Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Calculating Volunteer Hours

In Ontario, students are required to complete 40 hours of community service to graduate.  In our district, when students complete hours, students must complete a form and submit it to the Student Services department.

I had a teacher reach out to ask me about calculating all those hours.  She is the P.E. department head, and she gives hours to students who help with after school sporting events (time keeping, score keeping, etc.).  Rather than have students fill out a paper form after each activity, she has them fill out a Google Form indicating their name, the activity, and the number of hours completed.  All the info populates to a Google Sheet.  The problem is that students might have multiple entries and she was looking for a quick way to calculate the total number of hours per student. 

The answer:  Pivot Tables!
pivot table is a tool that allows you to reorganize and summarize selected columns and rows of data in a spreadsheet or database table to obtain a desired report.

In this case, you can select the student names and then find the sum of all their entries.

Here is the video I created to help...hope it helps you too.

Monday, 7 May 2018

Make and Name Multiple Google Docs in a flash with Make Those Docs!

Image result for docappender

docAppender is a great tool that links Google Forms directly to Google Docs.  Usually submissions to a Google Form populate to a Google Sheet but with docAppender you can append data collected from a Google Form to the bottom of a predetermined Google Doc.

For example, if you have a Google Form that you use to track observations of student behaviours.  Your first question could be "Student Name".  When you apply docAppender, each time you fill out the form, your answers from the form would populate to that student's Doc.

HOWEVER, in order for docAppender to work, you need a Google Doc for each student.  These can be time consuming to make. I sought a solution to make multiple copies and couldn't find a great solution until I recently took Alice Keeler's Go Slow Very Intro to Google Apps Script.  In the course, I decided I wanted to automate the file making process.  I wanted to have a roster on a Google Sheet that would automatically create a Doc for each student, named after that student.

Mission Accomplished! 
Name Those Docs! is your solution.

Here is how it works:

1.  Choose the version of Make Those Docs! that suits your needs.  Click the link to the template you need in the chart below the graphic.

2. Once you pick your template, click the blue Use Template button in the top right corner.  This will make a copy in your Drive.

3. Enter your roster.  This can be done by typing it in or copying and pasting it in from another spreadsheet/CSV file.  Be sure what you enter matches the headings in row 2.

4.  Launch Make Those Docs! by going to Add-ons on the menu bar, selecting Launch Those Docs!  [version] and clicking Start.  (Note: If it if note there, wait a minute and/or refresh the page.)

5. At this point, you will likely be prompted to give permission to allow the add-on to run.  Click Continue.  (Note: Steps 5-9 should only appear the first time you run the add-on.)

6.  Next, Pick the account in which you want to install the add-on.  

7. On the Verification screen, select advanced on the bottom left.  

8. More text will appear at the bottom of the text box, select "Name Those Docs (unsafe)". 
Note:  It is totally safe.  The only reason it says it is "unsafe" is because it has not been verified (in order to be verified you need to have terms of service and a privacy policy and that sound like a lot of lawyer $$ to me).  I collect no data - in fact I have absolutely no way to access the copy you make of the file. 

9.  Click Allow.

10.  A side bar will appear.  It will look like the one below - although it might vary depending on the version you chose.  Click the Make Docs button.  

11.  You will be prompted to enter the name for a teacher folder.  This folder will be in your My Drive and it will contain all the files that are created.  You can move it into another folder after the script runs.  Click OK.

12. Next you will be asked if you want any text after the student name.  For examples, if want the files to be called Doe, John - Observations you need to enter "- observations" in the text box.  If you do not want anything but the student name, just leave the box empty.  Click OK.

13. Now the magic happens!  The docs will automatically be created and you will have quick access to them on the Sheet.

Troubleshooting tip: No file created?  Check the email - it might be wrong, or not a google linked account.

If you want to create another batch of Docs, you can copy another template, OR simply erase all the data you entered (the roster) as well as the data that was generate by the add-on (the file name, link, etc. as well all the columns with the Doc Name, ID & URL) and run the add-on again.

Here is a video walking you through the process.

Let me know if you find any bugs...I will try to fix but can't make any guarantees.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

How Making Pancakes Can Help Us Improve Assessment

This weekend I went to Beaver Scout camp and I was charged with making pancakes for over 40 kids and adults. As I cooked over the griddle, I realized how much this activity reflected good assessment practices.

If you’ve ever made pancakes, you know that you don’t ever make just one pan. There is always enough batter for a number of batches. The great thing about this is after every batch you take away some learning to improve the next batch.

Here’s how my experience went.

Pre cooking:

The night before I had to cook, I prepared the batter. I had two pitchers full of batter so that when the time came I could just pour the batter onto the grill. I also unwrapped brand new flipper.

The morning of breakfast I was ready to go.

Batch 1:
Like usual, the first batch didn’t have the perfect round shape and was really pale in colour and they were too flat. I realized that I hadn’t waited long enough and the grill needed to warm up a bit more before I did the next batch. I also asked my co-cooks about their preferred hue for a pancake. Some people like them darker, some people like them pale.

Batch 2:
In my second batch, I decided to crank up the heat a little bit on the grill to get things moving more quickly and avoid the pale pancakes of batch 1. They cooked faster, but almost too quickly. They were overdone for my liking. And the size was still too big.

Batch 3:
By batch three, I thought I was ready and I was almost there but not quite. I turned down the heat - that worked for colour. I liked the shape but I thought they were a bit spotty. They were also still a bit too big. I was fearful we might not have enough for everyone. (And you know kids, it doesn’t matter if they have a huge pancake and someone else has three small ones, the kid who has the three small ones clearly got more.)

