This summer, thousands of teachers will be descending on Denver to attend the 2016 ISTE Conference. ISTE, the International Society for Technology in Education, is the largest, and sometimes most intimidating, tech conference due to its sheer size and the volume of attendees and vendors. I have been a regular attender of ISTE for many years and have learned a few things about how to get the most out of the conference. Here are my top five tips for getting the most out of ISTE:
Download the ISTE App
ISTE has a robust conference app that is free for users. There is a lot to navigate at ISTE: calendar, locations, vendors, and more. The app will have the most up-to-date information at all times – speakers drop out of the conference at the last minute, a room change may happen, or you may want to track down a vendor whose tool you saw featured in a talk. The app will tell you everything you want to know. You can look up workshops and presentations by speaker and topic. It is the best tool for sorting through everything about the conference.
Single Out 2-3 Topics to Explore
One thing that I have learned is that it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the sheer volume of poster sessions, workshops, and presentations at ISTE. To prevent information overload, go to ISTE with a goal in mind. What are the topics or ideas that you want to learn about most? Do you want to bring Digital Storytelling in your classroom? Build a robust Digital Citizenship program? Want to up your Google Apps game? Is your district or school rolling out a new tech initiative next year and you need more information? ISTE is a smorgasbord of teaching and learning, so focus on two or three topics that you want to explore. This is not to say you should avoid attending an off-topic session that grabs your attention, but having a clear focus at ISTE will help you to get the most out of your conference learning experience.
Vote with your Feet
Not every session will fit your expectations. If that is the case, you should feel free to “vote with your feet.” In other words, if you aren’t getting what you want out of a session, then you should leave and go to another one. Time is your most valuable commodity at ISTE, so use it wisely and explore as much as possible. Move around, enter a session late or leave early, and learn all that you can!
Go to Networking Events
ISTE has a lot of opportunities to network with like minded educators and leaders. If you are a member of an ISTE Professional Learning Network, be sure to check their bulletin board to see if they are hosting an event. By the way, PLN’s are open-enrollment, so you should feel to join one last minute and engage with your peers at the conference! In addition to PLN’s, many vendors host happy hours or networking activities to help educators come together and engage as professionals.
It’s easy to get lost in your ISTE conference and not realize how much physical and mental energy that you’re exerting. For example, one day last year I clocked over 27,000 steps (almost 14 miles) on my Fitbit! Don’t let conference fatigue get you down. Take regular breaks, both physical and mental. If you’re staying in a conference hotel nearby, take a break in the middle of the day to reflect on your morning. You can write a blog post or a journal entry if it helps you to process; enjoy a long lunch (perhaps with a new networking friend); or just take a walk or a jog in the city. Taking regular breaks will help you to stay on your game throughout the conference.
ISTE is the mother of all tech conferences, but you can easily tackle it if you keep these tips in mind. Instead of coming home a little lost and exhausted, you’ll return to your school excited, brimming with new ideas, and ready to tackle the near year!
Looking for another great event? Present at the EdTechTeacher Innovation Summit!
Featured Image via Flickr
If you have opened Google Forms lately, you’ve probably noticed that things are looking a little different! Don’t worry, this Google Forms does everything the older version did… and a few more cool things! If you get a little annoyed with it, you can always go back to the old version. Just click the little the man in the bottom left corner and you will be back in your familiar territory. However, if you’re feeling creative, check out the new tools! Here are five of my favorites!
See Responses, Live!
One of the new features of is that you can view responses as they come in. Select the “response” tab and view a summary of the results or click on “individual” to see how individuals have responded to specific questions. This is a great way to keep tabs on your survey as it runs.
You can now insert images and YouTube videos directly into your survey questions.
This is great if you want to have students watch a video and check for understanding or to make a quick demo of a tool you want input on. On the right hand side, select either the “image” button or the “YouTube icon” to add your content into the your Google Form.
