Wednesday 27 February 2019

Have a case of Tab-itis? Try Toby mini!

At any given time I might have a dozen or more tabs open.

About a year ago I started using a Chrome extension called Toby Mini. Toby "organizes your browser tabs into Toby so you can access key resources in one-click".  It has made my workflow so easy...honestly I could not live without it.

Once you install the extension you are able to organize web resource in one place!  I have a collection for meeting  minutes and Agendas, projects I am working on, resources for #ShukesAndGiff and more.

Let me show you what it is like:

  1. You can search all your collections easily in the search bar.
  2. Group tabs together in Collections.  You can name collections.
  3. Collections can be expanded or collapsed to save space.
  4. You can open all the tabs in a Collection with a simple click of a button
  5. Collections can be shared.  By pressing the share tab a public link is created.  This is a great way to share multiple resources with others. (See below.)

  6. Collections can be re-ordered with the arrow button.
  7. The Timbits allow users to add notes between cards with links, edit titles, remove collections and more. (You can also rename the cards and erase them easily with the pencil and x icons.)

  8. On the left sidebar, all currently open tabs are listed.  Drag one of these into a collection to add it to that collection.  (This will close that tab.)  You can also add a tab to a collection by pressing the Chrome extension button and selecting a Collection.

  9. Create new Collections by pressing the arrow button on the bottom right-hand corner.

My three favourite uses:
  1. Load your week.  Every Sunday I load up all the links I am going to need for meetings and such in the week ahead.  This saves me a lot of time in my day and I have less anxiety is I am running late.
  2. Load tabs for a conference/class.  By using the open all # tabs I can quickly open tabs I need for a presentation or class.  This allows time for items like videos to buffer and I can meet attendees or students instead of loading up resources.
  3. Have all project resources in one place.  Instead of searching all over my Google Drive (even my starred files can get out of control) and through my Chrome bookmarks, I make Collections to have everything in one place.

Tuesday 19 February 2019

What you find when you pay attention - multiple Twitter posts at once

In my last post, I talked about the fact that I had never noticed the Friendmoji button on the Bitmoji keyboard before. happened again...another instance where I was blind to a button I have likely seen but haven't noticed thousands of times.

Beside the tweet button (on the web, not mobile), there is a little plus button.

On mobile it looks like this (little plus button on the bottom right - Thanks Justine Wright for that tip!):

Turns out, when you tap that button, another tweet window opens underneath.  You can type in that new tweet window and, when you are ready, post all tweets at once!  

This solves the mystery (to me) of how people have really long tweets all in a row.  Full disclosure, I was often amazed that people knew how many tweets their longer message would take.  Note: I realise this might be obvious to some, and amazing to others - I fall into the later category!

So why am I sharing this?  I love how it shows that we can always discover new things in places we have been many times.  I also think it shows the importance of paying attention to the details because you never know what little treasures are hiding in plain sight!

Sunday 17 February 2019

Changing ALL Link Colours in Google Slides

When I work in Google Slides I often include links...but the default colour for links is this weird aqua-ish green.

Weird Green colour

There are times though that I want the links to be a different colour...maybe to match a theme, or maybe to go to the traditional blue so the look of the link is familiar to others.

Usually, I would highlight the text, go to the font colour icon and manually change the font colour.  

Manually change the font

But on a slide like this....

...that's a lot of work.

So after poking around on the internet a bit, I found a way to change ALL the links in a slide deck to a selected colour.  All you need to do is enter a script on the back end of the deck once and they all change!  And the script is written!!  Thanks to Manuel at for the script. (Follow the link in Manuel's name if you want to read his explanation of what each part of the script does to make it work.)

Here is what you do.... DON'T be looks like a lot but I promise it is easy peasy!
  1. In the slide deck click Tools --> Script Editor
  2. Script Editor will open in a new window.  Erase all data in the script (get rid of function myFunction() {  })
  3. Copy and paste this script in the window.  
  4. Click the save icon (the floppy disk) 
  5. You will be prompted to name the script project.  This name doesn't really matter.  I called mine Font Colour.
  6. Click the run icon (it is a triangle that looks like a play button).
  7. You will be prompted to authorize the script.  Click Review Permissions.
  8. Select your Google Account.
  9. On the "This app isn't verified" page, click Advanced NOT BACK TO SAFETY (this will stop the script from running).
  10. Scroll down and click Go To (Script Name) (unsafe)
    Note: the only reason it is unsafe is that you entered the script and you are not a verified app developer.
  11. Click the blue ALLOW button.
  12. Click the run icon (it is a triangle that looks like a play button).
  13. You should see a small message at the top of the window when the script runs.  Once it disappears, go back to the tab with the slide deck and all your links should be changed to blue!
  14. You can close the tab with the script editor.
How it looks after you run the script!  Two clicks!!

