Noel Erskine, Technology Coordinator Norris Schools

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Security - Don't share what some these folks are sharing! Something to drive home with our teachers.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Here is a recent email that I sent out to staff, but wanted to share since many of us use Google Apps in our private lives as well.   These security concerns came to light a few days ago. This article says they removed the search feature... but four days later... it's still there.

Security - We do try to keep you informed! 

Sorry - This is a long blurb... but very interesting.... 

We have really been trying to educate you on not opening attachments and falling for fake emails that send you to sites where they harvest your info. Asking you to log into Gmail when you are not actually on a legitimate Goole site, etc...  (Called phishing emails or attacks.) 

Today... I just want to point out... Make sure you know about sharing settings on documents. I know we have been using Google Docs for almost years now... but we still need to revisit security practices regularly.   Only share publically if you want that to be public. Sounds simple... but many do not.  Microsoft is playing catch up with Google with online documents and sharing.  Many of their users apparently do not know about sharing settings. 

Not sure why Microsoft does this... but you can go to their website and search for documents users have made public. (I am glad Google does not do this!)   Interesting to see how people have messed up.  

I removed the links to these documents since I am posting this publicly, but if you search for many interesting terms, you may find them and many others that people should never be sending out: 
Guessing this person does not really want to share the entire client list for their company...  or this person asking for their pardon ...  or this company's Sales history .....This guys Ambulance bill was pretty high ... or this person's phone application in India.  WOW! Some people and their companies are asking to be scammed. 

Why do I point this out?   Make sure you only share things with the audience you want to have access.  I have a lot of my tech training docs shared publicly... but I never share any network documents with information about our local network, devices, passwords, etc....

Google is very safe..... (and for that matter Microsoft probably is too) but we can accidently share things with the people or groups that we do want to have access.  Normally security comes down to the end user.   So always be cautious with emails and your share settings on docs. 

If a folder is shared with person X, Y and Z ... when you create a file in that folder... that fiels is then shared with person X, Y and Z. 

Not sure how to share or check a file - This doc should help. 

(This blurb is not triggered by any issues here at Norris, but a recent security article that pointed out the Microsoft Doc user problems mentioned above.)

Don't be Phished

Great tech tips... web tools, QR, Google, and more.... Our new app, and more... in this weeks posting.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Check out our new Mobile App for Norris!

I would encourage you (and your students) to download the new Norris mobile app for your phones and tablets. Make sure you do the initial setup as directed to customize the content for your needs.  Be the first to find out when school is closed!  Lunch menus, schedules, news, and more... all at your fingertips.  Just had a staff member tell me it's awesome...glad to hear that feedback!  Visit

Web tools and sites

A new safe search site for kids - Kiddle - check it out. 

Bamboozle - Create your own educational games for free, or play some of their pre-made games. Sample geography one here. 

Creating Elementary Portfolios with SeeSaw. (Free version and paid versions avail.) 10-minute audio podcast with links to items mentioned in the podcast. 

Nice listing of web creation tools (And a great example of an Adobe Spark Page.) (Scroll down the page.)

Practical Ed Tech Tip of the Week – Try Know Recorder for Creating Video Lessons Their support page has some nice short intro videos to introduce you to this site and app.

Online audio Editing:

Edit sounds online! Free Technology for Teachers: 3 Online Alternatives to Audacity

Assessment tools:

Sure... Kahoot, Socrative, and few of my other favorites are in this list... but there are some other new ones too! This is a great list! - Know Students Better: 17 Tools for Formative Assessment

Google Chrome and apps:

150+ Chrome Apps and Extensions for Teachers and Students (Updated!) (I love how they present the list with the cards and short descriptions of the app/extension. 

Google Classroom:
New Feature! (Released Jan 2017) Google Classroom – Late Work Notifications

Google Sheets:

The Easier Way to Freeze Rows and Columns in Google Sheets - Via BetterCloud Monitor | There are simple tips that make a huge difference. If you're a Google Sheets user, this is one of those tips.

Google Photos:

Google Slides:

How to Add Your Voice to Google Slides - Short 3 min. how-to video

YouTube news:

Sad to see Annotations going away.  An awesome YouTube tool, that many never used..... BUT -- NEW --  Keep fans engaged with Cards & End Screens as we say goodbye to Annotations Editor  This short 2 1/2 minute video will show you how. 

