Thursday, May 16, 2019

Going deeper with Google Classroom

One of the challenges that I've noticed working with Google Classroom is that if you want to attach a unique hand-out for each student to access, this step will need to be done on the initial creation of a post.  In this issue of the blog, I'll share how you can create a post for Google Classroom.  After signing in with your Google Account, click on the 9-dot waffle and the Classroom icon

In Google Classroom, click on top tab "Classwork" and create an assignment:

The option for attaching material include files from the computer (e.g., MS Word docs) or from Google Drive.  For attachments for students to view, Word or Google Doc work equally well.  If you want the students to be able to work with the document, it's best to attach a Google Doc.  Choosing a Word file would likely require a conversion to Google Docs:

 Here's how you can do this: 

Note the option to Make a copy for each student:
For more information and video tutorials on using Google Classroom, refer to this website:

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Laptop tips & saving files

Laptops can be convenient for class use but can also be a source of frustration for students and teachers.  Some helpful tips have been posted here.  I especially like the emphasis on how laptop use for a classroom takes more time to get all users signed on and ready to work but it's equally important to consider how much time is needed at the end of class for students to properly shut down, return and ensure that the device is being properly recharged.  It's tempting for students to close the lid on a laptop before it's fully shut down.  Doing so would result in the laptop still running (hot) and not being logged off for the next user.

As a result of laptops being re-imaged for quicker login times, file saving can be a bit more cumbersome.  Default settings cause files to be saved to the C: drive of the laptop rather than to H: drive (personal directory).  This can also be frustrating for students trying to find a file when they use a different laptop.  Here's the solution for file saving: 

To open existing files, hold down Ctrl+Alt+X to retrieve Windows Explorer:

On a re-imaged laptop, opening "Documents" in the Libraries would lead directly to the C: drive (laptop hard drive).  To access your personal files (H: drive), click on the directory with your name on the left menu tab (found under "Computer").  In the H: drive, My Documents is a preferred folder for saving files and creating sub-folders.  Note that the shared drive (S:) might be a good alternative for students saving work to be easily accessible by the teacher, especially the "Sandbox" folder.  To learn more about the Sandbox folder, click here.

Shortcut keys for laptops are the same as the desktop computers.  Click here for an overview of the various shortcut keys for SD28 laptop and desktop computers.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Making PDF files readable

Have you noticed that Google Read & Write for Chrome gives you problems reading PDF files?  It would be nice if Read&Write could read anything and everything but unfortunately, this is not the case.  PDF files need to go through a conversion process to become readable with Read&Write.  

For many textbooks that are used with the BC Curriculum, this has already been done by ARC-BC in rich text, kesi (Kurzweil-supported) or accessible pdf formats.
They have a searchable database and you can create an account.  In order to download an item, you will need to specify for which designated student(s) the resource will be used.  If the text is not available, you can send ARC-BC a hard copy of the book for them to create a digital copy.  Please contact me if you need more support with this process.

The creators of the Google Read&Write for Chrome extension, Texthelp, also have solutions to make pdf files readable with texthelp pdf reader.  Some PDF files do not require any conversion process.  In Google Drive, right click on the pdf file and select open with "Google Read&Write for Chrome."  This video clip explains how: 

In some cases, when you attempt to open the document with "Google Read&Write for Chrome," it will state "We can't find any text in this document - it may not have been scanned using OCR"

Here are 2 options to solve this problem:

1. For smaller pdf files (<10 pages), I recommend using the PDF to Word conversion that Adobe provides.  Scan the file through the printer with better resolution settings (600 dpi and grayscale).  Click here for the step-wise explanation of this process.  

