When I was asked to write a post for Jeffco Ed Tech blog, I was stymied. Education technology is a huge topic. It’s complicated, demonized, canonized, hotly debated, and full of strife & potential. Finally, after six or seven digital wads of paper, I’ve settled on discussing how I rolled out 1:web Chromebooks for my freshman classes this year. It’s timely, and I hope it proves helpful.
First of all, mad props to Pomona’s administration and our campus IT staff. It all starts there. Without a clear and shared vision of what technology will look like and a commitment to goals we set out to achieve by using it, the results would be confusing to everyone involved. Our tech gurus, Matt Daniels and Judy Sims, have been great at keeping our campus focused and practical about everything from how to track each device to which apps make the most sense for teachers to use. They are absolutely central to the success of the roll-out of over 700 (!) Chromebooks (and chargers and cords and screen protectors and id tags and Velcro strips and screen cleaner cloths and styluses and...et al) for our 9th & 10th grade Panthers. I shudder to think how absolutely chaotic this initiative could have turned out, and I’m so appreciative of their strong leadership from the beginning.
So that’s the Big Picture. As for incorporating this technology into our daily classroom environment, I am still a novice. I still ask the Annoying Question of the Day to Matt and Judy and have impractical requests that are met with “You really don’t want to do that, Clint”. “Why not?” And then he patiently explains the Why Not. I’m moving in the right direction, though, and zealously embracing the feel-good-It’s-OK cliche of our times: failing forward. A LOT. My students laugh at me when my “app-tempts” explode. We all laugh together, though, because I’ve found that true humility and vulnerability sometimes creates powerful community. It’s better than the option of playing the immutable sage on the stage, a role that would last, at most, a few measly seconds, and quickly scuttle any vestige of ethos I do have. They teach me more than I could ever figure out myself, and at 1/10 of the time, and they feel powerful when they teach the teacher. I like that. Empowering kids is fun. It’s a rush. Often, when you give That One Troublemaker a Chromebook and a purpose, they are transformed...just like the task they’re working on.
One last thing. At the end of the year, Nick Steinmetz, who I’m sure you know or, if you don’t, you should, challenged us to write a letter about how it went--the inaugural mass Chromebooking. I did that, then ended up writing an alternate version addressed to this year’s students. The letter is friendly yet informative, and includes memes, hyperlinks, footnotes, and other elements that they will run into on digital platforms. Joining our Google Classroom and reading and responding to that letter was their first assignment of the year. Once they join the Classroom, they also have access to the GDoc that I use everyday in class. Even if they’re absent, they get a good idea of what went on during their absence. Here’s a screenshot of (a portion of) that document:
Regarding technology, it’s going well. The kids are excited and potentially a bit intimidated. They see the potential inherent in the system. Even if they are not used to seeing it that way, they recognize their tech as a catalyst to learning and maybe even prosperity. The responsibility they have with that makes them feel like an adult.
Twenty-six years ago, when I first started teaching, “technology” meant the new-fangled electric pencil sharpener that was bolted to a desk. It’s safe to say a few things have changed since then. Heck, we don’t even really need pencil sharpeners. But I still have one. My students still use it. If you need it, it’s right over there by the door, next to the Chromebook cart and the Cell Hotel phone holder.
Happy teaching, everyone!
Teacher, Pomona High School
Important: Transitioning from Hangouts to Hangouts Meet & Chat
In 2017 Google announced that they will be replacing Classic Google Hangouts with 2 new products, Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat. In August, Jeffco will officially transition from Classic Hangouts to Hangouts Meet and Chat.
Hangouts Meet and Chat are currently available on the web for those that are interested in trying out the communication tools (see document below for setup directions). Please know, that in this transition period, some features of Classic Hangouts are not operable in Meet and Chat. Until August, it is important that those who have relied on Classic Hangouts continue to keep that tool available to avoid missing essential communication. More detailed communication will be available in August.
Tech Tip: Hangouts Chat Support Document
Fix: Chrome Cast for Education
We have noticed that some schools are having trouble with Chrome Cast for Education connecting to student and staff Chromebooks. In this scenario, staff and students see the message "no device found." IT has created a Tech Tip document to help you troubleshoot this error.
This error is caused when cloud services has been disabled on the Chrombook. This error is likely caused when a staff or student member added an extension that turned off the cloud service. Because extensions change how your browser functions, it's important to be thoughtful and selective with the extensions you and your students choose to add.
