Fluco Toolbox: Storing a File in Multiple Locations in Google Drive

Welcome to Fluco Toolbox, a series of posts that showcases potential edtech tools for the Fluvanna County classroom. Each post will discuss the tool, the type of problems it can help solve, and how it can be used in the classroom. If you’re a Fluvanna County staff member and want to learn more about using the tool in your own classroom, please schedule to see your ITRT and we will develop professional development based on your needs. If you’ve stumbled upon this post and you’re not part of the district, no worries! Feel free to use the information provided to jumpstart your own research.

Have you ever needed to have a file in your Google Drive in multiple locations that would always update to the latest saved version? This is a handy little tip that most people don’t know about, but is super handy!

Today’s Fluco Toolbox tool is: Storing a File in Multiple Locations in Google Drive

First, the basics:

Name: Storing a File in Multiple Locations in Google Drive
URL: –
Cost: –
Problem this tool solves: Store a file in multiple locations in Google Drive and no matter which location you access the file from, it will always show the latest version.

First, open Google Drive and locate the file or folder that will be stored in multiple locations. Click on the folder to select it, but do not double-click to open it.

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Next, press Shift + Z. A new box will appear. You’ll know this is the correct box because of the grayed out “Add Here” button and anytime you click to move from folder to folder, everything is highlighted in green. Choose the location where the file will also be located. The green “Add Here” button will light up. Click to add the file or folder in the new location.

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If there’s more than one file or folder to move to the same location, simply hold down the Ctrl key when selecting the files and folders first. THEN press Shift + Z to move all of the selected files and folders to the new location.

That’s it! It’s really simple to do, but saves so much time. I have many teachers who share the file with colleagues in a shared folder, but also want it to be easily accessible within their own files as well. This tip solves that problem. Remember, it works for files or folders.

 

Resources

Summer Break: Avoiding the Burnout

It has been a whirlwind since staff returned to school on August 1st. I started back myself on July 25th. Summer was at an end…and truth be told, it was an interesting summer for me. Usually, I spend summer continually learning and keeping up with professional development. I’ll read, research, tweet, and attend conferences or trainings. This summer, I did not. In fact, I did not do a thing that was related to education, and it was probably the best decision I made.

By the end of last school year, there were things occurring that made me unhappy. I disagreed with them (and still do). At the time, I was pretty angry. I also wasn’t feeling motivated to do anything. It took some time before I realized I was burning out, and fast. I was losing my desire and passion, and the last thing I wanted to do was work on continually learning through the summer. I had just ended year 9 of my educational career, so I suppose it’s good that it took that long before I started feeling the burnout creeping up on me.

I decided that I needed to cut myself off from everything related to education and learning for the summer. I would instead focus on the things that made me happiest and let me refuel my “spirit tank” so to speak. I rationed that by stepping away and taking a break, I would come back to work feeling more energized and ready to begin anew. I focused on my favorite hobbies instead. I bought a Nintendo Switch and played video games, mostly Splatoon 2. I focused on my rock kindness project and painted a lot of rocks to be sealed and hidden. I spent time journaling and working through my thoughts. There was even a 2-week visit to see my wife while she worked on an active duty assignment for the military.

When I returned on July 25, I felt so much better and ready to create new projects and provide assistance to my teachers. My passion came right back to me, and I felt energized for the new year. That energy has carried me forward and stayed with me. My current ITRT assignment is larger than last year, but my big goal is to do my best by my teachers because they are the ones who need me the most.

Having now been on the “other side”, I see why some teachers step away from anything education during the summer months and avoid anything related to work until they return to school for the new year. It’s hard to find joy and motivation when your battery is running on empty. Sometimes it takes that drastic step to step away from work and focus on one’s self. It may seem counterproductive, but it does work. Space gives time to think and work through issues and do the things that are most enjoyable.

Now that the school year has started, I plan to keep an eye on my own self and keep a check on any flare-ups of my burnout. That’s when I know to step away, recharge my energy, and then come back ready to go. It’s the only way I can be my best educator self and work at my highest levels for my staff.

