Oct 12, 2016

Taming the Stream - Google Classroom

Sometimes as teachers and students, it can be frustrating to sift through the long stream that exists inside Google Classroom.  For instance, if you just want to go back and look at assignments you've turned in or review assignments you still need to complete, using the Stream is not as useful.

That is why Google Classroom as built in features to simplify your life and keep track of what's due and when.

What's Due?

At the top left of any class on Google Classroom, you'll find a box that shows what's due and when.  This will help students keep track of important assignments.  Need to see everything?  Just click View All and you'll be given a window that allows you to differentiate between what you still have left "To Do" and what you've already "Done".

The Calendar!

Also, if students have more than one class in Google Classroom, they can keep track of assignments by using the Calendar.  To access the calendar, just click the Menu Icon, and choose Calendar.  From there, they can view a single class, or all classes to see what's due and when...

Teacher Tasks

If you're a teacher, you can keep track of all of  your assignments - for multiple classes - and see who is and isn't "Done" with work that has been assigned.  To do this, just click on the Menu icon, and choose Work.  You can even differentiate between work that you still have "To Review" and what has already been "Reviewed".

Oct 10, 2016

Docs, Sheets & Slides - Sharing Student Presentations

This week, a question from a teacher asks:

"I have posted student presentations that they have made using Google Slides, but for a parent to view these..it says they have to sign in with a Google Account.  Is there any way to do this so they don't have to have a Google account to view these presentations?"
 This is a very common issue and can easily be resolved. The thing to keep in mind anytime you are posting Google documents on the web is to make sure you setup sharing rights properly.  

Before posting any items to the web:

  1. Click on the Share Button
  2. From the pop up menu, click Advanced.
  3. Under "Who has access" click Change
  4. Select "Anyone with the link"
  5. Under Access, select "Can View"
  6. Click Save & Done

After you have set your document up this way, you can post it to a website using an Embed Code or link by using the Publish to the Web option in the File Menu:

  1. click File
  2. Choose Publish to the Web.
  3. Click Publish
  4. Choose from a Link or the Embed (HTML) Code.

This is an easy way to share documents on the web - Docs, Sheets, or Slides - and a great way to present information to your audience.  

One key thing to remember when posting student work is that you secure permission from parents or guardians to publish student work on the web.  You might check with your principal regarding permission slips or a student contract requiring parent permission to share student work.  For example, a slip sent home similar to the following, would be a good way to get parent authorization:

Parents,  This school year, we will be using Google Apps for Education in the classroom.  Google Apps is a free suite of tools available to schools that includes Gmail, document creation, presentation tools, and other collaboration tools.  As part of that process, from time to time, we may have the opportunity to post student work on the web.  The school will work to make sure student work is shared in the safest way possible, but we want to make sure you are aware and that we have your permission to do so. No student grades will be posted.  As part of that, please sign and date this slip granting the school permission to post examples of your students' work for your viewing.

Parent Signature _________________________________________ 
Of course many districts already have a technology or internet use agreement in place, as well as permission slips for use of Google Tools. If you do not already,  you may want to do so.

Happy Sharing!

Oct 7, 2016

Now You Have a Choice! Google Docs TOC

Google just released an update to Table of Contents feature in Google Docs that allows you a bit more freedom.  For a great while now, I have, as I am sure others have too, wanted the ability to add page numbers to my Table of Contents in Google Docs.  But previous to this week, your only option was a table with hyperlinks to formatted sections of your doc.  See example below:

But with the recent update to Google Docs, you can now choose to add a Table of Contents with Hyperlinked items, or Page Numbers.

Of course the key to making the Table of Contents tool work for you is that you apply Headers to your text.   Once you apply Headers to your text, the Table of Contents tool will use this formatting to create your table.

To apply a Header:
  1. Highlight text
  2. Click on the Header Tool
  3. Choose your level of formatting
  4. Header 1, Header 2, Header 3, etc...

Once you have formatted your document, now its time to insert a Table of Contents.  To add a Table of Contents to your document:

  1. From Google Docs, click Insert
  2. Choose Table of Contents
  3. Choose from "With Page Numbers" or "With Blue Links"

Happy Formatting!

Oct 6, 2016

What's New with Google?

