Monday, December 22, 2014

Favorite Chrome Extensions for the Week - December 22nd

It is winter break here in the United States, which generally means two weeks off from school. This is a much needed time for educators to recoup and get refreshed for the second half of the school year. Although this week isn't a set theme I did pick these extension with a purpose in mind. Here is why each of the extensions were chosen:

  • Clear Cache - take this time to clear your head
  • Symbaloo Bookmarker - create a webmix of all the things you vow to do this coming year.
  • Speed Dial - create your own online experience to ensure you are as productive as possible. 
  • Pin It - come back from the break ready to engage the students with creativity.


#1: Clear Cache
Type: Developer Tools (I think it is more Productivity)
Summary: Let's be honest, how many times has an IT person from your district said, "try clearing your cache and see if that fixes the problem." To many people that doesn't mean anything. Here is a quick (non-techie) description of what it means to clear your cache: when you visit a webpage your computer downloads a copy of the webpage and stores it locally(cache data), so the next time you visit that same page the browser will load the page quicker. Sometimes you need to clear your cache in order to stop an older version of the webpage from being displayed. This extension clears your cache for you, so you don't have to remember the steps to complete this action. 



#2Symbaloo Bookmarker
Type: Productivity (online bookmarking)
Summary: Quickly add links to your Symbaloo webmixes with this extension. 


#3: Speed Dial
Type: Accessibility
Summary: This extension allows you to build a new tab experience. Add an image, sync and organize your bookmarks, show your Chrome Apps, display the sites more visited, add widgets and more. 


#4: Pin It
Type: Productivity
Summary: Quickly and easily pin something you find on the web. Also, hover over images and a pin it icon will appear.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

YouTube Can Do THAT!?!

You mention YouTube and the first thing people think about is watching videos. Most people don't know that YouTube is more than just a place to stream and store videos. 

I put together a presentation to show some neat things available through YouTube. You will see ideas like:

  • create & share a playlist
  • get a video to start at a certain time
  • create a webcam video
  • edit a video
  • create a slideshow
  • upload videos from mobile device
  • and more...

Monday, December 15, 2014

Favorite Chrome Extensions for the Week - December 15

So this is one of those random weeks. There is no set theme, but still all great extensions. I hope there is at least one on the list you didn't know about.

#1: EdPuzzle
Type: Productivity (video)
Summary: EdPuzzle, is a great site for creating video lessons from your own videos or videos you find on YouTube, Khan Academy, and more. This extension adds a button next to the YouTube video to easily make them into your next lesson. This is a must have extension for any flipped classroom. 



#2: Diigo 
TypeProductivity (social/online bookmarking)
Summary: If you use Diigo for online bookmarking, then you need this extension. It is allow you to highlight webpage information and it automatically bookmarks it for you. You can add sticky notes, see annotated list, and share the annotated pages via Social Media.


#3: Any.Do
Type: Productivity
Summary: This extension helps you remember everything; drag & drop to plan your agenda, add reminders, attach notes, embedded gmail features. Great for making those list of to-dos.



#4: Page Eraser
Type: Productivity
Summary: This extension is great for students who get distracted by all of the extra information found on websites. The best part about this extension is that you can pick and choose which parts of the web page to erase. Simply hover over and click to remove. 



Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Google Apps for Education - A Solution to Your Video Needs

There is a ton of video solution companies out there, such as Kaltura/Media Space, LifeSize/Video Center, Safari Montage, etc. They cost money and in some cases a lot of money, and while some districts have the means to spend the cash there are many out there that are in a bit of a financial bind. 

A video solutions company is nice if you want to have a central location for your staff and/or students to be able to create and store videos. I am not 100% against one, in fact, my district does use one, but I am not 100% on board either. And that is just my opinion. I am not going to bad mouth spending money for video solutions. Instead, I am going to try and offer some suggestions to Google Apps for Education (GAfE) districts out there that just can't afford to or simply don't want to pay money to go this route.  

First off, if you are not a GAfE district, you should be. It is FREE! There are Google Education Trainers, like me, all over the world who can help get your district started. 

