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Weekly post #52 - Email draft template, a Mote Essential PD byte session, screen time conversations and the Canopy magazine

Canopy magazine - for teachers using Google Workspace for Education

Canopy is a Google for Education partner based in the UK. They recently launched a magazine for teachers using Google Workspace for Education (like we do).

You browse the magazine here and sign up for magazine updates and access to download individual articles.

New email draft template in Google Docs

Google have added a new feature to the Smart Chip menu. In Docs type @ and you will now see the option to add an 'email draft' layout.

"You can mention people in the recipient fields using the @ menu without having to remember their email addresses, and collaborate on the message body using comments and suggestions. When ready to send, simply click the button that is shown alongside an email draft. A Gmail compose window will pop up, with email fields (subject, to, cc, bcc, and body) automatically populated based on the email draft in the document."

Read more here → Google Workspace Updates - New email draft template in Google Docs [15 March 2022]

A 'byte sized' introduction to Mote during a departmental meeting

I used the presentation above to structure a 15 minute Essential PD byte session that I lead this week. The aim was to introduce some of the key features of Mote to a department at school - to get them interested in having a go.

If any other departments would like me to come into a meeting and lead a Essential PD byte session - please just ask!

Four conversations to have with older kids and teens about their screen time habits

Common Sense Media - 4 Conversations to Have with Older Kids and Teens About Their Screen Time Habits [15 March 2022] is a useful article focused upon students of secondary age.

The publishing of the article is linked to the release of the The Common Sense Census: Media Use by Tweens and Teens, 2021. More about this in the near future.

Weekly post #51 - Keyboard shortcuts, charts from Forms, moderating posts in Padlet and tags and hashtag literacy

Adding a keyboard shortcut or hotkey for a Chrome Extension

I use a range of Chrome extensions to add links/articles/resources to services such as Trello, Pocket and Raindrop.

Aiming your cursor at a tiny 16-by-16 pixel Chrome extension button amidst possibly 20 others in the extension tray can feel like trying to win a carnival game with the odds firmly stacked against you.

[Source]

It is possible to assign keyboard shortcuts to Chrome extensions.

Here are the steps for adding your own personalized shortcuts for Chrome extensions.

  • In the top right corner of Google Chrome, click the 3-dot expansion menu
  • Expand the More Tools menu
  • Click Extensions
  • Click on the 'burger' in the top left hand corner of the screen and choose 'Keyboard shortcuts'
  • Scroll to the extension of interest and choose a combination of keys with either “Ctrl” or “Ctrl + Shift” and any available key

The extension developer may have added shortcut functionality for more actions within the app. 

Read more here → obie.ai - How to add and remove custom keyboard shortcuts and hotkeys for a Chrome Extension in 5 seconds flat [20 July 2020]

Heading charts from Google Form responses into Docs, Slides and Drawings

You can now embed linked response charts from Google Forms into a Google Doc, Google Slides presentation, or a Google Drawing. When new form responses are received, anyone with the proper permissions can refresh an embedded chart by simply clicking the "Update" button. This eliminates the need to re-copy the chart from the form.

Read more here → Google Workspace Updates - Embed linked Google Forms charts into Google Docs, Google Slides, and Google Drawings [1 March 2022]

Padlet - moderating posts

Padlet allows you to moderate all posts on padlet so they must be reviewed by the owner/teacher before they can be published.

Thinking about tags and hashtag literacy

Digital curation is a topic that really engages me at the minute. The effective organisation of all the things we find online that may (or may not) be useful in the future is a challenge and the tools available to help evolve.

Tags and Hashtag Literacy [14 February 2022], by Wesley Fryer, is worth a read to get you thinking about such things and how we should be integrating hashtags and tags into the research skills we teach.

Weekly post #50 – Remote for Slides, Pageless Documents, Mote for Forms and turning old computers into Chromebooks

Chrome Extension suggestion - Remote for Slides

This is a really interesting find by a colleague of mine.

Install the Chrome Extension, open a Google Slides deck, visit remoteforslides.com on your phone and then enter a 6 digit code. Now you have a remote for Google Slides. What I really like is that you can see your 'speaker notes' on your phone.

Google Documents - Pageless page setup

If you have no plans to print a Google Document you are creating - why do you need to have it set up with a page like appearance?

Google has recently introduced the ability to change the page setup to 'Pageless'.

Set up your Google Doc so that it continuously scrolls without page breaks. In this setting, images will adjust to your screen size, and you can create wide tables and view them by scrolling left and right. Line breaks for text will also adjust to your screen size, and as you zoom in and out.

support.google.com
  1. On your computer, open a document in Google Docs.
  2. Go to File and then Page setup.
  3. At the top of the dialog window, select Pages or Pageless.
  4. Click OK to confirm.

