5 Chrome Extensions for Back to School

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Be sure to head over to the Technology Tools for Teachers blog and check out my post about 5 Chrome Extensions that will make your work flow a breeze as you head back to school! Click HERE to take you to that post :)

Join our Tech with Us Facebook Community

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Join our Ed Tech (Tech with Us) FB community to learn, grow and collaborate with educators around the world!

Have you heard about our Tech with Us Facebook community? If not, you might be interested :) I have teamed up with some A-M-A-Z-I-N-G educators to bring YOU a safe and supportive online environment all about ed tech. If you are interested in learning and growing together with educators around the world, come join us by clicking the link in the first sentence.

Each day one of our moderators will lead a discussion, provide tips/tricks and/or offer insights on different topics related to ed tech. Our schedule is as follows:

See it Sunday with Erin Flanagan of Erintegration
Make it On Monday with Sandy Cangelosi of Sweet Integrations and Anita Goodwin of I Live to Learn, I Love to Grow
Tech Talk for Secondary with Danielle Knight of Study all Knight
Whatchamacallit Wednesday with Chad Brinkley aka Tech with Chad
Thirsty for Tech Thursday with Julie Goode Smith of The Techie Teacher
Fun Friday’s with me, Jennifer Kimbrell of Tech with Jen
Saturday Social with Marc McCrae and Matt Caratechea
Whether you are an amateur when it comes to technology or infuse it into your lessons each day, we would love to have you join us!

Using a Google Plus Community for Staff Communication

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Principals, teachers, guidance counselors, tech specialists, maintenance workers, and anyone else I have missed, how do you communicate with your school staff? Are emails constantly flying around? Or do you have a stagnate website? Perhaps your staff just throws important documents into a shared Google folder?

I would like to share with you what I have set up at my schools that has been a HUGE success (at least in my eyes). If your district has GAFE, then I highly suggest creating a Google Plus community for your school. Many conferences that you might attend use a G+ community to communicate and store presentations. Google+ communities are super easy to set up and will dramatically improve the work flow in your school!

Using Google Plus, G+, Communities for Staff Communication in Schools. GAFE

Basically, a Google+ community is like a professional Facebook. You can set up a community for any event or group. Here is a look at some of the communities I belong to:

Using Google Plus Community for Staff Communication in Schools

You can make your school community PRIVATE so only members can see content that is posted. Let's take a look inside of one of my school's communities:

Using Google Plus Community for Staff Communication in Schools

You will notice categories (filters) on the left. When someone makes a "post" they can choose a category to post it to. Think of categories like your file cabinet. You can customize and create as many categories your school might need. Anytime IIIII make a post, I file it under the "Technology" tab. I post announcements, videos, tutorials, links, etc.. Therefore, if someone needs a set of directions I posted, they can quickly sift through their community by clicking on the "Technology" tab to find what they need. You can also "Search" in the Search bar at the top.

People can +1 (an equivalent to a "like") AND comment on posts.

We have all of the teachers set their Google + Community as their home page in Chrome. Therefore, when they launch their browser in the morning the first thing that pops up is the school's community!

You can quickly get to your Google Apps/Drive by clicking the dotted array in the top right hand corner. Everything will all be in ONE place. I love that!

Using Google Plus Community for Staff Communication in Schools

Your staff can be notified of any and all posts via email. Click on the three dots in the upper right hand corner of your school's profile and make sure the community notification toggle is green.

Using Google Plus Community for Staff Communication in Schools

The KEY to G+ communities is getting your administrators on board. When we first launched a G+ community in one of my schools a few years ago the principal was worried people would turn off their notifications or wouldn't keep up with the page feed.

Solution: Get your admin to make "special" announcements at random.
  • Monday at 1:02pm: "JEANS DAY tomorrow!!"
  • Tuesday at 6:55 am: "Special morning treats are waiting for you in the teacher's lounge!"
  • Friday at 12:30pm: "You can leave 15 minutes early today. Happy Friday!"
You just have to get creative and establish a digital community in a fun and appealing way. Teachers want an EASY & ORGANIZED structure and this is it! No more emails flying around. No more searching endlessly for that one document that was sent out months ago.

Above the categories/filters section on the lefthand side is an "About this Community" section. This is where you can put important links. In the example below, the "Mehfoud 2015-2016" link takes the staff to a Google folder that houses every single document one might need. You can add as many links as you would like to appear in this section.

Using a Google Plus Community for Staff Communication. GAFE

When you want to make a post, simply click on the green pencil icon in the lower right hand corner.

You have several options for posts. 

  • Just adding text
  • Adding images/picture gallery
  • Adding text and a link: This integrate beautifully with Google Apps. The cover image of my monthly newsletter populates automatically
Have I convinced you yet????? Ready to set this up for your school? Here are the steps:

*These directions are for the newer version of Google+*

Step 1:
Sign into your Google account and go to Google+. Notice how my name, Julie, appears in the screenshot. If someone has +You instead of their name, they need to click on it and set up their G+ profile. 

