Noel Erskine, Technology Coordinator Norris Schools

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Tech tips, tools, free apps, Google add-on's and more.. in this Thanksgiving special! :)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Did you know? -- Sending parents tips on how their children could improve academically led to a higher-quality home discussions and cut the course dropout rates by almost half. (Kraft & Rogers 2015 study.) 

Use Rubrics for scoring a class project?  Automate it with this great Google sheet and add-on!

With Rubric tab, you copy a Google Spreadsheet.  Paste in your class names and email addresses.  You then edit the Rubric template that's included.  Run the script and it creates a rubric for each kids.  Score the assignment using the created rubrics, and then run the script to email the results to each student.  Pretty slick!

Google Classroom:

Google Classroom: Create Group Documents
Google Classroom: Return Student Work
Google Classroom: Submitting Late Work

60 Ways Math Teachers Can Use Google Classroom - How many apply to your classroom as well?

All of these Google Classroom tips and more... have been added to my growing Google Classroom resource document. <-- Great resource for Google Classroom.

Google Apps:

4 Math Add-ons for Google Docs
Last week Google announced the trash folder is finally making it’s way to your Calendar. Restore both individual and recurring events after you have deleted them. The trash folder may be easy to use but it is also a little tricky to find at first. Watch closely.

This Google Drive trick is like something out of Harry Potter! via (@TheGoogleGooru)

The 16 Best Google Apps Updates of 2015 (So Far) | Via the Gooru 

Google Sheets:

Have you tried you can find templates there to get you going quickly!

Google Sheets: Fill Down tips. (If you have not seen this, it's a great tip!) (Side note: This is a feature in Excel too.) 

Google Forms:

5 Things You Did Not Know About Google Forms

Need to check things in and out of your classroom? The CheckItOut add-on for Google Forms is just what you are looking for!  Check out this quick video that shows the process. 

Some great Add-on's for Google Docs & Sheets:

Mapping Sheets – Create a spreadsheet with a list of places and the sheets add-on will plot them on a Google Map

EasyBib – Cite books, journal articles and websites and add them to your Google Documents in MLA, APA and Chicago style.  At Norris, we have added EasyBib to the "Window Pane" app launcher, so it's easy to get to. 

Avery – Create address labels inside Google Docs for printing. My how-to doc should help! 

Mail Merge for Gmail – Send personalized emails to multiple email recipients with Mail Merge for Gmail and Google Apps.

HelloFax – You can now send a fax to any number worldwide directly from inside Google documents. The free version lets you fax up to 5 pages.
MindMeister – Create a hierarchical bulleted list in the the Google document and MindMeister will converted that list into a visual mind map.

UberConference – You can have an audio conference with up to 10 people while working on a Google Document. There’s an option to record the call too.

4 Chrome Extensions for Teachers – March 2015 Article

IOS Apps

Explain Everything is a great app... and we offer it to our Norris Staff for free! 
Primary teachers, did you know Explainevrythng has an easier interface for little ones! Just choose simple interface. Thanks to @mrswideen for this tip! 

Top Five iOS Apps for ELA  Here are a few iOS apps that  you may not think of using with your ELA classes. But they will all help to showcase your students’ reading and writing abilities.


Great iPad resource - iPads in the Classroom - Kathy Schrock's iPads4teaching

Sight Word Flip It by, LLC Price: $FREE
Sight Word Flip It was carefully designed by two reading specialists who have taught 100s of kids to read. Not many literacy apps can make this claim! Sight Word Flip It offers an effective and engaging.

Kids Math Fun — First Grade By One Step Ahead Apps, LLC Free - Reg. $.99
**Kids Math Fun~First Grade is an Apple Recommended and Marketed App**

Web tools:

A Great Resource for Downloading Ready-made Charts and Diagrams to Use in Class ~ Educational Technology and Mobile Learning. As noted in the article- Chart Chooser from Juice Labs offers a wide variety of pre-made charts that you can download and use for free. They download as an Excel file... but you can upload them and convert them to Google sheets and they work just fine! 

