Tuesday, December 2, 2014

3d History Project/Contest

Here's a great opportunity I just saw on Twitter from an organization called 3D Vermont.  I've seen what students in Hartford, VT did with this and it's really impressive (see the video below).

In their words:


Hidden within the small valleys of Vermont are historical treasures - beautiful buildings with a past as rich as their architecture. Using the 3D modeling software Sketchup and 3D printing technology, the Town History in 3D Competition will bring Vermont historical buildings and their amazing past to life.

High School and middle school students from around the state will be challenged to work in teams to research and recreate 3D models of historical buildings in their area. In the process they will uncover and document the history of buildings and create a multimedia presentation to accompany their printed 3D models.

All completed models and their accompanying multimedia presentations will be entered into a statewide spring invitational showcase where they will be judged for their technical mastery, architectural accuracy and historical research and presentation.
More info is at  http://3dvermont.org/

Here's what Hartford did:

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Digging Into Data with Google Sheets and Forms

I did a presentation at a recent conference on using Google Sheets and Forms to work with data.  I've been in to several math classes helping students learn the basics (and beyond) of the spreadsheet as a tool for analyzing data, exploring patterns, creating graphs, and modeling problems.  Here are the slides from my presentation.  If there is something in here that you'd like to see in you class, let me know!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Using PiktoChart in presentation mode

Do you use PiktoChart?  I've posted about this great tool for creating infographics.  Recently, I learned something new about PiktoChart from a student...
Groups were presenting in my computer programming class.  Most used Google presentations or Prezis, but one group surprised me by using PiktoChart.  It turns out that there is a now a "Presentation Mode" that shows one block of the infographic at a time in a nice, clean interface.  It worked great for the presentation they were doing.

You can try it here (click on Presentation Mode on the upper right):

Friday, October 31, 2014

The dreaded "You need permission" in Google docs

We've all had the experience when someone sends you the link to a document, you click to open it, and...

(cue sad trombone music)
If you're a teacher whose students send you links to Google documents, you can avoid this problem by setting up shared folders.  I posted last fall about how shared folders work.  Once the folder is shared, any document created in that folder (or added to the folder), is automatically shared in the same way.

There are several ways to accomplish this:

  1. Have students create the folders manually and share them with you.  
  2. Create the folders yourself and share with each student.
  3. Use a tool like GClassFolders (I used this with class today and it went great) or Doctopus.
The advantage of method #3 is that the folders are all created with a uniform naming convention and placed in a larger folder for ease of access.  The teacher is the owner of each folder, with each student being an editor of the appropriate folder. 

I'd be happy to help you set this up.  It only takes a few minutes!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Saving WeVideo to Google Drive

WeVideo is a great web-based video editor that connects with Google Drive (here's an earlier post about it). Here are some tips on saving (and sharing) videos you create in Google Drive

  1. Before starting to use WeVideo, go to Google Drive, click Create, then Connect More Apps.  Search for WeVideo and add it.
  2. You can now start a new video project by going to Google Drive, Create, and choosing WeVideo. As you work on WeVideo projects, the project files will be conveniently saved in Google Drive (see the last pic below).
  3. When you are ready to share your final product…
  4. Click Publish and give it a title.
Uploaded by Awesome Screenshot Extension
  1. Click the Google Drive icon.  Also, change visibility to private. Publish.
Uploaded by Awesome Screenshot Extension

  1. You will now see the finalized video in your Drive.  The format will be mp4.  Note that this is different from the project file.  Share the video as you would any Google Doc.  You will  get a URL that you can e-mail, post to Moodle, etc.
Uploaded by Awesome Screenshot Extension

Note that you get up to 15 minutes of download time per month.  This is usually plenty, but it’s best not to publish until you’re confident that the video is in final form.  Note that the other “My PSA” file above (the one that doesn’t say mp4) is the WeVideo project file (that can still be edited).

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides

You have probably noticed that Google now has separate apps for Drive, Docs, Sheets, and Slides.  Nick fixed the link in Moodle and updated the icons, however it's possible that you may end up in a strange place wondering what happened to Drive.  So, here's what you need to know:

Google Drive is where you will find all of your documents, whether they're Google text documents (Docs), presentations (Slides), spreadsheets (Sheets), forms, or any other type of file (remember-- you can use Google Drive to store and share any kind of file.  In fact, the video below is stored in--and shared from-- Google Drive).

If you have GMail (or any other Google app) open, you can use the App Launcher (3 x 3 icon) to get to Drive.  If you end up in the Docs app and want to get to Drive, use the menu in the upper left.  Below is a 50-second video explaining this.

