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Introducing the Appy Slappy - A Fight Club demo slam from the Instructional Tech Team

The Coloma Instructional Tech Team is getting creative! In a fun way to share some tech that we are familiar with that may help in the classroom, the team will be competing for a traveling trophy based on the Appy Slappy - a championship fight-club style competition on the team - to share relevant, helpful and really cool technology tidbits in short, approachable videos.  Watch the entry's below. Ben shares how you can easily create helpful GIFs for your students. Dan shares a way to help keep kids on task with YouTube, and Tonya shares how to stop Microsoft Teams in it's tracks from opening when you start your computer!  Once you have watched the entries, follow the link at the bottom to cast your vote so that we can award the trophy. Be on the lookout for the next round when the defending champ will have to risk the trophy as the challengers try to get it.  Ben's Entry - Adobe Express to GIF Dan's Entry - The Yout-ube URL Hack Tonya's Entry - Stop Microsoft Teams

Edlio Website Personal Profile Page How-to!

An important part of Coloma Community Schools is the staff directory. We value being able to see and know a little about the people working with the students in our buildings. Thus, one of the requirements of staff is keeping a picture and short bio on our Edlio staff pages.  Here is a document on how to update those Edlio Staff pages . If you run into questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to the helpdesk. As a reminder, you will only be able to log into the webpages of the buildings that you work in. One of the most common fixes is making sure that you are on the proper building page. 

Open Educational Resources - A New Way

Educational materials cost a lot of money. Whether it is buying curriculum, purchasing items from Teacher Pay Teachers, or taking the time to develop your own and make it truly unique.  There is one other option, and this option keeps getting better and better. Open Educational Resources, or OERs, are resources that are developed by educators, for educators. These resources, which are openly licensed under Creative Commons for use, remixing, and re-sharing, are an excellent alternative to curriculum packs and Teachers pay Teachers.  Currently, there is group of Michigan Social Studies educators that have developed an entire textbook series, the MiOpenBook Project , that is openly licensed and freely distributed. In our current review of science curriculum, we have also found OpenSciEd , a collection of middle school level curriculum aligned to the NGSS standards. One of my favorites, that I had used in the classroom prior to my knowledge of OERs, was CK12.  CK12 is a collection of res

Google Docs - Email Building Blocks

Google Docs has recently added the Smart Chips to allow for more functionality in a document, allowing you to tag other people, pull templates, and have a document in a more collaborative environment. Now, Google has added the ability to draft an email in Google Docs and easily transfer this to Gmail for sending.  This update is extremely useful if you have an important email to send and you don't want to accidentally send it prior to it being done, you have an email to send as a team and you want everyone to have the ability to craft and have their say, or you have a list of running items that need to be included in the email over the course of time. Once you are ready to send it, click the Blue Gmail Logo and it will open in your Gmail. Once it is open, you only have to click send! No more accidentally sent too early emails! 

Locked Down Google Form Quizzes

Google Forms has added updates to allow for more "secure" testing in Google Forms, with caveats of course. Forms now supports Locked Mode for their forms, meaning that students cannot open other apps, and if they leave the quiz for another tab, the teacher will be notified.  To enable, open a new Google Form at forms.google.com .  Once you have the settings page up, you can make sure that the form is set as a Quiz and then look for "Locked Mode." It is important to note that "Locked Mode" is only supported on managed Chromebooks, or the school issued devices. If a student is using a non-school issued device, their quiz will not be locked.  Once you have made your form a quiz, you just add your questions and set up the quiz as you normally would. Now, when you ask students to complete the quiz, they will be restricted and you will be notified if the students are off task. 

Finding Images and Videos Clips to Use in Class

Photo by Ian Taylor on Unsplash When it comes to practicing what we preach, one of the areas where students could call us is citing our sources, especially when pulling pictures off of the internet. I was totally guilty of this in the classroom.  When asking students to be creative, we should be encouraging them to use items that are labeled for reuse or remixing. I wanted to share a list of resources that fit that category.  Photos Unsplash Pexels Pixabay New Old Stock Openverse Videos Pexels Pond5 Pixabay Videvo Audio Openverse YouTube Audio Library Free Music Archive While these are an excellent starter, it is still important to check licenses still. Overall, it is an excellent place to start with helping students find items to build their creative projects from.  I originally posted this, but attended a webinar the next day and we talked about this further. This list was shared during that meeting . 

Power in Simplicity - Adobe Creative Cloud Express (formerly Spark)

Adobe Spark was one of my all time favorite EdTech tool. It allowed students to create without having to learn how to use complicated programs. This allowed for students to truly demonstrate their knowledge and not their technological know-how or ability.  The good news is that Adobe Spark is still around, it is now known as Creative Cloud Express . All of the awesome features still exist! You can still create graphics, websites, presentations, infographics, and videos quickly and easily. When we talk about novelty and allowing students to prove their knowledge in a different way and this tool allows content to shine through instead of the technology tool.  Not to mention, they have added a ton more functionality including:  The ability to remove backgrounds from images Convert to GIFs Resize Videos Resize Images Merge Videos Convert from PDF!! Combine Files and more!  The best news is, everyone in our district has a free upgrade to the premium version of the account! No need to apply

Summary Option for Long Documents

  Google Docs recently got an update that allows you to add a quick summary to longer documents that are in Google Docs format. Using Artificial Intelligence to scan and read the document and prepare a short summary of the document. If you are looking at it, and disagree, you can set your own! This is a cool feature. As students are writing an essay or paper, this tool can inform them if they are on topic and have written a comprehensive and understandable paper. If the summary is not their position, they might want to start over. From a staff standpoint, this is great to make sure that items match our intent and purpose as we prepare to share findings, data, and more!  To create, simply like the little icon in the corner and select summary. 

