Wednesday, April 13, 2016

How to Change Your Google Profile Image & Why You Should

When your school issues you a new Google Apps for Education account your profile picture will just be a simple letter icon featuring your first initial. Many people leave it that way only because they don't know how easy it is to change it. In the video below I demonstrate how to change your Google profile image.

Applications for Education
Changing your Google Apps profile image can help with name recognition so that parents begin to put a face with a name as soon as they start receiving emails from you. They won't have to wait until the first parent-teacher conference or open house night to make the association between your face and name.

If you have more than one teacher in your district with the same name or similar name (at one point there were three Mr. Burns and a Mr. Byrne in my district) students seeing an email with your profile picture can visually confirm that they are emailing the correct person.

Learn lots of tips like this one and get in-depth Google Apps training in my online course Getting Going With GAFE

A Short Overview of Workflow in Google Classroom

This week I wrapped up a series of workshops that I facilitated for a local school district that is transitioning to Google Apps for Education. To synthesize how everything in Google Apps for Education, particularly Google Classroom, can work together I created a short workflow list. The Google Classroom workflow list has three sections covering the workflows for homework/ long-term assignments, polls and quizzes, and posting announcements. Grab the Google Docs version of this workflow and you can print it has a handy reference guide.

Workflow for homework/ long-term assignments:
1. Create your assignment descriptor/ template in Google Docs or Slides.

2. Post assignment in Google Classroom.

3. Check “done/ not done” status of assignments in your Classroom stream.

4. Review completed assignments. Add comments to students’ work in Google Docs or Slides (if that is how they completed assignment).

5. If you’re using the Google Classroom gradebook, enter grades.

Workflow for polls/ quizzes:
1. To create a poll that will not be graded, select “create question” then write your question. You can create short answer or multiple choice questions.

1. To create a quiz that will be graded, first create your quiz in Google Forms. Directions for creating quizzes in Google Forms are available in this video playlist

2. Post your Google Form as an announcement in Google Classroom.

3. To grade the responses to your quiz, use the Flubaroo Add-on for Google Sheets. Directions in this video

Workflow for distributing announcements/ assignment reminders:
1. Post announcement/ assignment in Google Classroom for students to see. Students who have the Google Classroom mobile app installed will receive a push notification (provided they have notifications enabled).

2. To share the announcement/ assignment reminder with parents you will need to email or text message them directly. To send email reminders in bulk use the “Add reminders” Add-on for Google Sheets
Directions available here

Try Remind to send text message reminders
Remind tutorials

Topics like this one and many others are covered in-depth during the Practical Ed Tech Chromebook Camp and in my online course Getting Going With GAFE.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Scribeasy Offers Great Visual Prompts for Creating Short Stories

Scribeasy is a free iPad app that offers a fun environment in which students can write short stories. Students create stories on Scribeasy by first selecting a background image then dragging and dropping additional pictures onto their chosen background images. When students select objects to add to their backgrounds, a narrator reads the name of the object aloud. Students can move and resize all images to create a visual story in Scribeasy.

Once the visuals are in place on Scribeasy students then write a story about the scenes they've created. The next step is where Scribeasy shines. Scribeasy gives students a list of suggested words to use in their stories. The writing process is a timed activity. Students can choose to write for a short, medium, or large amount of time (they can extend the time if needed). Completed stories are saved in the app. Students can also save their stories to the camera roll on their iPads.

Applications for Education
Scribeasy could provide reluctant writers with a comfortable way to get started on the writing process. The image selection process could trigger a bunch of story ideas for students to write about.

How to Create a Vocabulary Sorting Game on Classtools, developed and maintained by history teacher Russel Tarr, offers lots of great templates that you can use to create review activities for your students. Recently, I received an email from a reader who was having trouble with the Dustbin game template on To help her out I created the video that you see embedded below.

Applications for Education
Playing the Dustbin game could be a good way for your students to review key vocabulary terms. In a science classroom you could create a game in which students sort animal names into the categories of mammal, reptile, fish, and bird. In a geography classroom you could create a game in which students sort city names according to state, province, country, or continent.

Why Are Airplane Engines So Big? - How Jet Engines Work #STEM

Minute Physics recently published a great new video about jet engines. In Why Are Airplane Engines So Big? viewers can learn why jet engines have gotten larger over time, why they biggest engines don't always go on the biggest or fastest airplanes, and the basic principles of jet propulsion. The video briefly explains the mathematics involved in determining at which point an engine becomes too big or too small to be efficient. It is a fast-paced video so your students may need to watch it a couple of times to catch everything.

Last year I had the privilege to fly on an A380. The A380 is the largest commercial jet in the world. As I saw the plane towering over the jetway in Dallas I couldn't help but be amazed at the engineering that makes it possible for something so large to fly across the Pacific in one shot.  The explanation can be found in a Minute Physics video that Airbus recently sponsored. How Do Airplanes Fly? explains the roles of wings, propellers, turbines, and wind currents in making a plane fly.

These videos could be the basis of a flipped science lesson. In this post I provided an overview of how to use five services to create flipped video lessons.

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