Step 2: Click on "Communities" on the left hand side

Step 3: Click the + to create a new community

Step 4: Type in the name of your community. Decide if you want your community to be Public or Private. You cannot change this once you have selected your choice. Click on the arrow to make your selection. I usually switch the toggle to make the community visible on search to help staff members quickly gain access to the community without having to type in everyone's email address (more about this in a minute)

Step 5: Once you are in, click the three dots and go to "Edit Community". Here is where you can upload an image, add links and categories for your community.

Step 6: Share the community url with your staff via email. They will have to request to join. Only moderators can approve requests. The owner of the community (whoever created it) can add moderators by going to the three dots, clicking on "Manage Members" and then clicking the three dots next to their name. *The owner has to grant them access to the community before changing them to a moderator*

That's it! Quick, easy and effective :)

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Projects That Merge the Digital with the Physical

Thursday, June 30, 2016

This post is sponsored by Groupon.

There are a lot of cool projects that a parent or an educator can do with kids that are in the digital realm.  Kids tend to gravitate more towards the digital world today. Although it is great to see young children being tech savvy with their smartphones, tablets and computers, often times they lose out on many possible experiences because they are too busy with their eyes glued to that device.  When they do something, like a digital piece of art or take a photo, it is becoming rare to have a physical item that they can say they made.

Merging the digital world with the physical world. Ideas for turning your digital projects into physical items. Shutterfly on Groupon

A company that can help with bridging that digital divide is Shutterfly. They sell prints made from your digital photo files, as well as books and personalized items.  Their prices are quite good too!  Here are a few inexpensive project ideas that you could do with a single child, small group or your whole class.

      Wall of Selfies

4x6 prints are just a few cents apiece at Shutterfly. If you join their newsletter, you will occasionally get coupon code for 50 free prints or other items.  Take some of those common selfies and have them all printed and mailed back to you.  Then make them into a collage, perhaps with other creative treatments, that can be displayed on a wall.

To add a little educational twist, have students take a selfie with their favorite book (great for advertising reading to their peers), geometric items when studying geometry, items that start with a certain letter sound, etc.

      Custom Book

Shutterfly has simple tools for designing a book complete with photos, artwork and text. You could make books like “What we learned about dinosaurs” or “My Family Vacation” or “About Us” where kids compose a book with something personal about them.  The experience will give them many lessons about graphic design & makes for a special keepsake.


Your students could create a calendar out of artwork or photos that they took themselves. Then they could be sold to raise funds for things such as classroom supplies, trips or for charity.

      Have a photo contest

Have a group of kids take photos, perhaps conforming to a theme/content area, then submit them to you. Then have the group vote on winners. Give the winner a large print of his winning photo, then hang a print on the classroom wall, to be enjoyed by all.

      From crayons to coffee mug

Take a photo of a crayon drawing or painting, then have it made into an inexpensive coffee mug that the child can give to someone. We always need ideas for Mother's Day, Father's Day and Parent Volunteer gifts! Chances are it will become a treasured memento for that special person.

Take a look at their offerings and you will surely come up with dozens of creative ideas for projects. Join their newsletter and take advantage of their sales and Groupon Coupons, to save even more.

Google Activities for the Elementary Classroom and Ways to Distribute Them

Friday, June 17, 2016

Are you a GAFE school and/or possibly going 1:1 this upcoming school year? I hear MANY schools (yes, even elementary!) are getting Chromebooks as well as other devices and there is a great need for meaningful, academic activities that can be completed in Google Drive. Google Drive is great for taking notes, making presentations, graphing and documenting data in spreadsheets, sketching as well as a variety of other amazing, student centered activities. However, every now and then teachers, especially elementary, need activities with a little more structure.

Google digital activities that can be completed in the elementary classroom.

Look no further! Here is a list of my digital products that can be completed in Google Drive and found in my TpT store. There are even some time saving products created just for teachers. Some of these are FREE so be sure to check them out :) Then read on to find out different ways you can distribute these activities to your students. All of my Google products will be 15% OFF through Monday, June 20th!
Google Products
View more lists from Julie Goode Smith

I will be adding a lot more to the list in the next few months!

Often times I get questions from teachers about how they can distribute these digital activities to their students. Well, you have options...

5 ways you can distribute Google digital activities to your students.

If I were a classroom teacher then Google Classroom would be my choice for distributing digital materials to my students. Why? Because you can link in a file and set it to automatically make a copy when the student clicks on the link. Google Classroom sends the file (that is automatically renamed with the assignment name as well as the student's first and last name) straight to a Google Classroom folder in THEIR Drive as well as a folder in the TEACHER'S Drive. Google Classroom is very easy to set up and your students can join by simply entering a code or you can add their email address. *Currently you have to have Google Apps for Education to access Google Classroom*.  HERE are some directions an ITRT in my county put together to help teachers get setup.