Tech Tip: Chrome Cast for Education Issue
What are Extensions
Goo.gl Shortener End-of-life
As announced last spring the goo.gl URL shortener reached its end-of-life on March 30th, 2019. No new shortened links can be created with this tool.
Our contact at Google has suggested, as a best practice, that we begin to change out old goo.gl shortened addresses. Google does not plan to remove or delete these shortened URLs but it’s never a good idea to rely on outdated technology for important documentation. We have seen some instances where links are receiving errors.
If a shortened link is needed, please consider using bit.ly or tinyurl.com. Also, before shortening, consider when you would need to use a shortened URL:
If users are accessing a link from a digital document (ex: lesson plan, HyperDoc, playlist etc.), you do not need to use shortened URL; simply hyperlink the text or copy paste the actual URL.
Reminder: Sharing Permissions
When sharing documents, it is important to be thoughtful about how you permission the document. When sharing a file in Google you have several choices:
Google Drive Help: Sharing Files from Google Drive
Docs Editors Help: Make Google Docs, Sheets, Slides &Forms Public
What's new in Google Classroom?
Classroom is one of Google's fastest-changing apps and April brought a few new features to make using the tool a bit easier.
Google Educator Certification: Level 1
This fall, Jeffco 5th and 9th grade students will be receiving a personalized learning device. When each student has their own device, the learning (and teaching) experience should change. One way teachers can prepare for this change is to become a Google Certified Educator! The Certified Educator program teaches you the fundamentals for using the G Suite for Education in the classroom. Once you've completed the training, you can elect to take the exam ($10) and receive your official certification. Additionally, you can submit your certificate to Jeffco to receive clock hour credit to support credential re certification (ESS: ETGCER). The Level 1: fundamentals course covers the following content:
New Feature: Chrome Remote Desktop
Chrome Remote Desktop (CRD) is a remote control software that allows a user to access one device remotely from another. CRD is now approved and available for use by all educators across Jeffco. With CRD you can control a desktop, laptop, or Chromebook from across the classroom without a wired connection. For example, a teacher can use an iPad or Chromebook to control a desktop or laptop that might be connected to a projector, SMART board, television, or other display solution. The power of this tool opens up un-tethered instructional opportunities for educators as they can move around their classroom in complete control of what's on the display without being connected by cables.
CRD install requires administrator access on the device being controlled. To get set up, begin by submitting a work ticket in ESS with your request to use CRD in your classroom. A support tech will contact you to install CRD. Once the install is complete, you'll be able to install the CRD app on an iPad, Chromebook, or other device to begin remote controlling your desktop or laptop. CRD works on Windows, Mac, and Chrome devices on both district devices and BYOD's More information and support can be found in Tech Tips or by contacting your Ed Tech Specialist.
Google + Shut Down
Google + has acted as Google's social media platform for the past several years. Due to low engagement, some Google+ communities will be shutting down in April. Google has been notifying, via email, members of G+ communities that are being shut down. Currently, Google plans to keep the product available for educational groups who use it to facilitate conversations among co-workers. If you are a member of Google + communities created outside of Jeffco, you will want to connect with that group to make plans for how to continue communications in another manner.
Classic Google SItes Shut Down
Google has updated their timeline for the depreciation of Classic Sites. The final date to transition from a Classic Google Site to a new Google Site is the end of 2021. Google has recognized that the Classic Sites tool still offers some unique features that are not yet built into the New Google Sites product. Some of the features that will be coming to New Sites are as follows:
NEW Feature: GOOGLE GRAMMAR SUGGESTIONS
When a possible grammar error is detected in Google Docs, it will be underlined in blue. Similar to the spell-check functionality, users can right-click to see possible suggestions, or users can choose to dismiss the suggestions.
This new feature has the ability for students to receive real-time feedback on their grammar and to contextualize ideas for how to improve their writing. Additionally, teachers can focus the feedback they provide to students around context and content, rather than on grammar.
New Features: Google Classroom
GOOGLE FORMS: LOCK-DOWN MODE
GOOGLE CLASSROOM: CREATE A QUIZ IN CLASSROOM
You can now create a quiz assignment directly in Google Classroom. With a quiz assignment you can lock a quiz, import grades, see student answers and return grades. To add a quiz assignment, click your Classwork tab, click the "+ Create" button, and click "Quiz Assignment." As with all assignments in Classroom, you can decide when the assignment will be posted, make edits, reuse the quiz in another class, and add class comments.
