- 169 Tech Tip #116–How to Take Screenshots
- 169 Tech Tip #115–Three-click Rule
- Bring an expert to your classroom for Black History Month
- Edit and Share Videos Like a Rock Star
- How Tech is Part of my Education, Through the Eyes of a Student
- How to Prepare for the SAT Essay
- How to Use Google Apps
- Touch Typing Basics from KidzType (an infographic)
- What’s a Digipuzzle?
- What parents should ask teachers about technology
No one disagrees with the importance of the visual in communicating. The problem usually is creating it. Most teachers aren’t adept at matching colors, picking fonts and font sizes, and then laying everything out artistically. It’s much easier to use text with a few pictures tossed in and leave the artistry for the art teacher. When Microsoft Publisher came out over twenty-five years ago, it was the first major desktop publishing effort to blend layout, colors, and multimedia that was accessible to everyone. Unfortunately, it was (and continues to be) an expensive piece of software not traditionally included in Microsoft’s Office Suite (though that changed with Office 365). That meant MS Publisher skills learned at school were rarely transferrable to a home environment.
Canva changes that. It’s web-based (including apps available for iPads and Chromebooks) with a drag-and-drop functionality that makes the design process simple and intuitive. You can create professional presentations, posters, multi-page documents, marketing materials, social media graphics, and more (see the list below for education) using Canva’s more than 1 million photos, icons, and layouts, each with colors and fonts coordinated into attractive schema easily accessed by both beginners and reluctant designers. There’s no cost when using the thousands of free illustrations and images in the Canva library or uploading your own. For a small fee (usually $1.00), more than one million professional stock images and graphics can be used on a pay-per-use basis.
Educators: Visit Canva for Education to get how-tos, lesson plans, and teacher-oriented advice. One of my favorite features: Student designs can be shared, allowing teachers to view and add comments.
Once a template is selected, many projects can be completed in five minutes:
- edit text
- add relevant pictures
Here’s how it works:
- Sign in with your Google account or create a separate Canva account (must be 13 or over unless directly supervised by an adult).
- Select one of the over fifty-six categories such as presentations, posters, greeting cards, infographics, and cover pages.
- Select a category template that fits the project.
- Replace text and images.Optionally change colors, size, layering, and more.
- Extras include:
- themed elements
- more text
- more images
- your own uploaded images
If you have never designed graphically before, start with the free Design School with how-to instructions on many projects and skillsets. There’s even a pithy collection of lesson plans. Follow the directions for the project as you create your own.
My daughter just bought her first house (though it went on hold several times as the Navy threatened/offered to move her). We wanted a simple way to share a ToDo list that would be available on phones, iPads, and computers, and would auto-update with our ideas. I looked at a variety of options, but found something wrong with each of them.
Until I found Google Keep. It is marketed as a note-taking app — which it is — but trades sophisticated note-taking tools (like formatting) for simplicity. It is similar to iPhone Notes, but with more options, more visual, syncs across all devices, and allows collaboration. You can add thoughts by typing or speaking (mobile devices only), as a narrative note or a bullet list, and include images from your collection, your camera roll, or by taking one with the native camera (mobile devices only). The title is auto-formatted to stand out from the rest of the note. You can organize notes by category or color, search for a particular note, pin the most important to the top, and re-arrange the collection by dragging-dropping. As in Google Reminders, you can set a location-based reminder to pull up your grocery list when you get to the store or a time-based reminder to make sure you never miss a parent conference.
It requires a Google account and — as with other Google Apps — the amount of space you get for saved notes depends upon your Google Drive size. It works on iOS, the web, Chrome (with an add-on), and Android.
- End-of-year Tech Tips: Update Your Online Presence
- End-of-Year Tips: Image and Backup Digital Devices
- End of Year Tips: 22 Steps to a Speedier Computer
- How to Teach with Videos
Try them out–post a comment if you need help. I’ll be here.
Since I started this blog five years ago, I’ve had over 4.8 million visitors to the 1,454 articles I’ve written on integrating technology into the classroom. This includes how to use wikis or blogs in the classroom and what I’ve learned from my students as we got through another tech week. I have regular features like:
- Weekly Websites and Tech Tips (sign up for the newsletter)
- Dear Otto Help Column
- Edtech Reviews
- Lesson plans
If you’ve just arrived at Ask a Tech Teacher, start here.