Once you have your Google Classroom class set up, be sure the file you want to distribute is in your Drive.
Google digital activities that can be completed in the elementary classroom.

Next, click on "Create Assignment".
Google Classroom for elementary digital activities
This screenshot is from an actual 5th grade Google Classroom. Notice how I could also be a "teacher". Teacher admin privileges are not limited to just one teacher :)

Then type in the name of your assignment and click on the Drive icon.

Google Classroom for elementary digital activities

Locate your file in your Drive and click the blue "Add" button.

Decide if you want a "due" date. Often times I do not include a due date for elementary students since we don't always have access to devices.

Google Classroom for elementary digital activities

Finally, select "Make a copy for each student" from the dropdown menu and click "Assign".

Google Classroom for elementary digital activities

It will then appear in your Google Classroom feed for students to access.

If Google Classroom isn't your "thing" then you can send the assignment straight to your students by sharing with their Google accounts. Many school systems have distribution lists already in place so that you don't have to type each students' Google address into the "Share" box. If you are not aware if you have a distribution list set up for your class, first check "Groups":

Setting up distribution list in Google Apps

Then click "My Groups".

Setting up distribution list in Google Apps

If no group addresses exist, then I would take the time to create a group with all of your student Google addresses. This will save time down the road. Then, whatever you end up naming your group is what you would type in the "Share" box. To share, open the activity you want to send your students and click the blue SHARE button.

Sharing digital activities in Google

If you would like for your students to edit what you are sharing with them, change the "Anyone with the link can..." dropdown to say EDIT. If you just want them to VIEW it, leave it on "can view". Afterwards, type the name of your contact group into the box under "People".
Sharing digital activities in Google

This option works well when you want your students to collaborate on the SAME doc or presentation. However, if you want them to work on their own, they would need to go to File>Make a Copy and rename their file. Then if YOU, the teacher, wanted to see their work, they would have to share it back to you. Whew. Too many steps for me!

Before Google Classroom launched, many of my teachers used Shared folders to distribute and collect work in Drive. You can create and shared a folder with all of your students. Then, whatever you put in that folder will automatically pop up on their end.  Students would need to go to File>Make a Copy if you wanted them to work on their own assignment. They would then need to drop the copy they made back into a shared folder they have with you, the teacher. You could set up folders for each student WITHIN the one shared class folder but this would mean all of the students in the class would have access (code for CAN DELETE) each other's work. Or, students can create a folder to share with the teacher's email address and the teacher only has access to the files. 

Another way to distribute digital Google activities would be to place a link to the product that you set to automatically make a copy when the students clicks the link on your class blog, website, server or Learning Platform. To do this, open your digital activity. Highlight the word "edit" and everything after in the url.

Automatically "Make a Copy" trick

Replace the highlighted text with the word "copy".

Now when the link is clicked, you are prompted to make a copy.
Automatically "Make a Copy" trick

This is how I distribute my Google products to my customers. Once they make a copy and rename it, the product is sent straight to their Drive and I don't have to worry about anyone disrupting my original file. Note: If you choose to use this method with your students, be sure to have them sign into their Google account FIRST. 

Did you know that you can still use Google Apps even if your students do not have accounts? The benefit of this method is that anyone you share the activity link with can view and/or edit without having to login. This is GREAT for those K/1 students who haven't quite mastered typing in their incredibly long username and password. Just set the sharing privileges to anyone with the link can view or edit (depending on what you want them to accomplish) and add the link of the activity to the area your students go to access links/websites you share. If you are having your students edit/manipulate anything on the activity you share, be aware that they will all be on the SAME document working collaboratively. You would have to create a copy for EVERY child and add EVERY link to each copy to your "go to" website/link area if you want each child to work on their own activity. 

Students can manipulate shapes/images as well as add text even though they don't have a Google account. They just can't insert their own images.

If you haven't implemented digital activities in your classroom, I highly encourage you to give it a try!
Implement Digital Activities in your Classroom with Google Drive

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5 End of the Year TECHIE Activities

Monday, May 30, 2016

Be sure to check out my guest post over at Classroom Tested Resources about 5 EASY End of the Year Technology Activities you can use with your students :) Click the image below to take you to the post.

5 Easy End of the Year Digital Technology Activities for Students

10 Things Siri Can Do for Teachers & Students

Saturday, May 28, 2016

10 Things Siri can do in the classroom for you and your students

"Hey Siri!" My husband continues to roll his eyes every time he hears me call my girl. However, I have to be honest...I haven't always used Siri. This is more of a recent habit that I have fallen into, quickly. Every day it seems like I learn something new about what Siri can do. She is one smart cookie!

