Tech Tip Tuesday: Virtual Backgrounds for Video Conferencing with Canva


So I know the year is almost over, but I thought this was neat, and seeing as there is uncertainty regarding our return in the fall, this might be fun. Canva, recently showed how you can incorporate virtual backgrounds/templates into your Zoom Conference.

Zoom has added a whole section of virtual background templates to their collection, giving you more choice when it comes to making your video conferences as fun or as professional as you like.

They’re fully customizable and completely free. You can create a new background for your next class meeting by checking out this link.

To turn on Zoom background follow this:

Sign in to the Zoom web portal.

    1. Click My Meeting Settings, if you are an account administrator or Meeting Settings, if you are an account member.
    2. Navigate to the Virtual Background option on the Meeting tab and verify that the setting is enabled. 

      • If the setting is disabled, click the Status toggle to enable it. If a verification dialog displays, choose Turn On to verify the change.
      • If the option is grayed out, it has been locked at either the Group or Account level, and you will need to contact your Zoom administrator.

Note: Users must logout of the Zoom Desktop Client and login to it again for this setting to take affect.

Hope this helps!

Tech Tip Tuesday: Appsmash With Screencastify


Screencastify recently updated and now integrated with a variety of other apps. This process (formerly called “appsmashing”) is when you take 2 or more applications and combine their uses (and I currently can’t help but think of Captain Planet right now).

Screencastify can now app smash with a few other awesome tools such as Edpuzzle, Wakelet, and Remind. Once you record and create your flipped video/screencast you can directly upload it to one of those apps just by signing into that account via Screencastify. Check this out!

Hope this helps!

Tech Tips Tuesday: Using Zoom in LockDown Browser


Today’s tech tip come shared by fellow teacher Mr. Walkowich as he walks you through how to utilize Zoom within a LockDown browser test or quiz so that students can conference with you should they need assistance.

**Make sure the students create a Zoom account through the Zoom website – they cannot use their Google credentials to log in when in LockDown browser. (I had them use their school email accounts, just create a password to use with the Zoom website (not the app)**
1.  Put a link to in the “instructions” for the test that the students can access during the exam. (LockDown Browser automatically allows students to access URLs placed by the teacher within the exam but will not allow them to navigate away from that specific page).
2. This is the interesting part, but when the students click the link the computer will try to download the information required to join the meeting through the Zoom app but the students can’t access that.  So if they just keep clicking on the link on that page that says “try again”, or “download again” (it’s been different for different students) nothing will work due to LockDown Browser.  Eventually (after clicking once or twice) on those links a new link will appear which will ask if they would like to access the Zoom Meeting through their browser.
3.  They enter the meeting ID and are asked to login with the account they set up through the Zoom website (they can’t use their Google credentials).
4.  They enter the meeting password and then they are in. (I post the meeting ID and password in the instructions of the Schoology test).
I tried it out with my classes and they were able to get in, use the chat or audio to ask questions, etc.  It takes some time to figure out and obviously anyone trying this should practice with their students, but I got my students to the point where they can start the test, access Zoom, and then move forward with the questions all in a span of about 2-3 minutes now that they know how it works.
Anyway, hope this is helpful in some way – I know being able to have my students ask questions verbally makes a big difference for them (especially in this new “digital” testing environment).
Hope this helps!

Tech Tip Tuesday: Virtual Tours With Google and The National Park Service


Looking for something fun to do with your students during virtual learning? Google and the National Park Service teamed up to offer a virtual experience of U.S. parks with a 360 degree adventure!

You can access this by going first going to Google’s Arts and Culture Site (which if you haven’t checked this out yet is a whole other resource to examine). The direct link to the Hidden World of the National Parks is here.

This is a great little resource to spice up your virtual learning with your students and bring a little adventure to their homes. There are also historic sites such as museums, theatres, prisons, libraries, and more!

Hope this helps!

Tech Tip Tuesday: Google Updates and Resources for Virtual Learning


I wanted to share some recent updates and resources that could help you continue to do the great job you are doing with virtual learning. Check out these below:

Google Teach From Home: Information and tools to help you combat teaching from home including a toolkit, how-tos, and more.

Learning Keeps Going: An educator help desk as well as teaching strategies.

Online Games That Are Fun and Educational: A variety of online games geared toward content and different grade levels.

Google Meet Attendance: A chrome extension that helps you collect attendance in a Google Sheet from a Google Video Meet!

Google Meet Grid View: A chrome extension that shows everyone in a Google Meet in a grid view like the Brady Bunch!

Picture in Picture: A chrome extension that lets you watch a video in one part of your screen while keeping eyes on something else, like a video chat, website, etc.

Hope this helps!

Tech Tip Tuesday: New Quizizz Question Types


Quizizz recently updated their question types and now includes 5 different types of questions that you can ask in your virtual quiz/formative assessment. They are: multiple choice, checkbox, fill-in-the-blank, poll, and open-ended. With these new types of questions, your sure to add rigor, dodge easy cheating and get more relevant and original responses far from your basic multiple choice.

Plus, as with ALL Quizizz games, students can play at their own pace or take your gamified “quiz” as homework, as a do now, or as a means of student engagement. What also nice is you can easily throw these new question types into old quizzes or turn old questions into these new question types with the click of a button Pretty cool and dodges wasted time in recreating old things.

For more information about these NEW question types check this out here!

Hope this helps!

