Noel Erskine, Technology Coordinator Norris Schools

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💥 Tech items - Hour of Code, New Google Earth tools, great updates, new apps & extensions and more! In this weeks tech email.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Starting Dec.16th Drive file suggestions in Google Chrome will be available for all files. 
Drive file suggestions in Chrome allow users to search their Google Drive files directly from the Chrome URL bar, instead of Currently, this functionality is limited to files that users have previously opened in Chrome. Starting on December 16, 2019, users who restart their browsers will be able to search for any Drive files that they have access to, including ones they haven’t previously opened in Chrome.

It's coming! The Hour of Code starts next week! 
Dec. 9-15 2019 is the week for hour of code
Click here: 20+ ways to celebrate the Hour of Code in any class  - From Ditch that Textbook. 

Our Computer Science & Coding Resources doc <--- check it out! has a wealth of info and resources for you.  (If there are others we need to add to this list - let us know~) 

"I hope my teacher sends me home with a packet of worksheets!" ...said NO STUDENT EVER.
Ditch those packets with family choice boards.  A great way to engage students in learning -- and include families -- without a packet of worksheets.  Check out this great idea from Ditch That Textbook. 

Need to have students take a simple picture with their Chromebook (webcam) - Check out this site- Just allow camera access and shoot away! (I have added this resource to our Creating Audio, Video and/or Video Slideshows doc. )

Google Earth gets new creation tools -
Here's how it works:
  1. Students create a new Google Earth project.
  2. They add pins to different locations.
  3. On each pin, they can add images, videos, links, text and more.
  4. When they're done, they can present the project or share it with a link.
Click here: Creating with Google Earth: 10 ideas to try - From Ditch that Textbook. 

How to use Chromebooks offline for eLearning day activities, homework. - Check out this resource from Ditch That Textbook. 

Another great Chrome extension for Accessibility 
Use Immersive Reader on Websites [unofficial]  is another great extension that will read web pages to students as well as increase the page readability by increasing fonts size, removing page clutter etc...  Similar to  Easy Reader, Mercury Reader,  Read Aloud: A Text to Speech Voice Reader, and Announcify.   Each of these have different feature sets to fit your needs. Note: All of these are on our approved list for student installs. 

A Google Slides Add-On ALL teachers need: OK, this is someone else's title for their article... so I am not sure EVERY teacher needs it... ☺  But I can certainly see where it can be handy for many of you. Check it out here.  (This short article will also give you some ideas on using slide deck assignments and then adding to those assignments/projects/portfolios along the way with ease!) 

Add Different Page Numbers to Different Sections in Google Docs
G Suite Updates | You can now customize which sections to add page numbers to and which number to start counting from in Google Docs. This new feature will be rolling out soon. More info here. 

24 Google Docs Templates That Will Make Your Life Easier - Check them out here. 

Great digital citizenship site for classroom talking points with your students. (K-12)  (The website looks like an app on a phone.)  Use this on your classroom projector for some great talking points on a variety of topics. I have added this to our "Digital Citizenship Resources - Norris School District" doc. (Doc is available to all Norris staff.) 

Gameshow Classroom: Comparing Kahoot!, Quizizz, Quizlet Live and Gimkit - Check out the comparison here. 

Great Tools for Making Mind Maps and Flowcharts Article and ideas here. (Includes how-to videos.) 

How to Add Audio to Google Slides – And an Updated Tool for Easy RecordingArticle and ideas here. (Includes how-to videos.) 

20 Google Sites tips and tricks - A nice list of uses and ideas from educators like you!  
New Feature - Google SItes.  Review the latest changes to a new Google Site before publishing. Coming in the next few weeks!
Before publishing changes to your new Google Sites, you can now compare the currently published site with the soon-to-be-published draft site in an annotated, side-by-side view. More info here. 

The Ditch That Textbook Digital Summit is a FREE online conference for teachers, starting on December 21 and closing on January 8, 2020.
It brings together some of the brightest minds in education to discuss technology, pedagogy and more.  More info and registration is here. 
  • All new videos: FREE
  • All previous years' videos: FREE
  • All certificates for PD credit: FREE
Great coding activity for the KG hat gets kids up and moving and unplugged. Kind of a cool idea!

