Saturday, December 28, 2013

Quickly Search for Google Drive Files from Chrome

I love Google Drive. I have all but left MS Office in the dust. I just learned a great way to search Google Drive files from Chrome. By making a "search engine" tweak (very easy to do) you can find all your Google Drive files without having to go to your actual drive. This can be done anywhere from the search bar. Follow the directions below to set this up.

Steps to setting up the Google Drive Search from Chrome:
  1. You must first be using Google Chrome.
  2. Right click on the Chrome address bar.
  3. Choose "Edit Search Engines…" from the drop-down list. This will take you to the settings page for Search Engines in Chrome.
  4. Scroll down to the bottom of “Other search engines” and add a new search engine.
  5. Enter “Google Drive” as the name for your search engine, “Drive” as the keyword you’ll type for activating a search (you can choose any text for these) and then type the URL as below:

    Now you’re ready to search. 
    1. Enter your new keyword “drive” in your address bar.
    2. Hit the TAB key.
    3. Enter your search string
    4. Find your Google file form the list.

    Below is a quick screen shot showing how easy this is to do!

    Monday, December 9, 2013

    Discovery Education Network: Reason to be a DEN Star

    I know I have had a number of posts regarding Discovery Education. What can I say, when something is that good, one must share and post about it! Today I was reminded why I am a DEN Star and why the Discovery Education Network is such a fantastic resource. I received a text from my wife (an English teacher in another district) asking if I would get into one of her documents with her. Thinking nothing of it, I logged into the document. She was in the middle of showing her freshman class how Google Docs works. We were having a little "Google Doc" conversation and all of a sudden something magical occurred. I am not sure how she did this (my wife is pretty brilliant) but suddenly the text that appeared caused quite a stir. It was the "Oh my I can't believe I am on the same document with a DEN/Tech hero of mine!". Steve Dembo, a DEN and Tech Guru was in this document showing how collaboration works from Chicago! I would be lying if I didn't say I wasn't a little in awe (how did my lovely wife get The (yes...THE) Steve Dembo into a simple demo doc with her students?). Well, all she had to do was tweet that she would like someone to help out and the DEN responded in minutes. How cool is that?

    So all this rambling has a purpose (just hang in there!). The DEN...the example above is just one of the hundreds of examples of how other teachers and resources are available to DEN Stars. Discovery Education is so much more than just the streaming video and classroom resources. It is more than the fantastic Board Builder program and online lesson plans. It is People. Teachers. Tech knowledge. Help when needed. Real people who want to help others.

    If you are not a DEN Star teacher, click the link below and get started. It is easy to do and you will never regret it. Who know, maybe Mr. Dembo will make a virtual appearance in your classroom!

    Saturday, December 7, 2013

    Graphic Organizers: Where Your Writing Starts

    Graphic Organizers are important tools for writing. They help students plan out their writing and give direction and planning. There are many apps and web sites out there to use. Below are just 2 that I was looking at while doing the 21 Things 4 Teachers course. Check them out for yourself!


    Popplet is a great graphic organizer for story development and other writing. It is easy to use (and has an iPad app). This is a tool to help plan paragraph writing or make any graphic organizer you may need. It offers many options to make it fun and is "kid friendly" for elementary teachers/students.
    Screen Shot 2013-11-23 at 9.26.48 AM


    Gliffy is another graphic organizer. I don't like this a much as Popplet, but it is another option. It is easier to make things in specific location with the grid lines in the background.
    Screen Shot 2013-11-23 at 9.31.13 AM

    Friday, December 6, 2013

    Tagxedo: A Shapely Word Cloud

    Word Clouds are fun tools. There are a few out there (Wordle and Tagxedo are my 2 of choice). This post will focus on Taxedo.  This is a lot like Wordle, but it allows users to create shapes with the words. There are pre-set choices to pick from, and it even allows users to upload their own images. Word of warning, images should be pretty identifiable by their shape and not shading or color tone. Basic outline shapes work best. This is a great tool to take poetry and other writing to a more visual level. Below are a couple that I made from class newsletters, policies, and Tech Coach descriptors. 

    Check it out at!

    Thursday, December 5, 2013

    Wordle: More than Just a Pretty Word Cloud

    Screen Shot 2013-11-23 at 9.55.30 AM
    Word Clouds are fun tools. There are a few out there (Wordle and Tagxedo are my 2 of choice). This post will focus on Wordle. I use it every 2 weeks in my classroom when we change seats. New groups make a Wordle to show what they like and have in common and these hang above their group of desks. Another great use is writing. Before a student can submit a final draft of a writing to me, they must copy and paste it into Wordle. Then they can make sure that they have not over used any words. Wordle will make the word font larger depending on its frequency. If they have very large words in their Wordle, they go back into their document and choose better words. This is an very easy visual check to see that they have varied word choice in writing.

    Check out the fun at