Sunday, September 30, 2018

2 Google Drive Shortcuts You Will WANT To Do

Back in January, I wrote about two of my favorite topics ↬ Google Drive and organization. You can read that post here: Google Drive Organization You Can Do.  Today, I'm excited to share with you TWO pretty awesome shortcuts you will definitely want to add to your tool belt.

Organization greatly helps your everyday life, and these shortcuts will help you even more. 


Now, you might be thinking ... why would I want to use these? Have you ever wanted a quick peek at a file in your Drive (probably because the title isn't super clear)? Or maybe you are in your Google Classroom folder and you simply want to scan through your student work? What if you are doing a clean up and you want to change names? These 2 shortcuts are invaluable!

Select a file, then click the letter P ↬ a quick preview of the file pops open. From here, you can use the arrow keys on your keyboard (or use your mouse to click on arrows on the screen) to scan through ALL the contents of the particular folder you are in. 

Select a file, then click the letter N ↬ a window will pop open allowing you to rename the file. This makes me super happy, because I don't want double-click to open the file, wait for it to load, and then click in the title box. I know it sounds silly, but every little bit of time-saving is important to me. 

*** BONUS #1 *** ↬ Did you know there are TWO different views in Drive? Yep! To check it out, look for to change your view. It will be in the top right corner, below your profile image.
  • "grid view" arranges your folders & files as small tiles
    • PRO - folders arranged as tiles takes up less vertical space on your screen & provides tiny little previews of files
    • CON - files as tiles take up more space & titles of folders & files are shortened
  • "list view" arranges your folders & files in a vertical list
    • PRO - the full title of the folder & file can be seen, as well as owner & last modified info
    • CON - takes up far more vertical space

Monday, September 24, 2018

4 Troubleshooting Tips You Can Do

If you use Chromebooks &/or GSuite, you may have noticed a few odd glitches this past week. This has inspired today's post where I want to share a few very easy troubleshooting tips. Teachers CAN do these ... students can do some, too ... and knowing how can empower you to solve a vast majority of your tech glitches. 

In my district, we are 1:1 with Chromebooks in grades 1 -12. I split my time between our two elementaries, grades preK-4. I frequently have students sent to me because something isn't working right on their Chromebook. The most common irritant is that the trackpad isn't working "right". Another common issue is the students' password isn't working. And finally, another common issue is the student can't access the program their teacher is directing them to use.

How do you handle this? What can you do? 
Here are 4 tips that you CAN do ↬

1 ↬ Sign out, then sign back in

This is the very first thing I suggest ... and it will solve about 90% of the troubles. Chrome is a browser that can and will update itself, if you completely close it down and restart it. I know it's far easier to just close your chromebook (or laptop) so you can pick up where you left off, and that's ok for a day or two. 

*** BEST TIP: sign out at the end of the day so that you start fresh tomorrow.


↬ Delete the profile(s) and sign back in

Deleting the student's profile (along with any others on the device) can help solve quite a few problems. Recently, we've had a number of students who are being told their is an issue with their password. There's no rhyme or reason, but we've found deleting their profile and adding it back does the trick! I would try doing this before going through the extra steps of contacting the correct people to do a password reset - that may ultimately need to happen, but if you can troubleshoot and fix it, that is a huge timesaver! Plus, it doesn't hurt anything. All of the student's bookmarks, files, and passwords are in the cloud, so log back in & you are in business.

*** BEST TIP: if you are 1:1, keep to this - assign one device to each student - build ownership. Don't let the students randomly use the devices. It's very difficult to make sense of what is actually going on with a device the more students who use it. If you are NOT 1:1, I still recommend assigning the devices. 


↬ Check your wifi network

Sunday, September 16, 2018

5 Chrome Settings You Can Do


Last week, I covered 5 reasons why you should use Chrome. This week, I want to dive further into the settings you can customize in your Chrome profile. This will further enhance your Chrome experience. 

I hope you'll come to love using Chrome just like I did.



Opening Your Settings



Your settings are the key to all things custom for your Chrome account. It is super easy to find. Check out my 1st #EduGIF ! (Thanks, Jake Miller!)

Your settings will open in a new tab and it provides a search bar at the top. Let's go over some simple ways that will make your Chrome account feel like YOU. It's also a great opportunity to make your school Chrome account different from your personal Chrome account.

Before you do anything ... make sure you are in your account. Once you are on the settings page, you should see your account listed. If not, use the sign in option. 

Another note ↬ if you are in a G Suite account for school, your admin does have the ability to restrict or limit several of these options. If you can't adjust in your school account, pop into your personal account and do it. Have fun!


Chrome "Theme"

The first thing you can do to personalize your Chrome account is to add/adjust your "Theme". This is the very first item under "Appearance".


Mine is currently set to "Beach Board". The little square with the arrow pointing out will allow you to navigate to the Chrome Web Store and change your theme. Look around, check them out ... you can always come back and change it later.