Tech Tip Tuesday: Self-Paced Mastery Learning with Schoology


One of the biggest advantage of using an LMS like Schoology, is the ability to create differentiated self-paced learning lessons/units for your students. With Schoology’s “Student Completion” feature, you can create a lesson or unit plan that essentially walks the students through at their own pace, and monitors what they learn by setting “completion settings” that students must abide to for true MASTERY LEARNING.

To set this up in Schoology, simply create your lesson or unit plan. (TIP, there should be a natural progression of ideas here that link together. Consider designing your lesson or unit around BLOOMS. Once it is set and you have everything in your Schoology course/folder follow these steps:

  • Go into the folder –> Click “options” –> click “Student completion” –> Add each assignment you created in the order you want them to appear, from top to bottom –> next to each assignment select a “mastery/completion setting” –> Check “requirements must be completed in sequential order” at the top –> then click SAVE at the bottom.

You have now designed your own self-paced learning activity/lesson in Schoology to really personalize the experience for your students and open you up to make rounds to each student in your classroom, checking in, and building those relationships!

If you want to try this hands-on with me or work together to create your self-paced lesson/unit, please reach out to me.

Hope this helps!

Tech Tip Tuesday: Prepping Students for Virtual Learning


Teaching virtually shouldn’t feel like it is completely different than regular teaching. The things you do and how you do it, as well as the tools you use should continue when teaching in a virtual environment. However, there are a few minor adjustments that should be made. For one, attendance is something you’ll want to think about. In a virtual setting (think college classroom) there may or may not be face-to-face time using a video conferencing app. This option is completely up to you.  But you’ll need some way to regularly take attendance be it a Google Doc, Schoology, a video conferencing tool, etc.

Another key is just making sure all of your documents are up on your Schoology course prior to students jumping in. Consider having an “overview” document/assignment where you outline what they can expect to do, then have everything ready for them to walk right through. This is where Schoology completion settings can come in handy.

Another benefit of both ideas above is that you can be readily available should any students need your help. Imagine this scenario:

The teacher has an announcement in their Schoology course directing students to enter the class using the Schoology Conferencing App or the Backchannel Chat App . Students pop in, teacher takes attendance, and then the teacher outlines what to expect etc. This might last no more than 10 minutes. Now the teacher directs students to their Schoology course. Students go through the overview assignment with the directions, goals, etc. Then they work through the task. The teacher makes themself readily available by staying in the Backchannel Chat App or Conferencing App for any students that might need help., sort of like an open office hour. That’s it!

Last but not least, consider some of the following to help manage your online course.

  • Check-in often and let students know how and where to contact you.
  • Consider establishing a place to study/learn, especially with your struggling learners who can be easily distracted.
  • Rearrange your course in Schoology so that it is easy to navigate.
  • Keep it simple and continue to do what you do daily!

Hope this helps!

Tech Tip Tuesday: Transfer Ownership of Google Drive Documents


Oftentimes, we create documents that someone else ends up taking over. But then the documents sit in our Google Drive, even if we no longer need them. And, if we delete them, the person on the other end will lose that document too (unless they have made a copy of it). So what can we do?

You can transfer the ownership of the document to someone else! Now this only works with people in the same domain, meaning you cannot share something in your RIH Google Drive with someone outside RIH or your personal account even. But, you can transfer ownership from a personal account to anywhere. Here is how…

  1. First, select the individual document or folder that you want to transfer in Drive.
  2. Open the file and click Share in the top-right corner of the file.
  3. Type the email address of the new owner in the “Invite people” field. Click Share & save.
  4. Click Advanced in the bottom-right corner of the sharing box.
  5. Click the drop-down menu next to the name of the person you want to own the file or folder.
  6. Select “Is owner”. Click Done.

It is that simple. Now they own the document and you can delete it from your Google Drive.

Hope this helps!

Tech Tip Tuesday: Add Music or Voice Over to Google Slides


For years, PowerPoint has had the ability to add music or sound files to a presentation giving you the ability to incorporate background music during a presentation, or voiceover during a self-paced lesson/study.

Well, Google has finally added this same feature!

First, you’ll need to add audio files to your Google Drive. The one caveat to using this feature is that the audio file MUST be in your GDrive. So, if you have it on your Mac hard-drive, you’ll first need to upload to your Google Drive. Once you have music in there the rest is pretty easy…

First, open your Google Slides Presentation –> click INSERT –> and click AUDIO. A popup window will load finding all audio files you have in your Google Drive. Select the one you want then click SELECT.

The file will be added to your Google Slide Presentation as an audio icon. You can move this icon anywhere on your slide. You can also edit some features. Right-click on the audio icon, then click FORMAT OPTIONS. This will popup. From here there is a lot to choose from, but click AUDIO PLAYBACK –> then decide how you want your audio to play. You can choose for it to play automatically or on a click, and you can choose for it to only play on this slide, or across all slides by unchecking the box. If your audio file won’t last the length of your slide deck, you can even make it loop upon finishing.

What a fun way to spruce up you (or your students) presentations!

So what if…

  • You created a slide deck as part of a self-paced learning module/activity and you added voice overlay to the presentation.
  • Students added music to a multimedia presentation to make it more engaging and lively. Imagine a history of film presentation, complete with music from major motion pictures. FUN!
  • English teachers added audio files of books/readings to go along with some direct instruction content in a slide deck.

Hope this helps!