Join us for FREE PD at the NWOCA Road Shows this August!

We hope that your summer is going well and that it’s been relaxing and refreshing! We know… we said this blog would be on hiatus for the summer. BUT, we wanted to pop into your break quickly to invite you to a FREE professional development opportunity happening in August in Bryan and Bucyrus. It’s the […]

Presentations from #CREATECon18


I had the pleasure of presenting at Anthony Wayne Schools’ 2018 CREATE! Conference today.

If you missed my sessions or just need the materials, you may access them below.

Thanks to Chris Hamady and all the staff at AW, along with Allison Goedde from BGSU for a wonderful conference. I look forward to the 2019 edition.

Digital Breakouts: No Box, No Problem


STEAM and Makerspace Tools

Summer PD Roundup

Summer is almost here! It’s a great time to relax, recharge and yes, even level up your technology proficiency. While Tech Tips Tuesday is going on our annual break, we wanted to leave you with some summer professional development opportunities. Remember, all Northern Buckeye/NWOCA trainings are included with membership at no additional cost. You also have access …

No more excuses for bad grammar – Grammarly is everywhere!


I am an English guy – no, I’m not from the UK – I just really enjoy writing and grammar. I even taught ELA for two years before entering my current career. I am married to a math teacher, so in our house, if you need math you see my wife. If you need grammar help, you see me.

Even though I love grammar, I’m not always 100% sure I’m following the rules. Enter Grammarly. John Mansel-Pleydell wrote a Tech Tips article about Grammarly back in March, but I wanted to follow up and add some more.

Grammarly icon

If you don’t know what Grammarly is, in a nutshell, it’s a Chrome extension that will help check your grammar and spelling within Chrome. For a more in-depth explanation, check out John’s article. It works on most websites (including Gmail), but as of this writing, Grammarly still is not supported by Google Docs.


Google Drive is not supported
This week, Alice Keeler tweeted that Grammarly is beta testing integration with Google Docs. Until that happens, the workaround is to cut and paste your writing into the online Grammarly Editor and check it there.

But there is more to Grammarly than just a Chrome extension. Did you know that Grammarly is available as a native app for Mac and Windows? Just go to and you can download the correct version for your platform.

Grammarly Mac

Grammarly Windows

Still using Microsoft Office on Windows? First off, I’m sorry 🙂  Second, Grammarly has an add-in for the Windows version of Word and Outlook. Mac users will need to use the Web Editor.

Grammarly for Outlook


Finally, did you know that as of this year, 50 percent of workplace communication and collaboration happens through mobile apps? Good thing that Grammarly now has keyboards for both iOS and Android.


Grammarly iPhone


You can use the keyboard to check your grammar when writing texts, emails and more on your mobile. Here’s a quick video to show how it works.

You can find the mobile versions of Grammarly in the App Store and Google Play. They are both free.

Grammarly is free, but there is a premium version that costs $139 a year. That version gives you some cool features including plagiarism checking, sentence structure, vocabulary enhancement and proofreading services. Grammarly Premium is even available for school districts.

Now there’s no excuse to be afraid of grammar!

Data-Informed, not “Data-Driven.”


This is a good read from Alyse Consiglio, who is the Principal at John F. Kennedy Catholic High School in Warren, Ohio (my alma mater!). Being a parochial school, JFK students aren’t subjected to the state test requirements that public schools are. But Mrs. Consiglio makes several good points that should be considered in the larger debate about state testing. She writes:

Test results aren’t useless. I personally looked at all JFK test results from 2016-17 and will continue to do so as our results return this year. I analyze our strengths and weaknesses as a school. I make copies and highlight relevant data, and every teacher receives a copy of their students’ results and my notes for the classes. Teachers break down scores by student to try and understand what is working and what needs work. The key part of this process is that we take this score as just one piece of the puzzle. Our students have so many talents. How they perform one day on one test does not define their worth as a student. I would emphatically say that no staff member at JFK treats any of our students as a score on a test. This is why we are data-informed and not “data-driven.” This data is just part of the evidence of student achievement. It is not the entire story.

She is spot on here. Our legislators and educational higher-ups have pushed these state tests as a way of measuring student achievement (and teacher effectiveness). But is it an accurate portrayal?

How can a teacher expect a student to achieve on a test when they come to school tired from staying up late with younger siblings because their parents are at work? Or they are hungry because instead of food, their parents spent money on drugs or alcohol? Or their medication isn’t working because their parents sold it? These are real situations that teachers face every day – I know, I’m married to one. Every student is different so by its very definition, asking them to take a standardized test is folly.

Every day teachers are educating students with various, sometimes ugly, backgrounds. They are imparting knowledge and wisdom, sharing compassion and love. How can a test measure this? And what about the students? Where is the joy of learning? I’ll tell you, it’s been killed by standardized testing.

From Psychology Today:

We know that for most children, kindergarten is anticipated with awe and enthusiasm – especially when one or older siblings are already in school… The idea of being a student is exciting. Most kindergarten or first grade students speak passionately about what they learn and do in school. Then, as years progress, burdensome memorization and test preparation are emphasized at the cost of diminished discovery, inquiry, and project-based learning. As school stops engaging children’s imaginations, boredom and frustration replace joy, and learning stops.

