Shrewsbury EdTech

Tech resources for Shrewsbury Public School educators


Leave a comment

Google Drive Issue

You may have noticed that many students and staff are having issues with files not appearing in the Google Drive app. I have a shared Google Drive folder with students and, for some reason, new files that I’ve added are not appearing in the folder. It’s as if the folder can’t refresh to show these new files.

It’s a known issue, and Google is aware of the problem. So far, the only thing that seems to fix the problem is to delete and reinstall the Google Drive app. However, this is not a permanent fix. Some students have done this a few times, but the issue keeps happening.
I reached out to Greg Kulowiec from EdTechTeacher. He suggested a different approach. Rather than delete the app, just have students sign out of their account, then sign back in. This too seems to fix the problem. I’m not sure yet if it’s a permanent fix or not, but it’s worth a try. Hopefully, Google will get this resolved soon!
Advertisements


1 Comment

Five Notability Features You May or May Not Know About

I’ve been using iPads in my classroom for almost two months now. As much as I’m trying try “modify” and “redesign” learning with the iPad, I’ll be honest in saying most of the day-to-day work involves Notability. I wasn’t a huge fan of Notability at first. However, I’m becoming more of a fan as I see just what it’s capable of doing. Sure, students can add typed text and handwritten notes to PDFs, but there’s so much more.

1. Add pictures

This may not sound like a huge deal, but it’s become very handy in my science classroom. Not only can they insert images, but they can crop the photo from within the app itself. We have already had a few science investigations where students must make observations, collect data, and analyze that data. They intuitively take photos to document their observations. They have taken pictures of density columns, white powders (to help identify them at a later date), bowling balls floating in water, etc. The best part, something I’m not accustomed to, is they then refer back to those images as evidence for the lab. We use a “claim, evidence, reasoning” framework for science labs. When referring to data as evidence, students will take a screen shot of their data tables and/or their graphs, crop the photos, then highlight the specific data they want to use. It works very well.

2. Back up to Google Drive

I know many Sherwood teachers already know about this feature, but I just learned it a few weeks ago. One potential drawback to using an app like Notability is that if the iPad gets lost/stolen or destroyed, the data may be lost. There is a way to have all of their notes automatically backed up Google Drive! It’s easy to set up (see link below for instructions), and students can set up a folder to save everything to. They can also decide whether to save everything as a “note” or a PDF file. When I had my students set this up two weeks ago, I noticed about half of them had already done this in 5th or 6th grade. We created a new “8th grade” folder so they were organized. One of the best parts about this is that it automatically creates subfolders based on notebooks in Notability. If they have a different notebook for ELA, Math, Social Studies, and Science, then those four subfolders would automatically be created. Then, just like the good ‘ol Ronco rotisserie, you just set it and forget it!

Read this blog post to learn how to set this up on student iPads.

3. Add or delete pages

This may not be a feature that gets used very often, but it’s very useful when it is needed. I gave my students a lab handout as a PDF last week that was still formatted the same as last year. As a result, there were two pages of “class data tables” where students used to copy data down from other groups in class. Since all class data was shared this year using Google Spreadsheets, those two pages were no longer needed. Students asked if they could delete the pages from the PDF. I said yes, not really believing they could do that. Sure enough, they could. I have also seen a few students add on a page if they need more space to answer a question or add more photos/drawings.

4. Merge PDFs

I just stumbled upon this feature a few days ago. The 8th grade science teachers are having students research a manufactured object. They must research the materials that are used to make that object, focusing on the intensive properties of those materials, to determine why those specific materials are used. Students will communicate their learning by writing a magazine article. As teachers, we hope to combine all of these articles together into a digital magazine of sorts that can then be shared with parents. After looking into many options, the easiest way of doing this (I think) is to have all students share their final PDF with the teacher, who can then use Notability to easily merge them all together.

5. View Google Presentations

I showed a Google Presentation in class not too long ago. I planned on having students download the new Google Slides app so they could read along on their iPads. Before I had the chance to tell them this, a few students had already opened the presentation in Notability. Not only could follow along with the slides, but they could mark up the slides!! Granted most students did not take advantage of this, but I plan on adapting future presentations to make them more interactive for students. I’m not sure if this feature also works for Keynote or PowerPoint presentations, but it’s definitely worth trying!


Leave a comment

Ed Tech Resources – October 14th, 2013

As technology teacher leaders, we are always looking for tech tips to share with you. My two main curation tools for doing this have been Feedly and Twitter. Feedly is a news aggregator that replaced Google Reader some time ago. I subscribe to many different blogs that share ideas on education, education technology, science, etc. The feeds for each blog gets sent directly to my Feedly account. Every other week or so, I scroll through all of the recent blog posts and read the ones that sound interesting. Depending on what it is, I may bookmark that particular article on Diigo or share it on Twitter. 