A few things to note:
  1. Steps 7-12 will only happen when you run the script the first time on a slide deck.  
  2. If you add links AFTER you run the script, you will need to run the script again to change the newly entered links.  You will only need to do steps 1 & 6 above (open the script editor and press run).
  3. If you don't want your links to be blue, you can change that in the fourth last line of the script.  Change #0000EE (the HEX code for Blue) to any other HEX colour code.  Remember to include the #.

Tuesday 12 February 2019

The 4Cs and Friendmojis

Last month I went out for a bite to eat with a former student of mine, Diana.  I love catching up with former students to see how they are growing up to become incredible young adults.  I love it, even more, when they teach me something new.  She texted me this...

...and I was did you get my Bitmoji and put it together with yours?!  Turns out it is called a Friendmoji (insert old person #GenerationGap joke).  She explained that if you have the Bitmoji keyboard on your phone, you can add these by clicking the little double face on the right side of the Bitmoji search bar.  Very fun!

Cut to today.  Sylvia Duckworth has a great, creative workshop all about making comics with Bimojis.  It is really fun.  She was looking to level it up. We are part of a Google Hangout Group called Maple Syrup EDU...a group full of amazing, talented, helpful Canadian educators.  We communicate in this group often - and Syl turned to the group to collaborate and generate ideas. 
So we did some critical thinking and here was how it went:
  • I shared Friendmojis..and it seemed like a solution until we realised that you need to be Snapchat friends with the other person...and we don't all have Snapchat - and a lot of schools have it blocked.
  • Chris Webb shared a doc (see shot on the right) that a student had created wherein she had created a whole bunch of different emojis to create a story...but that took making a whole bunch of email accounts and Bitmojis.
  • Jonathan So suggested using your own account and just changing it up, but that seemed a little labour intensive.
  • We all wondered if it could work with the Bitmoji Chrome extension.  It couldn't.
  • Then, Michelle Armstrong did some digging and found a Friendmoji creator!  It creates Friendmojis with just the link of two bitmoji - links that can be retrieved from the Bitmoji Chrome Extension!  #WIN!
Huge High 5 to Michelle Armstrong!

Michelle then leveled it up and created this Google Sheet to make the process easy.
  1. From your Bitmoji Chrome Extension, copy the image URL for any Bitmoji
  2. Paste that in the Friend 1 column (Column C)
  3. Ask a friend for the image URL for their Bitmoji. Paste that into the Friend 2 column (Column D)
  4. Watch the magic happen with some clever functions (like =MID). Column A will have the link you need to get this:
Me and my Friendmoji Darren Maltais

So now, we have a fun way to create...thanks to some good old fashion comminication, criticial thinking and collaboration!  Oh Canada! 

Custom Headers in Google Classroom

About a month ago, Google announced a new material theme design for Google Classroom.  One of those updates included 78 new themes.

Now I love choice...but what I might like more is creating...and one thing I love to do in Google Classroom is to create custom headers for my classes!

In order to create your own header, you need a canvas that is 1600x400 pixels.  I tend to create mine in Google Drawings or Google Slides.  I even have a template you can use to make your own headers!

Instructions for use are embedded in the grey space, but a few things to note:
  1. When the link opens, click the blue Use Template button in the top right corner to make your own copy in your Drive.
  2. Make sure you zoom out (go to the magnifying glass on the toolbar) so you can see all the grey space.
  3. I have suggested some icons to can find more easily by finding or creating transparent images (see my blog post on making your own or on finding ones that are made already)
  4. Remember to be digitally responsible!  Use pictures that are licensed for your use (check out this Pinterest board full of resources to find photos).
If you are looking to create other social media posts, check out this Social Media Image Sizes Cheat Sheet.  (Thanks to the @BISDWiredTeam for making me aware of this!)

Happy Creating!

Friday 8 February 2019

Meeting student needs

So today's post is not EdTech related but, in my opinion, an important message.

