a HUGE fan of Google Voice. I use it in my personal life as well as my teaching life. For those who do not know that this fantastic Google goodie is, let me enlighten you. Google Voice is an add-on already in your Google account that allows you to give out a local phone number that will connect to any existing number you already have. Let's put it this way. You know you have to call parents after school hours or on the weekend. You can call from your home or cell phone, but how many of you think before you dial, "Do I really want this parent to have my home/cell number?" In most cases, this is never an issue, but there is that one time you may regret having given out your personal number. This is where Google Voice is the answer. Once you set up your Google Voice number you have the choice to connect it to any phone you have access to (you can have it associated with multiple numbers). I use my cell number. Then you give this new number out to parents. When they call you have the option in the settings to have it ring to the cell, or just go right to voicemail (this is what I do). But this is even better than just a voicemail. If you the IOS/Android app installed, you get a notification you have voicemail, and you get the voicemail transcribed and played though audio. This is a perfect record of any call from a parent. You can then choose to call the parent back (using the Google Voice number so they still do not have your cell number) and life is good. Personal life separated from work life with the use of a new cell number. Also, if things were to ever get "difficult" you can record and transcribe the actual phone call. I use Google Chrome and there is an extension that lets me know when I have new voicemails and an easy link to view pone call transcripts and texts.

Things you can do with Google Voice:
  • Make calls and not give out personal numbers
  • Text others without giving out personal numbers
  • Record phone calls
  • Have parent voicemail transcribed (keep for records)
  • Download parent voicemails (MP3) if needed
  • Free long distance calling nationwide
  • and MUCH more...

There is so much to Google Voice. I use it daily and have come to rely heavily on it. Give it a shot! Below are some get resources to check out how to set up and use Google Voice!

Here are some links to learn more:

Thursday, September 12, 2013

StrataLogica: A Classroom Map App

I love Google Earth. I really do! I use it so much in my personal life as well as within the classroom. It is a great tool, but it lacks some educational "kick". This is where StrataLogica comes in! It does all the cool things Google Earth does (spin, zoom, etc...), but it does even more. This app goes where Google Maps leaves off. You can tap on locations and get data. You can create points of interetst (like Gogle Earth). You can create maps, access shared maps, and more. Download it and check out what you can do! 

iTunes Description:
Introducing StrataLogica® for the iPad, where the learning is in the layers. Known to countless teachers and students for providing a revolutionary educational experience, StrataLogica comes to life in an exciting new way in version 2.0 of our app. Learning about our world with a tap or pinch of your fingers has never been more engaging and fun! 

The new version brings powerful features for creating content, collaborating and sharing from the desktop experience to the iPad. 
• Use our new tools—marker, symbols, text labels and pushpins—to add your own content onto geography, history and earth science layers. 
• Logged-in users can save and share custom views or presentations with school or district students or colleagues. 
• Logged-in users can share content with anyone in the world via Twitter, Facebook or e-mail. 
• Logged-in teachers can initiate dynamic collaborative projects with students. 
• Licensed users can now access e-book atlases and related student activities. 

More than just a geography reference tool, StrataLogica delivers a one-of-a-kind educational experience. Even if you don’t have a school account for StrataLogica, you can experience a sampling of our interactive layers for free. And coming soon—downloadable content packs. 

Don’t forget to share what you create to the StrataLogica Community! You just might share with someone halfway around the world. 

Bring interactive learning about our world to your iPad—try StrataLogica today. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Poll Everywhere: A Great Way to Quickly Survey Students and Staff

So you are right in the middle of a fantastic lesson. You really want to know where to go next. What do they "want" to learn about? What interests them? How can I get this info and keep them engaged? Pull out a quick Poll Everywhere survey and you are all set! This web site tool allows you to display real time results form your class. All they need is a mobile device (phone, tablet, or computer) and a link form you. They can answer multiple choice or open ended questions. You can even display the results in many ways. This is a fantastic tool to get quick feedback on any type of question you may have for students. There are different levels of accounts from free to paid. For most teachers  the free account is all that is needed. Check out the video below to get a general overview.

Go to and get started! 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Parent Email Lists

This Tech Tip will look into creating parent email lists. At Gull Lake we use GroupWise for our main email. Let’s face it, making, editing, and maintaining email group lists is nothing short of difficult, confusing, and often will not work from the web based version of GroupWise. There is an easy, yet short way to do a work-around. Create these parent email lists outside the GroupWise address book.

