Tech Tuesday

Finds and Thoughts about Tech Integration

Noodle Tools with Google Docs


I have been assisting a colleague recently on having students meet a science objective, specifically for space exploration. The students have completed research and have been walking through the steps of how to cite  sources and make a Works Cited List online that will be included in a student choice final project. We have used NoodleTools once again at our school, but needed to figure out the navigation of using the service with our Google accounts. I documented our managerial findings in the following screencasts.  I decided to share them this week via this blog in hopes that they may help others who are teaching the important work of citing sources. These videos are rough, but I love the spirit of working with a teacher to figure something and then documenting it via video as a reference… as we all need those reminders, and even copious notes don’t always give us the full picture.

How to export a NoodleTools Works Cited List to Google Docs

How to cite an image in NoodleTools

I’m sure there are many more things that could be captured via video.  NoodleTools has some of their own resources here that answer many how-to questions, like using it for the first time through G-Suite. Of course, I am happy to help, too.

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Video Tutorials for Sharing Resources with Colleagues

I wrote two blog posts this school year with ideas on how to share resources with colleagues: Use the Google Classroom Reuse Post Feature to Share Assignments and Resources with Colleagues and Team Drives – What’s That?

I since have made these ideas into video tutorials for a professional development day in my district. Please check them out here. And of course, if you have questions, comments, more ideas, etc. please let me know!

Google+ Communities Study Group Reflection


Background: a small group of grades 3-5 teachers in my district participated in a study group that allowed us to “play” in a private Google+ Community… we did a series of tasks over 10 weeks that gave us the time to figure out how we could use this Google service in our current positions.

This week, I am sharing my Google+ Communities Study Group Reflection… as always I welcome your thoughts!

My reflection:

Prior to this study group, I had dabbled a little bit in Google+ Communities. My Google Educator Level 1 and 2 training had exposed me to some basics of the service, so I knew it had potential in this era of social media and sharing. I had started looking at what communities were out there and for what people were using them. The service did not seem to be as prolific or popular as Facebook groups. It did mimic some desirable features like other social media services, such as more characters being shared than a Twitter post. (I was an early convert to Twitter and the sharing with educators world-wide, but I never have been able to get my colleagues as interested. I think the stream can be very much like drinking from the fire hose, and it takes quite some time to build up a good professional learning network to follow.) Facebook has always seemed too personal, non-work related for me, and having two accounts to keep my home and school life separate just has seemed like a lot to keep straight. I think others have felt the same as well. I also tried to get something going with a work-related Pinterest group, but again, people did not want to have two accounts to keep things segregated. As we have become more comfortable within our work Google domain, it seems like the timing may be right to harness the power of Google+ Communities since I know people (with whom I work) are not using it personally, and Google+ has the feel of other social media services that have become a way of life.

This study group was a good playground for figuring out how to set up a closed community with parameters. We were able to try out all of the features in a small environment so that the sharing did not become overwhelming. It gave us an opportunity to practice writing helpful posts and comments with each other, but it also allowed us to check out a world of sharing going on beyond our Community “walls”. We then were able to be curators, learning how to bring specific resources/posts from those outside Communities into our special interest group for a more focused share.

It’s been a very positive experience overall interacting with each other. We also have noticed the limitations. There are not as many special interest Communities out there to join in Google+. I’m not discouraged by that fact. That says to me that there is room for growth as more districts are entering Google domains. We need to build these Communities. However, the challenge is getting people to hop into something that is in its beginning stages. Many other social media arenas are running full steam now. In order for Google+ to flourish, more people have to use it. How do we get people to do that?