Digital annotations are not new to the realms of technology and education. Digital annotation tools continue to be available and ever changing. The power of digital annotations rests with the user and their abilities to capture their thinking, as well as, share it with others. In K-12 classrooms, digital annotations can be a great tool that empowers learners to begin capturing their thoughts and ideas leading to artifacts of learning which demonstrate understandings. Digital annotations can also be a great source for digital/e-portfolios allowing learners to reflect on their growth and development.
Why use digital Annotations?
Why should digital annotations be a part of every classroom and learning environment? Reading, writing, speaking, and listening are all fundamental components of learning which lead to critical thinking and digital annotations have the ability to cover all four areas. Digital annotations empower us as learners to engage with text, capture our thoughts, share with others, and gain insights from others thinking. Writing is a great way to process our thinking and allows us to begin identifying the process to where our thinking is going. When we digitally annotate and begin to share those annotations in collaborative spaces, our annotations become the center of collaborative dialogue and learning in which we grow collectively. When we begin to learn about annotating for learning, collaborative spaces for sharing and engaging in digital discussion opens doors to understand annotation strategies and processes from other learners with more annotation experience.
Getting started with Digital Annotations
Where and how to begin using digital annotation tools can be daunting and intimidating however, there are a few simple tools that can empower us as learners to get started on the journey. The comment feature in Google is one of the simplest ways to get started. The feature is available on Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, Drawings and a few other tools in the G-Suite. It is even now available on any file housed in Google Drive. Comments can be added to PDF's, images, MS Word documents and more when stored in Google Drive. A simple highlight of targeted text or information allows a user to capture thinking and share thoughts collaboratively.
If you're looking for a more robust tool with increased options, Kami is a great selection. Kami has paid versions with additional features however, the free version has plenty of options that are perfect for learners to get started annotating digitally. Highlighting, underlining, and strikethroughs (in a variety of colors) are all available at no charge. Additional features include adding text, comments, and drawing shapes. Under a 14-day free trial when you begin your account you'll have access to drawing, text to speech and a few other advanced options to try them out. Collaborative annotations with Kami are a breeze and users can save their annotated files in Google Drive if need be. It also works well with Google Classroom.
Digital annotations can occur on web-based material as well. Hypothes.is is a great option to consider for annotating web sites. Hypothes.is is entirely free to all users for all features. The tool was originally created for medical professionals who were collaborating around medical journal readings to increase learning and growth. Hypothes.is requires a login which is fairly simple and free to set up. Users can highlight information on websites and even add annotations (notes) which appear in a side bar. Annotations can be public, private, or in collaborative groups. Tagging annotations is offered as an advanced feature at no charge as well for users to quickly access collaborative discussions or topics. Annotations appear to users when visiting websites while the Hypothes.is extension is enabled.
Digital annotations can be highly beneficial to us as educators along with our students. Collaboration is now easier than ever with access to new technologies and the tools shared above work just as well for adults as they do for kids. Curating and sharing resources saves us all time and energy and digital annotations can be a quick way for us to collaborate across schools, districts, states, and more. How are you thinking about using digital annotations whether for your professional practice or during instruction with students? We'd love to hear your thoughts using the comment section of this post and look forward to learning more about how you are transforming tasks through digital annotations.
BY GUEST BLOGGER Christopher Brannon Church
Brannon Church is a technology teacher at Carmody Middle School. He has been a teacher in Jeffco for 19 Years. For the first 18 years, Mr. Church taught 6th Grade and this year has joined the Carmody team as their Robotics Teacher. Here he shares how he is making impacts in student lives through the development of Jeffco Generations. Mr. Church provides some great examples of how students learn with technology and ways teachers can access resources to begin integrating technology that engages students in creative learning opportunities.
I have always felt the need to incorporate technology into my day. I realized early in my career that very few things can improve student engagement like introducing a new tool or program. However, this usually only works if the teacher is as excited to explore new opportunities with their students. Fortunately, opportunities are much easier to come by nowadays because of the availability of chromebooks and free software. 95% of the curriculum we are exploring at our middle school comes from free programs that coexist with student Google logins. The Jeffco Ed Tech team is extremely supportive, and has equipment/resources for teachers to borrow to show their administration how important purposeful play can be in learning.
