Google Documents Update - Embed Google Drawings | Tips and Trick Episode 17

Google Documents has rolled out another useful and time saving update. Embed your Google Drawings into Documents and keep the two files linked together to update instantly!

Welcome Back to Tips and Trick with AppsEvents and Acer. We wish you all a Happy New Year 2019 and hope to see you soon on YouTube or at one of our many events. 

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5 Handy Tech Hacks To Help You Get More Organized This 2019

Photo via www.vecteezy.com
Here are some tech hacks you can use to kick start a more organized year.

1. Use the .new URL shortcuts 

Google makes it easy for users to start new projects in Drive. Need to write a new presentation? Simply type in sheet.new in your browser address bar and it will immediately load a new Google Slide document! It works in any browser.

See items below for the complete list of valid shortcuts.

To create a new Google Doc:
  • doc.new
  • docs.new 
To create a new Google Sheet:
  • sheet.new 
  • sheets.new
To create a new Google Slide:
  • slide.new 
  • slides.new 
To create a new Google Form:
  • form.new 
  • forms.new 
To create a new Google Site:
  • site.new 
  • sites.new 

2. Launch multiple URLs in your browser through Sheets

Got too many bookmarks? Consider organizing them in a Google Sheet instead.

To launch multiple URLs, simply highlight the cells where they are contained > right click > select Open Links.



This is helpful for those who are doing speaking engagements or workshop. If you need to access a lot of web tools for a training session, following this tech hack can help you be more organized and efficient.

Speaking of speaking engagement, you can apply to lead a session for any of our upcoming Google Summit. Learn more here.

3. Organize your desktop icons and files with a wallpaper

Maximize your desktop screen by installing a wallpaper organizer. It’s just an image file with prompts that you use as background image on your computer and then drag and place your icons, folders and files into place so your Desktop don’t look cluttered.

Image via appsolutelyapril.com
Check out this Pinterest board to get tons of free wallpaper organizers or inspiration if you want to design your own.

4. New Google Classroom features!

This week, Google dropped a couple of new features for Classroom that will surely delight teachers.
  • You can drag and drop entire topics and individual Classwork items in both mobile app and web versions of Classroom. 
  • 78 new themes with custom illustrations, ranging from history to math to hair dressing to photography
Watch the video below to see an overview of how Google Classroom works for teachers and students. In this video, you will learn how to set up classes and add students, create and organize content on the Classwork page, and give feedback with the grading tool.


5. Have fun with emojis

It is now easy to organize assignments and discussions in Google Classroom with the introduction of Classwork last year. To make your Classroom stream even more organized and visually appealing too, add emojis before the title to indicate the type of assignments / announcement being posted!



Enjoyed this post? Make sure to share it on your favorite social media channel. 

If you want even more Google for Education tips and tricks, attend an in-person Google PD by AppsEvents. 

Visit www.appsevents.com to see a list of upcoming Google Summit and/or Google Certification Bootcamp. 

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Why Should We Buy Chromebooks for Our School?


By Guto Aaron

I recently posted a comparison of some of the most common devices seen in schools: PCs, laptops, Chromebooks and iPads. Today I'll focus in more detail on my favourite class of devices for schools, Chromebooks. These devices used to be rather niche, but are becoming very popular. In fact, the majority of devices bought by US schools are not Windows machines, not iPads, not iMacs, but Chromebooks.

Chromebook Basics


If you've never come across a Chromebook, think of a laptop-style device that's built to get you online as quickly and as simply as possible.

Chrome devices are not built to install lots of programs on them, they're built to do everything you do online, without any hassle or time wasting. Consider this:
  • Chromebooks always switch on and boot up in around 10 seconds. No waiting around for 5mins (or much more!) as they boot up and update.
  • They have batteries that last for around 10-13 hours. Not likely to run out of power mid lesson, no need to charge at lunchtime.
  • They pretty much run themselves. They update automatically in the background, so will always be up to date. Because you don't install software on them they are much less likely to crash, get viruses or slow down.
  • Because all work is done online, pupils can use whatever Chromebook they first grab, no need to use the same one every lesson.
  • Many Chromebooks are built ruggedly for education. In other words, they are very hard to break, even in a primary classroom!
  • Since late 2017, most Chromebooks can now also download Android apps. This means that your Chromebook can run apps created for tablets or smartphones.
  • Although you can buy big, expensive Chromebooks, most are small and lightweight. They are therefore perfect to carry from class to class, and you can easily fit a bunch on one table without moving pupils around.
  • Pupils log in with their own username and password, so only have access to their own documents and files. Your school has total control over what apps each pupil can install, what content is blocked, what services they have access to.
  • You can buy a basic Chromebook for less than £200, that's half the price of most laptops sold to schools.
Any Limitations?

