Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Google Sites Design Features

Google sites is a great way to publish content to the web for a wide audience. Teachers and students are using Google Sites in a variety of ways in education.  

  • As a classroom web page
  • For Student ePortfolios
  • For a unit or project
  • As a digital resource for teachers, parents, board members, community members or clubs
  • See examples here
To take Google Sites to the next level, I like to start with the simple theme in Google Sites and then begin playing with the colors, fonts and design of the Google Site.  

In order to get more real estate on your Google Site (more links visible on the front page) in an organized manner, I like to use Horizontal Navigation.  With a few simple organizational clicks you can change the navigation from the side bar to horizontal navigation with drop down menus.

You can learn how to use Horizontal Navigation here.

In order to help you with creating a new header for your Google Site I like to use ColourLovers and PicMonkey (a replacement for Picnik).   Using ColourLovers you can find colors that look good together and create a pattern based on the colors you like.  Then, you can import the colored pattern into PicMonkey and add some text, boarders and images if you would like.  Then, I add this new header for my Google Site.

You can watch my screencasts on how to use ColourLovers and PicMonkey here. 
*Note...the screencasts are examples of me using Picnik (no longer active) and not PicMonkey.  I think you'll find that both of these sites use the same type of editing and you will be able to create and edit in PicMonkey just as easily as Picnik. 


Want to learn more?
Join us at one of the Google Apps for Education Summits this year!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Google Chrome Ninja Presentation on Education On Air Conference

Google Chrome allows you to personalize and customize your browser experience.  Efficiency is the goal when you are swamped with papers to grade, parents to email, a personal learning network to connect with and have a little fun while surfing the web.
Google Chrome browser allows you to install extensions that help your work flow in all your daily web activities.

Some of my favorite extensions for Google Chrome are...

Instant URL shortener and QR Code Generator
This extension is now retired. You can still use it, but it is highly recommended that you upgrade to the next version, which is called ShortenMe. It now has the very frequently requested feature of saving links to your account!
Google Dictionary
With this extension, you can:
1) Double-click any word to view its definition in a small pop-up bubble.
2) View the complete definition of any word or phrase using the toolbar dictionary.

Foreign words are automatically translated to your language of choice.
Turn Off the Lights
With one click on the lamp button, the page will be fading to dark. And automatic focus to the video. Click again, the page will return back as normal.
Clearly by Evernote
With one click, Clearly makes blog posts and articles clean and easy to read. Clearly eliminates all distractions from your online reading experience, and even allows you to browse multi-page articles in one, seamless view.
Send from Gmail
This extension will open a Compose window in Gmail when you click any email address on a webpage. It also provides a button that will create a Gmail message when clicked, using the page title as the subject and selected page text and link address as the message.
Amazon Wish List
Amazon Wish Lists are universal. You can add anything from any website to your Amazon Wish List making it easier than ever to keep track of all the items you want in one place.  Once you download the Amazon Wish List extension to your Google Chrome browser -- start shopping. When you see something you want on any website, just click the Amazon “Add to Wish List” button. 
Google Tasks
Easily add and manage your tasks from Chrome in one of three ways:

*  Simply type "t Your new task" into the Chrome Omnibar to easily add a task from whatever web page you're on.

*  Click the Tasks icon to add a task, see your tasks and task lists and mark a task as completed

*  Highlight text on any web page, right click and add that text to a new task.
Recently I presented at the Google Education On Air Conference with more Google Chrome Ninja tips.  View the recorded Hangout below.

To learn more about Google Chrome and all the Google Apps for Education, join us at a Google Apps for Education Summit!

Register now for the CA Google Apps for Education Summit July 12-13th in Santa Clara CA and the Rocky Mountain Google Apps for Education Summit August 2-3 in Boulder CO.

Monday, March 26, 2012

What did the students say?

On the first day of introducing Chromebooks to the students we asked them what they thought...

Here is what they had to say...

What are you excited about with having Chromebooks in the classroom?
  • We won't have to go to the computer lab to do work, and they are nice and small to carry!
  • I'm exited that I don't need to wait for a computer to open up.
  • I just like technology, I am very thankful for having them.
  • I am so excited to learn about technology and different websites on the Chromebooks and I think it will be fun to know tips and tricks that  we can know in the future! 
  • I am exited about saving the paper that we use in our every day learning at school. I am also exited about learning how to type well with the Chromebooks 
  • I like computers and i think it is really exciting and fun to have Chromebooks in our classroom. why wouldn't it  be fun to have a computer in a classroom! i am sooooooo excited about these chromebooks!
  • I'm exited about having aces to the internet 24/7 anytime instead of having Mrs. Purdy having to reserve computer time we always have computer time. More time to learn  

