Thursday, January 28, 2016

Google Tip of the Day: Notifications Rules in Sheets

Do you ever want to be automatically notified of changes that happen in Google Sheets?  Well, you can.  Follow these steps.

  1. Click Tools>Notification Rules.
  2. Select your settings.
  3. Click Save.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Google Tip of the Day: Protect a Cell Range in Google Sheets

Do you have a Google Sheet for which you want various people to fill in information but you are concerned they will delete information others enter?  Of course you can use the Revision History to help but you can also protect a range of cells.  Here is how it is done.

  1. Click Tools>Protect Sheet.
  2. Select the cells you do not want others to be able to edit.

  3. Click Set permissions.
  4. Select Only you unless you want a few others to be able to adjust that information.
  5. Click Done.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Google Sheet Motion Charts

So often we see bar charts and pie charts.  Why not try motion charts?  This makes your charts come alive and truly communicate what you are trying to get across to your audience.  Here is an example of how you can take data collected on population growth in 3 Central Texas counties.

  1. Type your data in Google Sheets like this.

  2. Highlight all the data displayed.
  3. Click Insert>Chart.
  4. Select the Chart types tab.
  5. Select only Use row 1 as headers.
  6. Scroll down and click the motion chart.
  7. Click the Insert button.

  8. Change Population to Time on the chart.
  9. Select your color, size, and counties as needed.
  10. Click Play to see the awesome results.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Writing Notes vs Typing Notes

As devices continue to permeate classrooms across the country, we must consider the impact they are making on learning.  Of course that's the very reason we want to integrate technology.  We want to enhance learning and give students an opportunity to use technology in appropriate and acceptable ways.  At first glance, many would say the technology our students use help learning.  How many times have you heard the phrase "That's just incredible what our kids can do with technology."  Too often we assume that using technology automatically makes our students more productive and increases their understanding.  As an example, many teachers may ask students to type their notes like they use to write their notes in class.  There is certainly some benefits of doing this and we are thankful that students are using the devices that cost so much but is it truly impacting their learning?  Though we hope students are spending less and less time listening to lectures and taking notes, the fact is that they still do.

A few studies have been conducted comparing writing notes vs typing notes on a laptop.  One of the most well known is from Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer.  This post from Scientific American explains the idea in detail.  Essentially, educators are challenged with teaching our students that simply typing the notes does not mean they have a deep conceptional understanding of the material.  If we want students to truly understand the material, draw conclusions, make connections, apply concepts, and evaluate the evidence, we need to encourage them when they type notes to take it further.

Here are some ideas of how student digital notes can be improved and hopefully increase comprehension.  Share your ideas in the comments section.

  1. Google Docs- Assign students to share notes from Google Docs and then add comments to each others, ask questions, etc
  2. Diagrams-  Required students to take notes but then put them in a diagram with tools such as Google or Gliffy.
  3. MindMapping- Students can explain concepts using MindMup or
  4. Sketchnoting- If students are using tablets such as iPads consider having them sketchnote using apps such as Paper 53, Skitch, or Flipink

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Edlio: Page Editor Including New Features!

Edlio has recently made several great updates to their product.  In this post I will share how to add content including the updates to the Pages Editor.

  1. Once you login, click Pages.
  2. This screen is familiar to those that have worked with Department pages but is new to teachers.

  3. Either click an existing page or click Add a page.
  4. Type a Page title.
  5. Decide if you want this page to be Unpublished while you work on it or Published to be live on the Internet.
  6. Decide if you want the Section Menu to be displayed.  (Navigation)
  7. Click the type of content you want added such as text, pictures, or files.

  8. Once you have added the content you like, click the blue Save button.
  9. Visit the live site to confirm your changes are displayed.
The following new features are now in the text editor.

  • Changing font sizes
  • Adding tables
  • Changing font colors
  • Embedding code (ex. Youtube videos)

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Growth Mindset and Technology

As many of us reflect on the past year and look forward to a new year, we should examine how we are connecting and encouraging our students to succeed. Digital technology allows our students to do some incredible things but more importantly we must help our students have a growth mindset.

Teaching a growth mindset can make a huge difference in the lives of our students. It can motivate students to be truly productive regardless of their natural talent. If they understand that their basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work they can achieve success. Too often students give up believing they simply do not have the natural ability to do great things.

As educators, we can help our students develop a growth mindset that gives them the courage to try new things and see that many things are possible. Digital technology is just one of many tools that can help aid them in this endeavor.

When it comes to integrating technology, do you have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset? How are you helping students take advantage of technology to learn and believe in themselves?

Read more on growth mindset by following one of these links below:

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Assistive Technology App: Virtual Manipulatives

The Virtual Manipulatives app has been around awhile and is useful for any student.  However, you may find it especially useful for students with special needs.  Its simple but effective set of tools is great for teaching and having students explore fractions, decimals and percents.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Assistive Technology Tool: Voice Typing in Google Docs

Google recently added a tool called Voice Typing.  How handy is this especially for those students that regularly use Google Docs?  Here are directions on how you can use it.

  1. Open a new Google Doc.
  2. Select Voice typing from the Tools menu.

  3. Click the microphone button to talk.

  4. Edit your text as needed.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Assistive Technology Tool: Speak It Extension

There is a growing number of great tools for students to use that have special needs.  Some can be very expensive apps or programs that you have to install, but there are some free tools worth checking out.  I will share some in my  next few post.  The first one is called Speak It.  Speak It is a handy extension that can be added to the Chrome browser.  Then you can simply click the speaker icon and play what you have highlighted in the browser.  Here are the steps to set it up.
  1. Open a Chrome browser.
  2. Visit this site to get the extension.

  3. Click Add to Chrome.
  4. Enable the Speech to Text feature.

  5. Visit a website you want read to you and click the extension located on your toolbar.

    This video may be helpful as well.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Lessons for MLK Day

Here are some great resources that you may find helpful as you share about Martin Luther King with your students in the coming days.  Brainpop and Discovery Education require a subscription but the rest are free.

  1. Brainpop- 
  2. Mimio Connect- 
  3. Discovery Education-
  4. Scholastic Resources-
  5. Pinterest-

Friday, January 8, 2016

EdTech Habits for 2016

Happy New Year!  I hope you had a fantastic 2015 and are looking forward to an even better 2016. Here are 3 educational technology habits (not resolutions) I'm considering in the coming year and hope you will too.

  1. Unplug at Times 
    How many times do you see people at restaurants, waiting rooms, and living rooms just staring at their devices? These devices certainly provide us opportunities to be more productive and serve as entertainment as well but what is the trade-off? Could we be missing a fantastic opportunity to connect with our loved ones or making a new friend? Let's make the most of the time we have face-to-face with friends and family.
  2. Take a Risk
    How much longer are you going to put off learning how to do xyz technology? It could be the very thing that revolutionizes the way you complete tasks or engage with students.  At times it seems just easier to have someone else do the "techy" stuff for you, but isn't that the very thing we as educators are trying to do?  Aren't we trying to teach our students to take some initiative and be critical thinkers and problem solvers?
  3. Hand Over Control
    Admit it. Most of our students know more about the latest technology than we do. Be flexible and willing to let students learn with technology. Don't avoid those potentially awesome lessons just because you aren't an expert in the technology it may require.  Allow students to show their learning with technology even when it's technology we may struggle to understand ourselves.  Who knows, they may teach us a thing or two that we can use in the future.