Multiple Choice Grids
A new question type has been added, “Multiple Choice Grids.” This allows users to rank a series of questions. For example, if you want to rank a series of new technology features, you can set up a Multiple Choice Grid with the features in rows and rankings in columns. Even better, survey takers cannot select the same column twice. See below:
Publish with pre-filled responses
A new feature for Google Forms is that you can publish a version of your form with pre-filled responses. This is a great tool if you need to do a “run-off” of one part of your Google Form. To do this, select the three dot menu in the top right and then click on “Get pre-filled link.” A new window will open where you select the answers you want to pre-filled. Pre-fill your select answers and click “submit.” Google will then post a new link for you to share out with your pre-filled form.
With the new Google Forms has come a whole series of new add-ons! To include an add-on, click on the three-dot menu in the top right and select Add-ons (the icon looks like a puzzle piece).
Browse through the available add-ons to include in your form. One of my favorites is “Form Limiter” that will close a form once a maximum number of responses have been accepted. Another is “Choice Eliminator.” I use this tool when I want to allow students to select on topic from a list with no duplicate topics. Math and Science teachers, check out g(Math) Forms; using this tool you can insert complex equations into your forms.
The new Google Forms brings with it a lot of promise for further advancement and greater usability. Play with these new tools and try out a few others!
Keep learning more Google Apps for Education tips with us this summer!
Recently, Google Classroom issued a new update: posting a question. This reminded me that Google Classroom has come a long way since its original release. While it’s still a great place to assign and collect homework, Google Classroom has become far more robust in the last year. Here are seven great things that you can do with it.
Assign & Collect Homework Across Media
With Google Classroom, you are not limited to what type of instructions you can post or what type of work you can collect. As a teacher, you can post an assignment with written instructions or a video “how-to,” and distribute a Google Doc for students to edit and resubmit (just to name a few examples). Even better, if you have an exercise you regularly assign in class (a weekly journal or blog entry), then just select “Reuse Post” to save time. When students complete an assignment, they can turn in a standard Google file (Doc, Sheet, Presentation), files (from Google Drive or the hard drive), a video posted on YouTube, and/or a link. This means that students can submit multimedia projects in a variety of formats; for example, they can submit the completed video of a documentary that they created, attach a written version of the script, and include a storyboard completed via Google Slides (or even PowerPoint uploaded as a file or linked from OneDrive).
Create an Assignment, but Save it as a Draft to Assign Later
Most teachers work ahead. Originally, Google Classroom offered no flexibility when posting assignments. When you wrote it, you had to publish it. Now, you can create an assignment and instead of hitting “assign,” click the down arrow next to it and select “save as draft.” Then you can publish it when you are ready! Now, keep asking Google to allow us to schedule when it should post and I’ll be a happy teacher!
Post an announcement
You can tell your students about a delayed quiz, remind them you are meeting in the computer lab, or make any other announcement to your students. Click on the plus button on the bottom right and select “Create an Announcement.” Just like assignments, you can save an announcement as a draft and publish it when you are ready.
Post a Question (Much more than a Question Tool)
Using Google’s new “Create a Question,” teachers can now post a question for a class discussion or a simple poll to check for understanding. When you select “Create a Question,” you have two options: multiple choice or short answer. With multiple choice, you can ask a question for a quick check for understanding; for example you can ask students to assess a short passage about a reading assignment or check how well they understand a math concept. With the short-answer option, students can even engage with each another by replying to one another’s comments. This is a great resource for an online class discussion.
Take your time Grading
One of my favorite new features in Google Classroom is that now I can take my time grading. With longer assignments, like essays, it was a challenge to effectively grade them. I would generally keep a spreadsheet where I recorded their grades and comments and then transpose them to Classroom when it was time to return the graded assignment. Now, Google Classroom will save your grades as you progress. Students don’t see grades until you hit the return button. No more using multiple tools or pulling an all nighter to grade big assignments.
