Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Google Drive

If your school is not yet using Google, it's time to get on board! Google for education is a completely free web-based suite of email, calendar and documents that makes it easy for teachers, administrators and students to collaborate, coordinate and study--anytime, anywhere.

Google Drive is the online document storage house attached to your google account. Within Google Drive, you can upload documents already created in Microsoft Office or other programs, or create documents directly in the drive. Documents in Google Drive can be downloaded in Microsoft Office or other programs. 

Google Drive includes:
  • Documents (Word Documents)
  • Presentations (Google version of Powerpoint)
  • Spreadsheets (Google version of Excel)
  • Forms (Surveys with multiple choice, check-box, or text answers)
  • Drawings (Google version of Paint)
  • Folders to organize your documents
Access can be granted to specific people to view or edit the document. Anyone with access can make comments and can make a copy of the document for their own Google Drive, which they can then edit.

These are just a few of the benefits of using Google Drive:
  • Teachers and students can share documents on the internet without having to email documents back and forth or use thumb drives.
  • Students can submit assignments electronically.
  • Teachers can type comments directly onto their students’ assignments.
  • Revision history allows you to see when all changes were made and who contributed.
  • Collaborators can chat directly in the document while simultaneously editing it.
In short, Google Drive is amazing! Watch this tutorial to get started:


There are millions of uses for Google Drive. I will cover a few possible teacher and students uses for Forms, Spreadsheets, Documents, and Presentations. Please comment with other ideas. 

Forms:Forms are surveys that include multiple choice, check-box and/or text responses. Watch this video to see the power of Google Forms.

Once a form is created, it can either be linked to a class blog or website, or emailed directly. Responses populate automatically into a spreadsheet. From there, results can be analyzed under "Form"-->"Show Summary of Responses".

  • Teacher Use:
    • Quizzes (multiple choice or free response). If you're feeling really ambitious, watch this tutorial on how to get Google to grade the quizzes for you.
    • Survey students to get feedback
    • Allow student to submit links for assignments in Google Drive, Voicethread, Sliderocket, Glogster, Prezi, etc.
Note: For anything you are grading, make sure to include questions for their name and class period. When the responses are in the Spreadsheet, you can sort by Last Name or Class Period to make grading easy! 
  • Student Use: 
    • Survey friends and family to analyze data 
    • Opinion polls


Documents are simply word documents. They can be shared between people and edited simultaneously, while chatting on the side. Comments can be added and revision history shows exactly when each change was made and by whom. All the editing options of Microsoft Word exist in Google Documents. 

  • Teacher Use: 
    • Template for assignments which students can copy, edit and re-submit their version. 
    • Template for notes so students don’t have to download huge documents from your website; they can access the googledoc on the web.
    • Teacher collaboration: write tests together, agenda and notes for faculty meetings, department brainstorming, records, etc.

  • Student Use: 
    • Collaborate with peers on an assignment/project
    • Teachers can make comments directly on their assignment which students can respond to and "resolve". This is great for revisions.
    • Teachers can view revision history to see when changes were made and who contributed which parts to group projects


Spreadsheets are the Google equivalent of Excel. All of the same sorting and searching abilities and formulas exist in Google Spreadsheets.

  • Teacher Use: 
    • Form responses populate into a spreadsheet and can be analyzed from there under "Form"-->"Show summary of responses". Sort by Last Name or Class Period for easy grading.
    • Track grades and contact/deals/notes for parents and students
  • Student Use:  
    • Statistics projects or anything else using Excel


Presentations are the Google version of Powerpoint. Presentations previously created in Powerpoint can be uploaded to Google Drive for web-based storage. Presentations can include images, videos, links, and also include a "Research" tab on the side that allows you to search the web for videos, images, scholarly searches, quotes and definitions.

  • Teacher Use: 
    • Lecture Slides
  • Student Use: 
    • Presentations shared online instead of using a thumb drive. Teacher can make comments directly on presentation slides.

Check out the video below to see how teachers and students are using (and loving!) Google Drive:

Voicethread: Give Every Student a Voice

Voicethread is a presentation program that syncs voice recordings with slides and allows others to make typed, voice, or video comments (with annotations!) on those slides. Slides can contain text, images, or videos. 

This is a very powerful tool as voicethreads can be created by teachers (and commented on by students) or created by students (and commented on by teachers and/or other students). You can upload Powerpoint presentations directly into Voicethread, then add audio to each of your slides.There are also thousands of voicethreads that have already been created by others that you can access, edit, and use in your own class.

