Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Combining Documents into a Single PDF using Acrobat Pro

We often get questions about how to combine documents into a single PDF using Acrobat Professional. Challenge accepted...

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Holiday Activities via Google Classroom

Happy Thanksgiving week!  The Instructional Technology Team is very thankful for the teachers in AISD that continue to transform their instructional practice and develop authentic ways to engage students using the available technology in the classroom!

Holiday Activities via Google Classroom!
In an effort to demonstrate Google Classroom to teachers and students, The “Holiday Classroom!” class is being shared with all teachers and students in AISD.  Simply joining the class will provide teachers and student access to a few Google Apps activities created for the holiday season. Students will automagically get their own copy of the activities after joining the class.

(*Teachers, see important note below.)

Students and teachers can go into the AISD Cloud and search for Google Classroom. Once open, click the + sign at the top right to select Join.   Join this class using the code, “5adyiv.  Students can immediately begin working on any activity in this Holiday Classroom! by just clicking on the assignment title and then on the activity. 

The process of joining will create a copy of all activities in a new folder in your Google Drive called “Classroom”. Inside that folder you will see all classes that you have joined, including “Holiday Classroom!”  

*Important: A quick-start guide to using Google Classroom can be found at: .  Also, it is important that teachers first click the blue “Teacher” button the very first time they access Google Classroom.  They can then +Join a class just like a student.  

One of the activities included is a Thanksgiving-themed "What I Am Thankful For" Google Slide. Simply adding text to this slide completes the activity, but students can explore other tools within Slides as they become more familiar with this creation tool.  Check out the activity at: .

Leave a comment or feedback on these activities or implementation strategies that you found helpful.  We would love to share your feedback with other teachers. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Make a Google Doc Open As a Copy?

When sharing a Google Doc via URL, you can make a change to the URL which will make the student create a copy of the Doc automagically.  All it takes is a simple edit at the end of the URL.

For example, I have a 8 Page Booklet foldable template that I want my students to use.  I have shared it with the world using the following URL:

If that link is in an email or on a webpage that they have access to, they can simply click the link and be able to view this template. The students will then need to File/Make a copy to use it for an assignment.

Now, I can save my students a couple of steps, which can be valuable in many classrooms, and give them a link that will automagically open up to the Google "Make a copy" dialog box.  When the students click "Make a copy", Google will place a copy (that the student now owns) into the students' Google Drive.
To do this, you need only edit the URL that you are sharing with the students.  Copy the URL above and delete everything at the end, starting with "/edit?....".   Replace it all with "/copy" and then share that new edited URL.  becomes:  .  That's it.

So, if you are not using Google Classroom to distribute templates to students, sharing Docs with this Copy tweak may just be the small time-saver that makes a difference in your day.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Hiding desktop icons on a Windows PC

Many users store current projects to their desktop for quick access. This can create distraction for audiences when presenting. Windows has a quick way to hide icons to present with a clear desktop.

Right click on an empty space on the desktop
Highlight view
Slide over and down to Show desktop icons
Toggle Show desktop icons off
Repeat the process to show the icons

Friday, October 9, 2015

ViewPure - YouTube without the distraction

YouTube is a great resource for educational content. It is also a source for, shall we say, off-topic content. Often the great educational content shares the screen with a "related" video that grabs our students' attention like a flashing sign advertising free ice cream. Sometimes there are also comments posted by people demonstrating their command of the English dialect my grandmother called "sailor talk".

 ViewPure is a free web service that allows you to watch and project YouTube videos without seeing potentially distracting "related" videos or comments sections. Simply paste the address of the Youtube video you wish to isolate and click the Purify button.

The video is then displayed in a clean browser window free of related videos and comments section. Because there is less clutter on the page, the video gets much more screen real estate.

ViewPure also creates a reusable URL and allows for creation of a custom URL with a password. Just click on the gear icon after pasting in your YouTube video address and adjust the settings.

Too many steps? Don't want to have to remember to copy and paste? Want a quick and easy way to use ViewPure from your browser? You are in luck. 