Poll Everywhere now works with Google Slides! Embed live polls & word clouds right into your presentation.  Great for classroom interactions, quick assessments and more! 

5 Fantastic, Fast, Formative Assessment Tools | Via Edutopia  - Several of my favorites (Socrative, Kahoot & Plickers )   in this list and more! 

Happy Thanksgiving!  

A few free IOS apps, a Google Tip and Hour of Code is coming!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Hour of Code is coming during December 7-13 - Here is my resource sheet on coding resources for the classroom.  Ask @AlishaBollinger how simple it is to setup! 

Google tip:

Control what people see about you with your Google info.  This page will help.  (For example... I allow people at our Google Domain to see my phone numbers, but the public can not see them.) 

Great Google Drive add‐ons and Chrome extensions for teachers.

IOS apps:

PDF Expert 5 - Fill forms, annotate PDFs, sign docs for iOS is free for a week- normally $9.99 

Musemage - Professional Video Camera and Editor is free reg $3.99. Does greenscreen too! 

Starfall ABCs by Starfall Education - The Starfall ABCs app is made possible by the member supporters of, a publicly supported charity. The activities at motivate through exploration, positive reinforcement, .

Google tools, free apps and more in this weeks resource list!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Web sites and tools:
Ten Great Tools for Telling Stories With Pictures - A PDF Handout

A Tool That Reads Google Docs and News Articles To You Out Loud | Via The Gooru

Hemingway App: A Proofreading Tool for Writers. The online version is free. Copy and paste text from your Google Doc, Word file, etc...

Five Popular Ed Tech Tools That Work on Nearly All Devices 

GroupTing Makes It Easy to Organize Volunteers for Group Events - Organization events, class parties, PTO events, and more. Read more about it here


If you are not familiar with Kahoot - Kahoot provides a fun way to gather feedback from a group through their phones, iPads, Chromebooks, or any other device that has a web browser and an Internet connection.

Quizalize is a newer quiz game platform similar to Kahoot. Read more about it here... it's worth looking at to have in your quizzing toolbox. 

Create your own Green Screen videos on a budget using an iPad!

This doc gives you some FYI on the items needed. 

They use this app to record the video: 

How to Access Thousands of Free eBooks for Kids - (Using Zing) Via  Free Technology for Teachers

Teaching digital citizenship?  This site (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.) has some great resources K-12 for digital citizenship including cell phones, Internet safety, protecting yourself online, and more! Their video resources are divided into topic and age groups. 

Google Apps Tips and Tricks:
12 Free Add-Ons That Take Docs and Sheets to the Next Level | The Gooru 

10 Teacher Hacks for Google Apps - Some pretty cool ideas in this article! 

Great Google Drive Tool for Creating Rubrics 

70 Google Apps Video Tutorials Via Free Technology for Teachers. - Here is the direct link to the playlist.

3 Google Apps Tools You Didn’t Know You Could Use Offline | Via - The Gooru 

3 Strange Things You Can Do With Google Docs That Are Actually Super Useful 

Saving Audio Files in Google Drive - Website and app avail.

GREAT GUIDE on Google forms and sheets. 

Want to add voice comments to Google Docs? This chrome app can do it for you for free. 

3 Strange Things You Can Do With Google Docs That Are Actually Super Useful 

Canned responses in Gmail is one of my favorite labs! This short 1 minute video will show you how to enable it,

4 Things You Can Do Right Now to Create a Perfectly Organized Google Drive

Table Formatter is a free Google Docs Add-on that lets you add a little color to your tables in Google Docs.