It always surprises me what readers find to be the most and least provocative. The latter is as likely to be a post I put heart and soul into, sure I was sharing Very Important Information, as the former. Talk about humility.
Before you look at what statistics say are the most popular posts, tell me what your most popular categories are by voting in this poll:[polldaddy poll=8383517]
A note: The links won’t work until the articles publish!
Today: Update Your Online Presence
For most teachers I know, life zooms by, filled with lesson planning, meetings, classes, collaborations with their grade-level team, parent meetings, and thinking. There are few breaks to update/fix/maintain the tech tools that allow us to pursue our trade.
But, that must happen or they deteriorate and no longer accomplish what we need them to do. Cussing them out does no good. Buying new systems takes a long time and doesn’t fix the problem that the old one wasn’t kept up. If they aren’t taken care of, we are left wondering why our teacher blog or website isn’t accomplishing what it does for everyone else, why our social media Tweeple don’t answer us, and why our TPT materials languish. There’s a short list of upkeep items that won’t take long to accomplish. The end of the calendar year is a good time to do these:
There are lots of free survey and polling sites (two popular options are PollDaddy and Survey Monkey), but often they limit the number of surveys you can create or how many questions you can include without ‘leveling up’ to a premium version. Among the teachers I know who are always looking for ways to save their limited pennies, Google Forms is a run-away favorite. It is intuitive, flexible, professional, can be adapted to school colors and images, and can be shared as a link or an embed. You can work alone or with colleagues and there are a wide variety of options that tweak the form to your needs.
Using available templates, a customized form can be completed in under five minutes. Responses are collected to a Google Spreadsheet that can be private or shared with participants and can be sorted and analyzed like any other spreadsheet.
Google Forms integrates well with Google Apps for Education, Google Classroom and many LMSs such as Blackboard.
How to use it
Google Forms is simple to use. Just follow these steps:
Two great professional development presentations from Nepris:
If you are using the SL K-5 Technology Curriculum, you’ll love this free service. Every Sunday, Ask a Tech Teacher will offer online, virtual Office Hours to answers questions about the curriculum. Any questions you have about how to unpack lessons, teach a skill, or tie into class inquiry can be asked at this weekly real-time Google Hangout:
Sundays, 2pm PDT
Just like your college professor, doors are open to whoever shows up. Here’s how it works:
- Sign up for the Companion Wikis (for grades K-5)
- Fill out the form at this link or below with the dates you would like to attend and the topic you’d like to discuss.
- Sundays, you’ll get an invitation to the Google Hangout. Click it. If you aren’t familiar with Google Hangouts, check the Skills tab on the wiki, under ‘Google Hangouts’ for guidance
- Join in!
Interested? Here’s the sign-up sheet:
Most teachers I know accept that their classes must be technology-infused. Many think that means replacing traditional tools with the tech version (for example, instead of creating a big bulky poster, use a virtual poster like Glogster). Others think using iPads to read the book is homage enough to the 21st Century teaching police. A surprising number of students — and teachers — still consider technology to be the realm of a chosen few endowed with brilliance and math/science skills. When you try to explain that technology, computers, and websites are easily accessible to anyone willing to think critically and solve problems, they laugh. Or hide.
Here are fourteen websites I use to persuade teachers that technology isn’t always about math and science, that lots of tools work flawlessly as they inspire students to new ways of learning.
This site shows the Google search engine backwards as is everything you type into the search field. This is from the creative minds at elgooG (not affiliated with Google) and only for entertainment. When you’re done giggling over the oddity of a backwards world, try some of their other geeky options included at the top of the screen like:
- Snake Game (at the top of the Backwards Google screen)
- Do a Barrel Roll –click the link and Google will do a barrel roll before beginning your search
- Tilt — click the link and Google will tilt before performing your search
Chrome Experiments is a showcase of over 1200 web experiments written by the creative coding community. They are clever and often addicting and include a mesmerizing kaleidoscope, Fluid Particles (waves of particles generated by a SketchUp type drawing you create), Searching Planet (a 3D visual of what people around the globe search for on Google), and A Year in the Life of Earth’s CO2 (shows how carbon dioxide travels around the globe over the course of one year).