Read more here → support.google.com - Change a document’s page setup: pages or pageless

Turn an old laptop into a Chromebook

If you have an old computer that is struggling it may be possible to turn this device into a Chromebook using Chrome OS Flex.

If you have an old laptop and would like to give this a try - please let me know and we can explore the possibilities together.

Using Mote with Google Forms

Mote gives us the ability to easily leave audio based feedback. This ability isn't confined to Google Documents. Mote has capabilities in Google Slides, Gmail, Google Sites, Google Classroom and Google Forms.

Check out the video above for some ideas on how to use Mote with Google Forms. Basically you can use Mote to record audio questions and then any user, with Mote enabled, will be able to record an audio response.

If you are interested in using Mote as an educator or even broader with your class - please get in contact.

Read more here → support.mote.com - Help! How do I use Mote for Google Forms? Troubleshooting tips

Weekly post #49 – .new, using Padlet Mini and how font choice impacts reading accessibility

.new

Not new but this could improve your ninja like Google Workspace skills.

Type doc.new into the Chrome 'Omnibox' and a new Google Doc will open ready for you to start using. Type sheet.new and guess what... a new Google Sheet is created.

cal.new or meeting.new opens a new Google Calendar event.

Other terms that work →

  • Docs
    • docs.new
    • doc.new
    • document.new
  • Sheets
    • sheets.new
    • sheet.new
    • spreadsheet.new
  • Slides
    • slides.new
    • slide.new
    • presentation.new
  • Forms
    • forms.new
    • form.new
  • Sites
    • site.new
  • Keep
    • keep.new

Check out more → https://goo.gle/Shortcuts

New Navigation bar functions in Google Drive

From the URL bar in Google Drive, you can now quickly access key pages and functions When navigating into the Google Drive web application from the URL bar by hitting the "Tab" key, you can access buttons like "Skip to main content", "Keyboard shortcuts", and "Accessibility feedback"from the bar at the top of the page

Read more here → Google Workspace Updates - New Navigation bar functions in Google Drive

Using Padlet to collect, organise and share bookmarks

Padlet

All Foundation teaching staff have access to full padlet accounts.

Padlet is super useful for collecting and organising ideas and resources. This could be done on an individual basis or working with a team of colleagues or class of students.

Installing the Padlet Mini Chrome Extension makes this process really easy. If you have a useful resource open in Chrome all you need to do is click on the extensions icon and a menu asking which of your padlets you would like to add the resource to.

Font choice to support reading

“Google publishing Lexend in August 2019 has really helped bring awareness and spread the message of [the importance of] making reading more accessible to a wider audience,” Shaver-Troup said.

An interesting read about the impact of font choice upon reading outcomes → Google Design - Clean and clear: making reading easier with Lexend [2 February 2022]

Weekly post #48 – The four apps that everybody needs

I am not sure where I came across this approach first →

You should have four apps, one from each of the following areas: calendar, task manager, notes and read it later. This approach should help you be more (digitally) productive. You could use less than four as there are some really useful apps that tick more than one of the areas.

This is what I use - as well as some ideas for following the approach using Google Workspace apps.

Calendar

Google Calendar

Google Calendar is all that is needed here! I use a handful of different calendars - school, family etc - but all scheduled lessons, meetings and my daughter's football practices are here.

I use Fantastical on my iPhone and iPad to display my Google Calendar as I prefer the layout - but the Google Calendar iOS app is also very capable.

Task manager

Todoist

I'm going to say it - your email inbox should not be your 'job list'. An app where you can 'capture' and then organise all the things that you need to do can be hugely beneficial for your well-being.

There is no shortage of task manager apps available! Within the Google Workspace sphere you have Google Tasks and Google Keep. These apps also display scheduled tasks in your Google Calendar. A recent update allows you to manage overdue tasks in Google Calendar.

Personally I use todoist - and have done for a number of years now. I particularly like how the Gmail add-on allows me to quickly turn emails into tasks, the web and iOS apps and the integration with Google Calendar, Fantastical etc.

Notes

Roam Research

Notes in that nice notebook you got for your birthday, others on the back of an envelope and even some in an email you sent to yourself. One place (app) is needed where you make, organise and can quickly find your notes and thoughts.

In Google Workspace you could use a Google Doc. Utilising H1, H2 to give things structure and the document outline to quickly move around. Smart chips will also help you tie various things together.

I have tried GoodNotes on my iPad, various physical Moleskine type notebooks, Bear, Notion and Trello and more. All of them have good bits - but not the coverage that I was looking for.

I am about two weeks into using Roam Research as my note taking app of choice. It is a little geekier than some of the other options and maybe not as pretty. The speed of use and the automatic generation of connections between notes, topics, ideas is what is making it the app I keep going back to. There are 'task manager' options here too - but I am sticking with todoist for that side of things, at the minute.

