Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Google Read and Write for the Win!

My son, who is in the third grade, hates homework.  His biggest anxiety in returning to school this year was that he would get a lot of Homework.  I also hate homework, especially in primary.  So last night, when we had to sit down to write a 2-4 minute script for an All About Me project, I was dreading it.  Then I realised, I could make this so much easier on him.  I spent all this time training teachers on Google tool, why not train my own kid.


I asked him to grab his Chromebook and we opened a Google Doc.  Then, I showed him the magical puzzle piece - Google Read and Write (specifically the talk and type feature).  After setting the microphone to French (he is in a French Immersion school), I asked him to say "Bonjour, je m'appelle Bennet" (Hi, my name is Bennet).  It typed for him.  His eyes grew the size of saucers.  As he left the room to get his poster I heard him say to himself "This is so cool!" and the kid who hated homework, stuck to it for 2 hours!


He learned that the mic does not always hear what he says and he may have to type some words in himself.  He also read A LOT of French.  He didn't speak and leave what was written; he read and corrected as it went.  The experience was so much more rich than struggling through the phonetic of what he was attempting to write or having me type it for him.  He felt empowered.  I was thrilled.  and I witnessed the power of using GSuite with Littles!

That said...this all begs the question( as my friend Peter Cameron pointed out) - "how do the kids who don't have the same supports at home feel/cope. And so the homework debate continues..."

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

From a Lens of Empathy

Yesterday was the first day of school.  For me it is not the typical day.  I don't have students, I did not have to set up a classroom, I did not review a syllabus.  As a member of a district team, I went into an office type building and "met".  The meetings were centered around team building.

The team I am currently on is one of the best teams I have ever worked with.  We are not without fault, but we work hard, get along, and get the job done - usually very well....#IMHO.

We did one activity where we reviewed a survey we took on the last day of school in June.  The survey questions were around aspects of our roles and our procedures in a Stop, Start, Continue format.  The last day of school is an interesting time for teachers.  We are eager for two month away from formal work, and it is often a time to let go of feelings that have been carried in the year.  There was a lot of honesty in the responses, and it was interesting to read them once we return from a two month break.

To be honest, I had seen the statements that were highlighted in our meeting the night before as I searched My Google Drive for something else.  A few of statements hit home....hard.  My back was up.  I spent some time talking through the emotions I was feeling, the night before the first day - a day that is often wrought with below the surface anxiety.  I came into the meeting prepared to discuss from a place that presumed positive intentions.

What struck me the most about the activity, however, was how our team co-ordinator, Trevor Krikst, framed the activity.  He started the conversation by recognizing that the discussion we were about to have might (would) be difficult.  Then, we said the words that really stuck with me.  "When looking at the statements, let's approach it from a lens of empathy". 


The sentiment is not new - but there was something in the way he phrased it that struck something in me.  It made me not only think of the activity (and team/personalities) at hand, but also about how I approach my role as resource teacher.  It will be my mantra for the year.

I have a ton of respect and admiration for Trevor.  He is a phenomenal facilitator, critical thinker, and a down to earth funny guy (#DadJokes). I really appreciate this lens he has encouraged me to see through this year.  Thanks Trev!

Monday, 3 September 2018

VirtualGiff's Back to School Top 7 Google Tips - Day 7 - Making a File live in Two Places - SHIFT +Z!

Earlier this week, I decided to share one of my favourite tips every day for the seven days leading up to the new school year.  (See the full blog post here)  Here we go for day the final day - day 7.  Happy labour day - and have a great first day for those starting back to school tomorrow like me!


VirtualGiff’s Top 7 Google Tips


Note for Mac Users: When you see CTRL in this pot, use COMMAND instead - it will do the same thing.


I have a document I want in two folder but I don’t want to make a copy because then when I update I need to update in two places!

Tip #7 - Shift +Z t
You can have the SAME document be live in two places!  Simply go to the file in your drive single click the document title and then press CTRL +Z (at the same time).  You will get a pop up box with your Drive folders.  Drill down (or up) to the additional folder you want to add the file to and click the “Add here” button.  Any changes made to the file will be reflected when you access the file from wither folder.




Have a great first day back tomorrow!!

Sunday, 2 September 2018

VirtualGiff's Back to School Top 7 Google Tips - Day 6 - Showing on Part of a Video and embedding it in Slides!

Earlier this week, I decided to share one of my favourite tips every day for the seven days leading up to the new school year.  (See the full blog post here)  Here we go for day 6….


VirtualGiff’s Top 7 Google Tips


Note for Mac Users: When you see CTRL in this pot, use COMMAND instead - it will do the same thing.


I have a great video to show but I only want to show part of it in my slide deck!

TIP #6 - Video Options in Google Slides
  1. Insert the video in your slide deck (InsertVideo).
  2. Single left click the video.  
  3. Choose Format Options.  
  4. In the sidebar, under Video Playback, enter the START and END time you want

    Note: clicking the auto-play checkbox will automatically start the video.  You can also mute the video so the audio will not play, only the visuals will show.