I also follow numerous educators, administrators, and products directly on Twitter. Every once in a while, I will scroll through my Twitter feed, looking for relevant information. Once I find something I like, I again either bookmark the information or “re-tweet” it on Twitter. 
So, what does this mean? Two things. First, if you use Twitter, you can follow me (@mrmularella) to see the resources I am sharing. My Twitter feed can be found here. You will notice I rarely tweet myself! Second, many future blog posts will just be a collection of online resources for you to explore. Rather than write one tip myself, it’s much easier and quicker to share online resources written by others (who frankly do a much better job than me anyway). 

iOS 7 Resources
The new iPhone/iPad operating system was released about a month ago. Before you have students update their iPad (wait until you hear from Alex!!), we recommend you learn a bit more about this new OS. It can take some getting used to at first. 

Google Drive Resources


Other Resources


Leave a comment

Sharing Folders in Google Drive using Class Groups (revisited)

This was shared with you last year, but it’s so helpful that we wanted to share it again… 
Most teachers seem to be using Google Drive to share handouts with students. Google Drive is an online “cloud” storage system that also includes the “Google Docs” productivity suite (Docs, Spreadsheets, and Presentations). In order to share resources with students, two things must happen. First, you must put the files in your Google Drive folder. Then, you must find a way of sharing the files with students. The easiest way of doing this is to create a Google Drive folder for all of your handouts.(This folder can have subfolders for different units. All subfolders within your main folder are also shared with the students.) 
In the sharing settings, you have numerous options. I always make my folder “public on the web”. This allows others to search for your folder (though it’s nearly impossible to find). It’s just my science handouts, and I am happy to share with others. You will be fine choosing any option except “Private”.    
Next, you will need to share it with your classes. Last year, I spent around 30 minutes typing all 120 student names and sharing my folder individually with each student. Now though, there is a MUCH simpler way to do this. Since all students have school Google accounts, you can share with a “class group”. The folder is then shared with all students in that class group! As you can see in the image below, I shared my “Science Docs” folder with the class group for all of my science students. .
The class groups are generated through PowerSchool. This means it constantly gets updated as your PowerSchool rosters get updated. If you gain a new student in January, your handouts are automatically shared with them!  Read Brian L’Heureux’s blog post on the SLN (will need to log in) that explains where to find these class group codes in PowerSchool. 
Important note #1: The class group code in the blog post starts with “1213” because it is from last year. Your class group code should begin with “1314”. 
Important note #2: Make sure your students only have “can view” privileges. You do NOT want to give your students “can edit” access. If you do, they can alter/delete all of your files!!


Leave a comment

Technology Resources on Learnist

First, for all of the new teachers at Oak and Sherwood…welcome to Shrewsbury! We are the Technology Teacher Leaders (TTLs) for Oak and try our best to send out “tech tips” that we think will be helpful in the classroom. Tech Tips from the last few years can all be found on our blog. If you have any tech-related questions, please feel free to send us an email!

Since Derek and I are no longer the Oak yearbook advisors (position is still up for grabs!), we hope to have more free time to blog this year. Please contact us if you have a tech tip request or, even better, if you would like to become a contributor to this blog. We still don’t have the 1-to-1 iPad program in the 8th grade so it would be great to recruit some Sherwood teachers and 7th grade teachers. 
One new addition to our tech blog – Deremy 2.0 – are pages that link to collections of resources on Learnist. I wrote about Learnist previously in this blog post. It is a site very similar to Pinterest but more focused on education. It is an excellent tool for curating and sharing online resources with others. Anyway, our goal is to create “learn boards” for different types of technology. So far, we have two learn boards set up: 
When you click on these links, you will find a compilation of resources for both Google Drive and EE. These are the best, most helpful online resources we have found, including relevant posts from our own blog. If you know of other helpful resources that you think should be added, or if you have created something yourself, please share it with us so everyone can benefit!
We will continue to add resources to these two learn boards, and we plan to create new learn boards as well. Let us know if you have recommendations for other iPad apps that you would like for us to compile resources for. The next learn board we plan to create on Learnist will be a list of presentation tools students such as Prezi and Haiku Deck. 
Again, please contact with any questions, comments, or suggestions!
Jeremy Mularella
jmularella@shrewsbury.k12.ma.us
Derek Pizzuto
dpizzuto@shrewsbury.k12.ma.us
Deremy 2.0 blog: smstechtips.blogspot.com


1 Comment

Traveling Tech Tools

All of our blog posts focus on ways of integrating technology in the middle school classroom. However, there are a lot of uses outside of the classroom as well. This blog post describes how I used utilized technology to make my trip to Iceland such a success.