Read it later

Pocket

You need somewhere to store links. That article that was shared by a colleague that you want to digest at a later date. The website you want to use next time to teach a certain topic to one of your classes. The website of that new restaurant you would like to try. All these links need to be stored and organised.

In Google Workspace you could use Chrome bookmarks and then use the Chrome Bookmark Manager to ensure links are organised into folders. Google Keep, and it's Chrome extension, can also be useful here.

I prefer a dedicated app for such things. I want an app that is 'cross platform' - I can use it on my school Chromebook, my personal iPad, my phone etc.

I use Pocket. There is a Chrome extension so that I can quickly add websites that I am viewing to Pocket - so that later on I can read them and sort them out. With tags etc you can use Pocket as an organised store of your links. I do not tend to do this. For me links get added to Pocket and then every so often I sort them out. Sites that I want to integrate into my teaching resources get added to Trello and things I want to read (in depth) are added to the iOS app Matter.

Weekly post #47 – Companion mode in Meet, text watermarks in Docs and changes coming to Gmail

Google Meet Companion mode

Companion mode allows you to connect to a Google Meet without video and sound.

Why might this be useful?

You could connect a second device to a Google Meet - giving you more options in terms of presenting from one device and see all the participants on another. Using Companion mode means there is no chance of audio feedback.

If you had a group of students, in a classroom with their devices, but you wanted to use some of the tools that Meet offers such as the chat or rolls, you could get the students to connect to a Meet using Companion mode.

To join a Meet in Companion mode → In a Google Meet Invite, click Join → On the meeting landing page, under Other joining options, click Use Companion mode.

Read more here → Google Workspace Learning Center → Companion mode quick start guide

Text watermarks in Google Docs

You can now add a text watermark to your documents in Google Docs.

Text watermarks will repeat on every page on your document, making it useful for indicating file status, such as “Confidential” or “Draft” before sharing more broadly.

Read more here → Google Workspace Updates - Create or import text watermarks in Google Docs [24 January 2022]

Changes coming to Gmail

Google are introducing a new, integrated view for Gmail, making it easy to move between applications like Gmail, Chat, and Meet in one unified location.

Beginning 8 February 2022 you should be able to opt-in to test the new experience.

By April 2022 users who have not opted-in will begin seeing the new experience by default, but can revert to classic Gmail via settings.

By the end of Q2 2022 this will become the standard experience for Gmail, with no option to revert back.

Read more here → Google Workspace Updates - New integrated view for Gmail features email, Google Meet, Google Chat, and Spaces in one place [31 January 2022]

EDU in 90

Weekly post #46 - Cursive, Focus time and teaching with Google Arts & Culture

Chromebook users - it's time to have another look at Cursive

Those teachers who are luckily enough to have a C13 Chromebook should take a moment to explore Cursive again.

To launch Cursive go to → https://cursive.apps.chrome

The initial pen input lag issues that we present at launch seem to have been fixed.

Read more here → chromeunboxed.com - Cursive, Google's Note-taking PWA, has been updated and is actually usable now [16 December 2021]

Google Calendar - Set aside time for focus

Google has added the ability to add 'Focus time' to your calendar "so you can block out and protect your time for heads-down individual work".

Similar to the Out of office event type, focus time has a different appearance on your calendar and includes the option to automatically decline conflicting events.

Read more here → Google Workspace Updates - Set aside time for focus in Google Calendar [20 October 2020]

Google Sheets - New intelligent suggestions for formulas and functions

You’ll now see in-line, sequential, context-aware suggestions for formulas and functions when working with data in Google Sheets.

Formula suggestions will make it easier to write new formulas accurately and help make data analysis quicker and easier.

Simply begin inserting a formula in Sheets—suggestions will be automatically displayed and as you continue to type. You can view additional incremental suggestions in the drop-down menu.

Read more here → Google Workspace Updates - New intelligent suggestions for formulas and functions in Google Sheets [25 August 2021]

Teaching with Google Arts & Culture

Google have releasing a new Teacher Guide – "a dedicated resource for educators to make learning with Arts & Culture and using the platform in class easier than ever".

"It includes ready-to-use handouts and customizable activity templates, and compliments other popular experiences on Google Arts & Culture that were designed with educators in mind. "

In my opinion Arts & Culture is one of Google's best kept secrets. It is a huge resource of super cool stuff. It is well work 10 minutes of a teachers time - whatever the subject they teach!

How about →

Weekly post #45 - New features from WeVideo and ManageBac

Google A - Z - Tools, Extensions, Programs and Courses from Google for Education

This super informative document, produced by Google for Education, outlines useful tools from Google and other trusted sources.

Some you might have forgotten about, such as A Google a Day, and others you may be complete new to you, such as Auto Draw.

Well worth 15 minutes of your time to have a look through!