Our legislators and educational administrations would benefit from a very careful read of Mrs. Consiglio’s blog post – and note the title: “Test Less. Smile More.” Then they should reflect on it, and see how freeing students from the heavy burden of testing can make education relevant, effective, and (dare I say it?), fun!

FREE Upcoming PD Opportunities Unlike Any Other


When you think of Professional Development, you probably think of being stuck in a computer lab listening to some trainer drone on and on about some topic that probably doesn’t interest you. (Unless it’s a PD from NWOCA, right?)

We’ve got three FREE upcoming professional development opportunities that are different than anything you’ve experienced before! Whether you want to talk about student makers, and explore the latest tools and technology for making… or you want to learn more about digital literacy and how students can use digital skills in everyday life… or you’re curious about the jobs that are out there for our students… these are for you!

If you have questions about any of these opportunities, please contact John Mansel-Pleydell.

Creating Student Makerspaces

Friday, April 20, 2018 – 8:30 am-4:00 pm – Liberty Center School
(Lunch Provided)

Register Now

This event is to expose administrators and teachers to the rapidly expanding technology tools used in a modern makerspace including hands-on access to 3D Printers, 3D Carving, Subtractive Prototyping Machines, Vinyl Printer/Cutters, Laser Engravers/Cutters. BES will host sessions to see demonstrations of these technologies with plenty of time for participants to make something themselves.

There will also be sessions covering a wide variety of topics for engaging student makers. Here is a list of topics and descriptions:

  • Industry Credentials that count for the new graduation requirements including Solidworks CSWA Exam, MSSC Certified Production Technician and others will be discussed.
  • Design Technology PBL Program that is approved and being used for the new Middle School CTE requirement. This is a STEM based career program that exposes the students to up to 20 pathways in a series of 3-week courses for grades 6-10. It also includes a full digital content of K-12 science actively linked to the Ohio Science Learning Standards.
  • InventorCloud is a K-12 cloud-based content that includes full semesters courses, mini projects, camps, competitions and much more that even gives you virtual access to a state of the art makerspace called Edison’s Digital Workplace in Youngstown, Ohio. Students complete projects and then make them on the devices in Youngtown and then they are shipped free of charge to your school.

Schedule for the Day:

  • 9 am – 11 am – Curriculum Discussion (Administrators and Curriculum coordinators)
  • 9 am – 11 am – Ohio Tech Leaders Meeting (Tech Coordinators and Tech Integration Specialists monthly meeting)
  • 11 am – 1 pm – Lunch and Learn
  • 1 pm – 4 pm – Hands-on for STEAM and Ag Educators


Applied Digital Skills

Wednesday, April 25, 2018 – 9:00 am-3:00 pm – NWOCA (Archbold)

Register Now

Want to learn more about Google’s Applied Digital Skills curriculum?

This no-cost digital literacy curriculum, which is part of the Grow with Google initiative, helps middle school, high school, and adult learners obtain new digital skills using G Suite so that they can prepare for job and life situations. Key features of the curriculum include:

  • Video-based – Engaging videos allow instructors to facilitate and provide individualized support where needed.
  • Practical life applications – Digital skills in the lessons focus on accomplishing a task and solving problems that relate to everyday lives, like budgeting for a purchase or planning an event.
  • Easy to use – Detailed lesson plans and learner progress tracking is provided. The units can be taught in any order, or used collectively as a full-semester curriculum.

The training is intended to get you up and running with the online program and all we ask is that you bring it back to use with your students by having them engage in some of the units or the whole course! This event is to help technology teachers, school administrators, media specialists, and others get comfortable with the curriculum and tailor it to their specific learners’ needs.

Space is limited, so use the registration links below for more info or to sign up!

Registration link:
Event Flyer:
Applied Digital Skills Website:


Friday, April 27, 2018 – 9:00 am-2:00 pm – Delta, Ohio
(Lunch Provided)

Register Now

The STEAM Coalition of NW Ohio has been working with employers to showcase available jobs and skills needed for the future through a series of workplace tours for educators.

Please join us for what will be a memorable visit to North Star Blue Scope Steel in Delta (please note safety gear including steel toe boots will be provided). We will tour the facility on a walking tour. We will be up in some high places so fear of heights might be an issue for some. At the end of the tour, North Star will be providing lunch.

In the afternoon we will head over to Nature Fresh Farms which is a 45-acre greenhouse located across the road from the Steel Mill. Nature Fresh farms have limited parking so we will be arranging to transport people from North Star to the Greenhouse.

This tour is for anyone that is associated with the STEAM Coalition. Our members who are industry or college affiliates are welcome as are all teachers.

A big thank you to Matt Gilroy, Executive Director or the Fulton County Economic Development Corporation for all his assistance in putting this together. is Goo.GOING!


Previously, I wrote about a great Google feature – the URL shortener. Well, I have some bad news… this tool is going away.

