Friday, February 10, 2017

My Five Most Frequently Recommended Google Forms Add-ons

I receive a lot of emails from readers who have questions about Google Forms and G Suite in general. Many of those questions are answered with a suggested Google Form Add-on. The right Add-on can go a long way toward streamlining your process for completing common classroom tasks like keeping track of supplies or organizing classroom volunteers. Here are the five Google Forms Add-ons I refer people to more than any others.

CheckItOut is a great little Google Forms Add-on that allows you to create a simple check-out/ check-in system. With CheckItOut enabled in Google Forms you simply title the set of items that people will be checking out (iPads for example) then choose if you want people to choose from check boxes, a list, or multiple choice question. Watch the video below to see how the CheckItOut Add-on works.

g(Math) is a Google Forms Add-on that allows you to insert graphs and mathematical expressions into your Google Forms. To insert graphs and equations into your Form select g(Math) from your Add-ons menu and follow the directions that pop-up on the right side of the screen.

Choice Eliminator removes response choices from your Google Form as they are used up. This can be handy when you are having people complete a Google Form in order to select meeting times with you or you're having them complete a form to indicate what they are sending into school for a class party. To use Choice Eliminator start by creating your Google Form as you normally would. Then enable Choice Eliminator on your Form. Once Choice Eliminator is enabled you can select the question or questions that you want to have choices removed from as they are used.

Email Notifications for Forms lets me receive not only a notification in my email when someone completes one of my Forms, it also lets me see their complete responses in my email. In the video below I demonstrate how it works.

FormLimiter allows you to set a time for a form to automatically stop accepting responses. You can also use FormLimiter to set a limit on number of responses a form will accept. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to enable and set limits on Google Forms.

Searching and Sharing Are Thinking Skills

Searching for information in many ways is easier today than ever before. You can search by typing a query into a search engine, you can speak to search, and you can use the camera on your smart phone to search by image. In a new city and looking for a good place to eat? Just turn on your phone's location data and Google will give you all kinds of recommendations.

But while we have more tools to locate information than ever before, we don't necessarily find better information or even accurate information through all of those tools. That's why whenever I teach search strategies, the first thing that I talk about is the thought processes needed in order to form a good search strategy. For me and my students this always begins with creating a list of the things we know to be facts about the topic we'er researching. That way, we can quickly check the information we find against that which has already been established as fact.

Similarly, in a time in which we're increasingly aware of fake news being spread through social media, we should be teaching students to look at social media news stories with a critical eye. Does the story seem to good to be true? (Why would an airline give away $500 to the first 1000 people to like something on Facebook? Answer, they're not). Do the "facts" in a headline seem incongruent with what you know to be facts? Did you actually read the story? These are all things that we should be asking before sharing.

I'll be sharing more thoughts on this topic in Search Strategies Students Need to Know

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Tutorials to Help You Get Started Creating Apps in Your Classroom

The MIT App Inventor is a fantastic tool for any teacher who would like to have his or her students try their hands at creating a working Android app.

The MIT App Inventor works in your web browser (Chrome is recommended). The only download that is required for App Inventor 2 is the optional emulator. The emulator allows people who don't have Android devices to text their apps on their desktops. If you have an Android device then the emulator is not required and you don't need to worry about installing it. MIT provides excellent support documentation and curriculum for classroom use for new users of App Inventor. Tutorials are available as videos and as written PDFs. A couple of the videos are embedded below.

Mailbag - Answers to Questions from Readers

Every week I receive dozens of questions from readers. Some of the questions are quite specific while others are broad enough that many people can benefit from the answers. Here are some of the broader questions that I have answered lately. (Some of these questions have been edited to remove school identifying information and or for clarity).

Do you know if there is a way to embed a widget into Google Classroom? As in I would like to embed the Latin LolCats widget by Laura Gibbs so that everyday my students would see one of the Latin LolCats (these are proverbs with cat picture illustrations).

Unfortunately, at this time there isn't a way to embed that widget into your Google Classroom stream. Of course, you could link to a webpage that contains the widget or other element that you want your students to use.

I love the automatic grading in Google Forms. My question is, is there way to set a time limit on the quiz but still be able to let kids who are absent take the quiz when they come back to school?

The Google Forms Add-on called FormLimiter will allow you to set a time at which your form will automatically stop accepting responses. You can disable the Add-on at any time too. So if you wanted to use the Add-on during a class period then reactivate the quiz at a latter time, you can do that. I have a video on how to use FormLimiter.

Hi Richard, I'm an ESL teacher. I've used SoundCloud in the past to have students record themselves reading sentences that I have printed on documents. I like being able to comment on their recordings. It's hard to keep track of all of the recordings though. Can you think of a better way?

Depending on the technology you have available to you and your students' comfort level, there are a couple of options that come to mind. First, you could have your students enter the URLs for their recordings into a Google Form. That way you can have all of their submissions organized by timestamp in a corresponding Google Sheet. Another option could be to use TinyTap's new Talk or Type feature that allows you to create simple quizzes that your students respond to by speaking into their iPads.

I have to find a way for each teacher to collect and put team points in daily to one place ( through an ipad). Hopefully the software will total each team's daily points to display digitally on a school wide TV. I don't want to burden the staff with very much or they won't want to do this. I have looked into Google Doc spreadsheets but can't figure out how to get a daily total and show the scores in a visual way for elementary students. I was going to create a daily Google Form for each teacher to just put in Team 1 through Team 6's scores but can't get farther in the daily totaling and display of those scores.

The first thought that comes to mind is to use a Google Form that has multiple pages in it. Make the first page just one question that asks teachers to identify which team they are adding points for. Their answer to that question should then direct them to the page that has the entry form for just that team. To do this you will have to create multiple pages in your form so that each team has its own page. The concept is similar to the one I explained in this video

How to Insert Videos Into Google Slides Without Using YouTube

Yesterday, Google finally made it possible to insert videos into Google Slides without the need to host your videos on YouTube. You can now simply upload a video to Google Drive then insert it into any of your Google Slides presentations. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to do that.

Applications for Education
As I wrote yesterday, this feature is one that teachers have requested for years. Finally, our students can use videos in their presentations without having to upload them to YouTube.