Random Generator Add-On

I’m sure you never do this – spend hours looking for a digital solution for something that would take about 15 minutes manually ;)

But on the off, off, off-chance you have, maybe I can save you some time.

You see, I use a lot of Google Forms.  We are using them for a few club applications this year.  Both clubs are extremely popular, so we have to choose participants with a random drawing.

My need is simple – a tool that will automatically “draw” names from my Google Response sheet without me physically writing them down and putting them in a hat.

There are actually many tools for doing this.  Richard Byrne, for example, recently posted about how to make a random name selector with Google Sheets and Flippity.net.  Alice Keeler has got a great Random Student Chooser Template.

But I don’t really need anything that looks good for the drawings I’m doing; no one will be watching except the club sponsors.

I hit the jackpot when I looked in the “Add-Ons” on my spreadsheet. For those of you who don’t know, some of the Google products offer “Add-Ons” that automate all kinds of things, like making a sudoku puzzle for you.  (Yes, I know it’s sad that Sudoku was my first Add-On for this account.)

Sudoku Add-On

You will find Add-Ons in the menu on the top of Google Sheets next to Tools.  Once you click on it, you can choose, “Get Add-ons,” which will take you to the ones that are offered for Sheets.

Random Generator

Random Generator is free.  At first I didn’t think it would suit my purpose but figured I would try it anyway.  When I realized it would do what I needed, I nearly hugged my computer.

Here are the steps:

Open the Sheet that has information.  (In my case, it was the Responses to my club application.)  After you get the Random Generator Add-On, select a blank column.  Then, go back to Add-Ons and choose Random Generator and start it.  Random Generator will appear on the side.  In the Integer windows, put “1” to “whatever number of applicants you have.”  Then click on “Generate.”  Random numbers will appear in the column and you will instantly know where each person falls in the draw.  You can even select all the columns and sort your spreadsheet by the numbers.

Integers

Screen Shot 2015-09-01 at 8.56.33 PM

But.

That’s.

Not.

All!

Maybe you find the numbers confusing or you don’t even want to bother with sorting them afterward.  Instead, you can use “Custom List” in the Random Generator.  Choose “New List” and select the cells that have the first names in them.  After you’ve got your list, select a new blank column and click on “Generate.” You will have the first names randomly ordered in your column.  And boom, there’s your drawing!

 

Random Generator from List

The potential applications of this are enormous – random job assignments, random dates for bringing a class snack, etc…

Yes, I’m well aware that I could have written the names on pieces of paper and pulled them out one by one in less time than it took me to write this post.

But, what’s the fun in that? ;)

A Growth Mindset Alphabet

I saw this set of posters on Twitter the other day and really liked it.  “Dear Teacher” (@DearTeacherLT) has created the “Motivational ABC’s – Success Mindset Posters,” and sells them for $1.99 on Teachers Pay Teachers.  If you prefer to keep your money in your pocket, there are some free Growth Mindset resources on TPT as well.  Also, check out my Growth Mindset Pinterest Board for even more resources!

Alphabetical Mindset Posters from "Dear Teacher" available on TPT
Alphabetical Mindset Posters from “Dear Teacher” available on TPT

This American Life Educator Resources

“This American Life” is one of my absolute favorite radio programs. Hosted by Ira Flatow, each show is based on a theme.  The productions are amazing, top quality collections of real-life stories that will make you laugh, gasp, and cry.

I just found out “This American Life” has a page of Educator Resources.  You can look up shows by theme or school level. Educators from all over have contributed ways that they have connected different episodes to their curriculum, and there is a direct link to the episodes to which they refer.

If you’ve never listened to this show, I highly recommend you reward yourself with the “Squirrel Cop” episode on a day when you really need a laugh.  You can see what Greg Carsten, a middle school teacher, has to say about a great way to use “Squirrel Cop” in class.

Squirrel Cop
From: This American Life Educator Resources

As always, please preview any episode before playing it for your class!

What’s Underneath the Icing on the Cake…

I saw two amazing cakes this week in my Flipboard magazines that are perfect for Phun Phriday.

First, take a look at this beautiful wedding cake. Then, look at the back of this beautiful wedding cake…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Fabulous, right?  To learn more about the story behind the cake, click here.

Think that’s cool?  Click here to see the secret beneath the icing of this Optimus Prime Cake.  Even my husband was impressed!

Optimius Prime Cake

Happy Phun Phriday!

Zoombinis

A few months ago I gushed about a Kickstarter campaign that promised to bring one of my favorite computer games ever, Zoombinis, to the 21st century.  Due to the success of that campaign, the Zoombinis app is now available on iTunes and Google Play. Windows, Mac, and Kindle Fire versions will be available later this year.

