Thursday, December 5, 2019

How to Find Historical Comics and Create Lessons With Them

A couple of weeks ago I got an email from Docs Teach that featured the idea of creating history lessons that incorporate historical comics. That email sent me to Docs Teach where there is a small collection of historical comics. Since Docs Teach is a project of the U.S. National Archives all of the comics have a record locator that can be clicked to take you into the National Archives' online catalog. It was there that I started to dig into browsing through hundreds of records containing comics and comic books. In the following video I demonstrate how to use the National Archives' online catalog to locate historical comics.


Any document that you find in the National Archives, including comics, can be uploaded to Docs Teach where you can then build online activities for your students to complete online. In this video that I published a few months ago I demonstrate how to create activities on Docs Teach.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Two Neat Polling Tools That I Recently Recommended

I get a lot of questions from readers. I try to answer all of them. Those that I think have a broad appeal I turn into blog posts and or include in my podcast. Earlier this week I received a question from a reader who was looking for suggestions for polling tools that her students can use on mobile devices. I could have recommended Google Forms which does work on mobile devices, but my hunch was that she was looking for something a little different than that. So I suggested trying Acquainted and Sli.do.

Acquainted is different from your typical multiple choice polling tools. Acquainted is a conversational polling tool. What that means is people who take your poll can get an instant response from you based on their poll choices. Your responses are written into Acquainted and programmed to appear to poll respondents as they make answer choices. Watch my demo below then read on for how I think it could be a great tool for self-paced review activities.


Sli.do is a polling tool that I featured as the Practical Ed Tech Tip of the Week in early November. Slido offers a Google Slides add-on that works in conjunction with a Chrome extension of the same name. When combined these tools let you add survey and multiple choice questions to your existing Google Slides presentations. Students respond to the survey questions by entering a Slido code on their phones or laptops. Watch my video below to see how Slido works.

A New Version of Easy Accents for Google Docs

Easy Accents is a Google Docs and Google Slides add-on that I've been using and recommending for years. This morning I went to use the add-on in Google Docs and noticed that there was a little message informing users to install a new version of Easy Accents. The new version works the same way as the old one. According the message from the developer, the reason for the change was a project hosting migration.

Easy Accents for Google Docs and Google Slides provides users with a virtual keyboard that makes it easy to write letters with accent marks in their documents and slides. Rather than having to remember a set of keyboard combinations to create accent marks, you can just pick from a list on a virtual keyboard within Docs or Slides. Easy Accents supports twenty-six languages and offers math symbols. Watch the following video to see how easy it is to use Easy Accents. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Three Google Sites Updates to Note

Right after I finished writing a blog post about how my students are using Google Sites as digital portfolios I jumped into Feedly and found three announcements from Google regarding Google Sites. One of the updates my students will like, one I'll like, and the third is one that someone will like although I'm not sure who. (Note, theses all apply to the current version of Google Sites and not the classic version). 

More Customization Options
Over the next week or so Google Sites users will start to see options to add captions to images in their embedded image carousels, will see more options for buttons on their sites, and will have new table of contents design options. My students will like these updates because it will give them more creative control over their sites. Read more about these updates here

Version History 
The old version of Google Sites included a version history function that could be used to see changes to sites over time much like version history in Google Docs. That function is finally going to be added to the current version of Google Sites in 2020. This will be great for seeing changes over time to site. This feature won't be available until March at the earliest. Read more about it here.

Cloud Search
Cloud Search is a feature that will let users add a new search tool to their sites. Rather than just having in-site search Google Sites will soon be able to have a search tool that can be placed anywhere on the site. Cloud Search will include search capabilities similar to what you'd find with a standard Google search. Read more about it here.

Google Sites as Digital Portfolios

The computer science courses that I'm teaching this year are almost entirely project-based courses. I'm having them do two things to keep track of their progress throughout their projects. One of those things is use Google Sheets to keep track of materials and keep track of their trials. The other thing that they're doing is publishing information about their projects on individual Google Sites.

My students are maintaining individual Google Sites on which they write about and post pictures about their projects. Some students are including unedited video clips as well. With my freshmen students I had them all organize their sites in the same format with pages for every month of the school year. I'm letting my sophomores (most of them), juniors, and seniors organize their sites a little more loosely because they have bigger, but less frequent projects than my freshmen.

Benefits of Digital Portfolios
The benefit of having my students create portfolios is that not only can I quickly see what they're working on, they have a resource they can refer to when they get stumped or need to refresh after a few days off like we just had for Thanksgiving break.

Why Google Sites?
The reason I chose Google Sites for my students' portfolios is that because they all use G Suite for Education they can quickly insert their Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides into their Sites as needed.

How to Make a Website With Google Sites
Watch the video below to learn how to make a website with Google Sites.



Convert Old Google Sites to New
If you still have a Google Site that is in the old "classic" format, you can update it to the new style. Watch the following video to learn how to do that.