Monday, November 30, 2020

I've Got Eyes Everywhere!

Earlier this school year we started off with new monitoring software for student devices.  We have been through a few different platforms over the years, and considering I've been working remotely, we needed something especially intuitive and simple.

Enter GoGuardian Teacher.

Set-up took almost no time, and we were up and running in minutes.  I had a small team of teachers using the platform for the first week as we planned a two-week trial before we purchased.  I think it was day 3 into the trial that we realized it was exactly what we needed.

We purchased a subscription for our 3rd - 8th grades, as they are 1:1 Chromebooks.  Students who use their personal devices are also monitored (once we found the little checkbox I forgot to check!)

Because GGT syncs with Google Classroom, the teachers can easily add or remove students as needed without admin intervention.  This is especially helpful in our 3rd and 4th grades this year, since if a student switches to remote learning for whatever reason, the remote teachers can easily add them to their classrooms and voila!  They're on!

The whole school is remote post-Thanksgiving and let me tell you how amazing it is to have the management platform!  In addition to a screen view, there is also a great timeline view teachers can scroll through to see student activity.  

What I like best about GGT (besides the fact that I can see student screens when I'm teaching!) is that the teachers and students use GGT for private conversations.  Students can not chat with each other, but they can message the teacher if they have a question that they might not want to ask in front of the whole class or in the main chat.  The teachers can see student screens and can pop a comment into a private chat to provide a hint or any help for students. Unlike any of the previous monitoring platforms we used, students are seeing GGT as a support, instead of a pain in the you-know-what!

Scheduling, link sharing, GoGuardian Teacher has it all, and I highly recommend it!

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Time to (go) BACK (to) SLIDE

Now that the 3rd graders have had *some* experience with slides, and they loved Shapegrams, we took their slides practice to the next level.

That level is fonts.

Because as much time as I spend playing with fonts?  Introduce fonts to 3rd graders and there goes your time!

Part of the push for for fonts is that the next project the 3rd graders have is publishing a book.  And my favorite part of that project is the font conversation!  The one where we talk about all the fun fonts out there, how you can pick fun fonts for titles, how your writing fonts need to be readable.... all that facets of fonts!

Not only that, but now that the kids learned layering in Shapegrams, they practiced that, too!

We're having fun "sliding" along our technology journey in 3rd grade...!

Thursday, November 12, 2020


Goal: Be able to design images online.

Some of you are looking at this going "No. Freakin'. Way.  I'm fine with finding graphics online.  Plenty good enough!"

What if I told you that 3rd graders are able to create their own images online?  Really, they are!  Wanna know how?

Tony Vincent (read more about him here!) created Shapegrams.  You may have heard of Google Drawings before since it's part of GSuite, but have yet to use it.

(Created by Tony, Shapegram Style!)

Enter Shapegrams!  Tony created an engaging and simple program that guides users through step by step instruction on each of the tools offered in Google Drawings.  More than that, the videos that accompany his direction make it possible for anyone to stop and start their way to completion. 

Each Shapegram has three elements - video and hints, drawing space, and an extension activity.  All of these are perfectly laid out on the Google Drawings canvas.  And... Tony has graciously offered the first four Shapegrams completely free!  (Want more once you start? Membership is worth it!)

Back to 3rd grade.  They're still in the phase of tech where they're practicing drag-and-drop.  Pretty basic.  Check out their first attempt at Shapegrams:

Not bad for first timers!  The image on the left is Tony's original image that the kids are to recreate.  It takes practice for sure, and is a great way to reinforce the drag-and-drop skill for 3rd grade!

As you become more experienced, you learn how to change line styles, border thickness, and a plethora of other helpful tips to allow us regular folk to create our own graphics!

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Google Enterprise!

This school year being in 2020, you never know what is going to happen.  One thing we decided early on is that we were going full Google.  That meant that any remote learning had to be via Google Meet.  I'm all good with that and was from day one.

But I am also about the bells and whistles in my Educational Technology World.

Image Source: link
So we purchased Google Enterprise for the year.

Worth it?  Absolutely.

Breakout Rooms in Google Meet.  Attendance automatically sent via email after each Meet.  The seamless integration with Google Calendar (now, if only we could ditch Outlook altogether and fully embrace the Google Ecosystem!  That's another conversation...) Jamboard.  And Grid View, while built into the updated Google Meet, the Chrome Extension Grid View has been a saving grace, too.

Meet is set up for every class in 5th - 8th grades, so that any student learning from home can easily join.  We even have 1st - 4th grade using Google Meet via Google Calendar!  Yes, that young they are able to access their Google Calendar, make sure the correct ones are checked, and join class remotely!  

Google makes it easy, and in this case, when it comes to technology, easy is good!