google+

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.

extensity2.png

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.

extensity

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:

 

bookmarks1

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

bookmarks2.png

You’ll now see something similar to the following:

bookmarks3.JPG

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.

bookmarks4

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

Fluco Toolbox: Taking Screenshots on a Chromebook

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 around 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 students to capture an image on their screen? Needed students to capture their whole screen? Or have students found that they can’t save an image and need to capture it?

Today’s Fluco Toolbox tool is: the keyboard shortcut to do just that!

First, the basics:

Name: Take a screenshot on a Chromebook
URL: N/A
Cost: N/A
Problem this tool solves: Allows you to capture all or part of the screen on a Chromebook

If you’ve ever needed to capture part of a screen on a Chromebook, or even the entire screen, there’s a special keyboard shortcut that accomplishes this. I use this shortcut often, and it’s how I get any training images I take while using my Chromebook. There’s no extra program to open, just 3 keys to press and hold at the same time.

First, you need to press the CTRL + Shift + Switch Windows buttons and hold them all down at the same time. Unsure of what the “Switch Windows” button is? Never fear! Check out this keyboard below. The key is circled, and can be found just above the “6” key.

20170731_143716

When the keys are pressed, the screen will darken. I have tried to capture this in the two images below, but it is still hard to notice. The image on the left is a darkened screen, ready to be highlighted, and the image on the right is the regular view. If you decide that you no longer need to take a screenshot, just press ESC to exit the screenshot process.

To take a screenshot on the now darkened screen, all you need to do is click in the spot where you’d like to begin, and then drag out until you have captured whatever you need. Make sure you hold down on the mouse button the entire time. Here you can see the difference between the darkened part of the screen and the part being selected for a screenshot:

20170731_145121

When finished, simply release the button, and a window will pop up in the lower right stating that the screenshot has been taken. It has been saved to the Chromebook’s storage area.

20170731_145127

Students will need to immediately access the device’s storage and move the image to their Google Drive. Files saved to the school Chromebooks are not permanent, and are deleted whenever the Chromebook is logged out of an account or is shut down.

Resources

Need a visual? Check out this quick YouTube video:

(Do note that this video features a Chromebook that keeps work on it as long as needed. This is not the case with our student Chromebooks!)

 

Fluco Toolbox image created by Stephanie King (Fan) for this series. Please do not use without permission.

Becoming a Google Certified Educator

As of Saturday, March 3, I have successfully passed both Level 1 and Level 2 exams to become a Google Certified Educator. This has been on my “to-do” list since I became an ITRT in Fluvanna County. I had originally intended to do it much sooner, but always put it off for one reason or another. That all changed when I had the chance to take boot camps on my district’s dime to better my craft. Of course, I jumped at the chance!

My journey to becoming Google Certified started with me working through some of the Google Training Center materials. I didn’t complete all of it for Level 1, and I learned a lot through hands-on application with other teachers. I had to take the Level 1 exam prior to Level 2 boot camp, so I instead used Kasey Bell’s Level 1 Matrix to see what I would need to know for my exam. I browsed the matrix and studied only the material I didn’t use often or didn’t feel confident using. My fellow Google colleagues told me that I based on what I did with my teachers and talked about with them meant I was pretty well prepared for the first exam.

I took the initial exam in December 2017 before winter break. It was far too easy for me, but that’s my own experience. I was able to finish it in just over an hour and felt very confident in my ability to pass. It wasn’t too long before I received the confirmation email with my pass status, and then later my Level 1 badge to display as proof of my knowledge.

From there, I waited for February and Level 2 boot camp. I opted to not complete any of the study materials in the Google Training Center this time around. This was mostly because I expected to get the best information from boot camp and not because I felt it was subpar. Until then, I continued exploring and learning G Suite.