The information in the video is still accurate, although you can now use the new Drive icon.

Friday, September 12, 2014

More ways to get video from your iPhone or iPad to a PC

Using your iOS device to capture video and need it to get it onto a PC* at school?  Last year I postedmethod of using Google Drive to do this.  I heard back from some students that the process could take a long time.

So, here are some other approaches:

1. Find the USB cable that attaches to your phone or iPad (best if it's the one from Apple) and plug it into your computer.  Click Computer in the Start Menu and look for an icon for the device.  Right-click on this and choose Import pictures and videos.  Note: this method does not always work.  If it doesn't, try restarting your device, or using a different cable or USB port.

2. Use a wireless transfer app.  I just used WiFi Album (free version) and it worked great.

3. If you don't need to actually save the video on your computer (but just need to share it), you can also simply upload to YouTube.  Lots of sites let you then incorporate the video from YouTube.  To do this, click the share icon and choose YouTube.  Once it's on YouTube, you can edit, as necessary.  You can make the video unlisted, but don't set it to private if your intent is to use it on a website or other project.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

GradeQuick Unit Reporting (for teachers)

For teachers using GradeQuick, here are tips on creating end-of-unit or interim reports.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Google Maps how-to

Here's a nice, simple "cheat sheet" for  doing more with Google Maps, including ideas for using Maps in your class.  Thanks to Jennifer Judkins for the share.


Friday, September 5, 2014

Updates to Google Apps

Here are some changes you'll notice soon in Google Apps:

  1. It's now easier to share a document, presentation, or sheet with someone.  When you click share, you will (soon) see a button that says "Get shareable link."  This link automatically gives viewing rights to anyone you send it to.
  2. Google Forms now lets you create a custom theme.  That's just plain fun-- and it lets you decide you want your form to look!
  3. Need to insert a special character (like a non-Latin character or an arrow) into your doc?  Go to the Insert menu. You can even draw the character you want to use and it will search for you. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Adding Google Docs to Multiple Folders

Q: Can I add a single Google Doc to more than one folder?
A: Yes!  Rather than dragging the file into a folder, check the box next to the file, then click the folder icon at the top.  Hold down the Ctrl key (Windows) or Command key (Mac) as you check each folder to add the doc to.

Note that you are not making copies of the file when doing this.  It is the same document going into each folder, so any changes you make in one place will carry over to the others.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Resetting Your Moodle Course

Before starting a new term, you may want to clean up the content in your courses.

  • You can hide activities (or entire topics) from view by clicking the "eye" icon.  
  • You can also delete items entirely with the "X" icon.

You can also "reset" your course, as follows:
If you want to keep a forum, database, feedback, or other activity but delete the posts or data in that activity (essentially, "clear it out"), you can use the Reset feature of Moodle.

Click "Reset" under Administration, then choose the activities from which to clear data.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

gMath creates graphs in Google Docs

Need to insert a mathematical graph into a Google doc?  Now you can, without having to copy and paste.  Try the gMath add-on for Google Drive (go to Add-ons...Get add-ons, then search for it) . One limitation is that it only graphs from -10 to 10 in both x and y.

 It also has an equation editor, but that requires LaTeX, which is harder than just using the built-in equation editor (Go to Insert..Equation).

Also, there is now the ability to insert graphs into Google spreadsheets and forms, which could be useful to create an assessment.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Simple animation technique for presentations

When creating a series of slides in Powerpoint, Google Presentations/Slides, Keynote, etc., it is often effective to have elements appear one at a time (as opposed to all at once).  These applications have the ability to apply those kinds of animations on slides, but there's another very easy way to accomplish the same effect.
  • Create the final version of the slide (with all the text, images, etc. on it)
  • Make several copies of that slide 
  • Moving back through the slides, selectively remove elements
Here it is in action:

And here is a very short screencast on how to do it:

Thursday, May 22, 2014

End of course surveys in Moodle


As in the past, there is now a template in Moodle that you can copy (and edit, if desired) to create an anonymous end-of-course instructional feedback survey.

Here’s how:

1. Turn editing on and create a new activity in your course.  Choose “Feedback.”

2. Name and describe it however you like. Then click Save and Display
3. Click the Templates tab at the top, choose “Instructional Feedback Survey Template” in the pulldown menu and click “Use this template.”

4. On the next screen, just click “Save changes.”

5. You will now see the default survey questions from past years.  You may add your own items, as desired (by clicking the Select pull-down menu).

Questions? See Charlie in 127.