If you've been hiding under a rock lately, you may have missed some of the changes that occurred with Google over the past 2 weeks.  Personally, I've been meaning to write this post for about a week, so I am a little late to the game myself.  But for those of you who haven't heard, I thought I would give you some insight into some of the changes going on with Google.

GAFE is now GSuite

The suite of tools offered by Google that we used to know as Google Apps for Education and Google for Work has been renamed GSuite.  This set of tools still includes Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms and Sites, as well as others, and is still accessible through Google Drive.  It just has a new name.  If you are new to GSuite (Formerly GAFE), check out this link.  Your District can access GSuite for free and use all these wonderful tools to go paperless.  You just need to sign up.  You can also find out about all the extra benefits you get from using Google For Education rather than a personal Google Account.

The Explore Tool Has Replaced the Research Tool

In a bit of a controversial move on Google's part, the Research Tool found in Docs and Slides has been replaced with the Explore tool.  The Explore tool was originally introduced as a Google Sheets feature, and can still be found there as a quick way to format Sheets and add Charts and Graphs.  However, according to many posts and comments on the internet, users are upset at the loss of the Citation Tool found in the Research Tool.  In spite of these concerns, the addition of the Explore Tool to Slides and Docs means that you'll gain some really cool design features. 

Here's what you get:

  • Sheets
    • I recently posted an article about many of the Explore features in Sheets.  Check it out here.  Here is the short list.
      • Ask questions about your Data
      • Format Sheets with alternating colors for each row of data
      • Learn about Formulas from your Data
      • Insert Charts and Graphs quickly
Source:  https://docs.googleblog.com/2016/09/ExploreinDocsSheetsSlides.html
  • Docs
    • Much like the original research tool, you can use explore to:
      • Gain insights about information in your doc.
      • Get suggestions for content to add to your doc.
        • Topics
        • Images
        • Research
Source:  https://docs.googleblog.com/2016/09/ExploreinDocsSheetsSlides.html
  • Slides
    • Add suggested Themes to slides quickly
    • Get suggestions for the layout of your content

Source:  https://docs.googleblog.com/2016/09/ExploreinDocsSheetsSlides.html

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't highlight some of the consumer additions that Google announced this week.  As part of their new family of tools, Google has added:

  • The Google Pixel Phone 
    • Google Assistant Built In
    • 12.3 MP Camera
    • Unlimited Storage - Photos and Videos
    • Ability to transfer files from your old phone directly
    • Pre-Orders will get a free Daydream View VR Headset
  • Google Home
    • Voice Activated Google Assistant
    • Google's Answer to Amazon's personal assistant technology
    • Voice Control of Smart Devices
  • Chromecast Ultra
    • Like the Chromecast, but allows streaming of 4K Ultra HD and HDR
  • Google WiFi
    • Whole-Home Coverage for Wifi

Sep 30, 2016

Learn from the Google Sheets Explore Button

Just yesterday, I posted a few tips about using Google Sheets.  One new item about Google Sheets that just keeps getting better is the Explore Button.  

If you haven't noticed this little gem, that's because it is hidden at the bottom right corner of your Sheets screen.

While the Explore button has been there for a little while, it has recently gotten a few updates.  Let's take a look at what the Explore button can do...

Get Answers About Your Data

One really cool features in Explore is the Answers section.  At the top of any Explore pane, you will see a search box that says, "Ask a question about your data".  So for instance, with the demo sheet available with the new explore button, there is a great deal of data about the World Cup.  You could simply type in "Who was the winner?" and get a quick answer about that data.

Learn from the Formula

Want to know how they did that?  With any question you ask you can click See Formula and see the Sheets formula used to find the data related to your question.  For example, in a question about who the winner is, Sheets uses the unique filter to arrive at the answer:  


Once you find your answer, and view the formula, you can click on the formula and it will be copied to your clipboard so you can use it and apply it elsewhere.  This is a great way to learn more about the use of Functions and Formulae.

Add Formatting Quickly

In my previous post (5 Tips for Google Sheets Users) I discussed some of the simple formatting you can do to your Sheet.  For example, there is a quick way to add alternating colors to your sheet.  Want to save a few steps?  Use the Explore button.

Insert Charts In A Snap

You can also get suggestions for Data Charts and Graphs quickly.  Just click on Explore, find the chart or graph you want, and click & drag it onto your Sheet.  You can also click the Pencil on the Graph to quickly edit or make changes to your new Graph.