Tuesday, October 27, 2015

NatGeo Map Maker Interactive - A Good Classroom Alternative to Google Maps

National Geographic's Mapmaker Interactive can be a good alternative to using Google Maps in your classroom. Mapmaker Interactive offers a number of features that students and teachers can utilize without the need to enter an email address or register to use the Mapmaker tools. Those tools include measuring distances, adding placemarks, layering information, and switching between base map layers. In the video embedded below I provide an overview of the features in National Geographic's Mapmaker Interactive.

9 Google Apps Productivity Tools & Tips for Teachers

The one thing that every teacher wants more of, besides salary, is time. I can't give you more time in the day. What I can do is point you to some tools and techniques for completing routine tasks more efficiently.

Email:
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, if 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.



When you receive a document that needs to be signed, you don't need to print it if you use Hello Sign. Hello Sign offers a Google Drive app. You can also use it without integrating it into your Google Drive account. Learn more about Hello Sign in the video below.


Grading:
Flubaroo is a popular Google Sheets Add-on that enables me to grade all at once all of my students' responses to a quiz created in Google Forms. The autograde option in Flubaroo allows you to have students automatically receive their scores after submitting their responses to a quiz you created in Google Forms. The autograde feature will send students an email with their scores and the answer key (you can exclude the answer key). With autograding enabled students do not have to wait for you to run the grading process or wait for you to send emails. You can also print grades from Flubaroo and or save them as a PDF.

Online Rubric is a Google Spreadsheets Add-on that enables to you create rubrics, enter scores, and email scores to students all from one place. Online Rubric provides very clear instructions for each step of the processes of creating a roster sheet, creating a rubric, and emailing grades to students. The video below provides a demonstration of how to use the Online Rubric Add-on.


Doctopus is a Google Spreadsheet Add-on that can help teachers manage the flow of shared work in in their Google Drive accounts. The basic concept behind the Add-on is to enable teachers to quickly share documents with all of the students on a roster, monitor usage of shared documents, and give students feedback within that roster spreadsheet. When Google launched Google Classroom it seemed that Doctopus might become redundant, but that has not exactly become the case as Justin Brink demonstrates in the videos embedded below.



Scheduling:
Lab Scheduler is a neat Google Sheets Add-on that enables you to easily create and maintain a lab or room reservation system for your school. It is designed for schools that use a labeled block schedule (for example, the high school in my district uses "period 1" through "period 8" even though there are only four periods in a given day). Once you have added Lab Scheduler to your Google Spreadsheet it will walk you through the process of creating blocks of time and lab/room space in your spreadsheet. You can set your Lab Scheduler to maintain a preview of as many dates as you like. The preview is what people will see when they want to make a reservation. Share the spreadsheet with your staff and they can reserve a block of time in it.

YouCanBook.Me is a meeting scheduling tool that integrates with your Google Calendar and is easier to use than the appointment slots feature in Google Apps for Education calendars. YouCanBook.Me allows people to book fixed blocks of time in your calendar. You identify the times in your calendar that you are available to meet. Then when someone needs to schedule a meeting with you, you send him or her a link to your booking calendar. Visitors to your calendar click a block and enter their email addresses to reserve a block of your time. When a block of time is reserved you receive an email alert and the other person receives a confirmation email.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Review Halloween Safety With Kahoot

In this week's Practical Ed Tech Newsletter I demonstrated how to search for, duplicate, and edit quizzes in Kahoot's public gallery. If you take a look at that video, you'll notice that I found lots of quizzes about Halloween and Halloween safety. Playing those quizzes could be a great way to review Halloween safety with kids before they head out to trick o' trick this Saturday. If you missed it earlier, I have the video embedded below.


Applications for Education
Kahoot provides a fun way to gather feedback from a group through their phones, iPads, Chromebooks, or any other device that has a web browser and an Internet connection. You can include pictures and or videos as part of each question that you create and share in a Kahoot activity. Players are awarded points for answering correctly and quickly. Or you can turn off the points system to use Kahoot in a non-competitive environment.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

How Stress Affects Your Body - A TED-Ed Lesson

Hopefully, as you read this you've had a relaxing weekend absent of stress. As we all know, stress can do some odd things to us. From headaches to backaches to just flat-out getting sick, being stressed is not fun for anyone. But why do our bodies react to stress? And which systems in our bodies are impacted by stress? The answer to those questions and more are found in a new TED-Ed lesson How Stress Affects Your Body.


As we start to head into mid-term exams in some schools and later final exams for the semester, this might be a good time to remind students to get proper rest and take other steps to keep their stress levels in check. This video is also a great reminder for all of us to take steps to take time to decompress when we're feeling stressed. Speaking of which, Vicki Davis has some good tips on dealing with stress at school.

Go On Safari in Google Earth

A couple of nights ago I opened Google Earth to search for something completely unrelated to what I'm sharing in this post. When I opened Google Earth I was greeted by a pop-up promoting a new-to-me file in Google Earth called Go On Safari. This file is a 66 placemark tour of wildlife in Africa.

The Go On Safari tour is based on the work of Mike Fay's Africa Mega Flyover project which set out to study the impact of human activity on wilderness and wildlife. You can find the tour in Google Earth under the Primary Databases and Voyager layers.


Applications for Education
One of the great things about Google Earth is that it lets students see places in ways that paper maps and pictures cannot. Encourage students to dive deeper into the placemarks on this tour or others and see the landscape around the stops on the tour. Ask them to analyze how the physical and human geography has shaped places and impacted wildlife in an area.