Opportunities Abound in Relationships with Educational Vendors | MACUL Community

One late summer evening I was enjoying the company of several other educators who were all presenters at the next day’s large edtech conference. Somehow a little friendly razzing found its way in my direction. The other teachers in the group were giving me a hard time about all of the “corporate” ties I have.

Check out the whole article at the new MACUL Community: Opportunities Abound in Relationships with Educational Vendors | MACUL Community

#MiGoogleFest Returns in August


It was a smashing success last Fall and it is coming back for its second year. MACUL presents Google Fest 2016 at the Amway Grand in Grand Rapids on August 9 and 10.Tuesday the 9th will feature a series of specialized “camps” for administrators and users with varying skill levels.  Incredible educator and all-around good dude Kyle Pace will keynote the conference portion on Wednesday the 10th.

August 9 & 10, 2016
Amway Grand Plaza Hotel
Grand Rapids, MI
Registration Cost: 
  • One day: $89
  • Two days: $169
Keynote Speaker: Kyle Pace is an Instructional Technology Specialist and Google for Education Certified Innovator that has worked with K-12 teachers in his current school district to provide instructional technology professional development since 2004. For more information about Kyle, visit googlefest.macul.org.

Rubik’s Cube: A question, waiting to be answered – Google

Rubik’s cube is more than a puzzle- it’s a question waiting to be answered. And when the right person finds the right question, it can set them on a journey to change the world. We salute Ernő Rubik and everyone helping young minds find the questions that challenge, excite, and let them see the world in a new way. See artists and designers remixing the Rubik’s Cube at http://chrome.com/cubelab ~Google

Learn to Love Google Drive with Rob Lowe

Here is the slide deck for Wednesday Morning’s session on embracing Google Drive. We’ll have a little help from Rob Lowe who uses Google Drive and from Creepy Rob Lowe, Meathead Rob Lowe, and Peaked in High School Rob Lowe as well.

Check out the new themes in Google Forms

Note: The following post refers to forms in Google Apps for Education. Using forms in a non-GAFE apps account will look completely different. The “general” accounts allow for personal customization of forms.

To all of you people who like to tell me that Google Apps for Education lacks the “cutesiness” you desire, just go check out all of the new themes in Google Forms.

The Art Dept. at Google has been doing a lot more lately that stuffing their faces at the nearby company stocked kitchen and getting their complimentary massages.

There are now 21 designs and many of the most basic ones remain but fans of the spilt glue bottle will be disappointed that it is no longer an option.

Check them out by going to Drive.Google.com and pressing Create -> Form.

In addition, San Diego high school teacher and fellow Google Certified Teacher Jen Roberts shared via Twitter today that by the end of the month a feature will be added to Google Apps for Education domains allowing customizable themes.

Lots of cool new options in Google Forms
Lots of cool new options in Google Forms

Tailor reading level for student Google searches

I just saw a great tweet from Tara Becker-Utess.

Tara is building upon an idea that Tammy Lind presented at Best of MACUL presents CUE Rock Star this summer in Saugatuck. The cool thing about most techniques designed for struggling learners is that almost anyone can benefit from them. Tara and Tammy inspired me to lay out the quick and easy steps that allow students to search by reading level. This will come in hugely handy this year as I teach my elementary students to formulate effective searches.

Here you go.

  1. After performing a Google Search, click on Search Tools
  2. Next click on reading level
  3. Choose the reading level. In my example I am simulating third graders doing African animal reports. I will ask them to click “Basic” and this will return only results that are the easiest to read.

These three clicks can greatly tailor the types of search results students receive, making the experience more useful for everyone.

Here is more great stuff from Tammy’s ISTE 14 presentation on this very topic.

Sub plans from the snowbank, thanks to Google Drive

I have been a Google Docs guys since before there were Google Docs. We used “Writely” in my online graduate classes back in 2005. On Friday, Google Docs got me out of a real pickle…well partially.

When I left my house for the typical 30 minute commute to Bentheim Elementary School there were strong winds and a little light snow was falling.  All area schools were open because when officials had made their early morning checks conditions were good with what forecasters called “light snow” slowly making its way to the Eastern shore of Lake Michigan. As I got closer to the open farmland to the east, those winds had kicked up the worst white-out conditions I have experienced during my thirty-plus years of living in Michigan. When I got to M-40 I witnessed a jack-knifed semi and cars plowing into each other. After some of the chaos cleared I continued my journey and made harrowing crossing after crossing through intersections with no visibility and no stop signs for cross-traffic. Two miles later I would find myself smacked up against a snowbank, having been clipped by a Ford F-150 that was completely invisible in the storm until I was in the middle of the intersection and it was approaching from 10 yards to my right. crunch

First thought: I am okay.

Second thought: What about the other driver? As I got out to check on him, he and his wife were headed my way to see how I was. Luckily we had all come through the collision physically unscathed.

Third thought: Uh…those emergency sub plans I have been meaning to get to since September sure would be nice to have sitting on my desk right about now.

After calling police, my wife, and school to inform them of the incident and that we were all unharmed I went into McGyver-mode and started digging into the Google Drive app on my iPhone. Within just a few minutes, I was able to cobble together enough activities to keep 5 grade levels of kids engaged for the rest of the day. I emailed them to our fabulous librarian who helped set up the substitute they were able to secure for me.

Google Drive does so much for me as a teacher. I know some people can’t get beyond how sterile the documents are (Foof them up with fonts and borders in Word later.) but  I never worry about work not being saved. Students share with me to turn in documents. We have classes collaborating on presentations and the list goes on and on. On Friday, Google Docs kept the learning going even when my Ford Escape and I weren’t able to go anywhere.

Now if Google could somehow figure out how to do extensive body work with just a few keystrokes….