ViewPure has a shortcut that can be added to the browser bookmark bar that will automagically open the YouTube video in the browser window in the clean ViewPure format.

If you would like additional information on using web video with your classes, please contact your Instructional Technology Specialist.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Safely Using Images From The Internet

Probably one of the biggest problems with students using the internet for school work is the inappropriate or illegal use of images found online.  Teachers like to think that Educational Fair Use means that anything can be used with students.  Not so.

(Click to enlarge)
A teacher in my PLN (Professional Learning Network) shared the picture below.  A teacher in her district found a picture in a Google search and copied it from the search results page and used it in a presentation. That presentation file was uploaded for a few days on her website for students to use and then taken down.   The company, a part of Getty Images apparently, has tools actively searching the internet for their work and they found their image.  The teacher was sent a bill for $1480 for the use of the image online.  Legally, it had to be paid.

Researching into this more, there are a good number of educational institutions sharing that they have been hit with similar bills.  The teachers that posted the images online are responsible for paying the bill, often in the thousands of dollars.

Looking for an authentic object lesson for students or teachers about copyright and the use of images found on the internet?  This is pretty authentic.

Where Do I Get Online Images For The Classroom?

Not everything on the internet is evil or copyrighted.  Students have access to a wealth of images that can be used for reports.  Do keep in mind that the practice of citing your image source for each image can help the writer be mindful of copyright permissions for images used.

Google Image Search
There is a lot in The Google that is legally useable. Go ahead and use the Google image search, but change the settings to only search for images that have been labeled for reuse or reuse with modification.

Again, these photos belong to somebody. They are just letting you use them for free if you give them credit with a citation.

Flickr Creative Commons maintains a Creative Commons ( ) that houses millions of photos that are free to use.  This page quickly describes the Creative Commons licenses and groups the photos by license.  Not all of the photos are elementary safe, but teachers can collect some great images and provide them as a photo bank for classroom projects. Look for the Attribution icon for freely-usable images.

Google Docs Research Tool
One of our favorite tools in Google Docs, the Research tool is found in the Tools menu in Docs and Slides. (Google support).  Using this tool, students can search for images, websites, statistics and more right beside the Google Doc they are working on.

Finding an image is as easy as typing your search term at the top and clicking the 'G' to give you access to the Images search.  You can now find a good image in the results and simply drag over to your document.  I love showing this to teachers in a large room, just because you quickly hear gasps of joy as they realize that the Research tool automatically creates a footnote for that image and places the citation at the bottom of the page.  No rolling the typewriter up from the bottom of the page anymore.

Images, websites, quotes and more can provide a clickable citation for your document.

More Online Resources For Free Images For The Classroom
Our friends at Harvard Law School Library have published a guide for appropriate use of online images. Finding Public Domain and Creative Commons Media. They share a few more resources and legal definitions for public domain images.

What are some sources that you use with your students?

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Google Chrome browser setting - On Startup > Continue where you left off

I knew this feature existed but never realized how useful it could be.

Note: You must sign into the Chrome browser to make the best use of this feature. (more info)

Chrome will remember your tabs when you last closed it and reload them when you next launch.
I frequently collaborate with my colleagues. That usually results in several tabs getting opened in my browser. Then my calendar reminder tells me I am due for another appointment in 15 minutes. I leave the meeting, close my device, and lose my tabs.

With Chrome's "Continue where you left off" setting, my tabs follow me in Chrome across platforms – from Chromebook to office desktop to Apple laptop to home desktop.
I do not have to perpetually and use the same device to keep my tabs. Pretty sweet.

Click on the settings button (at top right of the browser)
Again, this feature only works if you are signed into the Chrome browser.

A downside is Chrome takes a little bit longer to load if I have many tabs open in my browser. My workaround for this delay is simple.  I use the OneTab extension before closing so I have a list of the tabs I had open before I closed.

Give it a try. You can always change it back if you don't like the experience.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Publish Google Docs as a Webpage

Sending a letter home to parents has come a long way since the mimeographed letters that turned many a teacher's finger dark blue.  The increased use of Google Docs in our classrooms means that some teachers are finding good reasons to send Google-created docs home to parents. 

