Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Handle Your Email More Efficiently With These Tools

Like most people, I have a love-hate relationship with my email inbox. As soon as it gets close to empty, it fills up again. I'm sure you can relate.

While I'm still not the best at handling my email efficiently, I do have a few tools that have helped me become a little more efficient. 

Auto Text Expander for Google Chrome is a convenient Chrome extension that I've recently started using. The extension enables me to create keyboard shortcuts for words and phrases that I frequently use in emails. In the video embedded below I provide a short overview of how this helpful Chrome extension works.

Add Reminders is a Google Sheets add-on that enables you to send emails from a spreadsheet. The add-on will format your spreadsheet so that you simply enter reminder messages and email addresses then specify a date on which you want your reminders sent. The Add Reminders Add-on allows you to send the same reminder to everyone in your email list or you can send individualized reminders to everyone in your email list. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to use the Add Reminders Google Sheets Add-on.

The Add Reminders add-on for Google Sheets is great if you just need to send reminder emails. However, ff you want to create custom, personalized emails then you're going to need a slightly different spreadsheet script. 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.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

CNN Student News is Back for 2015-2016

For years CNN Student News has been my go-to resource for current events lessons for middle school and high school students. This week CNN started to roll out new Student News episodes for the 2015-2016 school year.

The video format for this school year is the same as it has been for years. The roughly ten minute episodes feature US stories, a world news stories, "shout out" to a classroom, and a quick quiz. Transcripts for each show are available for download. On the CNN Student News site you can also find suggested viewing questions to cover with your students.

Padlet Privacy & Sharing Settings You Might Have Overlooked

Last week Padlet launched an iPad app to complement the outstanding web tool that they've offered for years. This morning someone on my Facebook page asked about an alternative that students could use if they didn't have email addresses. I replied with a short explanation of how Padlet can be used by students without using an email address. To further that explanation, I created the short video that is embedded below.

I've added this video to my playlist of Practical Ed Tech Tips and my playlist of Padlet tutorials.

How Students Can Create Movies and Digital Posters With Artifacts from the National Archives

The National Archives Experience Digital Vaults is one of the resources that I almost always share in my workshop on teaching history with technology primary sources. The Digital Vaults offers good tools that students and teachers can use to create content using images and documents from the National Archives. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how students can create digital posters and movies in the National Archives Experience Digital Vaults.

Applications for Education
Creating a short video featuring artifacts from the National Archives could be a great way for students to summarize a topic or theme in US History. When I've used it with students in the past I have asked them to demonstrate an understanding of the connections between the artifacts that they chose to use in their videos.

Please note that the Digital Vaults website loads a lot of media when you visit it for the first time. Give it ten seconds or more to load everything before you start to create and investigate. It also helps to be using an updated browser (Chrome or Firefox are best). 

Coordinate Back-to-School with Choice Eliminator and Google Forms

This is a guest post from Kate Wilson (@KateWilson13) of EdTechTeacher, an advertiser on this site.

Google Forms can be one of the best tools in the classroom for data collection and assessment as well as a great resources for teachers to use in order to get information from parents. In this Back-to-School season, you may need to coordinate times for parent-teacher conferences or the donation of shared classroom school supplies. While Google Forms offers a simple solution, teachers still need to spend time sifting through all the various responses - particularly when parents are trying to select a time or sign up for a single resource.

What if there was a way to eliminate choices from a question so as not to have sign-up conflicts? There is!


Choice Eliminator is a Google Forms Add-On that removes options from a Google Form as they are selected by users. Need more than one quantity of an option? Advanced options allow Form creators to set the number selections available.


Implementing this function requires just a few steps. The first time you want to use this Add-On with Forms, you must give permission for your Google Account to use the Choice Eliminator by going to “Get Add Ons” under the Add-Ons menu. Search for “Choice Eliminator” and select the “+Free” button. You will get a permission pop up. Be sure to hit “Accept.”

Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 8.13.03 AM

Next, you need to create a form with options such as Multiple Choice, Drop Down, or Checkboxes. Once you have all your custom options, select “Start” under the Choice Eliminator menu under the Add Ons.


This will open a sidebar application within the form. Select each question you wish to customize and check “Eliminate choices.” If you would like a choice to disappear only after a certain quantity has been selected, select “Choice Options” to set the quantities.

Every Google Form automatically generates a Google Sheet, so once responses start filling in, your appointment book or sign-up sheet is automatically created. Now that the information is in your Sheet, you can use the arrow buttons for each column to sort the data. With just these few steps, you can create an efficient and easy way to coordinate with your parents and students.

Looking to learn more for Back to School? EdTechTeacher is hosting a FREE Back-to-School Webinar Series. They also have a number of great resources about working with Google Apps for Education on their site.

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