Monday, November 28, 2016

Google Forms: Make a Template!

Google recently launched the ability to make templates of your docs, slides, sheets and forms, and store them in a district template gallery.  The idea of having district templates for docs, slides and sheets is nice, but I feel the real game changer is the ability to turn forms into templates.  In the past there wasn't a good way to take a form and provide it as a template for others to use.  There was no "view only" option in forms.  With the new template gallery, sharing forms is easy!  Here is how to get started.

Creating a Form Template for the District

Step 1: Go to forms.google.com

Step 2: Click on Template Gallery


Step 3: Click Submit Template
Step 4: Select a form from your Google Drive by clicking the Select A Form button.

Step 5: Check the Submit a copy of the file instead of the original box.  This will make a copy of your original document.  That way you have a copy you can make your own changes on that won't effect everyone else who is using the template.  Any changes you make to the template doc will be seen by anyone using that template in the future.

Step 6: Title your new form template.  I would recommend we, at PPS, adopt a common naming convention, especially for formative/summative assessments.  For example:

  • Elementary: Grade Level - Subject - Title of Form (4th - ELA - T2S3 Vocabulary Quiz).  
  • Secondary: Course - Title (Math 6 Plus - Unit 3 Summative Assessment).
Step 7: Select a Category (Basic is probably the one you will use most).

Step 8: Click Submit.

Now your form will be in the template gallery for others to use. I see this being hugely helpful for those grade-levels and teams who have created common formative and summative assessments in Google Forms.  You will no longer need to worry about someone accidentally "handing out" your copy of the form and having all their results populate into your results spreadsheet.  As more and more staff members use this feature, it will be very important that you work with your grade teams/department teams so that people are not duplicating work, or adding items that are not common assessments.

Using a Form from the Template Gallery

Step 1: Go to forms.google.com

Step 2: Click on Template Gallery

Step 3: Find and Click on the Template you wish to use.

DONE!  Wasn't that easy!  I look forward to seeing all the great curriculum resource templates that you will create.


Hour of Code 2016 is Coming!


Computers are everywhere, changing every industry on the planet. It is up to us as educators to help prepare our students to meet the technology challenges of the future. If you've heard about the Hour of Code before, you might know it made history. More than 100 million students have tried an Hour of Code.

The Hour of Code 2016 is happening again this year, during Computer Science Education Week, December 5-11.  What will your class do?

You may be saying to yourself...I don't know anything about computer science, how can I teach my kids this?  Good news?  There are so many wonderful opportunities out there that are student directed, that you do not need to know ANYTHING about computer science in order to give your students this opportunity.  Below are some excellent resources for getting your kids excited about CS!

Hour of Code: The Hour of Code site from Code.org has many wonderful projects to get student started, including Minecraft!

Code.org: Appropriate for Y5 through Middle School students.  Provides four self directed courses, along with many other outstanding activities including Play Lab and Project Studio.

Disney Hour of Code: Get started coding with some of your favorite Disney characters, including the new Moana, Star Wars, Anna and Elsa, and Big Hero 6.

CS First: Appropriate for 4th Grade through Middle School students. Start your own computer science club with the Computer Science First curriculum provided by Google.  Learn more about this awesome opportunity here: http://ppstechtraining.blogspot.com/2015/11/google-computer-science-first-program.html

Khan Academy: Appropriate for our secondary students.  Learn how to program drawings, animations, and games using JavaScript & ProcessingJS, or learn how to create webpages with HTML & CSS. You can share whatever you create, explore what others have created and learn from each other!

Scratch: Developed by MIT, this blockly programming site allows students to create their own programs.  Scratch is a very popular programming site used both by CS First and Project Lead the Way.

Tynker:  Appropriate for K-8th grade students.  Explore the great Hour of Code activities on Tynker.

Do you have a favorite computer science tool to use with students?  Please share!

Get started at http://hourofcode.com/us

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

PPS 1-1 Elementary Web Tools Resource Page



Even though deer-hunting season is well underway, hunting for web tools to use in your classrooms is not how many of you wish to spend your limited planning time. So, to help you all out and to make finding just the right tool easier, Paul and I, along with the 3rd-5th Grade Chromebook Pilot Teachers, have developed an awesome new resource for you.

The 1-1 Web Tools Elementary Resource Page is a filterable list of websites that other teachers have found valuable to use in the classroom. Looking for a tool to use in math instruction? Filter down by subject and grade-level. Check it out today at: https://sites.google.com/portageps.org/elwebtools

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Need Help? Submit a request.