The issue starts to become, "I don't want parents to login to anything to see my Google Doc." One way around this question is to publish the Google Doc as an HTML website.   The document retains all of the content but is displayed on a web page by itself for any web browser to view. 

Any Google Doc can be published to the web.   Open the document and select "File/Publish to the web... ".

By default, the document will be visible to anyone on the internet.  Click Publish and then OK to complete the process. 

Once published, you will be given the URL that you can share as is (or shorten with, or some other shortener).

You can stop publishing the doc at any time using the "Published content & settings" drop menu and clicking "Stop publishing".

There are a number of other ways to publish information or send it to parents, but the Publish to the web option can quickly share your Google Docs with anybody without requiring a login or Google account.

Friday, September 18, 2015

EasyBib - A bibliography generator and great chrome extension

First off, let's make perfectly clear that this is not fair. I had to type citations for papers by hand, in the snow, by candle light, uphill both ways and usually on this ancient torture instrument called a "typewriter" (ask your grandparents). My works cited pages frequently looked like a 3D relief map from all the correction fluid build up on the surface. For you youngsters, "correction fluid" was the backspace key and spelling correction of the early 1980s. Imagine painting over your mistakes so you could make more mistakes on top of your previous mistakes. Also imagine that "paint" flaking off if you folded the paper. I can only imagine the challenge my teachers faced trying to make sense of  my papers (content aside). I do know my grades sometimes did not reflect a positive reception to my work.

Youngsters today ("Get out of my yard!") have it easy.
A great extension for Chrome called EasyBib Tools makes creating bibliography entries quick and easy.
If you want the extension to "follow" you in Chrome on other computers/Chromebooks, be sure you are logged into your Chrome browser. Click here to see how. This is not required but highly recommended.

Follow this link to get EasyBib Tools form the Chrome Web Store. Click the top right button to "+ ADD TO CHROME".
An orange book icon for the extension will show up at the top right side of your Chrome browser. When on a webpage you wish to cite, click on the orange EasyBib icon then click "Cite on EasyBib". There is no need to register to get MLA citations.

A window will pop up providing some options to edit the citation. 

Once edits (if any) are complete, click the Create Citation button. A Success! notice will appear with a link to view your bibliography.

Click the link and the citation can be viewed.

But wait, that's not all! 

The export feature allows the citation page to be downloaded as an MS Word document, saved to Google Docs, Dropbox or OneDrive, emailed or copied for pasting.

What did I say? Totally unfair.
Now excuse me, I have to tell the neighbors to turn down their "music".

If you would like more information on Chrome extensions or Google Drive, please contact your Instructional Technology Specialist.

EasyBid Chrome Extension - free to install
MLA format is free. 
APA, Chicago and a plethora of additional formats are available for $19.99 yearly or $39.99 for life.

Manage The Saving of iOS Products With Multiple Users In The Classroom

Our previous post demonstrated how to upload items in the iPad's Photo Roll into the user's Google Drive.  This works great for the single-user iPad, but presents workflow issues for the shared classroom iPad.  Students would need to learn a classroom procedure for using multiple Google Drive accounts on the iPad. This post presents one possible solution.

Teachers have been known to login on a classroom device with their own teacher credentials so that students can use the greater teacher privileges or the teacher's personal accounts.  This is not recommended for various reasons, the main one being that all AISD staff and student have accepted the Acceptable Use Policy that prohibits the sharing of one's username and password.

One possible alternative solution could involve using a classroom Google ID setup by the teacher using a personal Gmail account and not a school district account.

Setting Up Google
The teacher can login to the Google Drive app on the classroom iPad using a non-district Gmail account different from their own personal Gmail account. Do not share the password for that account with students. Do not let students create new Google Apps documents on the iPad using this account.

From your AISD Google Drive, create a folder that you will use with students. Your AISD Google ID will retain all ownership of the folder.  Share that folder with your new non-AISD Google ID. You can now login to Google drive on the iPad using your new Google ID and you should see anything that is saved into that folder.