In my job as a Digital Learning Specialist, I would like to use Google+ as a place to pull together two other great Google services: Classroom and Team Drive. Right now, I can set up a shared folder in Team Drive with specific members and add lots of resources; however, there is no conversation mechanism in that service. It’s merely a place for me to put files. Of course, I can’t forget that I can collaborate on those files in that space with those specific members. I can create resources with these colleagues to be used with other teachers and students. Moreover, that’s where Google Classroom comes in. That’s the delivery system to students. A teacher can be added in to collaborate on the learning assignments within that environment. Again, another great space to share and work with a colleague; yet, I feel the editorial, conversation piece is missing for the educators. There is no virtual place for the teachers to reflect with each other about the student assignments (and face to face is challenging these days). Teachers could be co-teachers off all their colleagues Classrooms to see what’s going on in those rooms; however, realistically, a team of Grade 5 teachers would not want to be teaching members of every other Grade 5 teacher’s Google Classroom. That would be too many places to visit to see and find ideas/resources!

To simplify things, I have recommended setting up a teacher only Classroom in order for the teachers to reuse their posts from their respective Classrooms to the “teacher” Classroom. (Here is a recent blog post.) This set up give the teachers the opportunity to share the files/resources plus the narrative/directions delivered to students in the initial Classroom to one place. Far easier than “co-teaching” in everyone’s Classrooms! Plus, teachers would be able to write comments below the reused posts in this teacher group Classroom. Finally, a place for some reflection/conversation among colleagues!

But that’s only within that team or school. There’s so much more out there. I do think this can go a step further with a Google+ Community. With a Team Drive and a teacher Google Classroom established and linked in the About section of the private Community, the teachers can add more to the discussion and conversation of their work together in the stream of the Community, but they also have the opportunity to share entire posts of resources from other Google+ Communities there. The teachers now have the capabilities of collaborating/creating together in the Team Drive, sharing full views of work delivered to students, AND bringing other educator resources into the mix in one location. It’s one stop sharing. I’m hoping to kick my idea off with a Guided Math or math stations Google+ Community this year.

Team Drives – What’s That?


If you’ve been busy with the start of the school year, you may have missed Team Drives appearing in your Google Drive. Now, that things have settled down, it seems like a good time to stop and take a look at this new option in Google Drive.

First, what is a Team Drive?

Essentially, it’s a place to share and collaborate with a specific group.

Isn’t that Google Drive already?

Yes, but Team Drive has membership… and that has its privileges… or advantages!

When you create a Team Drive, you add members and give members specific permissions for everything that is put into that Team Drive. Everyone can have full access since there isn’t a single owner which, as some us have encountered, gets a bit sticky if someone leaves a job position and is the keeper of specific folders and Docs, etc.

That’s a pro.

However, a con is that you can’t share a public view only link to items within the Team Drive.

I found this great resource being compiled by Steve Wick (@WickedEdTech) and Melissa Wilson (@MrsWilsonNV) that breaks down Team Drive options.

Team Drive seems like a great collaborative space, but I think other elements are necessary for collaboration… such as a community feel and interface.

I have this idea of combining Google+, Google Classroom and Team Drive to round everything out… that’s coming up in my next post. Stay tuned.

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Keyboard Shortcuts on a Chromebook


There are many things that we automatically know how to do on a laptop or computer; however, when we are on Chromebooks things can feel a little different, and our “go to” keystrokes and methods don’t seem to work.

For example, I have people ask me a lot: How do I copy and paste on a Chromebook? How do I take a screenshot?

At this point, I switch between so many devices that I don’t have everything memorized. Therefore, a little Google search yielded some resources for all of us. Here is a link to some popular keyboard shortcuts for Chromebooks… and yes, screenshot key combinations are listed! Another resource I found is a little more comprehensive.

The coolest find: when you are on a Chromebook, press these 3 keys: Ctrl+Alt+/ .

An interactive onscreen keyboard will appear. Now, press on the Shift, Ctrl, Alt or Search keys (either separately or even various combinations on your physical keyboard), and the onscreen keyboard will display a menu of different tasks that can be performed when combing with other keys. I love that there is a built-in reference right on the Chromebooks! This is a must try!


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