Saturday, September 30, 2017

Grids, Timelines, and Notes in Google Slides

This week Google added a handful of new features to Google Slides. Some of them are features that teachers and students have been requesting for years.

Please note that some of the following new features may not appear in your G Suite for Education account for a couple of weeks. All of these features are available now for users logged-in with a Gmail address.

1. Quickly insert pre-formatted timelines and other diagrams.
Now when you open the "insert" drop-down menu you will see an option for diagrams. Choose that option and you'll be able to insert a variety of pre-formatted diagrams including timelines. All of the content within the diagrams can be edited.

2. Add-ons for Google Slides.
There are now seven Add-ons available in Google Slides. Those of interest to teachers and students include Lucidchart, Pear Deck, and Unsplash. Unsplash provides high resolution photographs to re-use for free.

3. Grid view of presentations.
There is now a grid option under the "view" drop-down menu. This lets you see all of your slides in a grid and re-arrange slides by dragging them into different sequences in the grid.

4. Google Keep notes integrated into slides.
Google Docs integrated Google Keep notes earlier this year. That allowed you to drag your Google Keep notes directly into a document. Now you can do the same in Google Slides.

5. Skip a slide without deleting it. 
If you are in the habit of duplicating your own presentations then deleting a slide or two for different audiences, the new "skip slide" function could appeal to you. This function lets you specify a slide or slides to be skipped in a version of a presentation. Skipping a slide doesn't delete it, it just prevents it from being displayed when you're in the full screen presentation display.

Blogging, Math, and Character Scrapbooks - The Week in Review

Good evening from chilly Paris Hill, Maine. The falling leaves, shorter days, and cooler weather remind me of all the chores I need to do outside before the snow flies (the local ski resort made snow this week). One of those chores is touching up some paint around my window dormers. So that's how it came to be that I was on my roof as the moon rose last night. I thought it made a nice picture. As always whether you're doing chores or just relaxing this weekend, I hope that you get some time outdoors too.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Three Thoughts About Making Time to Blog
2. Character Scrapbook Helps Students Analyze Stories
3. 5 Free Resources for Math Teachers Using Chromebooks
4. A Chemistry Rap and Five Resources to Help Students Learn the Periodic Table
5. How to Create a Simple Timeline-based Game
6. How Deep Is the Ocean? - This Video Puts It Into Perspective
7. Turn a Blog Into a Book

This week I will be speaking at the Alabama Independent Schools Association conference. If you're going to be there too, please say hello. And click here to learn how to bring me to your conference.

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Extreme Planet Makeover

Extreme Planet Makeover is an interactive activity produced by NASA as a part of the Exoplanet Exploration website. Extreme Planet Makeover lets students choose the size of a planet, position relative to the largest and nearest star, and planet age. Students instantly get feedback on the characteristics of the planets they create. For example, if it is too small and too far from a star students will see that they created an iceball planet.

Extreme Planet Makeover is one of four Exoplanet Exploration interactive activities. The other three are Interstellar Trip Planner, Alien Safari (I previously featured these here), and Five Ways to Find a Planet (review coming next week).

Applications for Education
Extreme Planet Makeover is a simple interactive that students could use for a few minutes to see how the relative size and position of planets contribute to their characteristics.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

A Blogger Privacy Setting You Might Want to Use

Blogger can be a good choice for many classroom blogs. One of its selling points for schools that use G Suite for Education is that students can log-in by using their school-issued Google Accounts. Another great aspect of Blogger is that you can get a blog started in a manner of minutes. But with that ease of set-up comes some default settings that you might want to change. One of those settings being the privacy settings.

In Blogger you can change a couple of privacy settings. First, it is possible to request that your blog doesn't appear in Blogger's list of published blogs and not to appear in Google search results. Second, you can restrict your blog to viewing only by people who have been invited by email.

Applications for Education
If you use the option to restrict viewing to those who have been invited by email, you're excluding anyone whose email address you don't have. That's not a big problem unless your students have grandparents or other extended family with whom they would like to share their blog posts. A middle ground between having your blog restricted to those invited by email and having your blog completely public is to use the option to remove your blog from public listings and Google search results. This just means that anyone who has the direct URL for your blog can see it, but it won't pop-up in search results.

One last reminder about using Blogger or any other blogging platform with students, always activate comment moderation.

Learn more about blogging with students in my on-demand webinar, Winning Blog Strategies for Teachers

Turn a Blog Into a Book

One of the reasons that I continue to encourage teachers to blog with students is that it helps to create a record of what your students have observed, learned, created, and shared throughout the school year. At the end of the year, you may want to take that blog and turn it into a physical item that your students can share with their parents. BlogBooker is a tool that can help you do that.

BlogBooker is a service that allows you to turn your the contents of your Blogger or WordPress blog into a PDF. Using BlogBooker is a fairly straight-forward process. BlogBooker walks you through each step of the process including the first step which is exporting the contents of your blog as an XML file. The second step is entering the URL for your blog. After completing those two steps just sit back and wait as BlogBooker creates a PDF or Word file based on the text and images in your blog posts.

The free version of BlogBooker limits you to three books and one year's worth of blog posts. There are upgrades available that will allow you to include more blog posts and will include higher resolution images.

Want to try blogging with your students this year? Take a look at my on-demand webinar Winning Blog Strategies for Teachers