Now, using your computer, make this folder accessible to your students by sharing it with them from your AISD Google ID. Only your AISD Google ID will be able to share with the student Google IDs. You can share it with each student specifically or use the group ID for your students. *Ask Instructional Technology more about that.

Sharing From iOS Devices
Students can use any creative app that will allow them to save their product to the Camera Roll on the device.  Save images created in Skitch, PDF copies of comics from Comic Maker, videos from PhotoSpeak, ChatterKid and others directly into the Camera Roll of the device.

Once they have a product in the Camera Roll, the students can open Google Drive. (The teacher already logged into the new Google ID created for the class.) The students will see the My Drive of the Google account.  Clicking the red + circle will provide the Upload option we need.

 After clicking Upload, the red circle will provide access to your Camera Roll in Photos and Videos.

Select Camera Roll to find your recently created items. Select what you want to upload and touch the checkmark at the top right.  The item(s) will be uploaded into your Google Drive account.

Organize The Google Drive Folder
One additional nice touch is to train the students how to organize the items that they upload into the class folder.  The teacher could create a folder for each student within the shared folder.  Once a student uploads an item into Google Drive on the iPad, they can touch the 'i' icon on their product, click Move in the info window, and then select their named-folder to have the product moved into that folder. 

This is just one option for quickly getting items off of an iPad and available to students and teachers from any computer. 

What other ways do you find effective in transferring iOS products from the iPad to your computer? Is it a free or paid app?  Does it work on the AISD Wifi network?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Sharing iOS Products With Your Google Drive

A classroom iPad is a very creative device. Students can independently create products like comics, images and videos.  The often-asked question is, "How do I get their work from the iPad to my computer?" Sharing this work is not difficult and one solution uses your Google Drive account.

The video below (hosted by AISD's MyTraining in the AISD Cloud) demonstrates how one can get products from an iOS device and save into the user's Google Drive.  

This method does require the user to login to their Google Drive and only one Google Drive can be logged into at a time. For the shared classroom iPad, the teacher will need to establish procedures for the students to follow to effectively save to their Google Drive.   A future blog post here will demonstrate a very workable solution for multiple users saving to Google Drive.

Alternatives would include using DropBox, Box or other cloud storage services.  Sometimes, the free storage service limits your monthly uploading bandwidth, but Google Drive will not.  What alternatives have you used effectively?  Share your experiences in the comments below!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Makers Wanted! Intel's American's Greatest Maker

Makers Wanted!

Do you want to be a star of a television series? Do you think you got what it takes to build the next amazing device? How could you impact education with a Million Dollars?

Apply to be American's Greatest Maker Intel Presents America's Greatest Maker.

America's Greatest Makers Challenge Intel, in collaboration with Mark Burnett, United Artists Media Group and Turner Broadcasting System are teaming up to bring a national Makers' Challenge to television. Students are encouraged to submit ideas for either wearable technologies or smart connected consumer devices powered by Intel® Curie™, a button-sized computer. Intel engineers will help bring the ideas to life and may be featured on a television show airing in 2016. 

Deadline: October 2, 2015 Award Amount: $1,000,000 grand prize Eligibility: All entrants must be legal residents of the U.S., 15 years of age or older 

How to Apply: The application process is conducted online via the America’s Greatest Makers website at Applications can be submitted directly using the application link or sent via email to 

The following information will be requested: 1. Project Description: A detailed description of the concept, including the motivation and inspiration behind the idea, market need and how the idea will benefit the public. 2. Image/Optional Video Submission: Applicants are required to upload an image that accurately represents their team or product. Individuals/Teams may also submit a video pitch that tells the story behind the idea and why they want to be a part of the challenge. 3. Team Size: Each team is limited to four core members or fewer. 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Video: The Writing Process using Google Drive

Writing is an incredibly important and marketable skill. The process of teaching and learning writing has traditionally required the use of copious amounts of paper. With Google Drive, writing can be a near paperless activity.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Kidblog moving to a pay only model - consider Blogger

The once "kind of free" Kidblog is moving to a pay only model in September.

