Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Google Apps for Education Part 3 - Google Forms

Google Forms is a great tool to gather all types of information from students. This is a Google App that does not have a corresponding Microsoft product. Essentially, Google Forms is software that allows you to easily create a form, have people fill it out, and then the data is sent directly to a Google Spreadsheet (like Excel). Our school has used this in administrative ways as well as an assessment tool in the classroom. As a school, we have had high school students register for elective classes, put in lunch requests for a trip, register for our Open House, etc. The possibilities are endless; just think of a situation where you want to gather information from a lot of people and this is a great option.

Teachers can use this tool in different ways. You can send a form to your students the day before school as a "get to know you" activity so you can come into class the first day with some information about your students. You can give entire homework assignments with short answer, multiple choice, true/false and matching questions. You can flip your classroom and give the students a video to watch and hold them responsible for the content by requiring them to answer a few questions on the video. The best part of all is that all the information goes into one simple spreadsheet.

If you want to get a little fancier, a few months ago Google Forms began allowing you to embed a youtube video within a form. So now you can create a video and have it along with the homework questions all within the same link. CLICK HERE to see an example I recently did in my 12th grade class. See below for a few examples of how other teachers have used Google Forms in their classroom.

How will you know if someone filled out a form? Either you can check your Google Drive file every day, or you can turn on notifications and get an email any time the form is filled out. To set this up, go into the backend Google Spreadsheet that is created (see videos below), go to tools, Notification rules, and choose how and when you want to be notified.

To learn how to create Google Forms, watch the two videos below:

Examples of other teachers using Google Forms
1.  Student Reading Log
2. Sample Form to Track an Assignment
3. 80 + Google Forms for the Classroom
4. 74 Interesting Ways to Use Google Forms in the Classroom

Other Resources
1. 6 Things You Might Not Have Know You can Do in Google Forms
          a. Youtube video
          b. Print Version
2. Webinar on Advanced Forms
3. Innovative Ideas for Using Google Forms
4.  80 Interesting Ways to Use Google Forms in the Classroom
5. How to Use Google Forms to make self-grading quizzes

Links to Previous Videos
1. How to Create a Screencast
2. How to Create a Screencast from an iPad
3. Introduction to Gmail (by Aaron Fleksher)
4. Google Calendar (by Aaron Fleksher)
5. Google Drive #1

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Living in the Clouds: Google Apps for Education Part 2

HALB has successfully migrated to Google and we are getting comfortable with the Gmail platform for email, many of us are enjoying the features of Google Calendar, and we have even begun to learn about Chrome extensions. (I hope to write more about this in the future). In my previous posting, I talked about Google Drive and the concept of saving our work in the cloud. As I walk the halls of our campuses, I am beginning to hear people talk about Google Drive and sharing and collaborating with each other on the Drive. In this posting, I want to talk about three Google Apps: Docs, Spreadsheets and Presentations.

Google Docs is Google's web version of Microsoft Word, Google Spreadsheets is Google's web version of Microsoft Excel, and Presentation is Google's version of Microsoft Powerpoint. What this means is that you can enjoy the benefits of these programs without having to save your work on your hard drive. You can create a Google (Word) Doc in the cloud while on a school computer, then pick up where you left off on your home computer, tablet or smartphone. Similarly, you can create a spreadsheet on Spreadsheets or a slideshow on Presentation and open in on any computer in the world with internet access. No more need for emailing attachments or carrying around flash drives that can get corrupted. You simply save it in on your Google Drive and it is there whenever you want it.

But more important than the accessibility, is the collaborative features of Google Apps. You can create a Doc and share it with your colleagues or students. This allows them to open the same document (even at the very same moment) and work on it with you. If you have to create a spreadsheet and then share it with colleagues, now you can do that in a way they can make changes to the very same document. Do you want your students to produce creative Powerpoint Presentations? Now they can work on a project together even while they are each in their own homes. They simply login to Drive, share the presentation with each other and they are instantly working on the same presentation at the same time.

Another great reason to use Google Apps is that the software is universal, it is web based and accessible to everyone. Now PC users and Mac users do not have to worry about having compatible software. They can each login to Google Drive and utilize these apps from any type of computer, tablet or smart phone. In fact, after purchasing a Macbook a few months ago, I have yet to purchase any software simply because most of the day to day tasks can be done on Google Apps.

To be honest, I am not trying to rid the world of Microsoft Office programs. The Google Apps are not as robust and do not have all of the special Microsoft features. But I challenge you to move to Google Apps for a month and show me what these apps are missing. I would bet most of you will be able to work with Google Apps without missing a beat. Go for it and prove me wrong.

Here are three Screen casts that walk you through these Apps:

1. Google Docs Part 1: Creating and Collaborating
2. Google Docs Part 2: More on Collaborating and Sharing
3. Google Sheets and Presentations

1. Google Apps User Guides
2. Google Docs in the Classroom - Simple as ABC
3. Table of Contents in a Google Doc
4. 12 Roles for Google Drive in the Classroom
5. Everything Teachers Need to Know about Google Spreadsheets
6. 15 Great Google Tutorials for Teachers

Links to Previous Videos
1. How to Create a Screencast
2. How to Create a Screencast from an iPad
3. Introduction to Gmail (by Aaron Fleksher)
4. Google Calendar (by Aaron Fleksher)
5. Google Drive #1

Monday, November 11, 2013

Living in the Cloud: Google Apps for Education - Part 1

It used to be a disparaging comment if someone accused you of "living in the clouds," but today it is considered best practice to do so. What does it mean to "live in the cloud?" Essentially, it means that instead of storing your digital files on your physical computer (hard drive), you are saving them up in cyberspace. One of the most popular cloud based storage services is Google Drive. Every Google/Gmail user has a free account with Google Drive, where you can upload and store all of your files. In addition, there is a collection of apps that you can use in place of Microsoft Word or Excel. These are called Google Docs and Google Sheets. Although there are several other cloud based services (Dropbox being another popular one) that can accomplish the same thing, we will focus on Google as HALB has recently turned into a Google Apps for Education School.

Why would you want to "live in the cloud?"
         a. You can access your files from anywhere in the world with a computer with internet connection.
         b. You can share and collaborate with other people on docs, forms, and the like.
         c. Your work is saved automatically. (No more "save" button.). If your computer dies, your files do not die with it.
         d.  It is Free
         e. No mores email attachments, no more flash drives

The screencast below will walk you through the steps of setting up your Drive, organizing it with folders and subfolders, and how to upload your files to the drive. Look at it this way. You no longer need to save files on your actual computer, just upload them to Google Drive and then access the files from any computer anywhere.

But it gets one step better. Google Drive has a desktop platform so that you can install it on your home computer and on your classroom computer (you might need IT help to do this in school). Then you can create a file (Word, Notebook Software, Powerpoint, etc.) at home and it automatically appears in your classroom computer. No need for flash drives that can get lost or corrupted and no need for emailing yourself the attachments.

CLICK HERE to watch a video that will walk you through this process.

Here are some other Google resources that might be helpful for you.

1. In my networking with other educators throughout the country, I came across an educator by the name of Alice Keeler. (Follow her on Twitter @alicekeeler). She is a Google expert and has a great website with "How to" videos and blog postings that talk about everything Google. This is her website

2. Tech for Teachers - more videos on using Google Drive -

3. For those of you who do better with written directions, here is a link to the Google website where they outline all of the features and the "how to" with Google Drive.

Links to Previous Videos
1. How to Create a Screencast
2. How to Create a Screencast from an iPad