technology

Fluco Toolbox: StockSnap

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 more free images for use in projects or presentations? Wanted a second option for your students to use?

Today’s Fluco Toolbox tool is: StockSnap.io

First, the basics:

Name: StockSnap.io
URL: https://stocksnap.io/
Cost: FREE
Problem this tool solves: Website that hosts a free collection of images for download. All images fall under CC0 licensing and do not require attribution.

I love browsing the r/Teachers forum on Reddit, mostly because I can usually find new ideas or tools for my teachers. Last week was no different. I happened to be reading a thread about copyright and images when a user pointed out StockSnap. Like Pixabay, it’s another image site to search for images that fall under CC0 licensing. Always handy to have more than one image website!

First, visit the website listed above. Enter the keywords for the desired image. I decided to search for cats.

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Browse through the results. The first images shown are sponsored through Shutterstock. Ignore these and scroll down. Select the desired image.

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The image will load. Scroll down and select the red “Free Download” button. The difference between Stocksnap and Pixabay in terms of downloading images is that Stocksnap does not offer different image sizes for download. It only downloads as one large, high-quality image.

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Up to this point, no account has been needed. Users only need to create an account if planning to a) submit photos to the website or b) favorite images to find later. If creating an account on Stocksnap, all that is required is an email and password. An email will be sent to the email used to confirm the account.

Enjoy this free photo resource!

Resources

How to Create Goal Trackers & Behavior Plans in Google Forms

Recently I’ve been tasked with helping special education teachers and case managers create behavior plans and goal trackers for students. It’s a process that has always been done via paper and pencil, or by collecting data via emailed questions. The process has its flaws of course. Students lose papers given to them, teachers don’t always email back, and it’s hard to track all of the data in one place.

One teacher asked if there was any way to turn this into a digital process so the data could be stored and gathered in one location. Through our collaborative effort, we began playing with Google Forms, and thus, created a behavior form that would work for the student. After working out the kinks, and training the teacher to analyze the collected data, we were rolling. And now she’d never go back to the old way.

Word got out about the process, and I was soon approached by case managers at the high school needing to track data on student IEP goals from teachers. These case managers didn’t see the students and relied on the information from teachers to help track student progress. I began helping these teachers create goal trackers in Forms, using the same process.

I’ve finally had a chance to create a series of tutorial videos for those teachers needing to know how to make them, but that I may not have a chance to see. I wanted to share this series with everyone else as well because I believe it’s very helpful. The tutorial series is broken down into sections so that viewers can easily skip to the part needed, rather than watching one long video.

Creating Goal Trackers & Behavior Forms Video Tutorials

Fluco Toolbox: SlidesCarnival

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 gotten bored of the available Google Slides themes or the PowerPoint templates available by default? Used the same template or theme over and over again?

Today’s Fluco Toolbox tool is: Slides Carnival

First, the basics:

Name: SlidesCarnival
URL: http://www.slidescarnival.com
Cost: FREE
Problem this tool solves: Provides a large variety of free themes and templates that work for both Google Slides and Microsoft PowerPoint presentations. Each one includes a variety of slide types, suggestions for the slides, and even some icons, too.

Today’s Fluco Toolbox is simple, yet it can add so much variety to presentations you may make in the future. SlidesCarnival is a nifty website that hosts a variety of free templates and themes for both PowerPoint and Slides. The goal of the site is to help the user create visually memorable presentations for audiences.

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The site is easy to use and navigate. Themes and templates are categorized in the gray bar at the top of the screen. Choose one to begin. Templates/themes can also be searched for as well. Once a category has been selected, scroll down to view the available options.

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Click on the title of the theme to go to its informational page. Scroll down to read a description of the template and what type of slides are included. at the very bottom is a preview of the template, allowing the user to click through the slides and check out the options.

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All the user has to do is select whether or not to download it in Slides or PowerPoint by clicking the corresponding button. Google Slides will open a new Slides presentation. It DOES NOT save the theme to the Themes section. PowerPoint is the same way.

Once the template is loaded, create a brand new presentation, and make sure the audience remembers it! Need help? SlidesCarnival has this nifty FAQ to help answer common questions.

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: 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!