💥 Tech post- Google Slide tools, some nice apps, YouTube tools, free music, and those annoying Windows pop ups... and more in this weeks tech email.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Accessibility Tools Chrome - A presentation by Heather Callihan - Technology Integrationisy, Northwest Public Schools at the Fall NETA Conference.

A couple of nice Google Slide add-ons: 
Slido is a polling service that offers a free Google Slides add-on and companion Chrome extension. Combining the two allows you to easily poll students and other audiences. 

The Unsplash Photos Google Slides add-on gives you instant access to Unsplash's collection of free, royalty-free photographs.

Check out this Google Slide game show template. From Ryan O'Donnell @creativeedtech 
With the new rollout of audio to Google Slides, he added music and sounds to his most popular TV Game Show style review game. Its called "Frazzle" (similar to Heads Up). You access it here for your own free copy.
Note - Norris staff, I have added this to our Google Slide templates folder in our tech docs folder. 

World Wildlife Fund's Together app - WWF Together - Revisiting a Favorite App

The World Wildlife Fund's Together app is a great free app.  Here is a little bit more about the app.   We do have several sets of iPad carts that are available for use in the classroom. 

The WWF Explore! app and WWF Free Rivers  are available in the Google Play store so they could be loaded on our Chromebooks.  (These are different apps and feature sets. They gets great reviews.) 

Easy Ways to Add Polls & Quizzes to Existing Slideshows  More info here

If you have not used FlipGrid - You need to give Jason a call and have him show you this cool tool.  It rocks!  (And if you have not had the pleasure of working with Jason, you are missing out! He rocks as well!)  This cool tool has a lot of uses in the classroom.

Free Music for Video Projects - Another great resource from  Richard Byrne

It's HERE.... they finally rolled out the ability for users to embed MP3 and WAV audio files from Drive into Slides.  As long as you have added our Norris Public Folders to your google drive (Everyone should have done that already.) you will have a lot of Wav files all ready for you to insert.  In your presentation go to insert audio. (Just search for a tiger, phone, bells, etc...) 

9 Top YouTube Channels to Boost Classroom Lessons Article/resources here. 

How to Make a QR Code for Just About Anything - Check it out. 

Websites and Apps for Making Videos and Animation - Some are free, some are web tools, some are apps... check out the list here to see if there are some tools for you. 

YouTube can find, track, and blur faces of people who appear in your video.- A great tip from Tony Vincent @tonyvincent

Teach Civics or government - this one is for you. Annenberg Classroom - Civics website makes teaching the Constitution manageable, meaningful. EDU review can be found here. 

Gsuite Update - Insert collapsible text boxes into new Google Sites
Coming soon - Quick launch summary
Site editors can now insert collapsible text boxes into a new Google Site, which site viewers can click to expand. Collapsible text boxes can help condense large blocks of text, like content on FAQ or Help Center pages, allowing site viewers to quickly navigate to the most relevant information. More info here... it's coming soon! 

How to Make a YouTube Playlist for Your Favorite Videos - How to article here.  Organize your playlists by subject, assignments, etc...  You can share a link to a playlist that contains the list of videos for that subject, project, etc...   If you are not doing this now... check it out.  It's a great time saver and keeps you organized. 

In Google Classroom - New feature in Rubrics Beta, Reuse Rubrics!
In both Classroom and Assignments, you now have the ability to create a rubric from scratch or reuse an existing rubric you’ve already created. When you select the option to reuse a rubric, you can select to use a rubric available in the current class or switch to another class to reuse a rubric from that one.  
Once you find the rubric you’d like to use, you can preview it or select it to use immediately. While in preview mode, you can also flip between rubrics to easily find the one you need. We will be rolling out this functionality to all instructors in the beta over the next few days. Learn more about rubrics in Classroom and Assignments.

Pro tip: If you'd like to share rubrics you've set up in Classroom with other teachers, simply add co-teachers to a shared class with multiple rubrics. All teachers and co-teachers will see those rubrics for assignments in other classes in the new reuse workflow.

Are you getting annoying reminders in Windows 10 that look like spam? If so, you are allowing notifications from certain websites and they are popping up in Windows 10.  These can be bad... if you allow them from sites that are not that great.  In other words... the website can continue to spam you with notifications. 