Monday, May 19, 2014

Summary of Dynamic Landscapes Ed Tech Conference 2014

Dynamic Landscapes 2014 was held this past Thursday and Friday at Champlain College.  DL is the annual spring Ed Tech conference co-sponsored by VITA-Learn (the state ed tech group) and VSLA (the librarians' association).  It always seems to come at a difficult time of year for people, so I'd love to figure out how we can get more teachers to attend next year-- but in the mean time, here are my notes and take-aways.

First off, as has become the norm for these conferences, most presenters include links and/or downloads to their session resources, so I encourage you to browse the schedule and click on a session of  interest to see what's available (as an example, I just clicked on "Using Technology for Personal Learning Plans" and found this helpful presentation).

Another way to attend a conference vicariously is through Twitter.  The image below shows just a few tweets during Joyce Valenza's keynote.  Note how the hashtag #vted (Vermont education) and her ID @joycevalenza are used to make them easy to find.

Here are the slides from the keynote

Unitentional FilmFest

More PowerPoint presentations from Joyce Valenza

OK, my big takeaways...

 If you haven't already experienced it, the Maker movement has blossomed in schools.  There was a "Maker room" at the conference that featured students showing projects they'd done (above) and giving participants an opportunity to look at and play with some tools, including a 3D printer and soft circuit projects.  One of the sessions I attended featured a class at South Burlington HS in which students dream up projects, then bring them to life.

I went a session where schools that had just undergone the SBAC field test reported out on what they learned from the experience.  Overall, it seems to have gone well on the tech side.  Obviously, the more students use technology on a regular basis, the more comfortable they are applying it in different settings.  Our own sophomores practiced on the Math SBAC test this past Thursday.  There will be practice tests next year leading up to the spring assessment.  More information will be available once the field tests have all been completed.

Personalized learning (including the aforementioned PLPs) was also a theme.  Although I wasn't at the session, I heard that Mt. Abraham UHS did an excellent job presenting the work they've done in this area.

I'll stop here, but please stop me if you'd like to chat about the conference some more.  Thanks for reading this far!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Editing images directly in Google Docs

Here's a nice improvement to Google Apps.  You can now crop and add borders to images in Google Documents, Presentations, and Drawings.  Here's an under-two-minute(!) screencast on how to do it:

Friday, May 9, 2014

Using Shared Folders in Google Drive

How can I create a folder that all students in my class can access (and contribute to)?

(note-- after writing this post, it dawned on me that I had already written a very similar post back in October! I'm posting this one, anyway, as it has more detailed step-by-step, but here's a link to the older post-- which includes a screencast and a link to GClassFolders, a more sophisticated tool for creating shared folders in Drive).

This is easy to do in Google Drive.  Once you create and share the folder, any files added to the folder are shared, as well.

To do this:

1. Go to Google Drive, click Create... Folder
Inline image 1

2. Name it
Inline image 2

3. Once the folder is created, find it in My Drive, click on it, and click the Share icon (the person with the + sign).
Inline image 3

4. In the screen that pops up, you have two options:

  • If you want the folder to be visible to your students, you can change Private to Anyone with the link.  Then just provide the link to your students (for example, on your Moodle page).
  • If you want to invite only your students and/or allow students to add files to the folder, paste in their e-mail addresses where it says Invite people.  
Inline image 4

  • You can tell which folders are shared by the person inside the folder icon.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Two iPad note-taking apps free today

For those students and teachers who use iPads, here's a heads-up that two nice note taking apps are free today in the App Store. These are each normally $4.99. The first is Notability. Notability is a versatile app that lets you take notes with handwriting (it actually makes my penmanship look better than it is!) or by keyboard. It is quite popular. The other is a newer kid on the block. It's called NoteLedge. I don't know much about this one, but I just downloaded it and will try to out. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Socrative student response system

I've written before about PollEverywhere, which allows students to use their phones (or any internet-
connected device) to answer questions (and allows the teacher to see the results immediately--and display them, if desired).  This type of student response system is excellent for doing a quick check-in for understanding, taking a poll, or posting students' text responses to the screen.

There's another app out there that is geared more towards the educational setting.  It's called Socrative.  You can use it for "on the fly" type of questioning, quizzes including different types of questions, or exit tickets. We saw it in action on a recent visit to Burlington HS.  The teacher was looking at the results in real-time on his iPad as students worked their way through a formative assessment he had created. This is definitely worth trying.  It is free (for now, at least).

I'd be happy to help you get started!