Team Teach your Class
Google Classroom is also no longer limited to one teacher per class. Now you can invite another teacher to your class. This is great for teachers who team-teach, student-teachers with a mentor, or a way to collaborate on classes across the school. To add a teacher to your class, open your course, click on “About” and then click on “Invite Teacher.” Simply enter the teacher’s email address and invite them to your course.
Google Calendar Integration
Now, assignments appear in your Google Calendar. This is a great way for students to keep track of their homework at a glance. Classes are uniquely color coded (they can change them in the calendar app). Students can even set the calendar to give them email, pop up, or sms reminders in advance.
No doubt Google Classroom will continue to evolve over time and more features will be added (like scheduling a post!). These robust features make Google Classroom an even more powerful tool in teaching and learning.
Keep learning more Google Apps for Education tips with us this summer!
Google Docs is a popular word processing tool because it allows ready access to your documents and files from any internet connected device. It permits users to readily share documents and easily collaborate on materials. If you are already familiar with Google Docs, try out these 10 hacks to up your Google game!
Convert a Word Doc to Google Docs
Microsoft Word is still the most popular word processor in the business, educational, and private world. Even if you have fully jumped on the Google Docs bandwagon, undoubtedly you encounter a Word document on a regular basis or perhaps you have a repository of older Word Docs. You can readily import and convert Word documents into Google Docs. There are two ways to accomplish this. First, you can set your Google account to convert files automatically to Google Docs. Select the gear icon → settings → general and tick the box “convert uploaded files to Google Docs editor format.” Second, if you prefer to convert files manually (to keep a copy in Word), leave this box unticked and upload a Word document as is. Next, right click on the word document within Google Drive → Open with → Google Docs. Your document will open as a Google Doc; it will keep your Word document intact.
You may believe that Google Docs is solely available online. However, by enabling offline editing on your devices, you can access and edit your documents even when you are away from the internet. The next time that you connect to the server, it will sync your changes. For offline editing to work, however, you must enable it on your devices. On your computer or Chromebook, open the Chrome browser (note that this will only work within Chrome) open Drive → gear icon → tick the box next to “Offline” to enable syncing of your Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Drawings for offline editing.
If you would like to access your files offline on an iOS device (iPad or iPhone), it’s a little different. You will need to enable offline editing for specific files you would like to access. If you haven’t already, download the iOS Google Docs App. Open up Google Docs and locate the file you would like to use offline. Click the three dot menu next to the file and click on “Download & keep in sync.” Your device will then download the file and make it available for offline editing.
If you use an Android device (Smartphone or Tablet), open the Docs app → tap and hold the document name for two seconds. When the pop-up box appears, touch the white pushpin icon, when the icon appears a solid black, the file is available for offline use.
Restore an Earlier Version of a Document
One of the great features of Google Docs is how readily you can collaborate on a document. However, sometimes a participant makes changes that don’t quite work. Revision history is a handy tool to not only keep track of changes made and by whom, but it readily allows you to revert to an earlier version of your Google Doc. To access revision history, click on File → See revision history. A revision history will pop up on the right-hand side, listing when changes were made and by whom. You will note that each participant has a color assigned to them. Any text or formatting changes they made on the document will match that color. If a document has numerous changes, Google Docs will provide a condensed record. You can access a more detailed account by clicking on “Show more detailed revisions.” Once you locate the version you would like to restore, click on “Restore this revision.” This change will also be recorded in the revision history so you can always undo it! Google has also added a “See new changes” pop-up that will alert you to recent edits on a document. This is a great feature when you are actively revising a document in real time.
Email a Google Doc as an Attachment
Not everyone you work with will be a Google Doc user, or perhaps you want to send a finished file to a client or a publisher. You can email your Google Doc as an attachment within Google Docs and Drive! To do this, go to File → Email as attachment. In the pop-up window that appears, enter the email address of the recipient, a subject, as well as a message. You can also tick the box to send a copy to yourself. Next, select how you would like to attach the document from the dropdown menu; you can send your document as a PDF, Word Document, Rich Text, HTML, Plain Text, Open Document, or paste the full document into the email itself. Click “send” and your document is off!