Fluco Toolbox: Gimkit

Welcome to Fluco Toolbox, a series of posts that showcases potential edtech tools for the Fluvanna County classroom. Each post will discuss the tool, the type of problems it can help solve, and how it can be used in the classroom. If you’re a Fluvanna County staff member and want to learn more about using the tool in your own classroom, please schedule to see your ITRT and we will develop professional development based on your needs. If you’ve stumbled upon this post and you’re not part of the district, no worries! Feel free to use the information provided to jumpstart your own research.

Have you ever found your students enjoy using the likes of Kahoot, Quizizz, or Quizlet, but you want to try something different, maybe something with a few more bells and whistles?

Today’s Fluco Toolbox tool is: Gimkit

First, the basics:

Name: Gimkit
URL: http://www.gimkit.com/
Cost: FREE, with 2 other paid options
Problem this tool solves: Create interactive quizzes for your students and allow them to answer on their own devices. Students earn in-game cash, which they can then use to upgrade their quiz experience. Teachers can convert Quizlets to work with this site.

Gimkit is a tool that has recently come across my Twitter feed, and I think it’s a great option to use alongside Kahoot, Quizizz, and the like. It brings in some different features and mixes things up. It was also created by a group of high school students, who also work to maintain their project. Teachers are able to create “kits” and have their students compete against each other. Students earn in-game cash, which they can then use to purchase upgrades to their quiz experience. Obviously, the better a student does, the more money they earn, and the more upgrades they are able to then purchase.

Signing up for Gimkit is pretty easy. First, a teacher must select a payment tier. There are 3 – Basic, Pro, and Go. Basic is the free side of Gimkit. Teachers are limited to only having 5 kits on the site at a time, but can access all of the core features. Pro means unlimited kits and access for 4.99 per month, and the user is billed annually. It also brings in some additional features, such as unlimited classes, the ability to import from Quizlet, copy and mixing of existing kits, stats, and more. Go is the pay per month side, and has the same features as Pro. However, it costs 7.99 a month, and users can cancel whenever.

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Once a plan is selected, simply fill out the required fields for name, email, and password. Currently, there is no integration with Google, but this is a relatively new site, so if this is a feature you’d like to see in the future, contact the creators and let them know.

Once sign up is completed, the dashboard appears, along with a quick introduction to Gimkit. The dashboard is very simple. Create a kit and dive right in, or create a class. Let’s take a look at both of these features.

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First, let’s look at Classes. When creating a class, give it a name, a color, and then enter in roster names. When students join a kit, they will have to select their name from the list, and will not be able to enter a name of their own choosing. Again, there is no Google integration, so all names are entered by hand. I tried to see what kind of limit was available for class creation. I ended up making 8 classes before I stopped trying to make more. It is easy to edit the class information or to delete a class that’s no longer needed. All one has to do is click on the class in the dashboard and select which students to remove, or click the button to delete the entire class.

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Creating a kit is easy! First, choose the type of kit to create. There are three options – From Scratch, importing from Quizlet, or from CSV. Make sure to give the new kit a name, and then click “Next”

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No matter which of the above options were selected in step 1, the next step is to select a cover. A variety of GIFs are randomly displayed. Additionally, the option to search for other GIFs is also available. Select one for the kit and then the next screen will load.

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The screen that follows the “Choose a cover” one varies depending on the type of kit being created. Let’s break it down.

If “From Scratch” was selected, then the first question screen will load. Select the “Add Question” button in the bottom right corner to begin.

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The next screen is very basic. There are two options for question types – multiple choice or text input. This is changed in the upper right corner. It’s very small, so it’s also easily missed. Multiple choice questions require the question and then answer choices. The first box requires the correct answer. An image can also be added to the question. Text input merely requires the question and the correct answer. Do note that the answer is not case sensitive. Click the blue “Add Question” button to save. Questions can be edited or deleted from the next screen. Click the blue “Create Kit” button in the upper right corner to save the kit.

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If “From Quizlet” is selected, first select the GIF cover and then move to the next screen. Anyone can import a Quizlet into Gimkit. However, only Pro and Go subscribers can make any changes once quizlets have been imported to Gimkit. Users can import public sets from Quizlet or use sets they have created. Clicking on either of the options opens a new tab to search Quizlet.

