Thursday, August 29, 2019

What's New in Google - August 2019

Catch up on everything new in G Suite for Education from August 2019, and see great ideas and resources!

Below is the recorded video from our August 2019 Google User Meeting, along with the meeting agenda and all the awesome resources and G Suite updates from the summer months. This includes 60 new Google updates and 16 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 August 2019 meeting:

Monday, July 29, 2019

My 2019 CFISD Digital Learning Conference Sessions

I am excited and honored to be a featured presenter at the 2019 CFISD Digital Learning Conference in Cypress, TX this July 30th and 31st!

I always look forward an opportunity to see old friends, make new friends, share some ideas, and learn so many new things from others.

Below is a list of sessions I will be presenting at the 2019 CFISD Digital Learning Conference, along with any associated resources. Please feel free to join me for any of these sessions. I look forward to sharing, learning, and chatting with you!

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Digital Wellbeing - Tools to Balance Tech and Life

As much as I love technology, it can still be a challenge to balance its use with the rest of my life. On one hand technology allows me to earn a living, to connect with friends around the world, to find the answer to most any question, and to enjoy the latest bingeable show on Netflix. On the other hand, technology has the potential to consume more of my time than I realize. The challenge has always been finding that right balance.

A while back I wrote a blog post about that challenge, and how I felt I was falling on the wrong side of the tipping point. In the post "Full Bleed" I shared about the need for margin in our lives, and my attempts to reclaim a healthier balance.

Since that time I have seen more and more discussions online centered around the topic of Digital Wellbeing. Many of these posts have highlighted tools, resources, and settings we can use to help monitor our own technology usage, and make changes to make sure technology is a positive influence in our lives. These are important resources for us as adults and educators, as well as for our children, who are growing up in a time of digital ubiquity.

In the post below I have listed a collection of digital wellbeing resources, including online training, apps, settings, and more. I have grouped the resources into two broad categories, although some items can certainly fit into both:
  • Resources for Reducing the Potential Negatives of Technology
  • Resources for  Increasing the Positive Benefits of Technology
I will continue to update and add to this list as time goes on, as this is a rapidly evolving topic. I encourage you to explore these resources, and use the comments at the bottom to suggest others to add. Together we can find the balance that is right for each of us, and use technology as a positive force in our lives and others.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

My 2019 ISTE Sessions

I am excited and honored to once again present at the 2019 ISTE Conference in Philadelphia this June 23rd through 26th.

I always look forward to this opportunity to see old friends, make new friends, share some ideas, and learn so many new things from others.

Below is a list of sessions I will be presenting at the ISTE Conference, along with any associated resources. Please feel free to join me for any of these sessions. I look forward to sharing, learning, and chatting with you!

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

My 2019 IGNITE Conference Sessions

I am excited and honored to present at the 2019 IGNITE Conference in Lafayette, Indiana this June 5th and 6th!

I always look forward to opportunities to see old friends, make new friends, share some ideas, and learn so many new things from others.

Below is a list of sessions I will be presenting at the IGNITE Conference, along with any associated resources. Please feel free to join me for any of these sessions. I look forward to sharing, learning, and chatting with you!

Sunday, May 12, 2019

My 2019 ITIP Google Summit Sessions

I am excited and honored to once again present at the 2019 ITIP Ohio Summit Featuring Google for Education in Columbus this May 13th and 14th.

I always look forward to this opportunity to see old friends, make new friends, share some ideas, and learn so many new things from others.

Below is a list of sessions I will be presenting at the ITIP Google Summit, along with any associated resources. Please feel free to join me for any of these sessions. I look forward to sharing, learning, and chatting with you!

Saturday, May 11, 2019

End-Of-Year Google Classroom Clean-up Tips

(Updated for 2019)

As the school year winds down, most teachers go through some sort of check-out procedure for their physical classrooms, making sure everything is properly organized or put away for the summer. In much the same way, you may want to do some clean-up and close-out steps for your digital classroom ... Google Classroom.

Google Classroom is a powerful tool to help you and your students collaborate and communicate, but when used year after year, it can start to become a bit of a mess and a management challenge. To help with this, there are several suggestions to consider for Classroom when wrapping up the school year.

See below for six steps that may help you clean up your Classroom as you transition from one school year to the next. However, keep in mind these are all just suggestions and each is optional. While some may not apply to your situation, hopefully several will assist you in keeping your Classroom organized, clutter-free, and efficient for a new year.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Best EdTech Links from April 2019

Each month I come across lots of interesting educational technology resources from the blogs I read, podcasts I listen to, videos I watch, or trainings I attend.

As I find these valuable resources I collect them in several ongoing Google Documents for different subject areas including:


These documents are shared with comment rights so everyone is allowed and encouraged to add your own suggestions for links to include.

