Tag Archives: gafe


2 creative ways to use Google Slides in education

One of the staple tools in Google Drive is Google Slides. Typically viewed as a tool to create linear presentations, much like PowerPoint, there are potentially two interesting approaches to using Google Slides in the classroom that move beyond traditional linear presentation slides. One is a hidden gem inside of Google Slides that allows a user to create linked presentations slides, the other turns Google Slides into a published book online.

Google Slides: Choose Your Own Adventure

Beginning with the first creative approach to Google Slides, when published on the web, a set of linked Google Slides turn into a Choose Your Own Adventure style presentation. There is tremendous potential with linked presentation slides as students could leverage this technique when creating digital portfolios of their work. For example, a title slide can act as a table of contents with clickable elements that link to examples of their work. This would allow the viewer of the portfolio to select which elements of the portfolio they want to explore. A student in a science class for example, could also use this technique to explain a complex concept. The first slide of their Google Slides could be a plant cell with each section of the cell acting as a clickable link that connects to a slide further down in the slides with a detailed explanation of that particular concept. In this example, a student could use their clickable Google Slides presentation during a live presentation during class where they can click on any concept in the home slide to quickly jump to a more in-depth slide about that one concept.

Creating Choose Your Own Adventure Stories

The first slide acts as the starting point for the entire presentation. Insert an appropriate visual or text on the slide that will eventually act as multiple clickable links to subsequent slides. Then create additional slides that will house more detailed information, concepts, or visuals that will be accessed by clicking through the home slide.
To Create Links:

  1. Insert a Shape or image onto the home slide
  2. Adjust the settings of the shape to make it transparent
  3. Select the shape / image & click on the link option in the menu bar
  4. Change the linking option from hyperlink to “Slides in this Presentation”
  5. Select the appropriate slide to create the internal link
  6. Linking back – create a small shape or insert an image on each slide that either links back to the home slide or links to the next concept

google slides


Google Slides: Make Collaborative eBooks

The latter of the two approaches is rather simple yet quite powerful as it allows students to publish and share their work with a potentially worldwide audience. Approach each slide in a set of Google Slides as the page of a book. When the product is complete, the slides can be turned into a published online book in two steps. Combine this approach to Google Slides with the collaborative nature of the tool and the accessibility of Google Slides across devices, and it quickly becomes a collaborative publishing platform for students.

Creating Collaborative Published eBooks

In this approach Google Slides acts as a collaborative platform to create an online published book. Begin the process by created a Google Slide presentation and invite desired collaborators.

  • Each slides acts as a page in the book
  • Students with mobile devices can snap photos of offline work (drawings, paintings, sketches, etc…) that can be added directly to the book through the Google Slides mobile app.
  • Download the finished book as a PDF document
  • Upload the PDF document to Issuu from a laptop or Chromebook


Why Think Creatively With Google?

Google Slides present immense creative and collaborative potential. However, with a flexible mindset and creative approach, even more possibilities present themselves. The two examples provided in this post are meant to act as a creative kickstart to innovative ways of thinking about the use of not only Google Slides but any tool available within the Google Apps for Education and Google Drive ecosystem.

Want to learn more from Greg this Summer?
He will be on both coasts! ettsummer.org/greg

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3 Powerful New Ways to Use Chromebooks

When Chromebooks first entered into the 1:1 classroom environment, most people viewed the device to be strictly a portal to access Google Drive and the Google Apps for Education suite of tools. While there is immense power and potential to create collaborative working environments exclusively within Google Drive, Chromebooks have become so much more than just a gateway to Google Drive.

Chromebooks for Student Video Reflections

From the outset, creating video on Chromebooks proved to be a bit of challenge. In the early stages of Chromebook video creation, one was forced to use a Google Hangout on Air to record a Chromebook screen. With the emergence of Chrome extensions such as Screencastify and Snagit, screen recording on a Chromebook became increasingly viable. Chromebook classrooms can now add a new video creation tool into the mix. With Recap, students can easily create video reflections.
From the creators of the Swivl, Recap is a “high velocity” video reflection platform that allows students to quickly and easily submit video reflections based on teacher-generated assignments. Recently out of limited BETA testing, Recap is now open to all teachers and students. The platform works exceptionally well on Chromebooks.
Recap allows for quick, easy to create, and timely video reflection. The setup process in Recap will feel familiar to students, and the interface is exceptionally easy to navigate for teachers. Simply create a class in Recap, enter student names, and provide a class PIN number to the students. The non-email login option is a helpful feature with elementary and middle school classrooms. For high school classrooms looking to use recap, there is an option to have students log in with an email address.
From the student perspective, simply navigate to the student login page, enter the PIN number, and select their name. The simplicity of the platform is Recap’s strength. When a teacher creates an assignment in Recap, questions can either be text-based or a teacher-created video. A maximum response time per question can be established as well as a due date. Once students log in to the class, they will be immediately directed to the outstanding assignment.
The beauty of Recap is that the front facing camera is instantly activated and students reply directly within the platform. There is no need to download, upload, or share video files. When submitted, all student video reflections for the assignment can be viewed directly from the teacher dashboard. Without any need to download the video to view student submissions, teachers can quickly view and scroll through multiple student submissions. To keep the workflow simple, if teachers want to share student created video responses, there is a unique link provided for each student submission.