Boot camp day rolled around, and I was excited. It was a very fast-paced, on your toes kind of day. I didn’t find the information to be too difficult, and by the end of boot camp, I felt very confident in my skillset. I planned to take the exam the following weekend, but that didn’t quite pan out. I actually forgot to take the exam because I was very involved in painting rocks. It was a good thing that I hadn’t registered for the exam yet!

It was probably a good thing I waited though because Kasey Bell released a Level 2 Matrix document that I could use to help me study. I reviewed the document, noting where I was weak and would probably have to Google something during the exam.

When I finally took the exam on the 3rd, I was very nervous. I knew from my tech friends who had already taken the exam that it was more in depth and would take me longer to complete. Because I’d completed Level 2 boot camp with EdTechTeam, I got a $25 voucher to cover the cost of the exam.

Taking the exam the 2nd time was indeed more difficult. I found that I would second guess myself quite a few times, and I had to look up more online than I had before. It also took me longer to complete, just over 2 hours this time around. I submitted my exam and was not completely sure that I passed. It was definitely a tense few minutes, that’s for sure!

In the end, I passed my exam. I was probably more excited than I had been for Level 1, but that’s because it felt so much harder on round 2. I’m pleased that I’m certified at Level 1 & Level 2, and I’m now ready to move on to my next goal – Google Trainer. I needed to have both of the GCE exams under my belt, and now I can focus on putting together all of the documentation for that instead. I have a long way to go, and I plan to apply for that in May 2019.

Fluco Toolbox: Screencastify

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 record what you’re doing on your device, such as if you’re trying to demonstrate learning or create a tutorial video for others?

Today’s Fluco Toolbox tool is: Screencastify

First, the basics:

Name: Screencastify
URL: Chrome Webstore Link
Cost: FREE with paid options
Problem this tool solves: Use this Chrome extension to record your entire screen, tab, or webcam, and save the videos to your Google Drive or local machine.

Sometimes we need to make a quick video of what’s going on on our screens. It could be to demonstrate something, to create a tutorial, or something else. There are many robust, paid options out there, but often, free versions will do. In today’s case, we’re going to look at the free side of Screencastify.

The free version of Screencastify allows users to record videos up to 10 minutes in length, with a maximum of 50 videos recorded per month. Videos will also include Screencastify’s watermark. For the majority of educators, this is all they will ever need. For those who want more, like cropping and trimming and no watermark, a $24 annual fee is charged.

First, download Screencastify from the Chrome Web Store. Add Screencastify to Chrome, and watch the extension install. Once installed, it will always be a black strip of film. Click this to begin using the program.

screencastify1

When first beginning to use Screencastify, users will need to create an account. Clicking the black film strip icon will walk one through the process. Once done, an account will be set up, and recordings will be saved in Google Drive. Chances are, the user will need to click the black film strip again. Once clicked, this box will now appear:

screencastify2

Screencastify offers three options for recording- tab, desktop, and cam. Tab recording records only the open tab. Users cannot switch back and forth between tabs to record. Desktop records the entire screen, so switching between tabs is feasible. Finally, cam simply uses the webcam to record video of the user. Users will need to select which of these options they would like to use, as well as any of the other options available under each tab. Then click the orange “Record” button.

Screencastify will do a 3-2-1 countdown, and the recording will begin. Users can pause or end the recording at any time within the time limit.

screencastify3

If recording a tab or screen, users have a gray toolbar at the bottom of the screen that allows them to use a focused mouse pointer, a pen tool to draw on the screen, and an eraser. There are also options to wipe the screen clean or to embed the webcam in the recording.

screencastify5

As soon as the recording is ended, a new screen will load. This screen will play the recorded video, and on the far right side will show the information for the recording as it is saved in Drive. Videos can be deleted from this screen, downloaded, or shared. The option to crop/trim is shown, but can only be done with a paid account. The right side of the screen will update as soon as the recording is saved in Drive. Users will be able to copy the link.

screencastify4.PNG

Speaking of Drive, videos taken with Screencastify are saved to a folder in Drive called Screencastify. Videos stored in this folder will need to be renamed once they have uploaded to the user’s Drive, as they are saved with the date and time stamp for a file name. Always make sure to change the name after the file has been uploaded to avoid confusion down the road.

