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.