At the end of each month I like to share my collected resources from that month. See below for the links from April 2019, organized by subject. You will also find my video and podcast episode where I highlight a handful of my favorites from the list.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

What's New in Google - April 2019

Catch up on everything new in G Suite for Education from April 2019, and see great ideas and resources!

Below is the recorded video from our April 2019 Google User Meeting, along with the meeting agenda and all the awesome resources and G Suite updates from the last month. This includes 31 new Google updates and 13 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 April 2019 meeting:

Monday, April 29, 2019

Google Slides Short and Long Vowel Sounds Audio Activity

In my most recent post I shared a collection of web-based audio recording tools that you and your students can use to record and add your voice to Google Slides, or any project. There are many fun and engaging ways this new feature for Slides could be used for teaching and learning.

In the past I have had a lot of fun making drag and drop manipulative activities such as the Build a Snowman, Build a Jack-o-Lantern, and One Fish Two Fish templates. My plan was to combine that sort of activity with the new audio feature in Slides.

To try this out I created an interactive, audio-based activity in Google Slides for practicing short and long vowel sounds. In this slideshow, students are presented with clipart images that have attached audio files with each word spoken aloud. The students can then drag and drop the images to a box with the corresponding vowel sound. (Even if you are not a primary teacher, you can learn a lot about grouping items for any audio activities you might want to make.)

To make this work well, I had to take advantage of a neat option in Slides for grouping items. This allowed me to combine each piece of clipart with its associated audio file. In this blog post we will take a look at how this is done, so you can use this trick to create similar multimedia activities. You can also get a copy of the final template below for short and long vowel sounds to use with your students if you would like.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

4 Free and Easy Audio Recording Tools for Google Slides

The ability to add audio to Google Slides has been one of the most requested features for many years. Being creative, we have worked around this limitation in the past by embedding YouTube videos in Slides, or using a tool like Screencastify to record a video of the Slides while speaking. Although those workarounds still have their place, it is wonderful that we finally have the option to add audio directly to a slide!

Note: This feature is still rolling out to all Google accounts, so if you do not see it in your account yet, you should see it soon!

Being able to add audio to Google Slides can be used in so many ways in school:
  • Narrating a slideshow
  • Reading a story
  • Making an instructional presentation
  • Providing spoken feedback on writing
  • Having student explain a solution
  • Giving directions for a HyperSlides project
  • And much more!

The only big pain point still left is the actual recording of the audio. You see, even though we can now add audio to a Google slideshow, there isn't a simple built-in recording button. Instead you need to record the audio separately with another program, then save it to Drive, and then add it to a slide.

So that brings up the big question… What are some easy ways to record audio? When using my Windows PC, I can use a free program such as Audacity, but many times our students will be using Chromebooks, so we need some web-based options. In this post we are going to take a look at four excellent, free options for recording audio right in your web browser, and how to add that audio to Google Slides.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Hipster Google 2 - Even More Google Tools You Probably Never Heard Of

A couple years ago I shared my original "Hipster Google" post, where I listed a collection of lesser known Google tools. The idea was to have some fun with the "hipster" theme, where something is cool because very few people know about it. Like a band that hasn't become popular yet, or a restaurant that is hidden away, or a style that is not mainstream.

At that time I put together a collection of Hipster Google tools that weren't as popular as the "big ones" such as Gmail, Drive, Docs, and such. Even though these Google tools may have flown under the radar, they were still valuable for use in the classroom.

Well since then, so many new unique Google tools have come out! I have done my best to grab these new tools as they came out and add them to my ever-growing list in Google Docs. However, I did not update my original blog post to share these new tools in detail. So I figured it was time for a new entry to share all of the awesome new Hipster Google resources!

You can see the original list of Hipster Google tools in my blog post from a couple years back: "Hipster Google - Google Tools You Probably Never Heard Of".

And below you can see a new collection of lesser know, but awesome, tools. As always, chances are you will have heard of some of these, but hopefully there will be a few new ones on the list for you to explore. If we all try hard enough we can get schools using these all around the world, and they won't be Hipster anymore. But for now they are, so put on your slouchy beanie and thick-framed glasses and have fun!

Thursday, April 4, 2019

What's New in Google - March 2019

Catch up on everything new in G Suite for Education from March 2019, and see great ideas and resources!

Because of a number of conferences and trainings in the last few weeks, we did not hold our normal monthly Google User Meeting. However, I still wanted to share out all of the new updates from the month, so I have included them below.

We will be back on track with live Google Hangout meetings at the end of April. 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 for 17 new Google updates and 27 Google resources for your class from March 2019.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Introducing the Control Alt Achieve Podcast

I am so excited to announce the launch of the Control Alt Achieve podcast!