Pageless Google Docs

  Google Docs has recently launched a new feature that is perfect for a world in which our students are not printing! The Pageless Feature allows for larger photos, graphs, and tables without worrying about page constraints, as well as being able to move seamlessly through a document.  Applicable features in the classroom would be looking at large sets of data, large images, and formatting in tables without worrying about page breaks and how things might get messed up. In order to add it to your Google Document, you can use the GIF below to navigate to the Page Setup Menu and then select pageless. 

Other Cool URL Tricks

In our last post, we introduced the idea of adding a - between the t and the u in YouTube.  This got me to thinking about a few other cool URL tricks that I thought I would share.  If you or your students need to quickly create a new document, presentation, or spreadsheet, you can use this trick. Simply type in docs.new, slides.new, or sheets.new into your browsers URL bar, and you will be taken blank document ready for you to create! Try it out!  This can be useful when a thought comes to mind, or your class takes a turn for something amazing. I know that while I was in the classroom, we would take a turn for something and then have to get something to take some notes. 

Amazing YouTube Trick

One of the things that always had me worried in the classroom is the suggested videos that would pop up after sending a student to YouTube to watch a specific click. Having fallen victim to the YouTube never-ending rabbit hole, I know that you can watch one video and it feeds you another video and so on, and each one tends to go further into the topic or to an opposite extreme. In fact, there is even reporting about this exact effect .  If this is something that you have worried about with your students, I want to share with you a trick that I recently learned about in a book study of the book Building Blocks for Tiny Techies . An amazing educator from the middle part of the state shared this awesome trick: by altering the URL prior to sharing, you have more control over what the students see.  Take a classic YouTube Video . When you follow this link, you are taken to the YouTube that most of us know. You have the video in the middle, a side bar with suggested videos, and maybe an area

Add a Watermark in Google Docs!

Google Docs recently just added the ability to add a watermark, or an image behind the text of the document, to their already widely popular online word processor. A watermark can be useful for adding context to a series of documents, marking the specific order students are to work in, helping with branding, or, my personal favorite, creating “highly classified” documents for a social studies class simulation.  Check out how to do this in the video below! 

Google Docs - Smart Documents Update

Google Docs recently launched a new feature that makes collaboration amazingly simple. With this launch, Google Docs now allows users to type the @ sign and it will open up a world of possibilities.  Previously, the @ sign in the comments would allow you to signal and notify a person of a potential action item, but now, if you type @ in the document, you will get a list.  The first thing is a suggestion of people to tag. For instance, if you need someone else or are meeting about someone, you could tag them in this document.  Next, you have the options for Building Blocks. This is currently limited to meeting notes, but it allows for an easily created template for tracking notes in a meeting. The next option is to tag a file. If you have a meeting about a specific test, standard, or are building a newsletter, you can tag that document using an @ sign in the meeting agenda, providing all users with quick access to it.  The @ sign also allows you to save time by replacing a lot of the “i

Speech to Text & Text to Speech

The Chromebooks offer a variety of supports for our students, including the ability to type with our mouths and to have the Chromebook read to them! These features are both built into the student Chromebooks, and in the document linked below, you can learn about how to support your students with these tools.

How to Use SchoolMessenger

SchoolMessenger is an awesome tool that allows us, as educators, to quickly and efficiently communicate with our students’ families, guardians, and other stakeholders. It is important that we, as a school district, continue to communicate with our families.  Here is a link to assist you in using SchoolMessenger to connect with student families! 

Google Forms - New Feature - Autosave Responses!

One of the biggest complaints that I have heard from teachers and students is that Google Forms does not save responses if a test or quiz is accidentally exited, refreshed, or otherwise lost. Google and their engineers have been listening to requests and have a new feature available for Google Forms! Now, on by default and requiring no extra steps from teachers or students, Google Forms will now save responses as long as the students or respondents are logged into their Google Accounts. There is nothing else that needs to be done, but this is something that I thought was worth sharing! Check out the GIF of the action below. This is taken from the Google products updates newsletter!

Google Meet Updates - End the Meeting

Early in the pandemic and the move to remote teaching and learning, there was a lot of confusion around Google Meet links and how the meetings would end. Google has updated the teacher's view when exiting the meeting and included a "End the Call" option to make the link no longer active. Check out the PDF to learn about the steps . 

GoGuardian Class Import

 GoGuardian is a filtering system we use for students that travel with their devices. One of the features is the ability to import your Google Classroom classes into your GoGuardian set to scenes for your students. Check out the video below to watch how you can do that. 

GoGuardian Refresher

GoGuardian is a filtering system that we use both in school and out of school for students that travel with their devices. GoGuardian offers a lot of features that you can use in your classroom to support student learning and your classroom management. Check out this nice PDF refresher on GoGuardian . Or, check out the video below!

Screencasting and Video Creation

Screencasting is a helpful tool for creating how-to videos or helping to reinforce the teaching of a specific topic. Below you will find some tips and a how-to screencast with the preferred tool of CometTe.ch, Loom [Click here to download] .  Check out this CometTe.ch Screencasting 101 document !