Noel Erskine, Technology Coordinator Norris Schools

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Some Tech Tools and tips for your Christmas break.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Need an icon?  The Noun Project to the rescue.  is a free resource that students can use to create their own resumes or resumes for literary or historical figures.  Remember, Google Docs Home page has some resume templates too.  (The old templates gallery is still active, with a lot of templates for a variety of things.) 

Adobe Spark Now Lets You Insert Videos into Your Videos - The best keeps getting better.  I love this app for simplicity and ease of use! Both web and app based. 

Google Forms -- Don't get caught in this situation!  Google forms do not have revision history or undo options like most of the Google products. When you create a new Google Form, a spreadsheet is not automatically created, so the data is just stored in Google forms.  Make a spreadsheet right away to have all of your form data written too!  Without this, if you delete a question... all of the associated responses are deleted... since they were not written to a spreadsheet.  (This recently happened to one of our staff members, so I hate sharing this tip based on bad news.... but don't let it happen to you.) 

Kahn Acadamy -  NEW - We’re excited to bring you our newest subject — Grammar! We created Grammar to help both native and non-native English speakers at all levels. In the new course, our resident grammarian, David, and our team of grammar experts explain punctuation, parts of speech, style and usage, and Standard American English conventions. As with our other subjects, students can review topics and work on practice exercises if they need some extra help outside of class. We hope you’ll check out our new videos, articles, and exercises and share them with your students if you find them helpful. If you are not familiar with Kahn Acadamy... you need to be!  It's an amazing free resource for teachers, parents, and students! 

Math tools:
3D math modeling to go! Create solids, spheres, planes, cross sections and many more three-dimensional objects. Solve linear geometry problems, plot z = f(x,y) functions and more.... GeoGebra's tools are great for any mobile device and/or computer.  They are free too! 

YouTube tools:
Need to download a video from YouTube?  This online converter is awesome.  Tips: Make sure you select a video format for downloading. I recommend mp4.  If you upload your video to Google Drive, it will take some time for Google to process the video before it's ready for playback. 

I have mentioned this in the past... but it's currently my favorite Chrome Extension for YouTube. Magic Actions adds a lot of features that you will love. Enhance your YouTube watching experience! Auto HD, Ad Block, Cinema Mode, Mouse Wheel Volume Control, Screenshot... Check it Out! 

Weekly teacher tips from google:
(Notice how they use Google Slides to deliver this experience. Nice...) 

Google Expeditions - This week's tip - Use full-screen mode on your tablet. 
Google Forms - This week's tip - Convert points to percentage. 
Google Classroom - This week's tip - Inviting guardians. 

Google Docs:

Adding a Table of Contents to a Google Doc  (Short 2 min. video tutorial.)  - Via BetterCloud Monitor | A table of contents can be a super useful guide for readers. Best of all, Docs will automatically create links to each section.

Work Faster in Google Docs with These 10 Useful Keyboard Shortcuts - Via BetterCloud Monitor | One of the best ways to speed up your productivity is to use keyboard shortcuts. Here are ten useful shortcuts for common tasks in Google Docs.

Power Up Your Google Slides With the Lucidchart Integration - Via BetterCloud Monitor | To take your Google Slides presentation to the next level, you can add flowcharts, diagrams, and mockups to illustrate your point. Thanks to a new Slides API integration, you can export professional-looking charts right from Lucidchart into Google Slides. Short 2 min. video shows you how

Google Sheets:

How to Do a VLookup in Google Sheets - Via BetterCloud Monitor | The VLookup function in Google Sheets is used to find whether a value exists in multiple ranges. This tool has limitless uses for sorting through and making sense of large lists of data. This short 2 minute video will show you what you have been missing if you have not used the Vlookup function before. 

Share Individual Tabs in Google Sheets  -  Via BetterCloud Monitor | Sometimes, you might want to share a single tab of a Google Sheet without sharing the rest of it. As simple as it sounds, Google does not have a direct way to do this. That doesn't mean it's impossible--you just need to get creative.  This short 3 minute video shows you how. (It uses the import range function that you may use for many other things too!) 

Google Calendar:

Take Google Calendar to the Next Level with These 3 Extensions.  (I personally use the Event Merge Extension because several of our school calendars often contain duplicate events.) 


Free-IOS App - Apple Award Winner for 2016:
Prisma (free, iPhone) burst on the scene this year as everybody’s favorite photo app, letting users transform their photos into images that look more like paintings and drawings, with dozens of different styles to choose from. 