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Once a quizlet has been found, switch back to the Gimkit tab. The next screen will provide instructions on importing quizlets into Gimkit. Oh and make sure to be logged in to Quizlet, otherwise, the “Export” option will not appear.

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Follow the given directions. I was unable to import the images from the Quizlet, so importing only quizlets with text may be the best option for now. I also noticed that even though I was a Basic user, I was able to edit the imported Quizlet, and could add in images if I chose to do so.

Finally, if choosing to import a CSV file, make sure to follow the guidelines in the image below:

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Note that only correct answers can be listed in the file. Once the file is uploaded and converted into a kit, then the wrong answers can be added. As a placeholder, the kit will have answers from other questions listed as wrong options. Don’t forget to change them!

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Once a kit has been created, it’s time to play!

If classes have been set up, kits can be assigned as homework. However, there is no way to securely make sure that students aren’t taking someone else’s kit since students select their names from a list in the class to play. This is where integration with Google would be handy. I don’t recommend this feature just yet unless a class can be trusted.

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Playing live games on Gimkit is the way to go at the moment. Simply click on the kit in the dashboard. Choose Play or Preview.

Choosing Preview loads a sample game on the screen. Play through just as a student would see it. Click the orange shopping bag at the top of the screen to view the market. The market is where students will be able to purchase upgrades for their name, which improves the amount of cash they can potentially earn each game. In order to earn cash to upgrade, they have to answer questions correctly. Wrong answers mean losing cash.

Choosing Play provides a variety of options for the teacher to select. There’s Classic VS Team modes, game goals, and options for the game itself. Students will be asked to enter a join code. If a Class has been selected, students will need to select their name from the roster to play.

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Once the game begins, questions will appear. Students will see the same questions repeatedly, depending on the game goal selected. For example, if the goal is to earn $1,000,000, students play through all of the questions until they earn that amount. They can visit the shop at any point during the game to add upgrades to their play, earning them more money faster. However, spending money on upgrades will set them back, and they must earn back the money to reach their goal. On the teacher side, teachers can see how far along students are toward the goal, and how much money has been earned overall.

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When the game is over, teachers are able to view a report that includes the overall game scores, as well as individual information on each student who played. Reports are also saved for later viewing. All reports are saved as PDF.

This is definitely a tool to look into using! It’s engaging and fun, and though it is lacking some features, it’s off to a great start. Hats off to these high school students, and remember, if you would like to see a feature added, do contact the folks at Gimkit and let them know.

Resources

Recap/Thoughts: Google Certified Trainer Bootcamp

Thursday and Friday of last week I headed to Orange, VA for Google Trainer Bootcamp. I was excited and eager to learn and to see how much I could prepare myself for the path of Google Trainer. Our Trainer was Sean Williams (@seani), and I found myself learning quite a bit!

My biggest takeaway from the bootcamp was how prepared I actually was for Google Trainer. Originally, I did not plan to apply for Trainer until May 2019 because I did not feel that I had enough material ready, nor did I feel very confident. By the end of the bootcamp, I had moved my application date from May 2019 to December 2018. I should be ready before that, but that’s the absolute latest I’m giving myself to turn in an application.

Prior to bootcamp, I had taken Kasey Bell’s (@shakeuplearning) VIP Google Trainer course. Even if you don’t take the VIP version, you’ll find yourself swimming in knowledge. Kasey provides a lot of information on teaching adults and becoming a Trainer in general. If you’re looking to become a Google Trainer, I highly recommend her course, especially if you are unable to attend a Trainer bootcamp in your area. She provides a lot of extra resources as well.

I have completed a good chunk of my Google Trainer application. I still need to create a video to submit, and of course, I need to take care of offering some more Google-based PD sessions. I offer PD all year long, but it’s not always related to Google, nor do I have the required materials/resources to accompany what I do offer, as most of it tends to be 1:1. I’m not sure what I want to showcase yet with my video. I’m going to peruse YouTube to see what others have done in their videos and hopefully, that will spark some ideas or at least give me a plan of action to follow.