Have you ever thought about using Siri in the classroom? I use her occasionally on my iPhone; however, why couldn't we use her on our classroom iPads or iPods?

To activate Siri to work on your device(s), simply go to Settings>General>Siri and turn her on! Hold down the home button (what I like to refer to as the belly button) of your device and up pops Siri.

I like to have the "Allow Hey Siri" option ON when using my personal cell phone. This lets me be completely hands free (like when I am driving across the county in between schools) and I can control everything with just MY voice.

I wouldn't have students use this option on school devices unless I was in a one to one classroom.

Here is a list of 10 things that Siri can do for YOU and even your students during your busy days in the classroom.

10 Things Siri can do in the classroom for you and your students

Students can use Siri to help with spelling and definitions of wordsStudents can grab an iPad or iPod Touch and ask Siri to spell words or give definitions for vocabulary terms. This can help assist and promote independence during Writing Workshop, Reading Centers, Vocabulary Development and more. It is also a great tool to use to practice dictionary skills in a more engaging way :)

What to say: "How do you spell ________?" or "What is the definition for ________?"

Use Siri for all kinds of mathematical calculations

That's right teachers! You can have Siri do all of your math while you are on the move. She can add, subtract, multiply and divide. Siri can even convert measurements. Have her figure out a grade percentage (or even tips on a bill when you are out to eat.) This Siri tip is one I would refrain from sharing with my students unless I wanted them to check their work; however, I'm sure they would figure it out in a snap.

Yesterday I had to add up a huge list of numbers so I just read them off to Siri and she did the calculation for me. It was beautiful because my fat fingers often times hit other numbers on my keyboard when I use the calculator app. What I like about using Siri for this is that the final screen shows me all of the numbers calculated as well as the sum.

What to say: "What is 8x7?" or "32 plus 44 plus 22.5 plus 4" or "What's a 20% tip on $92.00?"

Siri can set reminders for you in the matter of seconds
Teachers are constantly on the G-O and don't have much time to stop and write things down. Have Siri set reminders for you. I use this Siri feature all of the time when I am driving and think of things I need to be reminded of throughout my day.  If you are one to one, have students set their own reminders!

What to say: "Remind me tomorrow at 7:30 am to pass out field trip permission slips."

You can even set up location based reminders (you have to enter the addresses in your contacts). This allows you to say things like "Remind me to call Larry when I leave school." As soon as you pull out of the parking lot, DING!

Students and teachers can get Siri to add events to their calendars

Have Siri instantly add events to your calendar. Once you ask her to add an event, you can confirm that all of the details are correct before it is added to your calendar. If you are one to one, have students add their assignment due dates to their own calendar.

What to say: "Add __(event name)__ to my calendar for __(date)__ and __(time)__."

Siri can help assist decision making! Flip a coin or roll a die...
Siri can flip a coin or roll a die! The die can have any number of sides you like: 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 20... This could come in handy when students need a quick way to decide who is going first, speak, etc.

What to say:
"Flip a coin." or "Roll a die with 6 sides."

Siri can be a weather forecaster
Siri can help Pre-K through 1st grade teachers who do calendar time or anyone studying weather. Have her tell you what the forecast will be or what temperature it is outside.

What to say: "What's the temperature outside?" "What is the weather forecast?"

Students can use Siri for research. She will even read aloud the information which is great for younger students!
Invite Siri to help with research, especially with the younger kids. She will even read the information out loud.  

What to say: "When did ______ happen?" or "What was _______?" or "Who was _________?"

Here is one that I need to use more often when I need to focus on specific tasks at work/home! Teachers, tell Siri to not disturb you so you can focus on the joys of being a teacher. You know, writing those lesson plans, filling out report cards, grading assignments...

What to say: "Do not disturb." or "Airplane mode".

Siri can set alarms for you
Have Siri set an alarm for you/your students in seconds. I always had to remember when to send students to the nurse after lunch to take their medicine or brush their teeth. I needed Siri in my life back then.

This really comes in handy when I want to take a quick nap after a long day of work.

What to say: "Set an alarm for____" or "Wake me up at____".

This is different from a reminder because your alarm will ring until you turn it off. Reminders just make one sound when they pop up.

Have Siri refer to you as any nickname: "Mr. Wonderful", "Beautiful", "Mrs. Incredible"
Sometimes teachers just need a little pick me up. Train Siri to call you something like Mrs. Wonderful, Beautiful Goddess, Mr. Heartthrob...it is the small things that can make a teacher smile. "Mrs. Incredible" has already been taken

What to say: "Call me ______ from now on."

*Many students don't know about this one. When you feel like they are outsmarting you, show them this trick!*

So there are 10 ways you can use Siri in your life/classroom! What other ways could teachers and students use Siri?

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