Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Halloween: Fun Tech Activities

Looking for some fun activities to do with your students on Thursday?  Tired of your usual Halloween lessons and want to spice things up with some new ideas?  Tech & Learning has put together a great list of

Halloween web activities to try out. Here are a couple of the ideas from the article...

  • Children can tell their spooky stories with Kerpoof, Storyjumper or a collaborative story using Storybird. Choose your storyline, write your text and boo others!
  • Children can create their cute monsters on Moshimonsters. They can write or talk about their animals’ Halloween plans.
  • You can attach different animal parts to a human body to build your wild self and share it with others.
  • If you are working with young learners, PBS Kids is also celebrating Halloween with many interactive activities.

You can check out the complete list here.

Hope you have a Spooktacular (almost) Halloween.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Science: Great interactives from the BBC for teaching science.

Understanding science concepts often requires hands-on experimentation and visuals.  This great resource from the BBC Science Clips offers great online interactives for our students to play with when exploring new science concepts.  The material is grouped by age (from 5 years to 11 years).

Friday, October 25, 2013

Digital Citizenship: 6 Degrees of Information - Great Video for sharing with tweens and teens

All too often our tweens and teens do not realize how easy it is for someone to find out about them online.  They think because they only share things with their facebook "friends" or use apps like SnapChat that supposedly delete photos after only a few seconds they are safe and aren't leaving a digital footprint behind.  This great video from National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America really helps to illustrate how easy it is to find out a wealth of information about others in just 6 simple clicks.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Google Mail: Video Tech Tip - Formatting your messages and adding a signature

The following video is another in a series of four that talks about how to use gmail. (We have sent you two already.)

Gmail: Sending Email with Gmail

Feel free to start this short 4 minute video at 2:08 seconds in and it discusses...
  • Formatting Your Message
  • Adding a signature
Feel free to start it from the beginning to watch the whole thing. There are always little tricks to pick up.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Network Drives: Handouts for How to Access your U Drive from home

If you want to print out the instructions on how to access your U drive from home please use the following links.  Thanks to Joshua Enos for the initial tech tip!

Easiest Way - Accessing without downloading anything on your home computer

More Steps, but better user experience - Accessing by downloading and installing the software on your computer.

Network Drives: Accessing your U drive from home

Go to www.portageps.org and click Faculty and Staff, then the VMWare Virtual Desktop button.

Click on the image labeled VMWare Horizon View HTML Access

You will be prompted to enter your PortagePS credentials (you do not need to add the @portageps.org here). Click Log In.

You will be prompted to choose a desktop configuration. Click on Staff Floating (Windows 7).

You will see a swirling status icon. Wait for this, and the loading of the rest of the virtual desktop, and you will be rewarded with a Windows 7 desktop running inside of your browser window.

Performance of this virtual desktop is directly related to the speed of your internet connection, and the speed of your home computer. If you want files out of your U drive to work on at home, the best option right now is to email the file(s) to yourself or upload them to Google Drive.

If you are a fairly tech savvy person, you could also download the client onto your home computer. For instructions on how to do this, click here. This will provide you with a smoother experience that will not depend as heavily on your Internet connection.
Note: you are not logging in to your teacher station directly with this, merely using a generic “virtual” computer that doesn’t even really exist, except for a data file on a server.

When you are finished with whatever you need to do in this machine, select Start>Shut Down, as you would with your teacher stations.

This brings you back to the VMWare Horizon View screen, where you should log out again.

And you’re done!

Digital Citizenship: Edutopia's Resource Roundup

Going along with our celebration of Digital Citizenship Week, here is another great resource.  Check out Edutopia's collection of articles, videos, and other resources on internet safety, cyberbullying, digital responsibility, and media and digital literacy. (Updated 10/2013)

Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the page to find the  "Additional Resources on the Web" section that is in yellow.  There are some great resources here.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Digital Citizenship: Happy Digital Citizenship Week!