The application did get me thinking about my goals for next year, and I have since been able to not only design my Google goals, but also my other goals for my role as an ITRT in my district. Here are the Google-based goals I have concocted so far:

  • Offer 2-3 session options a month (18-27 total) to staff in a 1:1 Tech Bytes format.
  • Offer 1 after school session per month to all district staff (9 total)
  • Offer 2 monthly scheduled sessions during the school day to staff at FCHS/FMS (18 in all)
  • Present at 1 conference on a Google topic
  • Add at least 1 Google tool/tip to the Fluco Toolbox resources section of my site per month (12 total)
  • Work with a small cohort of teachers in my district to train/prepare them to take the Google Certified Educator Level 1 exam in June 2019 (at least 6)

In addition to my goals being ready, I have already begun designing professional development sessions in a new format. I have developed a list of requirements that every PD session will have. I am requiring myself to have a Slide deck and an agenda with resources ready for every session. I created a master Slide deck to work from, as well as a master agenda template. Prior to every session, attendees will receive the agenda in a PDF and have access to the topics in advance. They can also check out the shared resources. This lets them think of potential questions to ask in advance.

So far, I’ve been able to develop 3 professional development sessions for next year. These are all on more advanced features of Google, and I’m planning to stay away from developing beginner sessions until I have flushed out a nice variety of advanced sessions. These sessions are designed so that I can use them as professional development or submit as part of a proposal to present at a conference. So far I have the following:

  • 6 Advanced Tips and Tricks for Google Forms
  • Google Calendar for the Busy Professional
  • Upping Your Google Forms Quiz Game

I’m also in the process of putting together sessions for Google Calendar on the Go! and Analyzing Google Forms data. I’ve got the list of key points to cover. I just need to complete some more research and put together the materials and images. It is definitely a lot easier to plan professional development with master templates and requirements for sessions!

Google Trainer Bootcamp is definitely worth it, so if you have the opportunity to attend one, I highly recommend doing so. It will definitely help you to prepare for the trainer application, and it also pays for your Trainer Skills Assessment exam.

 

Fluco Toolbox: Backchannel Chat

Welcome to Fluco Toolbox, a series of posts that showcases potential edtech tools for the Fluvanna County classroom. Each post will discuss the tool, the type of problems it can help solve, and how it can be used in the classroom. If you’re a Fluvanna County staff member and want to learn more about using the tool in your own classroom, please schedule to see your ITRT and we will develop professional development based on your needs. If you’ve stumbled upon this post and you’re not part of the district, no worries! Feel free to use the information provided to jumpstart your own research.

Have you ever wanted your students to have an online moderated discussion on a topic in small groups? Wished to incorporate digital citizenship skills into a group chat?

Today’s Fluco Toolbox tool is: Backchannel Chat

First, the basics:

Name: Backchannel Chat
URL: http://backchannelchat.com/
Cost: FREE version / $15 per year paid version
Problem this tool solves: Students can participate in online moderated discussions, whether in small groups or whole groups. Teachers can have students join with their Google accounts, and can download transcripts after the chat is over. Great for informal written assessments of students’ knowledge!

I have to thank two 6th grade ELA teachers that I work with, Dawn Baber and Melanie Kennedy, for finding this particular tool. I had no idea that it existed. We have used this tool already for Socratic seminars and loved it. Check out this post and this post for more information on integrating it!

Backchannel Chat is an online classroom discussion tool. It’s similar to other online chatroom websites for teachers or presenters and comes with its own host of features. There are 2 sides – a free side and a paid side. The free side comes with the basics. Teachers can create a chatroom, get a link to share it, have the ability to remove chat messages and mute students, lock a room, get a web transcript, have 30 students in a room at a time, and search an archived chat for 3 months after creation. The paid side adds on PDF chat transcripts, private messaging, add polls, share files, have 50 students in a room at a time, and search archived chats forever. The paid upgrade is $15 for an entire year and may be worth it to educators who find themselves using this feature often.

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Creating a chat is simple: go to the website listed above and select the blue “Try for FREE as a TEACHER” A window will pop up and ask for the following: your email, display name, and name for the chat. Once you click “Start”, an email will be sent to the address provided with information to access the chat at a later time. The chat will also immediately load.

