Sunday, July 31, 2016

Amazing Interviews!

I teach a course through Fresno Pacific University called "ET 735 - Creating on the Web".
In it, I challenge students to create a blog, become active on Twitter, and really invest in creating their Personal/Professional Learning Network (aka PLN). One big assignment is contacting an educator that is much further along that path than they are - a "connected educator".

I really pushed the students to think BIG as far as who they interview. They delivered!

Here are the interviews - these links are to YouTube. They are all embedded on their blogs, also.
Vicki Davis

Jon Corippo

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Google Likes Breakfast!

When teaching students how to use Google products, we find ourselves needing to refer to these images:

 (This one's in the top-right of most Google products.)

(This one's on the Chrome browser's Bookmarks Bar.)

So what should we call them?
  • App Launcher? (the official name)
  • 3x3 grid? (what I've been calling them)
  • 9 squares? (fairly straightforward)
  • Rubik's cube? (pretty cute, I must say...)
Or, the emerging favorite...
  • Waffle!

The same situation exists with the 3 horizontal lines that are at the top-left of many Google products.
Going with the breakfast theme, it seems logical to call them...

  • Pancakes!

Therefore, I hereby declare that when I teach about, or talk about, these images, I will refer to them as "waffle", "colored waffle", and "pancakes".

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Add Gadgets to Blogger

You are at the beginning stages of creating a blog using Blogger.
You know how to write a blog post.

Now it's time to add other content along the sides of your blog. These are called gadgets.

1. Go to Layout.

2. Choose a size for your Sidebar gadget.

They can be different sizes. You may want to choose one that fills the entire margin, or just half of the margin. I have already added some gadgets, which you can see on this blog.

3. Add a Sidebar gadget.
Here are some suggestions for gadgets you might want to add:

•HTML/Javascript - This is great for embedding your Twitter tweets, or any other HTML embed code you might want to put on your blog.

•Profile - Great for letting people know who you are (and show them why you should keep reading your blog).

•Labels - Give them easy access to the labels that you categorize your blog posts with.

•Link List or Blog List - Here is where you show your blog readers what blogs you read. What influences and inspires you? Where can they go for more great content?

•Translate - If your audience is multi-lingual, this one would be great for you.

When you have posted a lot of content, these two would be important to have:
•Search Box - They should be able to search your blog

•Popular Posts - Promote your most popular blog posts

4. Re-arrange your gadgets.

Click and hold on the vertical dots, and drag your gadgets around.

5. Lather-Rinse-Repeat (Revise)
Maybe now you realize that you chose the wrong size for the gadget that you chose. Go back and re-add the gadget with the size you prefer.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Don't Block - Educate!

A student of mine is a teacher in a district that is SO restrictive regarding the online content that is blocked, that she described it this way: 
"Our school denies students (and TEACHERS) from Blogger, YouTube, Google Hangouts, limited Calendar abilities, and even a large portion of images are blocked."

This both broke my heart for her and her students, and angered me. This degree of restriction is both sad, and borderline educational malpractice.

Here is my position, and rationale for a different policy. 

If schools block YouTube, and most images when students are on school property, then they will have absolutely zero practice in how to handle staying on task in the midst of distracting, and even inappropriate, content online.
If we give them no guidance at all in how to navigate the reality they will live in, then they will be unequipped to function in the world once they leave us.

Online content and tools like YouTube, blogs, Google Hangouts, and images exist in the world outside of school.
Yes, there is a lot of garbage available online - from the harmless-but-distracting to the severely troubling. It should concern any adults that are in charge of 
They aren't going away any time soon. The online reality will only get more complex, not simpler.
The need for students to be educated in how to interact appropriately in that environment is not going to fade away - it's only going to increase.

These are simply statements of fact, whether we like it or not. We cannot change these realities.

