Wednesday, March 25, 2015

10 Features of Google Keep

I am a Post-it© note fiend.  I use them for reminders, phone messages and quotes for inspiration.  When Stickies showed up on the Mac computer, I started using those to remember key information.  The sad thing about Stickies is you can't access them from any other computer or device.  As a result, I stopped using them and resorted back to the paper Post-it© notes, but the sticky only lasts so long, especially if you move them frequently.

Last summer, I came upon a new tool called Google Keep.  I liked it better than stickies because I could access them on any computer, but the features were limited and I couldn't access them on my Apple devices.  Just this week I discovered that Google Keep has an Apple app and I've been taking a fresh look at this tool.  Here's what I like about this tool:

1.  It's free!  Who doesn't love free resources?

2.  It's tied to your Google account.  You know what that means?  No additional username and password to remember!  Because we are a GAFE district, students can also use this tool for reminders, notes and checklists.  This becomes the perfect digital agenda for students.

3.  Color!!!!  I'm all for using a variety of color!  Google Keep allows you to change the color of your notes.  I like to use this as a means of organizing my notes.  For example, red notes relate to my website, green ones are informational reminders, and teal notes relate to the Intel Courses.  Students could use different colors for different classes to help them stay organized.

4.  You can change notes from a regular note to a checklist with one click.  This is great for projects or daily to-dos, especially for those of us who like to see what we've accomplished and what is left to complete.

5.  You can add reminders on your notes by clicking the reminder icon (finger with a string tied on it).  Customize your desired date and time on your reminder and you are all set to receive notification reminders.  No more missed deadlines!

6.  With a simple drag & drop action, you can rearrange your notes and put them in any order that works for you.

7.  You can search and filter your notes by words, color, sharing, lists, images, and more.

8.  You can add images and websites to your notes.  This would be great for collecting images and websites for a specific lesson, unit or project.  You could also take a photo at a workshop of a key slide or information being presented and add it to a note.  Students could take a photo of the work for the week if their teacher posts it in the classroom.  This feature would also help students keep track of online photo locations for images they use on a class project.

9.  You can share notes with other people by clicking on the share icon.  They will receive an email message with a link to the note.  This would be great for sharing project responsibilities or sending out assignments to students.

10.  There is an app!  Android users have always had a Google Keep app option for their devices, but until recently Apple users had to just use the Chrome web browser on their devices.  Now you can see you notes and receive notifications on the go by installing GoKeep.  App Drawbacks - too many ads and no search or filter option!  Hopefully that will be an upcoming update.  There is an alternative app option called TurboNote for Google Keep.  You still have ads at the bottom of the screen, but they are not popping up over the top of your notes.

Some additional tidbits:
  • You can download the Google Keep app onto your computer from the Chrome Web Store.
  • There is a Google Keep extension - Category Tabs for Google Keep - that allows you to assign specific categories to your note colors.  However, there are some glitches with filtering the colors.
  • This app runs offline!
Check out this video for a quick visual tour of this tool!

Website Wednesday

This blog post by Kasey Bell focuses on using Google Maps, Street View and Google Earth.
53 ideas for checking student understanding.

The Key Differences Between Summative And Formative Assessments | Edudemic
This short article from Edudemic provides a simple definition between summative and formative assessments. They have also included a handy infographic for those of us who are visual learners.

10 edu-books to inspire and stimulate
Looking for a book to help you go to the next level as an educator? Matt Miller, author of Ditch the Textbook, offers his top ten list.
    75 Practical Ed Tech Tips Videos
    Educational 'how-to' videos created by Richard Byrne, FreeTech4Teachers, covering a variety of topics such as storyboarding, blogging tools and tips, audio recording tools and more.  (See playlist below)

      Wednesday, March 11, 2015

      Digital Learning Day + Pi Day = Engaged Learners

      Digital Learning Day and Pi Day are fast approaching, but maybe you've never heard about these two days before.

      Digital Learning Day was started to showcase how technology can improve student outcomes and

      support teachers.  Many online education programs provide special activities for Digital Learning Day that emphasis the use of collaboration, sharing of best technology practices and boost technology learning for teachers and students.

      Here are some resources that will assist teachers and students as they explore Digital Learning Day:

      Pi Day is an annual celebration commemorating the mathematical constant π (pi).

      • PI Day (official website)
      • Plan a Pi Day Party - Education World provides a list of lesson plans and activities for celebrating Pi Day with your students.
      • Dunk Tank!: Circles - A fun interactive quiz show all about diameter, circumference, radius and pi created by PBS Learning Media.
      • Teachπ.org - Find Pi Day videos, book recommendations, activities and more.
      • 7 Classroom Resources for Pi Day - List put out by Edutopia
      • Exploring Pi - This article from Scholastic provides some history on Pi as well as links to lessons geared toward elementary students.