For schools, there are three things to check before they invest in Chromebooks:

Is your school ready to work in the cloud? You're not going to install old fashioned Word and Powerpoint etc on a Chromebook (remember what we said about not installing traditional software?). So you must be ready to live in the cloud, using platforms such as Office 365 or, preferably, G Suite for Education. Let's make this simple however, you should be using one of these cloud platforms already, Chromebooks or not. Here in Wales, both platforms are, or will soon be, freely available through Hwb (G Suite from Easter 2018). In fact, one of the elements of our Digital Competence Framework (2.2 Collaboration) requires you to work in the cloud from Year 2 onwards. So the requirements to use a cloud platform should be no problem for schools.

Is your internet connection reliable enough to always work online? A couple of years ago, this may have bee a big concern. However, as someone who travels around schools across Wales every week, I've come across very few schools that have serious enough connection issues that they can't work in the cloud.

Do you need to install specific programs? This last question can still be important, especially for teacher devices or in Secondary Schools. In our school, the pupils all use Chromebooks, but the teachers are still using regular Windows PCs. The reason? SIMS. Like many schools, we use SIMS for register taking and to get information about our pupils. Our version of SIMS needs to be installed on a computer and therefore we're tied to our laptops. Having said that, there are ways around this, we could use SIMS on a tablet or use an online method of accessing SIMS. For Secondary Schools, whilst Chromebooks will do the job perfectly in the vast, vast majority of lessons, some lessons in some subjects may need specific powerful software and therefore it may be necessary to have a few laptops or PCs around for those occasions.

What Chromebook?

So you've decided to purchase Chromebooks for the school, but which one? There are tens of options, most made by well regarded computer companies such as Dell, Lenovo, HP, Acer, Asus. (This confuses some people, they assume all Chromebooks are made by Google. To help understand, think of Windows computer. You can buy them made by HP, Dell or loads of other companies, but they all run Windows. Chromebooks are the same.)

I'm not going to recommend one specific Chromebook, that's a matter of personal taste, but I will highlight a few important things to compare:

Budget - The cheapest Chromebooks start at around £160. These are the type of Chromebooks we bought for our school a couple of years ago. They do the job well, and you get a lot of devices for your money. You won't go far wrong with these devices, but you may miss out on some important recent developments.

Next Gen - The next generation Chromebooks are likely to cost around £350 each. When you buy such a device you get a touchscreen, the use of styluses and, often, the ability to fold the device over so it acts like a tablet. Since these Chromebooks can download Android apps, they really can act as both a laptop-style device and a tablet device (although they are clearly much heavier than a traditional tablet, perhaps not what you want the Reception class to be carrying around.)

Tablet - In March 2018, Acer and Google announced the first Chromebook tablet: the Chromebook Tab 10. The device features a 2048 x 1536 display, front/rear cameras, nine hours battery, and built in Wacom stylus. More Chromebook tablets are likely to become available in the future, with Asus announcing their first one in early 2019

High End - The top of the range Chromebook is Google's very own Pixelbook. This is a seriously impressive machine, but at around £1000 it is way too extravagant for use in most schools.

Conclusion


Whilst my school, and many others, have been perfectly happy with the cheapest Chromebooks, when it comes time to invest further in a year or two then I will be taking a serious look at the £350-ish next generation Chromebooks. I spent a few days using such devices whilst working at the 2018 BETT show in London, and the ease of switching between keyboard and touchscreen and between laptop-style and tablet-style was incredible. I'm always asked by schools "should we buy Chromebooks or iPads?" and I usually reply "You need both. Chromebooks for your everyday tasks, iPads for creativity and filming". These Next Gen Chromebooks are the first device that I can see taking the place of both devices (probably not in the Foundation Phase, too cumbersome and heavy as a tablet).

