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.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

3 Tools for Making Memes in School

On the third day of Tech-Mas my true love gave to me… three meme makers.

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".

Memes are everywhere. As a popular meme might say, "One does not simply go on the Internet without encountering memes."

However, if somehow you are not familiar with these ubiquitous images, a meme is a picture with superimposed text, used to convey a message. They often have an element of humor, and the text usually follows a pattern based on the image chosen.

We see memes daily in social media posts, on websites, and in advertisements. However, they can also be used as a fun and creative tool for education. Memes can be used by teachers and students to:
  • Define a vocabulary word
  • Explain a science concept
  • Give an opinion on a historic event
  • Illustrate a theme from a novel
  • Demonstrate a mathematical law
  • Create class rules
  • And more!
Rather than just use memes made by others, students can create their own to show their learning and communicate ideas. There are loads of tools that can be used for this purpose, but in this blog post we will take a look at three useful, but very different, options for making memes.

Fair warning though, students will have a blast doing this project. So "Brace yourself. Memes are coming!"

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Teaching Coding with Turtles

On the second day of Tech-Mas my true love gave to me… two turtle coders.

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".

Over the last few years coding has become a much more common topic in schools. Students of all ages are learning about coding thanks to the rise of Hour of Code, STEM programs, robotics, and more.

One of the most popular coding tools for kids is Scratch from MIT . In the Scratch programming tool students use block coding to move and manipulate Scratch the cat to create games, stories, and animations.

Well you may know about the cat, but do you know about the turtle?

Back when I was a student (in the 70's and 80's) I loved computers (big surprise) and especially coding. At that time, one of the main options for coding in schools was Logo. Basically Logo was a programming tool where you wrote commands to move a "turtle" around the screen to draw pictures and learn the basics of coding. Logo was a direct influence on the development of Scratch many years later (so the turtle is actually the parent of the cat!)

This year is Logo's 50th anniversary, and with this being "Hour of Code" week, it is the perfect time to revisit one of the first programming languages ever developed specifically to teach children how to code. Below we will take a look at a brief overview of Logo, as well as two online tools for your students to learn and use Logo today.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Supercharge Google Slides with Pear Deck Add-on

On the first day of Tech-Mas my true love gave to me… an add-on for a Pear Deck.

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 is no surprise that "Death by PowerPoint" is a well-known expression. Whether it be PowerPoint or Google Slides or any other multimedia presentation tool, we all know the potential boredom that can come from presenting with and learning from a slideshow.

Certainly we do our best to be engaging presenters, to include humor, interesting information, and maybe some animations to keep the audience's attention. Still we know that our students will learn more if we can engage them and make the presentation more interactive.

Well thankfully we have just the tool for that! Recently when Google rolled out add-ons for Slides, one of the first add-ons to be released was Pear Deck. This tool was already a popular resource on its own, but now with the improved integration with Google Slides it is easier than ever to add true interactivity to your slideshows.

See below for directions on how to add and use the Pear Deck add-on for Google Slides. For more details on this, also be sure to catch my upcoming webinar in January all about Google Slides add-ons.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

What's New in Google - November 2017

Catch up on everything new in G Suite for Education from November 2017, and see great ideas and resources!

Below is the recorded video from our November 2017 Google User Meeting, along with the meeting agenda and all the awesome resources and G Suite updates from the last month. This includes 21 new Google updates and 42 Google resources for your class.

The monthly meetings are hosted by the Google Educator Group of Ohio, but are open to anyone from any location. The purpose of these meetings is to:
  • Connect Google-using educators
  • Share the latest Google Apps news and features
  • Provide tutorials, demonstrations, and how-to’s
  • Share best practices of how Google Apps is being used within schools
  • Ask questions and get answers
The video from the meeting is recorded and available for later viewing for those who cannot attend or connect live. See below to view the recorded video, agenda, and all the resources from the November 2017 meeting:

Friday, December 1, 2017

The 12 Days of Tech-Mas 2017

With the holiday season here, I am excited to share some of my favorite things in educational technology!

I will be doing this in a series of blog posts throughout the month of December that I am calling "The 12 Days of Tech-Mas".

Each blog post will provide a list of useful resources corresponding to the number of that entry, from 1 through 12.

See below for options on how to access each entry for "The 12 Days of Tech-Mas".