Saturday, May 6, 2017

Thing 33: eBook Creation

So in my Anything Goes Google post I decided to check out How to Create an ebook with Google Slides because I wondered it I could share student work that way.  I would love to post some of the research projects that my students have been creating on my website.  Here is the link to a sample eBook I made with Google Slides.  It explains some of my thinking:

That detour made me explore some other eBook-type options.

I went to 2 BRAND NEW tools to help students display work, reflect which discusses Drive Slides a new extension that makes slides out of the images in a specific folder on your Drive account, as well as Slide Shot which takes screen shots of your computer every minute and makes them into a presentation  I don’t really see myself using either of these tools, however.  It had the bonus of telling me about  Another CC site to send my students to.  My sixth graders would have loved it for their river project presentations.  I’m not sure that all of the images they included in their Google Slides were ones that they had the rights to use despite my education on the topic.  Does anyone else ever have the problem?

So, in Polly’s eBook Creation post, I realized that I can download my Google Docs as PDFs, too, as well as in ePub format.  I guess I don’t have to get too fancy to make this work.  I didn’t bother to try the ePub format at this point, but I wanted to make sure I could find it later.
I decided to try just converting a Google Doc to PDF.  Here is the link to it that describes what I learned in the process:

Reading the assignment further brought me to Comics – Great way to combine storyboarding, drawing and writing. Ironically, I was looking into comics yesterday for a lesson with a first grade class.  Since it is the end of the year and we want to do something fun, the teacher wants to students to have her students fill in speech bubbles to make short stories.  I was able to download a few paper templates, but I wondered what was available online that wouldn’t be too hard for the students. 
I decided to try out one I had explored years ago: I made this comic without too much trouble:

You can print, save, or email, but the site doesn’t save the comic for you.  You can also choose the number of panels you wish to have.
Then, I went to Read Write Thinks’s Comic Creator.  I usually like this site for its simplicity.  I have used the pamphlet creator with my fourth graders before. The characters are not as nicely drawn, but the site is easier to use.  They say you can only print it, but you could always save as a PDF which I did here:

I went from Thing 33 eBook Creation to Thing 4: Digital Storytelling Tools and then to Thing 5: Presentation Tools because they all seem so related, at least to me.  In Presentation Tools, there was a mention of using Google Slides with a link to Slides Carnival – free templates for Google Slides. There I found a terrific comic tool!  The Crab presentation template which has adorable animals with speech bubbles!  It is perfect for little learners!  We could use it online or even print it out in full page size so they don’t have trouble writing in the small spaces.  Here is a link to the comic I made:

(BTW, I do know how to shorten the URLs, but I also know that my school’s NERIC filter doesn’t allow access to shortened URLs, so I just don’t.)

Slides Carnival’s Crab presentation template also taught me how to add Special Characters into a Google Slide presentation. Specifically, it taught me to add emojis.  This will be very cool for my future lessons! 

The Book Creators for Chromebooks link pretty much confirmed for me that Google Docs is probably the easiest way to go to achieve my goal.  But it was still a very good link to follow.  I am planning to work toward buying the library our own set of Chromebooks.  It is hard to share with the other teachers and still have the equipment to use with all of my classes.  

Thing 41: Anything Goes Google

I started by looking at DocStickers: A Docs + Keep Integration for Old School feedback.  These seem interesting, but I haven't fully embraced the Google Classroom yet.  I'm working my way, but... Depending on how my sixth grade classes end up going, I may do it next year.  I certainly could have gone fully with Google Classroom this year as most of my lessons are in Google Drive.  Aside from sixth grade, I am currently having my second and third graders type in Google Docs, so I am doing a lot of commenting there to help them revise.   I'm not sure if I should DocSticker them before they are completed or not.  A thought to ponder.

DocStickers are based on Google Keep which I had heard mention of, but not used.  That led me to read 10 ways Google Keep can help streamline life at school.  I am definitely interested in this tool.  I also checked out Using Google Keep for Grading Comments in Docs which is from the Control Alt Achieve blog.  (I have been to this blog before and Eric Curts really seems to have a lot of valuable posts on it.) I am going to email one of the HS English teachers to be sure that she knows about Google Keep for Grading Comments as I know she likes to comment on or mark papers on her tablet at home.