In a class of 20-30 students, there is not enough time for every student to explain a problem, voice their opinion, or make a presentation. Voicethread gives a voice to every student.

A school Voicethread account costs just over $1 per student (an account for 350 users costs $450). This is money well worth spending. Visit http://voicethread.com/ to create an account. 

Every teacher will come up with their own use for voicethread, but here are three ideas as a jumping off point : 

1. Oral Exams

  • Example: Read a foreign language passage or explain a math problem
    • Choose to moderate comments so only you, as the teacher, can see the students' comments

2. Presentations

  • Example: Record a presentation for a substitute. Have slides explaining concepts and slides where students have to make comments (can be typed or audio with annotations)
    • Moderate or do not moderate comments depending on if you want to use it more like a quiz or discussion
  • Example: News broadcast or Group Projects (each student can upload their own videos and compile them into one voicethread presentation)
    • Students will submit link to you and you can comment directly on each slide

3. Discussions

  • Example: Reenact the debate at the Constitutional Convention or discuss reactions to a short story
    • Do not moderate comments so everyone can see each others' comments.

For information on how to browse, create, comment, moderate comments and anything else you could possibly want to know about Voicethreads, check out these videos:

Tutorial Video 1

Jing: Record Your Screen

Jing is a powerful (and free) program to capture and share exactly what is on your computer screen.  This can be done using screen shots (snap shots of any part of your screen) and screen casts (recordings of your computer screen with voice narration). Jing can be downloaded for free at http://www.techsmith.com/jing.html.

Once you download Jing, you will have the capability to capture up to five minutes of video of your computer screen, as well as to take screen shots of any image on your screen. Watch the video below to see some of these amazing features that Jing has to offer:

Have you ever wanted to give step by step instructions on how to do something on the computer but had troubles explaining exactly what to do? Screen cast tutorials eliminate misunderstandings, which cuts down on poor work and excuses. Tutorials or video instructions can also be linked directly to a class blog or website, so students can watch it while they are doing their homework or project. Jing will record exactly what you are doing on your own computer screen, so you can take the students through each step, showing them exactly what you mean.When they are watching the videos, they can pause it as they are going through those steps themselves.  

There are many other uses for a program like Jing, but here are examples of how it can help both teachers and students.
  • Teacher Use
    • Screenshots/snips of images to use in tests, on assignments, or in presentations
    • Screenshots with additional text and arrows for clear instructions
    • Screen cast Tutorials (Example:  instructions for copying a Google Doc, changing sharing setting and submitting)
  • Student Use
    • Submit screen shots of their blog posts, khan academy score or any other online assignment
    • Send a screen shot to email you a question as they are working on homework. 
    • Record a presentation with voice narrations

Monday, June 17, 2013


Prezi: The Free Flowing Presentation Spectacular

Have you ever wanted a change from your PowerPoint presentation but been hesitant because you are not sure you want to lose all of the work you have already put into your presentations that you have created? Have you ever tried Prezi? Prezi is not only an incredible presentation tool in which you can directly upload your PowerPoints and make them even more visually awesome, but also you can search, reuse, and adapt presentations that have already been created by others. Let's start by showing you what a sweet Prezi looks like, and you can see it by watching this Prezi promotional video found below: 

Now that you have a general feel for what a Prezi looks like and what the different features are, let's go through this tutorial of how to explore Prezis created by others and just a few of the features.

Prezi has presentations already made about a subject, person, or an idea, and they are ready for you today! If you do not want to spend your entire night creating that resource-let’s face it, those nights are pretty important-why not just search and find a similar, more visually interesting resource on Prezi. I can almost go as far as to guarantee that Prezi has a presentation about most of the topics that you cover in your classrooms. Prezi is a great resource for every teacher! It has fabulous presentations already made for every grade level. These presentations are made by other teachers and usually cover the topics that are directly from your curriculum! One of the coolest features about Prezi is not only that it is sharable, but also that it is adaptable.

Have you ever found a sweet resource that was great, but there were some really random slides that you did not want? Well, my favorite part about Prezi is that most of the presentations that are already created and shared can be copied and modified. This allows you to make the presentation exactly what you want.

