Articles in category "Integration into teaching and learning"

Digitally giving feedback upon student produced work

I have produced the above flowchart to support educators who wish to digitally give feedback upon student produced work. There are more ways than expressed on the diagram - but it is a starting point for educators trying to make the most of the 'Yoga' capabilities of the recently issued laptops. A PDF version of the flowchart is available here.

The flowchart was produced using LucidChart  - an online application that all Ecolint staff and students can have access to.

Making good use of your new stylus

Thinkpad X380 Yoga

All Secondary staff at the International School of Geneva - Campus des Nations have just been issued with a new Lenovo X380 Yoga laptop. The Yoga bit of that name highlights the fact that the screen hinges back onto itself to produce a Window 10 tablet type device. Underneath the laptop, hidden away on the right-hand side is a stylus. All you need is already there to use your ‘laptop’ as a ‘tablet’. The process of writing on the Yoga X380 is good - not quite iPad Pro good - but at least 90% as good.

The laptops already come with a series of applications that can make productive use of the stylus and tablet set up. Why use the laptop as a tablet? You may find it useful if you prefer to hand write notes but upon a digital platform which will then give you the ease of sharing and organisation. You may want to try digitally marking your student's work. You may want to draw upon your laptop rather than the classroom screen as your prefer the control a ‘normal’ pen gives you.


Google Keep

The only online offering on this list of applications is Google Keep - Google’s online note taking service. If you go to and log in with your account (if you haven’t already) you will find Google Keep. Click on the pen icon and have a try. The writing experience is not as optimised as the other application in this list as it is an online browser based app - but it will sync online and there is an app for your smartphone. You can read more about using Google Keep to help students be more productive here.

Google Keep draw


Microsoft OneNote

If you are looking for a digital note taking application that allows you to combine digitally hand written notes, images, typed notes and even audio clips then OneNote is the tool for you. OneNote is already installed on the staff laptops. When you launch the app you will need to login with your school email address when given the option. This allows you to sync your notes across multiple devices. Once you open the application, click on the ‘Draw’ menu to see the tools you can use with your stylus. I really like OneNote and it is one of the main tools I use in meetings and when trying to organise my thoughts.


Microsoft Ink - PowerPoint, Word and Excel

Start Inking

Just to be clear - we do not require the students to have or to use Microsoft Office applications like PowerPoint, Word or Excel. However teachers have them installed on their school provided laptops and these applications come with ‘Microsoft Ink’ which is good! Try opening a document in either PowerPoint, Word or Excel - click on ‘Review’ and then ‘Start Inking’ it will give you a set of tools that can be used to easily annotate pptx, docx and xlsx files. Google Documents, Google Sheets and Google Sheets can all be easily downloaded in Word, Excel and PowerPoint file formats.


Adobe Reader DC

Adobe Reader has come a long way in it’s 25 year history. There are a range of tools in Adobe Reader that allow you to draw/annotate directly onto PDF files. Click on Tools and then try the ‘Comment’ tool set. Adobe Reader employs some smart line smoothing technologies to help improve your efforts at writing on a digital platform.

Adobe Reader Comment


SMART Notebook

SMART Notebook is only installed onto the laptops of Science and Maths teachers by default however it is available for every teacher via the ‘Software Center’. If you would like some help or support installing it come to the IT Office. As you would expect - an application that is designed for drawing on a wall mounted interactive screen will work well with the interactive screen on your laptop.

How should we deal with mobile phones in school?

We could completely ban them - like French schools are doing from September. There is an interesting article here about how that should work (in theory).

"The use of a mobile telephone by a pupil is forbidden in elementary schools (écoles maternelles), primary schools and secondary schools (colleges) with the exception of certain places or certain conditions that are authorized by internal rules.”

This sounds quite reasonable and not too far from the requirement we have during lessons as phones should be on silent (or completely off) and in bags or lockers - unless under the explicit instruction of a member of staff that phone use is acceptable for a certain task or exercise. The school cafeteria is a no-device zone from 12h30 to 14h00.