Want to do a book reading looking like a ghost, or other creatures.... This is the app for you! Another 2016 Apple award winner: 

MSQRD (Free IOS) — Live Filters & Face Swap for Video Selfies 
Transform the way you look through amazing masks and effects! Turn into a panda, zombie or even face swap with your friends. Save and share photos and videos.  

Free coding app, Web tools, Dinosaurs, Google tools and more... in this weeks tech tools.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Norris YouTube Channels - Subscribe now! 

Did you know we have over 10 YouTube Channels that broadcast a variety of sports and activities?  If you subscribe to a channel, you will get a notification when we are broadcasting on air!  (You can also follow Norris160 on Twitter or Facebook for notifications and more. Complete listings and directions can be found here!  <---Check it out! 

Free IOS coding app for kids!
Tynker for School - Learn to Code for iPad is free today-  12/5; Reg. $5.99: IOS/iPad app. Made for Ages 9–11.

Web tools, websites, resources... and more:

Sumdog contests: 
To take part, students simply play Sumdog's online maths games, any time during the contest week.  They run free local contests for schools in Southeast Nebraska three times a year - the next one starts January 13th  Enter the contests here. Sumdog's Holiday Contest starts December 9, at 8am. 

10 Alternatives for the Readability Extension - (As this article states... this was one of my favorite apps for teachers/students.)  (I like the Announcify extension, but it also adds the ability to read the page to you or your students.) 

11 Free iBooks for K-12 Students (More K-6 on the list) 

Dinosaur apps and websites:
  • Dinosaur’s Among Us: The special exhibition at the Museum of Natural History. 
  • Kids Dinos: Full of information and games. 
  • 123 Dinosaur Coloring and Alphabet writing Book Games for kids
  • By Nuttapong Tongrungsri (IOS APP - Free) Kids can access digital coloring book pages with this simple and straightforward app.
  • Dinosaur Park: A super fun fossil discovery game is a playful introduction to dinosaurs. (Free - IOS) 
  • World of Dinosaurs: The Ultimate Dinosaur Resource - is the comprehensive dinosaur resource for iOS and features original HD Illustrations, and a wealth of scientifically verified information about all dinosaurs past, their history, extinction and modern day ancestors. (Free - IOS) 
  • The Dinosaur Museum: Lots of fun facts and information about dinosaurs. is the Safest way to watch and share YouTube and Vimeo videos to eliminate distractions.  Use it to send a video link via your Google classroom or via email. 

The new Google Templates have been launched.  Simply submit files to shared template galleries in the DocsSheetsSlides, and Forms home screens for your co-workers to adapt and use as needed. With these customizable templates, your teams can focus less on formatting and more on driving impact and sharing success. (Note: For Norris we have turned on moderation so all templates will first be approved before making it to our template gallery. 

Create an eBook with Google Slides -  Via BetterCloud Monitor | Google Slides can be an incredibly simple and easy tool for creating eBooks. This video shows you a couple of tips to get started.

How to Create Custom Maps in Google Maps -  Via BetterCloud Monitor | Custom maps are a great way to easily organize and view your favorite locations on one map. The possibilities for customization are almost endless.  Think about all of the uses in the classroom... this can be a gem for student projects! 

Gmail tips and tricks:

Clean Up Email Addresses in Your Gmail Auto-complete List -  Via BetterCloud Monitor | When you write an email, you probably depend on Gmail to auto-complete the recipient’s email address in the “To” field. But if that address is no longer in use, you can remove those auto-complete addresses from the list so they won’t pop up anymore.

Design Emails in Google Docs, Convert Them to Gmail Drafts with 1 Click - Via BetterCloud Monitor | Goodbye, wonky formatting. Hello, beautiful emails. Here's how you can design emails in Google Docs and then convert them to Gmail drafts with one click–all without losing any formatting.

Google Docs:

How to Quickly Copy Formatting in Google Docs - If you have never used the format painter, it may be the single best tool, that few people know about.  To speed up your document formatting, you can use this easy trick to copy formats instantly.

How to Search For (and Add) Free Images Right Within Google Docs -  Via BetterCloud Monitor | If your document needs some imagery, you can insert free images right within Google Docs. You don’t need to be out scouring the Internet every time you need an image.

The new Explore Tool in Google Docs (Formally the research tool.) now includes the ability to cite your source.  This feature was in the research tool, but initially left out of the Explore Tool.  Google listens... and has added it back!  MLA - APA - Chicago ... you choose!  More info on the new feature here

Google Drive:

Prevent Files from Being Downloaded in Google Drive - Via BetterCloud Monitor | Sometimes sharing files in Google Drive can make people worried because they feel like they don’t have true control of the data. We’ve put together a helpful trick to keep shared files from being downloaded in Google Drive.

