Thursday, December 7, 2017

Just Ask Google Sheets

How many times have you discovered that your average teacher just uses a spreadsheet to keep data organized because of the boxes provided?  Too often the features in spreadsheets are greatly underutilized because they can be very intimidating with formulas, functions, charts, etc.  With the latest updates to Google Sheets you will find it's getting much easier to uncover insights and trends with the data you enter in the worksheets.

Specifically, the Explore feature helps users uncover the data they need to make better decisions.  In the Explore panel you can ask questions in natural language referencing the data in the columns and rows in your spreadsheet and it will return suggestions.  Those suggestions may vary from charts to pivot tables.  It also generates the formulas for you.

In this video, you will discover how it works.  Enjoy!

Monday, December 4, 2017

The Hour of Code is for Every Student!

The Hour of Code is an initiative to reach millions of students across the world by engaging them in at least one hour of code during the week of Dec. 4-10.  There are dozens of ways you could have your students involved.  Here is a list of ideas to consider.


Thursday, November 30, 2017

Add Closed Captioning to YouTube Videos

Closed captioning is often overlooked by the average YouTube user but it can certainly help make content accessible to more viewers.  It can also be handy for emerging readers.  Did you know that when you upload a video to YouTube captions are created automatically in several languages including English?  You can also transcribe and auto-sync, or simply edit or create new subtitles and closed captioning. 

Follow these steps to get started.
  1. Go to the Video Manager by clicking your account in the top right corner of the window.  >Creator Studio>Video Manager>Videos
  2. Click the drop-down menu beside the Edit button and select Subtitles/CC.
  3. Click the blue bar labeled Add new subtitles or CC and then English.
  4. Select the method you prefer.  
Create a new subtitle or CC
  1. Click Create new subtitles or CC.
  2. Preview the video with closed captioning and decide what revisions may need to be made.
  3. Click and type in the various boxes to adjust any text needed.  You may also adjust the timings below the video.
  4. Once revisions are complete click the blue button labeled Publish.
Transcribe and auto-sync
  1. Click Transcribe and auto-sync
  2. Press the play button just below the text box and begin typing your transcript.  The video will pause as you type.
  3. Once the transcription is complete, click the blue button labeled Set timings.  After a few minutes closed captioning should be available.
This video will demonstrate the process.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

5 Methods for Inserting Images into Google Drawings

In a recent update, Google revised the way you can insert images into Google Drawings.  In this video, I will demonstrate the following methods.

  1. Upload from computer
  2. Search the web
  3. Drive (from
  4. Photos (from
  5. By URL (right click and image and copy image address)
Bonus:  You can of course just copy and paste a picture or drag and drop a picture from your computer as well.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Make the Most of Google Drawings

Google has a nice set of tools for educators to use with their students.  One such tool is Google Drawings, which is often overlooked.  Though this tool is very simple, if used appropriately it can be a powerful tool to keep students learning.  Here are a few ideas for your next lesson.  In this example, we will explore a lesson on weathering and erosion.  In this scenario, students have been keeping notes the last few days in Google Keep.  Here is the assignment.

Using your notes from Google Keep, create a presentation in Google Drawings about weathering and erosion.  The presentation must include the following items:

  • definition of weathering
  • definition of erosion
  • examples of 3 types of erosion
    • 3 pictures
    • 3 explanations
  • 3 comments from a partner with suggestions or questions
In this assignment, students can import their notes from Google Keep by going to the Tools >Keep notepad.  They can also go to Tools>Explore to find other websites or image resources.

Friday, October 27, 2017

TEKS Mastery with Quizalize & Zzish

Looking for an online tool with ready-made quizzes tied to Texas TEKS?  Quizalize might just be the solution.  Discover quizzes from STAAR tests, tied to TEKS standards in a fun game mode to keep the students interested.  You can learn more here from their post.

Teaching in Texas?  Introducing TEKS Mastery with Quizalize & Zzish

Get started today by creating an account at

Friday, October 20, 2017

3 Fresh Tools to Engage Your Students

Are you tired of the same old tools for using in your classroom?  There are many great tools available to you and I certainly recommend finding 3 or 4 you regularly use with your students.  However, when you feel your students are losing interest, be sure to check out one of these great tools.

  1. Flipgrid-

    This tool has become very popular in education this school year.  It makes it easy for you and your students to post videos on various topics and then discuss them.  This might be a great way to introduce a lesson and increase dialogue in your classroom.
  2. CheckMark-

    This is a brand new tool that allows you as the teacher to give quick feedback on student writing in Google Docs.  Just install the Chrome extension and open a Google Doc to test it out.  When you highlight a word or phrase in a document it gives you quick comment options such as capitalization, tense, or subject/verb agreement.
  3. Pear Deck Vocabulary-

    Many of you have started using Pear Deck but have you checked out Pear Deck Vocabulary?  Students work together to create dynamic and engaging flashcards with sentences and illustrations that help increase learning and retention.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

What's New in Google Calendar?