I had already decided to check out Spreadsheet Activities for all Subjects which is from the same blog.  It mentioned Flippity which I already posted on, but also has Random Generators, too.  Flippity has a random student generator tool, but you have to publish your spreadsheet to the web and hence to the world to do it.  I just worry about putting student names out there. Obviously every John doesn't matter so long as you don't add last names, but there are students with much more unique names  in school too and since parents are now saying that they don't even want us to take a picture of their child much less publish them to the web, I don't want to be in a sticky situation.  Since the students already have Google accounts through the district, using a Random Generator on Google Drive is not creating any more vulnerability.

I decided to check out How to Create an ebook with Google Slides because I wondered it I could share student work that way.  I would love to post some of the research projects that my students have been creating on my website.  Here is the link to a sample eBook I made with Google Slides.  It explains some of my thinking:

I have finally really used Google Classroom with my students. I always have big plans, but I guess I was concerned about the roll-out of it.  I used it with my fifth graders to create the citation pages for their ecosystem inquiry projects.  I made a template though it wasn’t quite right because it didn’t say where they were to place their copy.  I have to do some more reading on this before next year, but I think that I will try to use Google Classroom more.  It certainly was easier in some ways than my guided citation lessons.  I wrote the descriptions of how to do each step into the template (then told them to erase the directions when they were done) so that if they failed to listen +/or watch as I demonstrated on the SMARTboard, they still had a fallback. Not that any of my students would ever daydream. 😃

I also really got into using suggesting and commenting on Google Docs this spring.  I had my second and third graders type their projects into Google Docs.  Then, I went through each one suggesting the convention corrections (spelling, punctuation, grammar) and commenting on missing information (topic sentences, concluding sentences, details, etc.) All in all it was pretty successful, though an awful lot of work. The link to Google Classroom: Pull Student Paragraphs and Give Feedback caught my eye.  I will want to look at it again, but I don’t think it will work for these second and third graders as it doesn’t show them where the problem is.  The feedback is just put at the top of their doc.

A detour was prompted by a quick check of  What’s New in Google led me to another post Create Cloze Reading Activities with Google Sheets and Other Tools.  I used his first suggestion,, to make a Cloze activity.  You can see it here: This seems to be a great tool for teachers as you can choose every nth word, articles, prepositions, wh- words, and more OR you can choose your own words to eliminate.  These could be your target spelling/vocabulary words of the week.  The Google Sheet Template he offers does not seem as good because you have to specify the number word you want to delete, such as every 8th word.

I know I am jumping around a little, but an incident at school really got me worrying about security with Google Drive.  Not that I am keeping anything personally valuable there, but as a school we are sharing more student data via Google Drive for RtI and DDI purposes, for example.  We know that there was some sort of error in sharing at school and it seems like it would be SOOOO easy to click the wrong name when you are sharing if you are at all distracted (which for me is any time before 4 pm as everyone and there brother comes into the library to ask me for help!) I did decide to create two big folders for my school Drive account: Student and Teacher with the teacher folder being view only at the get-go, but I am sure that there must be a better way to go about this.  I asked the IT guys to explore/create Google groups in the hopes that we could somehow restrict access to things via Google group (Student, Teacher, etc.), but that won’t help for a while –if they get to it at all. Does anyone have any advice on where to learn more about this?  I will post on the discussion board as well.

A quick search led me to 4 Important Google Drive Skills for Teachers to Learn by @LauraCallisen She made the following suggestions:
  • Make sure your Google account is secure and that you use a strong password. It is also a good idea to set any devices that you may use to access the Google account you use as teacher to not save passwords.
  • If you have documents that are for your eyes only, keep them on Google drive folders that you do not share. 
  • Create multiple folders for different users and different purposes. Don’t try to put everything in or two places and hope that you’ve secured things correctly. A general rule of thumb is that if you allow someone access to a folder, you should assume they will be able to access all of the documents within that folder.
  • Create groups so that you do not have to set permissions on an individual level
  • Finally, select permissions by selecting the folder, clicking into the share button and then setting permissions.
A lot of that went along with what I was already thinking.

I also checked out 10 Tips for Folders in Google Drive.  Although it didn’t really give me any good ideas, it is a good source of info about how to use Google Drive, organize it, and change permissions.

