Tech Salad

With Crunchy Bits and Bytes

Month: February 2015

Protected: Casper Focus – 6th Grade Team

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Sharing Copies – Google Apps

In previous posts I have written about Teacher Dashboard, Google Apps, and how to share documents with students. Here is one more way that lets you share a link to a document in Schoology (or anywhere else) bypassing the Smart Copy button in Teacher Dashboard.

If you need to share a document with students and you want each student to have his or her own copy, here is what you do:

  1. Create the document in Google Drive. Make sure it has a distinctive name that lets your students know what it is when they see it in Google Drive again.
  2. Click the SHARE button and select to share the link to the document by clicking on GET SHAREABLE LINK.
  3. Copy the link and paste it into Schoology (or your blog, or an email, or Twitter…)
  4. Before you send or publish, edit the link. Change the last part of the link where it says /edit?usp=sharing  so that it says /copy
  5. Share the link!
When your students click on the link, they will see the following screen:
When they click the blue button, they will have a copy of the document they can edit and turn in to you via Teacher Dashboard or Schoology.
Easy, right? Let me know if you have any questions.


Feedback: Google, TD, and Schoology as Puzzle Pieces

It is funny how sometimes we have to go far away to hear what people nearby are saying. While I was in Ireland last month, I was sitting in a presentation and the following quote was on a slide:

Providing written feedback at the culmination of a writing product is like doing an autopsy. It’s deconstructing a dead document.

The quote was attributed to Samantha Morra (@sammorra on Twitter) who teaches in New Jersey. I usually do not take pictures of slides during presentations. I find that looking at the pictures later, out of context, is not very useful at all. But, in this case, I did hold up my phone and snap because feedback is something I discuss with teachers every single day. And, while this quote is specifically referring to writing, I believe it applies to all projects regardless of the medium or subject area.

When I work with teachers to plan projects, I discourage single due dates. I encourage teachers to break up projects into smaller parts of the process, each with a deadline and maybe even a grade. While we want students to be independent, we have to understand that they are children, students just developing those skills that allow them to be independent. These intermediate deadlines let teachers see where the final result is headed and help correct the course before it is too late to turn the cruise ship around. Of course, the frequency of the feedback and the size of each chunk in which teachers break down projects should be different at each grade level.

The best part of this idea is that we have the perfect collection of tools for students to share their work with us and for us to provide feedback.

Regardless of what your students are working on, the work can be shared with you using Google Drive. In the past, this was a cumbersome process. Now we have Teacher Dashboard that lets teachers access student work very easily without getting lost in piles and piles of shared documents. Once a student creates or uploads any file, teachers have access to observe and comment. While almost anything can be shared via Google Drive, the easiest way to give feedback from within Google is to type comments on the sides of documents.

In addition to these two tools, we also have Schoology. Instead of creating a single final assignment, teachers create multiple assignments in a folder, with the last one asking for the finished product to be turned in. Anything a student has in Google Drive can be turned in via Schoology. And inside Schoology, teachers can give feedback using text, annotations, voice recordings, and video.

Imagine a classroom full of students turning in a particular assignment to you. You write “Great work!” across the page of a bunch of papers. Or you draw a smiley face. Or you simply check boxes in a rubric. You could have done all these without really telling the students what you think of their work. Now imagine a classroom in which you record a ten second audio message telling the student something about their project. Those are not just words on a page. Students can tell you really liked their work, or not. And it takes no longer than typing or handwriting repetitive, mostly meaningless feedback.

As you see, there is a great area where Teacher Dashboard and Schoology overlap, but the tools are both necessary and useful. I have put together a handy cheat sheet outlining the differences and similarities between the two. Below is the portion related to feedback. If you would like the full sheet, I’ve made that available, too.

Now it is your turn to provide some feedback for me.

What do you think of these tools? What can I do to help you incorporate their use into your everyday teaching routine?


At the end of January I had the good fortune to attend the MiTE conference in Galway, Ireland. I’ve been trying to figure out how to synthesize everything I saw and heard into a coherent blog post. It is hard because all the information I harvested is hard to sort. Some of it will help me when I’m working with students, some when I’m working with teachers, and some is stuff I’d love to share with instructional leaders in Goochland. But, despite much of it having very distinct audiences, it is all interconnected.

So, MiTE focused on teacher preparation. More specifically, in the use of mobile technologies in teacher preparation, the affordances, the possibilities, and difficulties in changing the mindset of pre- and in-service teachers. One of the topics that stood out for me was reflection. Student teachers and teachers taking additional graduate classes are asked to record video of themselves teaching. The teachers then watch the video and record their own comments as an additional audio track over the video. The observations and comments are based on what is in the video rather than on recollection of the events in the classroom. The video captures the teacher’s instruction along with student responses and behavior. It creates a record that can be referenced multiple times, and it can also be shared in mentoring relationships.

This past week I learned that the Language Arts department at GHS, on their own, decided to make and share videos of themselves teaching. Because I answered a few questions about video formats and sharing, I ended up hearing some of what the teachers thought of the exercise. It was very interesting to hear the teachers’ comments after watching themselves on the screen. Most importantly, it was impressive to hear how teachers set goals for themselves based on what they thought could be improved.

What if this could be incorporated into Goochland’s roadmap towards our goal to transforming instruction and fostering deeper learning?


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