Monday, May 21, 2012

What I like about Google Drive

If you've used Google Docs recently, you may have noticed the following message:

Google Docs will be switching to Google Drive soon, but you can click on the get started link now.  There are a few differences between the look of Google Drive and Docs, but not much.  Below is a video explaining those differences:

I just made the switch myself today and here is what I like so far (they are not in order of importance):

1.  Docs shared with me, show me a picture of the owner on the document.
2.  I can upload files from my computer through the Google Drive icon on my computer and I don't have to open up the internet.
3.  When I'm working on a document, I can add or change the folder location right in the document.
4.  I can look at my docs and collections in a visual layout rather than a list.
5.  I can search for documents by their file type.
6.  Under the create options, I have a more section that lets me choose from SlideRocket and Lucidchart Diagram (2 new apps added this year that associated with our Google accounts).
7.  They changed the name from Collections to Folders!!!!!

Finally, for those of you who like shortcuts, here are the keyboard shortcuts for Google Drive:

Friday, May 18, 2012

Give me the fast route
Most people like to find fastest route to get from point A to point B.  Whenever I search driving directions on Google Map, I always try alternate routes to see if I can shave off any driving time.  (Sadly, there are no shorter routes from Larned to Emporia unless you drive faster.)

Well, the same is true when it comes to working on the computer.  Time is important, so most of us are looking for ways to eliminate a few extra clicks to get the job done.  The website MakeUseOf has developed a series of downloadable "cheat sheets" showing the keyboard shortcuts available in various programs.  There are cheat sheets for programs like Dropbox, Firefox, Gmail, iTunes, Skype, YouTube and more.

Here's a sample:

Another great shortcut tool is Alfred.  Alfred is a free productivity app designed to save you time in searching your computer and the web.  You simply launch Alfred and type in the application or program you want to access.  A list comes up for to you choose from.   Looking for a file?  Simply type "find" and then the beginning name of the file.  Again, Alfred will give you a list to choose from and with a single click the file will open.  No more digging through your multiple layers of folders (unless you can't remember the file name, which happened to me today) to access a file.  To learn more about Alfred, check out the video below or go to
Alfred Support for tutorials, getting started documents and more.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Knowledge Graph by Google

In the next few days, Google will be rolling out Knowledge Graph as part of Google search.  This tool will help you refine your search and present more relevant search results.  For example, it you search for lion, it will help you narrow your search to the animal or the Mac operating system.

Check out the video below for a closer look or go to for more information.

Website Wednesday

  • Article focusing on non-fiction text structures in relation to the Common Core Standards. Provides an understanding of the text structure and resources for teaching text structures to students.
  • Provides an article with several close-up photos and video you could use in the classroom. Also has a coloring pages for students.
  • Create customized one-page maps of the world, continents and countries. Maps can be downloaded, emailed or printed. This beta site was created by National Geographic Education.
  • Students can practice their work on measure and estimate with angles through this sailing gaming. It gives them practice in placing and reading a protractor. Appropriate for elementary students.
  • Create you own Jeopardy game from a template or by creating your own template.
  • Practice your spelling and audio skills with this resource from Oxford English Dictionary. Listen to words and try to spell them from one of 3 difficulty levels. Choose between British and American English. Appropriate for 6-12 grade students.
  • Listen and follow along as author's read their children's poems. Search poems by themes, forms or poets OR checkout the "Ask the Poet" section to learn more about poetry writing.
  • Select your topic and chart name. Then print a poster of that chart to display in the classroom OR save it as a pdf & display the chart via your computer project for a class lesson. You could even link this site to your webpage or wiki as a reference tools for parents and students at home.
    tags: math charts
  • A YouTube channel featuring over 400 science experiments that you can use in class. Instructions are easy to follow.
  • Free sound clips that can be imported into Garageband to ehance your project. When you find the sound you want, click the MP3 file for downloading. You can simply drag and drop the file into Garageband; however, don't through the download away until you have finalized your project and shared it with iTunes.
  • This BBC site offers 200,000 digitized paintings from various artists including Degas, Warhol, Bacon, Picasso and more. When completed, the site will show the enter UK national collection of oil paintings and the stories behind the paintings. If you scroll down on the main page, you will find a section for teachers which offers lesson plans and ideas for utilizing these paintings in art, history and more.
  • Encourage digital storytelling with the Zimmer Twins movie making site for kids (suitable for elementary students). The site is monitored on a daily basis for content appropriateness. Students will need to create a free account if they want to save their movies. (A parent or guardian email is required for creating an account, but students could use their school email address if they have one.)
  • Article listing and describing some tools for helping tech with the Common Core Standards.
  • A collection of over 100 play scripts for elementary children. A great resource for engaging students in reading. The plays are short and may be used and performed, but you may not modify or adapt the plays without written consent.
Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Students know how to search - don't they?

