Noel Erskine, Technology Coordinator Norris Schools

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💥 Tech items - Some great tech tips, new Meet features, Draftback is back!, smishing on the rise... and more in this Tuesday tech tips email

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

How are you coming with your Norris Required Tech & Remote Learning Teacher Tools and Skills For the 2020-21 School year???

Hope to see you at the Tech Book camp tomorrow and Thursday... and the new staff have their tech day on Friday!  Wow summer is gone.  Hope everyone is ready for an exciting year.  (Yes, there will be challenges and new procedures... but what a great opportunity for us to lead as educators.)  Don't forget your mask!  -A fun little Goggle Mask video

Draftback - ITS BACK! 

This is one of our favorite extensions and it stopped working a few months ago and the developer has updated it and ITS BACK! 
Adds a button into your Google Docs to playback the history like a movie.  Great for seeing how students made that doc/report.  

Connect Google Classroom with Applied Digital Skills

Connect it here. Applied Digital Skills is now better integrated with Google Classroom. Connect your Google Classroom account with your Applied Digital Skills dashboard to import your student roster, co-teachers, and assign lessons seamlessly. If you have not checked out Applied Digital Skills now may be the time especially if you incorporate digital skills within your curriculum. More info here. 

💻 How to Use Khan Academy for Distance Learning

Learn how to:
Set clear expectations for how students will use Khan Academy and receive feedback
Use our new Skills report to identify the most challenging topics and work through them live
Tap into Khan’s collection of five-minute Refresh activities to keep your students energized

A couple great add-ons and extensions for the Math teachers!
Hypatia is an add-on that allows you to easily insert equations into Google Docs, Slides, and Forms. 

Here is another one to try:
EquatIO for google - easily create mathematical equations, formulas, quizzes and more in g suite apps 
EquatIO is totally free for teachers. Other individual users can buy direct from our online store above. A single annual subscription costs $100, with discounted pricing for group and unlimited licenses. 

Casting your Chromebook to your projector
The Cast EDU extension may be gone - but after looking at their new way of doing it... Jason and myself actually think this may be better.  (And more reliable!)  Jason has updated our  casting doc.  Feel free to reach out to us if you need help or have questions. 

A few new Google Meet features:
Google will be rolling these out soon: 
  • Only meeting creators and calendar owners can mute or remove other participants. This ensures that instructors can't be removed or muted by student participants.

  • Only meeting creators and calendar owners can approve requests to join made by external participants. This means that students can’t allow external participants to join via video and that external participants can’t join before the instructor.

Meeting participants can’t rejoin nicknamed meetings once the final participant has left, unless they have meeting creation privileges to start a new meeting. This means if the instructor is the last person to leave a nicknamed meeting, students can’t join again until an instructor restarts the nicknamed meeting.

We have added a few new tools, tips, and extensions to our Video Conferencing document (Zoom and Meet).  A Google Meet extension to record attendance and more... Check them out! 

Miscellaneous tech tips & items:

Khan Academy and the Features You Might Have Missed - There are a lot of subjects. It's not just videos. 

Here’s a fun idea for back to school - A get to know you activity. 
 Make a copy of the template here.  I have added this template into our Google Slides template gallery

Text Message Phishing — or “Smishing” is on the rise.  Be Careful!
I am sure some of you have seen these and if not... they will be coming to your phone.  Be smart - just like phishing emails they want you to click on a link or maybe call a number.  (Notice the example below that was sent to me a while back.  It's a shortened URL link to click on.  It does not match any of my card numbers and the senders looks kind of strange as well.) 
Would you click on this one?  NOT! 

A great resource and local contact from the National Archives:
Dave is a retired Nebraska teacher who also spent several years with the National Archives teaching and working with K-12 students across the Nation.   You can reach out to him for more information at: 
Side note - I was in the same school district as Dave (Tri County) for 10 years.  Dave was a legendary teacher at TC for many years.  Students all knew him as an amazing teacher but when you were in classes you had to work hard and keep your nose to the grindstone. He was often the teacher that kids stopped back to see after graduation.  I guess it's all what we strive for as educators.  He has a passion for teaching, government and history.  (Yes he was a government and history teacher. lol)    

Hi Educators,

It should not take a Pandemic to introduce you or for some re-introduce a wonderful tool from the National Archives called DocsTeach. I am very proud to have been on the education staff at NARRA when it was launched in 2009 and helped create pieces of this amazing site. It has continued to grow and flourish providing over 11,000 primary sources along with over 1300 activities using these documents created by educators and Archives staff. Or you or your students can select documents and create your own fun and historic activities!