From the kidblog pricing page:
Beginning September 2015, free trials are active for 30 days - upgrade for unlimited access

Another free service bites the dust. The service will now cost $29 per teacher per year. This is not a huge amount but with district, campus and personal budgets stretched thin, every additional expense seems daunting.

There are other options available. Austin ISD is a Google Apps For Education (GAFE) district. GAFE provides an array of tools for staff and students to use including Blogger. If you are considering student blogs for your classroom, consider Blogger. 
Students already have accounts they can access through Google Drive.

From the AISD Cloud, launch Google Drive.
Once Google Drive has loaded, open a new tab and type

There are ways to set your blog to private.
In your blog settings, set both privacy options to No.
Reader access can also be restricted. 
Also is settings, the blog can be set to only allows authors to read or allow all those added.
Using group lists, such as, can make the process quick.

Instructional Technology would enjoy the opportunity to help you get up to speed with Blogger.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Logging into SchoolNet for the First Time.

New Austin ISD teachers are starting to login to Schoolnet. Some are experiencing difficulty.
To avoid this, new users should set their campus as their default institution, not Austin ISD.  When the correct campus is selected, the Teacher role will auto populate.  The document below explains the process.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Paperslide Videos (updated)

After having several discussions lately with teachers about easy and highly engaging student products, I have spent a good bit of time talking about the Paperslide videos that we have shared with a good many teachers over the past few years.  We liked it so much when we first heard about it in 2011 that we posted a story about it on this blog.

Since the post was being shared so much lately, I decided to update the broken links and repost the story.  Among the fixed links would be Dr Lodge McCammon's online resources which he has also updated and made even easier to use.

Please check out our old story (with new information) to see how a very simple piece of technology can engage students quickly and get them deeper into the content you are teaching.

Paperslide Videos! Easy Way To Use Tech AND Show Learning!

Have you used paperslide videos in your classroom?  Leave a comment below with your experiences.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Google will remove "old" Google Drive interface during the week of June 29th

Google will be eliminating the "old" Drive user interface and officially dropping support for older browsers next week. This means the version of Internet Explorer installed on the district image will no longer work with Google Drive. The district installs this older version for compatibility with some older systems still in use. Instructional Technology highly recommends using Google Chrome for Google Drive. For users with a strong preference for Safari or Firefox, verify the most recent version is installed.

From Google Apps Update:
"(T)he new Google Drive UI will be fully launching to Apps customers on the Rapid release track next week. The ability to revert to the old Drive UI will be removed with this launch.

The full launch to Scheduled release customers will follow on July 7.

Please note that the new Drive UI does not work with older unsupported browsers prior to and including Chrome 23, Firefox 23, IE9 and Safari 6, so it’s important to upgrade to a supported browser to ensure continued access to Drive."

Monday, June 15, 2015

Anchors of Support for June 15-19 Morning Tech Snacks

It's a new week for the 2015 Curriculum Writers Cadre and with it comes new morning tech snacks.

Anchors of Support are available for this week's morning tech snack topics.

AISD Anchors of Support

An anchor is usually seen as a heavy object tied to a boat to keep it from moving.  In this case, our Anchors of Support are connecting teachers to a constant source of support documents for the technology being used in classrooms today.

Teachers can search their Google Drive for "Anchor of Support" or just go straight to them at .  This link takes you to a growing collection of support documents that will continue to be updated and added to throughout the year.  We will be highlighting some of these on this blog, so come back and search the site or look for the "Anchor of Support" in the right margin.

Discovery Education- SOS Activities

Discovery Education not only provides quality media for teachers and students to use in class, but they provide Board Builders and a great new resource, the SOS Activities.  These activities provide highly effective instructional strategies that can increase student engagement and deeper content discussions.  This anchor, , provides support for getting started.

One SOS Activity that students enjoy is The Snowball Fight.  (This link explains this strategy in a video, or search 'Snowball Fight' in Discovery Education to get the video and PDF resources.) After watching a video or reading a passage, students write one thing that they learned on a clean piece of paper.  The teacher announces "Snowball Fight" and everybody throws their page into the middle of the room. They retrieve a new page, read it, and then add one new idea to that page. After repeating this a few times, the students have at least several ideas to bring into final discussion about the video or passage. 