Planning the Trip

My two friends and I (one of whom lives in London, England) used messaging on Facebook and a shared Google Doc to plan our trip. My brother’s friend went to Iceland last year and emailed him the itinerary she did. I copied this into the Google Doc and opened it up for feedback. We each did research independently, and I kept track of these sites by bookmarking them using Diigo, which is a social bookmarking tool. I knew I would be bringing my iPhone and iPad on the trip, so these resources could be accessed later on through the Diigo app. With these tools, we were able to come up with a rough idea of what to do each day, as well as book our rooms in a hostel in Reykjavik for the week. 
I purchased my flight through one of the many online dealers. I have not found one to always be better, but this time around, Priceline gave me the best price. The flight itself was through Delta. 
Here are two apps I downloaded ahead of time for my iPhone/iPad along with a description of each:
TripTracker (free)
Get real-time status for flights, real-time itinerary push alerts, live weather reports, route maps, hotel information and car rental information to make your travel a breeze.

Fly Delta (free)

I always download the official airline app. You can check in and get real-time status for your flights. I received a message from them telling me my flight had been delayed and the number of my new gate. 


During the Trip

When traveling overseas, you must be careful not to have “data roaming” enabled. I have read some scary stories of people being charged hundreds of dollars in roaming charges. Always turn “cellular data” off. To be safe, I turn on Airplane Mode. This still allows me to connect to WiFi, but nothing else. Last year on a trip to Italy, I contacted my service provider (AT&T) and purchased a one month international package that let me use cellular networks for roughly $30. The connection was spotty at best so I decided not to do it in Iceland.

Since I rarely was connected to the Internet while traveling, I ditched Google Drive for Evernote. While I could read my Google Docs, I could not edit them. I happen to be an Evernote Premium member, so I can download notebooks and edit them offline. As it turned out, Evernote was very helpful for two main reasons: 

1. I created a note for our budget. Since there were three of us taking turns paying for food, gas, excursions, lodging, etc., we had to make sure we all paid equal amounts. I used Evernote to take photos of receipts, plus noted the amount of every expense throughout our stay.

2. Since we could not access Google Maps as we drove (no WiFi), I looked up all of the places we planned to visit on Google Maps the day before while at the hostel. I then took screen shots of those maps and added them to our Evernote Notebook. If we got lost, we looked at the map and figured out where to go. 

eCurrency ($.99) was another very helpful app. As I mentioned before, the Icelandic currency is confusing. For example, a typical beer costs 1,000 Kronas, which is roughly equivalent to $8. This app lets you quickly and easily convert between any two currencies. The exchange rate is updated daily so you know it’s accurate.

After the Trip

Once my friends and I returned home, our first priority was to share photos with each other. Collectively, we took over 1,000 photos, but hey, Iceland is a beautiful country! We each used a slightly different approach to do this: 

Friend #1: Created a Dropbox folder containing his ~600 pictures and shared it with us. This worked very well until it maxed out the space allowance in my Dropbox account. I could not receive any more photos so my friend had to remove them and add the rest for us to download. 

Friend #2: Created a Google Drive folder containing his ~100 photos. This worked just like the Dropbox route but since I have more storage in Google Drive, I was able to get them all no problem. 

Myself: I put my ~300 photos into a folder on my computer. I then compressed that folder into a zip file. I placed this zip file into a Google Drive folder and shared it with my friends. 

Once I received all of the photos, I sorted through them and placed them into different folders. I used Photoshop to touch up some of the photos. If you do not have Photoshop, there are a lot of free options online such as Pixlr and Aviary

The last step is to back up my photos online and share them with friends. Many people choose to share all of their photos on Facebook. While I did post some photos on my Facebook Timeline, that is not where I would choose to host all of my pictures. For this purpose I choose to use Flickr. This is Yahoo’s photo sharing service and is used by many professional photographers. Not only is it just better than other photo sharing sites, but you can sign up for a FREE account and receive 1 terabyte (TB) of free space.

To put this in perspective…if you have a 5 MP camera, you can upload 700,000 pictures!! No other site comes close to giving you that much space for free. 


3 Comments

Google Drive on the IPad: App vs Browser

Using Google Drive on the IPad can be a bit confusing — there are several different ways to access it, and each has its own pluses and negatives.  After searching the web for a basic guide that could walk me through the App versus access through the web browser versus web in Desktop Mode, I decided it was time to create one.  So, if you’re looking to improve your experience with Google Drive on the IPad, I hope this PDF will come in handy.  I’ve included screen shots below, and you can access / download it here.