Great Ways to Use Google Drive to Power Student Projects

I’m excited to be hosting a Simple K12 webinar featuring one of my more popular interactive resources, Great Ways to Use Google DriveThis webinar will explore resources on the interactive image you see here. We hope you can join me and Simple K12 today.

Great Ways to Use Google Drive to Power Students Projects

Saturday, October 31, 2015 @ 10:00:00 AM EDT

Google Apps for Education provides educators with a suite of powerful tools for teaching and learning. Join me and Simple K12 as we explore many of the ideas in “12 Great Ways to Use Google Drive,” a popular infographic packed with practical ideas and project ideas for leveraging the powerful features available within Google Drive. We will discuss using Slides to construct knowledge and share several popular differentiated group projects. In addition, we will share how to use the Research Tool to help students develop 21st century research and writing skills. Come discover all of these and more!

We hope you can join us as we explore Great Ways to Use Google Drive to Power Projects

Transform Teaching & Learning with ThingLink + Google Docs

Our next webinar is designed to help educators transform teaching and learning with ThingLink with Google Docs. Educators can use a Google Doc to collect information, automate tasks and make the  workflow progress smoothly throughout a student driven learning experience. ThingLink’s media rich platform displays published Google Docs right on top of any image or video. Better yet,  those Google Docs are live and interactive. This is a truly great combination of tools for the classroom. We hope you will join us by signing up to participate live or on demand.

Create Engaging Resources with ThingLink EDU and Google Apps

Live on Tuesday, October 27, 2015 at 8:00 PM EDT or On Demand

Learn to embrace the powerful possibilities that are available by combining ThingLink interactive images and video with Google Docs. Educators can use a Google Doc to collect information, automate tasks and make the workflow progress smoothly throughout any student driven learning experience. ThingLink’s media rich platform displays published Google Docs right on top of any image or inside of a video. Google Docs are useful for collecting data for assessment, collect feedback and even provide opportunities for reteaching and challenge. Better yet, those Google Docs are live and interactive so students don’t have to navigate to another page. Sign up to learn more about this truly great combination of tools for engaging students in personalized learning experiences with ThingLink and Google Docs.

Ways to Put Google Docs to Work

  • Gather student feedback to personalize  learning.
  • Embed a Google Doc inside of a video to increase student engagement and add a layer or accountability.
  • Informally assess students and use the  results to guide instruction.
  • Collect assignments with a link for sharing in  one place, sort it to assess growth and  encourage student self-reflection
  • Pre-assess knowledge and skills for use in  providing resources and instructional  grouping. 
  • Inform and teach by including instructional  videos and resources
  • + more! 

Sign up to participate in the live session or receive the archived version in your inbox.

Embrace the Power of Twitter

When inspirational speaker Ken Shelton, @k_sheltongave the keynote speech at our school district’s first Institute Day this fall, he challenged educators to join Twitter. Many thanks to Ken for inspiring the educators in our school district! 

We now have a more widely used hashtag and more of our teachers are beginning to use Twitter to document some of the great things happening in our classrooms, primarily through text and a photo. This is a very good start, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg. This post is dedicated to educators who are just starting to step into the world of Twitter and for innovative educators and tech coaches to share as you lead the way.

Why Tweet? 

Twitter is a quick and efficient method of exchanging information and ideas in order to learn with a global audience. Twitter is a great way to become a connected educator and engage in the exchange of ideas that could lead to positive transformations in your own classroom. This powerful method of connecting with others who share your passions can be life-changing.

Twitter Basics 

Twitter is considered to be a micro-blogging service because it allows users to send and receive quick bursts of information that are limited to 140 characters or less. Regular tweeters learn to use Twitter slang or cave man language to conserve characters and make room for hashtags, often abandoning punctuation. There is an art to writing a tweet, just like there is an art to writing a clear and concise message. Tweeters are allowed to break traditional spelling and grammar rules, as long as the message is coherent.


When you sign up for Twitter you will need to create a username, which starts with the symbol @. Your username can be a form of your own name, but your name may already be taken. Educators are encouraged to set up a professional account to keep your personal and professional lives separate on Twitter. Tweets are public and they do become part of your digital footprint.


Hashtags are Twitter labels that are searchable. They help users find tweets about specific topics, but more importantly, they help users find people to follow and connect with who tweet about those topics. Anyone can create a hashtag for your own group or initiative, as long as it starts with the symbol # and contains no spaces, for example #iPadEd

Let’s say you’re interested in learning more about the common core standards. You can search the hashtag #ccss and find a running stream of relevant tweets. If you find something interesting you can tweet about it yourself and include the hashtag of your group. If you find someone who seems to have a lot to share, you can follow that person. This is a good place to start if you don’t quite know how to behave in the Twitosphere. For those of you who are relatively new to Twitter, you might appreciate the The Complete Guide to Twitter Hashtags for Education by @TeachThought to find some great hashtags for educational use.


