Access/Share Google Docs in Edmodo & the Power of My PLN

Edmodo and Google Users…

I guess I am a bit behind in the game because I just realized you can access your Google Docs in Edmodo now. This new feature came about in March and allows you to Sync your Google Docs (Drive) with your Edmodo Library. That means you can share documents with your Edmodo groups and students can easily turn-in assignments completed via Google Docs.Find the instructions to do this at the Edomod Help site. FYI all users will need to link their Google Docs account with Edmodo before and sharing of docs with users or groups takes place.

Wondering how I heard about this new feature of Edmodo??? Maybe not but here’s the power of my PLN…

I found this blog (while I was browsing Pinterest one evening). It’s by a Digital Learning Coordinator in the Chicago Public Schools > Teaching like it’s 2999 . I first pinned her idea to my “learn” Pinterest board and then visited her blog and found that what the author, Jennie Magiera, blogged about was so connected to what I do so I added it to my Google Reader.

One day this week Google Reader showed that the author had posted something new to her blog called More Ideas to Googlize Your School. That post linked to a Google Doc that she was going to share at a presentation she was doing with teachers. As I scanned the doc I noticed a reference to “Edmodo’s Google Doc integration” so I did a Google searched for edomodo google docs and came up with the link that I shared with you all above.

Isn’t that so cool…in a nerdy sort of way :) In what ways do you “harvest” great teaching ideas from the web? And a big shout out to Jennie Magiera for sharing her ideas and more with us all.

Brooke Higgins is an instructional specialists, Cognitive CoachingSM Trainer, and sporadic blogger for the eMINTS National Center. This post was originally posted at the Higgins’ Helpful Hints Blog.

eMINTS Hangout Recap #1

A few eMINTS instructional specialists were able to test out Google’s new “Hangout” feature in Google+ yesterday. The primary intent was to share some facilitation ideas and resources while exploring the possibilities Hangouts offer. Eventually, we would like to invite anyone connected to eMINTS to join us, but yesterday was just a trial run.

What we found is that Google Hangout is an ideal platform for conversation and collaboration. The interface made it easy for our small group of three to speak “face-to-face”, chat, and contribute to a shared Google Document. We also could have recorded the meeting using the broadcast feature but opted not to this time around.

In the future, there is a plan to focus each Google Hangout on a particular topic. Additionally, expect a recording of the meeting to be posted here just in case you can’t make it. Also be on the lookout for the shared document sure to hold many useful ideas and resources. This week’s document will be displayed below.

Next week’s Hangout will focus on how eMINTS facilitators will apply lessons learned from the Center for Adaptive Schools to our professional development program. There will also be time for participants in the Hangout to share online tools they have recently discovered. A video and Hangouts notes will be shared here on either Thursday or Friday.

Would  you be interested in joining our Google Hangouts in the future? Add me to your circles on G+ and I’ll add you to the “eMINTS” circle. The tentative plan is to meet every Wednesday at noon, but we are open to suggestions. If there is enough interest beyond the nine-person limit Google offers, we’ll expand to multiple Hangouts.

Again, let me know that you’re interested and we’ll Hangout!


Zac Early is an instructional specialist and blogger with the eMINTS National Center.

Get Ready to Jump to Google Drive

Almost everyone associated with eMINTS – teachers, administrators, instructional specialists -has adopted Google Docs as their preferred online collaboration and production tool. Now, Google is taking their cloud-loving system a step further with Drive. Watch…

With Google Drive, creating and collaborating is still a key feature. However, now storing and finding your files are as effortless as… well… everything else on Google. Plus, Google Drive has a downloadable app to make synching easy, much like DropBox. Each user receives 5GB of storage for free with an option to upgrade for a small fee.

For more details on the benefits of switching over to Google Drive, read Google’s blog post on this new feature. There’s also a Droid app for even more syncing options. Below are a few more articles and blog posts on Google’s newest product:

When do you plan to make the leap to Google Drive? How will this affect your DropBox use? What advantages do you see to Google Drive over the old version of Google Docs?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist and blogger for the eMINTS National Center.

Collaborative Drawings with Google Docs

Nearly a year ago, Google Docs announced the launch of the stand-alone drawing tool. Instead of opening a normal Google Doc and inserting a drawing, Docs offers the option of opening a single drawing that contains all the sharing and collaborative capabilities of the typical Google Doc application.

To create a collaborative Google Drawing, simply click Create>Drawing. The interface for this drawing tool is nearly identical to that of the insert-able Docs interface. However, there are additional saving and sharing options. To share, users simply click on the appropriate button near the upper-right corner of the window. Options are available to share with others to view or edit. One may select collaborators from their email list or simply open the drawing up to those with the link or anyone.

Once a drawing is shared, users can alter and contribute their own ideas to the drawing. The chat feature that’s available for all Google Docs is also active here. So, collaborators can discuss changes and additions to their drawing. With text, shape, and insertion tools, users can create rich diagrams that go beyond simple drawings. These drawings can stand alone with a unique URL or be downloaded for use elsewhere.

