Thursday, December 2, 2021

Google Certified Educator Level 1 Exam Prep: Google Drawings


The Google Certified Educator Level 1 Exam has gone through some changes recently. In the past, it was 20 questions multiple choice and 11 performance tasks. The current iteration is 35 multiple choice questions based off of scenarios. Questions will ask you to choose between 1-5 correct answers. These questions require you to be familiar with the features and functionality of each Google Workspace for Education App. 

For Google Docs, you need to be familiar with the following features and functionality.

- Create custom designs for logos

- Create custom designs for infographics

Click here to go through some Google Docs Practice Scenarios on Quizizz Lessons. These scenarios are NOT the same as the test, but similar. If you understand the skills demonstrated in the videos and can answer my checking for understanding questions, you will be prepared for the Google Docs portions of the Level 1 Exam.

Prep for the Google Certified Educator Level 1 Exam: Google Docs


The Google Certified Educator Level 1 Exam has gone through some changes recently. In the past, it was 20 questions multiple choice and 11 performance tasks. The current iteration is 35 multiple choice questions based off of scenarios. Questions will ask you to choose between 1-5 correct answers. These questions require you to be familiar with the features and functionality of each Google Workspace for Education App. 

For Google Docs, you need to be familiar with the following features and functionality.

- The various ways in which to leave a comment

- The various functions of Smart Chips (This is a relatively new feature)

- Potential uses of Google Docs as method of gathering feedback

- Potential use in a group project or differentiation of learning

Click here to go through some Google Docs Practice Scenarios on Quizizz Lessons. These scenarios are NOT the same as the test, but similar. If you understand the skills demonstrated in the videos and can answer my checking for understanding questions, you will be prepared for the Google Docs portions of the Level 1 Exam.

Friday, November 19, 2021

Easy Google Sheets Tricks for Tracking Student Progress and Participation Points


Progress monitoring and feedback are essential components of the learning process. Managing these things can be time consuming and cumbersome. Below, take a look at two, easy ways to use Google Sheets to monitor student progress and track participation points as part of a robust feedback loop.

Participation Points and Feedback

Feedback can come in many forms. Traditionally, it comes in the form of grades and red marks on an assignment. This type of feedback is not often acted upon by students. This type of feedback is more like an autopsy. A robust feedback loop during the learning process, not afterwards, makes the teacher and student partners. 

Part of building this loop is creating a culture where students elicit feedback from the teacher, and not just the other way around. Students don't typically like to ask for feedback during the learning process.  To help create this culture of feedback, I like to offer students participation points for asking for feedback and acting upon it. For example, on a block schedule day, I have students work on collaboratively on a project or assignment. For the period, I set a goal of 8-10 participation points. To reach their goal, they need to ask for feedback and have me check their work. Each time they ask and act upon the feedback, I award points. Developing this system has made it a habit for students to elicit feedback. The end products they turn in are much higher quality as they've received feedback and caught mistakes during the process and not afterwards.

Awarding participation points can be done with paper and putting tally marks next to kids' names, but printing a roster each day is a tedious act I wanted to avoid. With Google Sheets, I developed a system where I can click on a student and click a button to add points to their total. I can also take points away if needed. Click here to make a copy of my template. Embedded within the template is a Google Apps Script that allows you to click the plus and minus buttons to award or takeaway points. The first time you use it, you will be prompted to sign in and allow permission for the script to run. 

This Sheet will work on a Chromebook (better if touchscreen), PC and Mac. On mobile devices, it will not work using the Google Sheets app. The app will not allow the script to run. If on a mobile device, it will work if run on iPad or iPhone through Safari. It will not work through the mobile version of Chrome. 

Take a look at the video below to see a short demonstration.

Track Student Progress Towards a Goal

As an educator, monitoring student progress is something we do daily. Doing so can be tedious. One way I track progress towards a learning goal is to use checkboxes in Google Sheets. I create a sheet for each class and put a row of checkboxes next to each kid's name. You can use this for monitoring steps towards finishing a project, books read, participation points and much more. Built in is a formula that tallies the total number of checkboxes checked for each student. Click here to make a copy of my template. Take a look at the video below to see a short demonstration.

Google Sheets is such a versatile tool for tracking and analyzing student data. You can actually be extremely creative with it. How might you use Google Sheets in your role? 

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Instant Translation of Image Text with Yandex

Supporting the unique language needs of English learners is a common necessity amongst all educators. When you don't speak the home language of an English learner, this becomes even more difficult. Oftentimes, teachers in this situation need to find a staff member who can translate text. To help with this process, Yandex Translate can be a valuable tool. Yandex using OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology to translate text in an image.

