Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Tech Chat Episode 3: QR Codes

Here is the third episode of "Tech Chat". This will be 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 our Spanish teacher, Mrs. French, showing how she uses QR Codes to reinforce Spanish vocabulary.

Check it out!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Text and Voice Comments in Google Drive

One of the best attributes of Google Drive is the collaboration that can take place. Sharing and editing of work makes student work even better. This allows new editors to help the author. Within documents in Google Drive there is a great tool for commenting. When allowed, readers (or teachers) can send the author comments about the piece of writing. This can be a note of encouragement, suggestions for improvement, or general comments. From a teacher stand point  this is where we would grab the red pen and scribe to the student on their printed paper. Now, the student sees the comments and can edit/change the actual publication to improve it. This is easy to do with the built in comments feature, but there is also an add-on that kicks it up a notch. Now voice comments can be added. What does this mean? Instead of just typing text in for comments, teachers (or collaborators) can leave voice messages attached to sections of the document! This is incredibly easy and very productive. Check out my video and Google Presentation below and give it a shot!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Google Hangout: Make Phone Calls with Your iPad

I love Google Hangout. It is a great tool to communicate with others whether 1-on-1 or whole class/group. It is Apple's Facetime with more options. Now, with the latest iPad app update there is a new option that is, well, fun and convenient! If you open the Hangout app on your iPad you are now able to make phone calls though your iPad! If you are a current Google Voice subscriber, Hangout uses your Voice number as the caller ID. No fear for those not subscribed to Google Voice. Your caller ID will come up on the receivers phone as "unknown". This is just another great Google tool. Head to the iTunes Store and download the Google Hangout app and give it a shot! 

Below is the Google write up from the Google Voice Blog for more information:

Call a phone from Hangouts

You can place calls to landline and mobile phones from Hangouts in Gmail, Google+, and the Chrome extension. Calls made to the US and Canada are free and other calls can be made at our low rates.
Here’s how to place a call:
  1. If you’re using the Hangouts Chrome extension or Hangouts in Google+, click menu  at the top of your Hangouts list and select Call a phone. In Gmail simply click the phone button  at the top right of the search box.
  2. To find a contact’s phone number, simply type the person’s name or phone number into the search box or scroll through your Hangouts list. If you’re placing an international call, you can select the applicable country code by clicking the flag drop down or by typing it directly into the search box (i.e. +55 for Brazil).
  3. When you’ve found the person you wish to call, simply click on their phone number.
  4. An audio-only Hangout window will open and Hangouts will dial the phone number you selected.
  5. Dial an extension: If you are calling a phone number that has an extension, click the dial pad button, and use the dial pad that appears to enter the extension.
When you’ve finished the call, simply click Hang up or close the Hangout window.

Caller ID for calls placed with Call Phones

The Caller ID display for calls placed through Call Phones will show as "unknown" and cannot be used to receive phone calls. Of course, if you are using Call Phones with a full Google Voice account (US only), your Google Voice number will display when you place calls.

Your Hangouts list

If you’re in someone’s Google+ circles and the person has chosen to make his or her phone number visible, it will appear in your Hangouts list. The person will also appear if you’ve saved his or her contact information in Google Contacts.

For More Google Hangout Help & Tips Go To:

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Quizlet: A Great Student and Teacher Vocabulary Tool

Quizlet is an online tool designed to study key vocabulary terms and other concepts. It allows teachers to create flash cards and have students practice online. Teachers can make their own, or choose from millions of flash cards sets created by others. But that's just the beginning - once you've got flashcards, you can use several study modes including multiple choice tests and study games. You can add images and listen to audio, and even study on the go with Quizlet mobile apps. This is a great tool for classroom quiz/test preparation.

What are the benefits of Quizlet?