      Website Wednesday

      Speedometry – Learn Math and Science | Hot Wheels
      Register for your free Hot Wheels kit and download the lesson plans that address STEM integration.
      tags: stem physics math science lessonplans
      Free games for helping students learn about place value.
      tags: place value math mathgames
      Place Value lessons and games by Sheppard Software. Students will identify the digits, compare numbers, learn different ways of showing a number, and more. Geared toward elementary students.
      tags: place value math mathgames
      "...the following series of fill-in-the-blank prompts can be used by teachers to create lessons, students to create projects–or teachers to collaborate with students to create lessons–or projects. Or, well, you get the idea. I use these sorts of stems to create “learning blends” for students–either with them, or for them. I couple these prompts with other components–technology like apps or social media channels, texts from literary classics to postmodern non-fiction, creativity, or even local matters of citizenship." -from Terry Heick, author of this resource
      tags: prompts projects PBL questions collaboration resources
      Kid-friendly songs teaching students about similes & metaphors, prepositions, prefix or suffix, perimeter, triangles, and more. Most seem appropriate for upper elementary and middle school students, but the high school students might enjoy similes & metaphors.
      tags: videos grammar math resources

      Monday, March 9, 2015

      New Tools & New People from TIG

      New Tools and Resources

      Mango Languages - This tool, available for FREE thanks to our Kansas State Library, will help you learn over 60 languages.  You will walk through practical language lessons that provide pronunciation practice, grammar lessons, cultural information, and more.  Did I mention there are English courses for non-English speakers?!  Take a tour with the video below.

      There is also an app for Mango Languages (available for Apple and Android devices).  Once you create your account using the online website on the KS State Library page, you can log into the Mango Languages app and continue working on your lessons.

      Buncee - A digital canvas where you can add content that can then be shared through email or social media.  Students and teachers can use this tool to create more engaging and interactive presentations and lessons.

       *Make sure you go to the education link -

      eMaze - This HTML5 presentation maker allows teachers and students to create slideshows, video presentations, infographics and 3D presentations.  Need a quick tutorial?  Check this one out from eMaze -

      Visme - This another tool for creating presentations, infographics and banners.  Your final products can be published via social media, on a website or downloaded.

      Canva - This easy to use graphic design program will allow you and your students to create awesome graphics to share via social media, your website and blog or by downloading & printing.  Get tips and ideas via the Canva Design School or create using the Canva iPad App.

      Tapp Roulette - This is a "random picking" app.  Need to decide who goes first in the game or who
      Tapp Roulette
      gets to return the computer cart?  Use Tapp Roullette.  Each students puts their finger on the screen and then you click 'Pick a Finger.' Tapp Roullette randomly chooses one of the fingers.  You can have up to 11 fingers on an iPad and 5 fingers on the iPhone/iPod.

      Common Sense Media - This resource provides ratings and reviews on apps, games, books, websites and more geared toward children ages 2-17.  They also provide media and technology resources for educators, including a whole curriculum for digital literacy and citizenship.
      All the resources on this site are FREE!

      New People to Follow

      Needing to build up your PLN?  Check out some of these great educators and educational supporters!

      TechChef4U - This is the twitter handle used by Lisa Johnson, an educator and tech integration guru.  She has done extensive work on iPads and apps in the classroom, including the publication of the TechChef4U app and the Hot Apps 4 HOTS iBook.

      TED Ed Lesson
      @259tech - This is the Wichita Public Schools Instructional Technology Twitter handle.  They have resources, tools, and ideas from the classroom.

      @TED-Ed - Provider links to their short, captivating educational videos and other educational resources.

      @TeachingLC - The Twitter handle for Teaching with the Library of Congress.  Their tweets contain primary sources, inspiration, ideas and opportunities for teachers from the world's greatest library.

      @TodaysDocument - Tweets from Today in History & Daily Historical Documents from the US National Archive include loads of primary source photos that will enliven and engage your social studies classroom.

      Tweets from PSNTPS
      @DocsTeach - Follow the online tool for teaching with documents from the @USNATArchives.  Use resources shared in their tweets to create interactive lessons with primary sources to foster historical thinking.

      @coolcatteacher - This is the brand name used by Vicki David, a full time teacher and IT director in Georgia.  She shares thoughts and tips on using new technology in teaching.

      @justintarte - This is the twitter handle for Justin Tarte, an administrator with a passion for learning
      and technology.  He shares thought provoking articles and photos via his Twitter account.