Type with your Voice
One of the newest features Google has added to Docs is Voice Typing. Now, you can type hands-free (a great tool when nursing an injury or for a student who struggles with motor skills). To enable Voice Typing, open your document and go to Tools → Voice Typing. A pop-up window with a microphone icon will appear, click on it to speak (you may need to grant permission to Google Docs to access your Microphone). You can add punctuation and even correct typos using Voice Typing. To learn how to navigate the system more effectively, check out this tutorial from Google.
Embed a Google Doc to a web page
You can embed a Google Doc directly into your website or blog. This is a great way to share resources (such as a syllabus or a newsletter) or even engage in discussion. To get the embed code, go to file → Publish to the web. Once you click on publish, the document will create an embed code that you can use. If you would like to make the document editable by others, edit your share settings to “anyone on the web can edit.”
Use Research Tools to Up your Game
Google has built-in research tools that allow you to do a number of neat things. For example, you can define words and even look up synonyms within Google Docs. To access the Thesaurus, right click (2-finger tap on a Chromebook) on the word that you would like to change and select “Define.” A research pane will pop up on the right-hand side with a full definition, including synonyms; you can click on a synonym for a definition of the word, ensuring an accurate usage of text.
You can also easily do advanced research on the go within Google docs. Go to Tools → Research. A research pane will pop up on the right-hand side. You can then engage a search using Google, Google Image Search, Google Scholar, Google Quotes, your personal documents, and data tables. You can access any content that the research pane pulls up by clicking on it. If you would like to cite it in your document, set your citation format to MLA, Chicago, or APA. Next, select “Cite as footnote” or insert (to insert the full citation text).
Google Docs will create and organize a table of contents for you automatically! Go to the beginning of your document and place your cursor at the very beginning. Next, select Insert → Table of Contents. Each time you add a new Heading, Google will insert a new section in your Table of Contents with a live link; when users click on this link, they will be directed to the specific location within your document. I was able to quickly create one for this article! This is a handy feature to facilitate users navigating a lengthy document.
Math and Science teachers now have a handy tool to allow them to draft equations within a Google Doc. To access and enable the equation toolbar and editor, click View → Show equation Toolbar. Next, click “New equation” and enter your equation using the accompanying tools. If you would like a quick tutorial, check out this support document from Google or check out this tutorial:
Translate a Document into Another Language
If you have a multilingual community, students whose parents speak another language at home, or want to engage with an audience in another country, then translate your documents into another language using Google Doc’s “Translate Document” tool. To access this feature, go to Tools → Translate document. You can then select from a list of languages and Google will convert your document into a new copy in your chosen language.
Google Docs has a lot of great features that can help you be more productive. By learning these hacks, you can master all of the features that Google has to offer, beyond word processing!
Engaging in current events is an important part of academic scholarship and growth, just like business introduce MC for Corporate Events for the employees to get motivated, schools should d the same as well. In the 21st century, students are often hit with a barrage of unvetted information. As educators, it is important to guide students in how to assess and evaluate online content (one of my favorite tools for this is the CRAAP test, created by California State University at Chico). Another way to help students stay abreast of current events is to guide them towards authentic news agencies and resources, especially those that engage in social media. At the beginning of the school year, I ask my students follow a series of news sources on the Social Media channels that they use (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc). By keeping these resources in their news feeds, not only do they get breaking news as they check their accounts, but they can use that information to counterbalance the hyperbole and misinformation that may be found in conjunction with a news story. Here are a few resources that I suggest they follow:
Public Radio & Television
NPR continues to be a well respected source of news and information that features a lot of worthwhile content on Facebook and Twitter. It also supplements on Instagram and Snapchat (you can look up their feed within the app). In addition to the national channels, students can also follow their local NPR stations for news and stories that impact their community. I also encourage students to check out NPR’s new app, NPR One, which allows them up to date stories of interest from around the globe.
