Fluco Toolbox: ClassroomScreen

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 a simple whiteboard? What about a random name picker, or a simple text box, or even a sound checker? What if you could have it all on one page?

Today’s Fluco Toolbox tool is:

First, the basics:

Name: ClassroomScreen
URL: http://www.classroomscreen.com
Cost: FREE
Problem this tool solves: Integrates a lot of small classroom management tools onto one screen, such as an audio monitor, whiteboard, random name picker, stoplight, textbox, clock, timer, and more.

I have to give a big round of thanks to my new buddy Nathan from the Staunton Google Summit, as he did a demo slam on this tool, and it was something that most of us had never seen before, but it’s a great little tool with a lot of mini-tools tucked into it! Many of these tools have separate website or programs where they can be found, but ClassroomScreen integrates all of these onto one screen.

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Load the website, and a random background will appear. All tools for Classroomscreen are at the bottom of the page. These widgets are activated by clicking on them. The background and languages can also be changed. There are widgets for a random name picker/roll the dice, noise monitor, a large whiteboard, a small whiteboard, textbox, a QR reader for quick website navigation, work symbols, a traffic light, a timer/stopwatch, and a clock with the option of displaying the date. To the far right there are small buttons for an exit poll, to minimize the toolbar and a fullscreen option.

  • Language: There are nearly 60 languages available for use with this site
  • Background: Website provides a few different options to customize what appears on the screen
  • Random Name/Dice: Type in a quick list of names, or upload names from a .TXT file. Select choose to pick on. Switch to Dice mode and roll 1, 2, or 3 six-sided dice
  • Noise Monitor: Utilizes the mic on the computer. Sensitivity levels can be adjusted.
  • Large whiteboard: Change the pen size and color. A few background templates are included, such as lined paper and graph paper. Work on board cannot be saved
  • Small whiteboard: Exactly like the large board, except in a smaller window
  • Textbox: Use the rich text editor to type in directions, lists, etc. so that all students can keep track of what to do.
  • QR Reader: Type in a website and use a QR reader on a phone to read the resulting code.
  • Work symbols: Use these images to let students know what type of work should be completed at this time

The best part about classroom screen is the way it can be customized to fit the needs of each teacher’s classroom. Many of these tools are very simple but are things that teachers often find a need for every now and again. Perhaps a teacher just needs a few tools or needs a lot. Tools can be moved around on the screen and rearranged to best suit needs. Tools can be deactivated at any time.

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In the lower right corner are a few more options. One is an ExitPoll feature, one a way to move to full screen, and another to hide the toolbar at the bottom.

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ExitPoll works best if using an interactive board. It would not work well without one. The teacher simply types in the exit question and chooses a set of icons from the left side. As students leave the classroom, they touch the icon that best matches their answer as they walk out of the classroom. It’s very easily to select more than one answer, and a teacher should anticipate that a student may try to press multiple ones and skew data.

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Overall, this is a neat website to use all of these simple widgets in one place. Give it a try!

Resources

My First Google Summit

It’s been awhile since I’ve written an actual post, but I have to make an update about my first Google Summit! I attended one in Staunton, VA over the week and I must say, I am hooked. I would love to go to another in the future. Heck, I’d love to be a part of EdTechTeam for that matter! I had a fabulous time getting to know the team sent for this Summit, and I enjoyed presenting 2 different sessions. I even got asked to quickly demo a tool during lunch the second day.

The two topics I was able to present on were Ramping Up 1:1 PD with Google Forms and Calendar, as well as Google Calendar Tools for the Busy Professional. My PD one was a teaser of what I plan to do at VSTE on it. The biggest difference was that this time it focused on the tools, and at VSTE it will focus on the history and planning. Google Calendar is a favorite of mine, but it’s an often underutilized tool in my experience. I was able to show ways to make it work better for the user, including color coding, organization, and settings. Both of my sessions were pretty well attended for such a small summit. I had around 30 in my calendar session, and about 15 in my PD one. Overall, my feedback was 4.8 in both, which I think is great for a first Summit!

I found the atmosphere of the Summit to be very energetic. I was the only one from my district to attend, so I felt like I had a lot that I needed to take in and absorb. I was watching the presenters from EdTechTeam themselves, and noting the passion that they infused their presentations with. I feel like it will help me become a better presenter, and (hopefully!) Google Trainer in the future.

The sessions I attended on the second day were full of information, and I was on overload trying to absorb it all. I definitely took some good notes, and have already sent things to my staff. I tried not to send too many things, but just enough to whet their palette. I’m sure quite a few will save it for later to read, which is what they do with a lot of my emails. I just love being helpful. If you want a copy of the emailed resources, grab it here.

