Friday, December 15, 2017

10 Excellent Extensions for Chrome

On the 10th day of Tech-Mas my true love gave to me… 10 Excellent Extensions.

Note: This post is part of my "12 Days of Tech-Mas" series for 2017. You can see all of the posts for each day as they get released in the main post here: "12 Days of Tech-Mas 2017".

It's no secret that I love Chrome web extensions. They are an awesome way to add new features and tools to your Chrome web browser. Extensions can be a powerful benefit for schools as they provide options for creation, curation, accessibility, readability, efficiency, and much more!

Many of my blog posts have dealt with Chrome extensions, such as:

I even have a Google Sheet where I keep a list of all of my favorite Chrome extensions, with links to install them, and a short description of what each does. You can access the current version of my list here:


Having said all of that, there are some extensions that I have not really covered on the blog yet. For this post I wanted to highlight ten cool extensions that are worth checking out. Some of these are relatively recent, while others have been around for a while. Some you may have heard of, but others may be new to you. Whatever the case, all of these are valuable for teachers and students.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

9 Terrific Trainings - The FREE 2017 Ditch That Textbook Digital Summit

On the 9th day of Tech-Mas my true love gave to me… 9 Terrific Trainings.

Note: This post is part of my "12 Days of Tech-Mas" series for 2017. You can see all of the posts for each day as they get released in the main post here: "12 Days of Tech-Mas 2017".

With the holiday season here, you have probably been busy trying to find the perfect gifts for the people in your life. But what about you? Don't you deserve to get something for yourself?

Well you are in luck! You may not be able to find any Hatchimals in the stores, but you can still get yourself nine days of free professional development on technology, pedagogy, and more!

Back for its second year is the "Ditch That Textbook Digital Summit". Starting on December 15th there will be a new video from a new speaker each day for nine days. This is a fantastic way to get free professional development at your pace, on your schedule, in your pajamas (if you want).

See below for all the details on how to take advantage of this awesome opportunity, before it goes away (like all the Hatchimals).

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

8 Ways to Supercharge Google Docs with Drawings

On the 8th day of Tech-Mas my true love gave to me… 8 Docs Drawings.

Note: This post is part of my "12 Days of Tech-Mas" series for 2017. You can see all of the posts for each day as they get released in the main post here: "12 Days of Tech-Mas 2017".

"You can't do that in Google Docs!"

If you have ever made that claim, then you know the frustration of loving all the awesome things you can do in Docs, but still bumping up against limitations.

Sometimes we can extend the capabilities of Docs by installing add-ons or extensions. However, there is another powerful tool that's been sitting right there in the Docs menu all this time, which can provide you with loads of extra features that you may not have realized you had.

That tool ... Google Drawings.

That's right. You can embed Google Drawings into your Doc right from the "Insert" menu. Being able to insert a live, editable Google Drawing inside your document can let you do lots of things you normally cannot do in Google Docs.

In this blog post we are going to take a look at eight things you can do with Drawings inside of Docs. These can be great to make your documents more interactive for students, to add multimedia, to create HyperDocs, for student projects, and much more.

See below for details, directions, and examples for each, as well as recorded video tutorials demonstrating how each works.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

7 Helpful Hacks for Google Tools

On the 7th day of Tech-Mas my true love gave to me… 7 Helpful Hacks.

Note: This post is part of my "12 Days of Tech-Mas" series for 2017. You can see all of the posts for each day as they get released in the main post here: "12 Days of Tech-Mas 2017".

Google tools have so many awesome features, options, and settings, that it is easy to miss some of the cool things their products can do for you. In this blog post we are going to take a look at seven helpful hacks to get more out of your Google experience.

The criteria I used for coming up with this list of tips and tricks include:

  • These are built-in features in the Google tools, rather than something that needs to be installed separately such as extensions or add-ons.
  • These should provide some benefit to you such as saving time, improving organization, avoiding problems, or making you more efficient.
  • These tips should be lesser known features of common Google tools.