Recap & Visible Thinking

With the ability to instantly capture student thinking through video, the most critical question becomes, “What do I ask my students to ponder, reflect on, or consider?” One place to begin is with a series of Visible Thinking routines from Harvard’s Project Zero. By combining a Visible Thinking routine with Recap, teachers can end up with a clear insight into not only into the culminating answer to a question, but also the thought process or reflection on how a student ended up at their unique perspective.
Consider posting the Visible Thinking routine, “I Used To Think…,But Now I Think…” at the end of a class and giving each student one or two minutes to reply to each prompt through Recap. By pairing this thinking routine with a traditional assignment where the task is for students to answer specific questions based on course content, Recap can allow for insight that is simply not attainable at without using the technology.
As an alternative, Recap and a Visible Thinking routine can be used to gauge student understanding at the outset of exploring a new concept. Consider the “See, Think, Wonder” routine. Without any direct instruction, students can reflect via a Recap video assignment by explaining their initial observations (see), their evaluation and analysis (think) and finally their unanswered ponderings or questions (wonder). Once submitted through Recap, specific student submissions can be shared back out to the class via a web link.
Along with reflections and answering questions, Recap and a creativity Visible Thinking routine can be used to help students develop the capacity to think creatively about a scenario, concept or problem. While not for the purpose of collecting and evaluating a series of correct answers, pairing this style of routines opens up another potential use for Recap as well as an avenue for students to think creatively about challenging concepts. One particular creative thinking routine from Project Zero asks students to explore the following questions:

  • What would it be like if…
  • How would it be different if…
  • Suppose that …
  • What would change if …
  • How would it look differently if …

Each question from this routine could be added as a question within a Recap assignment, allowing a student to work through a concept step by step to develop a unique and creative perspective.
Each question from this routine could be added as a question within a Recap assignment, allowing a student to work through a concept step by step to develop a unique and creative perspective.
Check out the full demonstration video from Greg and how-to slides on the EdTechTeacher website.

Want to learn more from Greg this Summer? He will be on both coasts!ettsummer.org/greg


Featured image via Flickr

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Tips for Using Google Apps for Education to Create Digital Portfolios

Google Apps for Education is a wonderful, collaborative program that allows students to create, collect, and curate artifacts of learning. While there is a wide variety of programs that can be used to create digital portfolios, here are four ways that the GAFE suite of programs can facilitate digital portfolio creation.

What is A Digital Portfolio?

A digital portfolio is a collection of artifacts of learning that demonstrate growth, acquisition of skills or knowledge, and student creativity over time. Too often, the focus lies more on gathering lots of content in a single location and publishing to the web. We want to think about it as more of a 4 step process designed to encourage deeper thinking and reflection.


First, students and teachers need to collect artifacts that demonstrate student learning. One of the potential challenges that teachers face when creating digital portfolios is that not all artifacts of learning experiences are digital. However with today’s technology, this challenge can easily be overcome. Utilizing a scanner or digital camera, teachers and students can transform any physical item into a digital artifact. Not only does this process facilitate the digital portfolio creation, but it is also a wonderful way to lessen the storage burden and create organizational opportunities. Those newly digitized artifacts as well as artifacts that are already digital can easily be collected and organized in a Google Drive folder.


Through the digital portfolio creation process, students and teachers need to make decisions about which artifacts they will include in their portfolios. Questions to ask might include:

  • Does this artifact demonstrate growth?
  • What was the intended learning objective for this project?
  • Is this an example of my best work?
  • Is this an example of work that demonstrates growth?
  • What is the intended purpose of the portfolio?
  • Are we creating showcase or process portfolios?

Going through the curation process will help to ensure that the artifacts gathered are representative of student work that achieves the intended objective of the portfolio.


Beyond just curating content, we want our students to make deeper connections. With digital portfolios, we want students to document not only what they created, but also how and why. In other words, we want our students to discover and record what they learned about their own learning through this process.