Teachers are using Kahoot with students as a easy Formative Assessment tool. Our Anchor ( provides information for getting started using this tool on desktops, laptops and mobile devices.  Students do not need an account and can easily use their personal mobile devices without installing any software. 

Want An Anchor?

For what classroom instruction would you like to see an Anchor of Support? Share a comment below so we can make sure you get what you need for your instructional time.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Google Classroom Make Google Drive Work For Students

Google Classroom is almost  one-year-old already and it has already made an impact on many classrooms. It is still maturing and being improved, but you may find that it will help you do great things with Google Drive and your students.

We have created a training document that can step a teacher through getting Google Classroom setup to use with students.  You might find it very helpful in getting started on your own: .

Probably the biggest feather in Classroom's hat is that it helps organize documents shared with students.  By sharing documents within assignments, Classroom will place the new document in a folder in the student's folder (created by Classroom) and include the student's name in the document filename.  This standardization will help the teacher to file locations for all students in the class.

Classroom is able to change ownership of student work.  When students Turn In assignments to the teacher, the teacher becomes the owner and can grade/comment on the work. Students can get the paper back to continue editing it, but it again changes the ownership and will be reflected in the Turn In date recorded by Classroom.

There are almost too many ways to share conversations between teacher and student.  Classroom discussions can be shared in the main class stream. Students can comment on the assignment directly to the teacher before turning it in when it is turned in and after it is turned in. 

One of the last updates opened the door to having multiple teachers in one classroom and allows for saving assignments as drafts.  Saving drafts is incredibly valuable since you can pre-create several assignments and publish them when you are ready.

There is much more to Google Classroom.  Check out the training document linked to above or contact Instructional Technology for personalized on-campus training.

Do you have experience with Google Classroom? What worked well for you? What did you have to problem-solve? Share your experience or questions below in the comments.

Safe Video Viewing In The Classroom?

Video used well in the classroom can both engage students and help the teacher express ideas in different ways. Showing the perfect instructional video with Party In Padre ads on the page, however, can be distracting and ruin the points being made.  There are some great tools that work well with YouTube that teachers can take advantage of. is a resource that allows you to not only block the ads, but present the video on the page all by itself.

Choose the color of the border around your video, give the video a new name and even choose beginning and ending points for your safe video.  (We suggest that you don't use SafeShare's download option, but instead use KeepVid to download your YouTube video. provides you with a URL that can be shared with students which presents the video with all of the settings you chose. is a different site that lets you download the video to your computer.  The best rule for using video with students is to plan for a busy network and use video from your computer rather than a web-streamed source.  KeepVid gives you options for downloading the video to your computer.

KeepVid provides a box to paste your YouTube link into before clicking the Download button. The result is a list of downloadable files.

The (Video Only) options are just that, videos that include no sound.  Those are actually fantastic resources for some class projects.  For example, have the students drop the video file into WeVideo and provide their own soundtrack that teaches the viewer a lesson!

We have provided an Anchor of Support that steps you through both of these online tools. Check out these Anchors: ( and (

How would you use these in your classroom? Do you use a different tool for sharing YouTube videos with students?  Leave a comment below to share!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Multiple Google Accounts in One Chrome Browser?

For years now, we've suggested making life more simple by using one browser on your computer for your personal Gmail and a different browser for a work Google account.  With changes made this year in Austin ISD, we're finally able to use the power behind the Chrome browser and manage multiple accounts.

The Issue:
Forgetting to log out of my personal gmail, I may have problems being able to edit School District-only Google Docs.  This occurs most often when teachers are sharing documents and the receiving party doesn't see the docs in their Shared with me folder.

This is a user's personal Gmail account logged into Google.

Clicking the icon shows that this is an AISD Google account. 

Students can quickly see if they are in the student AISD domain.

One Possible Solution:
Described very well for all devices in this Google Support Link,  the Google Chrome browser does a fantastic job of managing different Google IDs within one browser.  The trick is to log more than one user into Chrome.