Well, all in all, I think this Thing gave me a lot to work with.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Thing 30: Flash Cards, Quiz Games and More

I decided to complete this "Thing" because it seemed like an obvious followup to Thing 18.  I am interested in gamification as, in a non-digital way, I have always had a game side to my library lessons.  Sometimes you just have to teach something dry (alphabetical order) that takes repetition to master.  While I certainly make sure that my curriculum includes the real-world application of using an index or an alphabetized list in your research, the few times that any real-world project requires a student to repeat the skill just doesn't sink it in.  As some experts say, it takes at least 25 repetitions to learn something. So, here goes...


Quizlet is a great tool that I have used before.  In fact I use it after my fifth graders begin to learn about ecosystems but before they choose their inquiry project jsut to be sure that they know which ecosystem is which.  We also used it extensively in when we had building-wide vocabulary goals for SLOs.  I created Quizlet activities for several of the grades to practice with.  If you spring for the pro package, you can add pictures.


Flippity is a tool that I definitely could see some of our teachers using, especially for science and social studies.  Our fourth grade in particular has review sheets before the tests, so this is an obvious fit.  I read Students Create a Quiz with Flippity which is not really a quiz, just a review activity.  These teachers had the students create a question for the Jeopardy quiz and type directly into the Google Sheet.  It seems to me that a Google Form would be more appropriate.  The teacher could even grade the work of creating the question and answer and since the students form responses can automatically be put in a Google Sheet, there is no chance that they would see each other's questions or mess up the Sheet!

I really liked how Flippity could be used with Google Sheets to create crossword puzzles.  They are certainly more fun than a traditional worksheet.  Although I understand that we should have students go deeper into text, too.  Sometimes you just need to know if the students comprehend what they are reading.  I actually have an adult crossword book of Murder Mystery Crosswords that has a reading passage and a crossword to complete using the passage for answers.  I had been thinking for a while that this would be fun for the students, too.  Now, I know a simple way to make one!

I know teachers would like the Bingo boards, too.  The Spelling Manager seems like great practice for small group, individual practice time.  It is quick, but the students get a chance to practice before their test!  The random name picker seems useful for quick collaborative learning.

The Flippity Mix & Match doesn't seem all that useful except as possible story starters. The Flippity Tournament Bracket doesn't seem especially useful either.  I can mention it to our PE department for the next Olympics, but otherwise... The Flippity Hangman could be an at-home activity, but I don't see it as useful in the classroom. The Mad Libs has similar limitations.  The Flippity Certificate Quiz is simplistic at best since you re-answer until you get it right from a list of multiple choice answers.  The Flippity Progress Indicator could be motivating for some students.  I am thinking about our fourth grade "Read-Around-the-Library" challenge.  Seeing other students progressing could be really motivating for others.

In general, Flippity is definitely something I will present to my teachers and I will ask the IT dept about getting us all the add-on.  I think that I will try to find an article to use Flippity crosswords with before the next round of state testing when I have all of my opt-out kids.

Matt Johnson

Okay, having seen Flippity first was a detriment to Matt.  Although his Jeopardy Lab is nice, Flippity's seems so much more useful.  The Fraction Frog is something I would show our Math AIS people, but I can't see anyone using it in a whole-class format.  The Connect Fours is interesting.  It definitely could be used for higher-order thinking and to teach how to link things in your brain.  It is not a way to teach that I am really familiar with.  Most useful for science and social studies, I think. The Bingo Baker has an advantage over Flippity's because it also comes with a call list.  That means you could leave the activity for a sub more easily.

The TestMoz test generator allows for multiple choice, short answer and pcik all that apply answer types, which is good.  But Google already lets you do that with Google Forms. The Mathmoz is interesting because through the settings, students can practice addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, and binary numbers.  However, there are better products that track progress and automatically move students up when they have mastered a level.


Best for blind memorization, these flashcards are really much better than Quizlet.  They introduce in small bunches with lots of repetition and quizzing in between.  You see the answer, select the answer and have to type the answer.  Really a great tool.  As you complete levels you see your progress, so it lends a gamification aura to the memorization process with levels unlocking as you succeed.  While it has only limited application, it is great at what it does! An obvious application for me would be call number identification (which call number is in what section).  This is a skill that my students oftem struggle with now that other literacy and research activities have overtaken so many of the Library Skills classes.

I had already explored Kahoot, Quizziz, and Creating Quizzes with Google Forms in a previous post.

By the way, I learned that if I use WordPad to create my post, it looks much better in the blog!