The publishing or sharing step of the digital portfolio process can take place after all of the other steps are complete, or it can be an ongoing process. Not everything has to be published to the whole world. One of the first questions a teacher might consider is how public or private the portfolios will be. Most programs and tools that can be used to create digital portfolios have privacy settings built in. In this module, we will be exploring Google tools for the digital creation process.

Let’s Create Portfolios with Google Apps!

Shared Folder

One of the best ways to create an organizational schema for students is to have them save all of the items in their digital portfolio in one Google Drive folder. By doing so, all of the documents and items saved within that folder (even sub-folders) will inherit the same properties as the folder. Therefore, if the folder is set to public or “anyone with the link can view,” all of the items in the folder will share those settings. This step streamlines the process so that each individual artifact doesn’t have to be shared individually.
A shared folder can be published as a basic digital portfolio. While it lacks a polished appearance, it can be a simple way to get started collecting, curating, and publishing artifacts. As an example, if students were creating Martin Luther King Jr. artifacts, the Google Drive Folder might look something like this.

Google Doc with a Table of Contents

Google Apps Google AppsA Google Doc is another way to create a simple digital portfolio. An added benefit to a Google Doc is that there is an opportunity for students to write and reflect on each artifact of learning. The table of contents feature in Google Docs also lends itself well to digital portfolio creation. By using the Styles dropdown menu in Google Docs, teachers and students can create hierarchical headings, which can then be organized into a table of contents. In this animated gif, you can see the process of creating headings within the document and then inserting a table of contents into the top of the document.
The digital portfolio document created in Google Docs could potentially become a somewhat unwieldy multi-page document, but with the table of contents feature at the top, navigation is easily facilitated. Using the same example of a Martin Luther King Jr. project, a digital portfolio created with a Google Doc might look like this.Google Apps

Google Slides

Similar to Google Docs, Google Slides can be an ideal way to put together a digital portfolio. With it’s linear format and individual slides, Google Slides can house links to documents stored in a Google Drive folder and provide room for reflections, images, and even embedded videos. While the automatic table of contents feature that exists in Google Docs is not available in Google Slides, teachers and students can create a table of contents manually. This animated gif demonstrates the process. Continuing with our sample digital portfolio topic of Martin Luther King Jr., a digital portfolio created in Google Slides might look like this.
Google Apps

Google Sites

Arguably the most robust of the GAFE suite of programs, Google Sites is a website development program that easily integrates all of the Google tools. Within Google Sites, teachers and students can embed documents, slideshows, spreadsheets, YouTube videos, images, and much more. They can also create links to other artifacts of learning such as audio recordings, ThingLinks, etc. A sample website made with Google Sites that displays the same sample artifacts from the Martin Luther King Jr. project can be found here.
Google Apps for Education offers a wide variety of tools and programs that help support the digital portfolio creation process. From the very simple such as a Google Drive folder or Google Doc to the more complex Google Slideshow or Google Site, there is a continuum of complexity that can help teachers and students discover the method that is best for them!

Come Learn with Avra this Summer!

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How to Use Canned Responses in Gmail

Yesterday, we enumerated some our favorite Gmail hacks that we employ regularly to make our lives a little easier. We heard from a number of you that the canned responses feature seemed as though it would be quite useful, and several of you requested a tutorial. Since we don’t like to be in the business of disappointing our readers, here you go: a tutorial on how to make canned responses in Gmail.

See Also: 6 little-known Google tools you should try today

What is a Canned Response?

If you missed yesterday’s post, a canned response is a semi-automated message that you can type out, save, and insert easily into emails.  If you often get emails that require the same response, you’ll find this feature will save you loads of time. For classroom teachers, it has many uses, including (but not limited to!):

  • Sending responses to students regarding homework assignments, changes in schedule, etc
  • Communicating basic school/classroom regulations with students and parents
  • Responding to parent inquires
  • Reminding students of classroom procedure in response to inquiries

So when you’re going on a field trip and twenty parents write to you with the same questions, or many students write asking about extra credit but need a gentle reminder that all previous homework must be handed in before extra credit is available, canned responses can save you from having to re-write similar emails.

