When the idea of digital volunteers was presented at the #gafesummit I attended, I knew that was something I could easily take back to my school. One teacher in third grade really took to the idea. This year Mrs. Westhoff has been using digital volunteers for her students' papers they type in Google.
The first papers they sent out they were nervous for feedback. She sent out an email that identified what the students were working on and then the specifics the people should be editing and revising. These editors have been teachers, administrators, school board members, and community members. It has been great to get different people involved in what our students are doing.
Here is the email she sent out for the last paper they shared...
"Thank you so much for volunteering again to be a Digital Volunteer. My students have been working so very hard on "Animal Reports" and should have received it this morning. A little background: My students brainstormed various animals, chose one, and completed research in four main areas- general animal facts, habitat, interactions, and babies. After the report was written, students then supported their text with appropriate nonfiction text features.
Things to look for / comment on:
- introducing a topic or new information
- nonfiction text features support understanding (and not too many)
- information given are FACTS (not opinions)
- concluding statements
- Grammar: includes but not limited to capitalization, punctuation, use of commas, spelling common words and homophones correctly
- General comments such as areas where the student did well in
You will receive a notification in your inbox notifying that a student shared their document with you. Next, comment away!
If you have any questions or concerns, please let me know at any time. If you could have them done by next Friday, March 11th that would be fabulous! Thank you again for your time and enthusiasm. "
Her class just sent out their papers for this second round of digital volunteers. They asked to have their volunteers look at their papers this time because they like getting the outside feedback. It is important to share work outside the 4 walls of their classroom, so they can see that their work matters.
Think about digital volunteers for your classroom! It took me about 10 minutes to look through and comment on 2 papers - not a big time commitment for such a great experience for students.
If someone had told me about this while I was still in the classroom, you can bet that I would have been using it! Flubaroo is a tool created to grade work that is submitted through a Google Form. Yep, I said it, created to grade work. Eeeeeeeee, so exciting!
Such a time-saver and makes collecting data easy!
A third grade teacher recently came to me wanting something her students could delve into for the month of October. We came up with the idea of skeletons. The next piece was figuring out WHAT to do.
At the #gafesummit in KC this summer, Kasey Bell (Shake Up Learning) had these awesome Tic-Tac-Toe boards she used for training sessions with teachers. Now, don't get me wrong, I totally know how to make a tic-tac-toe board for student use, but she really talked about how to make it beneficial to the teacher. There are two L's on a tic-tac-toe board.
Boxes 1, 2, 3, and 4 are all exploratory boxes. This is where students get their information. They can research, look at links, or anything else.
Box 5 can either be a required activity all students need or it can be a free choice of whatever the students want it to be that pertains to the activity.
Boxes 6-9 are all "creation" boxes. This is where they can choose the activity that best fits what they want to produce. Many students will start with this box and work backward, which is fine. This is a way for students to have choice in what they create, but they are going to end up with a similar experience.
We talked about how each of the activities will have a set of guidelines that are basically the same, but the presentation will be different. I like how the teacher worked to create presentations that accessed all her learners. She is going to place this into her Google Classroom and get started on it this week. We are looking at this being about a 1.5-2 week activity.
This page was created in Google Docs. I then did File > Publish to the Web. For this, I am embedding it on my blog. You can also use the web address and link it. However you want! Feel free to modify and make it how you would like to use it!
In Google search, you can refine your search to make it better for you. There are the obvious options of Web, Images, Videos, News, and More (maps, books, flights, apps) that can be found under the omnibox (search box in Google).
There is a greatly overlooked option called Search tools. If you choose this option, an additional line comes up underneath with Any time, All results, and, sometimes, your location. From there, you can refine your results.
Under Any time, choose to search for items updated between certain time ranges: past hour, week, month, year, or set your own range. This is GREAT for researching, current events, help desk answers, and probably much more.
Under All results, you can select to see all results or you can have it pull out the sources that have what you typed, verbatim.
Your location helps you to see relevant results from your area, so it may know to pull weather or news from where you are instead of somewhere opposite of where you live. You can even change this to search other areas of the US.
Maybe you noticed Google is working on some branding with their company? New font, colors, icons...LOVE IT!