Many of you may not know, but this week is Digital Citizenship week.  A week highlighted on the calendar to promote the increasingly important topic of Digital Citizenship with our students.  Digital Citizenship can no longer be a topic taught solely in the computer lab by a keyboarding teacher.  As students live and share more of their lives online, Digital Citizenship and creating a positive Digital Footprint becomes an imperative topic of discussion.  As you can probably tell, this is a topic I am very passionate about.  In that vein, I will be sharing some wonderful resources with you all this week on Digital Citizenship.  Many of these resources will come from one of my favorite resources, Common Sense Media.

Today's resource is a wonderful self guided curriculum for third through fifth graders called Digital Passport.
Here is a screen-shot of the site:

Summary of Tool: This program provides five engaging lessons to hep students become better digital citizens.  Each lesson includes a video and an online interactive game.  Students are also able to complete "Missions" in which they are asked to use their newly acquired knowledge in order to earn badges in their Digital Passport.  The topic covered include:

  • Cell Phone Use and Multitasking
  • Privacy
  • Cyberbullying
  • Search
  • Crediting Resources
Cost: Free

Age Group: 3rd - 5th Grade

Benefits for teachers: Students can use their computer lab time to learn engaging critical life skills.  Requires little planning/set up on the teachers part.  Provides tip sheets to send home to parents.  Helps students learn important computer skills highlighted in the Common Core State Standards.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Social Studies: Dr. Lodge's 50 States Project

Dr. Lodge just added Michigan to his 50 State Project!  Dr. Lodge is working on "The 50 States Project," a 50-song album covering the basic history, geography, and economic structure of each state in the U.S. The goal of each song is to encompass what every student should know about his or her state.

Here is the site to all the songs: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkFXQnAzKU78Hz2833mKnet48DwqAuPD7

You can also check out his other projects here: http://lodgemccammon.com/themusic/educational/social-studies/  These projects include the US Constitution, Bill or Rights, 5 Themes of Geography, The Civil War, World War II, and much more.

Not a Social Studies teacher?  He also has great resources for Science and Math.  Check them out here!

Friday, October 18, 2013

L drive, G drive, Z drive....Oh My!

Are you having trouble remembering how the L drive and G drive are different?  Are you confused on how to get to these shared drives now that they have all been lumped in folders in your Z drive?  If so then this tip is here to help, brought to your courtesy of Joshua Enos - Building Tech.

Lab drive translations - What do the letters mean?
L: is for Lab
G: is for Group

How do I access the G and L drive from my teacher computers?
The G and L drives can be accessed by going to the start menu, clicking on the word Computer and selecting the Z: drive.

From there, click on the Student Drives Folder.  In the folder you will see a few folders.  One will say Lab and another will say Group.  If you open the Groups folder, you will see all the G drives.  If you open the Lab folder, you will see all the L drives for the various labs/laptop carts.

For example:
At WMS for Lab 310:
Student G: drive is the same as staff Z:\Student Drives\WMS\Group\Lab310
Student L: drive is the same as staff Z:\Student Drives\WMS\Lab\Lab310 - Students DO NOT have access to write to this share, only to read from it.

At WMS on laptop carts (Silver, White, Yelow, Green):
Student G: drive is the same as staff Z:\Student Drives\WMS\Group\Carts
Student L: drive is the same as staff Z:\Student Drives\WMS\Lab\Carts - Students DO NOT have access to write to this share, only to read from it.

At WMS in the Media Center (All Laptops AND desktops):
Student G: drive is the same as staff Z:\Student Drives\WMS\Group\MC
Student L: drive is the same as staff Z:\Student Drives\WMS\Lab\MC - Students DO NOT have access to write to this share, only to read from it.

See the pattern? So in the Art room on the 3 student machines, their G: is equivalent to Z:\Student Drives\WMS\Group\Art on the teacher machines.
Same for the Tech Ed lab, Special Ed computers, etc...