When you follow people, their tweets show up in a steady stream on your Twitter home page. Since a tweet is 140 characters or less, it’s fairly easy to sift through a lot of information in a very short amount of time. Of course, 140 characters does not allow a tweeter to share more than a preview or a quick idea. To fully maximize the power of Twitter, tweets usually include links to more information. As users sift through their tweets, they click on the links to dig deeper into the ideas behind the tweet, often following the author of the Tweet or the author of the article itself. Twitter will notify you when someone follows you. They also make recommendations about who to follow that show up on your own home screen.


If you come across a powerful idea on Twitter, you can retweet it. This allows your followers to see the tweet in their home feed. Better yet, you can use the abbreviation MT, mention tweet, in a tweet you quote. You can then add your group’s hashtag to the end of the tweet to share that idea with colleagues who follow a specific hashtag. You can also compose your own tweet, add a link to the source of information and add a hashtag to the tweet. This is how ideas fly across the Twitosphere. Your followers will read the ideas you share, they share those ideas with their followers, they follow others and so on. There is no faster or more efficient way to share ideas.

Sharing Your Own Ideas 

To maximize and share the great things you are doing in the classroom through Twitter, include a link to more information inside of that tweet. This helps others learn from you by digging deeper into the ideas and practices behind the text or photo. Link to samples of student work, link to resources, like to your blog or website with more information or link to lesson plans published on #GoogleDocsFellow tweeters will connect with you if your own tweets lead to more information, ideas and learning. This is how you can inspire others and establish collaborative global relationships based on common interests.


If the information you share on Twitter is useful to like-minded Tweeters, they will follow you. Use the reply button at the bottom of a tweet to ask questions, send a thank you for the information and start a conversation about the topic of the tweet. Often, tweeters will share your ideas and add their own hashtags to bring your ideas to their group. This is how you learn with other, build your PLN and expand your learning and knowledge beyond the classroom or school walls. We are all learning together and this is maximized through the use of Twitter.


When you you tap the star icon below a tweet you are adding it as a favorite. This lets the author know that you read their tweet and liked it. Twitter will notify you when someone favorites one of your tweets.

Twitter Chats 

Twitter chats are informal exchanges of ideas at prearranged times. Twitter chats utilize a hashtag to encourage conversations about specific topics, such as #1to1iPadChat. Twitter chats usually include a moderator who asks questions by adding, Q1 to a tweet with a hashtag for the twitter chat. Participants use A1 to answer that questions and start conversations. 

Participants in Twitter chats often end up following each other to continue exchanging ideas. Twitter chats are usually archived so interested Twitter users can sort through it all when the chat ends. Twitter chats can be very confusing when using Twitter alone, and they are much easier when using a service that provides users with a dashboard to manage your Twitter feed and the feed from the hashtags you are using. Tweetdeck is a popular Twitter tool used by participants in Twitter Chats.  Sue Waters, @suewaters has compiled a great resource to help educators learn more about Hashtags, Tweetdeck and Twitter Chats for Education

Take Aways 

Twitter is an efficient and powerful platform for exchanging ideas and information to extend learning beyond the classroom, school, or district. This global exchange of information can truly help educators adapt and succeed in our rapidly changing educational climate by building on the expertise of educators across the globe.

October is Connected Educators month and there’s no better time like the present to embrace Twitter to connect and build a global professional learning network! 

Free Webinars to Transform Teaching & Learning


Join me for the first in a series of free webinars designed to Transform Teaching and Learning with ThingLink EDU. Explore the interactive image above to learn more about all of the webinars in the series and sign up to participate live or to receive the archived version in your inbox. 

Transform Teaching and Learning with ThingLink EDU

Live on Tuesday, October 20, 2015 at 8:00 PM EDT or On Demand

Are you looking for a user friendly and flexible tool to help you easily create engaging multimedia rich content to redefine teaching and learning? Are you interested in using technology to meet the personal learning needs of the students in your classroom? We invite you to attend our free webinar and explore the powerful possibilities that exist with ThingLink EDU.

Sign up to participate in the live session or receive the archived version in your inbox.

I hope you can join me for this PD series designed to help you seamlessly integrate tech into your classroom to transform learning and engage students like never before.

