Thursday, July 20, 2017

How to Use the Google Drive App to Transfer Photos or Video from a Phone or Tablet

This is an essential skill for showing off the learning that takes only a few minutes to master, yet I regularly encounter teachers and students who can't do it. Take a minute to watch the video if you're still using USB cables or email (or worst of all, text messages) to get your files to a computer.

If you have photos or video on your phone (or you want to take some) to bring them into projects or share them with others, learn to use the Google Drive app. It's so easy!

It's the bridge from the real world to your projects. I've seen teachers get excited when they realize the possibilities this opens up for creative classroom projects.

This short video tutorial shows everything you need to know.

Monday, July 17, 2017

How to Make a PDF eBook Using Google Slides

In class and for my personal use, I have created PDF "ebooks" using Google Slides. It's a simple method that can make attractive files that are easy to share.

There are essentially two steps:

  1. Make a slideshow in Google Slides. This will take the longest. And it can take a very long time depending on how attractive you want it to look and how many pages you'll be creating.
  2. Download it as a PDF. This takes about 10 seconds. Literally, it's just two or three clicks.
I made the tutorial for this process. It doesn't go into great detail about how to do the layout, but I show a few things briefly about the most important tools you'll use.

If you don't want to watch the entire thing, click the links below to open a new tab at that section of the video. I highlighted the two key ones for anyone familiar with Google Slides in general.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Win a Free Gift Certificate from Teachers Pay Teachers

I originally hoped to give away some review copies of my updated ebook, Creating Comics with G Suite Apps, but Teachers Pay Teachers doesn't have an easy way to do that.

So, I decided I'd give away three $10 gift certificates to their site and I'd simply ask the winners to consider purchasing and reviewing my (normally $4) ebook. Of course, if you win the drawing, you can use the $10 to buy whatever you want from the site.

To enter for a chance to win one of the gift certificates, you only have to answer one simple question about your plans for (or your questions about) tech activities in the upcoming year.

Click here to enter the drawing.

Please enter the drawing only once. I will draw three winners at random on July 21, 2017. If you win you'll be notified by email directly and I'll announce the winners in my next newsletter.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Resources for Sale

I'm taking some time this summer to update and upgrade some popular resources and put them on Teachers Pay Teachers.

First I added this free download about how to create recorded slideshows. I consider that to be an essential skill for teachers and students.

I also added the new version of my ebook about making comics with G Suite apps. That resource is based on my most popular conference session. It's a proven process that I've seen ignite a classroom as students discover the fun of creating. The normal price for the ebook is $4.00.

If you already have the free version I used to offer on this blog, you'll want to know I added a suggested rubric for the comics in the new edition. I also made some minor changes to the section about video projects.

If you have followed my work on my blog or elsewhere, I would greatly appreciate you at least downloading the free PDF about recorded slideshows and giving an honest review. That would help many other teachers discover them.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Essential Summer Reading - The Triple E Framework

I first heard about Liz Kolb's Triple E Framework and the accompanying book in her interview with Vicki Davis. I was intrigued. The more I looked into it, the more I'm convinced this is something every teacher should study over the summer.

What is the Triple E Framework?

At the core, it's a simple idea with just a few important resources. I'll sum it up here and include some links.

As any teacher is aware, adding tech to a lesson doesn't necessarily make it better. It might make it a lot worse. Even if the students are actively using the technology and having a great time completing the lesson, it doesn't mean they're learning the content at a satisfactory level.

Liz Kolb addressed this problem by giving us a list of research-based practices and standards that sum up how to best integrate tech. As you might guess, it's based on three E's:
  • Engage - This is authentic engagement with the learning goal (not just the tech).
  • Enhance - This is about choosing tech that adds value to the learning experience.
  • Extend - And here we look at extending the learning beyond the classroom, to the students' personal lives.
The way Kolb defined those three aspects of learning with tech resonated with me immediately. She was putting into words so many things I witnessed and felt as I worked in dozens of classrooms over the past five years. What I love about her work is that it's clear, practical and backed by research

And she relentlessly emphasizes the learning goal of the lesson over the tech. As obvious as that might sound, we all know that's not always what happens when a teacher or administrator discovers some new tech tool.

All of this can be found in her book, Learning First, Technology Second.  I'll say more about the book below, but the good news is everything is open source and it's freely available on the Triple E Framework website. Here are some key parts you'll want to look at:
  • Overview - This page defines those three E's above, but it also lists the nine questions that teachers should use to guide lesson planning or evaluation. The video on this page provides an excellent summary.
  • Rubric for Lesson Design - This is a simple, free tool that allows a teacher to score a lesson based on how it measures up on the nine questions. Every teacher should use it until they've memorized it!
  • Lesson Planning Template - Here's the same information in a slightly different format for lesson creation.
  • Instructional Strategies - We know any tech tool will only be effective when it's supported with quality teaching. Here are three lists of strategies that can support tech for each of the E's.
  • Case Studies - Here are some examples of putting the Framework into action at various grade levels.

What about the book?

I ordered the Learning First, Technology Second right away because I knew I would want the full story. It didn't disappoint!

It provides a lot more detail that what you'll find on the website. Several examples illustrate exactly how the rubric should be used to effectively evaluate a lesson. There are also many more examples of quality lessons in the book.

I most appreciated the chapter on effective instructional strategies that support good use of technology. Rather than just listing them like they are on the above website, the book explains a number of important ones for each of the three E's.

I read the book quickly, but I'll return to it many times for these examples and lists.

Here are a few things that stood out for me:
  • For true engagement, students need a social aspect. Try to leave room for "co-use", either between students or between the student and teacher, when tech is being used in the lesson. That means two students on one device might be better than 1-to-1 and some conversation about the learning goal should be happening as they use the tool.
  • Up to 70% of apps that are promoted as educational have no research behind them to support the claim. We can't assume the tech alone is accomplishing anything as far as real learning. Teachers must be sure instructional strategies are in place when the students are using the tools.
  • Every lesson doesn't need to score high on all three E's. What matters most is that a teacher naturally begins to evaluate tech use in light of the Framework and looks for opportunities to improve in each area.
My only regret about the book is the title. I think it might make it too easy to dismiss. After exclaiming about how much I love the Triple E Framework, I showed the book to another instructional tech and he was less than impressed. Looking at the title, he said, "Yeah, but we all always say that." 

I agree that the heart of the Triple E Framework is to make the learning goal first priority, not the tech. I just hope educators will not stop, thinking they'll find nothing new. The wealth of practical ideas in the book is well worth exploring, even for those of us who have been proclaiming, "Learning first, tech second," for years.