Ideas that would make this collaborative tool useful include…

  • Students collaboratively create a timeline, including images with the dates on their graphic.
  • As a fun alternative, a chess or checkers board may be set up that players can easily manipulate play pieces. Almost any simple game board could be created using Google Drawings.
  • Seating charts or other organizational diagrams useful to classroom management can be created and shared.
  • For an interactive whiteboard that’s truly interactive, share a Google Drawing with students and allow them to contribute in real time, keeping them engaged throughout a class discussion.
  • Since these docs are embeddable, teachers could embed a drawing in a blog post or on their websites as a brainstorm activity or message board.
  • Save chart paper and dry-erase board space typically reserved for parking lots or other brainstorms by sharing a Google Drawing with students to edit.
  • If you have more ideas for Google Drawings, add them by editing here and see the results below:

 

Zac Early is an instructional specialist and blogger for the eMINTS National Center.

eMINTS Pre-Conference Sessions

Every year, we at eMINTS offer some pre-conference workshops the day before the conference commences. This year, we have three such workshops underway. There are sessions covering Weebly, SMART Products, as well as Google Apps.

Roger Brallier of Mexico, MO is back again this year to present on managing a classroom website using Weebly in “Wock Your Webpage with Weebly”. Roger is an experienced and knowledgeable eMINTS trainer who is best when it comes to do-it-yourself projects. With Weebly, Roger can demonstrate how easy it is for one to create and manage a website using this free online tool.

In “Applying Research-Based Strategies Using SMART Products”, presenter Martha Bogart of Cooperating School Districts (St. Louis) shows participants how SMART Boards and SMART Notebook can be used effectively in  the classroom. While I was stopping by, Martha was sharing the wonder of pull tabs in Notebook as a way to reveal key information or instructions for students using the SMART Board. Throughout the session, a connection is made with the nine McREL (Marzano) research-based strategies and SMART Tech products. It’s always great to learn how pedagogy meets technology in the classroom.

Centralia’s Matt McKenzie presents on the many benefits of Google Apps. These free tools offered by Google can fill classroom, team, and school district needs with just a Google account. Matt is extremely knowledgeable in this area as his school district has made some major strides in integrating Google Apps in nearly every aspect teacher and student work.

Pre-conference sessions are typically three hours. They are often extended versions of the hour-long sessions we provide during the meat of the conference. The three sessions above are just a taste of what the eMINTS Conference has to offer participants over the next few days.

Zac Early is an instructional specialist and blogger for the eMINTS National Center.

eMINTS Pre-Conference Announcement

These 3-hour hands-on workshops are offered from 1:00 – 4:00 on Wednesday, February 22, 2012 to kick off this year’s eMINTS National Center Conference.

Wock Your Webpage with Weebly – Learn how to transform your online classroom webpage with Weebly – and you can link to the world!

Applying Research-based Strategies Using SMART Products – Participants will gain a deeper understanding of how to connect the Nine Instructional Strategies to your SMART Notebook lessons to improve student achievement.

Digital Journey to Authentic Learning – Participants will learn how to blend creativity into student-centered activities and how to use Share software to create and publish in the 21st Century classroom.

Unlocking the Potential of Google Apps – Participants will experience the benefits of using Google Apps within their buildings, grade level teams and even with students.

Using Open Source Content in the Blended Classroom – explore technical tools that are freely accessible online for public use and how these tools can economically extend your classrooms into the 21st century- expanding the learning experience and opportunities for all.

Visit http://www.emints.org/conference-2012/conference-schedule/ for more information on these workshops, keynotes, and all of the breakout sessions offered at our annual eMINTS National Center Conference. Hurry! Registration closes on February 3, 2012.

We hope to see you there!

Cara Wylie

eMINTS National Center Conference Coordinator

Tuesday’s Tools: Calendars & Appointments

One of the best parts of starting a new year is to break out that fresh, new calendar you just picked up for half-off at the store only selling calendars for December. Calendars help us get organized and refreshed with each new calendar year. The clutter that accumulates leading to the end of the year is now forgotten as we move forward.

We should all take advantage of this opportunity to try out an online application or two that will make our schedules easier to maintain in 2012…

Google Calendar is the premier online calendar that lets users share their calendars with the world or just a select few. The sharing options make it possible for one to share a calendar with others in their Google contacts list. For public sharing, there is an active URL and even an embedding option for those who want their calendars to accessible from any site. Users can manage multiple calendars using Google Calendar easily through a seamless color-coding system. I am able to share calendars both for work and family without crossing the two. Additionally, these calendars are accessible from any online device.

For those looking to break free of Google’s grip on their online lives, there are other options available. Yahoo! has an online calendar. Calendar tools from the likes of Keep and Share, Clock Share, and Famundo all feature similar usability without requiring a Google account.

