Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Mystery Hangouts in Ms. Rosenberg's 5th Grade Class - A Student Perspective

Back in the late fall Ms. Annie Rosenberg (@OMinEdu) approached me with an idea-she wanted to host a Mystery Skype or Mystery Google Hangout (GHO) with her 5th grade students. Through careful planning and facilitation, Ms. Rosenberg's 5th graders have had several Mystery GHOs across the US and one with an international school in Ghana! I have enjoyed working with this class and was excited when some of the students wrote about their experience. Below is the article they wrote about their year of Mystery GHOs and a video they created with their amazing teacher. 

Mystery Hangouts
By: Jackie, Megan, Parmida and Sid
What is a Mystery Hangout?
      A mystery hangout is where two classes in the world connect using Google Hangout. Each class guesses where the other class is by asking questions. They can only use yes or no questions. If we had time we would figure out the city of the other class we are doing a Mystery Google Hangout with.
      After we finish our actual hangout, we talk about what we did well and what places we can improve upon. We also share facts about our state, town and school.

Jobs That We Have
      For this activity, we have eight kinds of jobs. There are greeters, recorders, think tanks, runners, inquirers and lastly the reporters.
      First the greeters, the people who go on the camera, greet the other class and fill in jokes on research time. The recorders are people who write down the questions that have been asked by the inquirers and the people in the other class.
      Think tanks use the clues to find where the other class is. The runners are the people who transport the ideas and the plans from think tanks to inquirers to greeters. The inquirers are people who uses facts about the place we think the other class is in and make yes or no questions out of them, they also answer the other classes questions.
      Finally, the reporters take videos, pictures and jot notes about what is happening. One of the reporters also tweet on Twitter about the mystery hangout on our class account.   
Places We Have Traveled To
We’ve had eight mystery hangouts so far:
  • Plainsboro, New Jersey, USA
  • Burke, Virginia, USA
  • Kingwood, Texas, USA
  • Portland, Oregon, USA
  • Limerick, Maine, USA
  • Kansas City, Missouri, USA
  • Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA
  • Ghana, Africa

What Can You Learn From Mystery Hangouts
    Mystery hangouts help us with the 21st century competencies and encourage us to be effective communicators and information literate researchers. Through communicating with other classes, we learn to speak clearly and with good respect, and we strengthen our ability to be collaborative team members by helping our groups and working together to find out the other classes’ locations. We also learn how to be literate researchers by using the internet and other sources to solve problems and researching.
      Mystery hangouts are a great way to learn about states and countries, and teach us to be diverse and learn about different people, places etc. Finding places on the map enhance our skills to locate states and countries, as well as identifying landmarks like the Mississippi river and the four main oceans.
      We are able to grow as students and we can open our eyes to learn about interesting places in the United States or even the whole WORLD using. This is what we call globalization, or becoming a globally aware citizen, and it will definitely help us in the future!

A big thanks  to Mrs. Lindes and Ms. Rosenberg for teaching and helping and practicing with us to make this possible.

Here is a video our class created highlighting our Mystery GHO experience.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Changes to Drive folder and page URL structure

Posted: 13 May 2015 11:13 AM PDT

To improve overall performance, we’re moving from using hash marks (#) to using the HTML5 History API in Google Drive. This means that moving forward, Google Drive folder and page URLs will no longer include hash marks (for example, will become and will become

Links to Drive folder and page URLs containing hash marks will continue to work indefinitely, but this change could impact any Google Apps admins or employees who parse Drive folder or page URLs specifically for the “#” symbol or who use Chrome extensions that employ the old-style URLs for Drive navigation.

This change is currently live for Rapid release domains; the rollout to Scheduled release domains is planned for June 9th.