I successfully got the IT department to agree to unblock the Flippity Add-on.  BUT, I'm not sure the add-on is such a bonus over the actual Flippity site.  I have been playing around trying to make things and the add-on doesn't always work.  It often leaves the "Get the Link Here" sheet off the template.  Still, Flippity is useful.  Here is my first real attempt at a crossword puzzle. Here is a set of flashcards, too.  And a library spelling list.

This is a great tool, but you have to make a separate google sheet for each thing you make.  You cannot add them on to each other. So there is a lot of copying and pasting from your original sheet.
 I am certainly interested in the jeopardy-type game, but at this point I cannot think of six appropriate categories with five questions each. More tinkering with this topic is definitely in my future.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Thing 18: Student Assessment & Feedback Tools

I set out to explore this thing again this year because I want to offer a professional learning opportunity to my staff about Student Assessment & Feedback Tools.  We hope to eventually get approval for our SMART Schools Bond Act application and actually get more (and more up-to-date) devices into our school and into the hands of students.  Our teachers have been so long without devices that some need ideas for how they will use them, while others are always searching for the new thing to try with what we have.
Here is a look at what I looked at:
Voting tools
o    Dotstorming If you have a need to have a class vote, this is an interesting way to do it.  Not sure how I would use it in my library, but it would be worth demonstrating for the classroom teachers. One quick application that comes to mind is teachers who have macaroni jars as behavior incentives.  When the jar is full, students vote on what they want the reward to be.  This would be a cool way to let the students vote that would make the reward even sweeter.

Thought-sharing Tools

o   Padlet I have Padlet set up for teachers to share materials and supplies that they no longer need, so I can see the purpose, but I have not come up with a real-life application for my elementary school students. I read How to Use Padlet: A Fantastic Tool for Teaching.  I still can’t see myself using many of those ideas. 

o   TodaysMeet – After a quick visit to the Sample room for CoolTools folks I think that this is similar enough to Padlet and Answer Garden that I am not going to pursue it further.  I can see a lot of application for professional learning though.  It could be a parking lot for questions.  Of course, it could be used for that at any level, but at the elementary level in my school, I would be afraid that the students would focus on the technology (and get lost somewhere else) rather than pay attention to my lesson.

o    AnswerGarden  I can see how this might be good for brainstorming purposes.  They would be fun with a professional development class.  But I don’t see how they are really applicable for much in my elementary school learning environment.  The best application I could come up with to create a word cloud for PR purposes.

Video Assessments
o    Vizia &  EdPuzzle Good to know these products exist.  I show so few videos that they are not relevant to me.  Similarly, I don’t think most of my coworkers will need it, but if I was a middle or high school teacher, especially a Social Studies teacher, I think that this would be invaluable.  It seems like a good thing to use for a substitute plan.  The students could be actively engaged in learning regardless of what kind of substitute ends up in the room.  If you coupled it with Google Classroom, the students wouldn’t even need the sub’s instructions to start it.

Formative Assessment Tools

o    Kahoot I used Kahoot with most of my 3-5 classes in the spring.  They loved it.  I loved the instant feedback as well as the availability of spreadsheets to track learning.  BUT I don’t really have access to enough portable devices to make this feasible right now.  There is only one Chromebook cart for the entire building.  My library computers are desktops that are not located near the SMARTboard, so the sad fact is that the students can’t use Kahoot with our current computers because they can’t see the questions from where they are. 

o    Quizziz This seems to make up for my problems with Kahoot.  Although everyone has to take the quiz at once, they can be on computers that are far apart.  So, I could conceivably have up to 14 groups being “quizzed” at once.  I still can’t do the entire class, but I could do half of the class and then the other half. It is obviously easier to do the quiz on a touch screen device, but not necessary.  For the middle and high school where so many students have their own devices, this would work very well.
I like how you can add graphics.  That means that this can be used for MANY different subjects and types of assessment.  Too bad that the answer choices can’t be images as well.
I could see classroom teachers using this for a quick formative assessment in math class.  When the students break into groups for differentiated learning, part of their computer time (as most elementary teachers have 4-5 computers in their room) could be completing a quiz to gather results for the next day.  The teacher would lose some class time to resetting the quiz for each small group, so they still might prefer Google Forms.
o    Spiral This is a British product.  There were not many easily accessible videos or examples to view. It is web-based or an app.  It does require devices for each student.  In the Quickfire mode it appears that after the initial sign-in with code process, the students could be at computers that do not face a central screen.