With all the free resources out there that appeal to the STEAM driven teacher, there is no excuse for not trying to implement computer science into some aspect of their day. Most educational apps use the Google Identity Platform which eliminates the burden of student login problems. I feel that Jeffco is headed in the right direction when it comes to preparing students for a successful future.
Demonstrating how to use Makey Makey & Scratch:
An Exit Ticket Using Makey Makey. Students were given the opportunity to create a project using Makey Makey and Scratch. I wanted them to see that they are limited only by their imagination. One on my administrators came to me looking for ways to make exit tickets more engaging and relevant. With student input, we created our interactive exit ticket using Makey Makey and Scratch. It was a huge success, and students immediately tried to jump on the “aluminum foil switch” idea for their own projects.
Jeffco Generations Skills:
These are examples of using technology as a tool to develop Self Direction and Personal Responsibility as well as Communication skills from Jeffco Generations. As an initial activity with Makey Makey, students were to research their favorite childhood song, find the sheet music, create a piano in Scratch, and use the controller from Makey Makey to recreate their song. The most amazing part of this activity is that students completed this project with very little guidance. Students relied on each other to figure out how to fix bugs in their program to make their music selection work.
How do I get access? - I am extremely fortunate to have 1:1 chromebooks in all of my Robotics classes, and nowadays there are hundreds of reputable websites that are available at no cost. Many of the hands on materials that I rely on have come from my own pocket, or were funded through the Donors Choose website. Any student can learn to code!
Funding is out there - After borrowing Makey Makey kits from Jeffco Ed Tech I decided that I had to have a set for my class to take our scratch lessons to the next level. Believe it or not, it was fairly simple to acquire the funds needed for a Makey Makey kit. Donors Choose and Google’s CS First are practically giving away money to teachers that complete a few simple activities with their class.
Skill Application Across Content Areas:
One of the favorite parts of my job is giving students an opportunity to show off what they have learned in Robotics/Coding and using those skills in other content areas. An example this year is a 6th grader who decided to retell the entire story of Maniac Magee using Scratch by taking her character on a journey through the story. It was amazing! This clearly demonstrates proficiency in computer science as well as a deep meaningful comprehension of a novel in literacy.
Below are just a few activities where application of the following Jeffco Generations Skills were imperative to complete the activity. As students completed these activities, they developed these Jeffco Generations Skills:
Sphero Bridge Build: Students were to demonstrate Critical and Creative Thinking along with Communication skills as they used the Engineer Design Process to research, design and build a bridge with drinking straws. Bridges needed to support the weight of a Sphero and span over 50 centimeters.
Friday Fly Day: During this activity, students were to research ramp design and create their own ramp to support the weight and acceleration of Sphero. This activity supports Collaboration and Leading by Influence.
Sphero Battle Tanks (captured with a 360 Camera): Students demonstrate Agility and Adaptability during their Sphero Battle Bots competition. Students used the Engineer Design Process to create “tanks” for their Spheros.
Merge Opportunities: During our introduction to 3D design, students were able to use Merge Cubes and AR/VR Goggles to check their 3D Prints. Instead of wasting printer filament, we are able to upload our designs to Object Loader and see if there are any flaws to our design. Students demonstrate Self Direction and Personal Responsibility as they create their own designs using Tinkercad, view their design in Augmented Reality, and print a clean final project.
In conclusion, I would urge all educators who are interested in integrating tech into the classroom to join Twitter. I have found so many creative educators on Twitter that share an endless number of incredible projects or ideas. Feel free to follow me @MrChurch (shameless plug) and make some connections with teachers all over the world that are passionate about integrating technology into their classrooms.
New: CLOSED CAPTIONING IN GOOGLE SLIDES
Presenters can now opt to show real-time automated closed captioning while presenting in Google Slides. Google uses your computer's microphone to detect your spoken presentation, much like using the voice-to-text option that is available within many G Suite tools. This feature can help make your presentation more effective for students who are deaf or hard of hearing, non-native speakers, visual learners, and in loud learning environments.
Need to make a recording of your entire mini lesson or direct instruction while teaching? Enable the closed captioning feature and use a screencasting tool, wuch as Screencast-o-matic or Screencastify, to record the progression and pacing of the slides WITH the words you are speaking. This video can be distributed to students via Google Classroom or embedded on a website so that students who missed instruction or need reteaching can watch the video on an as-needed basis.
