Monday, November 10, 2014

There's an app, extension, add-on for that...

Google continues to add tools for users. Some you may already know. Others are a bit newer. Follow the links below for additional information. Keep in mind that these tools may be available for Apple and Android devices. Check iTunes and Google Play respectively. For a good explanation of all these different resources, read this article from Using Technology Better: Google Chrome Web Apps for Teachers and Students.

Hopefully you will find a tool or two to try within these resources. Please use the comment feature of this blog (at the bottom of this post) to add any that you think will be useful in the classroom.

Apps - a suite of web based tools for education and business. They're apps that are created by Google. Some to try include Blogger, which I'm using for this blog, You Tube, Panoramio, Maps, etc. You can find more information here.

Chrome Web Apps are web based programs. So there's no software to load. They are created by 3rd party developers and can be found in the Chrome Web Apps Store. Click here for information on recommendations and about other ways to access them. A few to try are:

Classdojo: Give positive feedback to your students while keeping track of valuable behavior data. 

Kaizena: Add voice comments in Google Drive.

Blendspace: Blend digital content into your classroom.

Diigo: Diigo is a social bookmarking site. Diigo lets you add and access bookmarks from anywhere. You can also add tags for easier organization. I've been using it for quite a while, which means it shouldn't be going away any time soon.

Evernote: Evernote lets you store your notes in the cloud. It has many other features such as clipping web images, saving photos, attaching audio recordings and more. Evernote has also had staying power. 

WeVideo: Video editing program with many features. Users can choose their level of expertise. Videos can easily be transferred to other social sites such as You Tube. One note, individual video files can't be downloaded. You will definitely be working in the cloud.

Easybib: Online citation program that includes note taking and research tools.

Extensions add extra features and functions to Chrome. Some work with existing Chrome Web Apps. Others are standalone items. Click here for more information. Below are some examples:

1-click timer: This timer plays mellow music when it goes off. Much nicer than a buzzing sound...

Save to Google Drive: Save web content or screen captures directly to Google Drive.

Panic Button: Keep in mind that there are also tools out there for... let's just say interesting purposes. One example is Panic Button. This extension allows a user to close all tabs at once and then open them later. Hmmm...

Add-ons (formerly known as Scripts) give you more functionality in Google Docs and Sheets. You can find information about Add-ons and how to get them by clicking here. Below are some suggestions:

Turn a bulleted list into a visual mind map. 

You can already create a table of contents in Google Docs. However, the table of contents is located at the top of the page. This add-on creates a table of contents that's located in the sidebar. 

Use this add-on to find forms for resumes, calendars and lists for example. There's even a section for teachers and students.

flubaroo is an add-on specifically for sheets. It's another tool that's been around for a while. "Flubaroo is a free tool that helps you quickly grade multiple choice or fill-in-blank assignments."

Doctopus Add-on with Goobric Extension is another add-on specifically for sheets. "Doctopus makes it easy for teachers to share, organize, and assess student work in Google Drive". Goobric adds "rubric grading functionality".

Friday, April 18, 2014

Content Curation

As the article linked later in this post suggests, there are many terms that have surfaced in the field of education. There is one term that I would like to focus on in this entry: content curation

Entering "definition of content curation" into the Google search box, I get the following result:

"The process of sorting through the vast amounts of content on the web and presenting it in a meaningful and organized way around a specific theme."

Source: Content Curation Primer - Beth's Blog

In the article Understanding Content Curation the author discusses the difference between collecting information and curating. She includes an excellent graphic that compares the two concepts.

Souce: Understanding Content Curation by Nancy White
Innovations in Education - Reflections on Learning

She goes on to say that rather than just classifying information, the curator must use higher level thinking skills in order to organize the content in a meaningful way. Taking this idea a step further, content curation can become an educational and informative intermediate step in the research process for students. It can help them to better select and understand the resources that are the best fit for their end product.

So in this post I'm sharing Web 2.0 tools that can be used by both teachers and students for curating the vast amount of information out there.

Blendspace: The website touts "create lessons in 5 minutes". Better yet, have students create their own resources, reviews, and more. With teacher created blendspaces, you can add assessments and track student progress. Click on the Gallery link on the toolbar for examples. There's also a Teacher Resources link. Content is available on any device with an Internet connection.

LiveBinders offers an easy way to organize a lot of information. Click here to see a really interesting example of how a teacher used LiveBinders for his classroom. LiveBinders has apps for IOS, Android and Chrome.

Pearltrees is described as "a place to collect, organize and share everything you like". Click here for an example on the subject of chemistry. The blue circles (example shown to the right) indicate embedded Pearltrees. This tool has apps for IOS and Android.