No Device ZoneSome parents would welcome a complete ban on mobile phones in school. Some parents would be against such a ban as phones are a valuable link between parents and students in this busy world of after-school clubs and public transport use.

Smart phones can be incredible learning tools. The ability for a student to take a photo of an experiment or some notes on the board is powerful. Apps that turn smart phones into sensors taking advantages of the gyroscope and accelerometer in them puts scientific instruments in the hands of all (or at least most) and then these scientific instruments can be taken home! The ability to easily make videos and record audio clips can be built into engaging learning experiences. The use of smart phones as an integral part of classroom virtual reality and augmented reality experiences is truly amazing. Why just look at an image of a desert in a textbook when quickly and easily you can be having a brief VR experience capitalising on Google Cardboard technologies - standing in the desert describing why it is a difficult place to live.

Away for the day’ is an interesting approach from the makers of the film Screenagers - of which we have held several screenings in school and represents another approach to the situation.

We as a school do not require students to have smart phones. We have a ‘Bring Your Own Device’ approach but the specification that the device has to have at least a 13 inch screen rules out most phones. The use of smart phones are an integral part of most people’s lives. The research suggests that the always on nature, the access to stimulating materials and a FOMO (fear of missing out) impacts upon the mental health of some young (and older…) people.

The situation is complex and requires a working and open partnership between teachers, parents and students. What do you think about the situation?

Reorganising your ‘Waffle’ aka the Chrome App Launcher

The ‘Waffle’ is the grid of nine small grey boxes that you find in the top right corner of your browser when you are using Gmail, Google Drive, Google Calendar, Google Keep etc. If you hover your mouse/pointer over the Waffle for a second or two the words ‘Google apps’ will appear. Google themselves do not call it the ‘Waffle’ - they refer to it as the App Launcher icon.

The G Suite Waffle

The 'Waffle'

Clicking on the ‘Waffle’ opens a menu of icons for all of the available apps in G Suite. There is more than one ‘page’ of icons with the need to click ‘More’ to see the second and third ‘page’.

Google orders your apps in the ‘Waffle’, however you can reorder them. All you need to do is click and hold on an icon and drag it to where you want it. I would suggest that the apps you use more commonly are on the first ‘page’.

When I log in to my computer I always start by going to my school email. I do this by typing (or at least starting to before autocomplete saves me a couple of seconds) into the Google Chrome omnibox. From my school mail I just click on the ‘Waffle’ and then the necessary icon to launch the apps I need such as Google Drive or calendar.

You can go straight to the various ‘major’ G Suite apps by typing the following into the Google Chrome omnibox:

Image credit: Daniel Nugent

6 ways to help students be more productive by using Google Keep

Google Keep is Google’s note-taking service and part of you and your student’s G Suite. It has been around since 2013. Google continues to add new features to this commonly overlooked app. Now is the time to give it another look and help students to integrate it into their digital toolbox.

Google Geep

The Google Keep icon

To find Google Keep go to or click on the ‘Waffle’ from your Gmail or Google Drive (here you may need to click on ‘More’ if you haven’t already reorganised the apps).

The G Suite Waffle

The G Suite Waffle

1. Use it as a ‘to do list’ or homework organiser

Notes can easily be added by typing into the ‘Take a note…’ box. Notes can be colour coded, they can be single items or lists, and they can be pinned for easy access. Reminders (time and/or locations) can also be added. Labels can be used to help organise the notes. Students could use labels to represent different projects, different subjects, or something more time/priority orientated.

Google Keep

2. Use Google Keep’s collaborative ‘to do lists’ for project planning and preparation

It is possible to ‘share’ a Google Keep list with another person. That person does not see all of your Google Keep notes - just the one you have shared with them. You can both add and complete items on a shared list. Students could use this feature to manage the requirements for a group project - what needs to be done, who is doing it and ticking off when it has been completed. Personally, I use collaborative Google Keeps lists as an informal standing agenda for regular meetings I have with colleagues.