Making the switch to the new Google Calendar shouldn't be too much of a challenge but here are some of the changes that have been made that may help you in the transition.

  1. Revised Sidebar

    Now you can enable/disable the sidebar on and off by selecting the Main menu icon in the top left corner.

    The feature to add a coworker's calendar has been moved up from the Other calendar's section to just above My calendars.

  2. Create a Calendar

    Previously you clicked the arrow beside My calendars to create a new calendar. Now you click the + sign and then New calendar.

  3. Calendar Settings

    The calendar settings have been reorganized.  The old version had more items to select. The new calendar only has 3 items. All the settings you could find in the old version are available in the new calendar but may be displayed a bit differently.

  4. Creating Events

    The old calendar had a square button in the top left corner while the new calendar has a round button in the bottom right corner to create a new event.

    Most of the items available in the old version reappear in the new version when you create an event.  However you will notice icons are used more than text and drop-down menus are used more. The description box has been improved including rich-text formatting.  Also if you hover over Guests you can see more detail about them.

  5. Calendar Views

    There are now new calendar views including Year and the ability to toggle weekends and declined events on/off.

  6. Invitation Status

    You can now easily see the invitation status of events.

    Yes- solid color
    No- outline with event crossed out
    Maybe- diagonal lines
    No Response- outlined

If you would like a video introduction to these features take a look here.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

New Google Calendar Now Available

Google just updated Google Calendar with some nice new features.  All Taylor ISD employees can now switch if you are ready to do so.  This video will help you make the move.  We will turn off the old version on November 1 so make plans now.

Here are all the details.  What's New in Google Calendar?

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Google Forms & Classroom Grading

Recently Google released the ability to import grades from Google Form quizzes you create into Google Classroom.  This video below will show you how it's done.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Brainpop: So Much More Than Just Animated Videos

Many teachers like Brainpop but often think it's just for animated videos.  I challenge you to take a few minute and discover all the other features is has to offer.  Here are some of the other things you can do with Brainpop and Brainpop, Jr.

  • Quiz Maker- easily create and remix quizzes
  • Make-a-Map- create concept maps
  • Make-a-Movie- make a movie and show what you know
  • Creative Coding- an array of coding projects across the curriculum
  • Challenge- interactive exercise that tests student knowledge of BrainPOP content
  • Games- a variety of games to teach concepts in a fun way
It gets even better when you setup classes and have students login.  You can give them assignments and keep track of their progress.

Taylor ISD teachers and students can gain access by clicking the app launcher (waffle icon) in Google Drive.  Scroll all they way to the bottom and click More.

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Power of Formative Assessment

How do you truly know students understand what you are teaching? Do they really grasp the concepts? Formative assessments are designed to give students specific feedback that will help them grow in understanding and guide them to mastery. Let's get explicit and intentional with our instruction.

One great tool to help you with formative assessment is Peardeck. It is an online interactive presentation tool that features a variety of question types to get instant feedback from your students. It can be used for live presentations, center rotations or homework.

You can create decks from scratch or import content from Powerpoint, Google Slides, or pdfs. It's all saved in your Google Drive with unlimited space.

Be sure to also visit The Orchard for some great example decks at

It's Not Just About Going Paperless

The wide variety of technology tools that are flooding the market for classroom use can be overwhelming.  There seems to be fewer excuses not to make teaching materials, better yet, learning materials digital.  However, it's not just about going paperless or making all our materials digital.  That doesn't necessarily change much in the classroom for a student.  Teachers must examine how to take advantage of this opportunity and make a transformation in their teaching strategies. 

As classrooms become more digital there can be a tendency to teach the same way as always.  Teacher must embrace how making things digital provides them a great opportunity to increase collaboration and interactivity.  Technology must be leveraged to unleash a student's skills and show their mastery and not merely used to create digital worksheets.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Save Time Adding Contacts in Gmail

Did you know you could possibly save time adding individual contacts by simply typing in their email addresses first? Here are the procedures.