With hands-on access to primary sources and analysis techniques, students will form a connection to historical evidence and deepen their understanding of the past. Involve your whole class in an activity, or assign students to complete activities individually or in small groups – and turn their work in to you – on or the DocsTeach App for iPad. Activities align with Bloom’s Taxonomy and National History Standards.  

With a DocsTeach account, you can save and share the primary sources you discover. You can also create, save and share activities. And you gain access to hundreds of additional activities created by fellow educators. You can even copy and modify these activities to fit your needs.  

Like anything worthwhile, it takes time to explore and play to get comfortable with all that DocsTeach has to offer. You will see alignment with Bloom's and our National History Standards. Maybe start out using DocsTeach for a favorite unit---- mine is World War II and access primary sources like — letters, photographs, speeches, posters, maps, videos, and other document types.

If you find this site and the tools of value- share with colleagues. If you have questions about the National Archives or DocsTeach please contact me. If I cannot answer them I will tap my colleague Stephanie Greenhut who is the administrator of this site.  Good luck this year & please send some feedback on your experience with DocsTeach.

Your Colleague & Friend,

Dave Rosenbaum

*As you will discover, there are resources that would fit the comprehension level of K-12...

Favorites-   You can type in the id # in the search to pull these documents up

United States check to Russia for Alaska ID 301667
FDR First Inaugural Speech- "Nothing to Fear"  197333
Map of Louisiana Purchase 594889
Patent Light Bulb 595450
Cartoon- Passing the Buck 6012161
Poster- Army Recruiting 513533
Photo Pres Lincoln 527825
Photo Covered Wagon -Nebraska 518267
Apollo 11 Flight Plan 6734365


💥 Tech items - Student badges, More tips on Flipgrid... Google Classroom... tech tools... and more in this week's tech tips.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

FlipGrid is one of our Must-have tech skills/tools for next year - Look what they have added!
Read the FlipgridLIVE recap or watch the recording to see what's launching August 1st and beyond, including major improvements to the...
 Flipgrid Camera
 Learner Experience
 Educator Dashboard
 Discovery Library

Checkout our "Using Flipgrid in the Classroom" doc to get started. 

Student Badges coming next year
Just an FYI - We are getting rid of the fingerprint readers in our lunch lines.  Students will be issued badges.  These badges will be printed in-house and placed in badge holders.  They will be used for lunch and library systems, activity passes and  other services. (Clever & SeeSaw QR codes will be on the backs of elementary cards.)  Each building may have some other logistics including possible lanyards, etc... 

How are you coming with your tech skills prep this fall?
Our "Remote Learning Teacher Tools and Skills - For the 2020-21 School year" document outlines the guidelines for the fall. Check it out! 

Some great sessions are coming to the Norris Tech Boot Camp on August 5th and 6th! 
Jason will be sending out the schedule in the future.... WOW it's looking great!  Thanks to everyone for making this a great event.  Hope to see you there. 

Some new resources added to our Google Classroom tips & Tricks document
Google Classroom header graphics (Templates) - Thanks to our very own Hanna Borgmann for sharing this one!  Did you know you can add custom graphics as the banner for your Google Classroom?  Here are a few templates in our public tech docs folder to give you an idea on getting started. Here is a quick how-to article. 

Animated Bitmoji Banner for Google Classroom - A cool trick for a fun animated banner in Google Classroom. 
Quick Tip: Emphasize Text in Google Classroom -Short 2 minute how-to video.  (Note possible limitations on this one in the video.)

9 Ways Online Teaching Should be Different from Face-to-Face - Some great tips and ideas to prepare for the fall.   If you listen to the podcast they bring out some great points beyond the article.  

  • We need to be consistent with our communications to parents.  (This is why we want all K-2 staff using SeeSaw and 3-12 using Google Classroom.) 
  • Parents  need a learning hub to go to.  (SeeSaw and Classroom can help in this arena but there may be more in each building to guide instruction.) Parents need to be able to easily navigate and communications need to be consistent. 
  • We need to encourage our students (especially in the 6-12 grades) to be checking their email each day. (Consistent form of communications.) (This was pointed out in our tech survey and is correct!) 