Release track:
Live on Rapid release, with Scheduled release to follow on June 9th

Mobile image and table insertion on the Google Docs and Slides apps

Posted: 13 May 2015 11:59 AM PDT
New versions of the Google Docs and Slides apps for Android and iOS are now available on Google Play and the App Store. New features include:
§ Docs
§ Insert images
§ Slides
§ Insert, crop and mask images
§ Insert and manipulate tables

All of today’s improvements to Docs and Slides will remain available when you’re offline. You’ll just need the updated mobile apps.

Release track:
Rapid release and Scheduled release

PDF viewer and performance improvements for the Google Drive app for Android

Posted: 13 May 2015 01:04 PM PDT
A new version of the Google Drive app for Android is coming to Google Play this week. New features include:
§ PDF Viewer enhancement: see completed form data
§ Performance and interface improvements

Release track:
Rapid release and Scheduled release (gradual rollout)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

GoogleEdu On-Demand

This past weekend, GoogleEdu hosted two days of panels and live workshop videos for teachers. There were many offerings, and since all of the events were recorded, they are now available for anyone to watch, at any time. Before you click on the link in the photo to the right however, there are a few things to know:

  • When you reach the website and scroll down, there will be two sections
    • Day 1: Panels and Keynotes
    • Day 2: Various workshop sessions
  • When you click on the session that interests you, you will find:
    • Access to session materials (don't miss out on these!)
    • A link to watch the video
You can look at the materials without watching the video.  I did this for a few of the webinars that I was not able to watch live and got some fantastic resources!  The sessions that I was able to watch were both interesting and informative.  Don't miss out on the Google Classroom workshops!

This is a great opportunity to grab some personal PD time for yourself!  

Click here or click the photo to take you to the GoogleEduonAir page.

Friday, May 8, 2015

GMS - Google Classroom Update (week of 5/4/15)

Hi Everyone!

As promised, here are some of the Classroom resources that we said we'd share.  Thank you, again, to Leslie, Maricel, Lisa, and Stacy for presenting at our GMS lunch and learns this week!

A short video overview of Google Classroom

Google Classroom - Google+ Community
This link takes you to the Google+ Community dedicated to Google Classroom.  You can view and join in on conversations about using Google Classroom.

Shared resource folder in Drive
This collection of resources will grow the more we work with Classroom.  Add this folder to your own Drive so that you always have access to it.

Feel free to leave comments or questions about using Classroom in the comments section below this post, so that we can all continue learning together.


Why Tweet?

A few months ago we launched the Tweet 10 Challenge.  This challenge was over a five day period where we had WWP utilizing Twitter.  Each day was designed to introduce an individual to the features of Twitter in a 10 minute activity.  

One first grade teacher at Dutch Neck, Stefanie Burnett (@Burnettwwp), describes why she uses Twitter.

Why use Twitter as an educator? 

Until taking the Tweet Challenge set up by the tech team, I had a misconception about Twitter.  Why join another social media site mostly targeting celebrity gossip?  I don't need to know more about the Kardashians!  How would this enhance my professional repertoire?

I soon discovered how wrong I was.  Here are some ways that I use Twitter for professional development:

  • Participate in Twitter chats – using hashtags such as #1stchat and #TCRWP  I am able to collaborate and share resources with other educators worldwide.
  • Follow classroom teachers – I am able to see what they are doing in their classrooms. I noticed a teacher was working on the same reading unit. I asked her if she could share a reader’s theater script with me.  This teacher happened to be in the same district but I do not have daily contact with her. It was great to be able to connect with her and what she is doing.
  • Follow iPad apps – I get notices when new updates occur or new ways to utilize the app by other educators.
  • Teachers follow me – I am able to share my created resources with others worldwide.
  • Search by hashtags to find resources to utilize. 