Some New announcements from Google:

Parents no longer need Google accounts for Classroom email summaries!  (The Google help page still mentions they need Gmail accounts, but this should have already changed as of this Dec. 5th, 2016 writing.)

Graduating students can move email and Drive files to personal accounts!  Sometime in early 2017 we will now get a new tool that will let students transfer their emails and files.  Prior to this, it was kind of a pain using Google Takeout to transfer your data. 

Free Apps, some great tools, tech tips and more! All in this Thanksgiving list.

Monday, November 21, 2016

WOW these are amazing! - Easily turn a Google™ Spreadsheet into a Set of Online Flashcards, spelling word lists - with audio!, certificates, and other cool stuff: Check it out at

Gmail and Google Calendar Get a Whole Lot Better on iOS - In its biggest update in four years, Gmail for iOS now offers "Undo Send."

Self-Check Quiz Templates -- Want to give your students a quiz and then have the computer grade it for you? Then check out these templates! Students can take the quizzes on any online device – a computer, an iPad, a tablet, a smart phone, etc!

Color Code Your Email Labels In Gmail This short 3 minute video will show you how. You can easily locate any email by topic with this little trick we use for organizing all our incoming emails. It all comes down to custom coloration. (Note - I like color coding my Google Drive folders as well!) 

New & Improved Voice Typing Commands in Google Docs -  You can now specify text color, highlight text, add links, insert comments, and switch to a column layout in Google Docs–just by using your voice.

Edit, send & sign PDFs online for free - Checkout DocHub.  They offer a premium plan too, but for many of us the free plan will suffice.  

Online plagiarism checker - Free to copy and paste up to 500 words... or other plans available. 

New file upload question added to Google forms!  Make's it simple to have students or parents upload a file directly to your Google Drive. 

Remember in August Google Added the ability to add images to questions and answers in Google Forms.   Awesome feature for teachers! 

The National Parks just celebrated their 100th birthday. Recently Google announced that now anyone can take a virtual tour of some of our most breathtaking National Parks, no matter where you are, with Google's The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks

Doing a research project with students? - Turn Google Sheets into an Automatic Citation ToolWhen 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.

How to Create a Pivot Table in Google Sheets  Via BetterCloud Monitor --  Pivot tables help you summarize and analyze large data sets by displaying the information in more digestible formats. They make it much easier to take out small pieces of information and conclusions from a large set of information.

Elementary or middle school teachers - Check out Wonderopolis. (Created by the National Center for Families Learning.)  Find out more about this resource here.  

Remember a few of the fall updates to classroom...
Google Classroom rolled out a new feature this fall that will allow teachers to automatically share summaries of student work with parents, as well as the ability for students and teachers to annotate documents in the Google Classroom mobile app.

Did you know Google Classroom allows you to personalize your feedback with your own handwriting? Here's how.

Free Apps:

Reg. $5.99 ... Now free:

TIMEMAPS U.S. History - Historical Atlas by EMSE EDAPP, S.L.
Price: $FREE
TIMEMAPS have been highlighted as: 
* Educational app for Middle School in the USA and Canada
* 'New and noteworthy' and 'What’s hot' in the Education category in 14 countries
Get their other apps that are still Free here.  (There are a ton of apps, including a lot of other History quiz apps. Some may have in app purchases.) 

Web tools, math & writing tools, Google tools and tips... and MORE, in this weeks posts.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Websites and web tools:

Free Technology for Teachers: 6000+ Children's Books Available for Free

Pretty cool tool for creating some VR/3D scapes - (Would work well with student projects.) 

Jellymetrics Readability Grader - Quickly Determine Readability of an article or text. 

Save your screenshots instantly to Google Drive with the QuickShare Screenshot Chrome extension

Nice Tool for creating Audio Files right to your Google Drive.  -BeautifulAudioEditor

Introducing... my.SketchUp  -- An open beta of SketchUp in a web browser. 
What is my.SketchUp? -- my.SketchUp is the core SketchUp modeler, tuned to work in modern web browsers. Draw, orbit, push-pull: make anything you can imagine in SketchUp, anytime you imagine it.

Five new ways to reach your goals faster with G Suite - Including a new Google form question that allows your respondents to upload a file. (As of 10-28-16 - Feature coming soon!)  

20 Chrome Extensions, Web Apps, and Add-ons for Math - Some great tools in this list for the Elementary - Sr. High teachers! 

