Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Google Classroom as a Fitness Tracker


Over the years, finding ways to organically integrate edtech into PE classes has been a struggle. There are apps kids can use with their phones, but accessibility is still an issue as we cannot require all students to enable location services and other settings. This past year, I collaborated with my friend and colleague Sara Vega (legendary PE Teacher and Soccer Coach) on a way to use Google Classroom to help track fitness. We came up with the idea of building a "Class Shell" full of template posts that she would reuse each time she wanted students to check in and record some fitness data.

A "Class Shell" does not have students enrolled. It is a Google Classroom with assignment templates. Each teacher only needs to reuse the template posts in their Google Classrooms that contain students. Below are some screenshots of our PE Fitness Activity Shell. We built three categories: BMI, Cardiovascular Fitness, Flexibility and Muscular Strength.

Notice the "X's". Those are place markers for dates. Each post is Google Classroom Question where students will enter a number of reps or time for the respective fitness activities. 

In this system, after building the templates in the Shell, open their Google Classrooms that contain students and Reuse post.

Next, choose the template to reuse.

With the reused template post, change out the "X's" for the corresponding date of the post.

Because the instructions are always the same, there is no need to change the instructions. Add your point value, set due date and topic, and click Ask.

For students, it may be easier for them to log their fitness reps or times using their phones. When in the gym or on the track, a computer, tablet or Chromebook could be problematic, but not impossible. Below is a screenshot of what it looks like using the Google Classroom mobile app.

In this example, the student entered an astounding 157 push-ups. 

On the teacher's end, like with any Google Classroom assignment, you can see the students who have turned in and not turned in in real time.

When you open the assignment, you will see at a glance the students who've turned in their reps/times and quickly give them credit or points. 

For students to monitor their progress, they can easily go back into Google Classroom, open previous submissions and see how they've grown from week to week or month to month. This system is obviously not as accurate as a fitness tracker app, but a simple, easy way to help students monitor fitness using a free tool in which they are already familiar. How might you use this hack or with which PE teachers might you share this idea? If you have any feedback or suggestions on how to improve this, please let me know. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Help Curb Plagiarism by Disabling Copy in Google Docs


An often heard pain point is how students have become too good at copying and pasting. This leads to blatant plagiarism. As educators, we are looking to get students to analyze and synthesize content in order to generate thoughts, opinions, claims and cite textual evidence. Too often, students will try to cut corners by copying and pasting content and claiming it as their own. 

Google Docs, hiding in plain sight, has a feature that allows you to disable copying on a document you own. For example, if you have an article you want students to read, synthesize and analyze, you could copy and paste the text onto a Google Doc. Be sure to cite the source and or give credit to the author. Once on a Google Doc, click the Share button in the top right corner.

In the pop up that appears, click the Settings gear icon.

From there, uncheck the box titled "Viewers and commenters can see the option to download, print and copy". Then click the back arrow.

Be sure to set your permissions so students can view the document and click Done.

Below is a screenshot of what it looks like on the student end of this type of document after copying permissions have been disabled. A student could try to highlight text, but they will not be able to copy it from the Edit tab or by right clicking. Keyboard commands for copying are also disabled.

Disabling the ability to copy in Google Docs makes your documents truly View Only. How might you use this feature? If you have any questions and would like a follow up, contact me via Gmail or Chat at ajuarez@techcoachjuarez.com.

Friday, May 27, 2022

An Easy Way to Get Started Using Dropdown Menus in Google Docs


Recently, Google Docs added a new Dropdown menu feature. It can be easily accessed by typing the "@" symbol. The first time you try it, it will be at the top of the menu that appears. After the first time, it will be located at the bottom. Scroll down to access the feature. It can also be found via the Insert menu on the top toolbar. 

When you select Dropdown, you will be prompted to create a new dropdown or use a previous one. You will be given the options to use their preset options as well. 

When creating your own Dropdown, by default, you can create 4 options, but you have the ability to color code them and add or subtract options. 

Below is an example of what this feature can look like. In the example, I have written a narrative with Dropdown menus inserted at strategic points. This can be a comprehension exercise for students to show knowledge of the characters in a story. The Dropdown will show one of the options, but if the student thinks the option is incorrect, they can click it to change the name to the correct answer. 

Below you can see the three sample Dropdowns and the available options.

This is just one simple way to begin using the new Google Docs Dropdown feature. How might you use this feature in your role? 

Friday, May 20, 2022

Google Certification Update in COJUSD


This school year, we have reignited our drive to get as many educators as possible to earn Google Certification. So far this year, we have quite a few who have passed the Level 1 and Level 2 exams in addition to many doing recertification for the Level 1 exam. Both Level 1 and Level 2 certifications last three years. Take a look below at our newly minted Google Certified Educators Level 1, Level 2 and re-certified Level 1.

Google Certified Educator Level 1

Betsy Lutz, Blake Kelley, Isaak Gomez, Daljit Singh, Gary Roldan, Taylor Linn, Yanet Parra, Irma Garcia, Darlene Isaak, Karina Moya, Carol Montag, Gloria Carrillo, Gracie Valdez, Karina Milligan, Nora Celis, Joanna Green, Kaylee Cardosa. Denise Vanderwall, Julie Capistran, Miguel Gutierrez

Google Certified Educator Level 2

Chris Swanson, Felicia Valencia, Melissa Troncozo, Daljit Singh, Megan Thiessen

Google Certified Educator Level 1 Re-Certified

Chris Swanson, Jennifer Orosco, Kelly Pennebaker, Melissa Troncozo, Felicia Valencia, Nichole Jimenez

Friday, April 29, 2022

Plan the GIFT Collaboratively with Wipebook!