Here's the logic behind it: 
 Let's say a teacher has a master template they have created in Word, but they want students to modify it to complete an assignment. The teacher should place the master template in the L: drive in a logically labeled folder. Students can then copy this template out to their U: drive, and modify it. Because students cannot write to L: (only read), they cannot accidentally write changes to the master template. This also alleviates network congestion as a roomful of students are not actively trying to edit the same template at once. Once students have completed the assignment, they can copy it to a folder the teacher has created as a turn-in folder. Students DO have write access to G:, so all students will then have their completed assignment in both their U: drive, and the G: drive.

On the student computers, it will still say L drive and G drive

Each location has a separate L drive and G drive

Chrome: The Omnibox - More than just a place to type your websites.

Google Chrome calls their web address bar "The Omnibox".  You can do many things in the Omnibox that will save you time and make your life easier.  Here are some of my favorites...

Google is the king of search, so it makes sense that you can search directly from their web address bar.  Instead of going directly to www.google.com in order to search, you can just open your browser and type in your query in the URL address box at the top of the screen.

If you need to do a quick calculation while on the web, you can simply type in an equation like 3+4 and then click the enter key.  This will bring up a calculator in your browser window.

Have you ever wanted to quickly know many teaspoons are in a tablespoons, or how many miles are in a 5k?  Is so, then Google search will be your new best friend.  Simply type: 5km in miles or 3 tsp = tbsp and a converter will show up in your search results.

Want to know what the weather will be like for the rest of the week?  Simply type weather? in your address bar and the forecast for the week will appear.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Atomic Learning: New online trainings available

Portage Public Schools has a subscription to the online training site Atomic Learning.  This site offers great online training opportunities for those of you who enjoy learning at your own pace.  Here are some of the recent training opportunitites related to Google.  Enjoy!

Recent Training Releases

Atomic Learning regularly updates our training offerings to keep you up-to-date on the latest and greatest educational technology. Recent additions to the training library include:

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Google Mail: Video Tech Tip - Creating Filters in Gmail

We received a number of replies from individuals who were very thankful for the last Gmail video we sent out. So we thought we would send you another!

Gmail: Creating Filters with Gmail

This short 3 minute video discusses...
  • Automatic Message Filters
  • Searching Gmail (Find anything)
After watching the video, feel free to contact us if you have further questions.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Chrome: Reopening a tab you just closed.

Have you ever accidentally closed a tab or your browser?  Do you get frustrated trying to remember the site you were just on?  Well there is a quick fix for you if you are using Google Chrome.

To reopen a tab you just closed:

If you closed the whole browser:
Open Chrome back up.
Type: ctrl+shift+t

You can do this repeatedly if you closed multiple tabs accidentally.

On a similar note, if you want to quickly open a new tab you can either click the blank small tab at the top of your window next to your last open tab, or you can type: ctrl+t

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Google Mail: Organizing Your Inbox

Even though we have discussed archiving mail and labels in this blog post and this one, some of you would like a more visual tutorial.  For those of you who would like more information about managing Gmail, please watch this short, 3 minute video.

Gmail: Managing Email with Gmail

This video discusses...
  • Archiving Mail
  • Labels (Folders)

After watching the video, feel free to contact us if you have further questions.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Google Sites: Adding Picasa Web Albums

Picasa Web Albums are a great way to add pictures and slide shows to your Google Site.

If you upload your pictures or student artwork to Google+ Photos (the new picasaweb), you will be able to place a slideshow gadget on your Google site.


Find a page on your google site. Click the edit pencil. Place your cursor where you would like to put your album gadget. Follow the graphic below.

Select an album.

Choose whichever options you like or leave the settings as is.

Click save, then save again to see it how visitors to your site will see it.

How you can share pictures and artwork in slideshow format.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Google Mail: Creating a Custom Theme

As promised in my last post, here is how you can personalize your background even more by creating your own custom theme.

Step 1: Click on the gear in the top right hand corner of your inbox.
Step 2: Select Themes from the drop down menu.

Step 3: Scroll down until you see "Custom Themes".
Step 4: Choose Light or Dark
Step 5: Select your image from one provided, or upload your own.
Step 6: Click Select.

All done.  Now you have a custom theme!