Friday, 31 August 2018

VirtualGiff's Back to School Top 7 Google Tips - Day 5 - The Starred Folder!


Earlier this week, I decided to share one of my favourite tips every day for the seven days leading up to the new school year.  (See the full blog post here)  Here we go for day 5….

VirtualGiff’s Top 7 Google Tips

Note for Mac Users: When you see CTRL in this pot, use COMMAND instead - it will do the same thing.

I want to be able to find items quickly in My Google Drive.

TIP #5 -The Starred Folder in Google Drive
In your drive you might notice a little outline of a star beside file names.  When you click the star (or right click the file name and select “Add Star”) it adds that file to the Starred folder.



Thursday, 30 August 2018

VirtualGiff's Back to School Top 7 Google Tips - Day 4 - Images With No Background

Earlier this week, I decided to share one of my favourite tips every day for the seven days leading up to the new school year.  (See the full blog post here)  Here we go for day 4….


VirtualGiff’s Top 7 Google Tips


Note for Mac Users: When you see CTRL in this pot, use COMMAND instead - it will do the same thing.


I want an image without a background!

TIP #4 -
  1. Simply go to Google images and search for a photo.  
  2. Click Tools and a new set of options will appear below the search bar.  
  3. One of the options is Color.  
  4. Choose Transparent.  

The search results will now filter to images with transparent backgrounds (they look like they have a checkerboard behind them).

With this photo type you will have a picture of a meerkat (for example) that looks like the one on the left, not on the right.

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

VirtualGiff's Back to School Top 7 Google Tips - Day 3 - Forcing People to Make a Copy of a File

Earlier this week, I decided to share one of my favourite tips every day for the seven days leading up to the new school year.  (See the full blog post here)  Here we go for day 3….


VirtualGiff’s Top 7 Google Tips

Note for Mac Users: When you see CTRL in this pot, use COMMAND instead - it will do the same thing.

I want to have someone to make a copy of a document into their Google Drive!

TIP #3- Force Cppy & Making Templates
Method 1: Force Copy
Change the end of your URL from /edit to /copy. For example:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1sduCwQ-o95wcRKsClg2PkDJek1CgZr6B4Fz8HMAHutc/edit# becomes https://docs.google.com/document/d/1sduCwQ-o95wcRKsClg2PkDJek1CgZr6B4Fz8HMAHutc/copy.

You will get this:

Method 2: Making Templates
The more polite way (IMHO) is to change /edit to /template/preview (just like above).  I like this way better because instead of the blank screen just asking users to make a copy (of something they cannot see) it allows them to see the file they are making AND keep them name (no more “Copy of…”). To make the copy to their drive they just need to click the blue Use Template button at the top right.

You will get this:



Both of these work for Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, basically any of the Google Core Suite tools.

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

VirtualGiff's Back to School Top 7 Google Tips - Day 2 - Pinning Tabs in Chrome

Earlier this week, I decided to share one of my favourite tips every day for the seven days leading up to the new school year.
(See the full blog post here)  Here we go for day 2….

VirtualGiff’s Top 7 Google Tips


Note for Mac Users: When you see CTRL in this pot, use COMMAND instead - it will do the same thing.


Can I stop accidentally closing tabs?

TIP #2 -Pinning Tabs in Chrome
Simply right click a tab in chrome and select Pin Tab.  This will make your big tab shrink and move it to the far left.  Now the red x you press to close the tab is gone and in order ot close it you need to right click the small tab and select Close Tab.









Monday, 27 August 2018

VirtualGiff's Back to School Top 7 Google Tips - Day 1 - Opening An Accidentally Closed Tab

I am on my way to Thunder Bay (literally, I am writing this post on the airplane) to the EdTechTeam summit for the KOBE.  I am excited to be delivering one of my favourite session “Google Tips and Tricks”. I built it almost 2 years ago when I was asked to do some work with new teachers who had experience with Google but were looking to “level up” a little.  I love this session. The slide deck shares over 50 tips and tricks with all sorts of Google tools (Docs, Drive, Slide, Classroom, etc.)  I update it whenever I learn something new. I realised that some of these tips would make a great blog post and so - with the goal of blogging more (ideally once a week) this school year - I figure this would be a good start.  So in the 7 days leading up to back to school...I am going to share one of my favourite tips every day! Here we go….


VirtualGiff’s Top 7 Google Tips


Note for Mac Users: When you see CTRL in this pot, use COMMAND instead - it will do the same thing.

Help! I closed a tab in Chrome by accident!

TIP #1 - Opening closed tabes in Chrome


Simply press CTRL+ SHIFT+ T and it will open the last tabe you closed.  Continue to press CTRL+ SHIFT+ T and you will open the second last tab that was closed...and so on and so forth.


Photo courtesy of Alice Keeler








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 Name 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 users....no Android phone in the house to get the steps...I will add when I can - or let me know how in the comments.