Google Drawing:

Avoid clicking on emails, they are constantly phishing you - Hot of Twitter! 

Awesome video tool, free apps for the day/week, cool tools, tips and more in this weeks tech posting..

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A couple nice apps - Free for a limited time:

First giveaway ever. Free for just one day! No ads. No in-apps. Best sound level meter in your pocket! 

Teach Your Monster Read for iOS – Free Through the Weekend 

Web tools and sites:

One for the K-2 Math folks -- a fantastic FREE web-based tool that provides mind-growing monthly math challenges to unlock your students’ higher-order thinking. Plus can be used as an independent math center to provide math enrichment that supplements your curriculum. (Looks like this one works on about any all 

Free Technology for Teachers: 7 Great Tools for Creating Flipped Lessons from Existing Videos from Richard Byrne’s (Contains a few of my favorites - EDPuzzle PlayPosit and more....) 

I have mentioned this one in past... but worth noting again!  Learn how to make your own Jeopardy-style review game with Flippity and Google Sheets and gamify your classroom for greater learning. 

Top 10 Music Tools - Web and Mobile

CommonLit -- Free Fiction & Nonfiction Literacy Resources, Curriculum, & Assessment Materials for Middle & High School English Language Arts

Looking for science videos for younger students? Check out SciShow Kids

Simple Video Recording:
Loom just released integration with Gmail and Drive which is really cool. Not sure if you have seen this one, but it's pretty cool for creating a quick talking head or other videos. (You can even download them.) 

Inline image 1

I have updated my doc "Creating Video and Video Slide Shows" to include these new features. Check it out for some more great, simple and free tools.

Google Docs:

This is a pretty slick idea - Never thought of doing this! An Easy Way to Color Code and Organize Ideas in a Google Doc (Nice way for students to organize their thoughts within a doc.) 

Google Keep:
I mentioned this in my last tech posting/email and very seldom do I mention something twice in a row... this is great!  Google Docs just added Google Keep integration! Chek out my help doc... and make sure you watch the short video on how easy it is for inserting comments from Keep into a Google Doc. 

We do not recommend using the Google Drive Sync Program. 
We have very few staff members using the Google Drive Syn program that get's installed on your computer.  (Similar to an installable program that Dropbox has that keeps your local computer files synced to Dropbox.)  You big reason for not using it is that a virus or ransomware program on your computer would infect those files and they would then get synced to your Google drive and infect those files on Drive. (The other reason is that it can fill up your local computer PC/Mac drive if you do not know what you are doing setting up the sync.) 

Google Classroom:

Google is opening up Google Classroom to users without G Suite for Education accounts. Now, teachers and students in many different environments can teach or attend classes, manage assignments and instantly collaborate—all with their personal Google accounts.

Are we preparing for our 1-1 and more devices here at Norris???

Ran across this great advice via a tweet

All of my tech emails are archived!

Remember, all of tech emails are posted and archived on my blog so you can easily reference them at any time!

Free Apps, tips, Google Keep!, and other cool tech stuff in this weeks list.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Check your Spam folder on a daily basis - Make it a part of your routine.

95% of what goes in your spam folder is junk... so you can delete it right away.  But at time legitimate emails find their way into spam.  Check the spam folder on a daily basis. Short how-to video.  If there are certain emails that you want to make sure that do not land in your spam folder, you can set up filters. This short video will walk you through the process of setting up a filter. 

Web sites and tools:

National Geographic Videos for Your Next Lesson - 360-degree videos!  Check out their list here

Discovery News is a YouTube channel full of videos for use in your classroom.

10 great websites to access and find quality audiobooks for your students. 

Technology Task/App Challenges for Teachers by Ron Burke TOUCH this image to discover its story. Image tagging powered by ThingLink

Practical Ed Tech Tip of the Week – Use Toontastic 3D to Create Animated Videos. (Free IOS & Google Play apps.) 

4 Virtual Exit Slip Prompts to Check for Understanding with Spark Post.  (I love all the free Adobe Spark tools!  Post is one that can get overlooked in the classroom.) 

Use Google Drive to Fill Out PDF Forms - Via BetterCloud Monitor | If you don’t have the right software, filling out PDF forms on your computer can be a frustrating experience. Luckily, this trick using Google Drive makes filling out PDF forms a breeze.