How do you think using a Chromebook will change your learning?
  • I think it will make things easier for research and writing papers and other things that you need information for!
  • I think it will make things easier to understand and you will never lose or misplace things because it saves automatically.
  • I can focus on line it is much cooler then paper and pencil the more online the better!
  • I think that it will change my learning because i can not loose any of my work and also my work is just in the computer.
  • Well it will make us better learners by typing a lot and getting to know how to use the computers correctly. Also it will be nice to do lots of reports on them.
  • I think it will force me to try new things.
  • I think it can change my learning because now we always have access to the internet so if we have a subject to learn about we can easily learn about anything on the internet i think having Chromebooks will be awesome!
  • Because people like lab tops better than paper and pencil. 
  • I think I can get smarter using the crome books because it has the internet.
What can you do to care for your Chromebook?
  • Make sure you carry it correctly and not getting it dirty by touching the screen.
  • I can hold it properly with my thumbs up on the top.  And I can hold it closed when I am walking.
  • Before you get your Chromebook you wipe off your desk and you also wash your hands. 
  • Plug it in to the wall every day when the day is over.
  • Every time i am done, i should make sure that my Chromebook is nice and clean so when the next person uses it it will be nice and easy. we should be very respectful to these $500 items. we should carry these carefully.
  • To care for our Chromebooks we can handle with care, stay away from water, no greasy fingers or try not to drop them.
  • Leave your messy snacks on the ground and leave your water bottles on the ground.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Chromebooks to Edina Public Schools

Thanks to the Edina Ed Fund and Edina Public Schools, on Monday, March 26, 2012 Tracy Purdy will be introducing Chromebooks to her 4th grade students at Concord Elementary School at Edina Public Schools.  The students have been "working in the cloud" all year and have produced some amazing projects using technology.  They are beyond excited to have a 1:1 environment with Chromebooks to finish off their year.  I will be there to help support Tracy and the students in her "Classroom in the Cloud."  Feel free to check back often to see resources we add to the site along with examples of student projects that are created with the Chromebooks.

The first resource we have is the introduction Google Docs Presentation that we plan to share with the students tomorrow.  

Before the Chromebooks went into the classroom we had a few things we needed to do. First we enrolled each of the Chromebooks into our Edina Apps domain. 

Enroll the Chromebooks in our Domain.

We also tested out a few policies in the Chromebook management dashboard.  Right now we are just keeping things simple by just having a few websites come up upon login.  We may work on black/white listing apps and setting policies per grade level but for this year we are just keeping it simple.
Configure Chromebook Policies

Once the Cloud Printer arrives, we'll be setting up Cloud Print too.
Google Cloud Print

Friday, February 3, 2012

Chromebook Classroom

On Monday Flipped Education hosted a Chromebook Classroom with the EDU team from Google.  Dana Nguyen and Jaime Casap from Google came to wow a room of 120 educators from around the Midwest.

Flipped Education provided a half day of professional development around Google Apps for Education.  The Chromebook, a web browser device, is a new tool that a lot of educators are looking into for student devices in the classroom.  In Edina, we hope to get our first three pilot sets this March if we receive Edina Ed Fund awards.

Here is our event resource page for the Chromebook Classroom.

Here are some pictures form the MN Chromebook Classroom Event.

If you are interested in learning more, here is a YouTube playlist on Chromebooks

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Life after Internet Explorer- Welcome to Chrome

Edina Public Schools is rolling out Google Chrome as a browser option for our staff and students.  I have created a website that helps teachers learn about Chrome and the benefits of Apps and Extensions.

This is a great YouTube video that helps teachers understand that there is more than one way to access the web.

Google Chrome Resources for Teachers

What is an extension?

Try extensions

Molly's Favorite Extensions
  • Turn off the lights- when watching a YouTube Video, the rest of the screen turns black and the movie is highlighted
  • URL Shortener + QR- provides a shortened URL and QR code for any website you are on.  Saves me 5 clicks when sharing!
  • Picasa Extension- Quick access to Picasa Pictures
  • Picnik Extension- Easily edit any image on your screen.  You can also capture the picture on the screen and bring it to Picnik
  • Gmail Attachments to Docs- Save those pesky Gmail attachments directly to Google Docs from the attachment list itself with a newly added Save To Docs link.
  • Google Dictionary-  View definitions easily as you browse the web
  • Google Docs Viewer-  List, view, search, rename, delete, and create new documents in Google Docs
  • Screen Capture Capture visible content of a tab, a region of a web page, or the whole page as a PNG image. Support horizontal and vertical scroll when capturing whole page, with an all new autosave capability.
  • Amazon Wish List-  Add products from any website to your Amazon Wish List
  • 10 More Useful Chrome Extensions
Molly's Favorite Apps
Chrome for the Classroom Presentation- A collaborative presentation