Tech Tip Tuesday: Digital Storytelling with Book Creator

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Communicating through a digital medium is a skill that students need to master. Book Creator is an application that allows teachers to build this into their curriculum through an engaging and yet meaning way, that also gets them sharing their voice with a wider audience.

Book Creator is in essence, an app that gets students creating ebooks, where they can embed other tools, develop visual and media skills, demonstrate understanding of a topic, and share it out to the world. I can think of so many projects or activities that we have our students take part in that could be enhanced with Book Creator. Check out this ebook on using Book Creator in HS. Feel free to reach out to me with ideas or to schedule a brainstorming session on how we can implement book creator in your classroom!

Hope this helps!

 

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Tech Tip Tuesday: Get Your Students Podcasting with Synth

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Audio projects are a fun way for students to interact with content in a medium they are often familiar with. With podcasting continuing to build in popularity, finding a way to get your students creating their own is often tedious and could require quite the learning curve. Audio is also a great way to make accommodations for students with special needs.

One simple way to bring audio interaction and podcasting into your classroom is with an app call Synth! Go to gosynth.com, click sign up, and select the Google sign-in with your district gmail account. Click Podcasts –> then create podcast to get started. This is a simple way to create byte-s-zed podcast segments or audio files. Students can use this for reflections, audio exit tickets, language practice with ESL, and of course, creating a podcast as part of a project! You can even embed synth into your Schoology assignment by grabbing the embed code!

Hope this helps!

 

Tech Tip Tuesday: Differentiation, Accessibility, and Personalization with Read and Write

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Are you looking for a tool that can help your students highlight online text, act as a screen reader, leave voice comments, use voice-to-text, include other accessibility and differentiation features? I’ve got your tool!

Read and Write by Text Help has been one of my go-to tools since I was teaching HS english. This is just one of the best all around programs I have used. It can do a number of things including: word prediction when writing, a built in dictionary/picture dictionary, text-to-speech, speech-to-text, screen reading personalization, translation, online text highlighting, and a feature to simplify the page (removing all the unwanted junk around the page).

Simply go to the link above, and click to add it to your browsers as an extension. **You need to be using Chrome for this to work. 

They also offer Read and Write premium free for teachers. Go to this link here to activate: https://www.texthelp.com/en-us/products/free-for-teachers/

Share this with your students so they can use the many features it offers!

Hope this helps!

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!