Go into your Chrome settings here: (Paste this in your URL) --->   chrome://settings/content/notifications

Under your Allow - Remove most sites.  (You may still want a few from Google Drive, etc... but most should be removed.)  If you can not remove them via a 3-drop menu, then they are an app or extension you have installed. 

When you go to a website and it asks you this.... say no! 

Some great ideas from ditch that textbook:

14 ways to turn your classroom into a game show - You've likely heard of -- or used -- Kahoot! or Quizizz. They turn review activities into a fun game show-like experience.

Want to ramp up that experience beyond "just a Kahoot! game"?

Check out these 14 suggestions for bringing game show elements into the classroom. (Hint: There are some new websites and apps you might not know yet on this list!)

If they like TikTok, they'll LOVE this.
  • Do you have students who are enamored with TikTok? If so, you're not alone!
  • Hundreds of millions of users age 16-24 use the app regularly worldwide.
  • Want to grab your students' attention and inject some fun in a lesson?
  • Give them the template in today's post and make a TikTok-inspired activity!
It's all ready to... grab the template and assign it in Google Classroom!  Let the creativity begin! 

💥 Tech items - Some cool tools, FREE and low cost equipment and more in this weeks post!

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

30 must-have resources for teaching digital citizenship -  Check the out.

Slido - Create and Run Polls Within Your Google Slides 

How to create (and re-use!) templates for your students
  • Assigning a good template to students can do magnificent things.
  • It gets them right to work. It guides them through learning.
  • Plus, it can save you a ton of time!
  • It's easy to create templates for your students using Google tools. (Hint: Google Slides is the way to go!)
  • Use this simple step-by-step tutorial post to get started right away.

Student Agency: What Do Students Want to Create to Demonstrate Their Learning? - Check out this great sample/idea.  When students are told exactly what to do and how to do it, they remain passive participants in the classroom. They may not have to think critically or creatively about their learning. Try out this simple strategy in your classroom to provide students with a choice of options they can choose from to demonstrate their learning at the end of an investigation, unit, or project.

Can your students escape? Let's find out. --Escape rooms are super popular right now!
You're locked in a room. There are clues all around you.
You must use the clues to find a way to escape before time runs out.
Imagine using that excitement to help students learn in your classroom!

When the clues relate to your content, learning feels like an exciting mission!

Guest blogger Mandi Tolen shares step-by-step how she's created digital escape rooms for student learning and for teacher professional development. (There's even a planning template you can download!)

Plus, you can download some pre-created FREE escape rooms!

Checkout Dith that textbooks resource:  How to create a digital escape room for your class or PD

Checkout robo-compass:  (More info and article here.) 

A Couple of Fun and Simple Map Games for Students of All Ages -  How Many European Cities Can You Name? and How Many US Cities Can You Name? (More info and article here.) 

Educandy - Quickly Create Educational Games from Word Lists (More info and article here.) (A more polished version of Flippity

topoView - View and Download Thousands of Historical Maps  topoView is a free service that anyone can use to find and download historical topographic maps produced by the USGS since 1880. (More info and article here.)

Create and share labeling games by uploading your own images at  Thanks to @tonyvincent for this great tip and allowing me to use his graphics! 


Looking to make an animated GIF? Check out these four online tools...

  Thanks again to @tonyvincent for this great tip and allowing me to use his graphics!    

✂️ Long videos can be an information overload. Shorter clips with time to think, discuss, and apply can help learners better understand the content. You can chunk a video using Google Slides. 

Tips & Tricks for the Digital Workplace - How Gmail Filters Can Help Organize Your Inbox
Automate your inbox and enhance your organization by taking full advantage of what Gmail filters have to offer. I know I have mentioned the power of filters in the past... but this one is worth looking at again if you are not doing this.  Check it out here  Need help - Jason or myself are available to help!  

And now for some low-cost or free tech: 

Get an Echo Dot for just $1 when you sign up for a month of Amazon Music Unlimited
For just $9 total Prime Members can get an Echo Dot and a one-month subscription to Amazon Music Unlimited. (Yes, you can cancel the subscription and still have 1 month of Music Unlimited and keep the dot... all for $9.) 