3. Make use of the Google Keep Chrome extension

Chrome extensions are small software programs that customise your experience of using Google Chrome. They enable users to tailor Chrome’s functionality and behaviour to individual needs or preferences of a person. Once installed (you do not need to be an admin on your device to do this) they usually add an icon to the right of the omnibox in Chrome.

Chrome Omnibox

The Google Chrome Omnibox

With the Google Keep Chrome Extension students (and you) can easily save text, images and links to Google Keep and have them synced across all the platforms that you use. You can save page links, text and images, take notes on saved content and add labels to notes. All of this automatically saves to Google Keep.

4. Use Google Keep to capture text, images and links during online research

Imagine a student is doing an online research task. They find part of an article that would be useful. They highlight it, press the Google Keep icon in the toolbar of Google Chrome to activate the extension. The highlighted text along with a link back to its source are added to Google Keep. If a label has been set up by the student for that task all the research can easily be collated in one place.

Google Keep can then be used as a source of notes, ideas and clippings. In Google Docs and Google Slides > Tools > Keep notepad adds a sidebar from which content can be easily added to the project being developed.

The Google Keep pane opened in Google Docs

If a user wants to add an image to their Google Keep all they need to do is right click on an image > ‘Save image to Keep’.

5. Have Google Keep open in a tab when Google Chrome is opened

It is easy to set up Google Chrome so that every time you launch Chrome it opens up with certain tabs. If Google Keep was to be a core of a student‘s note taking and organizational process, Chrome launching with Keep would be a positive start. To do this in Google Chrome go to Settings > scroll down > On start-up > Open a specific page > Add a new page > paste in the link to Google Keep:

6. Install the smartphone app

There is a Google Keep app for iOS (iPhone and iPad) as well as for Android phones (obviously as Android is Google‘s mobile operating system). You could encourage or even require students to install the Google Keep app. The mobile phone app allows you to record voice notes to your Google Keep account. After recording a voice memo Google will transcribe it for you and will offer the ability to playback the audio clip.


Further resources to support your use of Google Keep:

G Suite Learning Centre - Keep
Keep Cheat Sheet

Using digital tools to create infographics to present data with ‘an agenda’

This blog post was produced after a request by one of my colleagues about how to use digital tools to produce infographics. The students were to be asked to produce infographics that present data that is ‘true but skewed’ to support a certain point of view.

Research the data to be presented

Before the students even start ‘Googling’ they need to predict the data they are looking for. What do they want the data to show? Who might have and share that kind of data? This thought process should give the students ideas of what the ‘search terms’ will be that they want to use.

Greenpeace nuclear data

For example:
Googling ‘Greenpeace nuclear data’ gives a selection of possible ‘research leads’ within the first page of results, to a webpage such as this one:

Selecting some data from this webpage:
“A study of carbon and nuclear power by the Australian government and Sydney University, found that nuclear plants emit about 60 grams of carbon-dioxide equivalent per Kilowatt-hour of electricity 3-times the comparable emissions from wind turbines.”

“In 2009, the New York Academy of Sciences compiled data from some 5,000 research papers not reviewed for the IAEA/WHO reports and estimated 985,000 excess deaths due to Chernobyl radiation, 250-times more deaths than reported by the nuclear industry.”

Students may then want to find statistics to act as a comparison to the data they are presenting to help emphasize the skew they are working on. What data point would act as a useful comparison to help students make their point? What could they use as their  ‘search term’?

For example:
“number of people killed in road accidents per day”

Presenting the data as an infographic

My current preferred online application for producing infographics is  By going to staff and students can then choose ‘Start for free’ > Sign up with Google using their or account. The free account provides enough functionality for the students although I will be looking to explore their Education PRO pricing in the future to evaluate what it offers.

