Monday, September 17, 2018

Collabordependent Writing with Google Slides

Technology can have it's pain points. Take peer feedback for example.
  • We want to students to be able to write, express themselves, create, etc.
  • Then we want them to be able to share what they made with their peers.
  • Then we want their peers to be able to provide constructive feedback.
Normally we use Google Docs for a task like this. For the most part, that is an excellent option, but there can be some challenges.
  • If all 25 students in a class do their writing in their own Google Docs, then we need to find an easy way to share 25 different Docs, and we need to open 25 different Docs to see everyone's work.
  • Or if all 25 students write in the same Google Doc, then it can take some work to keep each student's writing separate, and to easily navigate from one student to the next.
What we need is an easy way for students to work independently when writing, but collaboratively when giving feedback. We need a tool that lets them work "collabordependently" (I assert this is a real word despite the red squiggly lines I get when I type it.)

Certainly this can work in Google Docs, but sometimes it may be worth considering a different tool for peer feedback. That tool is … Google Slides. See below for how Google Slides can break out of being just a presentation tool and can become a versatile tool for collabordependence!

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Passwords and Positive Self-talk

Note: Although the focus of this blog is on creative ways to use technology for teaching and learning, occasionally I may share something else that crosses over into the technology realm, but also addresses the human condition. For as much as we are all technology enthusiasts, we are still just people, with our hopes and loves and pains and messes. Sometimes technology can help us understand our humanity a little better. In those cases, I have a second blog called "Eric the Rad" where I post my thoughts on life from a nerd's point of view. Today I am cross-posting a new entry from that blog here. It deals with the importance of a strong password, so I feel it will have value for all us tech users, but also addresses the need for positive self-talk, which has value for all of us as humans. If you are looking for the latest cool way to use tech in your class, this post may not be your cup of tea, and that's ok. I'll be back with loads of great tech integration ideas next. However, if this does resonate with you, then feel free to check out my other blog "Eric the Rad" where I have and will continue to share more things like this. Thanks!


I have never been really good at positive self-talk. And there I go again. That is a great example of how I am not very good at it.

However, I do believe in the power of self-talk, both positive and negative, to have a great impact on our thoughts, feelings, and attitudes. Psychology tells us that what we say aloud to ourselves really makes a difference. Negative statements can bring us down, while positive, encouraging words can build us up. It may be just bit by bit, but every bit makes an impact over time.

Historically I just have not been very successful at taking advantage of this. If anything, my self-talk is often negative, pointing out where I fell short, or forgot to do something, or let someone down, or don’t feel well, or am tired. Hearing these words from my own mouth day after day after day becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

So I have been working on how to improve this...

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Protect Your Google Account with 2-Step Verification

If you are anything like me, you use your Google account for everything. All of my files are in Drive, my emails are in Gmail, my pictures are in Photos, and my events are in Calendar.

As convenient and useful as this is, having all of your data in one place should also encourage us to stop and think about security. How secure is your account? If someone were to access your account, what all would they have access to?

Now hopefully you don't have your password written on a post-it note stuck to your monitor (please say you don't), but if you are like most people, you probably are not doing anything extra to protect your account. According to a study released in early 2018, less than 10% of Gmail users have turned on Google's 2-Step Verification option.

In this blog post we will take a look at this super simple, yet powerful, tool to help protect your Google account and everything you have saved in it. If you are a Google user, it is time to step up your account security with 2-Step Verification!

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

7 Back to School Updates for Google's Applied Digital Skills Curriculum

Several months ago I shared a post on Google Applied Digital Skills curriculum. For those not familiar, it is a totally free, online curriculum, with engaging videos and practical projects that teach technology, life, and job skills to students (middle and high school) as well as adult learners.

Since that time Google has continued to expand and improve the program with lots of new content and features for the new school year. In this blog post we will take a look at the new curriculum units they have rolled out, as well as the new options and improvements to the system, including Google Classroom integration and more.

If you have not taken advantage of this awesome free curriculum for your students, there is no better time than now. Regardless of what subject you teach, there are ready-to-go lessons you can incorporate in your class this year.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Learn your New Students' Faces, Names, and More with Google Slides

One of the first things every teacher wants to do each year is memorize their students faces and names. This makes a personal connection to each of your students and helps them feel welcome and valued in your class. The last thing we want to do is call a student by the wrong name or have to resort to a "Hey you".

When I was first teaching (back in 1992, you do the math) I took pictures of my new students on the first day of class with an old camera with 110 film. I then would get the pictures developed at my local drug store and would attach the photos to 4x6 cards I had the students fill out with their names and details about themselves.

These became my flashcards so I could learn my students names, faces, and key details about each of them. I would practice with these for the first week or so of school to make sure I learned all 130 or so new students I had that year.

Well now with technology there are so many better and faster ways to do this. For one example I have created a Google Slideshow template that you can use to help learn your students names and faces and a little about them. You can even randomize the slides for better quizzing of yourself. See below to get your copy of the template and directions for how to use it.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

What to do About the Missing "About" Page in Google Classroom?

Recently Google rolled out some great updates for Google Classroom. You can see my earlier post for all the details here: 9 Updates for Google Classroom (and 3 more to come)

As awesome as these updates are, we did end up losing one feature in the process… the "About" page. In the past Google Classroom had an "About" page that contained lots of information related to the class. Some of those items got moved to other pages. However, one big thing missing is the ability to add class resources.

The "About" page was a nice location to provide easy access to common websites, a syllabus, style guides, and other reference materials for students. According to Google we will have the ability to add such class materials to the new "Classwork" page in the near future, but for now that feature has not been released.

So what can you do in the time being if you want to share classroom resources without an "About" page? See below for a few ideas on possible alternatives for now.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

New Pear Deck Critical Thinking Templates for Google Slides

Pear Deck is an awesome add-on for Google Slides that lets you add interactive elements to your presentations including multiple choice, text entry, numeric entry, drawing, and draggable activities.

I have shared posts about Pear Deck several times on this blog including:

Recently Pear Deck rolled out some updates to the add-on that provide more content and easier use, with a big focus on integrating critical thinking skills into your slideshows. In this post we will take a look at these great new updates that are available for you today.