Most anyone who knows me well, knows I am a big fan of podcasts. At the moment I am subscribed to over 200 podcasts on a wide range of topics from educational technology to science to movie reviews to "The Weirdest Thing I Learned this Week". Now obviously I can't listen to them all, but it is great to know there is always a good episode of something available anytime I want.

As much as I love listening to podcasts, I have also enjoyed making them. I have actually been part of two shows in the past.

A few years ago, from 2011 to 2013 I joined up with my friends Eric Griffith and Sean Beavers to record "The State of Tech" podcast where we explored a different edtech topic each episode, and highlighted awesome things happening around Ohio (the "State" of tech, get it?)

Even further back, from 2007 to 2009 I did "The Treasure Chest" podcast where I shared technology resources and websites aligned to the Ohio Academic Content Standards. To keep with the theme of the title, I started each episode with a hearty "Ahoy there mateys! This be the Treasure Chest. Arrrrrr!"

As you can see, the bar has been set high.

Well I am so excited to be back with a new podcast. See below for details on what the Control Alt Achieve podcast will be, and information on how to subscribe and stay in touch.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

My NETA 2019 Sessions

I am excited and honored to present at the 2019 Nebraska Educational Technology Association (NETA) Spring Conference in Omaha on March 28th.

I always look forward to an opportunity to see old friends, make new friends, share some ideas, and learn so many new things from others.

Below is a list of sessions I will be presenting at NETA 2019, along with any associated resources. Please feel free to join me for any of these sessions. I look forward to sharing, learning, and chatting with you!

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Graph a Pi-Line Skyline with Google Sheets

Pi Day is March 14th each year (since the date is 3/14 and Pi starts out with 3.14). As a previous middle school math teacher, this is always a fun day to be a math nerd, do Pi-themed educational activities, and of course eat some real pie!

Over the years I have shared a couple technology activities for celebrating Pi Day. These include:

  • Create "Pi Poems" with Google Sheets - A fun creative writing project where students make a poem where the length of each word corresponds to each digit in Pi.
  • Discovering Pi with Google Sheets - An interactive hands-on activity where students measure real world circular objects, compile their data in a shared collaborative Sheet, then looks for patterns to discover Pi.

This year I wanted to add another tech activity and was inspired by a creative project where students make Pi-themed artwork. The idea is for students to create a vertical bar graph, where each bar's height corresponds to each digit of Pi. This gives the impression of a city skyline, which the students them color in to make their own art piece.

Although this is a fantastic paper and pencil activity, it could also translate over to a fun technology version. This project can be done with Google Sheets to add in an element of learning how to use a spreadsheet to make a bar graph, while still having fun and making a colorful creative work of art.

See below for details on how this can be done, as well as a template you can use (if you would like) to help your students with this project.

Monday, March 11, 2019

15 More Instant Google Searches for You and your Students

A while back I shared a post on 20 of my favorite instant Google searches (you can see that post and those resources at this link.)

The idea is that when you do a Google search, sometimes Google goes above and beyond the normal list of search results and provides instant search cards at the top of the page. These cards contain the information you searched for, but also include interactive controls to let you dig deeper, branch off, or experience the information in a more engaging manner, which can be valuable for both teachers and students.

In my earlier blog post we explored search tools for rolling a die, setting a timer, defining a word, calculating areas, running a metronome, and more! Since then Google has added many new interactive instant searches, so I thought it was time to share a second installment. See below for 15 new searches with details on how they work and how they can be used in school.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Add Videos to Slides with the Screencastify Add-on

Having been in education for last 27 years (but who's counting?) I have seen incredible advancements in technology. One area that has experienced much growth is recording and sharing video. I remember doing video projects with students using a large camcorder that recorded to video tape. Then we got those flip video recorders that we all thought were the height of technology. And of course now we can record with everything from phones to webcams to drones.

As easy as it is now to record video, anything we can do to make the process even smoother is a win for our students. Technology shouldn't put up hurdles to jump over, but instead empower our students to seamlessly create, express, and share their ideas.

Recently one of my favorite video tools, Screencastify, has made this process even easier with a new add-on for Google Slides. This new tool allows users to locate their recorded videos and insert them into their slideshows with fewer clicks and less time than ever. This can be especially helpful for younger students and for those still learning how to use these tools.

See below for details on how to install and use this new add-on, as well as ideas for how students can use this in school.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Background Removal Tools and Activities

Last year I shared a post on finding, creating, and using transparent images in education, such as having students cut themselves out of a picture and them put themselves into a new image.

Since then, we have seen lots of new tools pop up that make the process so much easier for removing the background of an image. So I figured it was time to revisit this topic, explore the new tools, and expand on the ideas for how students can use these in school.