Here's a quick look:

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

PowerPoints in Google Drive

As you probably know, two popular choices for presentations are Google Presentations and Microsoft PowerPoint.  Google Presentations are great because they are so easy to collaborate on and share.  One reason that you might use PowerPoint,. however, would be if you needed to incorporate sound or advanced animations in the presentation.  The question then is, how do I share my PowerPoint?

Answer: you can use Google Drive to store and share PowerPoints, without converting them into Google Presentations. So, if you have a PowerPoint that has embedded sound or other special elements that aren't available in Google Presentations, here's how you can share them:

1. Open Google Drive and click on the Settings icon (looks like a gear).

2. From there, choose "Confirm settings before each upload" as shown.

You will only need to this once and the settings will stick.

3. Click the upload icon to upload your PowerPoint.
4. Find your file and upload it.  You will get the message shown below.  Do not check the box that says "Convert documents..."

5. You can now share the file as you would any Google doc.  For the people on the other end to have the full effect (including sound, for example), they will need to download it, using the arrow icon shown.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Posting via the phone

I'm just trying out the Blogger app for iOS. Here's some old technology I found in my office

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Editing video in the cloud (WeVideo and YouTube)

I recently posted about sharing video.  A question that I'm often asked is what tool to use for editing video.  Certainly, iMovie is popular on Macs and you can use Windows MovieMaker on PCs.  For more sophisticated editing, head over to the media lab (118) and work with Adobe Premiere Elements.

But did you know that you can edit video in the cloud?   There are two web-based solutions you should know about.  The first is WeVideo.  It's completely cloud-based and you can link it to your Google Drive to store and share videos.  Check out this quick demo I just made in WeVideo:

Here's an overview from WeVideo

The other web-based tool is the YouTube video editor.  It's quite basic, but will allow you to combine videos and do simple editing.

Here's a how-to.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Google Tools for Schools summer courses

Here's another summer opportunity.  Google Tools for Schools is taught by local educators who really know their way around Google Apps in the classroom.  More info is here.

Sharing video from your phone or tablet

Have you ever used your phone or table to record video, then gotten stuck sharing it?
Frustrated with trying to email video to yourself, only to have it broken up into small clips?  
There’s a better way!

Use Google Drive.


  1. Download the (free) Google Drive app. (iOS , Android)
  2. To sign into Drive with your school Google account, see IT to set your password (if you haven’t already).  You can also use a personal Google account.
  3. In the Drive app, click the + sign to upload.
  4. Choose the video from your Camera Roll.

You can share right from the app, but only with specific people (to do this, click on the grey “i” icon, then Sharing).  
If you want to share with “anyone with the link” (which is how I prefer to do it), just hop on a computer, log into Google Drive and do it from there.

Drive ipad.png

Remember-- you can store and share any kind of file in Google Drive.  One nice thing about putting video there is that it plays right in the browser (just like YouTube).

Questions?  See Charlie in 127 or cmacfadyen@cvuhs.org

Monday, March 31, 2014

Google Plus for Professional Development

Curious about Google Plus? Last week, I was sending out some resources and realized that they all came from Google Plus (one from a mathematics community I belong to, another from a Vermont educator I follow, etc.).  So I decided to do a screencast.

 I find Google + to be an excellent tool for professional development.  Why is this?

  1. Many educators use Google Plus for professional purposes, because they already have Facebook for personal stuff like vacation pics and videos of kittens.
  2. Unlike Facebook, Google Plus allows you to easily choose who sees what.  You can also join communities that are dedicated to specific topics (such as pedagogy or your content area).

I made the screencast to give you a short tour and show you what it's all about.  I'd also be happy to show you one-on-one.

Note that you will need to logged into CVU GMail or Moodle to view this.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Dynamic Landscapes 2014

Registration is now open for Dynamic Landscapes 2014.  This is the Ed Tech Conference sponsored by VITA-Learn and VSLA.  This year has more of a "maker" theme.
Check it out here.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

SOLEs (Student Organized Learning Experiences) at School in the Cloud

Here's a lesson plan design called SOLE.  It's about asking a "big question" then staying out of the way as students tackle it.  The review session at the end pulls it all together.  Check it out at School in the Cloud.

What makes a good Big Question? from School in the Cloud on Vimeo.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Khan Academy SAT prep course

Dear students,
You've probably heard of Khan Academy (instructional videos on all kinds of topics).  And pretty definitely heard of the SAT.  These two have come together on a free SAT prep course. Check it out here.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Google Docs introduces add-ons!

Do you wish you could track changes in Google Docs like you can in Word?  Would you like the ability to add voice comments to a Google Doc?  Or write music inside the doc?