The PPS Tech Department is always happy to help our teachers, students, and staff with their tech needs.  In order to make ourselves accessible, and get you the help you need in a timely manner, we have multiple ways for you to get help.  The #1 way for you to get help is to contact the help desk at x5102 or help@portageps.org.  Even if you are unable to reach a person at the time of your call, make sure you leave a message so someone is notified that you need help.  Tickets are automatically created when a voicemail is left on the x5102 line.  DO NOT HANG-UP!  We can't help you if we don't know you need help.

If you are looking for tech tips, head to the PPS Tech Training blog.  This is where the Tech Integration Specialists post their tech tips and other great resources to share with the PPS teachers.  Want to request a new tech tip?  Found a great resource and want to share it with others, or learn more about the tool and how it can be used in your classroom?  Submit a Tech Tip Request.

Finally, if you would like some one-on-one assistance from Jessica and Paul, whether it is for some individualized tutoring, project planning, coaching/mentoring, or co-teaching, set up a time using their appointment scheduler: calendly.com/ppstech

If anything is wrong with your tech, please let us know!  Don't just suffer through, no bonus points are awarded for suffering in silence.  Help us do our job, so we can help you do yours.

Thank you for all you do to make PPS a great place to learn!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Tech Tip: Upload a File to a Google Form

I frequently get asked by teachers if it is possible to upload files to a google form.  There are many reasons that teachers may want students to do this.  Maybe they need pictures for the yearbook, or they want them to upload an mp3 file of them playing a piece of music, or having a conversation in a foreign language.  Maybe you had your students draw a pictures to explain a concept in science, and now you want them to attach a picture of it to the form as part of an assessment.  Not to long ago, this was not possible.  We had some creative work arounds, but not the simplicity many teachers wished for.  Thankfully, Google heard your pleas and has now added the attach a file option!

In the article, New Time-saving Features in G-Suite for Education, author Ryan Webber states:
Also debuting today, is a top-requested feature from our education customers — the new “File upload” question type. Students can now upload files from their computer or Drive — all of which are neatly collected in a folder in the teacher’s Drive. This means students can now add files—from a photo for the marching band program to videos of French dialogue practice—directly to Google Forms. Note: This feature is currently only available for intra-domain use.


I look forward to hearing how you can use this great, new feature in your classroom!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Tech Tip: Google Slides for Newsletters

Paul and I go to a lot of tech conferences/meetings as part of our jobs as Technology Integration Specialists.  We always enjoy the idea sharing and conversations we have with our fellow EdTechies, and every now and then we have one of those "Oh my gosh! Why didn't I think of that!" kind of moments.  Thankfully, our most recent "Ah-ha" moment is one that many of you have also been pondering, especially as we move to 1-1 with chromebooks.  I hope you find this little tip as awesome as we did!

Last week, we had the pleasure of attending and presenting at the MiGoogle Conference (#migoogle) at Lake Fenton High School.  During the conference, one of the presenters - Justin Knull (@Everyday_Genius), shared the idea of using Google Slides as a Microsoft Publisher replacement, specifically in regards to creating newsletters.   Finding a good replacement for Publisher has been a struggle for us as we have moved almost exclusively to the Google world since there isn't a Google equivalent for Publisher.  We have tried Google Docs, but it is hard to add all the pictures and images in a way that is flexible enough for creating super visually appealing newsletters.  We have tried Lucidpress - which is a great tool, but it's complexity is a bit more than most teachers want to tackle.

Now, enter Google Slides!  Slides is the PowerPoint alternative in the Google Apps Suite.  It works great for creating presentations, slides shows, posters, and more, but I had never thought to use it for Newsletters.  Apparently, my mind was stuck on the fact that Slides always appear in landscape mode.  Well, guess what!  You can change the size of the page to be 8.5 x 11!  Simply go to the file menu, select Page Setup.  Choose custom from the drop down menu, then put your page size (ex: 8.5 x 11) in the size box.  Make sure you select inches instead of pixels, points, or centimeters.  Select OK when you are finished.  TA DA!

You can now add images and text boxes, to your hearts content.  You can overlap images and text, and you can set a background or background color.  You can add multiple pages simply by adding another slide.  When you are all done, you can either go to the file menu and select "Publish to the Web" to get a link to the digital version of your newsletter, or you can download the file as a PDF in order to attach to an email, print, or send via Skyward.  The next week/month when you want to make your next newsletter, all you have to do is open the previous week/month's newsletter and select File -> Make a Copy.  Then input your new information.  Love this!