Free Google Home Mini offer from Spotify:
If you are already a Spotify premium member... just claim your free device.  If not, you can join and then claim your device.  (This offer is good for anyone who has not already claimed a free mini in the past.  More info here

Get a free Alexa Echo Auto: 
If you are already a Nationwide Insurance customer... call them and get your free device.  I guess if you decide to become a new customer, you will get one too.  (Not sure it's worth changing insurance for that... but hey who knows. LOL)  Those interested in receiving one can visit, call 800-347-1792

💥 Tech items - Decorate your pumpkin, Google drive tips, great app list, the motherload of templates and more....

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Norris Middle School Social Media featured on ClassIntercom 
The efforts of Jason Cullison and our Norris Middle School students were recently featured in this story by ClassIntercom.  If you have not had a chance to see their video news stories check them out on their Norris MS News Channel.  They do a great job posting to social media so check out their feeds. Our entire listing of Norris Social Media accounts can be found here.  Congrats to Jason & MS students! 

Have you watched any of the Norris sports broadcasts this fall?  If not, you are missing out! 
Volleyball net cams, sideline cams, 1/2 time guest interviews, endzone cams, replays... the nsdV streaming channel is rocking thanks to Andrew Carlson, Bryan Williams and a host of others. Special thanks to Jason Cullison and Dylan Kendal for announcing the games. You can subscribe to any of our YouTube Channels here.  You will want to subscribe to our nsdV and nsdV_alt2 channels to make sure you get notified when games are streamed. (When you subscribe you get an email when they are broadcasting.)

Form Notifications add-on now available in the G Suite Marketplace - There were a few other add-on's that accomplished this, but this is now the one to use.  It's free, made by Google and has a few more features. More info here

35 Google Drive Tips You Can't Afford to Miss - This is just a great list.     I normally pull a few gems out and share with you and toss the rest... but this list is solid.  Yes, I already knew many of them but it was a great reminder with a few new ones I did not know!  Check it out here

FALL INTO ELEMENTARY AUTUMN RESOURCES  have students create pumpkins without the mess...and more activities & ideas!   - Some great ideas in this article.    Check out the sample pumpkin animation that is easy for kids to do. 

Here are a couple of pumpkin ones:  Build a Jack-O-Lantern (This one you would assign in Google Classroom and collect via classroom) or Pumpkin Building Class Activity (This one you would share the entire slideshow and each student would work on their own pumpkin. 

We have an entire folder of similar activities/ideas in this folder in our public docs. 

If you have not had the chance to work with Jason, he would love to help get you started with using these as well as other amazing tech ideas for your classes!   

Need a buzzer system for your classroom games/quizzes? (Thanks to James Myers for this one!)  It's a great website use with your review games, etc...  and it's free.  (Works best with touch screen devices.)  The power of gaming in education is great and this one makes it easy to do your own review or other games in the classroom. 

All the Best Google Sheets Keyboard Shortcuts  - If you use sheets a lot, these tips may come in handy.

A nice list of Chrome Shortcuts:  Chrome Shortcuts You Should Know. 

Use  Nearpod? The new #GoogleSlides add-on will be a winner for you. Make your slides an interactive lesson in Nearpod.

25 practical ways to use Google Forms in class, school -  You may pick up on an idea or two from this list. 

A couple of nice articles on self-graded quizzes.  (Remember, Google forms makes this simple! 

Your Go-To Educational Apps - There are thousands of educational apps out there, this is a great source for your IOS, Chrome, and Android apps.  CHECK IT OUT! 

Spring cleaning has come early to GoGuardian with their next two additions/features.  Teachers now have the ability to delete Scenes and archived classrooms! This will reduce the clutter of unused Scenes/Classrooms and clean up the dashboard. Read more about these features at the Help Center articles below

Google Slides: The Swiss Army knife of G Suite 
The motherload! Spice Up Your Slides with 600+ Free Design Templates 
I always recommend Slide Carnival, which is first on their list... but there are so many more!  Check out the list.  

75+ Google Classroom tips and tricks - Here are some tips put together by the "Ditch That Textbook" groups. Check them out here

How to Import Data from Another Google Sheet -  How-to article here. 
Should you need to import data from another spreadsheet in Google Sheets, you can do it a couple of ways. Whether you want to pull the data from another sheet in the file or an entirely different spreadsheet, here’s how.