I chose the top five features (in no particular order) people look for in a video solutions company. I will show Google tools you can use to complete these needs. If you are in a district where YouTube is blocked for students, don't worry because I will show solutions for the students who don't have access to YouTube.

1. House (store) videos
YouTube is the best solution. Google does not limit the number of videos that can be uploaded and there is no per video charge. Users have the ability to upload videos and set as:

  • private (personal use only)
  • unlisted (people have to have the video URL)
  • public (anyone in the world can come across your video during a search).
If YouTube is blocked for students, then the next best option would be Drive. Now every GAfE Drive account has unlimited storage and the ability to upload a file 5TB in size. Do you realize how long and extensive a video file would have to be to reach 5TB. In Drive, students can set the video to:

  • private
  • share with specific people
  • post for anyone with the link (or anyone within the domain with the link)
  • public.  


2. Record webcam videos
Many people think that YouTube is just a video storage app, but it is so much more. You can record webcam videos straight from YouTube. Teachers can use this to explain a concept and students can use this to show their understanding of a concept. 




If YouTube is blocked for students, then students can use a Chrome Extension, like Screencastify, to create a webcam video. The free version of Screencastify allows for a video up to 10 minutes and can be uploaded to Google Drive (or YouTube).



3. Create screen capture videos
To my knowledge there is not screen capture feature in YouTube, but if I am wrong, please let me know. Screen capture means recording the screen of your device while you walk people through steps or a concept. It is a popular form of video tutorials for web-based tools. I recommend Screencastify as your screen capture tool. The free version allows for a video up to 10 minutes, and to be honest if your screen capture is longer than 10 minutes you have lost the audience anyway. It will upload the video directly into YouTude or your Google Drive, if YouTube is blocked.



4. Live Video Streaming
YouTube allows for live streaming, which is nice when you are wanting to conduct or watch a webinar. Google doesn't charge you a streaming fee or restrict you on the number of videos streamed per month/year. 



Google Hangouts, part of Google+, is another great option for live streaming. You can do a regular video conference (Hangout) or a scheduled event and broadcast it live (via Google+ or YouTube). The recorded Hangout on Air broadcast will be immediately uploaded to your YouTube channel.

I haven't found a free option for live streaming if YouTube AND Google+ are blocked for students. I am always open to suggestions though. 




5. Video Editing
You have the ability to edit your videos and create new videos from a collection of your videos directly in YouTube. There are creative commons videos and audio files that you can choose from to create new videos.

If YouTube is blocked for students, then they can use a Chrome application like WeVideo, to edit a video. When you use the WeVideo Chrome application the video is saved into Google Drive for students to easily access and share with others. The free version gives you 5GB of storage space. Once you publish your video to Google Drive you can remove from WeVideo to gain more storage space back. You just need to make sure you aren't going to edit it anymore.



I know there are more features that companies offer, but for the sake of this blog not becoming 20 pages long, I choose to go with the top five. 





Monday, December 8, 2014

Understanding Chrome Extensions

I was doing a Chrome extensions training last week and I made a fatal mistake. I took for granted that not everyone out there knows the purpose of Chrome extensions. I get so excited about sharing the extensions that sometimes I don't stop to pre-assess where my audience is in relation to their understanding. That is my fault. I know better than that! 

I created this quick visual that will hopefully help people better understand what a Chrome extension can do and why you would want to use them. I will be putting this visual in my presentations so I start with the why and not the what! Funny I have seen the Simon Sinek 'Start with Why' video a ton of times and here I was starting with the what (specific extensions) without sharing the why (how extensions can better your browser experience).


I highlight four extensions every Monday in my 'Favorite Chrome Extensions of the Week' blog. Check out my past blogs to find extensions that will work for you and your students.

Favorite Chrome Extensions for the Week - December 8th

This week's focus is on productivity. The first extension is tagged as a developer tool and I agree with that. But I see it saving a person time in the long run, so that falls under productivity as well. I am pretty sure I can talk myself into anything...

#1WhatFont 
Type: Developer Tools
Summary: Have you ever found a font on a web page and wondered what is was. WhatFont takes the guess work out. When the extension is enabled a font will appear next to your mouse when you are hovering over the text. It is the little things that make a Chrome addict so happy!!!