One of my favorite reading and text-marking strategies is Booksnaps. In a nutshell, Booksnaps happen when you curate images of text on Slides, PowerPoint or Seesaw and provide students with opportunities to digital mark the text, answer questions and focus their reading to look for themes and more. 

Getting images of text in English is no problem, but translating to another language is another issue. Yandex allows you to upload your English language images of text and it quickly reproduces the same text in almost any language. The translated image of text is downloaded and imported to any activity you are trying to create.

Below is an example of how I use Yandex to create a Spanish translation of Booksnaps. Circled below is an image of text. This image was imported to a slide from my computer. Because it's saved on my computer, I can import it into Yandex.

Start by going to Click the target language button to choose your language and then select file to upload.

Within seconds, you will see your English language text image translated to the language of your choice.

The translated image can then be imported to a non-English language version of your slides.

Take a look below at a short demonstration of how Yandex Translate works.


Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Support English Learners and SPED Students with CLOZEit Add-on

Supporting the unique learning needs of English learners and SPED students is not the easiest thing in the world. A scaffold I have used over the used to help these students better access content has been Cloze reading and word banks. These strategies are great entry level activities for students. 

Generating such activities can be tedious, or expensive if you purchase some off of Teachers Pay Teachers. Within the Add-ons menu of Google Docs, the CLOZEit Add-on allows you to take any text and very quickly create a Cloze reading activity with word bank. 

Get started by clicking on Add-ons in the Google Docs toolbar and click Get add-ons.

The Google Marketplace will appear. Type CLOZEit in the search bar and click it when it appears in the search results.

Install it when prompted. You will not see "Domain Install" unless you are a Super User or Google Administrator in your school or district's Google Domain. If you don't have permission to install, contact the Google Administrator for your domain (a tech coach or IT personnel) to get access. 

Once installed, you'll find it in your Add-ons menu. Hover over it and click Start.

Once launched, what you see below will appear on the right side of your screen. On your Doc, you can either highlight or underline text you want to take out to create for a Cloze reading activity. Either choice works the same. Once you've selected highlighted or underlined, you have two options. One is to create worksheet with word bank. The word bank will appear at the bottom of the page below wherever the text ends. The second option is the same except it adds a hint (the first letter of the missing word).

Below is what it looks like before choosing Options 1 or 2. In this case, I chose to highlight the words I wanted to remove. Underlining would have done the same thing.

Choosing Option 1, CLOZEit immediately removed the highlighted words and replaced them with blanks. Below the text, you can see the word bank containing all of the words I wanted removed. 

For years, I have read IEP's recommending Cloze reading with word banks as an accommodation. If you are looking for a quick activity for a sub, enrichment, extra credit or intervention, this Add-on will come in handy. For what might you use the CLOZEit Add-on?

Keep Track of Google Forms with Notification Rules


The popularity of Google Forms has exploded over the years. It's so versatile. You can create surveys to collect a wide range of data and information. You can create self paced lessons, Create Your Own Adventure Stories, assessments and more. 

Keeping track of who fills out a form and when they complete it can be a tedious task. This requires you to go searching through your Drive to find the Google Sheet that stores the Form's data. Hiding in plain sight, built into Google Sheets, is a Notification rules function. This allows you to be emailed when someone fills out your Form. 

Get started by opening the Sheet that accompanies your Google Form. Click Tools on the top menu and select Notification rules.

In the menu that appears, you have some options for setting your rules. The first option is when you'll receive the notification email. If you are tracking student responses, I recommend selecting the choice titled "A user submits a form". This will email you within minutes of a someone submitting the Form. The other option is how you'll receive the notification. You can choose from a daily digest, which is one email showing all the submissions that day. You can also choose right away which means every submission will generate an email.

You can set multiple rules by clicking Add another notification rule.

The email you receive will look like what you see below. Embedded is link that takes you directly to the responses Sheet.

There are many applications for notification rules. I've used it to track blog subscribers and unsubscribes. As a classroom teacher, I've used it to get notifications when intervention students complete lessons outside of class. The notification reminds me to check their work and update their grades. Working with parents, you can get notifications to track which parents have yet to respond to a survey. Administrators can do something similar to track which staff members have yet to respond to input surveys. The possibilities are endless. How might you use Notification rules?