Now you can.  Google Docs has introduced add-ons.  Next time you have a (text) document open in Drive, look for the new menu.  Check out the options.  I'd recommend starting with Kaizena and Track Changes.  I'd love to know what people find.  Please share!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Using Google Maps/Earth in the classroom

There are lots of great applications for Google Maps/Earth in the classroom.  Science classes can plan out natural areas (check out the CVU example below), English classes can go on "lit trips" (seeing the actual places described in a novel), math classes can explore the geometry of the "real world," etc.
Richard Byrne-- the author of the amazing Free Technology for Teachers blog-- has posted several helpful resources in a recent post.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Moodle e-mail settings for students and teachers

Dear students and teachers,
Here are instructions for setting up Moodle so that you get the forum e-mails you need and don't get the ones you don't.

STUDENT VIDEO (note: you must be logged into CVU Gmail or Moodle to view):


FACULTY VIDEO (note: you must be logged into CVU Gmail or Moodle to view):


3/3/14 Faculty Meeting

Dear teachers,
Here is the presentation from the faculty meeting yesterday for you review. Please note that you need to be signed into your CVU GMail (or Moodle) to view the presentation:

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Tools for presenting learning

Students, here are some ideas for tools you can use to present your learning.  I wrote it up for a specific class, but thought it might be useful as a general resources.  I've given a brief description and pros and cons of each tool.  Do you have any other tools that you think should be on this list?  Please let me know at cmacfadyen@cvuhs.org

Tech Tools for Presenting Your Learning

What it is- set of linked slides
Pros- you probably know how to use it already.  It has lots of features to enhance your presentation.  
Cons- doesn’t work well with YouTube video.

Google Presentation.
What it is- set of linked slides
Pros- web-based, easy to use.  Incorporates YouTube video.
Cons- no sound (other than from video).  Not as fully-featured as Powerpoint.

What it is- a canvas with elements that are linked by a path.
Pros- allows for a creative path between elements, including zooming in and out. Has nice templates to start from.
Cons- Not great for lots of text.

What it is- a set of linked slides, but with animated features on each slide.
Pros- Professional looking and engaging.  You can control when things appear and disappear from slides.
Cons- Can’t do narration slide-by-slide. Only for the whole presentation.

What it is-  use your iPad to record your screen
Pros- record while you draw on the iPad.  Can also import images and add text.
Cons- Can’t run other apps while recording.

What it is- a tool for creating timelines.  
Pros- you can add multimedia to events on the timeline
Cons- Limited to content that is time-based (dates).

What it is- comic strip creator.
Pros- sophisticated control of the character drawings.
Cons- not the easiest to use.  Need parent permission for account unless you’re 19.

What it is- comic strip creator
Pros- Easy to use.  Supports multi-languages, including Latin.  Comic strips can be printed or e-mailed
Cons- comics cannot be saved, so they need to be done in one shot.  Best to have the dialogue written out first, so you can just do the pictures and add in the text.

What it is- online digital poster creator
Pros- Easy to use. Incorporates video and images easily.
Cons- Limited space on poster.  

What it is- online video editor
Pros- Nice editor. Easy to use. Make videos from still pictures and video clips
Cons- web-based, so you want decent wifi connection.  Can export 15 minutes of video per month with free account

Google Sites
What it is- create a web site with linked pages
Pros- can insert all kinds of content (video, Google Docs, maps, etc)
Cons- Hard to incorporate sound.

PhotoStory (for PC computers)
What it is- upload a series of images and add narration/commentary
Pros- easy to use, can record your voice directly into the app
Cons- No video.  Limited functionality.

What it is- like Photostory, except you can put multiple comments on each slide.
Pros- web-based, mutlti-media can draw on screen to highlight while speaking
Cons- Intended more for group conversations than individual presentations.

iMovie (mac computers and iOS)
What it is- movie editor
Pros- It’s already on your mac.  Has templates you can use.
Cons- Titles and other elements can be hard to work with.  Not easy if you want to do more than use the template.

Windows MovieMaker (PC computers)
What it is- movie editor
Pros- Easy to use
Cons- Limited features.

MonkeyJam (PC computers)
What it is- stop motion animation software
Pros- create animation using legos, clay, etc.
Cons- I don’t know this software well, so…

GarageBand (mac computers)
What it is- audio recorder and editor
Pros- Lots of prerecorded “loops” for background music. Easy to use.
Cons- Interface can be challenging for beginners.

What it is- audio recorder and editor
Pros- free download.  Lots of features.
Cons- Need to learn how to work with multiple tracks and importing audio, if needed.  No pre-installed “loops” (as in GarageBand)