Thursday, November 10, 2022

Now You Can Use Focusable Without Registering for an Account

I have been using Focusable since September to help me stop procrastinating and focus on the work that I need to get done when I'd rather be doing something else. Focusable isn't just for adults. In fact, it was created for classroom use. However, Focusable has always required that users register for an account in order to use the platform. That can be an obstacle to using it in some school settings. Focusable has remedied that problem by now offering an option to use the platform without registering for an account. 

Anyone can now use Focusable by simply going to When you use that link you'll be directed to Focusable's countdown timer page. You set the timer for the length of time you need. Once the timer has started you can access the breathing and visualization activities that Focusable offers. 

When you use Focusable without an account you don't have access to the video journaling feature. Nor do you have access to a record of how many Focusable sessions you've done. 

Watch my new video that is embedded below to learn how to use Focusable without registering for an account. 

Fun Facts About Turkeys - And a Digital Turkey Project

We frequently have wild turkeys come through our backyard. And almost as frequently one of my dogs will chase them until they fly off. I was recently telling a friend about this pattern and he said, "I didn't know that turkeys can fly." That's actually a pretty common response if you don't live where wild turkeys live. 

The fact that turkeys can fly is one of many fun facts about them. A couples are that they eat a lot of acorns and they will tear up your lawn looking for grubs and insects to eat. SciShow Kids offers a short video that is full of other fun facts about turkeys.

By watching Fun Facts About Turkeys students can learn a bit about the anatomy of turkeys including what the gizzard does, the calls that turkeys make, and their diets. 

In the fall of 2020 the switch to online and hybrid classes presented lots of challenges and required changing the way that we did some of our "old go-to" activities. For example, I received a few emails from readers looking for some ideas on how to do a digital version of the classic Thanksgiving Thankfulness Turkey project in which students add feathers to a drawing of turkey and each feather has something they're thankful for written on it. My suggestion for creating a digital version of the Thankful Turkey was to use a combination of Pixabay and Google Drawings. I made this short video to illustrate how that process would work. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

SpacesEDU Updates iPad App

Spaces is a digital portfolio tool that I've covered since the beginning of 2021 when it launched with a great feature called Asynchronous Breakout Rooms. Since then it has grown to include better reporting features and "best of" showcase features. The latest update comes in the form of an updated iPad app

The updated app is designed for students. The previous version was focused on teacher use. The updated Spaces EDU app includes single sign-in, summary statements, and a compatibility with landscape and portrait mode. 

Create a “Best of” Portfolio

One of the things that first drew me to Spaces was the ability to create individual, group, and whole class portfolios. But until now there wasn’t a way to quickly put the same submitted work into multiple portfolios. That has changed with the latest update to Spaces. Now you can quickly copy students’ work from a group or class portfolio into an individual portfolio. This makes it possible to do something like create a “best of” portfolio for students to share work that they have done in groups and done individually throughout the year.

Tips for Managing Google Drive Folders

A couple of mornings ago a reader asked me to help her figure out how a Google Doc she didn't remember sharing was accessed by a colleague. After ruling out that her account had been compromised I discovered that the document in question was part of a shared Google Drive folder. The document was created while she was in the shared folder and therefore it was automatically shared with everyone who had access to the folder. 

Monday's experience prompted me to record a few short videos to explain some settings and share some tips for managing Google Drive folders. 

In An Overview of Google Drive Folder Sharing Settings I demonstrate and explain how to create a folder, how to put files into and take them out of folders, and how the permissions of a shared folder impact the permissions of the files within the folder. 

How to Color Code Google Drive Folders is a short video that shows you exactly what the title states. Color coding your Google Drive folders can make it a little easier to quickly recognize important folders like those associated with your Google Classroom.

You can share your Google Drive folders and files for set duration of time by creating an expiration date for access to them. Watch How to Set Expiration Dates for Google Drive Folders & Files to learn how to place time limits on your sharing settings.

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

CollegeLab - A Tool to Help Students Find Colleges They May Like

A long time ago when I was a high school student trying to decide where I should go to college the process was a rudimentary one. I flipped through the U.S. News and World Report's giant book of college rankings, looked for ones that I thought I could possibly get into (my GPA was not the best), and the ones that I could possibly afford. Then I went to the college fair at my high school and looked at the pictures of the campuses to finalize my application decisions. In the end, I didn't end up at any of those colleges that had fancy pictures at the college fair. I've probably turned out okay...

Today, there are better ways for high school students to learn about colleges than through the rudimentary method that I used and that you might have used. One of those better ways is to use an online tool like CollegeLab

CollegeLab recently removed their paywall to make it free for high school students (ages 16 and above) to use to identify colleges that fit with the criteria they choose. Students can enter information about themselves to find colleges that could fit with their needs. Some of the information students can enter include GPA, SAT score, ACT score, academic interests, type of school, size of school, and location. CollegeLab then takes that information to find potential matches for students. 

Part of what CollegeLab includes in their matching tool is an acceptance probability calculator and an ROI calculator. The ROI calculator shows debt-to-earnings ratios associated with different majors at different schools, scholarship information, average repayment time data, and loan options. 

Tools like CollegeLab can be helpful in starting the process of identifying the colleges to which students may want to apply. That said, I don't think they can replace getting one-on-one advice from a good high school guidance counselor and or other adults who have gone through the selection and application process.