Friday, November 12, 2021

Simple Tools For Communicating with Parents Who Don't Speak English


Communicating with parents about student progress has always been an important part of being a teacher. For parents who do not speak English, this can be a difficult thing with which to deal. The language barrier often makes parents shy about reaching out to their children's teachers. On the flip side, the language barrier can be a difficult thing if the teacher cannot speak the home language of the student. A common practice is to contact another staff member or office personnel who can translate to send a message. But there is something more powerful when the teacher is able to go directly to the parent. That personal touch can be just what is needed to reach the student. 

Take a look at some simple tools I use weekly to communicate with parents in Spanish. These tools can be used for almost any language. For "blanket statements" regarding failing grades, I created a template on a Google Keep note that I can reuse over and over. If you look closely, I put a place to type the student's name and enter my subject depending on which class I am teaching. This message, saved in Keep, is easily copied and pasted into any messaging app and translator.

There are many translation Chrome extensions available in the Chrome Web Store. My favorite is Translator by Milly Dosia. When installed, it provides a convenient drop down in Chrome for me to copy and paste text to be translated. 

The messaging app I use is Google Voice. I have used Remind and others in the past, but I like Google Voice because it is free and I am able to get a phone number that has a local area code and prefix. Other apps use out of town area codes and prefixes and parents are less likely to respond to such numbers. I am able to use my schools SIS to access parent phone numbers. I paste those numbers into Google Voice and save the contact with the student's name. 

With the student name saved with the parent's number, I copy and paste the blanket statement from Google Keep. From there, I quickly enter the student name and subject. 

Once the message is typed in English, I copy it and click the Translator extension in Chrome. In the dropdown, I paste the English message into the first box and click Translate.

Instantly, the Spanish translation is generated. It's is generally very accurate. Click the Copy button in the box containing the Spanish translation.

With the Spanish translation copied, go back to Voice, delete the English text and paste the Spanish text before hitting send. 

Doing this requires a bunch of copying and pasting, and to make that process even easier, I use another Chrome Extension called Clipboard History Pro. This creates a dropdown in Chrome that shows me all of the recent things I have copied and allows me to quickly re-copy them. 

When sending message to dozens of students each week, these tools expedite the process of breaking down the language barriers with parents who don't speak English. If you can copy and paste, you can break down the language barriers between you and parents. What other tools do you like to use to accomplish this?

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Simple Tools for Curating Resources


Curation is not just for those who manage museums. Curation is a great strategy for engaging students with content and empowering them to take charge of their learning. Traditionally, teachers have been a sage on the stage where students sit quietly and listen. When you curate resources, students can be empowered to dive into the content at their pace. Students become explorers of content, not just passive consumers. Curation allows you to do this all within in one stop shop.

Instead of having students struggle to keep up with your lecture on To Kill a Mockingbird, try curating excerpts of text, scholarly commentaries, movie video clips and more. Let students have the freedom to explore those resources at their pace and this will likely lead to more engagement and empowerment. Curating resources like this also lends itself towards increased engagement with the 4 C's, communication, creativity, critical thinking and collaboration.

To get started with curation, take a look at some simple tools shared below.

Google Classroom

With curation, there is no need to find some fancy tool. If you're reading this blog, it's very likely you are already using Google Classroom. The link button on a Google Classroom assignment, material and or question allows you to quickly and easily curate resources.

When the student opens the assignment, they will see buttons that lead them to the resources you've created. Be sure to put detailed instructions.

Google Docs

If you haven't heard of Hyperdocs, click here to take a look. You won't be sorry. Hyperdocs are a lesson design strategy using Google Docs and embedded links. The links are curated resources and learning experiences. Students have a whole learning experience set up in a one stop shop. 

Getting started with curation with Google Docs is as simple as turning text into a hyperlink.

When students put their cursor over a hyperlink, a preview to the link appears.

Google Slides

In a very similar manner as Google Docs, you can curate with Google Slides. Any text, shape or image you add to a slide can be hyperlinked.

Like Google Docs, when you hover over an object on the slide that's been hyperlinked, a preview to the resource appears. 

Google Sites

Sites is a visually appealing way to curate student resources. You have more options as far as how the resources are presented. Resources such as Slides, Docs and YouTube videos are visible and viewable within the Site without having to follow a link. Clickable buttons are another option for inserting links. If you are looking for a dynamic user experience, Google Sites is the ticket.


Beyond the realm of Google Workspace, Wakelet has become a popular tool for curating resources. After signing up for Wakelet, you can create Collections. Collections allow you to curate almost any digital file type and they are easily shareable. 

Below you can see the different ways to add digital files to a Wakelet collection. You can paste a URL to a file, search your computers and much more.