It would be far better to train them to find appropriate videos and images for educational purposes, to hold them accountable for appropriate online behavior while they are under our authority and supervision. Then, they will be truly ready to function as an educated person in the world that exists outside of school.

On the other hand, I would advocate for a perhaps gradual lifting of restrictions as students progress up the grade levels. For example, my 4th graders don't have access to email, but high school students do. Also, I would suggest that an intermediate stage of change for a school district like this would be to allow teachers access to all of these tools (assuming that they are professional, trustworthy adults, that are perfectly capable of staying on task and appropriate in using the tools unfiltered). There should be no anxiety about teachers demonstrating the use of the tools. If district leadership can't handle going from almost total blocking to nearly zero blocking, they at least take this baby step toward more sane and responsible policies in this area.
Also, I'm not advocating having no blocking of images or websites at all. Some blocking/filtering software is appropriate.

Summary: Don't just block, and pretend that we have solved the problem, and wash our hands of the thorny issue of inappropriate online content.

This rant is officially over. For now. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Share a Google MyMap!

If location is important to a lesson or unit you are teaching, I encourage you to use a Google MyMap!

I did this today with California History with my 4th graders. For them to understand the importance of the different regions in California (Coast, Desert, Mountains, and Central Valley), they need to SEE it. We have a few small maps in our Social Studies workbook, but I knew that there had to be a better way...

What better way than to do it:
1. In the context of a shared, interactive map that they can zoom in and out of
2. By seeing actual satellite imagery, showing the different vegetation in each region
3. By placing a marker on the cities that are in each region
4. By coloring the markers to the appropriate, agreed-upon color (blue, red, yellow, and green)
5. By noticing when classmates make errors, and fixing them in real-time

I started with a Google Classroom assignment:
1. Find a city in each of the Regions of CA.(Desert, Mountains, Coast, Valley)2. "Add to Map"3. Change the color of that marker to match this Legend:Desert = redMountains = yellowCoast = blueValley = green4. Edit that marker by clicking on the little pencil icon - Add your name in the little box.
Once you have placed 4 markers, of cities in CA, and colored them appropriately, you may "Mark As Done".
Then I attached the link to the shared "MyMap".

I plan to add a layer to the map where we label the areas where the Native Americans (Native Californians) lived. This will be much more visual, interactive, and "in-context" than previous methods.

I learned what steps were harder for them - what parts of the process I might be slower and more explicit about next time. For example, in the screen shots below, you'll see that they had trouble changing the color of the marker to the appropriate color. This, of course, is a crucial aspect of demonstrating that they've learned about the regions, so I'll work on this more in the coming days. I had a couple students that were ignorant of state borders (that a certain nearby state was not, in fact, in CA). This might not have been corrected without a lesson like this.

Next time, maybe a little video showing each step, and more detail in the assignment itself will make the experience better for all.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Every Kid In A Park - print free passes using Chromebooks and Classroom

I teach 4th grade, and my students are given the opportunity to sign up to get a free one-year pass to all National Parks. We got pretty excited about this when we had a Park Ranger visit our classroom this week.

I had them do this using their Chromebooks, but we don't have a printer set up to receive those print jobs.
I thought "Hmmm...I should be able to do this with the help of Google Classroom."
It worked!

Students navigated through the website (steps #1-8),
then at step #9-12 below, created a PDF in their Google Drive.
Step #13-16 helps students choose a file from their Google Drive. That can be tricky for students that have only opened a Drive file directly from Classroom.

The following are the directions I used to guide the students through the process. I hope this is useful to you for this particular goal, or whenever you need to get a PDF created by a Chromebook to your teacher computer to be printed.