For Teachers: This is a very easy site to upload terms and create study tools. It is free and offers many great tools to make studying vocabulary fun. There are millions of already made vocabulary flash card decks already made and ready to share. Often times the perfect card deck is already created and ready to go! All a teacher needs to do is create a list of terms and definitions. If these are already created in Excel they can be copied right into the web site and auto-create study cards. Each term card can be individually created as well. After the terms are entered they can be shared by a web link with students to study.

For Students:  This is an easy tool to use. Quizlet will help students study terms with a few entertaining methods to help vocabulary retention. Best of all, no student account is needed. All a student needs is a link from the teacher and a computer with Internet access. Perhaps the best part of Quizlet, and what sets it above many others, is the options offered for studying. There are 5 different study formats to work with (Cards, Learn, Test, Speller, Scatter, and Space Race). These offer different ways to practice and learn the same terms, and best of all the teacher doesn’t need to set them up. They are part of Quizlet...all for FREE!

Here are of some of the Quizlet activities.

Types of Activities

Flash Cards



Space Race

Visit to get started!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Tech Chat Episode 2: Kidblog

Here is the second episode of "Tech Chat". This will be 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 third grade teacher, Mr. English, discussing how he uses Kidblog to encourage writing and peer comments.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Socrative 2.0

I love Socrative. It is an easy and quick way to assess students. You can create surveys, quizzes, test, and exit tickets. It is an easy program to use and has an iPad app for both student and teacher. I have used it for over a year and they just came out with a fantastic update. It offers some great improvements, but at the moment it is still in beta. Give the new version or the original version a shot! 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Charts in Google Spreadsheet

I love Google Drive (let's face it, who doesn't?). It has pretty much replaced my use of Microsoft Office. Google Drive may not be as powerful and have all the toys Office does, but it is fast, easy, convenient and accessible anywhere (not to mention the best aspect of collaboration with others). I was asked recently if charts could be made in Google Spreadsheets. I was pleased to be able to say, "Yes!" and be able to show how to do it. Here is a quick screencast of how to add a chart into your Google Spreadsheet to display data. There are many different styles of charts/graphs available so play around and choose the chart style that works best to display your data.

How to Add Charts to Google Spreadsheet

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Students' Sharing Google Files: The EASY Way!

Google Drive is an absolute must in any classroom. It allows student file storage, is easy to use, and  allows student/teacher collaboration. The only issue I have had in the past is when students don't share a document with me correctly and I do not have access to edit or to view a file. Remembering to type in a long email address or granting proper rights  can be problematic for younger students. There is an easy way to avoid all this. Instead of sharing each file individually, students can create a folder in their Google Drive and share that folder with teachers. Then, any file they drag/create within that folder is automatically shared with those who have access to it, and all rights granted follow all files. Easy! Below is a short video on how to do this. Check it out!

How to create and share folders to share files in Google Drive.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Digital Passport from Common Sense

Digital Citizenship is at the forefront of every tech discussion these days. Teaching our youth to be digitally responsible is not an easy task. I wish I could remember where I hear this phrase, but it changed the way I look at what I once called my digital footprint. I now look at it as a “Digital Tattoo”. Footprints wash away with rain, wind and time. Tattoos are around forever. We must begin teaching our students that everything they do from posting Tweets and Facebook Updates, to SnapChat images, and blog posts is saved somewhere in the mysterious cloud of cyber space. This is a lot of responsibility; way more than we had growing up. How are you preparing your students for this heavy burden?

What is Digital Passport?
There are lots of sites and resources to help kids learn about their Digital Tattoo. My favorite for elementary students is Digital Passport from Common Sense Media. This is a free site where teachers can create classes and enroll their students. They can then track each student's progress as they view video clips and play interactive games to learn about safe and responsible digital citizenship.

How to Use Digital Passport?
There are differing levels of time investment that a teacher could choose:
  1. Basic (just letting the students progress through the games and activities at their own pace.
  2. Do a 15-minute lesson before each session (5 total) and a review after students complete the activities.
  3. Full integration with pre-made lesson plans and documents (all available on the site) and whole class discussions.

5 Main Activities:

It is free. Sign up and give it a try!