Monday, November 21, 2016

YouTube Transcripts and Closed Captions

You can easily enable a transcript or closed captions for videos in YouTube.  This will assist any students, or anyone for that matter, who may have trouble following along, have a hearing issue, or where the video is not in their native language.  While the transcripts are not perfect, they are computer generated for the most part, they will be able to assist many learners in using YouTube videos for learning purposes.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Upload File Using Google Forms

Google recently added an update to Google Forms that allows you to have a question where someone can upload a file to your Drive.  This can make it very easy to have students turning in files when they aren't part of a Google Classroom or other system to turn in files.  This could also be useful just to bring lots of files all together into one place.

Look over the video below to see how to set this up.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Google Classroom Parent/Guardian Weekly Summaries

Earlier this month, Google released a great update to Classroom to help keep Parents/Guardians informed of class assignments and announcements for their students in Classroom.

Teachers can enter the Parents/Guardians email address in the Student section of classroom where it says to “Invite Guardians”. You should easily see if their email address is already in because they signed up in another class. Even if the email address is in, you still have to Invite them. Parents/Guardians will need a Google account too.

The easiest way to get the Parent/Guardian email address is to just use a Google Form. Ask for their name, student name, and parent/guardian email address. This should be a very quick process. Once all emails are in, you can click the "Email All Guardians" button to send out all of the invitations.
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Parents/Guardians will receive an email asking them if they Accept the Invitation or not. They should be able to see all of their invitations at once for all Classrooms their student is in.
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Once they have accepted the Invitation, they should get a summary email at the end of the week or daily, depending on which option they pick, related to every Classroom that their student is in and that they accepted. While they will not be able to see the actual assignments, they will be able to talk to their student about them and know what is coming up as every announcement and assignment that was posted that week should show up.
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This tool is not designed to let the Parent/Guardian into every aspect of Classroom but give them a heads up about what is happening. The real conversations should happen between the student and Parent/Guardian. This will improve communication while also helping to ensure the correct conversations happen, between student and Parent/Guardian and less so between Teacher and Parent/Guardian.

Here is a video showing how this works.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Google Classroom and Forms Fall Updates 2016

Google released some great updates this week to get ready for the new school year.  You can easily annotate assignments in the mobile Classroom app, add parent/guardian emails to send weekly reports from Classroom, create Topics for sorting in Classroom, and add images to options in multiple choice or similar questions in Google Forms.  You can find the post explaining the updates, and a couple others, at but you can also watch the videos below to see what the updates look like.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Blurring Tools in YouTube

There are times where you want to blur or block out part of a video that you want to upload.  I create a lot of videos for students and other teachers, and sometimes find that there is something on my screen that I want to blur so I do not share an email address or some piece of personal information.  I have done this before using iMovie by just adding a box over the screen but this does not work well when the object, or area, moves.  This also does not work well if you just want a simple blurring option if you are recording a learning environment and need to blur out some student faces.

YouTube has a tool in its Enhancements area, for videos that you have uploaded, that will allow you to do this easily.  You can quickly blur all faces or use the custom blurring tool to select the regions you want to blur.  The nice thing about the custom blurring tool is that it will follow the region you select, meaning that if you select a face and that face moves around the screen, it will continue to be blurred.  You can even select how long you want that area to be blurred so you can hide a piece of information for a short time and reveal it later, I am sure there are some times this will be helpful.

Watch the video below to see how to get started.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Draftback - Play back your Google Docs

Draftback is a Chrome Extension that allows you to play back a Google Doc as if you were recording a video of all of the edits.   This simple Chrome Extension will allow a writer, or someone who is helping to give feedback to a writer, to view their writing process and see the flow of their writing.  This could provide information into how they wrote something and help find ways for that writer to improve.

Another use, which some teachers will like, is that it can show you quickly if there were any major copy and pasting going on in the document.  If you think someone was guilty of plagiarism, you could easily view their document and see if the flow of writing matched what it should look like or if there was a giant chunk of writing that just appeared at once.

You can find the Chrome Extension at or watch the video below to see how it works.

Creating a YouTube Playlist for Students

There is a tremendous amount of useful information on YouTube, along with a large amount of not useful information.  One thing we can easily do to help students, is to create a Playlist of videos related to the topic in our classroom.  This could become a great resource for them to extend or enrich their learning but also could be useful in all aspects of learning.

One thing I have realized, is that there are definitely other people out there who are better at explaining some topics than I am.  If that better explanation is combined with engaging and informative graphics, you have a very powerful tool for learning.

Creating a Playlist is a very easy thing to do and you can share it quickly with students or others. Curating videos for students will give them more options when it comes to learning and will help them be more efficient instead of just searching the vast amount of videos that are out there.

Watch the video below to see how to create your own YouTube Playlist for Students.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Kaizena Mini is now Kaizena Shortcut

One of my favorite tools for leaving effective feedback for students is Kaizena.  Kaizena allows you to easily leave audio and text feedback for students in a Google Doc.  This is a free service and one that I suggest to a lot of people because we should be more focused on feedback than grades in order to help students learn.  Also, audio can sometimes be more powerful than text alone as we say a lot in how we say something and we can articulate something more easily while speaking sometimes.  I also find that it is a lot quicker to leave audio feedback than text feedback if I want to ensure I get my point across.

The update to Kaizena does change how you leave the feedback but the workflow seems to be better than before.  While looking over the tutorial videos in their post,, you can easily see how you can track your comments over a longer period of time than just one document.

You install the shortcut using the Add-ons in a Google Doc, which means you will have to make sure your students install that Add-on also into their Google Docs.  The limited amount of time it would take to help your students install the Add-on and learn how to use it will be made up for by the growth that they can make when you are giving more effective feedback.

If you are looking at improving the feedback you give to students, give Kaizena a try.  If we want students to learn and continue to learn, we must focus on the feedback we give and how it affects them as a learner.  Giving effective feedback is a great way to instill a growth mindset into our students where just only giving grades is a way we will ensure a fixed mindset and limited learning.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Using EdPuzzle with Google Classroom

Last summer Google released the Classroom API so other programs and apps could communicate and integrate with Google Classroom.  One of the most recent ones to do this is EdPuzzle.  EdPuzzle is great tool for adding questions, feedback, and your voice to premade videos for use in your classroom.  You can assign videos as homework and get feedback on your students progress and understanding of the content.

If you already have a class set up in Google Classroom, you can quickly connect that to EdPuzzle and even post assignments into Classroom from EdPuzzle.  This integration will make it much easier to use EdPuzzle with your students without them having to create brand new accounts.

Watch the following video to see how you can quickly connect Classroom to EdPuzzle and then assign your first video.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Shared Google Calendar for Teacher-Teacher Collaboration

One of the easiest ways to assist effective collaboration between teachers is to create a shared Google Calendar so all parties involved can get greater clarity.  You can easily set up meeting dates and include the agendas, goals, teacher roles, in the event details.  You can also share out important due dates and any other information you need to have in order to collaborate effectively.  
Watch the video below to see how to create a shared Google Calendar.