Enabling Canned Responses

To use this feature, you’ll first have to enable it in Gmail. To do this, click on the little gear on the right side of your Gmail screen, and click on “Settings”.
canned responses
Click on the “Labs” tab, and Canned Responses should be the first option in the list below. Click on “Enable”, and make sure to save your changes.
canned responses

Making a New Canned Response

Now, compose a new email that you’ll use for a canned response. When you’re done composing, click on the down arrow on the far right bottom corner of your message, select “Canned Responses” and “new canned response”.
canned responses
Save your canned response with the name you choose.
canned responses

Using A Canned Response

When you want to use a canned response, it will be there waiting for you, whether you send from a newly created email or as a response to another email.
Either way, you’ll click on the drop down arrow in the bottom right of your compose mail window, and select “Canned responses”. Your saved response will show up in the list under the name you chose. Click on it, and the text will magically appear in your compose box.
canned responses
From there, you’re free to edit as you need, which is a great way to use a canned response and then personalize it a bit so it doesn’t feel like a canned response. You can save as many canned responses as you want, and if you find you have too many, just highlight the message you want to delete under the “Delete” section of the canned responses drop down menu, and it will be out of your hair!

Automating Canned Responses

If you don’t need to personalize a canned response, you can even have Gmail automatically send a canned response for you. Simply create your canned response as described above, and we’ll use filters to tell Gmail that you want to send it automatically.
In this example, I’ve created a filter for all messages that contain the phrase ‘field trip’, and have applied the action “send this canned response” to all emails that contain that phrase. This may not always be an appropriate option, but can be very useful in certain situations.
canned responses
Featured image edited by me, original photo via Flickr

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5 Gmail Hacks Every Teacher Should Know

Tons of schools (and thereby teachers, administrators, and students are using some form of Gmail as their email service these days. Along with the whole suite of Google Apps for Education, Gmail helps keeps teachers, students, and parents connected.

Email is email, right? You use it to send and receive communications from others, and perhaps as a never ending file that you can search later on for information someone sent you. Actually, Gmail is a very robust platform and can probably do hundreds of things you’ve never even heard of. There are endless tips and tricks out there to help you customize Gmail, but we’ve selected a few of our favorites that will be quite handy in the classroom.

      See Also: How to get started with the new Google Slides

Do you have any favorite Gmail tips and tricks that help your classroom to run more seamlessly, or just make your life a little easier? Share with the Daily Genius community by leaving a comment below, dropping us a line on Twitter, or heading over to the Daily Genius Facebook Page and leaving us a note there!

      Want even more Google tools and tips? Join Daily Genius on Google+!

Gmail’s Canned Responses: Make Quick Work of the Mundane

If you ever find yourself writing pretty much the same thing over and over, the canned responses feature may be your new best friend. Canned responses lets you pre-write common emails, and insert that text into any reply you choose. Once you’ve inserted the message, you can always customize it a bit if you want, or send it off as is. Simply enable the canned responses feature in labs, save your desired messages as canned responses, and you’re good to go. So when every parent asks you the same question about a field trip or multiple students are asking the same questions about a project, you don’t need to write thirty of the same email each time.

Undo Send

This may be a feature that you’re already familiar with, but if you’re not, it may be the holy grail of emailing. Undo send lets you do precisely what it sounds like: undo sending an email. Maybe you clicked send accidentally before finishing an email, or maybe you sent something you suddenly wish you hadn’t (we’ve all been there). Either way, Gmail offers you the option to undo a sent email for a short period (5, 10, 20, or 30 seconds) immediately after clicking send. To make sure this feature is enabled or to customize the amount of time you have after sending to recall, go to the little gear on the right side of your Gmail, click on settings, and then on General. Click “Enable Undo Send” and select the amount of time you want after sending to undo the send. Make sure to click save when you’re done. Voila!

Custom Keyboard Shortcuts

We all have things we do every day, multiple times a day. For me (in terms of email, anyway), filing away messages into different folders is one of them. Others would be composing new messages and reporting spam. Gmail already offers a ton of keyboard shortcuts that will save you some time (the list is separated by shortcuts that are always turned on and shortcuts that need to be manually turned on), but if those aren’t doing what you need, or if you don’t find them to be intuitive, you can create your own custom shortcuts. To create your own shortcuts, click on the little gear on the right side of your Gmail, go to Settings, and then to Labs. Scroll down to “custom keyboard shortcuts” and enable that option. From there, go to the Keyboard Shortcuts tab under settings, and create your own shortcuts. If learning shortcuts overwhelms you, try a Chrome extension like KeyRocket which helps teach you shortcuts while you’re using Gmail.

Email Addresses For Every Occasion

Did you know that gmail addresses can be modified with + signs and periods? The emails will all go to the same place regardless of the periods and plus signs. Thus, heydailygenius@gmail.com is effectively the same as heydaily+genius@gmail.com or heydaily.genius@gmail.com, or any other version you can devise.

How can this benefit you as a teacher? It offers you the ability to filter emails sent to those specific addresses. Let’s say you teach five classes, and receive email from parents and students from each of those five classes. You could create modified emails for each class, and then create a filter and a label for each one and send them to different folders.

