Tuesday, May 22, 2018

CK-12 and Google Classroom - great resources that are better together

Assign CK-12 Content Direct to Google Classroom

Did you know you can assign content from CK-12 directly to Google Classroom?

CK-12 has some amazing and diverse resources to help students learn and explore. It is one of my single most favorite resources to share with teachers and students.

You can assign reading material, adaptive practice, videos, simulations, and more from CK-12's standards-aligned content library directly to your students in Google Classroom.
  • Reads
  • Videos
  • Real World Applications (RWAs)
  • Adaptive practice
  • Quizzes
  • Simulations (SIMs)
  • PLIX

Grades are automatically reported to your GradeBook in Google Classroom saving time and effort.

You can connect your existing CK-12 account by signing in, going to account settings and connecting your Google account under "Connected Social Accounts" section.



School is almost out - reflecting on the past year as a teacher

We are quickly approaching the end of the school year.

The weather is getting warmer, students are getting excited, and teachers are exhausted. It is a time for celebration and reflection.

One thing I always did around this time of the year when I was a teacher was to reflect on the past year. What worked? What went right? What went wrong? How did I handle classroom management issues? How well did my students learn? Lots of questions to answer and get ready for next year. I did this throughout the year too, but this is the point where I really felt I could get some good information and feedback to plan and make changes for the following year.

One thing I did as an evaluation of the year was to have my students fill out a survey about the class and their experience. It asked them to rate things such as was the classroom and equipment (labs and projects) adequate, was enough time given for demonstrations and review, how well did the teacher answer student questions, and their thoughts on assignments and work given. It also asked about me: did I set a climate that was conducive to learning, did I effectively communicate with students, did I address their needs and issues, and were the teaching methods effective. I also have space for them to write comments about what they liked about the class and what they think should be improved. They can put their name on it or it can be anonymous.

I did take the surveys with a grain of salt. Some students wrote all "4" (highest score) and some complain that everything was too hard. But I did get a lot of great feedback and ideas. Some times I was surprised by the level of sophistication that I my students had and how insightful they were about their classes. (I've also used this model with pre-service teachers).

After I had read through all of the surveys and taken notes, I sat and thougt about the whole year. I tried to be critical of things so that I could really evaluate how things went. I would then implement some of the things I'd come up with and some of the things my students noted, but I also kept my lessons flexible so that I can modify them once I've met my students the following year and saw what they are like and what they need. I believed in constantly assessing how I was doing as an educator and how well my students were learning and changing and modifying things as needed throughout the year. The end of the year and summer are great times to come up with lots of different ideas so that I have a collection of ideas to use next year.

I used Google Forms for the survey to get more feedback from the students throughout the year. It was easy to use and easy to analyze the data.

What do you do in your classroom at the end of the year to keep students focused and engaged?
How do you evaluate teaching and learning in your classroom?

What do you do at the end of the year and summer to prep for the next year?


Friday, May 11, 2018

PDF Candy - free online PDF editor and converter - lots of great features

PDF Candy is a site I just found out about from a colleague from up in Canada. It is an amazing collection of free, online tools to edit and manage PDF files.

PDFs are one of the most common file formats used to share data and documents. Being able to edit and manipulate them is important. PDF Candy provides a robust, free, online tool set for working with PDFs. There is even a Windows download app.

It is available in 15 different languages and is very easy to use.

You can convert from PDF to formats like Word, JPG, DOCX, PNG and more and you can convert Word, JPG, DOCX, HTML, EPUB, MOBI and more to PDF. In addition, you can compress, merge, split PDFs, delete and rearrange pages, extract images and text and other tools.

Check it out and see if it is useful to you. More PDF resources can be found here.


PDF tools, resources, and much more


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Google I/O 2018 - big announcements from the opening keynote - very cool stuff!


Google kicked off Google I/O 2018, their developer conference, yesterday, 5/8/18, with a keynote that had some amazing announcements in it. 

