Noel Erskine, Technology Coordinator Norris Schools

Welcome to my technology blog.
Follow me on Twitter, @noelerskine
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💥 Tech tools - New gmail right-click, add-ons, Googel slide tools, YouTube tricks and more!

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Can You Spot When You’re Being Phished? (Hey - A hacker just tried phishing a lot of school employees via our retirement plan, so be careful!) 

-Take Google's test to test out your phishing chops. To make this quiz, the team drew from materials they've used to train thousands of journalists, political figures, and activists. Can you tell what's fake?  

Another great resource to avoid Phishing:  social engineering red

Khan Academy Kids - a free award-winning app for ages 2-6! 
If you have brothers, sisters, friends, or neighbors who are ages two to six, be sure to share Khan Academy Kids with them. Khan Academy Kids makes learning engaging and fun. Thousands of activities, aligned to the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework and Common Core, delve deep into topics ranging from math to language arts and socio-emotional learning.
It’s now available on Google PlayAmazonFire, and the iTunes App Store  

10 YouTube URL Tricks You Should Know About
Some pretty neat tricks in this article... link to a specific spot, create a Gif, download, etc... 

How will technology affect jobs in the future? 
( opened a completely automated warehouse near Shanghai, that employes four people.)  See what their automated warehouse looks like today  -  (Amazing Video.) 

Teach Coding with CS First
Google's free, video-based computer science curriculum is designed for teachers with no prior CS knowledge and for students in grades 4-8 (ages 9-14). Explore the getting started videos and check out how teachers like you are using CS First in their classrooms.

Free ebooks, audiobooks, movies, K-12 resources and more...

A Soft Murmur - If you like background sounds!
A Soft Murmur allows you to simply play around with the sliders to create your very own background noise.

Google Docs add-ons:
The 10 Best Google Docs Add-Ons for More Professional Documents 

5 New Google-Made Apps That Are Cool, Useful, and Fun.
One of these (Password Checker) we have deployed to all staff and students already.) - Check them out! 

Google Slides - Pretty Cool! 

Misc. Resources:
The Library of Congress has lesson plans for elementary, middle, and high school students easily searchable and organized by collection. From African American History to World War II the choices are fantastic. Check out their Primary source sets too! 

Shadow Puppet EDU (IOS App)  has partnered with the Library of Congress to give students access to a collection of images. Students can create narrated slideshows using images to record their understanding of different topics in history.  With Shadow Puppet EDU videos creations can now be up to 30 minutes long and include 100 slides of pictures.  Users have the ability to add images from NASA, Flickr Creative Commons, and the Library of Congress’ archive without leaving the app. It's a great free storytelling app worth checking out for the iPads. 

Photo Resource - “Remove Background” -   Great resource for teachers and students to remove background images from photos. Thanks to Lisa Harrington who found out about this resource at a conference, and shared it with our high school staff.

Password Managers: A great tip from our amazing network admin - Thanks @bryancwilliams 

The last I checked, I personally have over 100 online accounts.  Each account has a unique password that I don't even have to remember.  Wait...  What???  You don't know the passwords to over 100 accounts.  That is correct.  Am I crazy?  Yes and No, depending on who you ask.  Regardless, I am able to pull this off using a password manager and I highly recommend you start using one.

A password manager is pretty self-explanatory.  It manages all of your passwords in one central location utilizing one master password to secure all of your credentials and information.  Putting all of your eggs in one basket can be a little unsettling for some people but the advantages of doing so far outweigh the disadvantages of not having one.  There are two password managers I would recommend. 1Password (which I use) and LastPass (which Noel uses).  These are the two of the most popular PM's that we can provide basic guidance on.  There are others out there but a person needs to do their research to make sure they are repeatable.  Here are just some of the benefits that might entice you to move into a password management product.
  • One Password.  One strong password or passphrase gets you access to all of your accounts.
  • Greater Security - If one of your passwords is ever breached, all other accounts remain secure due to each having a different password.
  • Faster Logins - Using autofill or keystroke combinations,  passwords are automatically filled in in less than a second.  No thinking about what username or password to use.
  • Shared Logins - Share logins with family members.  Give access to family members on a regular basis or in case of an emergency.
  • Encryption -  All passwords and information is encrypted and stored securely on 1Password and LastPass servers.
When implementing a PM, remember you now have one password that holds all the keys to the kingdom.  Make it strong!  Don't forget it!  Make a backup copy of any recovery process or keys provided!  Side Note: The current industry trend is to use a passphrase rather than a password.  Both 1Password and LastPass both support passphrases.  I would suggest your master password be a passphrase.

💥 Tech tools - Some great tech tools for a cold day. Even a free Sam's Club membership and more...