I was excited to download the app a few weeks ago when it finally became available to Kickstarter supporters. Back when we were allowed to download our own software, I had the game in my classroom for my students to play.  I highly respected the logic skills the game promoted, so when my daughter was younger, I bought a version for her to try at home.

My daughter is now 12, and vaguely remembers playing the original game.  I guessed that she would like the app, but I did not predict the high level of engagement that I’ve observed the last few weeks.

The Zoombinis game is all about logic.  Your goal is to get the Zoombinis to their new home, navigating through perilous puzzles along the way.  Each Zoombini has the following attributes that can be mixed and matched: hair, eyes, feet, and noses.  The challenges are based on those attributes.

For example, the Allergy Cliffs have 2 bridges.  If you place a Zoombini on the correct bridge, the little guy will quickly cross.  If it’s the wrong bridge, the cliff sneezes him or her off.  You have to figure out the “rule” for each bridge.  Only blue noses?  Only the ones with glasses?  Carefully test your theories before too many sneezes make you lose some Zoombinis.

AllergyCliffs

There are several different types of puzzles along the journey. If you aren’t good at one, that’s okay; the puzzle remains on that level until you’ve mastered it. Each puzzle is tailored to your skills, so after a few trips to the end you may end up with different puzzles on different levels of difficulty.

mapOne particular favorite is the pizza puzzle.  You must figure out exactly what toppings Arno wants on his pizza.  Children quickly learn that you need to be methodical because random guesses will end up with a Zoombini or two getting booted off the screen.
Pizza

Playing Zoombinis together is a fun way for my daughter and I to bond.  It’s also a great opportunity to model problem-solving skills. One of the most frustrating qualities of the game is also one of the best qualities – very few instructions are given.  Watching a child struggle is never easy, but the way his or her face lights up when solving a Zoombinis problem makes it all worthwhile.

The Zoombinis app is $4.99.  This may seem like an enormous amount for an app, but I guarantee that it’s worth it.  It teaches so many thinking skills and sustains interest for a very long time.  If you are a teacher or a parent of multiple children, you will be happy to know that different students can save games on the same iPad so their progress won’t be lost.

This game is cute, fun, and educational.  What are you waiting for? Download it today!

 

The Serious Business of Play

At the intersection of art and science, you will find 3M’s recent Rube Goldberg Machine video.

It is a masterpiece that proves that logic and creativity are not mutually exclusive.

Play-is-serious-business

 

Crowd Mics

Raise your hand if you teach in a portable.

Why aren’t you raising your hand?

Oh, you can’t hear me.  

WHY CAN’T YOU HEAR ME?

Oh yes, because of the deafening roar of the air conditioner, which will sooner or later be replaced by the deafening roar of the heater.

No problem.  I can talk louder.

CAN YOU TALK LOUDER? 

Various versions of the above conversation happen daily in my classroom.  I was spoiled by having a sound system in my last school and I have been looking for a low-cost alternative ever since I moved into my portable classroom 4 years ago.

I think I may have found a solution – at least for those of you who have a couple of mobile devices you would be willing to dedicate to the cause.

Crowd Mics is a free app available on iTunes and Google Play.  The concept is simple.  Download the app on two different devices.  One device will be the receiver, and you will need to plug a good speaker into the headphone jack.  The other device will be the microphone.

Open the app connected to your speaker and create an event as a presenter.  You don’t have to log in, although that is an option. Make a 3-digit password that microphone users will enter when they join your event.  Choose if you want people to use the microphone whenever they want (Open Mic) or if you want to give them permission first (Select Mic).

The microphone device needs to be using the same wi-fi network as the receiver.  Open Crowd Mics on the microphone device and choose the event you created and enter  the 3-digit password.

Press down on the indicated area of your screen and speak.

Crowd Mics

If you have the same good fortune that shined on me, the microphone voice will be amplified so everyone in the room can hear it.

The free version of Crowd Mics will work with up to 5 “microphone” devices. If you are a frequent presenter at large conferences, you might want to look at the paid version for larger crowds.

Some caveats: this won’t work through bluetooth (the speaker must be plugged into the headphone jack) and both microphone and receiver must be on the same wi-fi network.  Also, this will only sound as good as your speakers.  I tried it with one of my small, portable speakers and could barely hear a thing at top volume. When I plugged the receiver iPad into my classroom speakers, however, the magic happened.

This solution is only low-cost if you have the equipment already.  My plan is to have an iPad/microphone at each table so it doesn’t have to be passed around, and other apps can still be used during class. Since construction is about to start right outside my window, I hope this plan works!

Great Minds Don't Think Alike!

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