Here is a summary of them with links to more info on each one. I'm pretty excited for these. Many will be great for education, including news, accessibility and more. (Google for Education Resources)


Google AI is the big topic of the day. AI is being implemented in pretty much everything Google does and there are some really amazing things being accomplished. https://ai.google/

color pop
  • Google Photos and AI https://www.blog.google/products/photos/take-action-sharing-editing/
    • 5B photos viewed every day
    • new feature - suggested actions - smart actions in context
    • share photos based on who is in photo
    • one tap to fix exposure/etc
    • recognize and convert photo of document to PDF!
    • auto color b&W photos
  • AI computing power
    • next gen TPU 3.0 pod for AI computing
    • liquid cooling now needed
    • over 100 petaflops (pod is 8x more powerful than last year)
phone calling fom the Google Assistant.png
Image result for google assistant
  • Google Assistant https://www.blog.google/products/assistant/io18/
    • https://assistant.google.com/ 
    • naturally conversational
    • there when you need it
    • easy to use
    • "Holly" is the voice
    • using AI (Wavenet) to create a more natural voice now
    • adding 6 new voices to Google Assistant
    • getting more voices for global 
    • John Legend coming as a voice of GA (later this year in different contexts)
    • more and more actions and features
    • works with smart TVs and Netflix
    • smart home devices
    • find your phone
    • on over 500 M devices
    • in most major car manufacturers
    • 30 languages, 80 countries by end of year
    • visually assistive (shows visuals as well as speaking to you)
    • understand social dynamics 
    • new ways to interact besides Hey Google, OK Google
    • Continued Conversation - coming weeks
      • ask for multiple things at once
      • lots of actions - sci fi!
    • "Pretty Please" - say please to get Google to do things - and Google responds with comment like "thanks for being polite" - great for teaching kids manners
    • Voice and Visual Assistance
      • Google Assistant normally voice, adding visuals
      • Visual - Smart Displays - LG, Lenovo and 1 other
      • integrates with Google Photos, GA, controlled by voice, watch videos and shows, YouTube and YT TV
      • show recipes
    • Mobile Phones 
      • immersive and interactive and proactive
      • shows images and info along with voice response
      • shows smart home controls
      • "order my usual from Starbucks"
      • more partners coming soon
      • proactive - in assistant and swipe up - reminders, day events, and other info right there
      • launching on Android in summer and iOS later this year
    • MAPs - GA coming to Google Maps this summer - send someone your ETA, do other actions while navigating
    • Phone calls
    • Google Duplex - AI, text to speech, natural language, deep learning https://ai.googleblog.com/2018/05/duplex-ai-system-for-natural-conversation.html