How to Embed Charts from Google Sheets in Slides and Docs (And Update Them with One Click) - Via BetterCloud Monitor | If you use the same chart in multiple documents and presentations in G Suite, and that chart changes, it's time-consuming to replace it in each and every file. Luckily, with this update, you don't have to worry about that anymore.

Teach Your Monster to Read: This site is great for the younger students and ESL students.

inklewriter is a free tool designed to allow anyone to write and publish interactive stories. It’s perfect for writers who want to try out interactivity, but also for teachers and students looking to mix computer skills and creative writing.

Sutori:  This is a place students can create their own digital story timelines. (Check out some of the samples to see what students can do with this tool. Pretty cool.) 

The end of passive viewing - Engage viewers by integrating quizzes, polls, and CTAs into videos.  I like EdPuzzle much better for it's features in education, but Vizia has some merits with a few videos too. (Vizia makes a quiz from any video and sends answers to a spreadsheet! Nice for creating more interaction with your videos.) 

Machine Learning?  --This one is fun to see in action. (Have your volume up to hear it.)  Quick, Draw:  This is a game built with machine learning. You draw, and a neural network tries to guess what you’re drawing. 

If you have not tried Google Keep - Now may be a good time! (This has turned into a great Google tool with many applications for teachers and students!) 

Google’s Note-Taking App Keep Joins G Suite, Now Integrates with Google Docs - Check out my Google Keep Tips and Tricks to get you started with this tool

Create a Shared Checklist With Google Keep - Via BetterCloud Monitor | Collaborating on a grocery list? Organizing tasks in a group project? Try creating a shared checklist in Google Keep. This short 1 minute video will get you started

Google Chrome:

12 Power Apps and Extensions for Chrome (This list contains a few of my favorites including Magic Actions for YouTube! Note- Snagit is no longer available, but Nimbus gets a nod ) 

Google Sheets:

Flippity now has a Google Sheets add-on!  <--- CHECK IT OUT   With this add-on Easily turn a Google™ Spreadsheet into a Set of Online Flashcards and Other Cool Stuff.  

Google Slides:

Advanced Tips and Tricks for Google Slides  Via -BetterCloud Monitor | You might already know the basics for making awesome presentations using Google Slides. But there are a few more features you can use to make your design and flow even better.

Google Sites:

If you use the new Google Sites and want a way to easily embed your recent Drive files or folders in a web page, check this out.

Google Docs:

How to Link to a Specific Paragraph in Google Docs - Short How-To Video.  Via etterCloud Monitor | If you ever have a Google Doc that’s tens or hundreds of pages long, it can be difficult to find a specific section of text. To save time, try providing a direct link to a specific paragraph in your document.

Check out these Add-Ons and Templates for Google Docs and Sheets developed for education. (You will not find these in the add-on store!) 

Google Forms:

How to Insert a Logo (or class graphic) in Google Forms - This short 2 -minute video will get you started. Extra tip - Need to create a graphic? Use Canva! 

Google Classroom:

IOS Apps:

Must-Have iPad Apps for Content Creation - Many of these are great free apps (Adobe Spark,  Shadow Pupets, etc... and a few of the paid apps we have licenses for. - Puppet Pals) 

Phonto: Add text to photo’s…a lot of great ways to use this in the classroom. (Free) 

Wordimals! - Free for today (3-14-17)- Unlock the full version! Fun word game for kids and the entire family!

Today only: Unlock the full version free of charge! Access the in-app store, tap on “No Ads and Infinite Keys,” and confirm your action. Wordimals is loaded with fun themed word searches that the whole family can enjoy. Pick a grid size and a category, and then get to work. At the bottom of the screen you’ll see how many words need to be found and the length of each word. Drag your finger over letters in any direction in order to connect them. Time is ticking, however, so move quickly. The game allows you to skip any level at any time, and features a forgiving hint system. It also includes more than 200 word searches.

Amazing web tools, several free apps and more in this week's posting.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Thanks for attending the tech sessions on our 2-17-17 PD Day!
Here is a link to the topics that I covered in my Google Session. (Some are just talking points I used during my presentation/demo so some of it may not be helpful.)   Thanks to all of the presenters for their willingness to help and share! 

Summer tech classes offered at Norris:
I have had several staff members ask if classes were going to be available again this year.  The answer is yes, and we would love to work with you! 

You can take the classes for 3 graduate credits through Doane College.  

Here is a direct link to a Google Doc that lists all of the offerings. Fee free to share this with other teachers/schools. 

