Monday, June 23, 2014

How to Send Emails from a Google Spreadsheet

Have you ever found yourself sending strikingly similar though slightly different emails to all of your students or all of their parents at the same time? If so, you may have entered the email address, copied and pasted a message into the message, modified it slightly, then pressed send before repeating the process for the next message. That can be time consuming. Instead, save yourself a ton of time by sending emails from a Google Spreadsheet. Doing this requires adding a script to a Google Spreadsheet containing email addresses. It might sound complicated, but it really isn't. Watch the short video below from the Google Developers team to learn the process.

Applications for Education
Using this Google Spreadsheet script could be a great way to send similar though slightly customized messages to students and their parents. I might use it to send feedback to students on things that don't necessarily fit into the school's LMS.

Use a Google Form to Keep Track of Student Blogs

One of the questions that I am often asked about using blogs in the classroom is, "how do you keep track of them all?" Even if you have all of your students contributing to the same blog it can be difficult to keep up with all of the posts. One strategy that I've used in the past is to have students enter their names and links to their most recent posts into a Google Form. All of their submissions will appear in a tidy spreadsheet. In that spreadsheet I can see a timestamp, name, and the link to go directly to a student's most recent post. I can also add a column in the spreadsheet for noting whether or not I have given them feedback.

I offer strategies like this one and many more in my Practical Ed Tech course, Blogs and Social Media for Teachers and School Leaders

Socrative Was Acquired by MasteryConnect - Here's What You Need to Know

Disclosure: MasteryConnect has been an advertiser on this blog for three years. 

Last week the popular student response service, Socrative, was acquired by MasteryConnect. This afternoon MasteryConnect sent out a message about the acquisition.

Prior to the announcement I asked MasteryConnect's CEO, Cory Reid, if the they planned to keep Socrative running. His answer was an unequivocal "yes." I also asked Cory if they planned to keep Socrative as a stand-alone service or roll it into the MasteryConnect platform. This was his response,

It will stand alone, for the foreseeable future with easy click access to MasteryConnect, and vice-versa. Eventually, it will merge into MasteryConnect as a product available on the platform.

The biggest question whenever a beloved web tool like Socrative is acquired by another company is "will it keep running?" The answer here is yes. The second biggest question is, "will it stay free?" The answer here is yes.

If you haven't tried Socrative in the past or you haven't tried the latest version, take a look at the video below to learn all about it.

19 Educational Games About U.S. Civics

iCivics is an excellent source of educational games that offer lessons in civics. Since its launch a few years ago, iCivics has steadily grown to the point that it now contains nineteen educational games for students. All of the games require students to take on a decision making role. To succeed in the games students have to apply their understanding of the rules and functions local, state, or Federal government. Some games require an understanding of the U.S. court system and or the Constitution.

A few of the iCivics games that I have tried and enjoyed are Law Craft, We The Jury, and Do I Have a Right?  Law Craft helps students understand how a bill becomes law by making them Representatives of a state of their choice. As Representatives students have to propose a bill that serves their constituents then see that bill all the way through to becoming a law.

In We The Jury students choose to be one of six jurors at a trial. Students then hear the facts of the case, hear closing arguments from the plaintiff and the defendant, and then go off to deliberate in the jury room. Students can deliberate for up to five days before handing down the verdict. During deliberations students examine evidence, listen to the opinions of other jurors, and try to reach a unanimous decision. Throughout the process students are reminded of the roles of jurors and to stick to only the evidence and arguments permitted by the judge.

Do I Have a Right? is a game in which students decide if a client has a right to sue under Constitutional Law. Students play the role of the head of a law firm specializing in Constitutional Law. To succeed in the game students have to review the claims of the potential clients and match them to a lawyer who specializes in the appropriate aspect of Constitutional Law. This game is also available as an iPad app called Pocket Law Firm.

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