More Google Slide Templates! How to Use Slidesgo Templates for Daily Organization   We have added this resource to our "Google Slide templates and ideas" doc which is chocked full of templates! 

Ten Ways to Use Google Earth in Your Classroom – It’s Not Just for Social Studies -Some great ideas to check out!   

How to Convert Physical Notes into Google Documents. -It's simple. They are searchable in drive, and they OCR.  This short 3 minute video walks you through the process. 

Google Cast for Education and Share to Classroom extensions are going away!  (Bummer!) 

I think Google really missed this one up!  Especially getting rid of Cast for Education.  (It ranks up there with pulling the video editing tools from YouTube. The share to classroom extension was nice, but it's not as big of a deal and not as many teachers used that extension.   So my Google Kool Aid is not tasting as good today! 

They have a couple suggestions/workarounds, but both are pretty lame.
  • Share links with students by posting to the Stream page of Classroom. Students can also use this feature to share materials with you.
  • Teach students how to create bookmarks in Google Chrome or your web browser.

How can I replicate the functions of Cast for Education?

The Cast for Education Chrome extension allowed teachers and students to remotely “cast,” or share a live display of, their screen wirelessly to the instructor’s computer from anywhere in the classroom. After Cast for Education is discontinued, Google Meet will be the best tool for screen sharing between instructors and students.
Tools for educators
Convert Google Slides to Video -   How to Video here (It uses the Creator Studio add-on for Google Slides.) . is powerful, free, online software that improves reading, learning, and teaching. This site can:
  • Intelligently simplify difficult English, for faster comprehension
  • Effectively teach words, for building a better vocabulary
  • Help teachers save time and produce engaging lessons
  • Help improve learning outcomes

Assess without Tests - Here is Lynne's Assess without Tests presentation at our Norris Virtual Summit.   (We have added this to our assessment tools doc) 

See new changes or restore an old version using version history. Hopefully this is not new to you, but some of you may not be using named versions which can be nice! 

Sometimes it’s helpful to look back at an older version of a Doc, Sheet or Slide to see how the contents have evolved or to restore an earlier version. In the file, click the gray text at the top saying “Last edit was on [date].” You’ll see a list of versions organized by date to the right of your file; click on a version to view associated changes. You can also revert to a particular version by clicking “Restore this version” (a blue button on the top left above your file). You can even name your versions to help keep track and quickly find the one you’re looking for.  If you’re working in Sheets, use edit history to track edits for a specific cell.  

5 Things You Might Not Know About Adobe Spark - Check it out.  Yes, we already have the Enterprise version (Free to schools) for all staff and students.  Our directions for logging into the Adobe Spark tools for Norris can be found here. 

💥 Tech items - Even more tech tips and tools from our Covid lockdown days.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Video Conferencing -  We still support both Meet and Zoom.  (We keep adding tips to our Staff doc, including our video conferencing section. )
This is a nice add-on for Zoom (Zoom for G suite) that adds the ability to easily schedule a Zoom Meeting on your Calendar just like you have been able to do with Meet.  It also adds a Zoom icon to the sidebar in Gmail for easily doing an ad-hoc Zoom meeting.

Common Sense - Does it again!  Great free collection of resources for educators and families during these times. 
Today we're launching a brand-new, free online resource to support families and educators who are transitioning to remote learning as a result of the coronavirus: Wide Open School.  <---Check it out!
Curated and coordinated by the experts at Common Sense, Wide Open School is the result of a collaboration among leading publishers, nonprofits, and education and technology companies. Wide Open School features a free collection of the best learning experiences and activities for kids, organized by grade band and subject. You will also find daily schedules with creative breaks and recommendations to keep kids engaged and exploring, one day (or one hour) at a time.

Flipgrid just keeps getting better!  If you have not used this one, it's a must!
Just announced 4-1-20 - New feature! Screen Recording in @Flipgrid.  Yes, you can now capture your screen in FlipGrid.  (you have always been able to record videos with a click of the button, now you can record your computer screen!  Great for tutorials. 

