Tech Tip Tuesday: Using Google Jamboard as a Digital Whiteboard

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If you haven’t played around with the Google Jamboard, you are missing out. Not only is it a physical board found in the model classrooms, but it is also a free digital whiteboard that you can access from your Google apps in your own classroom at any time WITHOUT the need for the physical board! Even cooler? Students can use their personal devices (cellphones if they download the app) and their Macbook Airs to collaborate with you on it.

What can you do with it:

  • Brainstorm notes or create a classroom mind-map of something they are studying with you as the COO (Chief Operations Officer) at the helm, guiding it all.
  • Using phones, you can drop in files from individual Google Drive accounts into the “jam”.
  • Have groups collaborate and share individual slides/pages within the “jam”.
  • Map out essays, historical battles, drop in images/maps/emojis, etc.

To access the Jamboard app, simply open your Google Rubik’s cube (located in top right corner of your Google search window) –> click it and find the Jamboard app (“J” logo, you may need to scroll down the list a bit to find it) –> click to open –> Then just click the orange “+” sign in the bottom right corner to start a new “jam” –> then share it as you would any Google file.

Need some PD hours and want to learn more about the Jamboard app/physical board? Check out this blended learning style PD module here!

Hope this helps!

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Tech Tip Tuesday: Make Your Own Google Substitutions

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Here is another quick Google tip! You can make your own substitutions, which will help a lot during writing. Google docs make a list of auto substitutions, but you can also customize it as you like. To do this: Go to Tools –> Preference –> make a change in your requirement. You’ll notice a list with two columns, Replace and With. The text in Replace is what you type and the text/symbols in With is what will be substituted when the corresponding Replace strand is entered. When you are done click OK.

You can also click to turn off all automatic substitutions by unchecking the Automatic substitutions box, or you can turn off specific substitutions individually by unchecking the box next to that entry.

Hope this helps!

Tech Tip Tuesday: Bring Schoology and Google Together

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Google Drive works within Schoology. Unfortunately, many of our students do not know this and when they try to submit a Google Doc or slide, it doesn’t submit correctly, often showing some HTML coding or script. Once they figure out the correct way, they can submit their work right from their Google Drive. And you as their teacher can upload/attach/embed Google files to your Schoology assignments. Here is how you and your students can sync Google Drive to Schoology.

First, at the top of your Schoology window select the “Apps” –> “App Center.” Locate the Google Drive Resource App –> click on it –> then “Install Resource App” –> “Add to my resources”. Google Drive should open a pop-up window asking for permission to access your account/drive. This is ok as Schoology and Google need to sync across each other’s interface. Allow this!

Whichever app(s) you installed should now show up under “resources” –> “apps”. Select “Google Drive” (if not already opened) and the right column should now open with all of your folders and/or files from your Google Drive. From this you can: open a file or folder that you want (which opens it in Google Drive on the web), create a new folder/doc/sheet/slide/drawing, or import the document as a file or link (to do this place the check next to the document you want to select and the “import” button will appear next to “add resources.” These are the same steps you want your students to follow if you want them to sync their Google Drive accounts to their Schoology.

Next, to have students submit work from their Google Drive simply have them click “submit” in your assignment –> “resources” –> “apps” –> “Google Drive” –> select the file they want by placing a check in the box next to the file –> then “import” –>
“import file.”

Pro Tip: When creating an assignment in Schoology, don’t just insert the link or attach a file, instead, embed it! If it is in your Google Drive simply create an assignment as usual but then click the “insert content” button –> “Google Drive” –> check the file you want to embed –> “import” –> “import embed.”

Hope this helps!

Tech Tip Tuesday: Direct a Comment to a Specific Person in Google Docs

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This one is short and sweet, but definitely a neat little trick to try. The benefits of using Google Docs are in the ability to collaborate seamlessly with everyone. By leaving comments, everyone can see and respond to them as needed down the right hand side of the page. However, there are times when you may want to give someone a specific task, or comment to an individual person.

To do this, simply leave a comment as you normally would on the document by highlighting a word or phrase and using the “insert” –> “comment” option or “right-click” –> “comment”. In this message, type “+” followed by the person’s email address like this: “+namaral@rih.org”. This person will then receive an email that you mentioned them in a comment and others will see that you directed this specific comment to that person.

Those people will then be able to check the comment, and complete it as requested. Simple, but effective! Great for designating tasks to specific students during a writer’s or reader’s workshop, during a science lab, during a socratic seminar, or as part of a group project.

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: End of Year Google Cleaning

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The end of the year is quickly approaching. With that, I wanted to share a few tips for cleaning your Google Drive, Gmail, and Calendar.

  1. Make sure everything has a home in Drive: This is key. Google Drive works from the top level down, meaning, if you can get everything in your “My Drive” folder in a folder, then cleaning up the things within these folders will be SO much easier.
  2. Color-code or star your Drive folders: If you right-click on a folder in your Google Drive, a quick menu will appear. Click on or hover over “Change Color” to pick a color for your folder. This makes it easier to locate specific folders in thumbnail/tile view. Also, in the quick menu is an option to “Add Star”. Starred folders appear in your drive drop-down menu, separating them from everything else for quick and easy access. It’s a good idea to update this yearly with your most used folders (especially if you have folders for specific classes). If your classes change, then you can just right-click on the folder and “Remove Star”.
  3. Create an “Archive” Drive Folder: One good idea is to create a yearly “Archive” Folder. Then, drag everything from this year into that folder. This is great if you have a lot of student work that has been shared with you, that you don’t want to clutter up your drive or get mixed up with your own personal resources.
  4. Archive old Email: This is a quick and effective one. Check the box next to an email message, then choose the “Archive” button at the top. This will clean up your inbox, but still make it where all of those archived emails are accessible/searchable.
  5. Hide Old Calendars: In Google Calendar, you can easily hide from calendars you no longer want to see in your dropdown list. Simply hover over the calendar, click on the 3 dots (more option), then select “Hide Calendar”. This doesn’t remove you from them, just removes them from the list!
  6. The dreaded “Shared With Me” Drive Folder: This one is a pain. But simply, just go in here and look for things you want to keep. If you want it, click and drag it to the folder you want to organize it in. As far as everything else? Don’t touch it. The same goes for your “Recent” folder. I wouldn’t try to clean this out.

Tech Tip Tuesday: Search Gmail Like a Pro

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Gmail includes a pretty simple feature that allows you to search for specific emails using some clever operators. You can type in that search bar, add in some words, and hope to locate the specific email you are looking for. But sometimes, you get back way too many or you can’t locate what it is you seek. I put together a Gmail Crib Sheet that covers the Gmail Operators and how to use them. You can access the document here!

Hope this helps!