  • Click the App Launcher. (waffle icon)
  • Click Contacts.
  • Click the red/white plus button.
  • Instead of typing their name first, type their email address.
  • Click Save. Depending on what the person shared publicly, more contact information may be automatically added for you.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Welcome Back to School

Where did the summer go?  If you are like me, summer flew by way too soon as it always seems to do.  As you begin your new school year I hope these resources will be useful to you.  Look for new posts about every other week if not sooner.  Have an awesome start of school

  • Transition to Google Team Drives- Are you thinking of using the new Google Team Drives?  This video may help. 
  • Your First Day of Google Classroom- This is a nice tutorial for those considering using Google Classroom this school year.
  • Journey to Strive- This is a website dedicated to help you as we make the transition from Workshop/Appraise to Strive.
  • 5 Gmail Features You May Have Forgotten- Are you a little rusty on Gmail?  Take a look at the video below.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

5 Google Sheets Tips for the Novice

Often times when I visit with teachers I find that most use spreadsheets to organize data and sometimes create charts.  Using these 5 tips will make the experience even better the next time you are dealing with data.  This video will show you the following:

  • how to alternate the color of rows automatically
  • how to rotate text such as vertically (pretty new feature)
  • copy and paste the format of one cell into another
  • setup a notification each time someone changes data in the spreadsheet
  • protect a sheet or cell range of data
Here is the video below.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Setup a Table of Contents in Google Docs

Is your lesson plan or project too many pages to easily navigate?  Have you tried to setup a table of contents in Google Docs?  It's pretty easy.

  1. Add headings for each section of your document.
  2. Highlight each heading and set the style.

  3. Click Insert>Table of Contents.
This video may help with the process further.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Padlet Now Has Post Connectors & A Few More Updates

Many of you have used Padlet in the past.  It can be a great tool to brainstorm with your class or have students showcase their work.   All your students have to do is double-click on the webpage and then add a title, text, picture, audio, video, file or link.  It's that simple.

If you haven't used Padlet, be sure to visit the site to learn more. There have been some great new updates in the last few weeks that I want to share.
  1. Focus Mode- When a large group of people are working on a padlet together it use to be confusing with information popping up left and right.  Now you just refresh the page to see the changes.
  2. Post Connectors- Add arrows for flow charts, infographics, etc to link various posts.  Here is an example-  EdTech Tools by Student Task

  3. Grid Layout Improvements- Sort the post order, move posts around with numbered labels as guides
  4. Inline Viewing- A few weeks ago they added the ability to listen to audio and video in the context of the padlet.  It no longer redirects you to the source.  This is a great way to show Youtube videos without the clutter or distractions.
What do you think?  Do you still use Padlet or are the kids tired of using it in your classroom?

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Transition to Google Team Drives

A few weeks ago I shared about the new Google Team Drives in this post.  You may be wondering how your team can transition from a shared folder setup to these new Team Drives.  There are a couple of methods I've tried but I think this one seems to be the best.
  1. Download the shared folder to your computer.
  2. This will create a zip file that you can typically open by double-clicking it.
  3. Navigate to your Team Drive and click New.
  4. Click Folder Upload.

  5. Upload the folder.  (Caution:  If you have files that are in Word, Excel, or Powerpoint format that you want to remain in the format be sure to turn off the feature in Setting to convert them when uploading.  Google Drawings and Forms will not transfer in this process in the correct format so you need to copy them individually.)
  6. Once all the files are in the Team Drive and your team agrees, you may want to delete the old copies in your shared folder so you don't get confused between the two.
Here is a video that will help with the process.

Once you transition to the Team Drives remember these things.
  • All files are shared and owned by the team.
  • The original person that setup the Team Drive may consider not giving the Full rights to the folder but Edit rights only.
  • Each individual folder can have rights set if necessary.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Google Earth Now in Google Chrome

Google just announced today that Google Earth is web-based in Google Chrome.  You no longer have to install the software to run it.  It also includes some cool new features I've shared below.

  1. Voyager- Showcase of interactive guided tours.  Try this one of National Parks.
  2. "I'm feeling lucky" Button- feature to be automatically directed to 1 of 20, 000 different places. (captain's will)
  3. 3D Button- experience locations as if you were standing there- Tower of London
What activities do you see your students completing using this great tool?

Monday, April 10, 2017

New Google Login Page Coming Soon!

You may have noticed lately that when you login to Google it has a message about a New look for sign-in coming soon.

Please do not be alarmed. This change is happening for a cleaner, simpler look, make the sign-in faster, and to be consistent across devices.  The new login should look like this.  You will see it appear over the next few weeks.


Friday, April 7, 2017

5 Gmail Features You May Have Forgotten

Are you looking for some ways to be more productive with Gmail?  Here are a few features you may have forgotten.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Visualizing Data with Google Trends

Are you struggling to help your kids visualize data or analyze trends?  This video may help.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

3 Simple Google Drive Keyboard Shortcuts

Here are 3 simple shortcuts you should try the next time you are using Google Drive.