Here is a testimonial that Dick Marolf, our Middle School Band Director sent out to our MS staff a couple days ago: 

Those of you who are using Flipgrid:  I just tried something new today and it worked really fairly well I think.
I need to have readily available recordings of the music I'm asking my kids to play.  So when I go to post a new topic on Flipgrid for them, I also add a video recording of me (probably should hide my face I know!!) playing the music so the kids have an example of how it should sound.  There is an Add Recording button that takes you right to this application.  Let me know if you need help.  Next week I hope to actually use student exemplar recordings. Thanks Dick for the encouragement to staff and great job on using a new tool! What a great vetran teacher that is always willing to use new tools to reach his kids!  (As I have said before our staff rocks!)  There are so many of you doing amazing things.  Keep up the good work!

SeeSaw Shines for our K-2 teachers!   If you are a K-2 teacher, you are probably already seeing the benefits of using SeeSaw from how with your kiddos.  If not, you are missing out.  Reach out to Jason to get started with this great tool today! 

Gmail adds a setting to store multiple signature options - Will start rolling out April 8th! More info here.   (I have used templates in Gmail to accomplish the same thing up to this point, but will probably switch to multiple signatures when this comes out.) 

Misc. Resources: 
Some great Learn From Home Resources curated by another K-12 School District.

Are you using Video conferencing?  If not, you will be!  I see it as a must for all K-12 teachers! 
I know most of you are already off to a great start.  But, for those of you that have not used Google's Hangouts Meet or Zoom... you had better start getting used to them now!  I see more staff meetings and more parent/student contacts and expectations coming your way.  We are here to help!  Reach out to us and we are willing to help you!  (The best way is to practice.)  

Have you had a pod or team virtual meeting yet? Maybe a Pictionary game using Zoom or Meet and sharing a free remote shared whiteboard like WhiteboardFox  might be a fun team building activity! Try it out! 

Working from home: This invaluable Google Docs feature keeps you from losing your work
Good Doc offline sync will almost certainly prevent you from pulling your hair out.  If you have ever read any of our Norris tech tips and recommendations... you and your students should already have this on.  If not... this article will help you turn it on.  Encourage your kids to turn it on too! 

Google Forms can be your friend during these times of social distancing!
Google forms can save you a lot of time gathering information, quizzing students, assisting with parent or student sign-up, etc...
Here are a few tips and add-ons that could help:
  • Remember to keep in mind the data you want and what you might sort that data on.  Do you want a separate question for first name and last name? (This will help when you have this data dumped into a sheet.)
  • Plan out your form!  You can jump to sections based on a question.  This can really help you as well as make your form simple for the end user. 
  • Make sure you create that spreadsheet to dump your form data into. (It's just a click of the button.)  Having it in a Google Sheet allows you to easily work with the data.
  • The add-on form mule can easily automate your form by sending out emails based on question answers, etc... (This is an add-on for sheets. One more reason to automatically dump your form data to sheets.)
  • The add-on Choice Eliminator is great if you are wanting to have parents or students select a meeting time slot.  After that option has been selected it's eliminated from the form so others can not choose that question/time slot,  (Ignore the low ratings, we have never had any issues.  Most of these people do not take the time to figure out how these work.) 
  • You can use the quiz mode with forms to have it auto-graded. 
  • You can also add pictures to a question. This works well for quizzes too! 
  • If you collect their user login then users are required to log in with their Google Account.  It then collects their gmail address. 
  • When you share the form for people to take... make sure you share the preview and not the actual form. (You do not want them editing your form... only filling it out.) 
  • Preview the form in an incognito window in Chrome. (Ctrl-N)  This will make sure your form is ready for the public to use. 
  • There are several add-ons for getting emails when a form is completed.  I like subscribing to notifications in Sheets.  That way each time a submission is made and it updates the sheet I can get an email or a daily digest of changes. (Whichever I prefer.)
  • The FormRecycler add-on allows you to merge multiple forms into the current form with 1 click. You can also recycle form questions from a form in your Google Drive to the current form.
  • There are many other add-ons for forms that may fit your specific needs. 

NMS Enrichment Activities - Great resource site put together by Jessie Andre. (Thanks Jessie for this great collection of resources.) 

A fem Misc. Resources:

Free Online Activities and Events for Kids During Coronavirus Shutdowns
Although schools, gyms, art classes, music lessons—and, seemingly, life as we know it—are canceled, families can keep entertained and keep learning with live events and activities online.
CommonSense Media has put together a great free list of resources.  Check them out! 

