Apr 30, 2018

WHAT? Goo.gl Shortener is going away!

With Google no longer supporting the goo.gl extension, we needed to come up with some alternatives. “Starting March 30, 2018, we will be turning down support for goo.gl URL shortener. From April 13, 2018 only existing users will be able to create short links on the goo.gl console.”  - Via Google.  

Well, there are several out there, but the one that I have been using a lot is Yellkey.  It is an alternative to the goo.gl URL shortener. Simply, copy and paste the URL into the text box which indicates URL’s, select how long you want the link to be available…..  up to 24 hours. This is great to get items out to people quickly, but not something you want to use if you are going to keep the presentation/link available for an extended time. I really like this one because it gives real words, not just letters and numbers mixed together.
Since we are a Google For Education School, and we use Google Classroom as one of our Learning Management Systems, the Share to Classroom extension is great to share out a link to students quickly within your Google classroom.  Send the link, or create an announcement, question, or assignment and post it directly to classroom from the extension. Try it out, I bet you love it. Bit.ly is another great URL shortener.  Simply copy and paste the URL into shortener and copy the shortened like to send out or put on a presentation for access. TinyURL.com is another one that you can customize.  If the word(s), numbers, etc… are available then it makes it really easy to create a shortened URL.  If not, or you don’t care, it will generate a URL for you.

Apr 12, 2018


Merge Cubes in middle school classrooms is hot right now and we have several teachers who are using them and having the kids explore with them.  There are many apps out there which you can review from the previous post I wrote on Augmented Reality

If you are new to Merge Cubes you need to take a look at this post by Cool Cat Teacher by Vicki Davis.    Karen Bosh explains why Merge Cubes are so hot right now.  You can subscribe to Vicki via iTunes as well for her 10 minute teacher segments.

@MergeVR is offering educators a special discount on their MERGE Goggles! For a limited time, they're available for $16.99 each (plus applicable taxes and shipping). Fill out the below at this link to get your discount code docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAI…  I bought 3 pairs and they ended up being 20.00 per pair after shipping and taxes. 

Apr 11, 2018

April = Poetry Month

Image result for open book jpegTake a  look at the post below on Richard Byrne's blog.  He writes some amazing post, so if you haven't started to follow him, I would do so.   

This is National Poetry Month. "What is a poem?" might be the first question that students ask after, "why is it National Poetry Month?" Read the full post here

Apr 9, 2018

The Black Hole of Downloads

It seems like I have worked with a lot of teachers lately who have expressed an concern about their black hole of downloadable files.  Files which are in downloads but not part of your Google Drive.   So here is a short video on how to change those settings on a windows machine in Google Chrome. You can do this on any MAC as well as long as you have Google Sync installed.

Apr 4, 2018

PDF Candy

Well it is not real candy, but oh what fun it is to know you can convert a PDF to a Word doc then convert to a Google Doc. I learned about this site from Leslie Fisher, so a huge shout out to her! Using this PDF Candy you will take a PDF convert it so it is a usable within Google Docs. Once in Google Docs, you can push it out through Google Classroom and have your students highlight, insert comments, discuss the purpose of the article. Think of the possibilities.

Remember the post on extensions? Take this document one step further and publish it to the web, then use the Extension Insert Learning to make the once STATIC document into an INTERACTIVE document for students.

Now on the main page there are many tools to manipulate PDF’s, but if you click on Convert From, To, and other tools, there are way more. Take a look at the video below to see just how easy this is, then start playing with all the tools....

Mar 14, 2018

Augmented Reality - What a learning experience

While at the ICE conference I went to a session on Augmented Reality.  This session highlighted all the ways you could use AR in your classrooms.

Ever wish you could demonstrate an active human heart beating?   Bring Abe Lincoln into the classroom to give his Gettysburg Address, hold a brain in your hands or really look at the solar system up close and personal? All of these things can be done with Augmented Reality, which brings it to life and right into students hands.

How do you do this you ask? Well there are AR apps out there and you can use with The Merge Cube.  The Merge Cube brings your holograms right to the palm of your hand. Turn, twist and see all the different angles of 3D objects. Some apps are FREE and others cost money to download.  I am currently working on mirroring options for your phones since we are a Chromebook district.  Go to MergeCube.com and setup and register your merge cube.  Then download one of the apps and start playing. As a little incentive I gave all my Junior High teachers a Merge Cube this week to start playing with since they are all going to have new curriculum next year. What a great way to incorporate it into the classroom. 

Here are the apps that I have downloaded and played with:
  • Th!ngs for Merge Cube - To get started and it was free.  I was able to familiarize myself with the cube and see how it worked…..  I quickly moved on from this one…
  • AnatomyAR - Use with the Merge Cube and you can hold a human brain in your hands.  Watch the lungs breath in and how and rotate all of them around to see the 3D view of it all.  How fun is this. See picture above for what it would look like.
  • Galactic Explorer - Use with the Merge Cube.  You can see the picture above.  This allows you to see the solar system and to get up close with each of the planets.  Click on each one and they will all come up individually. WOW!
  • 57° North - Use with Merge Cube - A survival game…  Shipwrecked on a remote island in Alaska….  You help them survive based on the decisions you make during the game.
  • Flashcards AR Lincoln -  Crazy as it sounds, you can bring Abe Lincoln into your classroom to deliver your Gettysburg Address.  This app allows for a real life Abe to appear, and you can also explore his childhood home and more on this one.  Do not need Merge Cube for this one!
AND…. The best part, they are only $1.00 at Walmart right now!  Go out and grab a class set!  It will be worth the 35 dollars you spend! Try looking at Brickseek to see what the inventory is at your local Walmart!