2. For larger files, the conversion process can happen using Snapverter, a chrome app that provides up to 10 conversions for free and one free scan per week subsequently.  Here's a short video to explain how Snapverter works:

Here's a chart summarizing the options that I've described:

Given that technology is progressing quickly, I am hopeful that there will soon be some better alternatives in the very near future.  Let me know if you would like any support in making pdf documents accessible for your students.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

WriQ: Writing Assessment made easier

The creators of Google Read&Write for Chrome, Texthelp, just released a new tool called WriQ.  This is an extension available from the Chrome Web Store that works in Google Docs for the purposes of assessing writing.

To learn more about WriQ, here's a deeper explanation.  Check out this introductory video on how WriQ works:

Currently, WriQ is available for teachers free of charge for 2018/19.  It does a reasonable job of analyzing conventions and calculating an age-equivalent score for the writing.  For any given genre of writing, there is a rubric that you can use to assess the quality of writing.

Texthelp have self-learning courses available to learn more about using Google Read&Write for Chrome and EquatIO (math made digital).  Click here to go to the self-directed tutorials and certification site.

WriQ and Read&Write links are available from the Language Arts page of the weebly site.  EquatIO is available from the Math page of the weebly site.  Let me know if you'd like more information or support with any of these programs.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Chrome Apps

So often, when the term "apps" is used, it conjures Apple devices (ipads).  At the SET-BC partner's conference, I learned that apps don't need to be exclusive to ipads.  Here are a few apps that you can use for chromebooks, laptops and computers:

These apps are easily accessible from the weebly site and work from a variety of devices.  Several of the apps encourage total class participation, including the Gimkit game, Flipgrid and YoTeach! App.  These are available from the Total Participation Techniques page of the weebly site.

To learn more about how some of these apps can be used in classroom practice and how to accommodate for all learners including those who need support and those who need sufficient challenge, see the Google Slides presentation here: 

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Groupwise space issues

Have you found out that you are at or nearing your limit for space on your Groupwise account?  I suggest a couple of solutions.  If you ideas that work for you, please share in the comments after this post!

First, there are different ways to sort the email.  By clicking on the top of any column, it will sort the column in ascending or descending order.  Doing so with the "Size" column will make it easy for you to see which emails are taking up the most space. 

Perhaps you might want to do another sort by the "From" column to target and delete the scanned documents that have come from Bert or Ernie photocopiers (these are often larger-size emails).  Rather than deleting individual emails, holding down Ctrl and Shift, you can select several emails at a time.  To select a page of emails at a time, I suggest holding down Ctrl-Shift-PgDn:

Instead of deleting emails, archiving emails allow you to retain emails without them contributing to your space quota.  Notice when you right mouse click your selection the option to archive.  You might wish to sort by "Date" and archive emails old emails.

Finally, your "Sent items" box also contributes to your space quota so you might wish to do the same process with emails that you've sent to others.

For easy access to Groupwise from SD28 computers and laptops, trying holding down Ctrl-Alt-G

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

SD28 helpdesk tips & Google Docs tip

Happy Tuesday!  I want to point out that our computer techs put together a site ( that helps with SD28-specific tips.  In this site, there are helpful tips on many topics specific to our SD28 network including how to set default printers, SMART Board troubleshooting, helpdesk information and much more!

In helping some classes get going with Google Apps for Education (Read&Write and Google Docs), I noticed that students sometimes accidentally delete the written explanation and questions provided in a Google Doc.  A better way to structure a Google Doc that gets sent out to all students via Google Classroom is to build in textboxes (creating a one-cell table) for students to write in.  If students need to backspace and clear their answer, only what they've written in the textbox would get deleted and not the teacher-created text.  As the teacher-created text is not locked, there's still the possibility of the student deleting what the teacher wrote.  However, there's the option to undo or restore a previous version (click on the "All Changes Saved in Drive" or "Last Edit.." hypertext to get previous versions, to the right of the Google Docs Menu).  Here's a graphic organizer to explain the above in better clarity, also found in the tech support page of the Weebly titled "Google Docs into Classroom."

Going deeper with Google Classroom

One of the challenges that I've noticed working with Google Classroom is that if you want to attach a unique hand-out for each student t...