Right now, my perfect technology scenario would be the Next Gen Chromebooks through the school (1 to 1 would be incredible, but many schools can't afford that yet) with a reduced number of tablets available for Foundation Phase and certain jobs in KS2/KS3.
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Should You Be Excited For The New Classroom Gradebook (Beta)?!

New Gradebook Announced

I for one was very excited about the Classroom Gradebook when it was announced way back at ISTE Summer of 2018. I am a huge fan of Classroom - it puts the students collaborative work in one place along with my ability to view the work and all the grades, comments and suggestions. The new Classwork stream makes it even easier to highlight assigned work. But there was something missing....

The Missing Gradebook

When Google Classroom first launched, it brought with it an unmatched simplicity..assigning work on G Suite and maintaining access to them The missing piece of course was a gradebook - no teacher wants to keep downloading and exporting their grades to re-calculate a student's average or projected grade! Also, students want, and expect, access to their latest aggregate grade. Of course a lot of schools record this data in their SIS (school information database) that is accessible by students and parents. I, however, like to keep the grades and student work and grades in one place...and a Classroom Gradebook was a feature I was very excited to hear about it.

How it looks

I received access to the Beta version of Classroom Grades earlier this week and have had a few days to play around with it. (The screenshots you will see are not real grade data.)

Once added to my account, the Gradebook is accessed via Classroom and a new Grades tab:


Clicking on the Grades tab brings up the Gradebook view.
Assignments are listed across the top, with the most recent one first. (I would really like to see the ability to reorder columns here - perhaps this will be possible in the future.)

Underneath the assignment names are the category names and assignment points. If you are using weighted categories for grading its really important to set this up.

Lastly we have assignment averages, classroom average and the students aggregate grades in the left column.


My favorite feature - editing assignment grades

What I noticed straight away was how easy it was to update grades directly form this view. You can click on any grade and change its value. Once you have edited a grade you do need to return the grade before the total grade is automatically updated.




As you can see above, the aggregate grade does adjust almost immediately following grade return.

Again, it would be awesome to see a couple of features, for example re-order the students and re-order the assignments. But for now this is a huge improvement!

Again in the above animation, I am collecting a grade average, in fact I chose weighted average. This needs to be setup from the Grades settings menu.

Setting up your Grades

There are three choices for grade calculation:

  • No overall grade calculation
  • Total points calculation - simple calculation of student points divided by total points available
  • Percentage based category weighting - the average grade in each category is then weighted according to category weightings - my preferred method
You can also set the option for students to view their overall grade from here as well - of course this wont be possible if you don't have an overall grade calculation.



When you switch between 'Total points' and 'Percentage based' you will see that the Grade categories change from points to percentage. For the 'Percentage based' your categories must total 100% - or you will not be able to save changes to your grade book setup.

Tips for getting started

Here is my quick rundown list for getting started with the new Grades feature:

  • Sign up for Beta access here
  • Under Grades >> Settings, choose your grade calculation method
  • Depending on grade calculation, setup categories and points or weightings
  • As you create assignments, apply a grade category to each assignment
  • An assignment score must be returned before they will be part of the calculated grade

Overall

I love it! It is fast, responsive, puts all my class grades in one place and students have a projected grade as the semester progresses. It is great to be able to switch from seeing an entire class, and click on student name and see their grades for the semester.

What I liked...

  • Aggregate grade data shared to students
  • Multiple options for grade calculation (total and category weighted)
  • Grades view allows me to update grades directly on the sheet

What I hope is improved

  • Column/assignment re-ordering
  • Grades categories to show up in the csv export of grades data would be great for year end reports 
Have you tried the new Grades feature? What did you like? What features do you wish it would have? Let us know in the comments...

Well that's it for 2018! If you got this far, have a wonderful holiday season and see you all in 2019!
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Make your own Christmas Cards | Tips and Trick Episode 16

Are you ready for the holiday season? Did you know you can create your very own e-cards with Google Slides on a Chromebook?