The Admin panel has made some changes. For one, the color is now a dark teal color, similar to the one used on my website. The icons have also changed, as far as the ones used for actions to account.
If you need to reset a password, it is not in the 3 dot menu that is next to each user. It is now a lock with a refresh arrow around it. That seemed to throw me off at first.
The felt like I saw most of my changes on my iPad app. The icon changed colors and my users menu just changed to one large alphabetical list of ALL my users. I still wish this would show up as it looks on my desktop view. You can also send text messages to your users when you reset their passwords, add multiple users to a group, and more!
Just keep in mind that Google is doing some changes, so there may be some differences in the future. Remember, be flexible and patient as these changes happen! They are meant to help up. If you don't like something, there is a feedback link on the bottom of each page! Use it!
Inviting people to events is a great way to do a few things: invite people, get an RSVP, and put the event on their calendar for them.
Funny thing is that I actually started using this feature more through my husband. He would have a work function and send me a Google invite, I would accept, and then find it on my calendar. That took the work out of it for me because it was already added.
As a teacher, I like to do it for those meetings I need someone to attend or when I am going to meet with a teacher over learning something new.
When you go to Create an event, on the right side you will see the option to "Add guests". Put their email in there and then make your checked selections below. Yes, you can invite more than one person.
By doing this, once you save the event, it will trigger the calendar to send an email to the invited parties. They can then Yes, No, Maybe the event. Pretty awesome!
*Side note, did you know you can add attachments to the event, too? This is pretty neat for attaching agendas or images to the event.
A few of my teachers have been curious about how to control all the calendars that appear under their calendar list.
If you are anything like me, you have access to a bunch of calendars, but only need to work with one or two. This is a super easy fix, and you will appreciate how easy it is!
This is what my calendar looks like with ALL my calendars selected. No good.
This is what it looks like when I select the 2 I use. Much better! Now I only see those appointments I made instead of the +14 options on the calendar above.
How do you do this, you may wonder? Next to the calendars there are boxes filled with color. If they are filled with color, they are not muted and you will see them on your calendar view, usually in that color unless you assigned it a different color when creating the event.
When you click on the box filled with color, it goes blank and the events from that calendar vanish. You didn't delete that calendar or events, you only muted them. You can click it again to make the events show back up.
Hope this helps to make your calendar life a little less busy!
There are different levels of Google Certification, all of which are beneficial to different people.
If you are a teacher, I highly recommend getting the Certified Educator Level 1. This amounts to a few lessons and a $10 test. You can read more about it on their Training Center page. This is a great way to make sure you understand how, as an educator, you can be using Google Apps.
There is a great FAQ area to learn more about what the test entails. You can also choose between the Level 1 or Level 2, you don't have to accomplish the first to complete the second.
If you choose to get certified, let me know! I plan to begin my plight this year now that my Masters is done. My plan is to get through all of them.
Also, if you thrive off of badges and things you can add to your resume, you can even us their badge on your website, resume, presentations, anything, to show you are certified. *Quick note* check the timelines to refresh your certification. Because Google is changing all the time, certificates have to be refreshed to ensure you are getting the most out of your hard work!
A feature in Gmail that is super neat is Google Chat, GChat for short. Usually people just send a conversation through email, back and forth, back and forth. With GChat, you IM (Instant Message) instead. For those of us that remember, it's like AIM or MSN Messenger. Lol!
GChat has some features you need to know about:
Be careful you don't spend your day chatting instead of working. Sometimes it is easy to get sucked into chatting. I find it helpful for asking a quick question of a co-worker, communicating with the office (ask if your secretary has it enabled and wants you to use it - they may prefer email), and it is a good way to reach me as well!
Does this sound familiar? You are on a website and remember you need to make a Google Document of some sort, so you have to go to your waffle, click on Drive, and make the document. It seems ridiculous, but the steps it took to get there can be shorter. Yes, shorter!
If you add the Chrome extension, Google Docs Quick Create, you can just click on the Google Drive icon that comes up on your Chrome browser bar, get a menu, and create from there. YES! I added this extension as soon as I saw it. Ready to make my life easier with just one click.
See how awesome that is?! Love it!
Fifth grade teacher in a 1:1 iPad classroom, sharing my journey with technology in the classroom