GP Summit -  Last Call for Norris Registrations!  (We pay for your $219 fee!) 

Norris staff - If you are interested in attending, complete this form.  <---- Register now! - Due Monday, March 6th

Are you still a reply all kind of person?

There are times it's very appropriate..... but other times it's not....

As you know my office is right next to Dr. Skrett's and Dr. Maschmann's office... and I recently overheard a conversation about a new guy they are hiring to address this.... I figured I had better warn everyone.  

 (I know... It's only funny if you have seen the movie Taken.) 

Web sites, tools, and resources:

Learn how your students can use Adobe Spark (I love the Spark Tools!) to easily and creatively tell their own stories to the world. (I love the free Spark tools.)  (This article mentions the app, but they are great web tools for Chrome on the Chromebooks, Mac's and PC's. And yes... their apps rock too!) 

Here are some other great ideas for taking Kahoot! to the next level.

There are now over 13.9 MILLION public Kahoots created! ... Are you using this fun, free, online assessment game?  6 Creative Ways to Use the new Jumble Feature on Kahoot

Krita Is a Fast, Flexible, and Free Photoshop Alternative Built by Artists.  I Have not had a chance to try it out... but the price is right and looks great! 

Even though President's Day is over,,, check out these resources - 9 Presidents’ Day Apps and Websites

Lantern - Search Thousands of Media History Documents  The Media History Digital Library is a massive archive of books and magazines about the history of film, television, and radio.

How do I import my Google Classroom roster to Khan Academy? Two powerful tools working together! 

Google templates:

Google Templates for Students - Looking for a template to get your students started on a project? We’ve found some great Google Docs templates to use as they are or change up to match your classroom.

Google Slides:

Google Forms:

How to Use Google Forms for Your Business - (Great applications for schools too.) 

Google Sheets:

5 Great Google Sheets Add-ons for Teachers (There were a couple new ones for me in this list!) 


10 great websites to access and find quality audiobooks for your students.

Remind - nice tool for reminding student's and parents via text messages.
They do not know your cell number... and you do not know their number!  It's free for teachers to use.  (They charge for a district plan... but we use School Messenger for those needs.)  Check it out. 

Free Apps -


Turns your iPhone or iPad into full-featured PDF document scanner.

Moose Math is a cute free app from Duck Duck Moose and Khan Academy. The app is designed to help young students learn how to count, how to add, and how to subtract.  Note - IOS & Android

Some great web sites, tech opportunities, tips, a couple handy apps that are free for a limited time.. and more in this weeks tech tips!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A note to just my Norris staff, but aplicable to most school districts...Please print to the copiers when possible!
Are you sending your print jobs to the copier? If so... you are saving the district money!
It costs a lot more to send print jobs to the HP printers than to the copiers.  Many districts limit the amount of prints and copies teachers can make.  This is something we have avoided, but we do appreciate anything staff can do to help out.  The printers are there for a purpose so feel free to use them.  But if you are printing a lot of copies... please send the jobs to the copiers.  (The copiers also duplex... so it saves paper as well printing costs.)

Hope this is not you:

I hate to say this... but you know me... never a shortage for words!  The above statement is true for almost everyone, not just educators. (Para's, Custodians, Bus Drivers, etc...) 

The Nation Needs More Cybersecurity Teachers - Great opportunity for you and your students!

Receive 8 Clock Hours of CEU Credit - Online and Free! 

Corporate-Funded Scholarships Enable Cyber Teacher Professional Development At No Cost to You or Your School. Be Part of the Solution to the Cyber Skills Shortage.
1 Million Open and Unfilled Cyber Positions in 2016. Cyber job growth is on the rise.

Norris teachers - If you are interested - Let me know! (There will be a reward for any teachers completing this!)

Tech tools and websites: 

How to Create Gorgeous, Professional Graphics in Minutes - Via BetterCloud Monitor | Don’t have professional design chops? No worries. With Canva–which has been dubbed “the easiest to use design program in the world”–it’s super simple (and free) to create beautiful graphics. (Canva is one of my favorite tools!)

Use Google Drive to Fill Out PDF Forms  Via BetterCloud Monitor | If you don’t have the right software, filling out PDF forms on your computer can be a frustrating experience. Luckily, this trick using Google Drive makes filling out PDF forms a breeze. 

Alice Keelers 892 Quia Math Activities - You can copy to your Quia account and edit, or just use them as-is without an account. 

