Thursday, April 28, 2016

Skill Checklists for Google Certified Educator Level 1 and 2

So you are thinking about taking the exams to become a Google Certified Educator? But you are wondering what topics and skills are covered by the tests. This blog post is here to help you!

Google provides several possible certification options for educators including Educator Level 1, Educator Level 2, Trainer, Innovator, and Administrator. Of these, Educator Level 1 and 2 are the place to start and are especially designed for teachers and other educators in a school setting.

To earn the status of Google Certified Educator Level 1 or 2 you need to take an online exam that shows your practical knowledge of using Google Apps for Education in a school setting, as well as demonstrate your ability to perform many tasks within the Google Apps suite of tools.

See below for two printable checklists covering every topic and skill addressed by the Level 1 and 2 tutorials, as well as an overview of these certifications, and the main points about the exams. In preparation for the exams, you can use these lists to keep track of the skills you have mastered and those you still need to address.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Google Maps Mobile App Every Graduating Senior Must Have

It’s that time of year when schools are starting to wrap up. For most students this just means moving up to a new grade level. However for graduating seniors this means moving on. Perhaps to college or a job. Maybe in a different city or into a dorm or into their own apartment.

As exciting as this can be, it can also be a concern for parents regarding the safety of their children. When my daughter moved 150 miles away from home for college, I wanted to know she was safe. And now I have three boys who will eventually graduate and move on as well.

Technology has always helped me to stay connected with my kids no matter where they are. We have taken advantage of texting, phone calls, Google Hangout video chats, Facebook, and more. However, a mobile app based on Google Maps has recently been released that goes one step further to increase the safety, communication, and connection for our students as they move off on their own.

See below for information on this powerful new mobile app that every graduating senior should install and use. I would also encourage schools to share this information with their students and parents before the year ends and the students move on.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Future of the Google Drive Template Gallery

Templates can be a helpful resource when creating a new document, slideshow, or spreadsheet. They can provide you with a starting point for a resume, report, budget, class presentation, or such.

This can be helpful for young students so they do not have to create an entire project from scratch but can start with the shell you provide and fill in their content. This can also be useful for older students to simply save time when completing a lab report or creating a tri-fold brochure.

For many years Google has provided templates for Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, and Drawings. Recently though, Google has been maintaining two different template galleries: the old template gallery and the new template gallery, each with their own unique features.

Many of us have been wondering about the future of the template galleries. Would the old gallery be retired? If so, what would happen to all the old public templates? And what about the templates we loaded specifically for our domains?

Recently Google sent out an email to domain admins with information that helps to shed some light on what’s to come for the template galleries. See below for details.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Watch the Video from the April 2016 Google User Meeting

Catch up on everything new in Google Apps over the last month, and see great ideas and resources!

Below is the recorded video from our April 2016 Google User Meeting, along with the meeting agenda with links to all the resources and over 30 Google Apps updates from the last month.

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
For those who cannot attend in person, the meetings are broadcast live using a Google Hangout. Users can join the Google Hangout remotely to participate in the meeting, or can simply watch the live stream. The video from the meetings is recorded and available for later viewing for those who cannot attend or connect live.

See below to view the recorded video from the April 2016 meeting:

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Random Writing Prompt Generator with Google Sheets

When our students go to write a poem or story or other creative work, a blank page can be both exciting (with so much potential) and intimidating (where do you begin?)

One method to help inspire our students’ imaginations is to provide them with writing prompts. It can help them think of new ideas, jog their memories, make a connection, or simply inspire them to try out a topic. But where can they get writing prompts?

Certainly there are loads of helpful websites providing multitudes of prompts. However another option is to use a Google Sheet. Yes that’s right. A Google Sheet (often thought of as just a math tool) can help inspire writing!

To prove this I have used Google Sheets to create a “Random Writing Prompt Generator” that randomly pulls from a list of about 2,000 adjectives and 1,000 nouns to create over 2 million unique prompts. See below to get your own copy of the Sheet, learn how it works, and get more ideas on how to help your students write poems, stories, or other creations.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Make Google Form responses easy to read with “Save as Doc” add-on

Google Forms is a one of the most useful parts of the Google Apps suite for schools. With Google Forms teachers, techies, admins, and students can accomplish many tasks including:
  • Online assessments
  • Collecting data for science experiments
  • Brainstorming ideas in class
  • Completing a reading log
  • Surveying parents
  • Accepting technology help tickets
  • And much more…
For all its wonderful features, one pain point for Google Forms is viewing all the responses in an easy-to-read format. When the responses from a Google Form get collected in a Google Sheet, the responses are arranged one per row, with each answer in its own cell. This is ok for short answers, but can be quite a challenge to read when the answers are long (essays, open ended questions, etc.). Reading lots of text from multiple questions from a bunch of respondents is just not easy to do in a Google Sheet.