#2: Draftback
Type: Productivity
Summary: This extension is way cool. It turns the revision history of a Google document into a movie. Great way to see the progress of a story that a student has written or the transition from notes to full lesson plans. 



#3: 1 Click Timer
Type: Productivity
SummaryQuickly set a timer and go on with your work. Plays a guitar melody when time is up. That is so much nicer than the annoying honking sound that so many of the timers play.


#4: QR Code Extension
Type: Productivity
Summary: There are a lot of extensions out there that will create a QR code for you...no biggie. BUT this extension will scan a QR code, which means that classes that have Chromebooks and/or laptops with a webcam can now use QR codes with students. 







Sunday, November 30, 2014

Favorite Chrome Extension of the Week - December 1st

This week's focus is on using Chrome extensions to help you research on the web. These are great extensions for teachers and students.

#1: Tab Resize
Type: Productivity
Summary: This extension is similar to Tab Scissors and Tab Glue, but on steroids. It allows you to choose an already existing layout, create your own, undo, and add blank tabs to the layout. I do believe this is my new go to extension when I want to create a new tab layout. It even supports multiple monitors, which makes be every happy. Here is a YouTube video showing how it works.





#2: Highlight to Search
Type: Search Tools
Summary: This makes searching on the web easy. Simply highlight text from an article on the web and a search icon will appear. It will even show you recommendations from the highlighted text. 





#3: Search All
Type: Search Tools
Summary: Quickly and easily find information from multiple search engines with this extension. Highlight the text you want to search, right click and choose the search engine from the available list. If you want to start a new search, click the extension and a pop-up will appear. Simply type in your terms and choose the search engine.





#4: Clearly
Type: Productivity
Summary: Strip extraneous images and distractions on webpages to make a  "clear" set of text to read. Highlight text, send the clip to Evernote account.


Before

After



Saturday, November 29, 2014

FormLimiter ~ Must Have Add-on for Google Forms

FormLimiter is a must have Google Forms add-on. The add-on allows the owner to 1) set a date and time to stop receiving submissions or 2) restrict people from submitting after a certain number of responses have been received.

Follow these steps to add the formLimiter add-on. 




Step 8: Set the Google form to stop receiving submissions on a specific date and time. 

~ OR ~
Step 8: Set the Google form to stop receiving submissions after the maximum number of submissions have been received.



This add-on is perfect for:

  • Time sensitive forms, such as quizzes/tests
  • Sign-ups
  • Surveys/questionnaires

Check out the formLimiter help section for more information. 





Kahoot: Unleashing Fun in the Classroom

Kahoot, an online student response system, will unleash fun in your classroom through gaming. It can be accessed through any internet capable device and is played like trivia. Students earn points for correct answers and the quicker you respond the more points you earn. If you are limited on the number of devices students have access to, then have students work in pairs/groups. 

In nine easy steps you can bring fun into your classroom using Kahoot. Watch your students start to beg to play. 

Step 1: Choose Your Kahoot
Kahoot has 3 types you can create: quiz, discussion, survey. No matter which one you choose students will see a question with four answer choices. On their device they will pick the shape that correlates with the answer they choose. 

You can also choose one from the public gallery (at the time of this blog there were almost 755K Kahoots to choose from). You can search by name, audience, and/or type.


Step 2: Launch to the Class
Project on a screen and launch the Kahoot to the class. 


Step 3: Students Join the Game
Students will go to kahoot.it and enter the pin projected on the screen once the game is launched. They are prompted to give a nickname. Teachers can give expections on whether or not the student is required to give their real name or not. 



Step 4: Students Answer Questions
For five seconds the question is projected to give the students time to start thinking. After the initial five seconds, four answer choices will be projected and the countdown begins. Each answer choice is differentiated by a color and shape. The students choose the color/shape on their device that corresponds with the correct answer. 


Step 5: Question Feedback
After time is up the correct answer(s) is highlighted with a check and the wrong answers are faded out. A bar graph will appear showing the class the number of students who choose each answer. Each student will receive personal feedback on their device to whether or not they got the answer correct. 