Since returning to school today (We had Monday off for Columbus Day), I have been working on organizing everything and planning my next steps in terms of what I do with my staff. After all, attending is one thing. Now it’s time to share my newfound knowledge with the rest of my staff. I have new ideas to add to my Fluco Toolbox posts, new ideas for PD for my staff, and new resources to send them periodically.

Thanks for helping me feel rejuvenated, EdTechTeam!

Fluco Toolbox: Easy Clipart (Google Docs Add-on)

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 been working on a Google Doc, and needed some quick and easy clipart? Sure you can search online for some, but did you know you can use an add-on to cover most of your needs?

Today’s Fluco Toolbox tool is: Easy Clipart

First, the basics:

Name: Easy Clipart
URL: Go to Add-ons in Google Docs, and search for it by name
Cost: FREE
Problem this tool solves: Use this Google Docs add-on to search for and insert free clipart directly into a Doc.

There are many times we need free clipart for documents, and often this means doing a search online to see what’s available for free. However, one doesn’t always need to go to the web to search for clipart, especially within Google Docs. Instead, install the “Easy Clipart” add-on and search for clipart files right in the sidebar!

First, go to the Add-On menu at the top of the Docs screen and scroll down to “Get Add-ons” From there, search for Easy Clipart and install the add-on. Make sure to give all necessary permission requested.

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Once the add-on is installed, it can be loaded from the Add-on menu at any time. Opening Easy Clipart in Google Docs loads a sidebar on the right side of the screen. Use keywords to search. Once an image is found, simply click on it to insert it into the document.

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That’s it! It’s a really simple add-on that can make a difference. Make sure to share this one with students, as it will be handy for their documents as well!

Resources

Chrome Web Store Link

Fluco Toolbox: Power Thesaurus Extension

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 been browsing online and needed access to a thesaurus without all the bells and whistles, and without needing to go to a new webpage?

Today’s Fluco Toolbox tool is: Power Thesaurus

First, the basics:

Name: Power Thesaurus
URL: Link
Cost: FREE
Problem this tool solves: Quickly look at antonyms and synonyms while browsing online by simply selecting a word

Power Thesaurus is a very simple tool, but very handy. This particular website has created an extension for Google Chrome that allows the user to view synonyms and antonyms for a word while browsing online.

First, install the extension from the Chrome web store. Provide any necessary permissions for it to run. Once installed, it will appear as a blue P icon among the other installed extensions.

To use Power Thesaurus, simply select (or double click) a word. A sampling of synonyms and antonyms will appear. The user can change the settings by clicking the gear icon on the lower left of the pop-up. This small preview will not show every antonym and synonym, but it will tell how many of each there are. Click on the blue “View All” link to be taken to the website to see all of the results.

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This tool doesn’t have many bells and whistles, but it is handy to have installed as an extension for research and browsing purposes.

Resources

Fluco Toolbox: Bit.ly

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 share a link with staff or students, but the copied link was far too long and looked horrible when shared or written on the board? Who remembers all of that anyway?

Today’s Fluco Toolbox tool is: Bit.ly

First, the basics:

Name: Bit.ly
URL: Bit.ly
Cost: FREE
Problem this tool solves: Create shortened, easy to share links, that also track data on the links. Know where the link was clicked, when, and how many times total

In my experience, I feel like I tend to find a lot of folks who don’t know about the usefulness that is a link shortener. Bit.ly is just one of a few I have used in the past, but it is the one that I have continued to stick with time and time again. I love that not only can I create a “bitlink”, but also customize and track it over time as well.

To get started, go to bit.ly. Create an account on the website, which will enable the tracking of created bitlinks. Bit.ly does allow accounts to be created with existing Google, Facebook, or Twitter accounts. Follow the steps to finish signing up. The dashboard will then load.

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The dashboard houses a list of created bitlinks, sorting by date created or top clicks, and then the center section shows data on any selected bitlink. In the image above, data is shown on a recent link I created.

To create a new bitlink, click the orange “Create” button in the upper right corner of the screen. A window will slide out from the right side, and ask the user to paste the URL that will be shortened. Immediately upon pasting, Bit.ly will shorten the link. At this time, the link address can be customized. For example, the string of numbers/letters could be changed to “pelink2”. Bit.ly will not allow links to use names that other links already use.

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Once the link has been created and customized if desired, then it can be copied and pasted and is the perfect length to copy onto the board for students. The “http://” part of the link is not necessary.

A bitlink is always saved to the account and can be found later and reused. Data on link clicks and where the clicks occurred are also stored and is great for analyzing.

Bit.ly is one of my favorite, almost daily resources and I love what it can do for my work. Whether I need to share links easily through email, references, or on a plain old white board, bit.ly’s got my back!

Resources

Fluco Toolbox: Sir Links-A-Lot Extension

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 needed to change the URL of a G Suite app file to make it force copies or show in template mode? What about auto shorten the link, or download as a PDF? Today’s tool can do that and then some!