Batch 4:

I did it! I cooked what I felt was the perfect pancake. My biggest switch: I stopped using the pitcher. The batter was flowing out too quickly making the pancakes too big. I switched to a spoon and scooped the batter out of the pitcher onto the griddle. I also found the perfect length to cook them. It was awesome and I received many compliments on how delicious they were.

So What?

So it’s all well and good that I made the perfect pancake but how does it relate to assessment? Most importantly, I was given multiple chances to improve my end product. I was not judged only on my first batch. I had other opportunities, multiple opportunities. While I cooked each batch, I observed and reflected - just like an effective learner does. I prepared for the task ahead of time by making the batter. I consulted other people I considered experts (my co-cooks) to help me be successful. I adjusted when I noticed tweaks (like temperature levels) that needed to be made. I changed tools when I noticed the tool I was using wasn’t ideal. My end product was being presented to an authentic audience – a hungry group of beavers.

So the next time you are assigning a task to to be assessed, consider my pancake analogy. Have you given multiple opportunities? Is there time for reflection, change? Is it for an authentic audience? If the assessment is not, perhaps it’s time to flip the assessment like I flipped the pancakes. We all have the opportunity to make things “batter” - sorry, I could not resist that pun.

Big thanks to Danaca Barnes and Amanda Kelly for cooking with me, inspiring me and helping me with this blog.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Searching Multiple People in Google Photos

I listen to this great podcast called Check This Out hosted by Ryan O'Donnell and Brian Briggs.  Their most recent episode (#82) was full of great tech tips.  The one I loved the most was about searching for people in Google Photos.

You might remember, last September, I shared how to to back up iPhone photos to Google Photos.  I love that you can search photos based on many criteria, including:

Location taken (or detected): San Antonio

Object: Lego

Event: Hallowe'en
Or person: Jen Giffen

What I learned was that you can search multiple people!  Have a look at my GIF as I search my name, then add Kim Pollishuke, and finally Sandra Chow.  

We're  all there! It is such an easy way to find fun, group shots!  Think family Holiday card!

Sunday, 15 April 2018

The Hashtag Trick

Twitter chats, conferences and EdCamps are some of the best PD around, in my opinion.  The learning is great and often you don't even need to be at the conference because there is almost always a hashtag (#) to follow so you can get the learning virtually on Twitter.


This is all great until you are the one tweeting and it comes time to remember the hashtags and/or remember to add them to your post.  I also find it can take up time to add them in and in the moment you might miss other stuff - especially if you are tweeting quotes from a keynote.

Fear not!  I have a hack - Keyboard shortcuts

Shortcuts allow you to type something short that will be automatically changed into longer text.  For example...last weekend I was at the #EdTechTeam #OntarioSummit.  I set up a keyboard shortcut to "etton" and it would replace with the proper hashtags (you just need to tap the spacebar after the shortcut).  

My friend David Carruthers loved it and decided to use the simple "ht" and said he was going to replace the long text each time he was using a hashtag consistently.

Caveat: make sure the shortcut is not something you might actually type of you run the risk that the replacement is made.  Eg. If I use "EN"as a shortcut for EverNote, I run the risk of turning my name, Jen Giffen, into JEverNote GiffEverNote.

How to do text replacement on iOS

  1. Go to Settings > General > Keyboard > Text Replacement
  2. Tap the plus sign (+) in the top right corner.
  3. In the Phrase field, enter the full text 
  4. Below that, enter the shortcut you want to use.  

Check out this video I made:

Sorry Android Android phone in the house to get the steps...I will add when I can - or let me know how in the comments.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Post your GDrawings on the web easily - and use the link to upload elsewhere!

In my last blog post I talked about the Publish to Web feature in Google.  I recently discovered another great use for this...the ability to insert your own GDrawings images into GSuite apps (and Blogger!) easily - without having to download them...this is a great option for Chromebooks.  (Note: I have a feeling I am late to the party on this one but I think it is really cool and wanted to share with other who might not know.)

I love to create my own images when I create tutorials, blog posts, etc.  I usually create in Google Drawings, download the .png, then use the upload image from computer.  The problem is my Mac (for goodness knows what reason) constantly gets the dreaded: 

So here is what I do. 
  1. Create a drawing in Google Drawing
  2. Go to File --> Publish to Web
  3. Click the Publish button
  4. Indicate you are sure
  5. Copy the link provided.
Now that I have the link, I can insert the Drawing (image) anywhere I want!

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Sharing outside your domain

Many EDU domains only allow sharing of Google Files within their domains.  This is great for privacy but can be a problem if you are trying to share with parent communities and other such stakeholders.

Loophole Alert!

Turns out there is a loophole - The "Publish to Web" feature in GSuite Apps. At first I thought it still would not share if the sharing permissions were not set to public, but after giving it a try...seems I can access with my gmail as could some  colleagues from their gmail account.

In all GSuite apps you have the ability to Publish to the Web in the File Menu.  Here is how to do it:

Go to File --> Publish to Web

Click Publish

Click OK

Share the link created in the Link box. 

To Stop Publishing, click the Published Content & Setting drop down, then click the Stop Publishing button

Please use this feature responsibly.  Think before you post student information and images online and be sure you seek proper permissions - even if it is with a select group of safe people...remember they can share the link you give.

Note:  So I have the ability to share outside the domain.  I tried this and gave the permission for only those inside my domain to view.  I looked on my gmail account and it was fine.  Another colleague of mine, who does not have the ability to share beyond the domain, tried and it didn't work for it may not work for all....sorry!