Friday, December 19, 2014

Awesome Chrome Features You Probably Aren't Using

Hi all!

The following is a post I wrote for Synergyse, a company that focusses on Google Apps training.


Awesome Chrome Features You Probably Aren’t Using

When I became a Google Certified Teacher, my daily production was still done primarily in Microsoft Office. I made the decision, at that time, that all of my new productivity would be done in Drive. I would still use the old Office documents, if needed, but create new in Drive.

And I haven’t looked back!

Now, only 3 years later, all of my productivity, with the exception of video creation and editing, is done in Google Drive. Furthermore, my browser of choice is Chrome for the simple reason that Google products work best with Google products. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

My computer doesn’t have near the issues that some of my colleagues experience because, for the majority of the day, the only application I have running is the Chrome web browser. I can access my email, my calendar, create documents, create and manage websites, blog...nearly everything I need to do on a daily basis within one application.

Life is simpler.

And more powerful! I’m going to share with you some things you can do with Chrome that you might not be using. You might have heard about them, but remember that champions don’t need to be told what to do, just reminded!

The Omnibox
The Omnibox is Chrome’s all-in-one search engine and address bar. They must have known that it drove me nuts to see a person type an address into a Google Search bar. Chrome will know what you want to do.

But there is so much more the Omnibox can do, and here are just a few examples:

Search Drive
Install the extension OmniDrive from the Chrome Web Store

Type “Drive” then tab/space and type your query

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 2.51.34 PM.png

Search Gmail
Right-click on the Omnibox and select “Edit Search Engines”
Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 2.55.25 PM.png

In the window that opens, scroll down to “Other Search Engines” and click “Add a New Search Engine. In the boxes, from left to right, enter

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 2.56.01 PM.png

To search your Gmail, in the Omnibox type “gml” and hit Tab or Space. Your Omnibox will change:

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 2.56.33 PM.png

Type your query in the Omnibox and a your Gmail will open with those search results.

Do Math
Enter your calculation

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 3.09.56 PM.png

...and your answer will appear!

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 3.10.06 PM.png

Set A Timer

Via Google Search

Type “Set timer for “x” minutes/seconds

Screen Shot 2014-11-21 at 11.13.21 AM.png

You will then get a timer pop up! It will start automatically, but you can stop, start, and reset as needed!

Screen Shot 2014-11-21 at 11.12.53 AM.png

Via Omnibox Timer
Install the extension from the Chrome Web Store

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 3.19.56 PM.png

Type “tm” into the Omnibox followed by Tab or Space

Screen Shot 2014-11-21 at 11.32.38 AM.png

Type in the desired time, press the return key and you will be alerted when time is up!

Screen Shot 2014-11-21 at 11.33.21 AM.png

Extensions are small “programs” that are installed into Chrome that increases the functionality and productivity of the browser. These have made me more productive by bringing more power to my creative environment.

While there are several that can be installed from the Chrome Web Store, here are the ones I use on a daily basis:

This extension will alert me if I have any new mail and, with one simple click, will open a new tab with my inbox displayed.

Save to Google Drive will allow me to save websites, pictures, or other web content right to my Google Drive and bypass my computer all together. Even cooler is that I can right-click on the content and “Save to Google Drive” will be an option!

No one likes an email, document, or anything that has a link that is a gazillion characters long. When I click this extension, the active URL is shortened to a nice version and I can copy it to my clipboard. I can then paste it into an email, document, or simply display it. It also creates a QR code that I can take a screenshot of and insert into websites, presentations, and more.

Tab Scissors gives you two active windows on one screen. This is awesome because I can be reading a website or watching a YouTube video on one side and typing notes on a Google Doc on the other.

All of this coolness is not just for teachers; these are great for students as well! My high school just went 1:1 with Chromebooks last year and we have been showing students these same features. Get them using Chrome beyond searching and addresses and they will be more productive in their classes and quality digital citizens.

Have a happy day!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Increase Student Engagement With Google Apps

Hi all!

The following post is one I wrote for Synergyse, a company that specializes in Google Apps training, and their blog. Check them out!

