Customize Your Feedback in Google Docs

Earlier this year, I provided a blog post on how you can create shortcuts in Google Documents so that you are not wasting time when providing valuable feedback to your students. To read this previous post, click HERE.

Last week, Mr. Geddes, came to Kerri Lunn and I asking how he can mimic a way of providing feedback he has done in the past by hand. He wanted a way to provide a check mark, like he would have with his pen as a means of agreeing with the statement the student shared. At first, we did not think it was possible until we looked further.

This is what we came up with:

Find a check and an x that you will want to use to insert in a Google Document. To do this, open up a blank Google Document. Then choose Special Characters – found under the Insert Menu.

Use the draw symbol box on the right hand side to find what you are looking for. You will notice that we drew in a check mark. Then, choose the green check mark so that it can be seen easily in a student’s paper. By selecting it, it will be inserted on your blank Google Document.

We did the same thing for finding an x to use.

Copy the inserted check mark on your blank Google Document so that the shortcut can be created. To do this, click Preferences under the Tools menu.

We had Mr. Geddes type gpp (representing good point). This means anytime he types the letters gpp when providing feedback, Google will automatically replace it with a green check mark. You might be asking, why gpp? We did this so that incase Mr. Geddes would ever type the letters gp together it would not produce a check mark. By adding gpp, we have eliminated possibilities of those letters ever being together.
Once you type gpp in the replace box, paste the green check mark you copied from the blank Google document. Then hit the OK button. 

Repeat step 3 for the red check mark. This time, we had Mr. Geddes use wpp as the shortcut for the red x to appear.

Open up a paper that you need to provide feedback on and use the shortcuts that you have created.

Note: Once you create a shortcut, they will always be available to you.

This solution may not solve all situations you might be used to/faced with when grading physical papers but at least this shows you possibilities that are available with assessing in Google Documents.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask – you know where to find me. As I have already tweeted out, we thank Mr. Geddes for pushing us. It is all about learning!

How Technology Can Be Used During Open House

Lots of us have open house coming up in the very near future. Why not have technology help you with the process…below are some ideas.

Going to be Absent to Your Own Class?

Whether you are a teacher who cannot attend Open House yourself OR you want to be able to reach all of your parents (even those that could not attend), why not create a quick screencast of your presentation? Making screencasts are very easy to do now. You could record yourself talking through the presentation OR you could just turn on your webcam and talk to the computer.

If this is the route that you want to go, I would recommend using the Chrome Extension Screencastify. Below are instructions on how to use the tool if you have never used it before.

Worried about privacy and YouTube? No worries, just save your screencast to your Google Drive account with ‘anyone with the link’ sharing permission. When it is time to share, provide a link or QR code on your door if you are going to be absent. You can also email your screencast and/or embed the video on your teacher website for all parents to see.

Want to Have Fun with Parents?

In past years, some teachers have created a Jeopardy Game for the parents to play – this is a great way of getting parents engaged and involved. If you are interested in going this route, you can create a quick Jeopardy game using and Google Sheets. Instructions on how to do this can be found from a previous blog post that I wrote.

Up for a different competition game? Why not have parents participate in a fun game of Kahoot! We know that our students love participating in the game – might be great to share the fun. You could ask parents questions pertaining to your class and then go into more detail about the answers. It is important to note that parents would have to be willing to use their mobile device to make this work.

Need to Get Feedback?
It is important to know that both options below would require a parent to use their mobile device to provide feedback.

Are you one that likes to collect information from parents? How about making a Google Form to have parents fill out instead of passing around a piece of paper.

Another great option is using the Exit Ticket option from Socrative. This could be a great way of asking parents/guardians what they want you to know about their son/daughter.

The possibilities are endless as to what you can do. The most important thing is to make sure that you are having fun during open house as well as the parents.  Stop by room 222 if you would like to talk more about what you can do with technology during open house.

Happy Beginning of the School Year!

Embedding a YouTube Playlist in Google Sites

A colleague of mine, Ms. Mac, shared a fun fact that I was unaware of. Rather than linking a YouTube playlist to a Google Site, she shared with me how you can actually have the YouTube playlist be embedded on a page in a Google Site.

The Process
The video below will walk you through step by step on how you can embed a YouTube playlist on a page in Google Sites.