With the recording stored in Drive and renamed, the user is free to share the video as seen fit. Videos are easily uploaded to Google Classroom or shared with other sites. Always check the share settings for the recording first to make sure that the necessary audience can see the video!

Resources

Fluco Toolbox: AwesomeDrive and UFO

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 around 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 wished that you could easily open Microsoft Office files (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) directly from your Drive, and have any changes sync back to your Drive? Have you hated having to download and then reupload changed files?

Today’s Fluco Toolbox tool is: AwesomeDrive and Universal File Opener

First, the basics:

Name: AwesomeDrive / Universal File Opener
URL: AwesomeDrive / UFO
Cost: FREE
Problem this tool solves: Use both of these extensions hand in hand, and you’ll be able to create new Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files from within your Drive. You’ll also be able to edit the files on your computer’s version of Office, and then sync changes back to your Google Drive.

bells-36250_640

There’s a wedding set, and you’re invited! Well, it’s like a wedding, in a weird, techy way. I’ve always had people ask if there was a way to get Drive to play well with Office, and thanks to these two extensions by AODocs, there is most definitely a way! I do caution that these extensions are not meant to be used on a Chromebook. However, these extensions will up your PC game, especially if you find yourself working with both Google and Microsoft files on a regular basis.

First, visit the Chrome web store by using the links provided above. Add both Awesome Drive and Universal File Opener to your Chrome browser. Make sure you provide all permissions. Once Universal File Opener is added, you’ll find an alert that says you need to install a sync client to your computer. Don’t worry. This program will allow your Word, Excel, or PowerPoint file to sync changes to your Drive once the file has been saved. It’s a quick install, and once you’ve done that, you’re set.

Now that everything is added and installed, let’s see what kinds of cool tricks we can now do with Drive and Office!

First go to your Drive. With AwesomeDrive, you now have some new features. Try clicking the blue “New” button to create a new file. Before, you were only able to create new Docs, Forms, Sheets, etc. Now, you’ll also see options for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. When you select one of these, you must name the file, and then it will open with the version of Office installed on your computer.

 

Once you’ve finished editing the document, simply save it and it will automatically sync to your Drive. No more downloading and uploading Office files for you!

Another cool feature you now have, thanks to Universal File Opener, is the ability to open any Word, Excel, or PowerPoint file from Drive. First, locate the file in your Drive. Instead of double-clicking on the file name, move your cursor to the right. You’ll see an icon of a computer with a pencil over it. Hovering over this shows the “Open File” text. Clicking it opens the file in your computer’s version of Office. Make any changes to the file and click Save. A small pop-up will notify you that the file is being synced to Drive. Make sure to save often!

 

After the file has been synced, another notification will pop up on the lower right corner of your screen notifying you that your file has been saved to Drive.

Using both AwesomeDrive and Universal File Opener should definitely make managing your files a lot easier. Give them a try!

Resources

Fluco Toolbox: Kaizena

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 around 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 a beefed up version of Google’s comment feature for Docs? Wished you could stop repeatedly typing the same comments over and over, or wanted to add voice comments? Wished that you didn’t need a program that required yet more student accounts and was instant?

Today’s Fluco Toolbox tool is: Kaizena

First, the basics:

Name: Kaizena
URL: Link Here (Or find with the Add-Ons menu in Google Docs)
Cost: FREE
Problem this tool solves: Kaizena’s recent switch to focusing on Google Docs makes it easy to add text comments, voice comments, track skills, and reuse common comments over and over again. No need for a special account for students, and everything syncs with Google.