The big reason for these new tools is the growth and improvement in artificial intelligence. In the past, if you wanted to remove the background from an image, it was a very manual process where you would select and delete portions of the image bit by bit. Now with machine learning, most or all of the heavy lifting can be done by the computer as it is getting so much better at identifying separate items in an image. It's like "green screen" without the actual green screen.

In this post we will look at some new tools, as well as review some classic options that still have their place, and then explore fun and engaging projects students can do. As we look at the tools we will start with the most easy to use and then move to those that require more input from the user, but also give more control.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

My OETC 2019 Sessions

I am excited and honored to once again present at the Ohio Educational Technology Conference (OETC 2019) in Columbus this February 12th through 14th.

I always look forward to this opportunity to see old friends, make new friends, share some ideas, and learn so many new things from others.

Below is a list of sessions I will be presenting at OETC 2019, along with any associated resources. Please feel free to join me for any of these sessions. I look forward to sharing, learning, and chatting with you!

Sunday, February 3, 2019

What's New in Google - January 2019

Catch up on everything new in G Suite for Education from January 2019, and see great ideas and resources!

Below is the recorded video from our January 2019 Google User Meeting, along with the meeting agenda and all the awesome resources and G Suite updates from the last month. This includes 23 new Google updates and 27 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 January 2019 meeting:

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

My 2019 FETC Sessions

I am excited and honored to be presenting at the Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC 2019) in Orlando, Florida this January 27th through 30th.

I always look forward to an opportunity to see old friends, make new friends, share some ideas, and learn so many new things from others.

Below is a list of sessions I will be presenting at FETC 2019, along with any associated resources. Please feel free to join me for any of these sessions. I look forward to sharing, learning, and chatting with you!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Google Tools and Activities for Art Education

Although there is no replacement for getting your hands dirty with finger paints, technology can offer many ways for students to be creative when making art. In addition to creativity, technology can also allow students to explore and learn about art in new and engaging ways.

There are so many awesome technology tools for art, including desktop programs, mobile apps, and interactive websites. Along with all of those, there are many tools from Google that can help with teaching, learning, exploring, and creating art.

In this blog post we will look at a wide range of Googley tools and activities for art. Many of these have shown up in one form or other on my blog in the past, but I thought it would be helpful to pull them all together in one place. As I come across more resources in the future, I will be sure to add them to this growing list.

See below for the activities, and as always, feel free to use and share however you like!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Google Tools and Activities for Music Education

A lot of times it is common to focus on "The Big 4" of language arts, math, science, and social studies, when exploring technology tools for learning. However, it is important to see how technology can be integrated into all subject areas and skills.

One excellent area for using Google tools is in music education. Technology can help students create their own music, as well as explore and understand musical concepts that may be difficult to visualize otherwise.

In this blog post we will take a look at many tools from Google, or that work with Google, that can be used for teaching, learning, and creating with music. These include Chrome Music Lab, Song Exploder's Inside Music, AI Duet, Groove Pizza, Mix Lab, Flat, and many more!

See below for details, links, and descriptions for all of these tools.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Googley Activities and Tools for Primary Students

A common question I receive from folks is how can younger students use Google tools? I am always happy to email them my collection of resources, but figured it might be easier if I pulled everything together in a single blog post.

Over the years I have come across and/or created a wide range of fun and creative ways to use Google tools with primary aged students, typically considered to be pre-K through grade 2 or so. In this blog post I will share descriptions of and links to these activities. As I make new ones over time, I will try to come back and add them to this post so this stays up to date with all my resources.

In addition to the things I have created, I would certainly encourage you to also take advantage of some other fantastic educators who focus on the primary grades:


See below for the resources and have fun learning!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Get Healthy with Google Fit and My Maps

With the start of a new year, many of us are thinking about New Year's resolutions. And of course, one of the most popular goals each year is to exercise more.

Unfortunately statistics show that less than 10% of people are able to keep their resolutions. So how can we help to increase our motivation and commitment? One option is to make a game out of it by using technology to track our progress. What if we kept track of how many steps we took, and then mapped out that distance each day to see how far we traveled all year?

There are many tools you can use to do this, but in this post we will be taking a look at two free tools from Google. These are Google Fit (to count our steps) and Google My Maps (to track our cumulative progress on a map).

This could be a motivating project for staff, but could also have many applications for our students:

  • Social Studies - learning about the locations reached on the map over time.
  • Language Arts - writing about the "journey" and places visited.
  • Math - distance traveled, averages, charts and graphs, and other statistics topics.
  • Health and PE - staying active!

See below for details on how to use these two tools for this project. How far will you go?