Here are a few example templates - feel free to use and customize, just go to the File menu and select Make a Copy:

Also, if you love Teachers Pay Teachers, many of their templates are done in PPT (PowerPoint) and can be easily converted over to Google Slides.

  

A couple other tips...

  • Name your files with the year first. Example: 2016-11-18 Newsletter.  The reason for this is because Google files things Alpha-numerically.  So if you put the year, then the month, then the day, the newsletters will go in the correct order for the school year.
  • Use the Tools->Explore to search for images to embed in your newsletter.
  • Looking for some fun, free, cute clip-art graphics?  Check out: http://www.mycutegraphics.com/ 
  • When you print your downloaded PDF, make sure you select the box that says "fit to page" that way it will add your margins in for you.
Remember, this great tip doesn't work just for newsletters/newspapers.  Have your students make posters, brochures, books, and more....there are so many ways students can use Slides to show what they know.  If you have a great idea of how to use Google Slides in the classroom - make sure you share it in the comments section!  We would love to learn from you, too!

Tech Tip: Google Slides for Newsletters

Paul and I go to a lot of tech conferences/meetings as part of our jobs as Technology Integration Specialists.  We always enjoy the idea sharing and conversations we have with our fellow EdTechies, and every now and then we have one of those "Oh my gosh! Why didn't I think of that!" kind of moments.  Thankfully, our most recent "Ah-ha" moment is one that many of you have also been pondering, especially as we move to 1-1 with chromebooks.  I hope you find this little tip as awesome as we did!

Last week, we had the pleasure of attending and presenting at the MiGoogle Conference (#migoogle) at Lake Fenton High School.  During the conference, one of the presenters - Justin Knull (@Everyday_Genius), shared the idea of using Google Slides as a Microsoft Publisher replacement, specifically in regards to creating newsletters.   Finding a good replacement for Publisher has been a struggle for us as we have moved almost exclusively to the Google world since there isn't a Google equivalent for Publisher.  We have tried Google Docs, but it is hard to add all the pictures and images in a way that is flexible enough for creating super visually appealing newsletters.  We have tried Lucidpress - which is a great tool, but it's complexity is a bit more than most teachers want to tackle.

Now, enter Google Slides!  Slides is the PowerPoint alternative in the Google Apps Suite.  It works great for creating presentations, slides shows, posters, and more, but I had never thought to use it for Newsletters.  Apparently, my mind was stuck on the fact that Slides always appear in landscape mode.  Well, guess what!  You can change the size of the page to be 8.5 x 11!  Simply go to the file menu, select Page Setup.  Choose custom from the drop down menu, then put your page size (ex: 8.5 x 11) in the size box.  Make sure you select inches instead of pixels, points, or centimeters.  Select OK when you are finished.  TA DA!

You can now add images and text boxes, to your hearts content.  You can overlap images and text, and you can set a background or background color.  You can add multiple pages simply by adding another slide.  When you are all done, you can either go to the file menu and select "Publish to the Web" to get a link to the digital version of your newsletter, or you can download the file as a PDF in order to attach to an email, print, or send via Skyward.  The next week/month when you want to make your next newsletter, all you have to do is open the previous week/month's newsletter and select File -> Make a Copy.  Then input your new information.  Love this!

Here are a few example templates - feel free to use and customize, just go to the File menu and select Make a Copy:

Also, if you love Teachers Pay Teachers, many of their templates are done in PPT (PowerPoint) and can be easily converted over to Google Slides.

  

A couple other tips...

  • Name your files with the year first. Example: 2016-11-18 Newsletter.  The reason for this is because Google files things Alpha-numerically.  So if you put the year, then the month, then the day, the newsletters will go in the correct order for the school year.
  • Use the Tools->Explore to search for images to embed in your newsletter.
  • Looking for some fun, free, cute clip-art graphics?  Check out: http://www.mycutegraphics.com/ 
  • When you print your downloaded PDF, make sure you select the box that says "fit to page" that way it will add your margins in for you.
Remember, this great tip doesn't work just for newsletters/newspapers.  Have your students make posters, brochures, books, and more....there are so many ways students can use Slides to show what they know.  If you have a great idea of how to use Google Slides in the classroom - make sure you share it in the comments section!  We would love to learn from you, too!