Save your screenshots instantly to Google Drive with this Chrome extension

The New York Public Library just released a treasure trove of images you can use for free.

5 Secret Google Drive Keyboard Shortcuts to Impress Your Friends With - Via BetterCloud Monitor | To get the most out of Google Drive, there are a few little-known keyboard shortcuts you can use. Here are five shortcuts for common tasks that’ll power up your productivity (and impress your friends).

1-2-3 Easy Drag & Drop Website Creator for Teachers and Students - (This article features Adobe's free Spark Page App/Site.  Great for creating online fliers, online posters, etc....  VERY easy to use!) 

Some great resources from out very own Katie Elder. She participates in the Technology Leadership group at our ESU 6. Check out her top 8 resources in this Google HyperDoc. (Interactive Google Document that allows you to link to websites and resources,) 

9 Ways to Create Videos on Chromebooks - Some new one's on this list. Via Free Technology for Teachers. (Richard Byrne - a tech rock star.) 

A Great Example of Using Google Maps in Science via Free Technology for Teachers. 

Use this Awesome Tool to Take Notes While Watching Videos - Via BetterCloud Monitor | lets you watch any video and take notes side by side on the same screen. It also automatically syncs your notes and video. Plus, your notes are stored in Google Drive for easy access and sharing.  Article here  and short video (2 Min.)  I have promoted this one in the past... it's a winner for any class assignment where you want kids to watch a video and take notes on the video. 

Six Tools for Collaborative Brainstorming - A Comparison Chart

Eight important Google Docs tips for teachers and students. I bet there are a few you have not used with your classes. 

Google Chrome Extensions: A Big Ol List - Alice Keeler's list of useful Chrome Extensions.  (Notice how she used OneTab to simply create this list and share it with one simple URL.) I love OneTab. 

Know Students Better: 17 Tools for Formative Assessment  (Some great ones in this list (Plinkers, Socrative, Seesaw) and some new ones!) 

Internet Archive's Wayback Machine is a digital time capsule of the World Wide Web...

Turn Google Sheets into an Automatic Bookmark/Citation Tool - When you’re doing research online, you don’t have to manually collect and save information. Try Citable, a helpful Chrome extension that simplifies how you gather research.

Download YouTubes - I was recently asked what my favorite site/tool is for accomplishing this.  Check out this site. 

Ultimate TCEA 2017 Ed Tech App Roundup. (Many new sites & Apps in this list!) 

Reading & Math Websites for Parents
Thanks to our very own Alisha Bollinger and staff for putting together this great list for parents.  It includes websites that are useful for parents looking for additional resources for home. 

Google Drive:

To Find Files in Google Drive, Search Like You Talk - Watch this short 2 minute video to get to started. 

Google Drive:

Google Sheets:

Link to cell ranges in Google Sheets - Because it can be difficult to navigate large and complex spreadsheets, we’re introducing the ability to link to specific cell ranges in Google Sheets on the web.

Google Sites:

How to Organize Pages in the New Google Sites - Via  BetterCloud Monitor | New to the new Google Sites? Don’t worry. Let’s go over some of the basics. We’ll cover adding, deleting, hiding, nesting, and reordering pages.

Google Slides:

How to Use the Q&A Feature in Google Slides  Via BetterCloud Monitor | With this interactive Q&A feature, you can collaborate with your audience by allowing them to submit questions and vote on them during Slides presentations.

Google Forms:

Add Images to Questions and Answers in Google Forms - Via BetterCloud Monitor | With this feature, you can insert images into survey questions or add images as multiple choices options. (This was released in the fall of 2016.  Great for quiz questions, etc... Hopefully you have already used this feature!) 

Your Computer is Infected - Please call this number!

Do not fall for this one... but people do.... 

Basically,  you have been directed to a site that will display this page or pop-up and get you call a number so they can get your credit card number, and charge you a fee to "Fix" your problem.  Be smart... do not fall for these scams!

Some free apps:

RadioApp - A simple radio for iPhone and iPod touch by Tal Shrestha gone FREE

Price Drop: $1.99 --> FREE  Easily tune in to local radio stations and to radio stations from all over the world, using a unique analog-like tune

Magnifier Flash - VERY HANDY! A magnifying glass with light by Tekton Technologies (P) Ltd. gone FREE

Price Drop: $0.99 --> FREE