This demo video from can be used, if needed, for staff and students to get support before getting started. The basic procedure is: Create new > Infographic > Free Templates > ‘It’s a blank template’. One the left hand toolbar > Tools > Charts. Users need to delete some of the ‘placeholder’ items entered into the blank template - they are just there to give ideas about the structure.

It is possible to quickly create a visually pleasing product in 30 minutes once suitable data has been collected.

For example:

Is nuclear energy as clean as you think?

Using MindMeister as a research organizer for students

Why is MindMeister a better ‘research organizer’ than Google Docs?

  1. It is non-linear.
  2. Sections of the mind map can be ‘closed’ to allow the focus to be upon sections that need to be addressed.
  3. It allows images and videos to be embedded within the structure.
  4. You can add (annotated) connections between ideas.
  5. The ability to ‘playback’ the sequence in which the mind map was created which can help in the process of student reflection.
  6. The ability to easily create ‘tasks’ from parts of the mind map to help structure further developments and the write up.



All staff and students at International School of Geneva - Campus des Nations can have a MindMeister account linked to the Foundation's subscription.

  1. Go to > Sign Up > Click on the red G (Google) > use your school or to login.
  2. You may have the word ‘Upgrade’ in the top left hand corner of the screen. To ‘upgrade’ to a full account as part of the Ecolint subscription you need to follow a link given to you by the TLC - just email and ask for it before the lesson and share it with the students via email or ManageBac.

Students can share their mind maps with the teacher so that progress can be monitored and fed back upon.

Teachers can create a template to help structure the process.

  1. This template needs to be exported (in MindMeister format), shared with the students via Google Drive, email or ManageBac and then imported by the students.

Key MindMeister skills

  1. Creating a new mind map (the Blank template is best, in my opinion)
  2. Adding a child idea
  3. Adding a sibling idea
  4. Adding a relationship between two ideas
  5. Adding an image to an idea
  6. Adding a video to an idea
  7. Adding a note to an idea
  8. Adding a link to an idea
  9. Adding an attachment to an idea


  1. Video Tutorials
  2. MindMeister Academy

Updates to Google Forms that you may have missed

Quizzes in Google Forms


Quizzes in Google Forms

With Quizzes, it is possible to select correct answers for multiple choice and checkbox questions to speed up the process of feedback. You can enter explanations and review materials to help students learn.

Google Forms

source: Google


You can then specify point values for each multiple choice question. In that same menu you can enter answer explanations. The quizzes setting also gives you the option of letting students see their scores immediately after completing a quiz.

These updates are welcome but for ‘quiz power users’ sticking with Socrative or Kahoot will offer you more options. For those who want to take their use of Google Forms further try the feature-laden Google Sheets Add-on called Flubaroo.

Support from Google on making quizzes, assigning points etc can be found here.

Add images to questions and answers in Google Forms

Add images to questions and answers in Google Forms

Add images to questions and answers in Google Forms

You can now craft even more effective forms by inserting images into survey questions or adding images as multiple choice or checkbox options in Google Forms on the web.
You can also add an image to a question.

The ability to add videos into Google Forms has existed for a while.


Google Forms

Updates to Google Slides that you may have missed

Google Slides is a presentation application. It is Google’s version of Microsoft’s PowerPoint or Apple’s Keynote. It comes with all the online collaboration features that you would expect from G Suite for Education application. All staff and students have G Suite for Education accounts and therefore access to Google Slides.


Google SlidesGoogle is constantly updating its applications - refining and adding features. The following features have been added to Google Slides in the last 6 months.

Allowing participants to submit questions and vote on them during a Google Slides presentation

To see the feature in action, check out this video:

A few things to note:

  • The Slides Q&A feature works on all devices that can open a browser - so in the context of Campus des Nations laptops or smartphones would work.
  • You can only use Slides Q&A if you have edit or comment access to that Slides presentation.