More elearning resources

25 Reasons to Share TED-Ed Videos with Students

💥includes a free ebook download  Checkout this great article.

Google Earth launches virtual tours of 31 of the world's most incredible national parks
From Yosemite to Yellowstone, this is stay at home travel at its best. 

Here are a few new ones we have added to our "Platforms for Digital Communication with Students and Parents" doc. 

Breakout Rooms in Zoom - Short how-to video here. 
We love Google Meet's simplicity for teachers, but Zoom does have this feature that Meet does not! I have added this tip to our Remote Learning Doc.   Thanks to Katy D for this one!

On Chromebooks, Hangouts Meet does not require any installation to work.  Zoom will require students to use the zoom app. (Located here.) We have force installed the zoom app for all of our students as of 3-23-20, so it may already be installed.  
For Norris Staff" doc, there are pros and cons to both. 

💥 Tech items - More tech tips and tools from our Covid lockdown days.

More Zoom changes - meeting passwords are required. 
As noted in my last tech email, Zoom is battling a lot of security and privacy holes.  They are now requiring passwords on all meetings.  (Many of you have already navigated these waters before you receive this email.) I think the HS has all come to a consensus of using the same password on all of their meetings to make it easier for their HS students. 

If you have already scheduled meetings on your calendar you can set the password for them: 
Go to the settings for each meeting; then go to edit the meeting at the bottom; then change the password to what you want,

If you do a quick ad-hoc meeting, Zoom assignes hyour meeting password.  If you add a meeting on the calendar

This article by zoom is helpful.  - Best Practices for Securing Your Virtual Classroom  (I would not require registered users, since we do not require students to have Zoom accounts.) 

Automagical Forms Add On - Take a PDF document or worksheet and automatically turn it into a Google Form or quiz.  - Short 2-minute how-to video here.   More info here.  (You can create 30 questions per week for free. 

Misc. tech tips and resources:
Thanks to Kellen Korinek for sharing this one: 11 Little Tips for Better Video Chat (For Teachers...and Everybody Else), 4 min. video with some nice tips. 
A Random Name and Image Picker - This one is a little different it allows you to upload pictures too. Check it out. 
How to Create Simple Videos on a Chromebook - No Apps or Extensions Needed - Simple video on using your built-in webcam to make these videos. 
Now You Can Use Flipgrid to Make Screencast Videos - I know I mentioned this last week, but wanted to highlight it again.  Here is a nice article on getting started. 
5 Google Classroom Tips for Teachers - Things You Might Have Overlooked or Forgotten -  Some great tips from one of my favorite "tipsters". 

Quizlet Live now has an Individual Mode so that a class can play together when physically apart!  -

Now there are 3 FREE Courses! Each less than one hour! Check them out if you have not tried these great resources. 
  • Raising handsBook Creator
  • Green heartFlipgrid
  • Collision symbolAdobe Spark

Schedule Individual Online Office Hours Meetings via Google Classroom - Checkout this simple way to make this happen. 

How to have 1-1 conversations with students in an E-Learning environment -GoGuardian to the rescue.  Thanks to Janelle for this tip. (I Know it was sent out to the HS and MS already.)  
This is something I miss from a regular classroom because you could just go over to a student during work time and have a quiet "private" conversation. However, in this new environment, I had a hard time doing that without calling them out in front of peers. The chat feature in zoom allows you to have a "private" conversation, but many students don't have that up or may not see it. Today, though, it dawned on me that I could use the chat feature in GoGuardian, and it would automatically show up on their screen. I knew this was there and have used it, but I don't use it much in the classroom because (a) I am not sitting on my computer, and (b) it is impersonal. However, given this new environment, it is the closest thing I can find to having a "private" conversation with a student. I still prefer in-person visits, but this is still better than nothing. 

Some great tips from Tony Vincent. -  (Thanks Tony for allowing me to use your graphics! )  (Follow him for more great tips!) 

You can use the Line tool in Google Slides to create mind maps and flowcharts.

The background color of your Google Doc doesn't have to be white. There are some good reasons teachers and students might change the background color. is a free online teleprompter. Your text is presented in a large font on your screen. It uses your computer’s microphone to listen to you speak and scrolls as it recognizes the words you’re saying.