Tech Tip Tuesday: “Hidden” Tools in Google Docs

Google Docs has grown immensely in functionality since its debut in 2006. The app isn’t just a word processor anymore. In this post, we’ll take a look at three features of google docs that are hidden in plain sight: Voice Typing, the Dictionary, and the Explore tool.

Google Docs Student Writing Tech Tips

Voice Typing

Do you have students that have a hard time getting their words from their brains onto a google doc because the dexterity to type isn’t there? Or maybe you have a student that is staring at a blank page and “can’t think of what to write.” Or students that are dyslexic or dysgraphic and need support when it comes to writing?

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Tech Tip Tuesday: Grade Transferer

UPDATE: Sept 12, 2019: The huge response of teachers wanting to use this really cool extension to be more efficient and save their sanity has resulted in the need to update the extension. It is not currently available for download/install. The target date for the new and improved extension is Sept 20, 2019.

Ever since Google Classroom debuted, teachers have asked me if there is a way to import grades from Classroom to Infinite Campus. The answer has always been no. Until now. Enter Grade Transferer.

The Chrome extension Grade Transferer now makes it possible to transfer grades from Google Classroom to Infinite Campus, Genesis, Power Teacher Pro, and Aspen (MyFollett).

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Differentiation Using Google Classroom

One of the best ways to accelerate student learning is to ensure grade-level work is offered to all students and that students are able to engage in the work with “productive struggle.” It can be challenging to do that when students are several grade levels behind. Scaffolding is one way to support students in taking on the work – as long as the scaffolds are just enough and still allow for productive struggle.

One way to scaffold is to pre-emptively decide how much scaffolding to give to certain students, but that runs the risk of giving too much for a particular assignment.

scaffolding for students

What if, instead, you use your ability to edit whatever GSuite tool you have used for the assignment once you have assigned the work through Google Classroom?

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Back-to-School Community Building and Breaking the Ice

August is upon us and if you haven’t already started thinking about your first few days of school with students, you soon will. A big part of the first few days is building community, setting up routines and procedures, and plain ol’ “getting-to-know-you” type stuff.

Nothing wrong with any of that; in fact, it’s essential. Relationships, community, and routines are crucial to the success of any classroom.

But put yourself in the shoes of a middle-schooler (or high-schooler, for that matter) who has just filled out, for the fourth time, a “Getting to Know You” worksheet or has played “People Bingo” for the third time in one day.

There are better ways 🙂

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I’ve Always Loved the Promise of New School Supplies

There are two – and only two – things I enjoy shopping for: groceries and school supplies.

I love the promise of a new notebook, different color pens, and a new organizer. Maybe a super-sweet new lesson plan organizer. Like a New Year’s fresh start without the hangover, school supplies come interwoven with new plans for better <whatever you’re working on this year>.

It’s not unlike this blog.

I’ve started and abandoned so many blogs in the last five years it’s comical. I struggled mightily with what to call my blog: how do I represent all of the things I want to talk about? I’m a teacher, an ed tech coach, a geek who loves to figure out a piece of code or make an onerous task a little less onerous with technology, and with 30+ years in public education, I’m finding that I’ve got a lot to say about education in general.

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Alignment: Walking the Talk

Earlier in my career as an educator, I coached my high school’s fastpitch softball team. Then, as now, I believed the best way to make my team successful was to coach them in the skills and knowledge they needed to excel and then I let them go out and play. I was often asked (by parents, never the players) why I didn’t call pitches for my catchers. The answer was simple: It wouldn’t be in alignment with what I believed made my players the most successful. 

What Does This Have to Do With Education?

Fast forward a couple of decades: I was invited to attend the SXSWEdu in Austin, TX and am lucky enough to see Will Richardson speak. What he said really stuck with me – so much so that I had to get it all out in a mind map to feel like I was truly understanding.

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