Increase Student Engagement With Google Apps

Technology integration can become stalled when teachers and coaches focus solely on the subject area. Further, by necessity, many professional learning sessions are given to the entire, multi-discipline staff, and either the content becomes too thin or subjects get left out. It can become very easy for some teachers to say Google Apps is not a natural fit with what they teach.

But there are topics that are applicable in every classroom and I am going to focus on one of those: Student Engagement.

I subscribe to the idea that engagement is defined as “students speaking, writing, creating...DOING!” In other words, being polite and compliant does not mean the student is engaged. When students are actively involved in the learning, and it is visible, then it can be said that they are engaged. According to John Hattie, in his book Visible Learning, engagement has been identified to have an effect size of .48 on student achievement. Anything over a .4 is considered “significant.”

So how can Google Apps be used to increase student engagement? As it turns out, quite simply and powerfully! I am an instructional coach in a Google Apps district and I am going to share with you a few practices I have seen in our classrooms.

Google Drawings

I have found the creation of Graphic Organizers to be one of the best use of Google Drawings. I, and many of my teachers, still utilize lecture for some instruction and like to have a slide deck as an accompaniment. In order to get students taking notes (writing) and understanding how the pieces fit together, graphic organizers are tremendous tools! I will go through my slide deck and create a flow-chart, using Google Drawings, with headings that match the presentation.

Below, you can see a simple graphic organizer that I made for an instructional theory class I teach.

Now, it is very easy to just print it off and let students put pen to paper, and that is just fine! However, if you have the technology, you can utilize less paper and have students complete it using a device. Here’s how:

  1. Give the students access to the document by either linking it to your website, the Google Template Gallery, or via Google Classroom. It is not necessary to share the document with the students.

  1. The student will open the view-only document and make a copy of their own by selecting “Make a Copy” from the “File” menu.

  1. Now, in the student’s copy, they will be able to double-click in the boxes and type directly into the document. There is no need to add text-boxes! Just click and type!

Google Slides

The best part of Google Apps is the simplicity in sharing documents. With Google Slides, teachers can make available a copy of their slide deck so that students can follow along with the lecture. However, just clicking along is not enough to be engaged. Here are three methods I have seen in my teachers’ classes:

  1. The teacher makes a view-only copy available to students via a website, email, Google Template Gallery, or Google Classroom.

  1. Students then make an editable copy for themselves (from the “File” menu) and take notes in the “Presenter’s Notes” at the bottom of the window.

Even Cooler:
  1. The teacher makes a view-only copy available to students via a website, email, Google Template Gallery, or Google Classroom.

  1. Students then make an editable copy for themselves (from the “File” menu) and use the “Insert Comment” feature to add notes to the slide deck.

The Coolest:
  1. The teacher makes a copy of their own Google Presentation and takes out key words on every slide. This new copy is the “Student Copy.” They then make available a view-only copy of the student version via a website, email, Google Template Gallery, or Google Classroom.

  1. Students then make an editable copy for themselves (from the “File” menu) and simply fill in the blanks as the teacher lectures.

These practices can be applied to other Google Apps as well and all get the students DOING something during a lecture. Get kids involved and active and they will learn more and enjoy learning more!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Time On Task: A New Perspective

Full disclosure...I might be late to the party here. But I had a "mental model" totally redesigned the other day.

I am a HUGE New Orleans Saints fan and I watch the weekly press conferences of the coaches and quarterback, Drew Brees, almost religiously. Last week, I was watching Drew's press conference and a reporter asked him if he feels more comfortable, the further he gets in his career, with putting passes in tight coverage or places that other quarterbacks might not even try. Here was his answer:

(video via

What struck me was how he addressed "Time On Task."

Historically, I think it is safe to say, teachers and administrators have defined this as the student "doing what he/she is supposed to be doing." We have techniques to quantify "time on task" that instructional coaches, administrators, and teachers use in the classroom. But Drew talked about "Time On Task" as a joint effort between him and his receivers. It wasn't just about his receivers, but it was about him, as well!

"We've had a lot of time on task..."

That made me think about Anita Archer and her ideas regarding instructional procedures and scaffolding. She addresses this here:

(video via Utah Personnel Development Center)

Notice that she references the "I Do/We Do/You Do" method of scaffolding. The last time I saw her in person, she made the point that the "We Do" is the most important part of that method. She said we should spend more time on the "We Do" than the others. This is much like Drew Brees talking about his relationship with his receivers.