A few months ago I wrote a blog called "Google Read and Write for the win!"  It was about the positive impact that Google Read and Write had on my son.  In short, when I showed him how to use the tool, our homework battles ended.

After observing his abilities with content at home and comparing that to the assessment scores he brought home I noticed something did not match.  We decided to do a private psyc. assessment.

It was immediately obvious that my son has ADHD.  It was also obvious that he is quite bright - and that I was right - the scores don't match his actual abilities.

We got everything in place to get him an IEP to ensure his learning needs are met to ensure he can truly show what he knows at school.

Yesterday, he came home and said he feared he was one of the "least smart" (not dumb - so that was a win) kids in his class...maybe he was "at the bottom of the list".  Now, there was no list, but it was how he felt.  It was heartbreaking as a mother to hear him so down on himself.

Last week we received the psyc report and we planned to take him in to see the psychologist (or brain doctor as my son calls her) this week to have her explain it all to him.  In light of his comments, I decided that maybe we needed to broach the subject before our appointment.

I explained that the tests showed that his intelligence and learning scores put him at, above or well above the average of his peers.  Attention was the area in which he struggled.  I explained that his brain worked differently, but that didn't make him "less smart".

The more I shared how we were going to advocate for changes at school to help him learn, the wider the smile grew on his face.  When I got to the end of my spiel, I asked what he thought about it all.  He threw his arms around me and started to cry.  When I asked what the emotion was about he simply said, "Thank you".

Being a teacher, I was able to see the signs that my son was struggling that might have been missed in our system.  I feel for the kids who do not have an adult in their life to have that realization.

When kids feel valued and understood, their confidence soars.  When kids realise that the way they learn is not wrong, it is just different, their self worth stays intact.  Helping kids realise that traditional schooling methods don't work for everyone can give them encouragement, and fosters confidence, and excitement.

I know this is not earth-shattering for most of us....but it can be for a young learner.  Do you have a student that could use this kind of understanding?  Why not have the chat with them?  They might just hug and thank you too.

Tuesday 5 February 2019

Making transparent images

Transparent images are great to use for slide decks, green screen activities, and more.

Do you need an image with a transparent background?  There are a few ways to do it that don't require you to know how to use Photoshop.

You can find images that already exist...

Google Images

  1. Go to Google and search 
  2. Click Tools (under the search bar on the right)
  3. Under the colour drop down, click Transparent.

You can also use a picture you already have (even one you have downloaded from the web) and use a web tool....


  1. Visit Photopea
  2. Click "open from computer"
  3. Use the eraser tool
  4. Save the photo

Note: This one works best when the background is a single colour.

  1. Visit Lunapic 
  2. Click "Upload" and upload a file
  3. Select "Edit" --> "Transparent Background"
  4. You can change the transparency on the slider to remove more or less

  1. Visit PhotoScisssors online
  2. Close the pop-up window asking you to download the app
  3. Click the "Upload Image" button
  4. Draw green lines over what you want to keep
  5. Draw red lines over what you want to remove

Remove BG
Note: This one only works on pictures of people!  

  1. Go to
  2. Click "Select a photo"...that's it!!

Friday 1 February 2019

Why I tweet so much!

So if you follow me on Twitter, you will know that I am a big Tweeter.  I tweet to share, to engage in conversation, and to chat with my PLN.  I also tweet to keep track of things I might need to know later.  Now, I know searching Twitter is difficult...but I have a hack...I use If This Then That.

If This Then That (IFTTT) is an easy, FREE way to get your apps and devices working together.  It is a web-based service to create chains of simple conditional statements, called applets. An applet is triggered by changes that occur within other web services such as Twitter, GSuite Tools, and more.

I use an applet that records all my tweets on a Google Sheet.  Why? So my tweets become searchable. All I need to do is open the Google Sheet and search (use CTRL/CMD+F) any key term.

To set it up, just go to the IFTTT website, sign up for an account and then search "Twitter to sheet" (or follow the link above), and turn on the applet.

It is that simple!  The applet will record up to 2000 tweets on one Sheet, then it starts a new Sheet. If you want them all consolidated on one sheet, you can add new tabs on the Sheet and use the importRange function.

This is not the only great one either...there are a lot of things that you automate using IFTTT.  Another one of my favourites is when I post to Instagram, IFTTT automatically cross-posts to Twitter and embeds the photo in the tweet instead of as a link.