 

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On the right side, users in the chat will appear. Anyone who has joined as a teacher will see an icon with a mortarboard and glasses. Student names will appear as the first part of their email addresses.

Here are some simple controls:

  • Send a message: Type text in the box at the bottom of the chat screen and either press “Enter” or select the green “Send” button.
  • Mute a student: Click the gears to the right of the student name and check the box that says “Read-Only Mode”. Then click update. The student’s name will be highlighted in red. To turn this off, click the gears again, and then click “Update” without selecting anything else.
  • Remove messages: Remove inappropriate messages by click the X in the upper right corner of the message.
  • Like a message: Click the thumbs up icon by the sender’s name in the message
  • Pin a message: Pin important messages to the top of the chat window by clicking the thumbtack icon in the desired message.
  • Lock the chat: Keep anyone from sending messages by clicking the lock icon at the top of the chat screen to the left of “Settings”
  • Chat stats: See how many times students have participated in the chat by clicking “Settings” and then stats. Each student’s name will be listed, with the number of messages they have sent listed below their name.
  • Download a chat transcript: Click “Settings” and then “Download Transcript”. Paid users will be able to download a PDF, and free users can view a web transcript. This can be saved as an HTML file.
  • Clear a chat: To clear anything that has been said in chat, follow the steps above for “Download a chat transcript” and then select to clear the room.

For those of you who are Google educators, you can force students to join the chat with their Google accounts. First, you’ll need the original web address. After the /chat/ part of the URL, add g/. This will force students to log in with their Google account. See the example below:

http://backchannelchat.com/chat/kkjlb#
http://backchannelchat.com/chat/g/kkjlb#

This tool is great to incorporate into small group discussions on a variety of topics. We have found it works great in conjunction with a Socratic seminar, and prepares students to speak on the chosen topic. Teachers will want to make sure to teach proper chat etiquette and academic speak while using this tool. Teachers may also find this tool useful if they would like to have a chat space to host office hours. Chat could be locked outside of the posted times.

If you have a different way to use the tool, feel free to make suggestions. Hopefully, Backchannel chat helps you and your students have deeper discussions!

Resources

Backchannel Chat FAQ – The website has put together an FAQ section to assist with any needs.

Fluco Toolbox: Extensity

Welcome to Fluco Toolbox, a series of posts that showcases potential edtech tools for the Fluvanna County classroom. Each post will discuss the tool, the type of problems it can help solve, and how it can be used in the classroom. If you’re a Fluvanna County staff member and want to learn more about using the tool in your own classroom, please schedule to see your ITRT and we will develop professional development based on your needs. If you’ve stumbled upon this post and you’re not part of the district, no worries! Feel free to use the information provided to jumpstart your own research.

Have you ever found your Chrome browser running slowly? Do you have a lot of extensions installed that you use often, and don’t want to uninstall any of them?

Today’s Fluco Toolbox tool is: Extensity

First, the basics:

Name: Extensity
URL: Chrome Web Store link
Cost: FREE
Problem this tool solves: Use this extension to turn extensions on and off at the click of a button and keep your Chrome browser running smoothly.

If you’re anything like me, you may have a lot of extensions installed on your Chrome browser. These extensions all have some purpose, but unfortunately, having too many extensions running at a time can slow down your browser. You may find that you have uninstalled all that you can, yet there are still so many extensions active. Extensity makes it easy to turn extensions on and off as needed without uninstalling them.

First, go to the Chrome web store link above and add the extension to the Chrome browser. Give any necessary permissions. The Extensity icon looks like a sideways yin-yang and is blue and white.

Whenever an extension needs to be disabled, simply click on the Extensity icon to see all active extensions. Click on the extension to turn it off. It will now appear to be grayed out. Click the extension again to turn it on.

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Extensity also gives users the option to create Profiles. For example, if there are a set of extensions used only for work or shopping, then a profile can be created that allows certain extensions to be enabled/disabled when the profile is selected.

To create a profile, click on Extensity and then click the gear to access settings. Next, click the white “Profiles” button. Give the profile a name, such as “Work”. Click the + to add the profile. You’ll be asked to then select the extensions that should be enabled/disabled when using that profile. There are also options to select All or None. When finished, select “Save” and then “Close”. The next time you want to use a newly created profile, simply click on the Extensity icon and choose the preferred profile.