  • Navigate to Google Drive
  • Hold the shift key down while clicking the f key.  This will open a new folder.
  • Hold the shift key down while clicking the t key.  This will make a new document.
  • Select any file in your drive that you need to rename.  Click the n key.  This will give you an option to rename the file.
Want to learn more keyboard shortcuts?  Click the t key and then select Keyboard Shortcuts.

Friday, March 31, 2017

4 Handy Updates from Google- March 2017

Here are 4 handy updates from Google I thought you might find useful.
  1. Google Sheets- Text rotation
    • Highlight the text you want rotated.
    • Click the Rotate button on the toolbar.
    • Select the type of rotation.

  2. Google Docs- Convert text to all CAPS
    • Highlight the text.
    • Click the Format>Capitalization
    • Select Uppercase

  3. Classroom- Copy the class code
    • Navigate to Student tab.
    • Click the dropdown menu for Class Code.
    • Select Copy

  4. Calendar- now optimized for iPad
    • While on your iPad install the Google Calendar app-
    • Tap the red button in the bottom to add events, reminders, and goals
    • Notice how it offer suggestions as you type information

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Friday, March 10, 2017

Oh Yes! Google Team Drives are Here for Everyone

Google released Google Team Drives to the wild this week.  I've been beta testing it for a few weeks now and thought I would put together this video to share with others.  Team Drives are shared spaces to collaborate with your team on various files.  Anyone can create a Team Drive if made available by a district Google administrator.

You may be wondering how is this different than simply sharing a folder and giving various rights. This video will hopefully clarify any misunderstandings. Essentially Team Drives are owned by the group and not necessarily an individual. Therefore as people come and go the files remain in place.

This video will hopefully provide you a good introduction to Team Drives.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

It's the Simple Things: Google Sheets Finally Has Rotated Text

Anyone else been irritated that Google Sheets hasn't had the ability to rotate text in a spreadsheet?  Those of us that used this feature in Excel for years can rejoice.  Google Sheets finally has that option.  Highlight the cells that contain the text you want rotated and look for the tilted A icon on the toolbar.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

If You Love Making Lists Watch This!

Some people just love the satisfaction they get by checking things off their list.  Well, it just got better.  Have you ever used Google Keep?  G Suite for Education also includes a nifty tool called Google Keep for recording notes and reminders.  It is available on desktops, laptops, and mobile devices.  This video is an overview of what it has to offer including a brand new feature to copy notes from Google Keep to Google Docs.

Learn more on the Google Keep Help site.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Import Videos into Google Slides from Drive

Google recently announced the ability to import videos directly into Google Slides without uploading them to Youtube. This brings about some great advantages I will share below.  Here are the procedures.

  1. In Google Slides, click Insert>Video.

  2. Click Google Drive as the location for which you want to insert a video.

  3. Select the video you want to insert.

  4. Right click (or two finger click on Mac) and select Video Options.

  5. Enter the start and stop times of the video segment you want to play.  (No more editing or fast forwarding required!!!

  6. Select if you want to autoplay the video when you show the slide. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

New Chromebook Video Tutorials

Google has just released some new video tutorials for Chromebooks.  If you are new to Chromebooks or just want to learn a few tips be sure to check out these videos.

  1. Getting Started with Chromebook- basic terminology, navigation, settings, tips
  2. Managing Files on Chromebook- options for saving, file formats
  3. Sharing Your Chromebook- multiple accounts, guest mode
  4. Setting Up Classic Printing on Chromebook-printer settings, via Mac/PC with Chrome
  5. Setting Up Cloud Printing on Chromebook- printer settings, Cloud Ready Printer setup
  6. Switching to Chromebook- move from Mac/PC, backup to Google Drive/USB thumb drive, Google account creation,
  7. Chromebook Won't Charge or Turn On- troubleshooting tips, power issues, hard reset
  8. Fixing Wi Fi Connectivity- connecting to Wi Fi, troubleshooting

Monday, January 2, 2017

Make Something!

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season with family and friends and are ready for the new year. Many start the year with a new year's resolution. Over the last few years I have selected ONE word that describes what I hope to do for the year. Throughout the year that one word develops into something more and more meaningful to my life. This idea stems from Jon Gordon's book called One Word That Will Change Your Life. The idea is to come up with one word as your vision or theme for the entire year.

This is a little table I made last week.
My word this year is MAKE. I hope to make something every single week of the year to gain skills, have fun, and experience meaningful times with others. Of course most of mine will involve technology but I love woodworking as well. You can follow my progress on my personal Twitter account if you like. @haleedtech 

Why not join in and share what you make online using the hashtag #Make52. This can be used on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+.

Learn more here