Mar 12, 2018

Extensions, Extensions and more extensions!

Try some of these extension and tools from Alice Keeler. Remember to check out her blog! Each extension is linked to the webstore where you can read about what it does and add to chrome. Have other great extensions? Let us know about them.

Alice Keeler Webstore:
Other Great Extensions:
  • Eqatio - Yes, it is available in the Unit 5 Webstore for students already!  Teachers get full version FREE - Students do not. This extension makes it so easy to enter a problem into a slide or doc even a Google form.  You can even speak it into the slide so you don’t have key it in each time. Love this!
  • Equatio/Read Write FREE for TEACHERS https://www.texthelp.com/en-us/products/free-for-teachers/  Scroll down and fill out the information.  If you already have Read-Write for Teachers for free then you are already enrolled you just need to login with your school e-mail.  If not you can register to get the free Teachers version for both of these at the same time.
  • Tab Scissors/Tab Glue - Split your screen in a side by side mode and glue it back together when ready.
  • Tab Cloud - Allows you to save links and open those links up in a new Chrome Window. Great for CICO and bloggers you follow.
  • Desmos - Graphing App - can be used and then use the Quickshare screenshot to take a picture of the graph.  Teachers and students can login with their Google Account
  • Insert Learning - Transform any online article into to an interactive read. Add video, questions, comments, highlight and share it out with your Google Classroom! Yes, it is available to students and teachers and students have to have the extension in order to do the activities.
  • Extensity- This extension allows you to manage all of your other extensions. I have so many that I add to chrome to try or to see how it works, and I need a way to easily turn them on and off. This allows me the flexibility and ease to run only what I want to.

Mar 9, 2018

Teaching Math with Google Apps

#ICE2018 was a great conference and I was fortunate to attend Alice Keeler’s Double Session on Math in the Google Classroom.  If you don’t know of Alice Keeler or have never heard of her you are missing out.  She is one of my Professional Crushes! She is the kind of teacher/speaker who makes you question everything you are doing and why you are doing it.  I’m not a math teacher, but a tech coach and I was so impressed with what she was doing and how she was doing it all within the Google Apps for Education Suite.

While listening to her speak, some takeaways were:
  • 80% Collaborate 20% Individual.  Math is a process and understanding that process is really easy for some and really hard for others; so when you give students time to collaborate, ask questions, fail and try again, learning is happening.  A lot of this collaboration is happening in the private comments of the assignment within Google Classroom. 
  • When students learn something, give them full credit.  It doesn’t matter if they failed the first three times, if they learn it, then learning has happened and therefore the student should get full credit.
  • Don’t give students the same problem to work on.  If you do, then they are going to “Look” an see what others got and how they did it.  But when you give them different problems, you make them talk about the process and strategize how they are going to solve their own problem.  Make them do the work instead of you. Using Google Slides will allow students to create their own slide and put a math problem they were having trouble with.  Boom…. Now they can start the conversation. Using Equaito will allow easy use of entering math problems.
  • Give students problems then have them use their phones to solve the problem with PhotoMath.  Then have them compare and contrast the answers.  Remember they all have different problems…..
  • Using the 4 C’s and DOK 2 & 3 is where she believes every student should land while giving them multiple chances to learn and ask questions. OpenMiddle has some great resources for DOK 2 and 3.
  • Don’t change an assignment from paper to digital if the learning is happening with the paper.  If students are collaborating and learning, then there is no reason to go digital.
  •  If you can have an assessment graded online then do it.  Why waste time grading when a computer can grade it? Showing work at assessment time doesn't matter as much as showing work during the learning process. Are you are having those conversations before an assessment?  Students will not look at feedback after they get their grade. Feedback needs to happen before the assessment.

Now these takeaways can be used in any class not just a math class. If you haven’t had a chance to read her blog or follow her on Twitter; do so,  you won’t be disappointed. Here is her social networking info.

Mar 2, 2018

#ICE2018 - Keynote - Special Books for Special Kids

Special Books by Special Kids

I had the privilege of attending the # ICE2018 (Illinois Computing Educators) conference this past week and one of the keynote speakers was Chris Ulmer.  Chris is known as the teacher behind the books Special Books by Special Kids.  He started his journey in a special ed classroom in south Florida and now has millions of followers from his video series which started with his students in his classroom.

Chris is dynamic, emotional and real. He interviews neurodiverse individuals and shares their stories. His belief of every person has a story comes alive in his interviews.  It has been a long time since I have heard such a good speaker which inspired me and pulled at my emotional heart strings. The stories he shared were inspiring to say the least, the kids were incredible, and there was not a dry eye in the house. Take a look at Bella’s Story.  

Please make time to look at some of his videos, as well as his social media handles.

Social Media Links:

Oct 13, 2017

Google Slide Update

Ever wish Google Slides had more options?  Well now, it does!  Take a look at the video link for a preview of all the newest options. 

Google Slides Update  - by Teacher's Tech