Parent Email Lists:

If you are like me, you want to send parents updates, newsletters, and other information easily. Parent email groups are great for this, but setting them up can be very time consuming (especially using GroupWise). In order to create email groups in GroupWise you must: 
  1. Open GroupWise and Address Book 
  2. Create a new group 
  3. Manually enter in all your parent contacts 
  4. Attach new contacts to the list 
  5. …and not be using the “online” version that does not seem to like finding your set up groups (this seems to be hit or miss) 
  6. Then delete these at the end of the year and start all over again 

There is, in my opinion, an easier way to do this. All you need is Microsoft Word or Google Drive and a list of all your contacts. The advantage to using Google Drive is that this list will be available wherever you are by logging into your Apps account. For those using Dropbox, Microsoft Word will work the same way.

Here is what to do:
  1. Ask parents to give you their email address. I use Google Forms for this. 
  2. Open up a word processor program (Word, Google Drive, Pages, etc…). 
  3. Make a listing of all those parent contacts in the document (make sure to put a “,” after each contact). I make the first list all parents, then copy that list and make more for parties, newsletters, etc. I just delete from any parents that don’t need to be on that particular list. 
  4. Create a new email message. 
  5. When you are ready to send it to the list of parents, copy the correct list from your document. 
  6. This is important: paste the copied list into the BC (Blind Copy) box. This is important as it hides parent email information for being viewed by others (privacy Issues).

    Thursday, September 5, 2013

    Education: Just Some Interesting Facts

    Education is always in the public spotlight. There are many misunderstandings out there concerning what is happening in the classroom. While education in America may seem standardized, there are a wide variety of student experiences that happen across the country. The infographic below takes a look at some interesting statistics about education in America. The data is mostly from 2007, but it gives you a good idea of what’s going on in education here in the US. The data and infogragic below is from Katie Lepi:

    Did You Know?

    • The public high school graduation rate is 73.4%
    • 55,394,000: the total number of students enrolled in elementary and secondary schools
    • 3,632,000: the number of elementary and secondary teachers
    • That is 15.25 students per teacher on average nationwide
    • The average expenditure per student is $10, 615
    • $50,816: the average public school teacher salary
    Click on the infographic below to make it larger to read.

    Monday, September 2, 2013

    Google Chrome: Multiple Log Ins

    Ok. I'll say it again. I'm addicted to Chrome! Not the color, the browser. Whew...I'm feeling much better now! But really, who doesn't like Google Chrome? It's fast. It syncs better than any other browser out there. It allows pinning of tabs. The list continues. In this post I will show my favorite trick in Google Chrome: Multiple Log Ins! So...Why have multiple Users/Log Ins? I use Chrome exclusively  but I have a few accounts. I hate logging out of one email to check another account. Chrome has a way to work around this. It allows syncing of multiple accounts into different "browsers". I have 1 for school stuff (Logged in with my Google Apps account) and 1 for personal stuff (logged in with my personal Gmail account). This allows me to keep my life separated  When I click a shortcut to Gmail/Twitter/Google Keep/ect on my personal log in, I see personal email/Tweets/Google Keep/ect. Also, I can have 2 Google Chrome browsers open at the same time so I can do personal AND work tasks at the same time. It also allows different themes for each account. I make sure that all my accounts have very different themes so just by looking at the header I know which account I am in. There is nothing more embarrassing then "tweeting" on the wrong account! The videos below help explain this better. 

    Here is "why" to have multiple log ins/accounts.

    Here is how to set multiple accounts up!

    More information form Google Chrome here:

    Sunday, September 1, 2013

    Google Chrome: Pin Most Used Tabs

    Ok. I'll say it. I'm addicted to Chrome! Not the color, the browser. Whew...I'm feeling much better now! But really, who doesn't like Google Chrome? It's fast. It syncs better than any other browser out there. It allows multiple log ins. The list continues. In this post I will show something that I just learned (thank you @GoogleChrome). My newest love is pinning my favorite tabs. I know, this does not sound too amazingly new, but there is a bonus to this. When you pin a tab in Google Chrome it not only locks it in so every time you turn on the browser it is there, but it also makes it WAY thinner so it takes less room. By pinning the tab, the text next to the icon is removed. Now I can have even MORE tabs open! Google never seems to stop amazing me! 

    So...How does one do this amazing feat?

    1. Open Google Chrome and open the pages you want to pin.
    2. Right click on the tab you want pinned.
    3. Click "Pin Tab".
    4. Done!

    Below is an image of what pinned tabs look like:

    Get more tips from Google Chrome here: