K-12, Teaching Tools


Clay Smith’s Twitter profile (@ClayCodes) states that he is a “Former Talent Agent turned Tech Educator.”  Fortunately, he is kind enough to share some of his technology skills on his blog, “clayCodes.”  Specifically, he has created some helpful Google Add/Ons and Extensions that make teaching easier.   One of them, Record to Slides, may be of particular interest for teachers who are working remotely.  Once you’ve installed the extension, you can click on the blue camera icon on the top right near the comment icon in your Slides presentation.  It allows you to record a video, and add your recording immediately to a slide.  You can give quick instructions, add a surprise message for your students, or maybe give them a reminder to pay attention 😉  Of course, be wary of the amount of recording time you add to your presentation overall, as it can cause loading problems for students with lower bandwidth at their homes.

Slide Record Example

I haven’t tested it out, yet, but another cool tool by Clay that you can try is, “Classroom Assist,”  which allows you to use your voice to create documents, add assignments, and make other useful changes in your Google Classroom.

Thank you, Clay Smith, for making Google Slides and Classroom even more teacher-friendly!

Just a quick word about Google extensions – most of them do ask for permission to access your drive.  This means there is potential for hacking your information, so be cautious about the number that you add, and delete ones that you’ve added but don’t use.  Here is a recent article on this topic.


Art, Creative Thinking, Education, K-12, Websites

Doodle 4 Google 2018

You have less than 2 days to vote for this year’s Doodle 4 Google contest winners.  This year’s theme is , “What inspires me.”  This is a great opportunity to show your students the incredible creativity that is exemplified by the chosen finalists from K-12. And, even though the deadline to enter has passed, you can take advantage of the free educator materials to guide your students as they create their own Google doodles.  Are you done with standardized testing for the year?  Looking for ways to engage your students as the school year comes to a close?  This is definitely one way to do it!


Education, K-12, Teaching Tools, Websites


The Guru of Everything Google, Alice Keeler, partnered with Matt Miller to publish the DriveSlides Chrome Extension, which is available for free on the Chrome Web Store here.

Near the end of the school year, many teachers like to make slideshows of pictures from throughout the year.  With DriveSlides, Keller and Miller have given us a tool that will make this process much faster if you want to use Google Slides.  Once you install the DriveSlides extension, open the folder in Google Drive that contains all of the pictures you want to put in your presentation.  Click on the extension icon in your toolbar, and watch the magic happen.  (You will need to allow permissions the first time you use the extension.)  After a slight pause, a new window will open and automatically create a Google Slideshow with all of the pictures in that folder.

My whole family gathered around as I made this quick demonstration with pictures of our family bulldog, taking mental notes so they could use the extension too. (I added the background after the pictures were all imported, using suggestions from the Google Explore Tool.)

If you want to add audio to your slideshow, here is some advice from Richard Byrne.

Keeler also has another Chrome Extension called, “Slideshot,” which will take screenshots every minute and create a slideshow out of those when you hit “Finish.”

Want some more ideas for the end of the school year?  Check out this post!

3-12, Apps, Education, Research, Student Products, Teaching Tools, Websites

Google Slides Templates (Updated)

This week, I’ve decided to reblog some of my more popular posts with some updates. Since I’ve posted this piece on Google Slides Templates, I’ve found some other resources to add to the list.  You will find most of the updates at the bottom of this post.

Now that our campus has a set of Chromebooks, my students have been delighting in exploring Google Drive.  One tool that has been an asset is the Presentation tool also known as Slides.  Similar to Powerpoint, the Google version has a few advantages in our environment: automatic saving (extremely helpful when the network isn’t always reliable), the rockin’ Research Tool, and the ability to use Google image search within the presentation. Even more importantly, a shared presentation invites collaboration.  I’ve enjoyed having the students work on slides in the same show simultaneously, such as the metaphor presentation I’ve embedded below. (UPDATE: Alice Keeler has a great post on how students can submit work on a collaborative Google Slide Presentation.)

There aren’t a whole lot of themes available in Slides.  But a growing number of templates are popping up online.  You can start with Google, itself, for public presentation templates that are free to download. Another fun resource, though somewhat limited right now, is Slides Carnival.