Most students do know how to do a basic Google search, but most don't know how to refine their search so they receive the most relevant information.  Google has put together a new site appropriately called Google Search Education.  This site contains lesson plans focused on developing and improving students' web-search skills as well as video tutorials and activities for testing searching skills.

One activity is called the "Google A Day" challenge.  A day question is posted that requires students to practice their searching skills to find the correct answer.  The questions focus on a variety of content areas and would be a great opener activity for students to start the class hour.

The lesson plans are divided by the skill levels of the learners and provide a unit guiding question, lesson guiding questions and skills to accomplish.  The Lesson Plan Map page shows an overview of all the lessons and includes the Common Core and Technology Standards for the lessons.  The individual lessons are detailed with the above information as well as the resources/materials, time frame, notes to teachers, lesson details and assessment ideas.  The lessons were created in Google Doc and allow you to download them in various formats.  (Check out this sample lesson - Narrowing a search to get the best results)

So why do we really need to teach searching skills to students?  Well, the pat answer is that this skill is part of the Common Core Standards.  Any time the standards talk about media literacy and P21 Skills, web searching and evaluation is always a competent.  Of course, beyond the standard is the simple real-world application of searching for a job related project or personal information.  Learning advanced searching skills will provide more relevant results and save time.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Stretch It Out

I found this awesome Add-On for Firefox (also works on Windows 7, Vista and iGoogle) called StretchClock that helps alleviate the stress of working on the computer for long periods of time. Once you install the add-on, it will start a timer (default is 57 minutes, but you can change it for more or less time). When the timer goes off, a new window opens in Firefox and a 1 minute stretching video starts. Stop what you are doing, get up and do the stretch. You'll feel refreshed and less stress tension in your shoulders and neck. You can pause the timer - this is nice if you are using the computer to give a presentation or are in a meeting. You can also reset your timer if you've been out of the office doing other things.

Here are the instructions for installing StretchClock on Firefox:

Coloring Gallore

Kids of all ages love to color, of course as we get older we call it doodling, but the concept is the same - try to make a pretty picture while staying in the lines.  With the end of the school year close at hand and summer just around the corner, my friends at the Kansas State Library shared out the following online coloring pages.  Some of these would be great next school year around Kansas Day or while studying science.  Click on the paper/pencil icon to the right of each website title and view a descriptor of the site.

Here is a sample of a completed color page from the CIA website:

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Website Wednesdays

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Summer Reading Gone Digital

Summer is almost upon us and many teachers are thinking of all the things they hope to accomplish in the next couple of months.  Some of you will deep clean your house in preparation for the next school year, while others will spend their time getting the lawn and gardens in shape and growing.  Still others will tackle that "when I have time" reading list that gets longer each year.

In an effort to help you reach your goals this summer, try combining your reading with another goal through the use of audio books.  Here are some great websites that have free audio books:

Most of the free books on these sites are classics, but you can also get 2 free audio books with a 30-day trial to Audible Audiobooks.  You can also borrow free audio books from the Kansas State Library with One Click Digital.  Then follow the instructions for downloading audiobooks on either a Mac or PC.  (Please note you will have to create an account with One Click Digital at the following website -

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Website Wednesdays

Assessment tools for online content, presentations, mind maps and more. Great tool so you don't have to re-invent the wheel.

*Disclaimer - If you come across a link on the sites listed above that is blocked, please let me know via email.  Thanks!
Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.