Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Bookmarking Documents

Did you know... That since all things created with Google Apps For Education (GAFE) are web based, they all have a URL associated with them?

This has many possibilities, but one way to easily access your documents is to add them to your bookmark bar. While you can star items in Google Drive so that you can find important documents with ease, if its something you will be using frequently, you can also add them directly to your bookmark bar, and just click on the bookmark tab to open the document or folder.

You can bookmark an individual document or an entire folder. You could bookmark a folder that has all of your class assignments in it, or all of your OTES documents, or an individual spreadsheet that you use to record student participation. With these documents or folders in your bookmark bar, you won't need to open Google Drive and search for those items.

This idea was showcased in the latest issue of Westerville's "Sharing Science" here.

Below is a short video that walks you through how to add, delete and organize the bookmarks in your bookmark bar.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Supporting Communication in your Classroom and School

In the last post about communication with parents and students I wrote about reasons to have a webpage.  This post is going to showcase another great communication tool called Remind. Remind allows a teacher or school to contact their students and parents through texts.  One of the important features to know about Remind is the teacher sending the text does not see the student cell number and the student does not see the teachers cell number. Another great feature is the ability to schedule posts in advance for a future date or time. These along with a few more features are available for free for teachers and schools and only takes a minute to set up.

Top ten messages to send through Remind:
1. Remind students of an upcoming test or quiz.
2. Remind students about a homework due date.
3. Send positive life messages to students.
4. Send event updates including sporting, drama, club, etc events.
5. Send schedule changes to teams and clubs.
6. Ask parents to volunteer for events or activities.
7. Remind Staff about meetings.
8. Send messages to cancel an event.
9. Send a quick voice message.
10. Send professional development opportunities to your staff.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Westerville Teacher Web Pages

As I meet and work with students at the beginning of the year I am reminded how important it is for teachers to spend time creating and supporting communication in their classrooms. There is no substitute for a teacher to meet and interact with a student or parent face to face but I would like to offer suggestions how we can support this process using a few technology tools. 
The first tool I would like to offer teachers is the creation of a teacher webpage. In Westerville City Schools we have the choice to create a webpage using the district teacher webpage creator or an outside creation tool like Google Sites. Either way, creating a classroom webpage is an excellent way to support communication with your students and parents. 
10 reasons to host a classroom web page:
1. About Me - Create a paragraph or two about yourself.  Students and parents love to know a little bit about you.
2. Contact Information - At the minimum every teacher can provide their email account.  Email accounts are already posted online so placing it on your webpage makes it a couple clicks easier for students to reach out for help.
3. Calendar - Using Google Calendars gives teachers a place to post due dates and classroom events as well as a link for parents to follow the calendar.
4. Classroom Expectations - This should be posted in the classroom and on your webpage.  Communicating to students and parents our expectations is vital to maintaining open communication.
5. Homework Policies - Do you specific ways your students need to turn in homework.  Post the process to your site.  This helps parents understand how the classroom operates and allows them to support your classroom.
6. Forms and Handouts - This can be beginning of the year Forms that need completed and returned to newsletters to homework sheets.  
7. Announcements - Announcements should be a summary or description of upcoming events and can be linked in your Calendar.
8. Class News - Post items about your classroom.  What we did today, topics we are working on or anything positive about the classroom and your students.  This is another great way for parents to feel more in tune with what is going on in the classroom.
9. After School Care information or Homework Help Lines - Information for parents about district provided after school programs including care and homework hotlines.  This can also include community programs.
10. Links to technology and digital resources - We all have our favorite web resources.  Give students and parents an easy place to find the resources we use inside and outside our classrooms.

This is a short list and there are more reasons to maintain a classroom webpage but this is a good start.  What are your reasons for maintaining a teacher webpage? Over the coming days I will continue to offer additional digital tools to support teachers communication process.  As always, contact your WCSOH EdTech Coach for more information.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

New Tools Available for Read Write for Google App

Read and Write for Google has launched two new tools! 

As many of you know, Read Write for Google has been purchased and is now available for all staff and students in Westerville City Schools.  The tool can be accessed on any device that is internet capable - either at home or at school. The tool will be accessible when anyone in the Westerville Google domain logs into a Chrome browser with their long email or student account, no downloading necessary! The first time they login, the teacher or student will be prompted to click "accept". Please do this so that the program has permission to operate. This tool will constantly run on the URL bar, as long as you are on your computer and logged in.

New Tools:

Voice Notes - it permits you and/or your students to create an audio file on a document in two clicks. This is great for teachers that are collecting classwork online. Rather than writing out their feedback, they provide a simple 1 minute audio clip. Super easy! Here is a 2 minute video to demonstrate the tool and what it looks like. 

Word Prediction for Internet use!
This tool permits a student to utilize the word prediction feature that is and has been a part of Read and Write for Google. However, now students may use the tool when typing online or into a website. Here is a short 2 minute video demonstrating this tool and how it can be used for your students. 

Contact your Technology Integration Coaches in your building if you have Read and Write for Google questions. Don't forget that the kids can use this at home and even on their mobile devices!