How hard is it to get started on Prezi? Here are the basics of what you need to do:

  • First, go to prezi.com.
  • Next, create an educator's account for free.
  • Once you have your own account, go to the Explore feature and search for the presentation you need. There are usually multiple presentations on each subject, so what I do is look through the different options on the topic I searched and find the one that has the best content. Sometimes I will even collect information from all of the presentations that are on that topic and put it in the best looking presentation that was already created. 

Prezi is a resource that is made to save you time, money, and dryness of classic PowerPoint presentations. I really hope you take the time to look through Prezi. That little bit of extra time at the start will save you so much time in the long run!


All Things TED: All Things Inspired

Are you an educator wondering how you could use TED Talks in your classroom? If you read through this blog post, you will learn more about the various ways you can use TED.COM in your classroom. Below is a tutorial video that walks through the different programs that TED offers that could help you in the classroom:

TED offers a website specific for educators that is called ED.TED.COM. Below is a video talking about this incredible TED Ed resource:

There are many reasons you could use TED as an educator. Two of the main reasons to use TED as a Tech Tool can be found below:
  • The first reason which I find the most enjoyable is what I call the Einstein Factor. I always thought it would be sweet to watch videos on the geniuses we always learn about like Einstein. TED has those videos of the Einsteins living today! You could also refer to this as a professional development resource. Most of the top people in almost every field of study in today’s world have given a TED talk about what they have dedicated their life to studying. TED has a great collection of contemporary geniuses talking about how they have pushed their field of study to the next level. TED is an online video database of incredible stories and interesting information!
    • The bottom line is TED is a resource full of inspirational ideas and inspirational people; plain and simple intriguing information to keep you curious about what is out there in the world and what that could mean for us.
  • The second reason I would suggest TED to educators is for student videos. There is a group of TED talks that are directly focused on stories about a variety of inspirational teens and how they are already changing the world. http://www.tedxteen.com/
    • These videos include a wide variety of stories that include a boy with special needs who was put in the resource room because of his Autism, and he was told that he would not talk. Well to make a long, awesome story short, this boy did end up talking, as well as being enrolled in a college at the age of 10. He was the world's youngest astrophysics researcher. He also solved a scientific problem that had never been solved since the start of time. His research is said to be in consideration for the Nobel Prize at some point in the future.
    • There is also a TED talks on an opera singing sensation that gave up gang life in Africa to become an international opera singer. This young boy learned how to sing off of one opera CD his dad had given him before he left the family. This boy did not know the words but dedicated himself to learning how to sing in that style. By singing in the streets, he was able to make enough money to leave the gang life and enter into a career in the performing arts.  
    • These are the stories and people our students should be admiring rather than the pop culture icons. I think TED can be as intriguing to the students if presented in the right way in your classroom.
  • A bonus is that they have a variety of great videos about teaching and current views on education for all of you education nerds like me!


Blogger and Saving the World

Have you ever thought about starting a blog but been a little hesitant because, what would you have to say to the whole world wide web? Well, I would strongly encourage you to take the time to set up a classroom blog because you will not only save yourself time, but also you will be saving the world due to the amount of paper you will save! Watch this video below on all thing blogs.

  • I often think that people do not realize how most blogs are just a place to save resources for yourself or to share information with a small concentrated group of people. Have you ever seen a video or an article and thought how nice it would be to use that in your class, but then lost the link or forgotten about that resource or where you could find it? A blog could help you out with so many things, including just centralizing your resources on a certain topic. 
    • Blogs are the ultimate place to put everything you find and create together.
    • If you find a Prezi that you like or if you create an amazing Voicethread, post it to your class blog. If you find a great video or almost anything you would want to have as a resource, you can post it to the blog.
  • One huge classroom time saver is using your blog to facilitate a Flipped Classroom. You can send students to this blog to watch a video or a resource when they are at home on their computers. Making assignments to watch, listen, and/or read information from a blog has actually been really successful for classroom teachers to whom I have talked. You do not have to have a completely flipped classroom to utilize the same idea and save you countless in-class hours of time spent with the students reading or watching a video. I would encourage you to get the parents on board for this class blog to help everything run smoothly.
  • There are also a lot of classroom teachers that have a class blog. This is a good way to let parents know what is going on in your classroom daily/weekly without having to print anything off or tell them individually. This will save you time and is fun because with blogs, they can leave comments on posts, and it can be a two-way conversation!
  • The last feature about blogs that I would like to talk about is how you can have different pages on your blogs. You can have the first page on your blog be a place for information that you want to stay the same. Then you could have the next page on your blog be information that is updated or changed.