Welcome

logoThis site is home to Ramapo Indian Hills High School District Instructional Technology and Staff Development. Here you will be able to find resources and tools to help you become more comfortable using technology with your students and implementing innovative methods in your classroom. Use this website for numerous resources, coaching appointments, newsletters, and workshop materials. I am committed to showcasing some of the great work our staff is already doing while helping to make the technology integration in the classroom both seamless and virtually invisible.

 

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Tech Tip Tuesday: Split Text in Google Sheets

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This one is quick and easy… and quite useful. If you have ever had a list of names or other data that needed to be split into separate columns, then you are in luck. For example: imagine having a roster of student full names and you wanted to make them separate columns.

Here is what you do. In Google Sheets….

  1. Take a spreadsheet with a list of names or other data in a single column.
  2. Highlight all the data.
  3. Then from the Data menu, select Split Text to Columns.
  4. A popup will appear allowing you to choose the separator. For this, example choose Space. But definitely play with the others too at some point!
  5. Your text will now be in two columns, separated at the space. One for First Name and one for Last Name.

Hope this helps!

Tech Tip Tuesday: Check Your Google Accessibility

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Making sure your Google files are accessible is important. Here are a few ways to make your Google files more accessible and readable by everyone, including those with disabilities.

Include alt text

Include alternative text for images, drawings, and other graphics. Otherwise, screen reader users just hear “image.” Some images automatically include alt text, so it’s a good idea to verify that this automatic alt text is what you want.

Add or edit alt text

  1. Select an image, drawing, or graphic.
  2. Right click and then Alt text.
  3. Enter a title and description.
  4. Click Ok.

Use tables for data

Use tables for presenting data, not for changing the visual layout of the page. In the table, include a heading row (rather than starting with data in the first row) because screen readers automatically read the first row as a heading row.

Use comments and suggestions

Use the commenting and suggesting features instead of writing notes within the text of your document or presentation. Screen reader users can jump to comments using keyboard shortcuts rather than hunting through your file. The file owner can also receive email notifications or review comment threads.

Check for high color contrast

High color contrast makes text and images easier to read and comprehend. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 recommend a minimum ratio of 4.5:1 for large text and 7:1 for other text and images. For example, avoid light gray text on a white background.

To check contrast, use the WebAIM contrast checker.

Use informative link text

Screen readers can scan for links, so informative link text is helpful. It’s best to use the title of the page as the linked text. For example, if you’re linking to your profile page, the link text should say “my profile,” not “click here” or the full URL.

Use text to support formatting

It’s best not to rely on visual formatting alone to communicate meaning. Screen readers might not announce formatting changes, such as boldface or highlighting.

For example, to mark an important section of text, add the word “Important.”

Use numbered and bulleted lists

Google Docs and Google Slides automatically detect and format some lists for accessibility. For example, if you start a new line in your document by typing the number 1 followed by a period, the new line automatically becomes the first item in a numbered list. Learn how to format bulleted and numbered lists.

Use headings to organize your document

Headings divide your document into sections, making it easier for people to jump to a section (especially if they’re using keyboard shortcuts). You can use the default heading styles or create your own. Learn how to add and customize headings.

Include navigation landmarks in your document

Landmarks like headers, footers, page numbers, and page counts help your readers find where they are in your document. To maximize accessibility, especially in long documents, include one or more of these landmarks (available in the Insert menu).

Present slides with captions

When you present with Google Slides, you can turn on automatic captions to display the speaker’s words in real time at the bottom of the screen. Learn how to present slides with captions.

 

Hope this helps!

Tech Tip Tuesday: Get Organized Before the Holidays

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With the holidays upon us and the end of 2018 around the corner, now is as good of a time as any to organize your digital self for a smooth transition when you return. Here are some tips:

  1. Clean Up Your Google Drive: Starting at your “My Drive” level, make sure EVERYTHING has a folder. I find the best way to begin organizing your Google Drive is from the top level, making sure everything has a home. There shouldn’t be any documents on their own.
  2. Disregard Your Shared With Me/Recent Folders: These get messy quick and honestly aren’t worth your time organizing.
  3. Save Important Shared Documents: So if someone DID send you something important, and you get the email, just use the “Add to Drive” button, then “organize” to put it in the correct folder so it’s organized from the onset.
  4. Create a STUFF Folder: If you have things you’re not sure you want to delete or where they should go, it pays to have a stuff folder. Think of this as your “junk drawer” in your kitchen…
  5. Star Folders: Have important documents you need to get to quickly? Star those folders in Google Drive. I like to do this to the class folders I am teaching. Have a new half year elective coming up? Star that folder and un-star the previous.
  6. Clean Your Mac Desktop/Hard-drive: Organize your Macbook desktop and hard-drive. If you don’t need it- delete it. I’d recommend also taking advantage of Google Drive and syncing everything to upload there!
  7. Clean Your Gmail: First things first. If you get a lot of junk mail, unsubscribe from those things you no longer need. This is usually found at the bottom of the email message.
    1. Next, create labels (which act like folders) and drag and drop emails into them to organize them better. To create a label, check off the email message you want to label –> click the label icon –> then create new.
    2. You can also color-code these labels. To do this hover next to the label on the left side –> click the 3 dots (more button) –> click label color.