For example:

Your email address: awesomescienceteacher@gmail.com

Class 1: awesome.scienceteacher@gmail.com

Class 2: awesomescience.teacher@gmail.com

Class 3: awesome+scienceteacher@gmail.com

Class 4: awesomescience+teacher@gmail.com

Class 5: awesome+science.teacher@gmail.com

When you receive emails and create the labels and filters,  they’ll all be sent to the appropriate spot so that you’ll have to do less searching, sifting, and organizing later.

Custom Filters

Speaking of filtering, have you tried it? If you haven’t, filters can really help clean up your inbox and sort messages into a more manageable sort of organized chaos. You can create filters that send messages directly to a certain folder (for a specific class, perhaps, like we envisioned above), directly to your junk folder, or create another action.

To start, select a message that you ‘d like to filter, and click on the drop down arrow on the right. Select “filter messages like this”.


Next, you’ll define the types of messages (from a certain address, to a certain address, containing certain words, etc). When you’ve input your desired parameters, click “create filter with this search” on the bottom right.



Once you’ve determined the types of messages you want to filter, you’ll tell Gmail what you want to do with those messages. I’ve selected “Skip the inbox” below, but you can choose any of the options below or a combination thereof. You can even send a canned response (see our first tip in this post!).



As you can see, there are a wide variety of offerings to customize your Gmail account and make it work for you. Have we overlooked one of your favorite Gmail hacks? Let us know by leaving a comment below or getting in touch via social media!

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20 Effective ways to use Google Apps For Education

Creating a connected classroom has gotten far more affordable now that the major tech companies have begun pouring resources into reaching teachers, students, parents, and school leaders. Aside from the Apple iPad, the biggest player in the world of education technology has to be Google. They regularly unleash new productivity and collaboration tools as part of the Google Apps For Education suite.

The best part? It’s all free and you probably already know how to immediately start using the software. That’s because Google has essentially packaged up some of the most popular web tools and apps into a manageable suite of products. Better still, they’re also adding in custom software like Google Classroom with more products on the way. It’s a great time to be a tech-savvy teacher!

See Also:  How to use Google tools in Project-Based Learning

Many teachers and schools have already ‘gone Google’ so what better way to figure out how to actually get started with the powerful tools than from an effective checklist that lets you quickly discover and check off new ways to use Google Apps For Education in your classroom, school, or district.

We’re working on building a powerful interactive guide to Google education tools as well as many other useful products so check back soon for the launch of Genius Guides. In the meantime, use this below visual as a means to start experimenting and implementing Google-built education apps in ways you may not have considered before reading this post on Daily Genius.

Effective Ways To Use Google Apps For Education

  1. Create a Google Doc for a lesson plan, share it with other teachers.
  2. Take notes for your next grade-level or administrative meeting in Google Docs and share with all attendees.
  3. Try translating a document in Google Docs to give to non-English speaking parents.
  4. Use revision history in Google Docs to monitor the activity or progress on an assignment.
  5. Invite a guest lecturer into your class through video chat.
  6. Give your next multiple choice quiz using forms in Google Docs. Quickly analyze and summarize data with the “Summary” feature.
  7. Create a parent volunteer survey with forms in Google Docs to collect contact and availability information.
  8. Set-up a spreadsheet in Google Docs with timing and availability for parents to sign-up for parent-teacher conferences.
  9. Create a grade level folder in Google Docs that is shared with your team so anyone can add and utilize your classroom files.
  10. Create a site for your classroom with embedded Docs, Calendars, Forms, and gadgets.

Extra Credit Time!

  1. Create a class activity or homework calendar that students and parents can view and subscribe and can be embedded on a class site.
  2. Set-up classroom or administrative tasks and group into lists using the Tasks feature in calendar or Gmail.
  3. Enable the translation feature in Gmail so you can translate any messages from parents or students sent in a different language.
  4. Start a new site in Google Sites that can be a template for a student e-portfolio to showcase student work and progress throughout the year.
  5. Use spreadsheets to track homework or behavior logs and share with parents.
  6. Set-up a form for collecting teacher observation data and analyze in accompanying spreadsheet.
  7. Set-up a resource calendar for a laptop cart (or a projector, library room, auditorium…)
  8. Create a student-driven vocabulary flashcard center using spreadsheets and gadgets.
  9. Set-up pen pals with students in another country and use Gmail translation tool (extra extra credit – set up a video chat!)
  10. Upload long-term and unit plans into Google Calendar to map standards. (extra extra credit – attach Google Docs to the calendar events related to the unit plans)

Want the printable PDF version of the below checklist? Click here!

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