Now the new version of Google Forms does let you view each response one at a time, which is a definite step forward (click “Responses” then click “Individual”) but it is still not an easy way to view all the responses at once in an easy to read format.

One of the best solutions to this problem is an add-on for Sheets called “Save as Doc”. See below for detailed directions on how to use “Save as Doc” to take responses from a Google Form and put them in a readable format as a Google Doc.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Google Save - Your new home for saved images and links

Recently Google has quietly rolled out a new tool that lets you save and organize images and websites to one central collection. How quietly? Well, as far as I can tell the tool doesn’t even have an official name yet, and there have not been many posts or announcements from Google about it. So for now I am just calling it Google Save.

So what is Google Save? In short it is an option to save and organize images or websites in an online collection.

Of course we already have Google options for both of these tasks. For example, you can already save online images to your Google Drive with the Save to Google Drive extension, and you can save images to your Google Photos with the Clip It Good extension. And of course you can save websites by simply bookmarking them in Chrome.

It is not exactly clear how Google Save will supplement or change or work with or replace any of these already existing options. For now though it is another option that you may find useful and at least is worth taking a closer look at.

So, see below for an overview of how to access and use Google Save…

Monday, April 11, 2016

5 Fantastic Word Cloud Tools for Chromebooks

Word Clouds are a favorite tech tool for classrooms.

You input are large passage of text, and then a shape is created from the words, with the more frequent words displayed in a bigger font size, and the less frequent words shown smaller.

This can be a great tool for many classroom activities:
  • Students can analyze their own writing to see which words they use often (perhaps too often).
  • Brainstormed ideas from the class can be collected to see which ideas rise to the top.
  • Text from famous speeches and writings can be displayed in a cloud to reveal keywords and themes.
  • Submissions from polls and votes can be imported to see the most popular responses.
For years sites such as Wordle and Tagxedo have provided teachers and students with easy to use word cloud generators. Unfortunately those sites use Java and Silverlight which do not run on Chromebooks. As more and more schools deploy Chromebooks, schools have been scrambling to find new options for generating word clouds.

Thankfully there are now several excellent options that use newer technology and will run properly on a Chromebook. See below for five examples of Chromebook-friendly word cloud tools that you and your students can use.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Sorting Text and Tables in Google Docs

Google Docs is loaded with awesome features for creation, collaboration, and communication. However, one feature that is missing is the ability to sort lines of text or information in a table.

In the past the best “solution” we had to this was to copy the text or table from Google Docs, paste it into Google Sheets, use the sorting tools in Sheets to short the information, and then copy and paste it back into Docs.

Although that worked, it was not a very convenient or elegant solution. Well now we have another, better option with the Google Docs add-on called “Docs Tools”. See below for a short tutorial video and detailed directions on how to use this add-on to sort text and tables in Google Docs.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

26 YouTube shortcuts everyone should know

YouTube is a powerful resource for schools. Once you get past the cat videos there are vast amounts of educational videos for all grade levels, subject area, and educator professional development.

(Be sure to visit my YouTube channel for my one-hour webinars, short tech videos, and monthly Google User Group recordings.)

But in addition to just watching videos on YouTube, there are also dozens of keyboard shortcuts you can use to improve your viewing experience. These include keys to jump around in the video, change speed, adjust sound, switch the view, and more.

Google does not seem to have any official documentation on these keyboard shortcuts, so these are ones I have discovered by trial and error, or from other users who have posted online. Because of this, some shortcuts may only work in certain browsers (Chrome is always your safest bet) or may go away without warning.

See below for my list of useful YouTube keyboard shortcuts every teacher and student should know.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Why every educator should be using Google Communities

How would you like a way to connect with hundreds of thousands of educators online? To find others who teach the same subject? To locate classes around the world to collaborate with? To share your ideas and learn from others?

One great way to accomplish all of these ideas is with Google Communities.

Communities is one of Google’s many, but often lesser known, services. However, if you are in education, it is a tool you should definitely be using for yourself, your students, and your school.

See the rest of the blog post below for:
  • An overview of Google Communities
  • Ideas for how you can use Communities in your school
  • A list of some great educational Communities to join
  • A one-hour training video all about Communities
  • And a detailed help guide