  • Digital Well Being
    • help you separate from your devices
    • people get FOMO (fear of missing out)
    • should have JOMO - joy of missing out
    • across all products and platforms
    • understand your habits
    • focus on what matters
    • switch off and wind down
    • find balance for your family
    • Android Dashboard
      • time spend on phone
      • times unlocking phone
      • notifications
      • apps used
    • YouTube - take a break reminders, notifications digest - this week
  • Family Link - manage kids screen time https://families.google.com/familylink/ 
Overview - News.gif
  • News https://www.blog.google/products/news/new-google-news-ai-meets-human-intelligence/
    • quality journalism
    • identify fake news
    • remove bad sources
    • using AI to find quality products
    • Google News
    • deeper insight and fuller perspective on topics
    • learns what you like
    • video news too
    • updated app
    • Google Material Theme - applied to all apps and for 3rd party apps
    • Newscasts - new format - preview of a story across different platform
    • Understand the full story
    • Full Coverage - complete picture of a story - how it's being reported across different sources and formats. Different context, opinions, fact checks, analysis.
    • Everyone has access to the same information
    • unfiltered coverage from a range of trusted sources
    • Enjoy and support the news sources you love
    • Subscribe with Google - use Google account to easily subscribe to publishers
    • rolling out on Android, iOS and web today
new system navigation
  • Android https://www.blog.google/products/android/android-p/
    • open, most popular OS in world
    • choice, innovation
    • 10 years old
    • smarter operating system
    • battery life is top concern for users
      • Android P - adaptive battery - uses on device machine learning to adapt to your usage patterns to only run certain apps, backup processes on smaller core, and save battery.
      • auto brightness based on current lighting conditions, but now take personal preferences and environment - adaptive brightness, learns your preference and does it automatically for you
    • App Actions - most used apps, predicted by AI, and actions you might take based on your usage. Connect headphones and it brings up music apps
    • Slices - new API to develop interactive snippets of an app in different places in the OS, like in search. https://www.engadget.com/2018/05/08/google-android-p-actions-slices-predictive-apps/
    • evolve Android UI
    • simplicity
    • easier to do things
    • new system navigation
    • easier multi tasking
    • single clean home button and gestures
    • swipe up to overview, predicted apps
    • 2nd swipe up to all apps
    • swipe up anywhere
    • slide home button sideways to scroll through recent apps
    • back button shows up as needed
    • smart text selection and actions
    • volume control - simplified volume slider - default is media volume
    • rotation - lock rotation - unlock rotation button shows up when you rotate phone instead of auto rotate
    • better screenshots
    • better notification management https://techcrunch.com/2018/05/08/android-rolls-out-a-suite-of-time-management-controls-to-promote-more-healthy-app-usage/
    • lessen distractions
    • disconnect, balance life and technology
    • understand your habits - dashboard on how you are spending your time on device
    • meaningful engagement
    • Do Not Disturb mode - block visual notifications. 
    • Shush - turn your phone over on the table and it automatically goes to DND
    • Starred Contacts - allow them in even if DND is turned on.
    • Wind Down mode - tell GA when you want to go to bed - when that time arrives, it turns on DND and then gray theme screen to help you wind down and go to sleep.
    • 100's of improvements in Android P, including Security
    • Android P Beta - available on Pixel and 7 flagship devices, today
  • Maps https://www.blog.google/products/maps/explore-around-town-google-maps/
    • using AI to expand Maps
    • over 220 countries are mapped
    • 1B+ users
    • smarter and more detailed
    • automatically add new businesses and buildings from street view and satellite
    • business hours, wait time, etc
    • parking info
    • different routes based on mode of transport
    • more accurate traffic predictions
    • get more done
    • what's happening around you
    • uses your info and interests to find things you care about
    • new tab - For You - new things near you, trending info, activities, places and more
    • Your Match - score based on other things you liked to show you how something matches to your likes
    • Planning with others - pick a place together - long press on a place to add it to a short list - share the list with friends to get their preferences and they can vote or add their own places. 
    • Helping Small Businesses get discovered
    • daily posts on events or offers from favorite places
    • mapping the world (15 years old)
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  • Camera in smartphones https://www.blog.google/products/google-vr/google-lens-real-time-answers-questions-about-world-around-you/
    • AI and computer vision
    • use camera to answer questions - where am I going, what's that in front of me?
    • use camera and street view and maps to reinvision walking navigation
    • Maps info over laid on camera view!
    • which way, places near by, a guide
    • VPS - visual positioning system - based on what camera sees - visual landmarks but more accurate. 
    • Google Lens
    • get info based on what camera sees 
    • available in GA and G Photos
    • and going right into Camera App on Pixel and flagship devices
    • 3 new features
    • Smart Text Selection
      • Recognize and understand words 
      • Copy and paste from camera to app - real words on page, sign, etc. 
      • select a word on a menu and it will show you what it is
    • Style Match 
      • what are things like this thing?
      • open camera, tap on item and get info and other things that match style
    • Real Time Results
      • open camera and Lens starts working instantly to get info for you
      • on device and cloud TPUs to power this
  • Self Driving Cars - Waymo https://waymo.com/
    • part of Alphabet
    • fleet of fully self driving cars on public roads
    • people are already trying it out in Phoenix
      • Waymo early rider program
    • 100x reliability and safety
    • AI - perception and detection
      • finding objects and pedestrians and then avoiding them
      • adapting to things like a car going fast even though red light is coming up
      • adapting to weather like snow
      • safer than human drivers

Amazing things coming!!!
So cool it feels like Science Fiction!

Image result for science fiction


Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Free Webinar - Alan November on Teaching Critical Thinking and Web Literacy

International education advocate Alan November will be holding a webinar
titled “Teaching Critical Thinking and Web Literacy: Why Teachers are
More Important Than Ever” on May 22. Alan has been saying for years that
for years that these are areas that need attention, so I'm inviting
everyone to attend!

Webinar attendees will learn about the role critical thinking plays in
web literacy and methods for teaching students to become astute
consumers of media. Various aspects of media literacy will be discussed
along with strategies for developing skills and competencies in those
areas. Alan will also share strategies and resources for weaving
critical thinking and web literacy skills into everyday instruction and
guiding students toward becoming responsible consumers and creators of
web and social media content.

Alan November is an international leader in education technology and was named one of the USA's fifteen most influential thinkers of the decade by Tech and Learning magazine. Alan's most recent book, Who Owns the Learning? made the education New York Times bestseller list. Alan has worked with schools and universities in 40 countries to improve learning through innovative practice. He leads the globally acclaimed Building Learning Communities conference.

If you're interested, you can register for the webinar at



Important Skills Students Need for the Future

New Training Courses from Google - DigCit and Accessibility
Resources on 21st Century Skills

Digital Literacy Resources



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