National and Local Newspapers
Many newspapers are now behind a paywall (although your local or school library may have digital access for students and teachers). Still, you can access headlines and, in most cases, a limited number of stories per month. Encourage your students to follow the national news, such as: the New York Times, the Washington Post, and USA Today on Facebook and Twitter (as well as other media they employ) in addition to local and state newspapers. Many papers now offer apps for iOS and Android; while an account may be necessary to access all of the content, they still allow students to read headlines and news snippets.
Public Network News
Network news remains a staple in American society and the “big three;” NBC News, ABC News, and CBS News; are the largest producers of national and local news. Stories that are shared on the public airways are readily available on their websites and includes not only printed material, but video and other relevant media. In addition to the national news cycle, they have local affiliates that cover regional and local stories. Ask students to follow their Twitter and Facebook accounts to keep up with breaking news. Comparing how different news sites cover breaking news is an excellent way to begin a discussion on journalism.
Cable news has become emblematic of our 24 hour news cycle as well as a topic of public debate. While watching the news itself requires a cable subscription, they have open websites and even news clips posted online. Students can keep track of CNN news stories on their website, Twitter account, or Facebook. For more politically driven news, more mature students can explore news avenues such as FoxNews or MSNBC; they can discuss how stories are examined (or not) on different networks. Again, comparative analysis of news can facilitate discussions about the ethics of news as entertainment or political discourse.
International and Foreign Language
The internet has brought news from around the world into our living rooms. Students can explore English language news covered from a different perspective. For example, students might explore American politics on BBC or Aljazeera. Reading English language news from other countries helps students to broaden their perspective. By subscribing to these avenues on their Facebook and Twitter pages, students can keep abreast of breaking news around the world.
Students studying other languages can explore news networks abroad. For example, French students can read Le Monde’s website or follow them on Twitter. Spanish students can access Univision and follow Spanish language news in the Americas via their Spanish language Twitter and Facebook accounts.. German students can access Spiegel online or follow their German language Twitter account and Facebook page.
Accessing the news has shifted in light of new technologies. Bringing current events into the Social Media environment that students already explore allows them to have ready access to the news cycle and more meaningfully engage with what is happening around the world.
At EdTechTeacher, we have always prided ourselves on asking “what’s next.” Whether it be iPads, Chromebooks, Google Apps, or other mobile devices, we challenge participants in all of our workshops and conferences to think about how to truly transform student learning. So join us as we plan to bring together all of our learning communities to address the challenge of how to best innovate education. One registration gives you access to all three conferences!
Featured image via Flickr
If you’re unfamiliar with Google Books, it is a repository of books that Google has scanned and published digitally using Optical Character Recognition (OCR); this means that you can search for words within a book itself. Depending on copyright status, books can be offered in complete form, in snippets, or available for purchase or loan from a library. Due to a recent legal ruling, you are about to hear a lot more about this service as it will no doubt be more broadly expanded and dispersed in the public forum.
What is Google Books?
In an October decision of the case Authors Guild vs. Google Inc., the Second Circuit Court ruled that Google Books does not violate copyright and, rather, rightfully operates within the realm of Fair Use. In the original 2012 ruling, presiding Judge Dennis Chin stated that Google Books “…advances the progress of the arts and sciences, while maintaining respectful consideration for the rights of authors and other creative individuals, and without adversely impacting the rights of copyright holders (Meyer: Atlantic).” In the recent October 2015 ruling, the Circuit Court “rejected infringement claims from the Authors Guild and several individual writers, and found that the project provides a public service without violating intellectual property law (Axe: Reuters).” What this means for the public is that Google Books and the Google Books Library project will continue to provide scanned and digitized content to the public for free.
