Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Google Chrome Tip: Multiple User Accounts

I hate the hassle (and yes I realize that hassle is a relative term) of logging out of and back into Gmail/Google to switch between my work and personal Google accounts.  Google Chrome has a valuable feature that has alleviated my frustration and given me added moments in my day.

It's called the Multiple User feature in Chrome.  Basically, it allows the user to quickly switch between Google accounts in different browser windows without necessarily having to log into or out of any of the accounts.  Pretty slick, huh?  And a nifty little icon helps you easily switch between the two without confusion.  A word of advice about those icons -- think through your icon selection.  Your students will see this.  Are you going to be a stealthy ninja icon, a faceless blue icon of mystery, or a warm, snuggly animal.  This is an important decision... choose wisely (although they can always be changed).

I'm going to post a video tutorial walking you through the process of doing this, but for those of you who prefer written directions, here's a link to Google's tutorial on doing this:

Here is my YouTube tutorial for those of you who are auditory/visual learners:

Some other really nice features.  Each user account maintains your bookmarks for that user, maintains any Google Chrome apps for that user, and keeps a unique history for that user.  Oh, and when you log on to another computer with Chrome and sign in with that account, it carries that data with you.  Of course, that's the beauty of Chrome anyhow, so you probably have already experienced that.

Awesome little tool that just might improve your workflow, save you some frustration, and regain precious time.  Hey, over the course of a lifetime, saved moments add up!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Google Cultural Institute - Dive Into the Sources of History

Being a humanities teacher at the core, I understand that there is little as fulfilling as watching kids genuinely dig into original manuscripts and source documents.  There is something so rich about allowing them to authentically connect with the past.  Not the Reader's Digest version of the past we endearingly call text books.  No, the imperfectly perfect documentation and images of the past that can best be highlighted in the authentic, original documents and photographs.

However, from experience we know that many of our students tend to struggle with nonfiction reading, tend to shy away from the challenge of working through the language barriers created by the passing of time and the change of society, and far prefer the nicely summated Wikipedia version of history and culture (at least when we ask them to regurgitate that history and culture back to us for the purpose of a project or report).

All the while we are fully aware that these rich source documents and images are sitting in collections we know we could never afford to take our students to see (and wonder if the risk would be worth the reward if we could).

Leave it to Google to merge the world of modern day technology with the wealth of resources that demonstrate and define our rich cultural history. 

Google's Cultural Institute is a media rich experience where viewers (turned historians) get to dig deeply into these source documents on focused topics.  From high resolution images that can be zoomed and panned, to first-hand accounts and interviews, to original source documents, the Google Cultural Institute is a must-see resource for educators encouraging their students to explore and connect with culture and history.

While the Google Cultural Institute teams are still building this resource and are creating new exhibits, the diversity of exhibits that presently span the previous century are enough to keep a wide variety of interests engaged.

Check it out and let us know if you decide to put the Google Cultural Institute to the test with your students.!home

Hey Waukesha....How do you Google?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Today's Technology Tip:   
How to make an online quiz or survey for your students. 

The three very short videos below will show you how to make an online quiz or survey that can be used to gather information from your students, sign up for events or projects, formatively assess students before planning a lesson, and much more.  Our next tip will show you how to 'program' the quiz so that your Google form will grade itself and send you a report.  Click on 'next' below to get a preview.

Next: set up your quiz so that it will grade itself and send you a report!

part 1

part 2

part 3

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A little more room to work in Google Docs

As screen gets smaller and our tool set of add-ons and apps grows (especially in our browser window), the battle for screen "real estate" is on.  Teachers need room to design digital content.  Nowhere is this more true than in Google Docs/Apps, where the tool bar takes up 1/8th of the screen, the title of a doc another 1/8th, the margins eat up more room on each side, and suddenly we have no place left to design and craft a message.

This tip, which I stumbled upon on Richard Byrne's blog  Free Tech for Teachers (definitely worth your time to peruse), shows a new feature from Google that will win a small battle in reclaiming some of that screen space.  Richard's blog article below:

MONDAY, OCTOBER 15, 2012One Click Yields More Room to Work in Google DocsIf you're like me and you frequently work on a laptop or netbook there are probably some moments when you wish for more screen space. Beginning today if you're using Google Documents and want a little more room to view your pages, you can make that space appear with just one click. In the upper, right corner of your screen you will now see an option for "compact mode" in each of your Google Documents. Click the compact mode arrows to collapse the formatting menu and receive about an inch of more space to work in your documents. Below you will see some screenshots showing you where to find the compact mode arrows.