Great Ways to Use Google Drive to Power Your Classroom

Over the weekend I hosted a webinar for Simple K12 to share Great Ways to Use Google Drive to Power Up Your Classroom. The content included a closer look at some of the resources found on a popular interactive image I’ve been building and fine tuning over the course of the past 5 years. To view the infographic, click on the Google tab above.

I’ve received requests from many of the readers of this blog to share the slideshow, since the webinar was available for Simple K12 members only. So, here is the slideshow. I hope it sparks some ideas for leveraging the power of Google Docs in your classroom.

More Learning Opportunities
I’ll be hosting a series of ThingLink EDU webinars designed to help teachers, schools and districts Transform Teaching and Learning by combining ThingLink with common digital tools. Explore the interactive image below to learn more and sign up, or read more on the Webinars tab or this blog. Sign up to participate in the live webinars or get an archived copy in your inbox. 

Google Docs Voice Typing is Here

Google Docs has added Voice Typing to the Google Document! This built in feature allows anyone using Google Docs in the Chrome web browser to dictate text that will be typed. 

This built in accessibility feature will be extremely useful for students with special needs because it levels the playing field and provides all students with the opportunity to use the same tools in the classroom. Best of all, It’s easy to use and free!

To use Google Voice Typing successfully, users must acquire dictation skills. They need to be taught how to use punctuation and how to correct mistakes. They also need to be taught how to edit and revise after the first draft is dictated.

Locating Google Voice Typing 

The voice typing tool can be conveniently found in the Tools Menu of a Google Document. While the feature is not yet available in a Slides, I would guess it’s coming. In the meantime, students can dictate text in the document and copy and paste it into Slides.


According to Google Docs help, here are common phrases that need to be spoken to punctuate and format dictated text. 
  • “Period”
  • “Comma”
  • “Exclamation point”
  • “Question mark”
  • “New line”
  • “New paragraph”

Correcting Mistakes

Students can highlight and delete a mistake without turning off the microphone. Once a mistake has been deleted, users can type the correction in it’s place and then move the cursor to it’s desired location to continue with diction. After the draft is completed, students should be expected to engage in the revision process of course.

Supported Languages

Voice typing currently supports the following languages:

  1. English 
  2. Spanish
  3. German
  4. French
  5. Italian
  6. Russian


You must use Google Chrome on a computer to access the Voice Typing. Although this feature is not available through Chrome on a mobile device, the microphone option on the keyboard of an iPad provides similar functionality. All you have to do is enable Siri through Settings on an iPad to add the microphone to your keyboard.

Thoughts and a Wish List

Voice Typing is very simple to use and it works well. I’m very appreciative of adding this built in accessibility feature to such a widely used educational tool. Now how about a simple to use, build in word prediction tool that works in Chrome? I realize there are some extensions and 3rd party tools, but to truly be accessible to all students, it needs to be built in.

AppSmashing to Share & Publish Student Work Globally

AppSmashing is a popular method of combining two or more apps to create, publish and share content. 

AppSmashing challenges us to discover new possibilities for teaching and learning with an iPad and presents us with greater possibilities for helping the device meet our goals. 

Recently, the work that I do with ThingLink EDU has connected me with Ed Charlwood, the Head of Design and Director of Digital Learning at an Independent school in West London. Ed’s ideas was to host a ThingLink Creative Challenge for students, known as the Product Deconstruction Challenge. This is an amazing project that challenges students across the globe to learn about everyday products we use by taking them apart. The first round of this project runs through December 4, 2015 and all students are encouraged to enter.

AppSmashing for the Product Deconstruction Challenge

At the time of this writing, we now have 34 student entries in the Product Deconstruction Challenge. This provides me with a great opportunity to do some AppSmashing to quickly share and publish this amazing collection of student work.

AppSmashing with ThingLink & Padlet

The example below takes advantage of just two Apps, ThingLink EDU and Padlet. It demonstrates one of the easiest ways to quickly share and publish the work that was created for the Product Deconstruction Challenge. Taking this a step further, this collection can be embedded and shared in a variety of teacher claimed websites, blogs or wikis.

After students select a product and disassemble it, they are asked to arrange the pieces in an attractive display and take a photo it. The photos are then uploaded to ThingLink and students add tags with text, video and images to identify each part of the product and what material the product is made of. They must include a justification for use of the material. Interactive images are submitted using the ThingLink Creative Challenges tool and the results are immediately displayed for anyone to explore.

Explore Student Entries

How it Works

In this case, I used the Padlet extension for Chrome, a handy button that allows users to quickly grab content and publish it to an existing Padlet without having to switch screens. Just click on the ThingLink image to view it, click the Padlet button in the toolbar and the content is immediately added to any existing Padlet without having to switch the screens. The process of adding the ThingLink images to Padlet took less than 10 minutes.