Hope this helps!

Tech Tip Tuesday (Belated)- Force Users to Copy Google etc.

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Ok, so I realized I forgot yesterday’s tech tip. But this one is simple- and cool – and effective.

Instead of making your Google Doc, sheet, or slide only viewable, and having your students or colleagues go to File –> Make a Copy, there is a simpler and cooler way! When in editing mode of a Google Doc, Sheet, or Slide, go to the URL link of the document, go to the end of the URL, and remove everything after the last “dash” (usually it looks like this: (/edit . . .)

Replace it with the word copy, so it looks like this: (/copy). When you post this link or share it out and the user/student clicks on it, it will automatically direct them to “Make a copy” of it. They won’t have any other option and it doesn’t affect your edit copy. This is really really cool.

You can send a user a Slide presentation and automatically send it in “presentation mode”. To do this open a Google Slide Presentation –> remove everything in the URL after the last dash (as noted above) and replace with the word “present” (looks like this: /present). They won’t get editing mode, won’t be able to copy, and see it like you would present it.

Hope this helps!

Tech Tip Tuesday: Differentiate and Optimize Online Reading

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With so many tools to help personalize and differentiate the classroom experience, combing through them all can be a hassle. Don’t fret! I’ve done most of the work and have pulled the ones I think are best and sharing them with you.

This weeks tool helps you share online articles/sites with students while decluttering the page and simplifying the site layout. Check out Mercury Reader! This is a Google Chrome extension, that you can install and activate whenever (this is a great one to share with students). This extension will remove unwanted banners and ads from an online article or webpage, allow the reader to edit the text size/font/color to optimal viewing (great for students with visual issues), and cleans up the page so it is easier to print, download, or attach to Schoology.

To get started: simply go to the Chrome Web Store here –> click to “add to chrome” –> allow the install of the extension to your Google account. A rocket ship icon will be added to the right of the URL box. Whenever you are on a page, click on that to activate!

Hope this helps!

Tech Tip Tuesday: Pro Tips with Schoology Calendar

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So for those of you that want some cool Schoology Pro tips, here are a few:

  1. Create Assignment in the Calendar View: You can actually create assignments from within the Schoology calendar. To do this, at the top of your Schoology window, click on the “calendar” icon –> select the day you want to create the event or assignment on –> select whether this will be for an “event” or “assignment” –> then complete the rest of the form as you would when you create a regular assignment. You can still embed various tools, lock it, enable/disable submission etc.
  2. Sort and Color-code Calendars: While in the calendar icon, you can change which calendar(s) you see as well as color-code them to better differentiate between them all. Simply click “All Calendars” –> check the box next to the specific calendar(s) you want to view to sort. To color-code click on the “calendar” icon –> then click on the colored box to the right of each specific calendar to change its color!
  3. Change Dates on Calendar Events/Assignments: This one is super easy. Just click and drag an event or assignment to the new day. No need to click on it and edit from within.
  4. Add Assignments to Calendar/Upcoming List: To do this you will need to create an assignment, discussion, or test/quiz. Pages won’t work here. When creating, make sure you set a due date, as well as publish the assignment and allow submissions. Once you do that, the assignment/material will get added to your course calendar as well as your upcoming list. If you turn off “submissions enabled” then it will remove itself from the Upcoming list, but remain on the calendar. Once it is unpublished, it will no longer appear on the calendar or the upcoming list.

Tech Tip Tuesday: Raising Digital Hands with ClassroomQ!

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I wanted to share a neat app that was shared with me over the summer at a conference I attended by one of the actual teachers who created it, right here in good ole’ NJ! ClassroomQ is a web-based application that helps teachers organize student questions in an easy to see live feed. What’s great is that this app helps bring voice to those students who are shy or feel hesitant to ask questions. They simply log into the classroom you create via the access code. Then when they have a question, those post it in the ClassroomQ feed for your class. It then keeps track of the order students have questions, and aggregates data in the background (with a Pro Plan) such as how many times a student has logged in, and information from each class session.

To set up a free account, simply go to ClassroomQ.com –> click the “teachers” tab at the top –> then register. Select the free plan, then fill out the necessary information. Once you are in, just simply click “start” to begin a new session. Share the classroom session code with your students, then they go to ClassroomQ.com, click students, then type their name and the session code to enter the room! Simple as that. Toward the end of last year they were giving away a free code for the Pro plan for the year.

Check it out and let me know how it goes!