Send cards to friends and family today as we show you how you can create professional looking cards today!

Share this video with a Friend or Colleague: https://youtu.be/KTJY4yFWjPU



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How to transform your learning space with Jamboard

The Google for Education team recently held an Edu OnAir live stream where they discussed some of the latest updates to Jamboard as well as an overview of its top features for education.

The webinar was led by Anita Flanagan, Program Manager on the G Suite for Education team working on the Jamboard product. Special guests included TJ Varghese, Jamboard Product Manager & Co-Founder, and three top-contributing educators who shared some of their best practices on how they use Jamboard features to enable collaboration and creativity in the classroom.

Below is a summary of these best practices, tips, and tricks that you can adopt or get inspiration from:

Tom Mullaney

Using autodraw to create graphic organizers easily




Autodraw will help you make perfect lines for better organizing of information.

Graphic organizers are some of the most effective visual learning strategies for students. Using Jamboard’s autodraw feature, both teachers and students can easily visualize their ideas as Jamboard can auto-detect their sketches and pair it with an image.







Tom Mullaney, Digital Learning Coach at Carroll Middle School in Raleigh North Carolina, shares that using the Jamboard app on an iPad is a very, very rich experience and is a great way for kids to get creative and do it in a tactile way.

To learn more about Jamboard’s drawing tools, visit the Jamboard Help Center.

Use Jamboard as a collaborative graphing paper







The default frame background color in Jamboard is white, but there are other backgrounds available and one of the best ones for Math teachers of course is graph paper.

To choose a background for your pages, you can use the frame bar at the top of the board to select backgrounds for your pages.

Use sticky notes as background / frame divider


Jamboard background is very limited and some students want more choices so what they would do is add a sticky note and stretch it so that the entire note covers the frame and then change the color of that sticky note. This is a great hack to get a colorful background.



Additionally, you can use this sticky note trick to divide a frame by stretching it half-way only.



Here you can have content in the blue area and content in the white area.

If you need to add more divisions, just add some more sticky notes, replace the color, and adjust the height and/or width as you see fit.

Organize information better with text boxes

If you want to organize information by enclosing them in boxes (or any other shape), you can use the shape recognition tool to create the text box and then set the background color of a sticky note to transparent to make a transparent text. You can then place the transparent text on top of the shape you previously created.





Use Jamboard as a PD backchannel


You can prepare a Jam session before presenting at a workshop with a designated frame for questions, lesson ideas, and/or activities that participants can check during your talk and where they can also dialogue with each other creatively.

Emily Petersen

Entrance and Exit tickets

Emily Peterson is a seventh grade Special Ed teacher in Mason City, Iowa where she co teach literacy. One of the things they have noticed since using Google Jamboard is an increase in the transparency of student learning.

Jamboard is an excellent formative assessment tool particularly when it comes to entrance and exit tickets. Sharing the code with students, you can very quickly determine if they have it from the day before, do they have it from the lesson today, what do they need to go back and reteach. Who hasn’t, who doesn't, and know very quickly.

Transparent Collaboration

You can assign specific frame to a student, a partnership, a group, or a whole class and be able to look at those frames very quickly.

Student Voice

Kids who don't want to raise their hand, or those who don't want to let their classmates know what they do or do not know can use the sticky notes in Jamboard and let teachers know their concerns without fear.

Use of images to build context or engage schema

Sometimes when a teacher gets into a piece of literature or an article, some of the students do not know what they are talking about. With Jamboard, teachers can easily pull up those images or references to quickly level the playing field.

Easily pick up with previous lesson

You can have students do their assignment or research projects in Jamboard which they can easily pull up and continue to work on the next day or week.

Modeling of integration of technology

Through using of Jamboard, students are getting to see how adults effectively use technology to be productive, effective digital citizens in a 21st century world.

Ross Berman

Effectively run a paperless math classroom


Google Classroom made it easier for teachers to assign work and provide feedback to students in a paperless environment, but this setup was a bit challenging for math classrooms. Jamboard is the missing piece that tied everything together for Ross Berman, a Math and Computer Science Teacher from New York.

You can watch the entire webinar on demand by registering through this link.
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