One of my favorite templates that I’ve run across recently comes from the DavidLeeEdTech blog.  This virtual museum template is so cool!  Scroll down to the comments section on his blog to get the direct link for downloading the template.

from David Lee's Virtual Museum Slides Template
from David Lee’s Virtual Museum Slides Template

Another option is to download a Powerpoint template that you like, and then to import the slides into your Google Drive presentation.

To download most templates, you will need to be signed in to your Google Drive. If the link provided for a template does not give you a direct copy, then you may have a “View Only” version, and will need to make a copy yourself. When applicable, always leave the proper source citations for the template on the slide show, but do whatever other editing you would like once you make a copy.

Tired of the limited fonts available for your Slides Presentation? Check out these instructions for adding more.

And, if you are feeling very enterprising and graphic-designy and would like to make your own template, Alice Keeler has step-by-step instructions for doing just that.

UPDATED 6/22/15:  More Google Slides Templates Resources

Education, Fun Friday, Research, Web 2.0

Google Recipe Filters

This week (except for Wednesday) I am dedicating my posts to sharing resources I learned about at TCEA in Austin last week.  I think packing too much info into a blog post is overwhelming, so if you are craving more, feel free to check out my notes (which are not finished yet!) here.

So it turns out that finding a Phun Phriday post based on your notes from a conference about technology in education is a little bit harder than I anticipated.  Because…  education.  And Phun Phriday posts are supposed to be (according to the rules I established for such posts) decidedly not educational.

I did find a note from the very first TCEA session I attended this year that could qualify as not really educational – unless you happen to teach at Le Cordon Bleu.  Unfortunately, since I don’t really like to cook, it doesn’t quite qualify as Phun, either.  But maybe you would disagree.

I learned from Richard Lombardo (@Rich_Lombardo) and Jerrad Barczyszyn (@rpdpjerrad) that the Google Search Tools aren’t always the same.  I usually use them when I’m looking for an image to determine copyright.  But I had no idea they would be helpful on the nights my husband works late and I’m stuck cooking dinner.

Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 7.53.45 PM

For example, go to Google and do a search for fried chicken.  Then click on the Search Tools underneath.  Now, you can filter the recipe results by anything from calories to cook time!  By choosing “under 15 minutes” and “under 100 calories” I changed the number of results from over 50 million to just 1 recipe.

I’ll be only slightly more impressed when I can type in, “Make me some fried chicken,” and Google completes the task for me.  But then I’ll probably just complain about how Google always leaves the kitchen so messy…

Education, K-12, Student Products, Teaching Tools, Web 2.0, Websites

Goo in the Loo and Stuff You Wish You Gnu

This week I am going to dedicate my posts to sharing resources I learned about at TCEA in Austin last week.  I think packing too much info into a blog post is overwhelming, so if you are craving more, feel free to check out my notes (which are not finished yet!) here.

I was chatting with one of my colleagues, Kim Ball (@gttechguru) during TCEA last week, and she mentioned a cool activity she had done on her campus called, “Goo in the Loo.”  This is not as disgusting as it might sound.  Basically, she posted Google tips in the adult bathrooms so teachers could learn more about ways to take advantage of all of Google’s cool features.  Awesome!

Goo in the Loo is an idea that was originally proposed by Jessica Johnston (@edtechchic) as a Google Teacher Academy Action Plan.  You can read more about Jessica’s project here.  She also provides pre-made Goo in the Loo posters on her site.  So, you can easily put this plan into place on your own campus by just printing out Jessica’s awesome, crowd-sourced posters.

I plan to utilize Jessica’s posters, but I also wanted to make some of my own.  Not all of them are going to be Google tips, so I needed a title that was a bit more generic.  In the interest of making a rhyming blog post as well as using a cute graphic that has been declared free to use, I’m going with “Stuff You Wish You Gnu.” (It turns out GNU is a free operating system, but that’s not really where I was going with that.)

Here is a link to my “Stuff You Wish You Gnu”  folder.  I will be adding to it as I create new posters.  Feel free to use and distribute as you see fit!

Tech Stuff 1