If you looked at Kaizena before and cast it aside because you had to be using the website, you might want to give it another shot. I remember looking at this particular tool before and putting it aside because it just seemed like one more thing. However, Kaizena has changed their focus as of the end of January 2018. While their website still exists, and can be used, G Suite schools will find that Kaizena is focusing mainly on their new Google Docs add-on. This add-on is easy to use, and only teachers need accounts to provide feedback. Students do not need any special accounts, just the add-on. Based on that premise alone, I was intrigued, and I think you will be, too.

First, load Google Docs and go to the Add-Ons menu. Search for Kaizena, and add it to your account. Docs will install it in the background. Once installed, open it like any other add-on. A new window will slide into view.

When you first open Kaizena, you will be asked if you are a Teacher or Student. Teachers need to have an account to give others feedback, and clicking the Teacher button will walk you through this process. If you are just a student, chose that route, and give Kaizena any permissions that it asks for to access your Drive and Docs.

Every other time Kaizena loads, you’ll see a screen with a few different options- Voice Message, Track a Skill, Attach a Lesson, and Text Message. Let’s break each of these down:

  • Voice Message: Record your voice and leave a comment for students to listen to later. Students can also download the comment.
  • Track a Skill: This lets you give students feedback in the moment on how they are doing with a particular skill or standard, much like a rubric. Customize and reuse as necessary.
  • Attach a Lesson: When giving feedback, you can attach a lesson that has links to guides or videos about a certain skill, such as capitalizing beginnings of sentences. Reuse your custom lessons again and again!
  • Text Message: Similar to the regular commenting feature, this does just as you think. Write a text comment to be viewed later.

kaizena1.JPG

Since lessons and skills can be used again and again, they are stored and created on Kaizena’s website instead of in the add-on. More on how to create these later in this post.

Let’s look at using Kaizena. First, have a student share a document with you. This can be done in many ways, but chances are that Google Classroom is the most common method. Open the student’s document, and then start Kaizena from the Add-Ons menu.

Read through the student document. When you are ready to make a comment, highlight the text to be commented on. Choose to either make a text comment or a voice comment. Do note that you can change the color of the text that has been highlighted. This can be handy if you and a collaborative teacher will both be giving feedback on the document.

kaizena2

If choosing to make a text comment, simply type the text and post. If choosing to make a voice comment, first agree to allow Kaizena to access your microphone. Then record your comment. Notice that highlighted text stays highlighted as long as the Kaizena add-on is active. It will be hidden from the screen if turned off, but not deleted.

kaizena3.JPG

Example of a text comment with highlighted text.

kaizena4

Example of a voice comment with highlight

All comments are immediately available to the student. All the student must do is open the same document and load Kaizena from the Add-On menu. They will be able to review any comments left by the teacher, and leave replies, just as with the regular Google commenting feature.

Commenting, whether text or voice, is a great tool, but Kaizena lets you do more than just that. By utilizing their website, you can create reusable lessons or track skills. Let’s take a closer look at each of those.

Any time you make a comment on a student’s work, you can attach a lesson. Lessons can be customized and reused. They must be made on the website side of Kaizena. For example, if students are always forgetting to capitalize letters at the beginning of sentences, you can create a lesson on capitalizing that includes what students should do, and provides links to other websites or resources.

kaizena5

Click + New Lesson to create a new lesson for your Kaizena account.

kaizena6.JPG

Add comments that include links to videos or websites. You can even add voice comments as well!

kaizena7

Go back to the document and Add a Lesson. Start typing the name of the lesson, and click to add it.

Track a Skill is like a mini rubric. If you are focusing the assignment around certain skills, such as organization, this tool will let you track student progress toward mastery. Create a skill on the website and then edit to provide further details. You can describe what it means to receive each level, or modify the number of levels for a skill.

kaizena8

On the website, click the + New Skill button to begin.

kaizena9

Name the skill, and edit the different levels, as well as provide descriptions for each.

kaizena10.png

Go back to the document and Add a Skill. Start typing the name of the skill, and click to add it.

With all of these extra features, Kaizena takes adding comments and feedback to student work to the next level. Step up your feedback game and give this add-on a try!

Resources