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The New Year brings an updated Google Classroom!

The new year brings a welcomed update to the Google Classroom interface.  Google has changed a few things that make a huge difference!  Watch the short video below for all changes:

A quick outline of the important changes:
Drag & Drop Assignments in a Topic (Classwork tab): A seemingly small thing that has a huge impact on your time!  Easily controlling assignment placement within a topic is life changing.

Join Class Code Easily Accessible with the Display Icon (Stream page): Just in time for the second semester (with a surprising number of new courses), the join class code is front and center!  One click makes it display size.

Updated look and feel: Google's mantra is to make it clean and simple.  They have updated the font and style to make Classroom less visually cluttered.

In addition, Google added 78 new themes to help you easily personalize your Classroom.
Updates outlined in this blog post from the Google Keyword Blog.
First Day of Google Classroom - if you are…
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Brain Research and Studying: Top Two Strategies you can help your students use

As midterm exams approach, your students are facing the challenge of preparing for them.  Cognitive learning research provides insight into the best practices for studying. 

 The Top 2 Study Strategies are Retrieval Practice and Spaced Learning: Retrieval Practice  Retrieval Practice is the act of pulling information out of your brain.  For example, you remember what you know about a word, topic, or lesson, pull itout of your brain and then articulate it in some way.  For example, you write down everything you remember.  This is the way your brain really wants to learn!  
Retrieval Practice is the opposite of reviewing notes or the textbook and trying to 'stuff' the knowledge into your brain!

Teacher Action:   If you are holding review session(s) or providing review documents, incorporate places for students to write everything they can remember about the topic before they interact with your review material.  Encourage them to not only write but create images, tables, whatever …

These are a Few of My Favorite Things 2018, Part 2

In the spirit of the holiday season, here are a few more of my favorite things!

Google Slides Google Slides are the Swiss army knife of the Google Suite in my opinion.    They are so versatile.  Slides are so much more than a presentation.

I have almost abandoned Google Docs.  Most of my work involves directions - images with arrows and circles added.  I love the tools Google Slides and Google Drawing provide.  (The tools are the same in both apps.)

If you use Google Docs, you can access these same tools by clicking Insert>Drawing.  You have the best of both worlds with the drawing embedded in your Doc for editing! Page Setup: By clicking File>Page Setup you can make Slides any size you want.  This means you can use Slides for way more than just presentations!  I use this feature to create slides that are:

Directions like these in 8.5 X 11" format.Cool templates like this National Geographic template by Ryan O'Donnell.  Images for TV's in the building.  The default …

These are a Few of My Favorite Things - 2018, Part 1

Around this time of year, the iconic Sound of Music song 'These are a Few of My Favorite Things' always seems to be playing in my head.  For the second year, I'm publishing a list of my favorite things that help me do my job faster or better.  I use many of these daily.

Keyboard Shortcuts8 Days per Year Would you be interested if someone showed you how to save eight days a year working?  Of course, you would!  Without question, teachers nationwide name lack of time as a top (if not THE top) obstacle they face in their professional practice. Keyboard shortcuts are a way to gain more time. 

Watch this video to learn how the time savings were calculated by BrainScape, an education platform that provides flashcards based on brain research.  Or view the formula below:

[2 wasted seconds / min] * [480 min / workday] * [240 workdays / year] = 64 wasted hours / year!
(2 seconds is the amount of time it takes to move your hand from your keyboard to your mouse to click and back again!…

Closed Caption Classroom Presentation and Discussion with Google Slides!

Google Slides has just introduced the ability to close caption your classroom presentation/discussion!  When in Presentation mode, simply click the CC icon on the slide navigator toolbar or click Command + Shift + C.  Any speech picked up by the presentation computer microphone will be closed captioned!
Watch this 21-second video from the Google blog to see how easy it is!

Can closed captioning your direct instruction and class discussion help learning? Students can hear/understand: Sometimes we have students in our class with a documented hearing loss.  In this case, we think about and use the Redcat microphones provided in every classroom.  (Though I would suggest the amplification of your voice really helps ALL learners!)  In a classroom where you don't choose to utilize the Redcat microphone, there may be students who are:

located in a part of the room where they can't hear as well.near noise from another student, the hallway, the next classroom, or a temperature control ve…

Faster Digital Feedback with CheckMark!

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How does Checkmark Work? Once installed and enabled, the CheckMark menu appears dynamically when you highlight text in a Google Doc or Slide.  Simply click the button representing the feedback you want to add.  The full comment appears in a comment box.  Students then follow the typical protocol to resolve the comment.

How do I get CheckMark? CheckMark is a Chrome extension found here in the Chrome Web Store.  Click the blue Add to Chrome button to install Checkmark.  

The Checkmark icon now appears on your Chrome browser near the top right after you…

Hiding in Plain Sight - the Time Saving Format Tool in Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides

Have you ever added a text box to a slide, and discovered your text font and size is your Slides default, not the Slide Theme default?   You can spend a lot of time re-formatting the newly created text box!  Each time you add a new text box, you have to format again.

Google has just improved a rarely used tool (by me, anyway) that can be really helpful.  You've seen it many times, but probably have never used it before!

The paint roller is officially called the Format tool and is found in Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides.  Google has recently updated the tool to include Persistent mode.  Here's how it works:

Highlight a text box or object that uses the formatting you want Double Click the Format tool (Paint roller) for Persistent mode*Create a new text box, or highlight an existing object

Voila!  The text changes to match the highlighted object you selected when you entered Persisent mode.  You can format as many objects as you want in Persistent Mode.

To leave Persistent mode,…