Today’s Fluco Toolbox tool is: Sir Links-A-Lot

First, the basics:

Name: Sir Links-A-Lot extension
URL: Link
Cost: Free
Problem this tool solves: Use this extension to automatically create URLs for Google Suite apps – template, force a copy, download PDF, and preview. Turn any G Suite app file into a shortened URL.

I recently discovered this gem, thanks to some research and a post from ShakeUpLearning. I had no idea this extension even existed, and as I waited for it to install, I hoped it would do exactly what it promised.

Spoiler: It does!

The Sir Links-A-Lot extension is handy to have when a file needs to be force copied, a template, or even automatically download as a PDF. No more do you have to remember the text to add to the end of a G Suite app URL to make the file do one of these options. Nope, all you need is the click of a button! G Suite apps include Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Drawings.

First, navigate to the Chrome web store using the link above and add the extension to Chrome. Give any necessary permissions as prompted. A white icon with gold links for eyes and a black hat will be added to the other extensions already installed.

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Any time a Google app file is open, this extension can be executed. Simply click it and the following options appear:

  • Force copy – page loads without preview and button that makes users create a copy first
  • Preview – view file without menus and toolbars
  • Template – preview file & easily create a copy
  • PDF – when entered, URL will automatically download the file as a PDF

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Sir Links-A-Lot also provides a few more handy buttons. These buttons quickly copy the new URL to the clipboard, shorten it with goo.gl, or open a link to the new URL in a new tab

Hopefully, this extension will make things a lot easier when sharing G Suite files, especially if sharing them for trainings or conference resources. No more having to remember ways to fix URLs. Just click a button! Sir Links-a-Lot has your back.

Resources

Tech Bytes: How to Offer Successful 1:1 PD for Your Staff in 4 Steps!

Last year I implemented a new program with my staff called Tech Bytes. This program featured 1:1 professional development for staff that met their schedule needs and did not occur after school at all. Each session ran for 30 minutes, and though staff may have taken sessions on the same topic, I tailored the way I taught it to the technology needs of each staff member. At the end of the year, I found that I had a decently sized group of teachers that repeatedly scheduled these sessions with me.

Reasons why my staff love Tech Bytes:
– 30 minutes of their planning period
– Based on their schedule, not mine
– Not after school
– Variety of sessions each month, with follow-ups as needed
– 1:1 mostly, small groups as requested

I’ve brought Tech Bytes back for year 2. I am in charge of both secondary schools in my district this year, and spend 2 days each week at each school, and rotate my Fridays. I’ve already set up my Tech Bytes for August and September, and as of this writing, have scheduled 24 sessions with teachers. The average teacher has scheduled 2-3 sessions from the 5 available for this timeframe. To compare, last year I only had 13 sessions scheduled for all of August/September. This year the form has only been out for 4 days and already I’ve just about doubled my sign-ups.

Want to offer Tech Bytes to your staff? Here’s how you can do it!

Step 1: Decide on 5-6 PD sessions to feature every 1-2 months
Before doing anything, you should have an idea of the sessions that will be offered to teachers. This year I am trying to make sure I offer both Google and Edtech options to my staff. I offer 5-6, but you can start with less in the beginning. Last year I tried to offer at least 3, and have stepped up my game.

Step 2: Create a Google Form for staff to select sessions that interest them
Google Forms is a great way to get staff to sign up as interested in sessions! If you are in charge of PD for multiple schools, you’ll want to create one form that leads to multiple sections based on the answer to where each staff member is located. Each PD question should name the session, provide a description of what is included in each session, and a yes/no multiple choice answer option. At the end of the form, use the checkbox grid question type to create a list of the weeks and the days available each week.

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Step 3: Email staff, and include the link to the Google form
Once a form is ready, I create an email to send to staff to make them aware of the sessions for the month. This email lists each session with a description and includes a link to the form to sign up. I send the emails every Monday for every Tech Bytes monthly series. I use RightInbox to send scheduled emails, but please keep in mind I use the paid subscription because I send many different scheduled emails each month.

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Step 4: Review the collected Forms data in Google Sheets & contact staff
I set up my Google Forms to email me when a response has been submitted about Tech Bytes. I then review the data in Google Sheets, noting what the staff member has expressed interest in and the dates they are available. I email each member, asking them to confirm dates and to select a 30-minute slot during their planning for PD. Once we work out the date and time, I create Google calendar invites for each session and send those out.

That’s all there is to it! I repeat the process every month until the end of the year. I usually feature sessions based on staff/adminstration request, new items from the Fluco Toolbox posts I write, or updates to other tools. Offering professional development as Tech Bytes has truly made all the difference for myself and my staff!