For directions on using automated captions visit the Google Help Center
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Google's Tour Creator lets students make their own virtual reality (VR) tours, similar to those experienced in Google Expeditions. Students can add 360 degree images from Google Street View or from their own 360 degree photos. Photos can be created by students using Google Street View or a 360 degree camera.
Visit Tour Creator
Article: Google's New Tour Creator Lets Students Make their Own VR Tours
Jamboard Access on the Web
Google's Jamboard is "a collaborative, digital whiteboard [that] makes it easy to create without boundaries and share ideas in real time. Jamboard moves the whiteboard to the cloud." Until recently, Jamboard files were only viewable on the web, and could only be created using Google's Jamboard hardware. Google has recently released the ability for users to create, collaborate and share "Jams" on the web.
Visit Jamboard on the Web
google's Applied digital Skills Curriculum
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Google has created a free, online curriculum that teaches students and educators practical digital skills. Through this curriculum, teachers have access to captivating and ready-to-use video lessons. While engaging in curriculum, students can gain invaluable skills that prepare them for problem solving in a digital world and success in the workforce. Currently, these lessons are designed for middle school, high school, and adult learners.
- Managing a Project with Digital Tools
- Research and Develop a A topic
- Technology, Ethics, and Security
- Build an Online Business
- Technology's Role in Current Events
- Plan and Budget
- Digital Tools for Everyday Tasks
- Creating a Resume & Use Google to Get a New Job
Visit the Applied Digital Skills website
Google Sites: Layout + Add Button
Students and teachers can make professional-looking websites with ease using the new layout feature in Google Sites (new). Google launched 6 pre-built layout options; these can be found in the right-hand Insert menu. Just drag over the layout of your choice, and populate it with desired content!
Sites Help: How to add, edit and delete buttons
Quick Access Toolbar
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Have you ever been typing in a Google Doc or Slide and needed to capture thinking on your Google Keep? Well, now you can do that without having to leave your Doc or without having to open a new tab! Google has placed the new quick-access toolbar on the right-hand side in Docs, Slides and Sheets! From that toolbar you can quickly pull up your Google Calendar, Google Keep or Google Task manager! You can also find this same toolbar when working in Google Calendar.
Setting the stage
This is exactly how I felt when I saw the transformative learning in my classroom this past week. I have been using HyperDocs for two years now, first learning of HyperDocs while attending the Google Summit in Denver 2016. My DTL picked up the book “The HyperDoc Handbook: Digital Lesson Design Using Google Apps” by Kelly Hilton, Lisa Highfill, and Sarah Landis. Let’s go back to 2016...I POURED over this book.
I sat in the HyperDoc session (and honestly the others I attended) going through my current lesson plans in Google Drive, trying to figure out which ‘activities and lessons’ I can turn into a HyperDoc… I mean, it's just a glorified webquest right? Throw in my digital link for my note catcher, attach the same news article for kids to read.. And boom ‘HyperDoc!’... Right? I was so wrong.
The past year or so I have been reinventing my so called ‘HyperDocs’. I have been very pleased with my latest HyperDoc - The Bill of Rights Restaurant, A Learning Menu.
As we know, menus are all about choices. And with a variety of choices comes a variety of prices. The ‘price list’ on my learning menu indicates the level of activity students can expect if they choose the menu item. $ = not there yet, $$ = ready and waiting, $$$ = yes and I’m off! Presenting level indicators allows students to self-reflect on their own current ability, yet provide opportunity for students to challenge themselves with the next activity or text set.
Next on the menu, drinks. Here I provided three different articles with three different content topics related to individual rights. My students love to read about real world examples. They also love to see what their peers think about these real world examples. After reading the articles, student used Padlet to answer a form of an analysis question. Students can also read/comment on each other's posts, creating a dialogue that goes beyond the classroom walls. A student from my period 1 class can read the same article as a student from period 5 and they are dialoguing about how our rights as citizens are protected or bent in order to provide security in America. That is powerful.
If you are like me, I am constantly trying to reinvent my teaching. I do not think the old saying ‘why reinvent the wheel?’ applies in education…..we’re not even using wheels anymore. We are provided with an almost infinite amount of resources for our students to transform their learning into something deeper and long sustaining. When we teach students to use the technology as a tool, not a toy, they tap into their creativity and ingenuity.
The possibilities become unlimited.
Digital Teacher Librarian
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