Got Writer’s Block? Use WriteWell to Jumpstart & Organize Your Writing. You can also just visit their website.  (Exports right to Google Drive too!)   <--- AWESOME TOOL FOR WRITING! 
(The Free plan is limited to 10 documents - But not a biggie.  Export the final product to Google Drive, delete the doc in WriteWell, and then start another doc.) (Great tool for getting started with Doc structure, etc...)  Check it out!  - Short 1 1/2 Min overview video

Gmail - Tips and tricks:
How to Access Gmail Offline - Short 2 min. Video.  (Great for kids & staff that have Chromebooks!) 

The “Forward All” vs. “Forward” Function in Gmail  If you’ve ever forwarded a long email thread in Gmail, you know it can look a bit confusing and cluttered. The little-known “Forward all” function in Gmail makes forwarded emails much clearer and easier to read.

Google Classroom:

Creating Assignments in Google Classroom is a great Infographic to get you started with assignments.  

Google Docs:

Create Fillable Text Boxes in Google Docs - Via BetterCloud Monitor

Google Slides:
Graph paper templates for Google Slides - Great for the math teachers! 

Google Sheets:

BetterCloud Monitor | Here’s a cool way to combine the power of Wikipedia with Google Sheets. The Wikipedia Tools add-on for Sheets adds in Wikipedia custom functions, so you can bring data from Wikipedia right into Sheets.

Google Draw:

Tech tools working checking out! Simple, free and awesome- a wide variety!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Web tools and sites:

lingro: One of the coolest dictionary tools I have seen for websites. 

Soundtrap - Make music online

My best tools for Creating Video and Video Slide Shows - Check out my doc here<--- Check in out!

Google tools for ELA.

I have shared this one before... but it's worth sharing again!  If you need a simple whiteboard tool for your computer or Chromebooks - This site is for you! 

Use  to search for interactive math resources for elementary students. 

Three Tools That Help Students Take Notes While Watching Videos. (I love MoveNote in the list.) - Remember Edpuzzle is awesome for assigning videos and asking/quizzing the students while they watch! (This one is not on the list since it falls into a different category.) 

The Adobe Spark apps are amazing! Free... and easy to use.  (I know... I have shared this one before.... but it's a simple and awesome app and website! Applicable K-12!) 
Example Spark Video:
Students from Amberley Primary School, who created a high-energy Spark Video to wish Great Britain's athletes luck.

The Rio Report -- The U.S. Olympic sailing team shared updates about Rio using beautiful Spark Page web stories.  (Great way to create online flyers, announcements, add flair to your website, etc...)

Google Classroom:

The Definitive Guide to Google Classroom "Parent View" aka Guardian Summaries (This new feature was added to Google Classroom a few weeks ago.  Find out how it works on the parent side too!) 

Intro to Google Classroom - A Google Slideshow with links to many Classroom resources. 

Google Docs:

A New Lesson Plan Tool for Google Docs via Free Technology for Teachers

Yes, there is revision history. But if you want to see a mini-movie of your revisions, then the DraftBack extension is for you! 

Yes, Google Drive search is better and updated... but you will love that they are  adding columns to Google Docs! 

Google Slides:

Google Sheets:

These slick Google Sheets add-ons make working with data so much easier!  (I love the PowerTools one.) 

Become a Data Super Hero with the NEW Awesome Tables - Google Slides - A more advanced tool, but amazing for data dissemination and more! 

Create Dynamic Dropdown Menus in Google Sheets - This 3 minute video will show you how. 

Give Each Student Their Own Tab - Via Teacher Tech.  A nice template for spreasheets if you need to accomplish this task. 

Google Draw:

Create, Submit, Find a Google Draw Badge - Kind of a cool idea, and several badges for you to grab too! 

A couple amazing extensions and more in this weeks tech list! Check it out.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

These first two are amazing extensions.... 
Awesome Chrome Extension for screen recording and making training videos! 
This chrome extension is awesome.  Easily record your screen and include audio and a "talking head" video as you record your screen.  All of the videos are stored on their site. You can also download the video and save it to your computer or Google Drive as well. 

Use your webcam/doc-cam to include the audio and video while you record your screen.  (At Norris... If you do not have one, let us know... we provide the doc cams to all staff.) 

Visit the Openvid website. They have a link to the Chrome extension as well as a short video. (It's simple enough to figure out on your own.) 

Amazing Chrome Extension for whiteboarding in your class! 
Annotate web content using XPress, an intuitive whiteboard extension for the Chrome browser: 

Google classroom: 
Mickie's guide to Google Classroom is worth checking out! 