‘Accept and present audience questions’ support available here.

Use your mouse as a laser pointer in Slides

Just choose the laser pointer option from the toolbar and move your mouse, and a red laser-like dot will appear in the same place on screen.

Managing group work - Assigning an Action Item

You can manually assign an Action Item to someone in the Docs, Sheets and Slides desktop and mobile apps by mentioning their name in a comment and checking the new Action Item box. The assignee will get an email notification and see the Action Item(s) clearly highlighted with a blue bar when they open the file.

The assignee is responsible for marking the action as being completed. This is useful for giving feedback to students and working with a team of colleagues upon a project.


Google Slides

‘Assign an Action Item’ support here.

Using the ‘Explore’ feature to make design polishing simple

As you (or students) work, ‘Explore’ dynamically generates design suggestions, based on the content of your slide. Simply pick a recommendation and apply it with a single click - no cropping, resizing or reformatting required. This should speed up the process of design and allow you (and students) to spend more time focusing on the content of the presentation.


Google Slides

At the bottom right, click Explore.

You might see images or information you can use to help finish your work.

  • Layouts: To choose a new layout for your slide, click the one you want.
  • Web search: Search the web for information related to your presentation.
  • Images: To preview an image, click Preview Zoom in. To use an image, click it. This will also add the link to the bottom of the image.
  • Google Drive: You can search Google Drive for content to use with your presentation.

‘See and use suggested layouts in a presentation’ support here.

Inserting charts from Google Sheets into Slides

To save valuable time, G Suite is now making it possible to update a chart in a Google Slide with a single click - without ever needing to leave your document or presentation.

To get started, simply go to Insert > Chart in Google Docs or Slides on the web. Insert a new chart, or select From Sheets to add an existing chart from the spreadsheet of your choice. As long as you check the Link to spreadsheet box, you’ll be given the option to update the chart with one click if its underlying data in Google Sheets changes. Should you no longer want to be notified of updates to a particular chart, you can simply unlink it. This same functionality is available if you copy and paste a chart into a document or presentation.

Univeristy of YouTube


University of YouTube

It was while I was participating in a photography workshop given by the talented and largely self-taught Steven Ashworth that I was introduced to the idea of the ‘University of YouTube’.

If you want to find out how to do something a YouTube search is very likely to reveal a substantial list of video tutorials. After watching two or three of them your understanding of the situation will have increased, as will the chance of success in whatever you are trying to do. A search for ‘change headlight bulb Skoda Octavia’ limited to content uploaded in the last year lists about 1940 results. My mother (not a digital native but handy with her iPad) helped my father mend the lawnmower by finding him a YouTube clip detailing fixing the particular broken piece on the specific model he had in front of him.

How can we use the ‘University of YouTube’ in our teaching?

All Ecolint students (and staff) have their own YouTube accounts so why not encourage students to create material? Could a student produced video explaining how to do something or explaining why something happened be a suitable assessment outcome? Can we help encourage students to create content that will support the learning of others while creating materials that contribute to our students’ positive digital footprint?

This ‘homemade’ video on French verb conjugation has been viewed nearly 68000 times.

I believe that the use of the ‘University of YouTube’ doesn’t just have to be based around student produced video. How about getting students to evaluate the work of others? A collaboratively produced rubric could be used to evaluate existing videos found online. Could feedback be left online by the students in a supportive and constructive manner without resorting to trolling?

How could a class approach evaluating this teacher/adult produced video on World War 1 (in 6 minutes)?

How could the ‘University of YouTube’ help address ‘Technology for Learning Framework’ standards?

YouTube is a digital social network so there is a strong link to the Communication skills standard: Participate in, and contribute to, digital social media networks. Should a teaching activity include the leaving of feedback online in the comment sections of a video then the affective skills standard: Discuss positive behaviours that support collaboration and community could definitive feature.