Saturday, November 8, 2014

Three Google Drive Updates You Might Have Missed This Week

This week Google announced three updates to Google Drive that will be of interest to you if you are a regular user of Google Drive. First, as I outlined on Thursday, Google updated the Drive for iPad app. If you have updated your iPad to iOS 8 you will see an option to secure the app with Touch ID. The updated app also included a couple of small workflow enhancements.

This week users of the Google Drive desktop app for Mac and PC received an update that allows them to open files stored in their Google Drive accounts in another desktop application. For example, if you have a Keynote file saved in your Google Drive account you will now be able to right-click on it to open it Keynote on your Mac without having to first download it then open it. For this to work you do have to have the Google Drive desktop app installed and have offline access enabled. That requirement could be a limiting factor in schools in which students share computers.

The third update to note is a new default user interface for Google Drive. Google launched the "new" Google Drive user interface back in June and it has been slowly rolled-out to those who have wanted to use it. Starting this week the new user interface will be the default view and you will have the option to return to the old interface for a while although the old interface will eventually be phased out. This update should make it easier to introduce Google Drive to your students and colleagues as all will be looking at the same user interface.

As always, if you're in a Google Apps for Education domain you may not see these updates immediately if your domain admin does not have you on the "rapid release" track for updates.

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from O'Hare International Airport where I am waiting for a flight to take me home after a great few days of speaking at conferences. On Thursday morning I spoke at ECOO's Bringing It Together conference in Niagara Falls and yesterday I spoke at ISLMA's annual conference in Tinley Park, Illinois. It was an honor and a pleasure to deliver the keynotes at both events. The highlight of both conferences was meeting so many of you who have read my blog for years, thank you.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Candy Crime Scene - A Science Lesson
2. Block Posters - Use Standard Printers to Print Posters
3. 5 Ways to Collect Digital Exit Tickets
4. A Handful of Resources for Teaching About Thanksgiving
5. How to Create a Multimedia Timeline
6. 5 Great Activities from Read Write Think
7. The New Google Drive Empowers Language Learners

Would you like to have me speak at your school or conference? Click here to learn about my keynote and workshop offerings. 

Later this month I'll be offering another section of my Practical Ed Tech webinar series Getting Ready for GAFE. This webinar series has a graduate credit option, click here to learn more about it.

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
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Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
MasteryConnect provides a network for teachers to share and discover Common Core assessments.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers graduate programs for teachers.
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EdTechTeacher is offers professional development workshops in Boston, Chicago, and Atlanta.
StoryBoard That is a great tool for creating comics and more.
BoomWriter and WordWriter are fantastic tools that help students develop their writing skills.

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Friday, November 7, 2014

Sights and Sounds of the Berlin Wall

Sunday will mark 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. To mark the occasion, SoundCloud (a German company) has produced a 7 minute 32 second recording of sounds of the Berlin wall. The recording is that length to match the amount of time it would have taken for a sound to travel the length of the Berlin Wall. The recording features sounds of guards, dogs, gunfire, and politicians. Along the soundtrack you will see annotations. Each annotation lists a person who died trying to cross the wall.

The Google Cultural Institute has exhibitions about the fall of the Berlin Wall. Visions of Division is a collection of images, videos, and text documenting the history of division of Berlin. The Fall of the Berlin Wall takes viewers through the events leading to the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Watching the fall of the Berlin Wall was one of the moments in my childhood when I realized that I really enjoyed learning about world events. I distinctly remember watching the ABC Nightly News that evening (on and old black and white T.V., we got a color T.V. for Christmas six weeks later). On YouTube I found some clips from that broadcast. I've embedded one of those clips below.

H/T to The Next Web for the SoundCloud recording. 

A Guide to Blogging and Examples of Classroom Blogs

This morning at the ISLMA Conference I gave a short presentation on blogs and social media for teachers and school leaders. There were a few folks who expressed interest in coming to the session, but weren't able to attend so I promised to post the highlights here.

Embedded below you should see my 90 page guide to using Blogger. The guide covers everything from starting your first blog to privacy settings to editing your blog's layout. The guide also includes a glossary of terms frequently used in blogging. Click here to download the guide.

Five important lessons I've learned about using blogs in school:
1. Just ship it. Don’t spend too much time worrying about how the blog looks from a design standpoint because you can always tweak it later. When you’re getting started any of the standard templates from Blogger,, KidBlog, Edublogs, or Weebly will do. The important thing is to get the blog started. As one of my bosses at FedEx used to say, “don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.”

2. Send out a blogging mission and permission notice to parents. Your school may not have a policy about student blogging, but it’s still a good idea to send a notice to parents about why their children are blogging. If you work with students under 13, you will want to explain how their privacy will be protected (no faces posted, no last names, pen names, etc). Jen Deyenberg shared a good blogging permission form here. A quick Google search for “blogging permission slips” will generate a bunch of other samples to evaluate.

3. Review Internet safety and etiquette protocols with your students. Planet Nutshell offers an excellent set of cartoon videos on Internet safety.

4. Create guidelines for how the classroom blog is to be used by students. If you’re planning to use the blog for active discussions with students, talk with them about tone. You might make it a classroom activity to develop online discussion norms. If you’re planning to use the blog as place for students to showcase their work, talk with students about how to offer constructive criticism. If the blog is going to include a widget through which students submit assignments, talk about file types and formatting so that you don’t pull your hair out converting a myriad submitted file types.

5. Expect that something will go wrong. You can plan until the cows come home, but there is always something that doesn’t go according to plan. In the case of classroom blogs that could be a mistake you make in posting a link or an inappropriate comment that a student writes. Treat these mistakes like any other mistake that happens in a classroom and turn them into teaching opportunities. If you made a mistake in posting a link or you posted a video that didn’t play correctly, explain what happened to the students so that you can all learn together. If a student posts an inappropriate comment (you should have comment moderation enabled to grab it before it goes live) use that opportunity to review Internet safety and etiquette with the student.

40+ Examples of Classroom/School/ Library Blogs

Bet You Didn't Know - A Short Lesson on Veterans Day

The History Channel has a neat series of short videos called Bet You Didn't Know. These videos provide a short history lesson on various holidays. Veterans Day is next week. If you're looking for a short video about the holiday, check out Bet You Didn't Know: Veterans Day. The video explains the origins of the holiday and why its date of celebration has twice shifted in the United States. The end of the video includes an explanation of the differences between Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

Applications for Education
PBS News Hour has a basic lesson plan about Veterans Day. That lesson plan includes giving this quiz to students before showing them Bet You Didn't Know: Veterans Day.

For more resources on Veterans Day, see this list created by Larry Ferlazzo.