Misc. Google Tools, news and more...

What's New in Google Apps newsletter - August 2016 

Playlist - 3 nice YouTube videos on the new Google Form quizzes. 

This tech guy just learned something new!  Did you know you may have orphaned files in Google drive that you own but do not see anymore?  WOW!  This article shows you how to search for them. 

Creating with Chromebooks: Multimedia Apps & Tools <--- This site rocks!  Great online tools and apps divided by use/need. 

Dropbox Hack is Real
Troy Hunt | If you haven't changed your Dropbox password since mid-2012, now would be a good time. Head over to to see if your email address is one of 68 million in the breach.

A great group of tech tools, apps and more to end this week! Free apps, tools and more.

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Molecular Workbench free software (available for Mac, Windows, and Linux) is an incredible modeling tool for secondary science teachers and students to use in conducting computational experiments. (This is installable software, so does not work on a Chromebook.) 

5 Awesome Adobe Apps That Are Completely Free  You will more from me on the Adobe Spark Suite (Web, iOS): Create Beautiful Posts, Articles, or Videos!  These tools are Amazing!  This article also highlights other programs, IOS apps, etc.. thart are free!  

Here’s a nifty trick that combines both Google Sheets and Maps. When you enter addresses into Sheets, you can then display all of the locations right in Maps, creating your own custom map. 

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

6 Must-Have Creation Tools for the BYOD Classroom. - This is a good list! (Seesaw is a great tool for the K-8 environment! A ton of great feedback from the K-8 teachers on this one!) Providing opportunities for students to make and create is essential in 21st-century classrooms. Children of all ages should experience the joy of seeing their work shared and celebrated. Check out this list for some great tools to accomplish that! 

8 Tips for Teachers Using Google Cardboard in School and 5 apps for Google Cardboard.  

Another Collection of Some Good Google Drive Add-ons for Teachers ~ Educational Technology and Mobile Learning May 10, 2016
Remove line breaks, Change letter case, Google Sheets Rubric add-on... and more! 

Google Forms:
You can now add images to questions and answers in Google forms!  (They recently added the ability to do quizzes in Google forms.  I still liked using the Flubaroo add-on for doing quizzes with forms since it had a much richer feature set... and it's easy to use too.  But with this new feature, doing a quiz right from Google forms is the way to go if you want to add pictures to the question and/or for feedback.)  This short video (4 min.) will walk you through the process of adding pictures to your questions. 

This video (8 Min.)  will walk you through the process of creating a quiz in Google Forms. 

5 Free Research Tools for the Classroom
Google classroom:
10 things every teacher should be able to do in Google Classroom - Infographic

Google Draw:

Google Sheets:

Have you ever had a list of names in a spreadsheet and wanted to separate them by first and last names into two columns? Then this tip is for you!

Google Docs:
An Easy Way to Color Code and Organize Ideas in a Google Doc.  Maybe a great tool for kids and collaborative projects with docs, etc...


Google Chrome Extensions for Education:

We asked educators what their favorite Chrome Extensions were for using in the classroom. Here are the results.

Add Text to Your Image Just By Right-Clicking! Via BetterCloud Monitor | Adding text to images can be cumbersome: You have to find photo editing software, open up a separate program, import your photos…you get the idea. Luckily, there’s an easy solution that lets you add text to any image on the web just by right-clicking, making the process seamless and quick. (I am now using this tool.  It's free, but does have a few premium features as well.) 

IOS Apps:

Microsoft Pix wants to use AI to improve your iPhone photos. Read more about it here.   Link to free app on the itunes store. I have started using this app, and it really does improve your pictures. 

Scan and Learn with the Socratic Homework App - This looks like a cool free app for students. (I have not tried it yet.) Read more about it here. 

A repeat of my recent email to staff on some exciting updates to Google that have a lot of impact for EDU!

Google Classroom:
Google Updates Classroom with New Tools for Students, Parents, and Teachers! 
Parents can now automatically receive summaries of their kids’ work so they can know exactly how they are doing in any given class.

Mobile annotations: Teachers and students can draw on, highlight, and write notes on documents and PDFs in the Classroom mobile app.

Check out the What's new in Classroom Google page to keep current with all of the new bells and whistles. 

Free IOS App - Stage Pro: Interactive Whiteboard and Document Camera Reg. $4.99
Stage Pro: Interactive Whiteboard and Document Camera is free today. (Reg $4.99)

Not sure if it's as good as the Explain Everything App... but it's free to try out. (Contact me for free codes for this app if you have a use for it.