Teaching and learning are partnerships. "Time on Task" is not just about behavior. It is about the time the teacher and student spend together working with the content. Too often, teachers move quickly from the "I Do" and go straight to the "You Do" and get frustrated by the lack of performance.

Maybe there is something we can learn from a future Hall of Fame quarterback.

Have a happy day!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Digital Citizenship Week 2014

Hi all!

Last week was Digital Citizenship Week and below is the video I made for our students' weekly 1:1 lesson.

In the video, I take exception to the phrase "Digital Citizenship" because it seems to infer that we should behave differently with technology than we do without. Further, schools are all asking "Where do we teach Digital Citizenship? Where should we? Who is responsible?"

To me, it should be "citizenship." This then begs the question "Where do you teach 'citizenship' in schools? The answer is "EVERYWHERE." Technology is now an inseparable part of our everyday life, so if you teach "citizenship" it is your responsibility to address "digital citizenship." If your students are using technology, it is your responsibility to be sure they are using it safely, respectfully, responsibly, and correctly.

As Abraham Lincoln said in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, "Be excellent to each other!"

Have a happy day!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Chromebook 101: Getting More Productivity Out Of Your Chromebook

Hi all! The following video hits some areas that would help to get more productivity out of your Chromebook. It was made for my school's students and teachers.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

ITIP of the Week: Increase Student Engagement with THINK-INK-LINK



Last week, I told  you about the Yes/No/Why and how it can be a powerful writing/engagement activity. This week, I am going to tell you about its close relative...


Here are the rules for THINK/INK/LINK

1. Provide a prompt. Give the students something to write about.

2. Students SILENTLY think for a given amount of time. I usually use 30 seconds to a minute and students cannot write anything. This is time to just wrap their brains around their answer.

3. Students write their answer in NO MORE than TWO COMPLETE SENTENCES using ACADEMIC LANGUAGE. Again, I give them no more than a minute. Set a timer on both this and the second step!

4. Students then get up from their seats, find a partner, and take turns reading their answers VERBATIM!

Here's the rationale for this simple, yet powerful, activity:

• Students are writing! Not everything has to be an essay or long journal entry.

• Two sentences using academic language are far more powerful than a page of rambling slang, yes?

• Students are learning to think before they act. We could all learn from this.

• By having them read their answers verbatim, students are then SPEAKING in complete sentences. This doesn't happen too often, does it?

• By moving out of their seat and finding a partner, blood is moving from their caboose back up to their brain.

Try it out! I know you will love the results!

Have a happy day!

Monday, August 18, 2014

iTIP of the Week: Increase Student Engagement With "Yes-No-Why"

Hi all!

Engagement = Students writing, speaking, creating, DOING!

This is how we define engagement in my school district. It can also be defined as "visible learning." Engagement has been, historically, defined incorrectly as politeness. As long as they are looking at me, they are engaged.

Now, we know better!

Every week, I will be offering some simple and effective techniques that will help increase student engagement in your classroom. Let's get started with...


1. Pose a debatable Yes/No question.

2. Provide "think-time" for the student to formulate their position. Allow no writing, no talking...just silent thinking. You choose the time allotment. Set a timer and stick to it!

3. Have the students write their answer in no more than 1-2 COMPLETE sentences. Give them about a minute to write. Again, set a timer and stick to it!

4. Students Pair/Share their responses. Have them read their answer VERBATIM! This can be with a shoulder partner or have them walk around the room to find a partner. You decide what works best for your situation.

By having them write in complete sentences and then share their responses verbatim, you are getting them to speak in complete sentences. This is something they don't do often. Writing is also visible learning!

This technique can work in any classroom, promotes writing across the curriculum, and puts them at the upper level of Bloom's Taxonomy. By having the "why" component, the activity automatically becomes an evaluation question. 

Give it a go!

Have a happy day!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Google Classroom How Tos

Hi all!

Here is my playlist for my instructional videos on using Google Classroom. Enjoy!

And here is my Slidedeck, if that is more your style...

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Last Few Months...

Hi all!