NEW - WeVideo Classroom

WeVideo is an online video editing platform. Students and staff at Campus des Nations have access to WeVideo accounts.

WeVideo has just released a interesting development → WeVideo Classroom.

If you would be interested in exploring how WeVideo Classroom could be integrated into your teaching and learning - please get in contact with Richard Allaway and we can have a conversation about the possibilities.

NEW ManageBac feature → Task Due Date extensions

WeVideo has introduced a new Task Due Date extensions feature, which will you to easily extend due dates for student coursework submission.

Simply navigate to the Task and scroll to the Dropbox section to Extend Due Dates by selecting a student. This will automatically notify the student of their approved extension and adjust their due date submission cut-off (Early / Late status).

NEW ManageBac Home Menu arriving soon

ManageBac reports that they will be releasing a new Home Menu in January.

"As the first landing page when you login to ManageBac, the new Home Menu has a cleaner, minimalist look & feel."

The new Home Menu will be fully customisable, so you can optionally toggle on/off sections, and pin your most important menu tiles and classes for fast access.

Weekly post #44 – Google Tasks, linking directly to text, Meet updates and Project Zero

New Year Resolution - Get Organised with Google Tasks

Google Tasks

The capabilities of Google Tasks are ever growing and worth a look for anybody thinking about using a digital 'to do list manager'.

There is a useful guide to Google Tasks, by Jeremy Badiner, here.

Useful tip → Link directly to text and quotes

Google Chrome

Rather than sharing a link to a whole webpage - you can now easily share a link to a certain line of text.

To create a link that opens directly to highlighted text: 

  1. On your computer, open Chrome. 
  2. Go to a page with text you want to share. 
  3. To highlight the text you want to share, click and hold, then drag your mouse.
  4. To open the context menu, right-click on the highlighted text.
  5. Select Copy link to highlight
    • If you can’t select this option, this feature may not work for the selected content.
  6. Paste the link anywhere, like an email or message thread.

Read more here.

Google Meet updates - some super interesting!

Google Meet

Live translated captions

Live translated captions are now available for our Google Workspace editions. It's not (yet) perfect but it is certainly an interesting development. Read more here.

Up to 500 participants

Users can now host meetings in Google Meet with up to 500 participants. Read more here.

New immersive backgrounds and styles for Google Meet on the web

Five new immersive backgrounds have been added for Google Meet on the web. The backgrounds feature "subtle animation that give your background life or change your lighting." Just because you can doesn't mean you should! Read more here.

Automatically move breakout room participants back to the original meeting

There is now the ability for meeting hosts and co-hosts to automatically move participants back to the main meeting room once breakout rooms end. The visual indicators have been improved for breakout room participants to indicate this movement. Read more here.

Using Jamboard with Project Zero thinking routines

If you already are using See Think Wonder, hang around. Cause Google Jamboard and STW were made for each other.

Glenn Wiebe

Super post from Glenn Wiebe at history TECH those has many applications outside of the 'history' classroom.

Weekly post #43 – 2021 in Search, copying pages in Google Sites, document approvals and new ways to work with tables in Google Docs

Google – Year In Search 2021

Google produces one of these videos every year. You can explore more trends from the year at https://yearinsearch.google.

Copy a single page or subset of pages in Google Sites

Copy a single page or subset of pages in Google Sites

Google have added the ability for editors to copy a single page or subset of pages into a new site. Previously, it was only possible to make a copy of an entire site. This feature gives site editors more control, allowing users to reuse part of a site or easily break up a large site into smaller sites.

Read more here → Google Workspace Updates - Copy a single page or subset of pages in new Google Sites

Request and review formal document approvals in Google Docs

Request and review formal document approvals in Google Docs

Once a document is sent for approval, reviewers get email, browser or Google Chat notifications, based on where they have selected in Google Drive’s web settings to receive notifications. They will then receive a link they can follow directly to the document. 

If you set a due date, your reviewers will receive email reminders that their approval is needed or past due.  

If you request approval from multiple people, the document is considered approved once all reviewers approve the file. If an edit is made during the approval process, all reviewers will need to re-approve the latest version of the file and will receive email notifications in those instances. The document approval request is rejected for all reviewers if a single reviewer rejects the file. 

Once all reviewers approve the document, the file will be locked.

Read more here → Google Workspace Updates - Request and review formal document approvals in Google Docs

New ways to customise tables in Google Docs

New ways to customise tables in Google Docs

Google have added several new ways to customise tables in Google Docs.

You can now:

  • Pin a table header row to repeat on each page
  • Designate that a row should not be split across pages
  • Quickly add, and arrange columns and rows
  • Sorting tables to better organize data.
  • Use a new table sidebar to manage table properties

Read more here → Google Workspace Updates → New ways to customize tables in Google Docs