Certainly you may be familiar with some of these tips, but hopefully you will learn a few new tricks, or at least be reminded and encouraged to use some of these options. As always, I would love to hear your favorite lesser known Google tips. Please share your ideas in the comments at the bottom of the post.

Monday, December 11, 2017

6 Googley Wintertime Activities for Kids

On the 6th day of Tech-Mas my true love gave to me… 6 Wintry Wonders.

Note: This post is part of my "12 Days of Tech-Mas" series for 2017. You can see all of the posts for each day as they get released in the main post here: "12 Days of Tech-Mas 2017".

As we get closer to the holiday break, it is expected and understandable that our students start getting a little distracted. They are looking forward to lots of days off, holiday celebrations, gifts, and more. Let's be honest … we may be a little distracted as well.

This is a time of year when we look for some fun activities to keep our students focused and active. But we don't just want busy work. If possible it is great to find projects that are fun, tie into wintertime themes, and still provide our students with a chance to be creative, write, or improve some content area skills.

To help out with that, I have put together six sample wintertime-themed activities that use free Google tools, including Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Drawings. Some of these are projects I have shared in the past, while others are new twists on previous posts, and others are brand new. Hopefully some of these will be a good match for your students to keep them busy AND learning as we head into the holidays.

Friday, December 8, 2017

5 Favorite EdTech Quotes


On the 5th day of Tech-Mas my true love gave to me… five golden nuggets.

Note: This post is part of my "12 Days of Tech-Mas" series for 2017. You can see all of the posts for each day as they get released in the main post here: "12 Days of Tech-Mas 2017".

When I used to be a technology director, "getting a quote" meant asking a vendor for the latest pricing for CAT5 cables or Chromebooks. Since I have been a technology integrationist, I now get to focus on the other meaning of "quote" … a short, but thought-provoking statement.

A quote takes a complicated concept or inspiring idea or reflection on the human condition, and condenses it down to a few powerful words. When you dig into a quote, you find there is much more there than meets the eye. Like Doctor Who's TARDIS, quotes are bigger on the inside.

I have a love of quotes in all areas of my life including my profession… educational technology. I am always excited to catch a golden nugget shared by an educator in a Twitter post, a blog entry, a book, or a live presentation.

For this blog post I have chosen five quotes that have resonated with me when it comes to teaching, learning, and technology. Certainly there are way more than five quotes I could have chosen, and maybe in the future I will do follow-up posts with more. I kept it to only five though because I don't want to just share the quotes, but wish to dive a little deeper.

For each quote I have created a graphic and written a short response about my own thoughts. I hope some or all of these will inspire and encourage you, as they have done for me. Please feel free to share some of your favorite education and technology quotes in the comments at the end of this post. I would love to read them!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

4 Fantastic Rubric Tools for Google Docs

On the 4th day of Tech-Mas my true love gave to me… four rubric writers.

Note: This post is part of my "12 Days of Tech-Mas" series for 2017. You can see all of the posts for each day as they get released in the main post here: "12 Days of Tech-Mas 2017".

It has been said that grading is more of an art than a science. It can be easy to perform mathematical gymnastics on a stack of numbers, and then feel like we have arrived at a truly accurate grade because the result goes out to three decimal places.

In reality points and percentages can only go so far when evaluating student work. If possible, we can benefit greatly from taking a step back to get a holistic view of what a student has produced. Rather than just counting the number of problems they have missed, we (and they) are better served when we look for the patterns that reveal the reasons behind the mistakes.

One tool that can help move us closer to a fair assessment of student learning is a rubric. A rubric is an evaluation tool that uses a range of criteria to assess a student's skills or performance on a continuum from excellent to poor, with qualitative descriptions for the different levels.

As useful as rubrics can be though, since they are more sophisticated, they can also be a challenge to manage in a digital world. Thankfully there are many tools that we can use to create, deploy, and grade with electronic rubrics. In this blog post we will look at four such rubric tools and how they work. The tools range from simple to complex, so hopefully you will find one that matches your needs, or inspires you to try out a rubric for an upcoming assignment.