In addition to more popular academic, fiction, and nonfiction works, Google Books has partnered with dozens of libraries around the world in order to digitize their collections and make them available to users wherever they are. For example, you can access the special collections at Oxford’s Bodleian Library or large sections of Harvard’s Library of out-of-print books. Oxford has lauded its partnership with Google as being in accord with the library’s mission:
The Bodleian Library’s mission, from its founding in 1602, has been based on Sir Thomas Bodley’s vision of a library serving the worldwide ‘Republic of Letters’, with the Library’s collections open to all who have need to use them. To this day over 60% of readers who use and work in the Bodleian Library have no direct affiliation with the University of Oxford. The Google Library Project in Oxford testifies to our ongoing commitment to enable and facilitate access to our content for the scholarly community and beyond. The initiative will carry forward Sir Thomas Bodley’s vision and the ethos of the Bodleian Library into the digital age, allowing readers from around the world to access the Library’s collections over the World Wide Web. — Ronald Milne, former Director of Oxford University Library & Bodleian Librarian.
Uses in the Classroom
Google Books is an especially powerful tool in the classroom. Educators and students now have access to resources from around the world. Using the advanced searches available with OCR and Google’s algorithms, academic searches can be more comprehensive and encompassing. Additionally, users can create “book shelves” (reading lists) to help organize their research or share information with others.
To begin your research on Google Books, go to: books.google.com. Enter your search the same way you do in order to Google anything – using a question, key phrase or term, or subject. This will return a list of books that are relevant to the search topic that you entered. You can then refine your search by selecting “Search Tools” and filter by availability (preview available, Google eBook, Free Google eBook), Document Type (Book or Magazine), Time published (by a particular century or a custom range), and sort by relevance or date.
When you open a book, if it has been scanned for OCR, you can search within the text for a word or phrase. This is especially helpful for books without an index! You can clip sections of the book, share the book as a link, embed it into a page, or even create shelves on which to curate your Google Books Collection. This is a great way to create a reading list for students. To do this, simply go to your Google Books Library → “create shelf” → “edit properties” to ensure that it is set to public, and share via a link.
With the recent ruling on Google Books, there is no doubt that more resources will become available to the public, allowing educators and students greater access to content and material from around the world.
Learn more about Google Books at our next Google Jamboree!
I recently returned from the 2015 annual ISTE Conference in Philadelphia. It’s always exciting to learn about the new tools and features that are available to educators and students. One of my favorite tools on the market is Kaizena, a tool that you can use to give audio feedback to students in addition to coordinating your feedback with rubrics and learning tools. You can learn more about the advanced features of Kaizena, here. While at ISTE, I learned that Kaizena launched a new tool that will allow teachers to add voice comments far more easily and much faster! Kaizena has recently introduced their “Kaizena Mini” add-on that will allow you to leave voice comments and written notes on students’ documents within Google Docs itself. This way, you do not have to launch a third party tool to apply these features.
How to leave voice comments in Google Docs
Install Kaizena Mini Add-On
While inside of the document you would like to annotate with voice comments, simply go to Menu → Add-ons → Get Add-ons. When the Add-On window launches, simply search for “Kaizena.” Next, click on the “+ FREE” next to the Kaizena Mini Add-on, and follow the instructions to install the software on your account.
Open Kaizena Mini
With the software installed, simply go to Add-ons → Kaizena Mini → Open Kaizena Mini. This will launch the mini recorder on the right hand side. You should select that you are “giving feedback” and then choose the person receiving feedback from the menu (or add someone not listed), and then click continue. To leave feedback, highlight a portion of the text and click “+ New Feedback.” You can then select a voice comment, text comment, or even insert a link.
Leave voice omments
Once you have finished adding voice comments, the user will see the highlights on the document and be directed to open Kaizena Mini in order to hear the corresponding feedback. This is a great way to leave not just text but also audio feedback on student work while never having to leave Google Docs! Voice comments are a great way to provide in-depth and individualized feedback and, using the Kaizena mini recorder, you can do so faster than ever.
EdTechTeacher leads Google Workshops throughout the Summer and a few Google Jamborees during the School Year. However, you can always connect with us on twitter via #ettgoogle or learn more on our Google Apps for Education Resources page.