💥 Tech items - Some great tips and tools to check out 👀 in this weeks post!

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Google releases Chrome Canvas web app for drawing with ‘Ink’  - Just visit this site and start drawing! More info here.   (We have added a direct link to this and the AWW App in Clever) 
  • -Save drawings
  • -Export file if needed (PNG picture file format.) 
  • -Easy, Simple, & Fast!
I have added this one along with some other great ones to my doc: Use your iPad or Chromebook (Android app) as a Whiteboard <---Check it out! 

Free app! For kids in grades K-3 - Quality reading practice has never been easier.
Rivet is a free (Developed by Google Labs) program that provides access to  3,000+ free books across 14 categories in a kid-friendly interface. More info about the app can be found in our info document.  (Feel free to share this with parents tool) 

EdPuzzle has some great new features.  (This is an awesome tool for videos in your classroom.) It integrates with Google Classroom too!  Great for making sure students have watched the assigned video. You can even quiz them along the way! 

Here are a few of the new features:
Live Mode 
Project your edpuzzle for the whole class while your students answer live on their own devices… watch together, have fun and spark discussion!

Open Class 
Now students can watch videos without having to create an account – perfect for quick practice and elementary students! 

Are you using Comments in Google Classroom with grading assignments/Docs? 
Remember, the # will bring up your list of comments to insert. It's a nice time saver!  More info in this short 2-minute video. 

Display the word count as you type in Google Docs - New feature 
(Starting gradual roll out on 9-9-19.)  Instead of going to Tools > Word Count each time you want to view this information, now, you can simply select Tools > Word count > Display word count while typing to continuously display it in the lower-left corner of your doc:

Here's one for the math teachers - Need to do equations in Google docs?
Give the Auto-LaTeX Equations add-on a try. This add-on lets you automatically convert every LaTeX equation in your document into beautiful images! Simply enclose your math equations within $$ ... $$ and click the button in the sidebar, and all of your equations will be rendered in LaTeX!

3 easy strategies to organize your Google Classroom - This article has some great tips on getting your classroom organized.  Note - I have added this resource to our Google Classroom tips and trick doc

New Features coming - Switch to a Blank Screen and Set Advanced Time Options for Presentations in Google Slides
Via G Suite Updates | Google is adding two new features in Slides Present mode to help you better control and customize your presentations: keyboard shortcuts to switch to a blank screen and looping and auto advance time options for presentations. More info here. 

Some great resources from Matt Miller's Ditch that textbook email:
Check out his site with some amazing resources that grow each week! 
Here are just a few: 
20 Seesaw ideas with Chromebooks for K-12 classes  We are pushing every K-2 teacher at Norris to use SeeSaw - but check out these great ideas for everyone! 
Signup on the right-hand page of his website to get a weekly email with some great resources. 

Great email tip if you do not really want to give out your actual email address. This avoids creating a junk email address for conferences, etc...

Have you ever signed up for a conference, newsletter, or other services as a requirement or to get a discount Instead of setting up a different Gmail account for that unwanted Spam give this a try!

By simply adding a + to the end of your username (but before the "@") you can create infinite variations of your Gmail address. For example, will direct email to your main address ( without giving it away to spammers. You can then filter messages containing "username+norris" into your junk or trash folder so you never have to be bothered to delete them again.   (Do this using Filters in Gmail.)  As shown above, this will work for EDU domains like our or for regular Gmail accounts as well.) 

Google Drive tips:

Share for a limited time - You can make a file in your Drive storage available to someone else only for a limited period of time. Right-click the file and select “Share,” Type in the name or email address of the person with whom you want to share and click the “Send” button.

Fax a file from drive - Need to send a fax from your Google Drive - No problem with the HelloFax add-on.  (Free and paid plans.)  Click the big “New” button in Drive’s upper-left corner, select “More,” and then “Connect more apps.” Search for “HelloFax” in the window that appears, then click the green “Connect” button and follow the steps to authorize the service.

Maintain different versions of files -  With Google Docs you have version history as well as named versions right inside of the doc.  But with non-google files like PDF's Pictures, etc... did you know you can keep up to 100 different/older versions of the same file?  In Drive right-click on a file to upload a new version or to download an older version of the file.  This how-to article will help if you have further questions. 

