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Tag: collaboration (page 1 of 2)

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.



By the way….I’m INSANE about the teacher dashboard.  The amount of info it gives you is incredible.  I don’t have to worry about logging in to a million different accounts when there is a question.  It’s so convenient.

Sometimes we find a good tool. Sometimes we find an insane tool. I’m very happy we have Hapara’s Teacher Dashboard, and if we judge by the above quote, so is Mrs. Abbott.

We have been using Google Docs for about four years now, but there has always been a high entry point for this tool. Teachers must feel comfortable organizing files in folders and tracking who is sharing what where. With Teacher Dashboard, all that becomes so easy you can get started in just a few minutes.

Head over to John Hendron’s blog and watch the video. Let me know if you would like my help. I know you are going to like this.

For the Win!

What happens when we collaborate and use our creativity? We win!

Last Friday, April 5, Follett announced the winners of the Follett Challenge, a competition in which schools participate to receive funding for equipment and supplies. The prizes go to schools that demonstrate the success of innovative and creative activities centered around their media center. The application process includes writing a wide range of essays answering questions that introduce judges to the best qualities of each school’s staff and initiatives. The centerpiece of the application process is a video that is shared on the Follett website for all visitors to view.


We worked very hard on all our essays, but the video was a great collaborative effort that included the marching band, students, teachers, and administrators. Everyone gave their time for the benefit of the school, and it certainly paid off. Months after we first sat down to discuss how to highlight the importance of our LMC in the life of the school, we heard we had been awarded the fourth place prize among 115 participating schools. Of course, we had hoped for the grand prize, but we are very happy to have won.

But this is not the end of this. We have seen what other schools are doing, and we are borrowing their ideas. One of my favorite initiatives was shared by another Challenge winner school, Seneca High School. Their video (link to Follett Challenge video) highlights their One Book / One School initiative and how students rallied and became a more close-knit community by sharing activities centered around a book. I would love to try this at GHS.

This was a memorable experience that will continue to benefit our school. I’m very proud to have been a part of it.

Accidental Discovery

Earlier this week, John Hendron and I were in my office working on a video when Mrs. Abbott (blog) came to visit. I had asked her to stop by so we could install the Reflection app on her laptop and show her how to use it with the iPads in her room.

After I launched the application, I picked up my iPad off my desk to activate mirroring. John, who was across the room from me, wanted to be the one to show the apps on his iPad, and he had also grabbed his iPad.  We looked at each other and it was a challenge. Who can do this first?

We hit the button, and it turns out, we BOTH mirrored our iPads. Neither of us knew we could do that. What a nice surprise.

Now I have this new option to share with teachers and students. Imagine the possibilities. The teacher and a student comparing how they’ve done something and sharing with the class. Two students presenting a complex project involving multiple apps…

These little accidental discoveries are always so much fun.



This year we have some really great G21 projects in the works. One I especially like is Mrs. Rohrer’s Fireworks project inspired by Katy Perry’s song Firework.

Mrs. Rohrer and her students are creating an awards program for Goochland Middle School to recognize students who are trailblazers, fireworks who inspire others to be fireworks themselves.

From determining the criteria for selecting award recipients, to selecting the awards committee, to designing and producing the awards themselves in their ceramics class, the students are in control of this project. They are even coordinating with the yearbook committee to dedicate a page to this year’s winners, the inaugural cohort of the GMS Fireworks.

The students are helping to establish something that will remain long after they have left GMS. In the process, they are examining the qualities that make their peers outstanding citizens of the middle school world, building empathy and working collaboratively. Maybe someone should let Katy Perry know what she’s inspired these kids to do.

Aggregators and the Roundness of the Earth

I often urge teachers to make good use of news aggregators to find cool stuff without having to go everywhere. I like skimming over Google News and Popurls (not always safe for school) when I’m using a desktop of laptop, and rely shamelessly on Flipboard when I’m holding my iPad. I could never keep up with the news like I do if I had to visit each website represented in just those three individually, and those are not the only three I there are.

For example, this morning I came across the story of Eratosthenes on Wired.

Eratosthenes was an all-around guy, a Renaissance man centuries before the Renaissance. Some contemporaries called him Pentathalos, a champion of multiple skills. The breadth of his knowledge made him a natural for the post of librarian of the library of Alexandria, Egypt, the greatest repository of classical knowledge.   His detractors, however, mocked Eratosthenes as a jack-of-all-trades and master of none. They called him Beta, because he came in second in every category.

The article goes on to explain how Eratosthenes figured out the Earth is round, how big it is, how far it tilts on its axis as the season pass, and how long a year is.

I don’t think this is in any elementary textbook I’ve ever seen, but the story is full of starting points for discussions where kids would have to think critically. Not only that. Eratosthenes based his findings on observations kids could make today in school. If we observe shadows on a particular day, at noon, and connect via Skype to a school north or south of us, the kids would get a chance to see the effects of a round Earth for themselves.

Yes, this is a great example, but there are many out there. Looking beyond textbooks to find relevant content is easy with technology. Then, of course, share with other teachers using Diigo, Twitter, your blog, or whatever tool you feel most comfortable using.

Update: Just minutes after publishing this post, I found a fun resource explaining the physics of a falling slinky. Great video, great explanations, and again, the kind of thing you don’t find in textbooks.


Google and Moodle

Many of our teachers are now using Moodle and Google. Some use both, but many use one or the other. I think using both is the best approach.

I recently saw this cute video showing how the two tools integrate so well with one another. It is an advertisement for a consulting firm that helps schools with technology. We don’t need to hire them. We have two in-house people with lots of experience, right?

If you are interested in using these tools with your students, let us know. John Hendron and I are here to help.

Using Google Apps in Moodle from Webanywhere on Vimeo.

Don’t Mess Up My Document!

We have been using Google Docs with our students for close to two years now, and one of the advantages I love most is the ability to peer edit documents. As valuable as this is, some students resent others mucking about in their work.

This week Google introduced a new feature that is perfect for peer editing. Now users can give others comment-only access to documents. Read more about it on the Google Docs Blog.

Screen shot 2011-09-15 at 10.18.57 AM

Skype in the Classroom

Are you interested in collaborating with teachers around the world? Sign up for Skype in the Classroom and start making contacts.

After years of advocating for Skype, I am very happy to see this development come about.

Data Collection = Friend Collection

A few minutes ago I saw a tweet from @jutecht asking his followers to help a teacher collect data on weather for a math project. I followed his link and landed at Ms. Chesebro’s Grade 3 class blog. I left my comment letting the class know our weather was cool and partly cloudy, and then I poked about for a bit. I really liked the blog. There was information for students, parents, and colleagues alike. Not only that, the blog gave me, all the way here in the United States, a very good idea of what happens in a third grade classroom in Bangkok.

I will definitely visit Ms. Chesebro’s blog again, and maybe I can introduce our own 3rd grade teachers and students to them. It would be so much fun to collaborate on a project with kids so far away!

One last thing. I noticed a visitor counter on the blog that shows the flags of the countries where visitors are. I’ve added that one to my widgets. I know many flags, but this gives me one more opportunity to learn any I don’t know. I hope other teachers here in Goochland will add the flag counter to their blogs, too.

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