I have been quiet, but the school year was wrapping up and things get very hectic. You know how it is! Here are some highlights of the last few months and some things I have been geeking-out over:


This is an awesome web-tool that makes formative assessment FUN! You can create your own "quiz" or choose from the large number of those already created. It is device agnostic and runs like a quiz show. Kids are given "kahoots" (points) for answering correctly and quickly so the competition really ramps up. At the end of the game, the teacher can download the data of the students' achievement and use it to inform their future instruction. Kahoot! has been used by my teachers from 6th - 12th grade and the kids LOVE IT!

Here is Kahoot! being used in a 7th Grade Science classroom:

Here is the YouTube channel for Kahoot!

Google Leadership Symposium

On Good Friday, I had our region's Google rep contact me wanting to collaborate with my school district. They wanted us to host a Google Leadership Symposium where approximately 80 school leaders would come together and talk about technology and revolutionizing the classroom. So, in 3 weeks, we designed, organized, and hosted the symposium. It was an exciting event and we received a lot of good feedback. Here is the site for the event!

Kearney Public Schools Summer Technology Courses

My colleagues and I are currently watching over our district's Summer Technology Classes. We are in charge of designing, scheduling, and supervising this event. This is two weeks of learning and sharing that has become a valuable part of the culture at Kearney Public Schools. Teachers can take classes for pay or credit through University of Nebraska-Kearney. Here are our offerings this year:

  • 21st Century Learning/Technology Integration
  • Quizlet
  • Beginning Google Apps
  • Intermediate Google Apps
  • Advanced Google Apps
  • Google Chrome
  • Beginning Google Sites
  • ePortfolios
  • Moodle
  • Safari Montage
  • Tech Tools for Formative Assessment
  • Mimio
  • iPads in the Elementary Classroom
  • iPads in the Secondary Classroom
  • iBooks Author
  • Kidspiration
  • YouTube
  • ...and more!
I hope you have an awesome summer! I will still be here sharing cool things I am learning and using. ON TO ISTE 14!

Have a happy day!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Chromebook 101: Email Etiquette

Hi all!

My high school went 1:1 with Chromebooks this past January. As the Learning Coach, it is my responsibility to provide professional development for both teachers and students. Every Monday, I provide teachers with a different lesson to share with students regarding their Chromebook and how they can use it safely, respectfully, responsibly, and effectively.

I figured I should share this will all of you!

Today's Topic: Email Etiquette

Here is an article on email etiquette you might want to share with your students as well:

Have a happy day!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Google Docs & MLA Format Are Like Peas and Carrots

Hi all!

Since we have gone 1:1 with Chromebooks, and embraced Google Apps, we are providing learning opportunities for both staff and students.

The following two videos address how to format your papers, using Google Docs, in the MLA format. It is different than working in another word processing application, so we felt it would be a teachable moment for all.

Setting Up Your Paper

Page Numbers In The Outline

I hope these videos help you out!

Have a happy day!

Friday, January 24, 2014

What Are We Doing 1:1 After Three Weeks?

It's Friday!

We, here at Kearney High School, are just completing our third week of 1:1 with Chromebooks. I have been in some classrooms and have seen the awesome things happening for myself and I have also polled the staff on what they are doing.

Based on their answers, I categorized the usage and here is the list so far:

Chromebook Uses

  • Class Websites (Google Sites, School Fusion)
  • Learning Management Systems (Moodle, Schoology,  School Fusion)
  • Gmail (Large increase since 1:1)

  • Google Docs Projects
  • Discussion Boards

  • Theatre Project utilizing YouTube and Google Docs to summarize each chapter and how it relates to a given play.

Critical Thinking
  • Google Search (Having it “at the ready”)
  • Real time data analysis in science classes

  • Graphic Organizers (Google Drawing)
  • Guided Notes (Template Gallery/Make a Copy)
  • Shared Slide Decks

Instructional Input
  • Online Textbooks
  • Desmos graphing program
  • GeoGebra

Formative Assessment


  • Google Forms with Flubaroo script
  • Moodle
  • Infuse Learning/Socrative

This is a great start! We only asked our teachers to consider the Substitution level of the SAMR Model for technology integration and so many of them have cleared that hurdle by a mile! I can't wait to see where we go from here!

Have a happy day!