Friday, January 25, 2019

Congratulations to Jessie Andre on her winning NETA entry! Mystery Unit: Using Technology to foster creative writing.  If you are not a NETA member - remember it's free to join <--Join now! and opens you up for some great classroom grants to apply for!

Misc. Tech Tools:
Google's New Chrome Canvas web app for drawing is simple, free, and works well on Chromebooks!  (You can import images too.) 

Headliner is a web-based video maker. It's totally free with no limits. Headliner is not quite a full video editor—it’s designed to illustrate audio, somewhat like Adobe Spark Video. - A tool worth looking at! 

Check out this great article on free images for your classes, presentations, etc...

Great resource for Free Images for use within your classes. 

Speakd, give voice to your writings - Google Doc Addon.  Simple but works well in a Google Doc. 

Category Tabs for Google Keep - Nice extension! THX ⁩ at for this tip.

image.pngPlotagon Story - a nice IOS app for animated movie creation - thanks and day for this tip!  

Ditch That Textbook - More great resources. 
Matt Millers Ditch That Textbook site has many great resources.  Did you know they do a virtual summit with many great speakers?  I have put together a site with links to their  Ditch Summit Resources.  Some great videos and topics in this listing. 

Force Users to Make a Copy of a Google Doc! Make a copy = /copy  Force preview = /preview Template = /template/preview  Or /export?format=pdf (How to Share Links to Your Google Doc as a PDF)
Norris Social Media News: 

Our complete listing of social media channels can be found here

At Norris, we have been with Google on this venture for many years. Do you remember these... Pretty cool graphic showing the evolution since 2006.  Remember Google Slides being introduced in 2007? Drive & Forms in 2012.. WOW. 
  • 80 million students and educators using G Suite for Education
  • 1 billion monthly Google Drive users with over 1 trillion files stored
  • 1.5 billion Gmail monthly active users

A free Sam's Club Membership (For new members)- Yep, I like to pass along a few deals that I run across.  More info here

A few Highlights from the January 2019 The Google for Education newsletter:

G Suite for Education News
Drag and drop on the Classwork page in Google ClassroomWe recently launched a redesign to Google Classroom with a sleek, new look to help teachers better customize their pages. In addition, teachers can now drag and drop assignments and topics in the Classwork page. There are also new First Day trainings in the Teacher Center and our new and improved Help Center, which combines with our Community and Product forums.
Accessibility Features in Google Tools
We believe in building tools that aim to reach all learners. Ready to learn about the accessibility features built into all of our products? From visual aids to voice typing and from closed captions to screen readers, learn how to customize these settings today.

EDU in 90 is BackOur video series EDU in 90 is back for season four! Based on your feedback, we've kicked things off with episodes including updates on Google Classroom, computer science, and ideas from educators for using Hangouts Meet in the classroom.

💥 Tech tools - Free apps, Free short video clips, CLASSROOMQ, YoTeach, and more in this weeks tips!

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Norris staff attending the York MLK in-service day. - Tip

Make sure you take some time to create a free Sched account and select the sessions you plan to attend. 

After you have selected your sessions, you can view/print just your schedule by clicking on your account in the upper right-hand corner and then going to My Sched. 

Better yet - view your schedule on your phone: (Bookmark this on the phone!) 

Mobile setup can be found here: 

Misc. Tech tools/sites:

Free IOS app:  PicCollage EDU for iOS is free this month (usually $1.99). It's a safe photo editor for schools.  

Another great tip from @tonyvincent   - Follow him on Twitter for more great stuff.

The GoogleClassroom iOS and Android apps have the ability to markup assignments. A teacher can use a finger or a stylus to add colorful annotations, handwriting, and highlighting.

Pexels Videos offers hundreds of short videos that you can download for free and re-use in your own video productions.  Try Pexels Videos to Find Green Screen Backgrounds

Take Animated Virtual Reality Tours of Ancient Rome at Its Architectural Peak (Circa 320 AD).

New free mini-book has a chart that compares next-generation storytelling technologies: 3D, AR, 360°, VR, & Hologram. 

Richard Byrne's Video Tutorials on a variety of Google tools and subject.  250+ great tutorials in this Youtube Playlist. 

Engage Your Class with These Fun Online Math Games - 2 Minute Read ᛫ Epson ᛫ November 29, 2018
  • Notice how the Math Playground one (K-6) integrates with Google Classroom. (Not everything on Math Playground is free. You will notice the example Middle School one they give is for premium (Paid) members only.) 

Wow! 100+ teaching and learning strategies! Flip a card to read about the strategy. You can download PDFs and PowerPoints.  (Unfortunately, this site only works on Chrome on the desktop)  From Tony V - I'm really digging the Why-Lighting strategy! "Students highlight text then write why they highlighted what they did in the margins of the document." Or, they can highlight in a digital document and add a comment with their reason for highlighting.  