Click the User button at the top right of the Chrome browser and then click Switch Person.  You can follow the prompts to add your personal Gmail account as a new user in your Chrome browser.

Each user will have their own set of bookmarks, apps, extensions in this browser and the same set will automatically be available on any other computer where the user logs into their Google Chrome user account.

This power is quickly experienced when a user logs into a Chromebook and sees all Chrome apps, bookmarks and extensions already available to them.

With more than one account installed, you can work in your school Google Drive in one window and continue to have your personal Google Gmail and Hangouts running in a different window at the same time.

You can use the People menu to switch back and forth or right-click the name button at the top right of the browser window.

Mobile Devices?
The same Google Support Link above has directions for different computer platforms and devices, including Android, Chromebook and iOS devices.  Learning to manage multiple Google accounts within the Chrome Browser will be a great time-saver and productivity enhancer.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Automagic Copy Command With Google Apps

One reason Google Apps are great for the classroom is because how easy it is to share documents with students.  Teachers sharing documents for students to edit have a few ways to give edit rights. One way shared online by Trevor Beck provides a nice shortcut that works well in some situations.

A Google Draw document I want to share with my students has been shared using the URL:

Notice the word edit near the end of the URL.  Copy the entire URL, but replace the word edit with the word copy.    The new URL:

Now, when you share this new URL with students, the first thing they see is:

Students have no choice but to make a copy of the shared document and the teacher does not have to worry about students remembering to make a copy first.  Keep in mind, students must be logged into their Google Drive accounts before the copy will take place.

This tip is much less important if the teacher is using Google Classroom, uses group addressing to share or trained students already about File-Make a copy in Google Apps. Still, it's a neat trick.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Google Drive Revision History - A Powerful Tool for Teachers

This is the first of a series of posts on Google Drive features that classroom teachers may find quite valuable.

As a classroom teacher it is not enough to grade an assignment and move on. Why a product misses the mark is as important (if not more so) than the mark itself.

This was a problem I struggled with as a classroom teacher.

Is the work below expectations because I did not present the concepts well? Did the student misunderstand the assignment? Was the project completed in a rush the day before the deadline? The answers to these questions each suggest a different way to help the student and teacher improve.

In the "dark ages" of classroom technology, we used Clarisworks/Appleworks.  Students would bring their printed writing to the writing conference. We would discuss the work. I might make a few suggestions for improvement. The student would work on the revisions and later turn in a revised final draft. It wasn't chiseling on stone tablets but it was Old School. I am certain, but couldn't prove, I frequently received a freshly printed copy without any changes.

I needed a good way to find out the "who, what, when and where" of the project timeline.
  • Who contributed (especially important for group assignments)?
  • What was contributed, changed, pasted or otherwise added?
  • When was is done?
  • Where was it done? (This one is easy.)

Teachers and students in Austin ISD now have access to Google Drive and the extensive suite of productivity applications it provides. There are too many features for one post.
I want to highlight the revision history available in most document types.

Revision History shows time stamped changes in the document. It is accessed from the file menu within a document.
File>See revision history

There are several useful features in revision history:

Notice that each collaborator is listed with different colored text. Collaboration is a crucial skill but group projects can be difficult to assess. Did everyone contribute or did Vanessa, Diane and Shelley do all the work while Marc and Howard played "Monty Python quotes" and made rude noises? That almost never happens but you get the idea.

Clicking on an entry in the revision history will show the changes made at that time. Did Howard change one word and call it a "revision"? Did Marc paste an entire paragraph without citation? Once again, examples are for illustrative purposes only.
Howard never does revisions. His work is perfect from the first draft.

Every entry in revision history has a time stamp. Now it is easy to tell if an assignment was finished two weeks ago and polished or if it was done start to finish the night before the deadline.

A teacher can easily tell the who, what and when about the work from revision history.

That is easy- anywhere there is internet. Google Drive is available on the internet 24/7, no software to install and nothing to buy. A device with a browser and an internet connection is all that is needed to use it.