Color code folders or add emoji to the names of folders.  Right-click (or Ctrl-click) any folder and look for the “Change color” option.  Right-click to rename the folder and past the emoji as a part of the name. 

💥 Tech items - FlipGrid video tool, remote mouse, more fonts, great updates and more in this weeks tech tools! -Check them out.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Use your phone or tablet as a remote mouse on your computer!
This one has been around for a while but wanted to mention it again since we have a lot of new staff members.  This document will help get you started. If you need help, let us know. 

Are we helping our students get the most from their 1-1 Chromebook take-home devices?  The smart worker's guide to using a Chromebook offline has some great tips to share with our students. (And use with our staff Chromebooks.) 

Windows 10 has notifications in the taskbar - Don't miss out!

The new Chrome update includes a right-click option on webpages to send that page to your other devices. 
This is kind of a cool feature, that may come in handy once in a while.  Basically right click on a web page and select your device to send the web page to. 
  • You need to be running the current Chrome version. (So update your browser if you do not see it.)
  • You need to be logged in and syncing to those devices in order for them to show up.
  • You may need to reboot your phone for it to work.
  • The alert shows up in your notifications on the computer so you need to accept the request similar to a Google Casting request as shown in the above post. 

Expeditions Coming on Chromebooks!
Already have Chromebooks in your classroom? Now you can explore the over 1000 virtual reality tours in Google Expeditions on your Chrome OS devices. More info here. (The list of supported models is small right now, but growing.) This new feature is not a show-stopper right now, but it shows what's coming and it will be great.  (Remeber - we have several Expeditions carts that are available for use now.  Talk to Jason or your media centers for using these great resources.) 

Google Forms Updates & Improvements
Locked mode in Quizzes in Google Forms will be available starting in August. In addition to Locked mode, Google Forms will now enable you to import questions from other Forms into new ones in order to save time. More info here.

G Suite Update: More controls and customizations for headers and footers in Google Docs
Previously, you could set a single header or single footer for your entire document, with an option to make it different on the first page only. Now you can also define a specific header or footer for each section of your document, or use different headers and footers on odd and even page numbers.  More info here.

New fonts intended to help improve reading speed now available in Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides
The Google Fonts team has teamed up with Thomas Jockin to create a series of fonts that are aimed at improving reading speed. To learn more about the research behind this initiative, see here for more details.   Here is a quick video by one of my favorite tech resources. 

Some great resources from the Norris Tech Bootcamp! 
Thanks to Jason Gault and to all of you that presented and attended our tech boot camp on August 6 & 7. If you have not been to one you may want to consider attending and/or presenting next year. I know Jason sent this out already but wanted to share again:  Here's a Google Doc containing the SESSION RESOURCES that were presented.  It's not the same as being there, but there some great takeaways from these resources.

If one of your students asks about an email from the tech department about issues with their YouTube account - Read this for more info: 
Everyone at Norris has a YouTube account. (They come with each G Suite account.)   Some users created a few things or used a few tools that caused that account to be a "branded" account.  No one really knew they had this and it was not a big deal until some change happened with Google and school created accounts with YouTube.  So - you can read this doc for more info if you get questions from any of your students.  We have sent an email to each staff member and student that was affected. (400+ students and 20+ staff accounts.) 

💥 Congrats to these staff members for becoming Google Certified over the summer:  Completed Level 1 -  7-18-19  Completed Level 1 8-7-19 Completed Level 7-2-19 Completed Level 1 -  7-5-19 Completed Level 1  7-30-19 Completed Level 1 -  6-10-19 Level 2💥 - 7-1-19 Completed Level 1 -  6-27-19 Level 2 💥 - 8-7-19 Completed Level 1 -  8-7-19

See our complete list of Google Certified Staff members here.  Watch out this spring for another opportunity to become Google Certified and earn an extra $600 doing it!

20 Google Slides activities to add awesome to classes 

Wow, there are some great ideas and templates in this article!   I love the Icon boards to get kids started right away. The Google Slides sticky notes template/idea is pretty cool. Some links to nice yearbooks and newsletters for the classroom.  Check them out! 

This article - 20 activities to Ditch that Textbook has some great templates for the K-2 teachers. We have these templates in our K-2 templates folder here.

FlipGrid - New feature added to record video.