Pinterest: You most likely have heard of Pinterest, and maybe you've done some pinning of your own. Click here for a board on Pinterest for Teachers. I have not quite gotten the knack of pinning, but obviously many people have.! lets users quickly curate web content into a visual, online publication. You may have noticed in the article above that the author created a! on Curating Learning Resources.! has apps for many devices and programs.

Storify: With Storify, you use the web to tell a story. Content can be from just about any source - Twitter, videos, images, links, text and more. Users can also add their own content or narrative. Take the tour to learn more. Check out this Storify on using this tool in a journalism class. 

A number of these sites have "bookmarklets" (sometimes other terms are used). A bookmarklet is a small software application. Typically it adds a button to your browser that will allow you to quickly add content from the current web page to a specific application. This option is very handy when curating web content.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Screen Capture

If you recall my last post was about screencasting, or recording the actions on your screen. This is a useful tool for creating videos for a flipped classroom, or just providing instructions for your students. For this post, I wanted to mention a related tool: screen capture. Screen capture tools allow you to select a portion of what is visible on your computer and either save it or paste it into a document, website, etc. For example, you can select a photo along with its caption, a specific portion of an article, or part of a map. These images can then be used for discussions, assignments, writing prompts, etc.

The tool that I use is Jing from TechSmith. It's called Snag It in Google Play and iTunes. It’s free. Jing does require a download. Below is an example of a screen capture of a bird’s eye view of the high school. With Jing, you can add text, arrows, frames and highlighting. I've highlighted the library in this photo. I should add that you can use this tool to create screencasts, but I find Screencastomatic works better for videos.

Another option is to use the free “snipping tool” that comes with Windows 7. With this tool, you can add writing and highlighting. An example is show below. To access this tool, go to:

Start Button > All Programs > Accessories > Snipping Tool

Right click on this icon to send a shortcut to your desktop for easy access. 

There are many more screen capture tools. So feel free to add any tools you like into the comment section of this post.

Next up: Web 2.0 resources where these tools can be helpful.

Friday, January 24, 2014


As I have been creating resources for the media center, I find myself using screencasting tools more and more. If you are not familiar with this term, here is a quick definition (from 

Screencasting: A screencast is a digital recording of computer screen output, also known as video screen capture, often containing audio narration.

The screencapture tool that I have found very easy to use is ScreencastOMatic. You can record directly from the ScreencastOMatic website with no registration. You do have the option of downloading the free software and/or creating an account. Screencasting can be used for:
  • Creating tutorials
  • Showing students how to access software or web resources
  • Discussing any resource that you can open on your computer or device – websites, documents, spreadsheets, images, etc.

The videos can then be linked on your website so that students can review them as needed.

Students can also use screencasting for projects, for example, demonstrating their understanding of a resource, concept or image.

Kathy Shrock has a comprehensive web page of screencasting resources:
Kathy Shrock’s Guide to Everything – Screencasting in the classroom.

In her blog, Kathy's Katch - Screencasting for ecducators, she also gives some practical advice on getting started.

One recommendation I have is to start small. I found that breaking information into multiple screencasts worked best for me. Otherwise I found myself fumbling sentences and saying some very strange things…

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


As I was contemplating my next post, I thought of how students (and adults) can benefit from assistance with developing ideas and plans. So the next tools I'm going to write about have to do with brainstorming, capturing input as well as organizing thoughts and ideas. They are listed on the RHS Media website on the Web Tools tab as well. is an easy to use site for quickly adding and mapping ideas. Maps can be saved or exported as an image (JPEG) file.

padlet (formerly Wallwisher) is self described as "paper for the web". Comments and ideas can be instantly captured on a topic. Contributions can be anonymous if needed. You can try this tool out here

Realtime Board is described as a "white board" for your browser. This tool is a bit more complex to use. But it does tie in to Google Drive. Boards can be shared for collaborative work. They can also be downloaded as an image (JPEG). is an easy to use brainstorming tool. Multi-media elements such as text, files, images, maps and calendar events can quickly be added. Work can be shared for collaboration, downloaded as an image file (JPEG) or printed.

TodaysMeet is a great tool for capturing ideas, comments and questions in real time. It's also easy to set up and use. Try it out here. No registration required.

NoodleTools (school login info) and Prezi are also possible options for brainstorming and organizing thoughts. The Notecard Table Top in NoodleTools lets students add and organize ideas and information. This program is also a great research project tool where students can manage their work, store resources, get assistance with citing sources and much more. It also ties in well with the Common Core standards. Click on the link above for logging in. Contact me for more information. 

Prezi is typically thought of as a presentation tool. But text, files, images and videos can easily be captured and organized in the work space. Prezis can also be shared for collaboration, saved, printed, etc.