Alternately, students can actually add their own images to a Padlet, without logging in, simply by copying the link to the ThingLink, tapping on the Padlet itself, and pasting the link in the appropriate place on the Padlet.

The beauty of this AppSmashing example is that the ThingLink images are live and interactive right on the Padlet. Try it yourself by selecting one of the images and exploring the tags! 

Kicking it Up a Notch 
In classrooms, we often dedicate a good chunk of class time to sharing student work that requires students to stand in front of the class and explain the learning. While this experience is beneficial to the student who is “on the stage”, students sitting and listening are passive participants who may or may not be paying attention. 

Perhaps a more efficient and effective way to share student presentations can be utilized with the help of student created screencasts and adding Explain Everything to the AppSmashing process can truly maximize instructional time and engagement.

ThingLink, Explain Everything, YouTube & Padlet

Did you know there is a built in web browser in Explain Everything that allows users to pull up content from the web and record and explain it via a narrated recording? 

The built in web browser provides a great tool for AppSmashing as an alternative to traditional, stand-alone classroom presentations. Here is how it could work in combination with ThingLink and Padlet.
  1. Create a ThingLink.
  2. Open the ThingLink in the web browser in Explain Everything.
  3. Narrate and record a guided tour of the ThingLink.
  4. Upload the completed Explain Everything to YouTube.
  5. Copy and paste the link from YouTube to a Padlet.

Explore this Example & Contribute

I added an older example demonstrating AppSmashing with ThingLink, Explain Everything and YouTube to the Padlet you see below. The narration was designed to teach others how to find the web browser in Explain Everything so it could be helpful to those interested in trying this AppSmashing idea. Since Padlet doesn’t require a login, I invite innovative educators from across the globe to add their own AppSmash examples here. 

I happen to be teaching 6 AppSmashing workshops tomorrow, and hope to have more teacher created examples for display. I hope to see this Padlet grow with examples from those workshops, as well as examples from innovative educators reading this post.


Calling All Connected Educators

 If you an innovative educator with a great idea for leveraging the power of technology for teaching and learning, I invite you to collaborate and share your ideas on this blog during the month of October. In addition to adding your AppSmashing ideas to the Padlet, perhaps you will consider writing a quick guest post or sharing work through a webinar. To get started, let’s connect.

Google Forms Update: New Look & Feel

If you’re a big fan of the Google Form like me, you may have noticed that the icon has changed colors. No longer does the form share the color green with it’s counterpart, the Google Sheet, it now has has it’s own purple icon.

I noticed this a few days ago and thought it was a great idea to acknowledge my favorite Google tool with it’s own color, since I often get confused between the results that are displayed in a spreadsheet and the form itself, when using multiple tabs. Upon further investigation I learned that the Google Form has a new look completely.

Explore the New Google Form

To explore the new Google form you will need to accept the option to Try the new Google Forms, which can be found in a purple bar at the top of an existing form. If you’re afraid to change your perfectly good form, don’t worry. The transformation starts with a preview and at that point you have the option of going back to the old version, for now. 

I took a chance on Google and transformed one of my most useful and beloved forms to the new version. Although I prefer the text alignment in the old form, I decided to accept the changes in order to share the new version in my upcoming webinar with Simple K12. This particular form includes video, images and interesting navigation, and I’m happy to report that no functionality was lost in the transformation. Here is my old form, transformed and embedded. Please note: this is not your typical form.

What’s New with Google Forms?

The only changes I discovered are in the way that the form looks and feels. While the old form required searching through menu options to add questions, images, video and page breaks, the new form uses common icons to perform the same tasks. The icons, which are consistent with those found in the Google Classroom, tell users what they do when users scroll over them with a mouse. The new form has a color palette at the top of the screen that allows users to easily change the color of a form or add an image. This feature was available in the old form, but perhaps not as easy to find. 

Ways to Use Google Forms

There are many ways to power up your classroom with a Google Form. Here are a few of my favorites.

Create a Google Form for pre-assessment and pre-teaching by providing students with opportunities to learn more about unknown concepts by adding screencasts and tutorials based on their answers.

Use a Google Form as an exit ticket to check for understanding. Turn multiple choice or true/false questions into a self-grading quiz by using the Add On Flubaroo on the spreadsheet of results.

Create an InBox to collect any digital assignments that come with a link.

    If you are a Simple K12 member looking for ways to power your classroom with Google Forms, I hope you will attend our webinar on Saturday, October 10th at 11:00 am EDT. I’ll be sharing several ways to use Google Forms and Google Docs to power up your classroom.