PowerSchool Gradebook tip - How to Copy Assignments from One Semester (or Year) to the Next.  
Thanks to Janelle Coady for doing this Screencastify video on how to do this.  

FlipGrid - The leading video discussion platform for millions of PreK to Ph.D. educators, students, and families. This one makes my top 25 list! - 

The gang @flipgrid just released Integration docs.  a collection of subject and age-specific integration docs from the Flipgrid Educator Innovation Leads Each doc is packed with resources and ideas for amplifying your students.

This is one of those tools that will always be free!  (Microsoft purchased them and it's a part of their strategy.) 

If you have not checked it out yet and have questions - Feel free to drop Jason or me an email and we will help.  Betsy Barent also did a session at our summer boot camp on this great tool so she would be a great resource as well!   

Make PDFs Interactive with Kami. 

We love GoogleDocs, but sometimes we still have a use for PDF's and Kami is one to keep in the tech tool belt.  This article will walk you through the process. Make PDFs Interactive with Kami. 

Create your own Virtual tour: (I noticed there is a session on this at the YorkMLK day!) 
Visit   -  You may already familiar with Google Expeditions, a virtual reality platform that lets users experience hundreds of places in the world in 3D. But what you might not know is that you can now create your own tours using Tour Creator. This tool enables us to create your own tours, using imagery from Google Street View or our own 360 photos, then publish them right into Poly, Google’s library of free VR and AR objects.

Note - (Here at Norris we have VR-Viewers in the IS and MS buildings that can be utilized throughout the district. 

Great back-channel resource - YoTeach! 

TodaysMeet is gone.... but YoTeach has you covered! Just set up a free room, give your students the URL, and everyone can come on in and chat just like they did on TodaysMeet. What’s even better is that you can password protect your room, participants can add pictures and drawings in the chat, and rooms don’t appear to ever expire. 

No more having students raise their hands - CLASSROOMQ to the rescue! Rather than have them wait with their hands up or get off-task, have them add their name to a digital queue. (They can even add an optional note about what they need.) The teacher sees the names in the order they were submitted, and once the student has met with the teacher, their name can be checked off with a single click.  Great for our 1-1 Chromebook classrooms! 

Applied Digital Skills - Google's curriculum at your fingertips!


Remember - This curriculum is a part of WorkBench that we have deployed at Norris. (Your students and classes are already setup! ...and it does integrate with Google Classroom too.) 

Sample lesson: 
Time 45 - 90 minutes    

Make digital notes in an article to increase your understanding of what you read. 

Great for: Clarifying questions, helping students remember what they read, consolidating thoughts to participate in class discussions, studying for exams. 
SKILLS TAUGHT: Researching a topic & Document formatting
AUDIENCE:  Middle School & High School

New to Google's curriculum - get started in less than 3 minutes! 
Sign Up
1. Sign in or sign up 
Visit our website and click “Sign in” or “Sign up” in the top-right corner. You’ll use your Google account (or set one up) to log in.
2. Create a class.  (It works with Google Classroom too!) 
Click the “plus” sign at the bottom of your screen to create a new class and give it a name (e.g. third-period science). 

3. Add lessons and students
Click “Add lessons” to explore the curriculum and choose a lesson for the class you’ve just created.

WEBJETS - It's like Padlet on steroids.  Similar to Padlet, users create boards where they gather items on cards, placing these on a desktop that feels like a bulletin board. Their free plans give you enough to make it a nice occasional tool for the classroom. 

A card can contain an image, an embedded video, a live Google Doc, an attached file, or a table containing a variety of elements organized into columns. Probably the best feature is that cards can be collected into folders, where the items are listed along the left, and the selected item appears in a larger window on the right. You can keep multiple folders on one board, and all cards can be collapsed or expanded, making it easy to neatly collect large amounts of resources all in one place. Webjets would be a great, flexible tool for group projects or task curation, whether it’s done by you or your students.

160+ Chrome Apps and Extensions for Teachers and Students - from Kasey Bell's shake-up learning site. 

Remember, here at Norris students are only allowed to install apps and extensions that are approved.  Here is our current list of approved apps/extensions for students.  If you need any added, let us know! 

What's coming in Gsuite -
Embed Google Drawings in Google Docs -  Posted: 07 Jan 2019 10:51 AM PST

What’s changing 

Now you can embed Google Drawings files saved in Drive into Google Docs and update the content of linked drawings embedded in Docs. When the source file is updated, you’ll see an “Update” button in the upper right-hand corner of the embedded drawing.

Posted: 07 Jan 2019 10:07 AM PST

What’s changing

Now, when you’re working on a chart in Sheets, you can give a design element (such as a bar on a bar graph or a point or line on a line graph) a unique color, instead of all similar elements being the same color. This works for bar charts, column charts, line charts, scatter charts and for certain series in combination charts.