As you scroll through them, look closely. Some will only change the image when you open a new tab. Others will even change the look of your tabs! There's no right or wrong ... only personal preference. Try one and see what you think. You can always change it again!


Chrome "Home Button"

The easiest one-click bookmark you can do is to set your "home button" to the location you visit the most often. This option is located just under the Theme option.


Take a few minutes and really give it some thought. First of all, you do not even have to use it, but I find it to be very beneficial. I jump into my Drive all the time. So I've set my home page to my Drive. It's as simple as copy a URL & paste it in. Done. 

The home button is located just to the left of your URL/omnibox. One click and you are home. 

On Start Up, Open Specific Tabs 


Monday, September 10, 2018

#PodPeeks: Well PlayED podcasts

I've been hooked on the podcast "Well PlayED" by Michael Matera. His focus is gaming in the classroom, but really it's SOOO much more! I see his focus as just good, solid teaching. He and his interviewees spend plenty of time reflecting on their time as a student as well as a teacher. 


I encourage you to not only tune in (I'll highlight some episodes below) but subscribe so you can continue your own journey. Here are highlights from 4 of his episodes. If you have even the slightest interest in gaming in your class, this is a MUST LISTEN!


Episode 3: Diving Deep Into Content

Michael talks with Adam Bold (@MrBold05).

The big takeaway I get from this is how Adam changed his learning targets into "mission targets" for his students. His classroom is designed around the theme of being spies who are trying to recover lost history and work for an agency. They use various sources to do their research.

Michael shares a quote at the end which I love ... 
"Play is the highest form of research." ~ Albert Einstein.

Episode 7: Quests for knowledge

Michael talks with Tisha Richmond (@tishrich) about game mechanics. Their focus is "quests". They talk about them as mini adventures for students to go above and beyond. I love it. We all want our students to do this, but most won't without some kind of incentive, some kind of reason. Here are a few things they shared about quests in their classes:
  • based on content's essential questions
  • don't share the quests all at the same time - spread them out
  • should be optional 
  • do not attach to student grades
  • only allow them for a defined amount of time
  • keep them open-ended, fairly unstructured

Episode 53: Homage to the greatest game ever!

Sunday, September 9, 2018

5 Chrome Tips You Can (& Should) Do

A lot of my time is spent on the computer. Learning, creating, troubleshooting, corresponding, etc. With the rare exception, I use Chrome. I use my Chrome account (aka Google) to allow for max productivity since I work in a GSuite school district and have carried that over into my personal life.

Let's start with answering the question, "What is Chrome?" Chrome is a web browser. Its use will provide many benefits. Today, let's look at 5 of them.


1. Chrome is NOT device specific.



By this I mean it will work on ALL devices! It will work on desktops, tablets, chromebooks, laptops, phones, iPods, etc. Chances are, if you can access the internet, you can download Chrome to your device. This will provide benefits to your sanity that I will explain below.




2. Chrome is NOT platform specific.

This means you can use Chrome whether you are a "Mac person" or a "PC person" or if you are a student who has been given a Chromebook. And with very few exceptions, you'll see it works similarly if you move between these platforms. 


3. Chrome contains ALL of your Google account.


What do you use in Google? Drive? Docs, Sheets, Forms, Drawings, Calendars? Classroom? Google Sites? Blogger? Google Keep? More? All of the above? Great! They are all in Chrome! 

Monday, September 3, 2018

Google Classroom You Can Do - Part 3: 5 Ways to Go Beyond the Basics

Welcome to the 3rd, and final, segment in my series about the *new* Google Classroom, with a *bonus* post devoted to how you can learn more about the recent updates.


If you want to start from the beginning, check out my previous posts:



Once you have your Classroom up and running, you might want to start thinking about what's next. It's one thing to have a digital classroom - it's great! But did you know you can do even more? That's right ... some of these are about going beyond IN with your class and some are about going beyond OUTside of your class.



Be brave. Try at least one of the following in the next week or so ... then challenge yourself to try out each of them. They all provide a new tool with added benefits to your class.

Let's jump in.





↬ Share to Classroom extension

This is an EASY one. Extensions provide additional functionality on your Chrome browser and this one is no different. This extension will allow you to literally "push" a website to the students in a Google Classroom you select. Select a class, "push" the site to your students, and within a handful of seconds, the students devices will change.

Imagine the benefits of using this with young students! On days where you don't want to pre-post a link in Google Classroom, or you come across a site on a whim ... this can be extremely helpful. This can be a great time saver, as well. 

You can use this extension to also add the site to an announcement, assignment, or question in a specific Classroom, too. An added bonus is your students can push sites back to you, too, but you choose to accept them or not. I can see doing research with older students, one finding something to share, this tool can help your quickly share out. 

If you only try one of these, please try this one! Teachers I've shown this to swear it's a game-changer ... and it's easy.

To read more, check out Google Classroom's support page.


↬ Using private comments for feedback

I attended a workshop hosted by Alice Keeler, and one of the best tips she shared was how to share private feedback with student by using the private comments. No need to look up contact - no writing emails - easy to track who you've responded to.