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.
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.
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 grammarly.com/native and you can download the correct version for your platform.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
Friday, April 20, 2018 – 8:30 am-4:00 pm – Liberty Center School
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
Wednesday, April 25, 2018 – 9:00 am-3:00 pm – NWOCA (Archbold)
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!
Friday, April 27, 2018 – 9:00 am-2:00 pm – Delta, Ohio
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.
Visiting the goo.gl 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 goo.gl 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 goo.gl 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 goo.gl 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 goo.gl provided. My recommendation is that users check out popular services like Bitly and Ow.ly as an alternative. However, a big downside is that goo.gl 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 goo.gl – you will be missed!
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.
Next, choose 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.
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.
Events from this calendar will now appear on your 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.
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.
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.
This tip works with anything selected in your Drawing: lines, images, text boxes, etc.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
In case you missed it, Google added a bunch of welcome features to Google Slides. Here are some of the best features.
Integration with Google Keep
You can now bring your Google Keep notes into Slides just as you can with Docs. This is great for bringing in text or images that you use frequently. If you haven’t had a chance to try this out, here’s an article from G Suite Support that explains more.
Now, you can link and sync slides from multiple presentations with a click. When you copy and paste from one Slides presentation to another, you now get the option to Link slides or not. Linking slides ensures that when one of the presentations is updated, any linked slides are as well. Do not link pastes a new copy of the slides, with no relationship to the others.
Grid view allows you to view all your slides at once as thumbnails. This helps you easily reorder or change formats of multiple slides. To access grid view, click the button on the bottom right of the slide sorter.
You can now choose to skip select slides without fully deleting them when you present from your phone or laptop. To skip slides, right-click on the slide you want to skip and choose Skip slide. Now, any slide you skip will still show up in your editing view but will be skipped when presenting. This is great for customizing Slides presentations for different audiences.
Hopefully, these new additions to Slides will help make your presentations even more efficient and effective!
To recap, Quizlet Live is an in-class, team-based learning game. It puts the students in randomized teams of 3-4 and gives each group different questions within the study set. Each member of the group has different answers and only one person has the correct answer. The group needs to work together to get the correct answer to get the points.
I have heard from some teachers that there are some pitfalls to using Quizlet Live. Some of these include one student “taking over” the team and teams that are too strong finishing well in advance of the others. I came across this infographic from Patrick McMillan that has five variations on the Quizlet Live game. His ideas all add neat twists to the game!
Check it out:
Will these ideas help you to better use Quizlet Live in your classroom?