Visiting the site now shows this message:

The message links to a Google blog post. In it, the developers state:

To refocus our efforts, we’re turning down support for over the coming weeks and replacing it with Firebase Dynamic Links (FDL). FDLs are smart URLs that allow you to send existing and potential users to any location within an iOS, Android or web app. We’re excited to grow and improve the product going forward. While most features of will eventually sunset, all existing links will continue to redirect to the intended destination.


The fact that all links that have been created on the website will continue to redirect is a good thing. You don’t have to worry about your old links continuing to work – they just will. However, you won’t be able to create new links going forward.

If you are looking to create new short links, Google recommends you use Firebase Dynamic Links. While I’ve never used FDLs, they seem quite complex for the simple web redirects that provided. My recommendation is that users check out popular services like Bitly and as an alternative. However, a big downside is that was friendly to school web filters since it is a Google product. Other URL shorteners will probably be blocked by Lightspeed and other filters. When in doubt, check with your tech leaders.

So RIP to – you will be missed!

Google Calendar helps you follow your team all season long!


It’s March, and while basketball rules this month, I’m ready for baseball! I’ve been following my beloved Detroit Tigers throughout the spring. One way I keep track of when my Motor City Kitties are playing is through the Interesting Calendars feature in Google Calendar.

Here’s how it works:

From the left side menu, click the Plus sign next to Add a coworker’s calendar. Here’s where you can add other calendars.

Add other calendars

Next, choose Browse calendars of interest.

Browse calendars of interest

You’ll be taken to a list of calendars that are available for subscription. You can choose Holidays, Sports and Other.

List of calendars

Here, I selected Baseball, then Major League Baseball – MLB. From here, you can select your favorite team.


Now, head back to your calendar by using the back arrow at the top. You’ll see that your calendar has now been added to the sidebar under Other calendars.

Calendar list

Events from this calendar will now appear on your calendar.

Tigers games on the calendar

If your favorite team is not listed, there is still possibly a way to get it. All you need is a subscription URL. Once you have that, click the plus sign again, and this time, choose From URL. Paste in the URL and you’ll be set.

From URL

By the way, if you want to turn off the calendars you’ve added, just click the checkbox next to the calendar’s name to hide it.

Send in the CLONES!


This month, our Google Certified Educator Level 1 Cohort has been focused on Google Drawings. I shared the following tips with our cohort and I thought they were useful enough to share with all of you. If you haven’t gotten to know Google Drawings, you’re missing out! Here is one of our archived webinars to get introduced.


Clone Your Shapes

To create a clone of your selected shape, hold down Control (Windows/Chromebook) or Option (Mac) and drag the shape. Voila! Shapes that are exact clones of one another.

Quickly make a grid of shapes by cloning.
Quickly make a grid of shapes by cloning.

This tip works with anything selected in your Drawing: lines, images, text boxes, etc.

Look at the cloned kitties!
Look at the cloned kitties!

You can use this tip to replicate the “infinite cloner” feature of Smart Notebook. Basically, you can take an image, clone it a number of times, and then stack the images on top of one another in the gray area of the document. Then students can drag the images into the canvas, just like in Notebook.

It looks like the infinite cloner!
It looks like the infinite cloner!

To quickly stack the images on top of one another, select them all, and then from the Arrange menu, choose to Align horizontally to the Center, and then Align vertically to the Middle.  

Quickly line up your cloned items.
Quickly line up your cloned items.

As Frau Farbissina once said: Send In The CLONE!


BONUS TIP: Proportioned Shapes  

To create a perfectly proportional shape, hold down the Shift key as you drag and draw your shape. No fussing with getting the shapes exactly right!

Perfectly proportioned square, circle and triangle.
Perfectly proportioned square, circle and triangle.

This tip also works when resizing existing objects or images. If you ever import a huge image and want to make it smaller, hold down Shift when dragging to resize. Your shape will retain its proportions.

Where did my View Image button go?!?


You might have noticed that Google Image Search has lost its “View Image” button. Before this change, you could search for an image and click the “View Image” button to download it directly without leaving Google or visiting the website. Now, that button has been removed.

Google Image Search
Now, the View Image button has been removed.

The change comes in response to a legal settlement between Google and Getty Images. Almost two years ago, Getty Images sued Google in Europe, saying that the company’s image scraping techniques to display image search results were illegal. Earlier this week, Google and Getty Images announced a partnership and Getty withdrew its charges against Google. It appears that the removal of direct image links was part of the agreement.

There are two sides to every story. Google Images focuses mainly on the image itself and doesn’t display the copyright status of its search results. With the “View Image” button, it was easy for users to go directly from searching to downloading an image without ever thinking about copyright. This led to a lot of piracy.

However, this change makes Image Search less useful for users, requiring extra clicks to get the image you want. Users are responsible for adhering to copyright law, and many images on the Web are public domain and creative commons images (like everything on Wikipedia, for instance). Educators are free to use many copyrighted images under fair use.

Now for the tip part of this article: The image previews you see in Google Images are actually hot-linked, so right-clicking and choosing “open image in new tab” will still get you a direct image link. There is also already a Chrome extension called “Make Google Image Search Great Again” that will restore the “View Image” button.