      @PSNTPS - This twitter handle belongs to the TPS-Barat Primary Source Nexus, an online community support resource for the TPS-Barat Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Resources Program.  These send out interesting tweets ideas for combining primary resources and technology to create engaging learning for your students.

      @PenguinClass - This handle for the School and Library Marketing department of Penguin Young Readers provides tweets to author interviews, book & poetry lesson ideas, book trailers and more.  They will also do Skype author visits with your classroom for free.  Email them at and tell them what you want.  For example, you want to Skype with a poet or an author who writes nonfiction, preferably about bugs.

      Travis True (on Google+) - Travis is an educator in the Topeka Public Schools.  He shares a lot on Chromebooks, Chrome extensions, and all things Google.

      Wednesday, March 4, 2015

      Website Wednesday

      From Free Technology For Teachers - This blog post features a short video created by Minute Physics on how modern light bulbs work and how the design has changed over the last 100+ years. it also provides applications for classroom use.
      tags: light bulbs electricity activities teaching videos
      Great resource for teachers - provides definition, key words, actions, outcomes and questions for the thinking skill levels in Bloom's Taxonomy.
      tags: teaching instruction bloom's taxonomy assessment
      Collection of story starter ideas for writing assignments or digital storytelling activities.
      tags: writing prompts storytelling digital storytelling resources
      From PBS Learning Media, this 5 minute video relates the history behind single women homesteaders and the 1862 Homesteading Act. You can opt to stream or download the video. You can also see the standards tied to this content.
      tags: social studies classroom resources pbs videos
      As you explore the various demographical information available, the country size will shift to indicate the data being depicted. This is a great for visual learners! With one quick glance you can see which country has the highest number in a specific area. When you hover your mouse over a country, you will get the country name and actual numbers.
      tags: maps demographics geography interactive web2.0 resources technology

      Monday, March 2, 2015

      Getting my art on at TIG

      This month at TIG we took a different exploration direction and did something totally non-techie.  Well, you could turn it into a techie thing depending on the tool you used, but I'll talk about that more later.  A 'new' educational trend is Sketchnoting.  To look at a sketchnote, you would say 'Oh, that's just someone doodling while they are taking notes.'  True, sketchnoting is a form of doodling, but it is doodling with a purpose.  Basically, sketchnoting is a visual method of note taking.  It is a combination of writing and drawing to create more visually appealing notes.  There are many methods to choose from when sketchnoting.  You can use a mind mapping approach, a linear approach or even a boxed approach.

      My first Sketchnote experience
      Since most of us at TIG had heard of sketchnoting, but hadn't really explored or experienced it first hand, we dove into a variety of resources.  We looked at everything from tools for getting started to video tutorials on sketchnote doodling.  We also jumped in with both feet and did our own sketchnotes over a 20 minute TED Talk.  I have to admit that while I didn't see much of the session, I was keyed in on what the speaker was saying.  Although I've always been a note taker, it helps me focus, adding the visual of sketchnoting really planted the ideas in my mind and helped me recall the information.

      Now, I am not an artist by any means.  My middle school art teacher told me to give up the craft because I was too much of perfectionist.  I've never even been much of a doodler even when we use to have the old corded telephones in our homes.  It wasn't for lack of trying, but I never could think of anything to doodle.  However, after experiencing sketchnoting first hand, I found myself buying some colorful pens and a sketch book.  I've started practicing my doodling skills with some assistance from online resources and the Sketchnote Workbook by Mike Rohde.

      As I started writing this blog post, I started thinking and looking at how sketchnoting might be used in the classroom.  First, I want to say that sketchnoting might not be for all learners, however, it's not a bad thing for all learners to experience new forms of learning.  Why?  Well, it gives us new perspectives into learning and you never know when a new form of learning might actually work for you.  One idea we did talk about in TIG was having students watch a content video created by yourself or someone else and sketchnote the key points.  Then put the students into small groups and have them compare their notes and reflect on the experience.  What key points stood out to them?  Did they miss anything?  Do the visuals help you understand the concept?  What did you draw and why did you draw it?

      As sketchnoting is still fairly new on the education scene, I did some digging to find other ideas for using this form of note taking with students.  Check out these examples:

      Mindmapping - This activity combined low-tech and high-tech to create a completed product.

      Unit Summaries/Reviews -  Great way to sum-up the key concepts over specific units

      Book Review/Summary - Take the traditional chapter summaries and add a visual flare

      More ideas:

      Learn more about Sketchnotes:
      Sketchnoting - visual note taking tips, pointers and practice

      What do think?  Are you game to try some sketchnoting personal?  Would you be willing to try this with your students?  I'd love to hear about your experiences with sketchnoting!