A tip from the Google Guru:
Rather than setting up notifications on every document you share, you may just want to know if any document in a particular folder is being edited. Although this functionality is not yet built into Google Apps, there is a Chrome Extension I found that will do it. Simply select the folder you want to keep track of and you will receive an email every time a file contained in that folder is edited or even if a new file is added to the folder.
Google Sheets - rowCall  is a great add-in for Google Sheets. rowCall sorts rows from your main sheet by the column you select and creates individual sheets for every unique cell in that column. (Think about using a form to grade kids via a Rubric for assignments, etc... ) Add-on Video tutorial

Ever deleted a calendar event by mistake and wanted to get it back - just like you can in Gmail and Drive? Now you can: today we’re adding Trash functionality to Google Calendar on the web, providing an easy way for users to view, permanently delete, or restore individual and recurring deleted calendar events

Stormboard - Online Brainstorming & Collaboration
Brainstorm, organize, prioritize and act on the best ideas, in the same room or around the world, on a real-time sticky note whiteboard. They offer  free educational accounts1

Google Classroom: If you are not using it... you are missing out.  It's only getting better!

Classroom Automation with Google Forms and Add-ons - Check out these great suggested uses and add-on's to make it even more powerful

OpenEd Offers Thousands of Quizzes and Review Materials to Share in Google Classroom

Everything You Need To Know In Google Classroom (Part 1) and (Part 2) and (Part 3<-- Great Guide!

Classroom Cards is a collection of 19 flashcards for learning to use Google Classroom. Print them out and give them to new teachers or use them for your own personal studying. Created by Educational Technology experts, this is the quickest way to master the platform.
If you are a Norris Teacher - WE have them in Google Drive, under our tech docs.  Here is a direct link to the file. 

GOOGLE CLASSROOM IS NOT AN LMS. IT’S BETTER. - Interesting short article that caused me to shake my head in agreement especially with this quote: "Teachers are better off working in Google Drive than investing time building courses in an LMS the district might ditch a few years down the road. Even if Google Classroom goes out of vogue, all teacher files will still live in Drive. I know a teacher who has invested countless hours putting multiple choice questions into Moodle. If only he used Google Forms for assessment instead! " 

Already using Google Classroom and the Chromebooks... Then this Extention is for you! Every student on the same page- Save class time navigating to websites with the new Share to Classroom extension. “Push” a web link to your class and voila, the Chrome extension opens the page immediately on every student’s device.

IOS Apps:

Top 100 Completely FREE Apps for Preschoolers! No In-App Purchases! (This is a great list!) 

Free iOS app; snap a photo of sheet music and it plays it for you: 

Anatomy 4D - An AMAZING free app for Anatomy. 

If you teach Chemistry - You have to check out this app! Elements 4D by DAQRI (It's free) You need to print out these blocks to use with the app. It's a great augmented reality app that brings chemistry alive. 

YouTube Resources:

SciShow- SciShow is a YouTube channel that discusses science news, history and concepts. With equal parts skepticism and enthusiasm, they go a little deeper on popular science topics.

CrashCourse- CrashCourse provides educational videos aimed at secondary students. Playlists for past courses include Astronomy. World History, Biology, Literature, Ecology, Chemistry, Psychology and US History.

Awesome use of Technology with just a couple of Chromebooks in a K-2 classroom!

There are a lot of success stories in our district... but I have to share this one today. Ben Lueders (@ItsBen_aWhile) wrote a grant for a couple Chromebooks in the K-2 art classroom.  Here was his latest update on the Chromebooks:

They have been proven extremely successful with various classes ranging from kindergarten to second grade. It has been a great tool for my classroom management, and has already been used as a resource during class time, without any interruption of the class! Here is a picture of a first grader who was absent during an important part of one of our lessons. All he had to do was bring his paper over to the Chromebook, and watch my pre-recorded video of the lesson plan, and follow along. I am excited to see how positive the classes have responded to the computers, and can't wait to use them even more in the classroom as the year progresses.

Thanks for the update Ben, and keep up the great work with technology!

And one more...

Holly Gifford has been using the Osmo with our iPads in the K-2 Media Center. What a great learning tool... and the kids love it!  Thanks Holly!