The best part is I can access this form of professional development whenever I have time.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Create, edit, and grade assignments on the go with new Classroom mobile app features

Google Apps update alerts

Link to Google Apps update alerts

Posted: 06 May 2015 09:57 AM PDT
In January, we launched a Classroom mobile app for iOS and Android, because we knew that students were increasingly relying on mobile devices to get homework done on the go. That app has now been downloaded more than 2.5 million times. This functionality isn’t just useful for students, however. We’ve heard from teachers that they also want to be able to keep track of their classes no matter where they are or what device they’re on. Today, we’re making that even easier with several new features. Teachers can now:
§ Create and edit assignments on the go, make copies of attachments, and attach new photos to assignments. 
§ Grade assignments from their phones or tablets, and add private comments for students.
§ Snap pictures to create assignments, so whiteboard photos and class notes can be posted to the stream for students who are absent and/or assigned to the class for a deeper dive.

Release track:
Rapid release and Scheduled release

More information:

Help Center: Get the classroom app
Google for Education blog post

Note: all launches are applicable to all Google Apps editions unless otherwise noted

Launch release calendar
Get these product update alerts by email
Subscribe to the RSS feed of these updates

Friday, May 1, 2015

Podcast PD Week 3 - What IS a Podcast?

As educators, many of us have made mistakes. Some mistakes may have been big and others were so inconsequential they went unnoticed. I am starting this post with an apology for a mistake I have made with Podcast PD (I am sad to say this is not the first time I have made this error in my teaching career). What is that mistake? I assumed you, the reader, knew what a podcast is. BIG mistake on my part! And I'm sorry. As with any new material we introduce in the classroom, we need to be sure that our students and /or our audience has a cursory understanding of the new concept being taught. We need to provide definitions for new vocabulary. In my excitement to share podcasts with you, I neglected to give you a definition for the term podcast. This week I will right that wrong. I have solicited the definition for the word podcast from those who are involved in podcasting. Here are the definitions I received from three amazing talents in podcasting:

Angela Watson - "I define podcasts as an online talk radio show you can download and take with you wherever you go."

Jeff Bradbury - "The term “Podcast” originated with the combination of the words “iPod” and “Broadcast.” Originally this was designed to describe a piece of digital media (audio or video) that was distributed by an RSS feed.  A Video is only a video.  An audio file is only an audio file.  It is only when you place that file on a feed where the content can be searched for and SUBSCRIBED TO when the “cast” part comes in. Creating a movie on an iPad and calling it a “Podcast” is like going to the office and making a “Xerox” when you are really making a copy.  We as educators are mislabeling the term and it is being watered down."

Chris Nesi - "A podcast (video/audio) is content that a user subscribes to and receives automatically. Content is released on a regular schedule to the consumer. Podcasts express the passions of their creators for the benefit of their audience who will share the same interests and passion."

I hope that these definitions help shed some light on what a podcast is and isn't. I also hope that you have subscribed to one of the podcasts I have mentioned in my first and second posts. If not, there's always this week's recommendation, which brings you two podcast!

This week I offer you two podcasts:
EdTech You Should Know and Instructional Tech Talk with Jeff Herb (@InstTechTalk) and Jon Samuelson (@jonsamuelson)

Jeff Herb produces two wonderful EdTech podcasts (along with co-hosting at least one more-TechEducator Podcast). He is a wonderfully knowledgeable host with a voice well suited for a professional radio gig. EdTech You Should Know brings you one tech tool each episode. The shows are short (4-15 minutes), but include a wealth of information! The longer format of Instructional Tech Talk offers the same listening experience as The House of #EdTech, with interviews, Twitter recommendations and a plethora of knowledge. Episodes range from 16 - 69 minutes. The show was on a brief hiatus, but is back with new cohost, Jon Samuelson, and a new app recommendation, Periscope.

Tips and Tricks
Make sure you never miss an episode by subscribing to your favorite podcast. Every time a new episode is released, it will automatically be added to your podcast catcher. Also, Start from the beginning, as many podcasters refer back to previous episodes and previous content. It's like starting with season one of a new TV series-by subscribing and starting at the beginning of a podcast, you can binge on the episodes like you might a new Netflix show.

Be sure to join me on Twitter Sunday evening for the 4th week of #PodcastPD