Category Archives: Teaching Tools

3 Google App Hacks for the not so 1:1 iPad Classroom

I love the collaborative aspect of Google Drive, but with a classroom of varying numbers and age levels of students and 10 iPads I’ve had to learn to be a bit creative when it comes to using Google activities with my students.  The release of specific apps for iOS such as Slides and Sheets is still problematic when you are not in a 1:1 environment since a login is required to access the files.  And some of the features that look great on other devices won’t work on iPads in a browser – even in Chrome.  Here are a few “workarounds” I’ve developed that some of you might also find useful:

  • Docs are an easy way to share website links with classes. For example, I created a Google Doc called, “Websites for Class.”  I made it public, opened it on each iPad, and sent the shortcut to the iPad home screen.  Now I can change the links any time, and the students can click on them without needing to type in URL’s.  (Sure, you can use a bookmarking site, Google Classroom, or even apps like Chirp to share links, but this simple solution has streamlined the process immensely.)  If you think you are going to want to keep those links for future use, make a copy before you change to new links and save the copy with the title of whatever theme the old links shared (“Optical Illusion Sites,” for example).
  • Create a “generic” G-mail account to use Sheets.  The new Sheets are currently not editable on an iPad browser.  I learned this the hard way.  My students use Sheets for checking in at centers (using the above method, but with a spreadsheet) but that suddenly stopped working.  The files work great in the Sheets app, but I didn’t want to have each student log in since multiple students share iPads – or have my own account permanently on the iPads. So, I made a “generic” account. This G-mail account is used for the sole purpose of sharing documents on my iPads.  All of the iPads are already logged into that account, so the students do not have to do anything but open the app and find the appropriate Sheet.
  • Make a Google Site to share Forms that you change frequently.  This is a bit more advanced.  You can also use a Google Site to share links that you change frequently (but the Doc method described above takes a lot less steps!).  Once you make a free Google Site, you can just click on the html button and embed the code for your form.  Be sure to click inside the Google Gadget area to get the settings button at the bottom and add a scroll bar.  Otherwise, your students may only be able to see part of the form on the iPad.  Add your Google Site to the Home Screen of every iPad and you can then share whatever you want the students to access with a tap on the icon.

Do any of you have Google App iPad hacks?  Please share!

image from speedofcreativity.org
image from speedofcreativity.org

 

Can You Solve This?

There was a link to this lesson in the most recent TED Ed newsletter, and I immediately jumped at the challenge. I’m a bit competitive sometimes;)

I will say that I did solve it before the solution was revealed on the video, but it probably would have taken me as long as anyone else if I wasn’t able to view the clips of people guessing incorrectly.

This is an excellent lesson on how we often make assumptions, and then look only for the evidence that appears to support them.  Lots of classroom discussion could definitely branch off from this one short video.

You can find more Veritasium videos here, although I always recommend that you watch videos prior to showing them to your students to determine if they are appropriate for your audience.

from the Veritasium Video Blog
from the Veritasium Video Blog

More Ideas for Pic Collage

I had a great time at the end of last school year allowing the students to use the Pic Collage app on the iPads to create mini-yearbooks using pictures from our class blog.  There are many uses for the app, and I’m pretty sure that I have yet to use it to its full potential.

Using Pic Collage to summarize your favorite moments from the school year
Using Pic Collage to summarize your favorite moments from the school year

At a recent PD about using apps for creating, one of my colleagues, Camala Rose-Turnage, suggested using the app for a fraction study. Students could take a group of pictures, of which only some have a certain thing in common (such as the color red), and then other students could figure out the fraction.  Awesome!  Besides the fact that I had never heard an idea like this before, I could see a lot of potential for differentiation.  Some students might choose obvious traits for their groups, such as color or shape; others might select something more abstract, such as objects that are used for particular activities (recess toys) or ones that all start with a certain letter.  The fractions might vary in complexity, too.  You could have some students portray fractions that could be reduced, or even – depending on the Pic Collage layout – mixed numbers.

Speaking of math, here is a post showing how students can use Pic Collage to create their own math reviews.  And here are some other ideas that could be used in a primary classroom.

Pic Collage is also great for app-smashing.  Use it with Thinglink and Aurasma for an awesome interactive poster.  You can find a ton of Pic Collage app-smashes on this Pinterest board by Holly Inniger.

What’s your favorite way to use this versatile app?

Powtoon Power

It’s Phun Phriday and I want to share this great Powtoon video that one of my students created to invite everyone to our Cardboard Arcade next week.  I love that he did this on his own time, and using a relatively new tool.

The 3 Questions That Could Define Your Genius Hour

I had just finished writing a rough draft of this post when I got the latest update from one of my favorite bloggers, Sonya Terborg.  She said everything so much more eloquently in her post than I did.  So, basically my post is like an appetizer and hers is definitely the entree.  If you like my bite-size summary, head on over to her blog to read more about what this new Kid President video could mean for your classroom – along with excellent examples.

3 Questions that Could Change the World from Kid President
3 Questions that Could Change the World from Kid President

The most recent video from Kid President would be a PERFECT lead in to Genius Hour in your classroom.  If, like me,  you are planning for your students to look for their “heartbreaks” to find meaningful topics, then you might want to do a heartbreak map as I mentioned in a previous post.  And then show your students this Kid President video, Three Questions that Could Change the World.  Answering those questions thoroughly could be the foundation of any Genius Hour project.  Kid President is a great role model for following your passion and taking responsibility to make the world a better place, particularly with the Socktober campaign he sponsors every year.

Want more inspirational videos?  Check out my Pinterest Board. Interested in Genius Hour?  Here is my page of resources.

Star S’Mores

This week’s Phun Phriday post is the hilarious Sesame Street parody of Star Wars – Star S’Mores.

Star S'mores from Sesame Street
Star S’mores from Sesame Street

How can Flan Solo keep himself from eating his best friend and partner, Chewy? Watch the video below to find out if Darth Baker has the answer!

The Most Magnificent Book Hack

You may have read my fairly recent post about the adorable book, The Most Magnificent Thing, by Ashley Spires.  This is a fantabulous book to read to your students to foster a Growth Mindset.  And, it ties in super well with my students’ current participation in the Global Cardboard Challenge.

I was looking for some other activities to tie in with the book, and came across an interesting slideshow of pictures of an event that was hosted at the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum during which participants “hacked” the book.  They were given copies of the book and tons of craft material, and told to make what they wanted!

Despite the part of me that abhors destruction of any book, I love this idea.  If any book was made for a book hack, then this one is!  And I am so impressed by the amazing ideas dreamed up by the children.

Book Hack of The Most Magnificent Thing by Marie @kidscanpress.com
Book Hack by Marie of The Most Magnificent Thing @kidscanpress.com

You should also see the book hack that the famous “Property Brothers” of  HGTV did of the book.  If I can believe my aging eyes, it looks like they used Little Bits to make their very cool hack!  (This link takes you to the Facebook video of their hack, so you may not be able to view it at school.)

And, of course, a book hack would not be complete if the author did not participate!  Ashley Spires did her own amazing hack, and you can watch the embedded video below.

This entire concept combines two of my favorite topics in education right now for which you can find even more resources on my Pinterest Boards – Maker Education and Growth Mindset.  Some other great picture books that I’ve featured that support these themes are Rosie Revere, Engineer and Beautiful Oops.