Step 6: Leaderboard
After each question a leaderboard will display showing the top five players. It never shows a full list of players, so those not in the top five do not have to worry about being shown where they are on the list.



Step 7: The Winner
At the end of all the questions the winner's name will be projected for everyone to see. 



Step 8: Students Rate the Experience
At the end the teacher can have students rate the experience: 
  • ‘How fun was it?’ Students answer 1 to 5
  • ‘Did you learn something?’ Students answer yes or no
  • ‘Do you recommend it?’ Students answer yes or no
  • ‘Tell us how you feel’ Students select happy, normal or sad

The accumulative feedback is displayed for the class to see, which is great for prompting discussion on what worked and what didn't work. 



Step 9: Gather the Data
The students will get personal feedback on their device; total points earned, number of correct and incorrect answers, and the position they finished. Teachers have the ability to download the students' data to see how each person answered and how long it took them to answer each question. This data is only good if the teacher requires each student to use their own name. 



Check out the Kahoot Tutorial for more information and ideas on implementing this engaging tool in your classroom. 



Sunday, November 23, 2014

Favorite Chrome Extensions for the Week - November 24th

Here are my favorite Chrome extensions for the week. This week focuses on saving time while trying to get work done.

#1: Closed Tabs
Type: Accessibility
Summary: This extension is great when you need to access closed tabs quickly. Every time you close a tab it is added to the Closed Tab extension for easy retrieval. You have the ability to clear all tabs when the list gets too long. 



#2: Autocopy
Type: Productivity
Summary: This extension allows you to automatically copy text or links when they are selected saving the number times a day you click Ctrl/Cmd + C




#3: Timer
Type: Productivity
Summary: Set a timer for allotted time you would like to be on the web.


#4: Strict Workflow
Type: Productivity
Summary: Enforces 25 minutes of distraction-free work by blocking those distracting websites. Then gives you a 5 minute break.



If you are new to Chrome or want to learn more, click here to see some of the great things Chrome allows you to do.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

My Favorite Chrome Extensions for the Week - November 17th

This week the Chrome extensions are focused around helping students with reading and writing. The extensions can be used to aid students who might struggle with reading, need assistance in writing or those that need to want to or need to improve their reading speed.

#1: Select and Speak
Type: Productivity (Reading)
Summary: Select and Speak allows students to select a word or words and have it read to them. There are 43 voices to choose from with both male and female options. The student has the ability to pause, as well as slow down or speed up the reading. This is a great extension for students who struggle with reading or are learning English as a second language.


#2: BeeLine Reader
Type: Productivity (Reading)
Summary: This is a great extension uses a color gradient to guide your eyes from the end of one line to the beginning of the next. It makes reading text online easier. Students have the option to choose from a 5 different color gradient or customize with the colors of their choice. There are settings for different fonts, including one for dyslexic students.


#3: Spreed
Type: Productivity (Reading)
Summary: This extension is used to aid students in increasing their reading speed without compromising comprehension. It takes the online text and puts one word (or multiple if the student chooses) in a pop-up. The student can use keyboard shortcuts to increase/decrease the rate the words appear. After the text has been completed it will show the students the WPM. 


#4: VoiceNote
Type: Productivity (Reading)
Summary: With this extension students are able to write using their voice. The text starts to appear once they begin to speak. Students can say the word 'period' to end the sentence. Once the extension recognizes that the student is done with the sentence, it moves below and the student can continue to speak the next sentence. Errors can be corrected on the notepad and then the text can be copied and pasted into a Google Doc or Word document. This is a great extension for students who struggle with writing because they can't type or physically write. 



Help Students Better Understand Difficult Text with Rewordify

Rewordify is a great web tool that will reword difficult text to help students better understand. Copy and paste text from the web and it will show the modified words in yellow (color can be changed).



The site already has existing classic literature uploaded, reworded and ready to be used. You can search by title or by author. 



Teachers also have the ability to create learning materials and quizzes based on the vocabulary from the text. 



I see a lot of potential for this site to be used with struggling readers or any student who needs help improving their vocabulary.