o    Formative I found the site itself strangely uninformative.  They just wanted me to sign up before I really understood what I was signing up for, but a YouTube video that I located,, explained some of the benefits of the site. One of the best things seems to be how flexible the site is.  You don’t have to retype everything.  You can import word documents, pdfs or google docs and put in spots (short answer, show your work, true/false, or multiple choice) where the students answer on their computer where they would have put their pencil and paper answer.  Of course, you can build the questions from scratch as well even adding graphics.  The students answer the assessment in one of three ways: you can enter a class and invite them all, you can give them a link (through Google Classroom, for example), or they can use a code on the website.  The advantage to the last one being that they can log in as guest to be anonymous (at least from the site’s perspective).  From the promotional video I found, , you can export your results.  It is not as flashy as Kahoot or Quizziz, but it would be much easier to convert your old assessments to digital ones with this tool.  It is not clear to me at least if there is a way to stagger when your students take the assessment or if you need 1:1 to take full advantage.  

o    Plickers This is not strictly an iOS product.  It is available for Android as well.  This is a great tool when you don’t have one-on-one technology available.  Quite a few of our teachers are using this for instantly-available formative assessment and up-to-the-minute DDI.  I have not used it myself.  With 500 or so students, there would be A LOT of cards to deal with.  Perhaps I could have one set and just reuse them with different classes by assigning just numbers to the cards with each student having a number.  I don’t know yet. 

o     o   Google Forms I use this ALL the time – with my students and with staff.  I have students do formative assessments on it.  I collect student evaluations of other’s presentations, student evaluations of group member’s work, student reading interest inventories, and more.  I have used this to help colleagues create easy formative assessments for DDI tracking.  We use Google Forms to track faculty and staff opinions on library materials, to gather contact information for the union, to collect district-wide interest in professional learning and their evaluations of district-provided professional learning.  Google Forms is awesome.  Still having enough technology available to fully implement it is an issue.  If only the SMART Schools Bond Act money would come in! I had tried the Flubaroo add –on for self grading quizzes time ago.  It seemed cumbersome in a way that Google Forms self-grading does not, but it does allow for more answer formats that stand-along Google Forms does.  In addition, some schools will have trouble with the add-ons. (BTW, checking out the comparison reintroduced me to the Control Alt Achieve blog which has some other interesting posts!)

o    PearDeck – This does look like a cool site.  The free version only allows 30 participants which would work for a classroom teacher, so I will show it during my professional learning opportunity.  However, many of the features don’t work on the free version, including Google Classroom integration.  Bummer.  Without the 1:1 device, I’m not sure it is something I would personally use.

Portfolio +/or Blogging Tools

o    SeeSaw For the most part, we don’t have iOS devices, so this option is out.  Actually, after a little exploration, I found out that they do support Android devices, Chromebooks, and computers with Chrome or Firefox.  However, from what I saw, this is more of a blogging or a portfolio tool than an assessment tool.  As a result, it is not really what I am looking for.  This is all complicated by the fact that MANY of our students cannot be photographed or have their names posted on the web, so showing parents work via a web app is not a good idea for my school.

o    Flipgrid I can’t see when I will have the time/need for video responses to questions at this point and the fact that it is a pay site makes it less attractive.  I suppose that this might help to garner student interest, but if you need a gimmick to get the students interested in the library, then maybe you need to rethink your program.  I accessed the link to 2nd Graders Use Their Research To Respond Via Flipgrid! But I couldn’t actually see the student work.  After some Googling, I did find a fresh link to a project on text structure at The students are having fun, BUT this takes an enormous amount of time to video all of the responses, not to mention the need for so many devices.  Fun for an end-of-the-year-when-you-have-extra-time activity, but again the fact that so MANY of our students cannot be photographed makes this impractical. 

Well, I have found several good tools to use and to introduce to others.  I spent many hours doing it, so I don’t think I will use the More to Explore right now, but I will check out those links in the future.

Okay, I lied. I couldn't help myself.  The link to Take Three! 55 Digital Tools and Apps for Formative Assessment Success has several other worthwhile links to check out!
Take Three! 55 Digital Tools and Apps for Formative Assessment Success