Tuesday, August 10, 2021

How to Create Task Reminders in Gmail and Google Keep

 As the new school year approaches we'll all, teachers and students, have goals to do something better this year. If one of those goals is to do a better job of keeping track of homework assignments and other tasks, Google Keep and Gmail have some built-in tools that can help you reach that goal.

Add to Tasks in Gmail makes it easy to quickly add an item to your Tasks list and keep the context of the email connected to the task. The Task will appear in the sidebar of Gmail as well as on your personal Google Calendar. I find the combination of those two things to be tremendously useful in keeping track of tasks that are related emails that I send and receive.

How to Manage Tasks in Gmail

Adding an item to a Tasks list in Gmail can be a good way for students to set reminders for themselves about upcoming assignment due dates. While Google Classroom does provide an option to see assignments on their Google Calendars, some students might prefer to set reminders or advance the due date for themselves. Tasks makes it easy for students to create those reminders.

Google Keep task reminders
In Google Keep you can create task reminders that are time-based and location-based. I use the location based reminders to remember to ask my daughters' preschool teachers questions when I drop them off at school because sometimes I'm a bit rushed and will forget to ask if the alert doesn't pop-up on my phone. The time-based reminders are great for things that aren't location dependent like remembering to write a blog post about using Google Keep reminders. Both Google Keep reminder features are demonstrated in the videos below.

Create Bookmarks & Reminders in Google Keep

Create Location-Based Reminders in Google Keep

Monday, August 9, 2021

How to Use Google Drive to Create a B-Roll Gallery for Your Classroom

The best way to have students avoid accidentally using copyrighted images or videos in their own projects is to use media that they've created themselves. One of the strategies that I frequently recommend to teachers as a way to help students avoid any copyright issues in their work is to use media from a classroom b-roll gallery. You can build this gallery by having students contribute pictures, video clips, and sounds to a shared Google Drive folder. In the video below I demonstrate how to create a shared Google Drive folder.

Even if you do create a b-roll gallery for your classroom, there will still be times that you and or your students need to search the web for images and videos to re-use. In this short video I provide an overview of a few good ways to do that.

Three Time-saving Email Tips for Teachers

Like most people I have a love-hate relationship with my email inbox. Over the years I've tried all kinds of tricks and tools to try to handle my inbox more efficiently. What I've found is that those tricks and tools only work if I also use a time-blocking strategy to decide to clear my inbox (something I only started doing after reading Cal Newport's Deep Work for the second time). Once I have my time block in place then the following tools help me work through my inbox in a relatively efficient manner. 

Message Templates/ Canned Responses
Gmail and Outlook will let you create message templates that you can quickly use as responses to emails or as the basis of an entirely new email. This video will show you how to use Canned Responses in Gmail. Outlook users can create canned responses to use to answer frequently asked questions in your inbox. Here’s a good video overview of how to create and use canned responses in Outlook.

Email Filtering
Not every email needs an immediate response. Not every email needs to be stored in your primary inbox where it clutters and distracts from the task at hand. Create email filters to organize and prioritize the messages landing in your inbox. This video and this video will show you show how to create filters in Gmail and other Google Workspace email accounts. Outlook users, this video is a good place for you to start to learn about using filters and folders.

Schedule Outgoing Email
Let's say it's Thursday evening and you're working on a list of reminders to send to students and or parents for the following week. If you send it that evening, you'll be getting replies all weekend which you can either reply to or ignore until Monday morning. There's a better option. That option is to schedule those reminder emails to not be sent until Sunday night or Monday morning. Here's my video about how to do that.

Outlook users can also schedule emails to be sent at a later date. Here's a great tutorial on how to do that.

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Short Lessons on Geothermal Energy and Volcanoes

Iceland is one my favorite places to visit. (I hope to take my daughters there to hike and camp when they're a bit older). That's why I was excited to see a new TED-Ed lesson about Iceland released last week. To say the lesson is about Iceland doesn't tell the whole story. It's really about why there is so geothermal energy harnessed and used in Iceland. 

Iceland's Superpowered Underground Volcanoes is a TED-Ed lesson that explains what geothermal energy, how geothermal energy plants work, and why Iceland is a leader in the use of geothermal energy. The full video and accompanying lesson questions can be seen here.  

National Geographic's Volcanoes 101 explains the types of volcanoes, their shapes, common locations, and what causes volcanoes to erupt.

Applications for Education
Both of these videos are the right length and have the right style and pacing to make them an excellent candidates for a flipped lesson intended to introduce the big concepts connected to volcanoes and geothermal energy. My go-to tool for making flipped lessons continues to be EDpuzzle. You can learn how to use EDpuzzle by watching the video that is embedded below.

Nimbus Screenshot - Scrolling Annotated Screen Captures

Nimbus Screenshot is a free Chrome extension that I've been using and recommending for the last half-decade. It offers tools for creating screencast videos and annotated screen capture images. Nimbus Screenshot includes a feature called Select & Scroll that proved to be very handy to me last week. Select & Scroll lets you capture not only what is currently visible on your screen but also what's visible when you scroll downward.

I've been working on a project over the last few weeks that has required me to create a lot of annotated screen images. I'm making those as visual aids for explanations. On Friday I had an instance in which I needed to annotate something at the top and bottom of a screen. Unfortunately, what was at the bottom was only visible when scrolling downward. I could have taken two screen captures then merged them together. The easier option was to use Nimbus Screenshot's Select & Scroll feature. After using Select & Scroll to capture my screen I was then able to use all of Nimbus Screenshot's editing tools to adding circles, arrows, and text to my captured image. That was a lot easier than trying to merge two screen captures together.

I use Nimbus Screenshot in Chrome, but it is also available for Firefox, and Edge. A desktop version is also available. In the following video I demonstrate how to use Nimbus Screenshot to create annotated screen capture images.

Applications for Education
When explaining to students how to use a new tool it is often easier to show with them with a screen capture than it is to write out an explanation. An annotated screen capture can also be useful in highlight errors or highlighting good things in a students' work.