Just looking for some basic calendars to check dates and other timely events? Try TimeAndDate.com. Besides some basic and printable calendars, Time and Date also offer weather, sunset, sunrise, timers, and calculators. Plus, users can customize their own calendars.

Sometimes, we need a way for others to schedule appointments or meetings. As with online calendars, there are several tools that can also make these tasks easier. ClickBook and CheckAppointments are free and easy-to-use online scheduling tools intended for small businesses, but there could be many uses in terms of scheduling meetings with parents or colleagues. Other online scheduling tools include GenBook and Acuity Scheduling.

Of course, maybe the most popular online scheduling tool around these parts is Doodle. With Doodle, users the ability to schedule meetings with a variety of people and schedules in one place. Simply set up a “Doodle poll” to figure out what times and dates are best for your participants. The results will help you schedule a meeting time that will work for all those involved.

Of course, many of us still use our desktop calendar and email tools for all of our scheduling and calendar management. There’s nothing wrong with this practice. It may even be the most efficient use of resources for you. To get the most out of your Microsoft Outlook software, check out the tips from Microsoft’s own site. For iCal users, try iCal World’s list of tips. If you’re still in the hunt for the best desktop calendar tools out there, check out Lifehacker’s top-5 desktop calendar applications.

What tools do you use to maintain your schedules and calendars? How could these tools be used to improve communication between you and students, parents, or colleagues? Are there ways in which teaching students to use these tools valuable to their own time management?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist and blogger for the eMINTS National Center.

Tuesday’s Tool: Google Presentation

Collaborative presentations used to be a headache when students worked on a single PowerPoint (or equivalent presentation software) presentation. They either had to wait their turn to input their content or struggle with merging separate files. The end result was usually that one student took over and created the presentation on his or her own.

Getting past the obvious faults in cooperative learning design, Google Presentation provides an easy alternative to the scenario above. Multiple users can have access to the same presentation at the same time. Ideally, all members of a team can have their own slide or set of slides to contribute. Editing can happen in real time, simultaneously instead of downtime creating opportunities for classroom management nightmares.

Google Presentation has several other great features that makes it an ideal collaborative tool:

  • The “View Together” feature allows audience members to chat during a presentation, possibly adding to the presentation through viewer participation.
  • Hyperlinks can be inserted as a way to create a rudimentary website housed on Google’s servers.
  • Slides from other presentations can be added to a current presentation.
  • PowerPoint files can be uploaded and edited using Google’s interface.
  • A presentation can be embedded onto a blog, Moodle course space, or any site that incorporates HTML coding.

So, how could one use these features in the classroom? I have a list for that as well:

  • Collect content gathered for the purposes of a Jigsaw activity on one presentation.
  • Open up editing rights as a way to collaborative gather ideas, much like Tom Barrett’s Interesting Ways project.
  • Collect scientific data to share with classrooms in other schools, towns, states, or countries.
  • I use Google Presentation to provide an agenda for the teachers I train.
  • Organize a WebQuest on a single presentation.

How have you used Google Presentation? Are there other collaborative presentation tools that work as well as Google’s? What other uses can you see for Google Presentation?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.

Thursday’s Tip: Google It

google logo

The 21st century classroom has many, many needs. There’s research to be done, papers to write, schedules to keep, information to share, connections to be made, messages to send, conversations to have, books to read, and a whole world to explore. Google can fill all your needs and it’s free*.

Once only known as a search engine and eventually an email provider, Google has long since added many applications that are available for free with a significant amount of storage for its users. Just within the menu of a typical Gmail account, one can find links to a calendar, documents, photos (Picassa), sites, and the web (search). Additionally, there are maps, groups, video (YouTube), blogs (Blogger), and a RSS reader. I haven’t even mentioned the options for searching the news, images, books, scholarly articles, or whatever you want. There are also offline tools such as a web browser (Chrome), a drawing program (Sketchup), a 3-D model of the earth, and even an operating system. This list only scratches the surface of what Google currently offers its users.

That’s great, but how do we best use Google in the classroom?

There are some good resources for all-things-Google out there for teachers. TeacherHub.com offers “100 Google Tips for Teachers,” covering everything from search tips to any basic tasks with which Google can help. EdTech-er Tom Barrett’s popular series of “Interesting ways to use…” utilizes Google Presentation (a Doc app similar to PowerPoint) and even features several just for Google tools. Google for Educators offers some ways in which you can use Google in the classroom. Finally, here are 100 more ways Google can make you a better educator.

No matter your needs, Google has a tool that can help. You should begin today by signing up for an account and exploring these and other apps offered by Google. You may even find yourself earning the distinction of Google Certified Teacher in the process.

What are your favorite Google tools to use? How have Google tools enhanced student learning in your classroom?

*Google Apps for Schools is not free, but it’s affordable and offers many solutions for schools with limited resources.

Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center and avid Google user.