Saturday, April 27, 2013

A Quick Round-up of New Google Drive Features

This week Google Drive received a few new updates. One of them is fairly obvious if you collaborated on a document this week. The others were not as obvious, but are none-the-less significant.

Now if when you collaborate on a Google Document you will see the Google+  profile picture of your collaborators. Click the image to learn more about the person. The chat feature of Google Documents is tied to the Google+ integration. Click the new chat icon to start a group chat with your collaborators. It's important to note that if you have anonymous collaborators (which can happen if you share a document using the "anyone with link" option) they appear as animal avatars. If you're working in a Google Apps for Education school that has not enabled Google+ you won't see this new feature either.

We've been able to use Google Drive offline for a while now. There are two new aspects of this to note. First, now you can use Google Drawings offline. Second, Google Drive will now automatically synchronize all files that are supported for offline use. You do have to have offline access enabled in order for these two new features to work. Click here for directions on how to enable offline access for Google Drive and remember that you have to enable it on each computer that you plan to use offline.

To keep up with all of the new features of Google Drive as they're announced, follow Google Drive on Google+.

Week In Review - Deep In the Heart of Texas

Good morning from Maine where I'm home after a week of presenting at conferences in South Dakota and Texas. Thank you to all who came out to attend one of my workshops or keynotes. It's truly a privilege to get to work with so many teachers, librarians, and school leaders. I very much appreciate the kind people who go out of their way to come say hello when I'm out at a conference. And it's because of all of you that read this blog and share links from it that I'm able to speak at so many events throughout the course of the year. Thank you.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. VideoNotes - A Great Tool for Taking Notes While Watching Academic Videos
2. gClassfolders Version 2 Improves Google Drive File Management
3. How to Add Voice Comments to Google Documents
4. 5 Ways to Blow the Top Off of Rubrics
5. Lots of Answers to Common Google Apps Privacy & Security Questions
6. 5 Sites Students Can Explore to Learn About Career Options
7. Persistence - The Key to Successful Classroom Blogging

Would you like to relax and learn with me this summer?
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Friday, April 26, 2013

Reminder - Posterous Is Shutting Down - Here's What To Do Next

Like many others this morning I received a reminder from Posterous that the service will close on April 30th. If you don't export your content from Posterous by April 30th it will be gone forever. So if you have anything on a Posterous blog that you want to save, take action now.

In this post I used annotated screenshots to show the basics of how to export your content from Posterous.

In this post Wes Fryer provides detailed directions on how to import your Posterous content into WordPress.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Three Good Ways to Use Socrative In Your Classroom

The last part of the short presentation about backchannels and informal assessment that I gave at the Texas Library Association's conference was spent on Socrative. Just as I did for Padlet and TodaysMeet, I shared three ways that Socrative can be used in school. Those ways are outlined below.

Use Socrative to gather anonymous questions and answers:
The single response activities in Socrative allow students to reply to your prompt or question without entering their names. In a single response activity you verbally pose a question or prompt to your students and they respond with a word, sentence, or multiple choice selection. The anonymous reply format is useful for surveying students when you’re asking them to submit responses to questions or prompts that they might be reluctant to share in an open format.

Use Socrative to administer short quizzes:
The quiz-based activities in Socrative allow you to give your students short quizzes that include multiple choice, true/ false, and short answer responses. The new option to include pictures in your questions allows you ask questions about diagrams, charts, and any other item that you have an image of. You can set the quiz to give students immediate feedback on the multiple choice and true/ false questions. You can see the results of the quizzes in real-time and download a report of all students’ answers when all of your students have completed the quiz.

Use Socrative to host a “space race” in your classroom:
A fun way to use Socrative is to host a team "space race." A space race is a competitive format for quizzes. Space race can be played as a team or individual activity. Each correct answer moves a rocket ship across the screen. The first person or team to get their rocket across the screen wins. Your space race questions can be pulled from a quiz that you have stored in your Socrative account.

Disclosure: Socrative's parent company, MasteryConnect, is an advertiser on this blog.

Three Good Ways to Use Padlet In Your School

This afternoon at the Texas Library Association's annual conference I gave a short presentation about backchannels and informal assessment. Some of you may have seen the Padlet wall that I posted here for a few hours as a part of that presentation. During the presentation I mentioned three ways to use Padlet in schools. Those ways are described below.

Using Padlet as a KWL chart:
Padlet can be used to create a KWL chart that students can contribute to anonymously (or not anonymously if you want them to sign-in). Create a wall, make it public, and ask students to share what they know and what they want to know about a topic. If you allow anonymous posting you might get contributions from shy students who might not otherwise speak-up in class. Of course, if you allow anonymous commenting you should have a conversation with your students about what an appropriate comment looks like. (You could also turn on moderation and approve all notes before they appear). Padlet works well when projected on an interactive whiteboard.

Using Padlet for group research:
A couple of years ago I showed my special education students a short (18 minutes) video about cultural changes that took place in the US during the 1920's. After the video we discussed what they saw. Then I had students search online for other examples of cultural change in the 1920's. When they found examples they put them onto a Wallwisher wall that I projected onto a wall in my classroom. The wall started with just text being added to the wall and quickly progressed to YouTube videos being added to the wall. Once every student had added a video to the wall we stopped, watched the videos, and discussed them.

Using Padlet as a showcase of your students’ work:
If your students are creating digital portfolios, creating slideshows, or producing videos you could use Padlet to display all of your students’ best work on one page. Create the wall, call it something like “my best work this year,” and have your students post links to their works.