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I often use Extensity when there are extensions I use from time to time, but not every day. I only activate them when I need to use them, and leave them off the rest of the time. This keeps my Chrome browser running smoothly, and can do the same for yours!

Resources

Fluco Toolbox: Managing the Chrome Bookmarks Bar

Welcome to Fluco Toolbox, a series of posts that showcases potential edtech tools for the Fluvanna County classroom. Each post will discuss the tool, the type of problems it can help solve, and how it can be used in the classroom. If you’re a Fluvanna County staff member and want to learn more about using the tool in your own classroom, please schedule to see your ITRT and we will develop professional development based on your needs. If you’ve stumbled upon this post and you’re not part of the district, no worries! Feel free to use the information provided to jumpstart your own research.

Have you ever added a lot of bookmarks to the bookmarks bar in your Chrome browser, and later couldn’t find what you needed? Do you just have a lot of bookmarks in general, and need a way to get them organized?

Today’s Fluco Toolbox tool is: Managing the Chrome Bookmarks Bar

First, the basics:

Name: Managing the Chrome Bookmarks Bar
URL: N/A
Cost: N/A
Problem this tool solves: Create folders and an organization system for the Chrome bookmarks bar and bookmarks in general.

Over time, we tend to amass a lot of bookmarks. Even with monitoring and deleting unnecessary bookmarks, a lot can still accumulate. Scrolling through a long list can become tedious, and it can be hard to find that one particular bookmark. It becomes even more frazzling when you only want important links to appear in the bookmarks bar, but have more links than visual retail space.

We’ve all been there before, but there’s a way to organize bookmarks with folders so that links are grouped into folders and sub-folders on the bookmarks bar. Here’s an example using my own bookmarks:

 

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As you can see, my bookmarks bar shows folders of different topics. I then use a folder tree system to organize further. Here we see I have a folder for Minecraft items, and then within that folder, I have folders for things such as Tutorials, Reference Materials, and Mods/Texture Packs. If I hover over those sub-folders, then I can find my links. Sub-folders aren’t necessary; I could have left all of my Minecraft links in the Minecraft folder and called it a day. No matter the system used, I have made it so that my bookmarks bar shows all of my important topics. I have increased the amount of visual retail space!

Let’s get started. First, access the bookmarks manager by clicking the three vertical dots in the upper right area of your Chrome browser. Then go to Bookmarks, and Bookmark manager. This can also be accessed with the following shortcut: CTRL+Shift+O

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You’ll now see something similar to the following:

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Instead of it being organized, you’ll simply see all bookmarks that you have saved. Let’s take a look at creating new folders. Look at the content you have already saved, and see if similar topics have been saved. As a teacher, you might find subject-specific links. You might decide to make a folder for your subject, to begin with.

Go ahead and click the 3 vertical dots in the upper right area of the Bookmarks screen. Click the option to add a new folder. Give the folder a name. Drag the folder to appear under the Bookmarks bar folder on the left side of the screen. This folder will now appear in your Bookmarks bar.

Continue to use the navigation pane on the left. Drag any bookmarks into the appropriate folder. Create more folders for other topics as you see fit. If you feel that you need folders within folders, you can do that as well! Follow the same steps used to create a folder above, and then drag the folder to the folder it should appear inside.

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A completed folder system for bookmarks for Minecraft.

If you’re a Fluvanna staff member (or a staff member of any district), chances are you have a lot of important links for the district. Instead of just adding each individual link to the bookmarks bar, why not create a folder for these links? That way when you click on the folder in the bookmarks bar, all of the important school links will appear.

The next time you bookmark a website, make sure you select the proper folder. Click the star in the omnibox and in the window that pops up, make sure to select the appropriate folder in the drop-down menu. If the folder doesn’t appear there, then select “Choose another folder” and select from all of your created folders.

 

Creating a bookmarks system requires that every now and then you do check and make sure you have usable links and make new folders as needed. However, this system will allow you to easily access more of your bookmarks more quickly, thus saving time and frustration!

Resources