Floor to ceiling whiteboard walls are luxury most educators do not have. I am one of the fortunate educators whose learning space has floor to ceiling, magnetic whiteboard walls. They make teaching students and leading professional learning sessions a blast. But what about the times when I am not in my learning space where I don't have this amazing luxury? In those instances, Wipebook the rescue!

The Cardinal Innovation Center in Orosi, CA

When I teach and or present in spaces other than my own, Wipebook allows me to design lessons as if I was still in the friendly confines of the Cardinal Innovation Center. Pinning up Wipebook pages around the room allows me to quickly and easily increase my dry erase, writable space to give students and teachers the ability to get up and make their thinking visible. With their ideas up, on the walls, on Wipebook pages, the ease and opportunities for feedback increase tremendously. In addition, this is conducive to fostering collaboration. 

In my book, The Complete EdTech Coach: An Organic Approach to Supporting Digital Learning, my co-author Katherine Goyette and I promote a 4 C's lesson design style. We begin with a learning target/goal/standard and use a simple 4 square diagram to map out how students will engage with each of the 4 C's as a way of reaching the learning target/goal/standard. As we like to say, "When you plan with the 4 C's in mind, the tech takes care of itself."

Wipebook is great for departments and PLCs to collaboratively design 4 C's-infused lessons and learning experiences. They are lightweight, flexible, easy to transport and fit well on a tabletop. This allows all colleagues to easily gather around, brainstorm and plan. Simply gathering around a Wipebook page to design a lesson is like a family gathering to share a meal. In this instance, colleagues are sharing some edu-fellowship and fostering a culture of collaboration.

Start by writing your learning target/goal/standard at the top and drawing a basic 4 square diagram. Each of the 4 C's (communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking) will go in one of the 4 squares. From here, the conversation begins on how students will meet the learning target/goal/standards via each of the C's. If you download, the Wipeboard Scan app, you can easily keep a record of your planning with you and reuse the Wipebook. One of the simple, yet brilliant things about Wipebook is that they are reusable. Try doing that with chart paper! 

Below is a sample from a "Causes of WWI" lesson my colleagues and I designed with Wipebook. 

My wife (co-author) and I use Wipebook when we lead 4 C's lesson design workshops. As mentioned, they are lightweight, flexible and easy to transport. In most instances, the spaces in which we lead workshops and professional development have little to no dry erase whiteboard space. With Wipebook, we are covered.

My wife Katherine and I right before our 4 C's Lesson Design session at 2019 NSTC Conference in Palm Springs. This was the first time we used Wipebook to facilitate this session.

Below are some action shots of our first session using Wipebook. In each image, you can see how the versatility of Wipebook made it easy to facilitate collaboration. 

You can see some teams collaborating on the Wipebook while at the same time using devices to research strategies and standards. This provides a healthy balance of tech and non-tech in the lesson design process. 

As my colleague and good friend Joe Marquez says, "Teaching is a collaborative sport." Wipebook is a simple, yet powerful tool for fostering collaboration amongst educators. Many of us have fond memories of sharing family meals and the great conversations shared. Wipebook can bring a similar feel to the lesson design process. Oftentimes, lesson design can feel like a chore, and it becomes dreaded, but what if it felt more like sharing a family meal? I can't imagine much dread in that. Let Wipebook help you set the table.

Monday, March 28, 2022

Translation in Google Docs Made Easy with Docs Paragraph Translate


Translation of text is one of the most basic ways we can begin to support English learners. When you don't speak another language, this can seem like a daunting task. Though not the most difficult thing in the world, opening Google Translate in another tab and hopping back and forth to copy and paste text is tedious and annoying. But what if you could translate targeted text from right within Google Docs? Would that be so much easier? Spoiler alert, the answer is yes and the Docs Paragraph Translate Add On in Google Docs is here to help.

Start by going to the Add-Ons tab in Google Docs, go to Get add-ons, search for Docs Paragraph Translate and install. Once installed, it'll appear in your Add-ons list as seen below.

After opening it, you can set it to Auto-detect the source language or set it exactly to the language you want. If your source language is English, Auto-detect will work fine. 

Set your target language for which you want to translate to. These settings are automatically saved so you don't have set them each time, unless your want a different language.

On your document, select the text you want to translate. With the Add-on open, click Translate.

Immediately, the translation of the selected text appears in the side panel. From there, click the part of the Doc where you'd like to put the translation.

Below, you can see the translation right beneath the text that was originally selected.

In my 17 years working with English learners, I have seen them be more successful with language development when providing side by side translation of their home language and English. This Add-on has been a life saver for quickly translating directions and other important pieces of text as I curate learning experiences for all learners. How will you use the Docs Paragraph Translate Add-on?

Friday, March 25, 2022

Update to Chrome Reading List: Quite a Handy Little Feature


Recently, Google Chrome was updated to include a Reading List button next to your Chrome profile picture, to the right of your extensions. You may have seen this and wondered if you accidentally added an new extension. What this button does is to open your Chrome Reading List as a side panel on the right. Click the button shown below to check it out.

If you are reading a website, and you want to save it for later, but not set it as a bookmark, the Reading List will be your best friend. With the Reading List open, click the button labeled Add current tab. This will save the URL (link) to your Reading List.

In addition, you have another way to see and access your bookmarks. If you'd like to see your bookmarks vertically, rather than horizontally across the top, the Reading List will display them on the right side panel.

This new feature can be useful for students as well. If students are doing research, they can add their search results to the Reading List for easy access. When they are finished, and no longer need the links, they can quickly delete them from the list.