Click to view full size.

Click to view full size.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Give Google Docs a Whirl...You'll Be Impressed!

When Google Apps for Education was launched in the School District of Waukesha, the tagline was a critical question -- "How do you Google?

Every day our Instructional Tech Coordinator team is having conversations with teachers who are providing answers to that question.  The Google Apps suite of tools is probably one of most diversely used set of tools launched in our district.  It is a tribute to both the adaptability and simplicity of using these powerful tools.

So, what are people actually doing with them?  

Today I had the great fortune of co-teaching with a high school Business Department teacher who is utilizing Google Drive for assignment collection.  It doesn't stop there, though.  Today she launched her students into the world of collaborative writing/commenting/editing that Google Docs makes available. If you've never seen this feature, it's worth your investigation.  Students write and then share that document with peers (as well as others, including teachers).  Those peers can contribute to the document, can edit the document, or can create comments on the document.  It has all the benefits of peer editing, with a traceable trail of comments, a revision history, and a timestamp.  What a powerful way to teach the value of revision within the writing process.  This made possible by employing some of the basic features of Google Apps.

Yesterday I sat with a teacher who said plainly, "Google Apps and Docs is just awesome!"  His team of teachers is utilizing Google Sites to have students create and maintain a digital portfolio.  This portfolio is the summative assessment of the key learning targets in this class.  The "artifacts" that students are placing in these portfolios are documents and presentations that students create using Google Docs, post online via that Google Docs platform, and link to their Google Site portfolio.  Not only are these portfolios useful ways to assess student learning, but the versatility of a Google Site allows for student reflection of their growth over time (not just weeks, months, but possibly even years).    These teachers envision a day when a single portfolio for each student travels with them throughout their academic career, serves them in all of their coursework, and can even transfer to meaningful uses beyond high school (including applying for colleges and scholarships, gaining access to career training programs, and possibly even sharing the portfolio with a potential employer).  This made possible by a team of teachers employing the flexibility of Google Sites with their own creativity and ingenuity in designing a meaningful summative assessment for students.

This morning I sat with an elementary teacher working to find an easily utilized and updated communication platform for a team of professionals that wrap support around a student, but who do not have the opportunity to converse regularly.  It's important for each person to know what is going on with the other members of the team to provide the best support for the student, and it's critical that the information about this student remains confidential.  Enter the blog platform offered by Blogger.  The platform is designed for ease of use, even by people who don't have access to "professional development" resources to teach them to use Blogger.  It is also flexible and secure to suit a wide variety of needs.  Once again, an extension of the Google Apps suite of tools, Blogger, makes communication and connection related to student support a possibility.

If you haven't dabbled in the Google apps platform since it's launch it Waukesha, we strongly encourage you to take a first step.  Start small.  Create a collaborative Google Doc with your closest colleague and sit together to see how sharing and collaborative commenting/editing works.  Set up a YouTube account (with your district-provided Google account) and subscribe to some "channels" that you can share with your students or colleagues.  Start following a blog or two using Google Reader.  Set up your own private blog using Blogger (again, use your district-provided Google account to log in) and experiment with the possibilities.

Join the fun of putting these tools to the test for professional uses and for use with students.  Colleagues all around are answering the question, and now the question is being posed to you -- "How do you Google?"

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Google Forms for Student Engagement - By Dale Van Keuren

Dale Van Keuren, the Technology Integrator at Waukesha North, maintains a new blog that really focuses on practical experiences and uses of technology in the School District of Waukesha.

Check out this informative post on practical uses of Google Forms in the classroom.    Not only is it a good introduction to Google Forms uses, but learn from the experiences of Taylor Bramschreiber, a Psychology instructor at Waukesha North.  As his students explored survey research methods, Taylor's students utilized Google Forms to create real surveys to collect data from students.  Talk about a powerful teaching and learning tool!

Learn more by visiting the blog post:  Google Forms for Student Engagement on the Waukesha North Technology Corner blog.

Thanks Dale and Taylor for your valuable insight and experience!