Add files to a Google Classroom Assignment to “TURN IN”
“Your Free Pass”

  1. Click the link in this Google Assignment.
  2. Click “GET YOUR PASS”
  3. Click “PLAY” where it says “Fourth graders”
  4. You’ll see “Start your adventure now”. Click the little box that says “Yes…”. Click “PLAY”
  5. In the “Dear Diary” section of this website, explore what you want to learn about the National Parks.
  6. When you see “GET YOUR PASS NOW”, click it.
  7. You’ll see “You did it! Claim your pass”. Enter your zip code. It is 93618.
  8. Click “GET MY PASS”

  1. Click the green button that says “Click this button to PRINT YOUR PASS”
  2. Destination...Save as PDF… Click “Change…”
  3. At the bottom of the next screen, click “Save to Google Drive”.
  4. Click the blue button at the top that says “Save”

  1. In Google Classroom, open the “Your Free Pass” assignment
  2. On the Assignment, click “Add” (it has a little triangle next to it)
  3. Choose Google Drive
  4. Click the PDF that says “Your Free Pass”
  5. Click the blue button at the bottom that says “Add”
  6. You have now attached this file to the assignment, and it’s ready to Turn In.
  7. Click “TURN IN”

  1. Your teacher will print this for you. Take this paper to a National Park, and you will get in FREE for a year!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Wordplay from The New Yorker

I heard about this piece on NPR recently, and knew it was just the sort of thing I would enjoy. Maybe you would, too. It's called "How I Met My Wife", by Jack Winter. It was published in The New Yorker in July, 1994.

It's full of words that are correctly used with a negative prefix, minus the prefix, like "ruly" instead of "unruly" Some of them require a bit more thought than others to figure out. Some refer to a figure of speech.
I love this because these are just the sort of jokes and observations I find myself making all the time!
Just ask anyone that knows me well. I've been known to make remarks like these (these words taken from the article below):
"Why is it always 'nonchalant'? Does anyone walk about 'chalantly'?" or
"If you fold up a flag, would that be considered 'furling' it?" or
"If you can, in fact, understand something that seems tricky, would you say that you CAN make hide or hair of it?", or finally
"What does 'indefatigable' really mean?
If I can fatigue you, then I can tire you out. You are fatigable.
Then, if I can somehow energize you, then you would be defatigable.
But if this cannot be done (you can NOT be energized after being tired out) then you're indefatigable...which seems to mean the opposite of the actual meaning of the word.

Well, you're probably tired of this, so I'll just let you read the original:

SHOUTS AND MURMURS about man who describes meeting his wife at a party. In his description, he drops many prefixes. It had been a rough day, so when I walked into the party I was very chalant, despite my efforts to appear gruntled and consolate. I was furling my wieldy umbrella for the coat check when I saw her standing alone in a corner. She was a descript person, a woman in a state of total array. Her hair was kempt, her clothing shevelled, and she moved in a gainly way. I wanted desperately to meet her, but I knew I'd have to make bones about it, since I was travelling cognito. Beknownst to me, the hostess, whom I could see both hide and hair of, was very proper, so it would be skin off my nose if anything bad happened. And even though I had only swerving loyalty to her, my manners couldn't be peccable. Only toward and heard-of behavior would do. Fortunately, the embarrassment that my maculate appearance might cause was evitable. There were two ways about it, but the chances that someone as flappable as I would be ept enough to become persona grata or sung hero were slim. I was, after all, something to sneeze at, someone you could easily hold a candle to, someone who usually aroused bridled passion. So I decided not to rush it. But then, all at once, for some apparent reason, she looked in my direction and smiled in a way that I could make heads or tails of. So, after a terminable delay, I acted with mitigated gall and made my way through the ruly crowd with strong givings. Nevertheless, since this was all new hat to me and I had no time to prepare a promptu speech, I was petuous. She responded well, and I was mayed that she considered me a savory char- acter who was up to some good. She told me who she was. "What a perfect nomer," I said, advertently. The conversation became more and more choate, and we spoke at length to much avail. But I was defatigable, so I had to leave at a godly hour. I asked if she wanted to come with me. To my delight, she was committal. We left the party together and have been together ever since. I have given her my love, and she has requited it.