Once a Collection is created, Wakelet allows you to customize the way the resources are presented. The Share button allows to quickly share the Collection on almost any platform. If you are using Google Classroom, the Share button allows you to copy a link that can be pasted into an Assignment or Material. 

If you are interested in learning more about Wakelet, click here to try their newly minted Wakelet Certification Course. It's self paced and will allow you to learn all the ways Wakelet can be used.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Teacher Gmail Gets Cluttered: Create Filter to Skip the Inbox


Email is the primary form of communication among educators these days. A common pain point most of us share is too many emails. While the majority of the messages we receive are important and need our attention, many are nice to have, but clutter the inbox. A cluttered inbox can make you miss important messages. 

In my role, I support multiple school sites and, each day, I receive "daily bulletin" emails from each. Daily bulletin emails are important, but usually don't require my immediate attention. Using filters in Gmail, I created a system where these messages bypass my inbox and go directly into a label (folder) for daily bulletins. I know if I ever need to see a current bulletin or one from the past, I can open my Bulletins label and find the message. This system is one way I keep my inbox decluttered.

Below is a screenshot of my work Gmail account. On the left you see a Bulletins label and on the right you see the messages filed in that label. Each message in this label has the word "Bulletin" in the subject line. These messages never once appeared in my inbox. They immediately were filed in the Bulletins label upon receipt. I know that if I ever need to go check a bulletin, I can find it in my Bulletins label.

Start by clicking the weird little control panel looking button at the far right of the search bar at the top of Gmail.

A dropdown menu will appear. In this menu, you have a plethora of options for which to filter your search of Gmail. You can filter by who sent it (From), Subject and much more. If you are looking to filter emails from a certain edtech coach, this is the tip for you. In the example below, I chose to create a filter for emails with the Subject "Bulletin". Any email with the word "Bulletin" in the subject line will be put into this label.

After clicking Create filter, in the next pop up, you will set some more rules for your filter. To bypass your inbox and be placed into a label, first check the box for Skip the inbox (Archive it). Next, check the box for Apply the label. This option will let you select which label the message will be sent directly to. If you haven't created the label yet, you have the option to create a new label here. 

Creating filters for messages to skip the inbox is one way to declutter your inbox. You can create these for virtually any type of message you get often. F what will you create a skip the inbox filter?

Better Support English Learners: Two Easier Ways To Translate Text in Google Docs


Translating text to help English learners better access content can be a struggle if you don't speak the other language or have to deal with a clunky translation workflow. I speak a bit of Spanish, but I'm not that good where I can quickly translate text I type in Google Docs. I don't like having to tab hop constantly to copy and paste translated text from Google Docs. It's not difficult, but it is annoying.

Check my two favorite ways to translate entire documents or pieces of text within Google Docs WITHOUT having to tab hop, copy and paste.

Did you know there is a translator built right into Google Docs? It's hiding in plain sight within the Tools tab. The Translate document option will create a separate copy of your document in your selected language. This makes it super easy to create separate, non-English versions of Google Docs for English learners. 

When using this feature, the pop up you see below will appear. Click the button you see circled to choose the language from a long list of languages. When you click the Translate button, a new Google Doc will appear in a new tab with all the text translated.

Your new Google Doc will say it's been translated in the the title. This title can be renamed.

To help with English learners' development with the English language, it's a great strategy for them to see text in their own language, side by side, with the same text in English. They can begin to see patterns and make connections between the two languages. If you don't want to create a completely separate version in a different language, the tip demonstrated below is for you.

Start by going to Add-ons in the Google Docs toolbar. In the dropdown menu, click Get add-ons.

A Google Workspace Marketplace window will pop up. In the search bar, type translate. The first search result is Docs Paragraph Translate. Click that one.

Click the Install button to add it to your list of Add-ons.

In the sample below, I created a T-Chart with English text in one column and Spanish in the other column. I selected the English language text and then opened the Docs Paragraph Translate Add-on. The Add-on opens as a menu on the right side of the screen. Since I selected the English language text, all I had to do is click the blue Translate button. Immediately, the Spanish translation appeared in the box below. From there, I clicked on the document (Spanish column) where I wanted the translated text to appear and then clicked the Insert into Doc button.

Immediately, the Spanish translation was inserted into the place on the Doc where I wanted it.

Whether you want an entire separate, translated version or to translate certain parts of a Google Doc, you don't need to constantly tab hopping to Google Translate and copying/pasting. You can accomplish your translation with fewer clicks and all within the same tab. How will you use these tips to make Google Docs content more accessible for English learners?