Why I prefer this approach?
Now I know the end result is the same no matter which approach you use, whether you embed a YouTube Playlist or provide a link to the Playlist. However, when it comes to YouTube Playlist, I like…

  • how the user stays on your website to view the important content
  • the ability of viewing the other videos by clicking on the icon on the top left corner
  • that the website is not full of individual embedded videos
  • that the user can find the videos easily (instead of searching for a link somewhere on the page to click on)
If you would like help on how to make a YouTube playlist, let me know and I can assist.

How to Make Your Own GIF File

A couple of people have asked me how I have been creating GIF files. It is rather quite simple. For those of you who might be scratching your head as to what a GIF file is, a sample is provided below.

Basically, a GIF file is an animated graphics file (most just think of it as a ‘video’ file). This file extension just plays on repeat. It is great for showcasing a simple task that you want people to follow – but might be easier to explain through animating steps rather than writing the steps out.

In order to begin, you will need to use the Chrome browser and download Techsmith Snagit (if you don’t already have it). Once it has been downloaded, the Chrome extension will show up on the top right corner of the browser.

Good to Note

There are a couple of things to note with this extension:

  • In order to use this Chrome extension, it will ask you to log into Chrome, if you are not already signed into the browser. 
  • This extension is not just for creating GIF files – you can annotate images as well as take video.
  • Techsmith saves all of your files in a folder that can be found in your Google Drive account. 
  • In order to make a GIF file, it has to be 15 seconds or less (at least I think it does)
Steps for Creating a GIF File
  • Determine what you want to ‘animate’
  • When ready, click on the Snagit chrome extension (top right corner of the browser) and select the Screen option.
  • Snagit will ask you what you would like to record – based on what is already opened on your computer. Once you select the ‘screen’ you want to record, Snagit will start recording. In the image below, Snagit can record my entire screen, a Google Sheet that I have open, another tab that has my blog, or a file that is opened in Preview.
  • Once you are done with your recording, hit the stop sharing button.
  • Then, name your video at the top of the screen. Next select animated GIF from the menu on the bottom left.
  • Lastly, Snagit will create a link as well as give you the ability to download your GIF file to upload on a website or blog post. Keep in mind that you can access these files right from your Google Drive in the Techsmith folder. (I also like the fact that you can upload video files right to YouTube as well.)

Hope this is helpful.

Creating "Fill In" Responses in Google Docs

Why not have Google Docs work for you…you can turn a Google Document into a ‘fillable form’ by making questionnaires, investigations, worksheets, etc. I know that Google Forms exist and you can ask questions for people to fill out but sometimes, you just do not want your responses to be located in one big Google Sheet.

Where I see this method work great is for investigations or worksheets that students might typically have done with paper and pencil in the past. That is right, students can do the same work electronically, allowing them to ‘turn it in’ through Google Classroom or other electronic collection means.

Below are some examples of how I see this working out:
1. Questionnaire or Form – wanting to collect basic information from people but need the information separate from others in a document.
2. Investigation or Worksheet – students completing their work electronically in a document – getting away from the traditional paper and pencil method.
There is a little trick to this madness. Follow these steps and you will be golden:
  1. First you must determine the questions that you want to ask. 
  2. Then you must insert tables in your document. This is how you create those text boxes for users to fill out.
  3. Next, you need to customize the look of your tables so that they don’t look like tables. It is also recommended that if you want the responses to have its own style, you will want to customize that as well.
Things to Know/Consider
  • If you are going to use this method for all of your required course work, you will want to be consistent. In other words, keep your response boxes the same color, type of font, etc.
  • When choosing a color for your box, do not choose a dark color. It might be good to just keep it basic and choose a light grey color.
  • Depending on responses – documents may look different. What I mean by this is if a response by a student is extra thoughtful, it will push all content below it – which might result in things showing up on a different page.
Why this Method?
I like this method as students know exactly what is expected of them. There is no confusion for students as they know where a response must be given. There is no room for ‘well I didn’t know I had to answer that’!
Just this year, our administration team had all teachers complete their professional goals and self reflections in an Google Document that was set up as a questionnaire. Again, this allowed teachers to know exactly what they had to fill out and complete.
As always, if you want to learn more as to how you can use this tool in your classroom/curriculum, you know where to find me!