Monday, October 24, 2016

Google Sanity Savers

For this week, let's pour ourselves a cup of tea or coffee and decompress. Educators are constantly bombarded with new technology tools and hardly any time to dig deep into what they can and can't do.  The details and intricacies of a tool are what makes it beautiful, powerful, and innovative.  As I am making my way around the district helping the best educators in the world implement GAFE (Google Apps For Education), common misconceptions or unknown details are brought to light.  I want to share some of the most "I didn't know it could do that!?!" items.  If you want step by step instructions, please contact us in Instructional Tech anytime or check out Atomic Learning.

Google Drive

Owner Status

  1. The owner of a file has the ability to delete at anytime.  
  2. If the owner leaves the district, you have 90 days to make a copy of the file before your access is terminated.  
  3. The owner can transfer ownership to another person at any time.
  4. Check who the owner is by making sure your drive is set to list view and you will see a column titled owner (if you are in My Drive) or shared by (if you are in Shared With Me).

Shared With Me

  1. No, you can't organize within Shared With Me. Sorry.
  2. Yes, you can use the powerful search engine (see below) to pull up files in Shared With Me very quickly. 
  3. This does require a mind shift change and some openness, but you will be happy with the results.
Click on the tiny drop down arrow on the right hand side to access search.


  1. Quickly recall files you have recently opened.
  2. See tips under Shared With Me :-)

Removing/Deleting Files

  1. If you are the owner and choose to remove a file, all collaborators still have access to the file.  To permanently delete the file for everyone, you must go to Trash and then Delete Forever.
  2. If you are NOT the owner and choose to remove a file, you are just removing your access to a file without affecting anyone else. No need for the second step of Delete Forever.

Sharing Settings (Docs, Sheets, Slides, etc)

  1. Link to share is not usually necessary, because the collaborators will have the file under Shared With Me.
  2. Who has access is where you control who can edit, comment, or view the file. This is also where you can transfer ownership.  You can even put an expiration date on the accessibility of the file. The default setting is always private.
  3. Invite people - start typing the email address and the intended person will appear.
  4. Owner settings - the first checkbox prevents people who have edit access from changing other's access or the ability to add new people.  The second checkbox prevents people who have commenting or viewing access to download, print, or make a copy of your file.

Google Forms

  1. The link you use to send to recipients will be found when you click Send and then the link icon at the top (see below).
  2. Make a tinyurl if recipients have to physically type the link into their web browser.  You will have the ability to make a custom name instead of nonsensical letters and numbers.  Be careful when making a custom name because you can't alter name later.
  3. Automatically collect respondent's usernames if they are Plano ISD staff or students by checking the box under Send form or within settings.

Hopefully your life will be a little easier after learning some of these sanity savers.  If you come across any tips that would help your fellow educators, please feel free to let any of us know in Instructional Tech and we will blast it out.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Professional Learning in Your Pajamas with Atomic Learning

Want to get some PD hours at your convenience from any location? How about some online learning opportunities for students? For FREE? It’s totally possible with Atomic Learning.

Atomic Learning has online video tutorials and training sessions covering a wide range of topics for staff and students such as Google Classroom, Excel, Spelling City, Google Drive, Digital Citizenship, Effective Note-taking, and much more.

You can find videos in five ways:

Discover - A user selects general topics from a list and that will filter specific tutorials into the Discover area.

Search - A user types the topic / subject in the search field and any associated videos will be displayed in the search results.

Favorites - A user can click a star to mark a specific video as a favorite. Click the “Favorites” tab to find those favorite videos quickly.

My Training - A user can assign him/herself sessions or view recommended sessions.

Spotlights - New or popular sessions can be found in the Spotlights area.

Logging in is simple! As long as you can connect to the internet, you can complete thorough, vetted professional development.

**One quick tip for staff: be sure to save and/or print your certificate for MyLearningPlan!**

Monday, October 10, 2016

Selecting Usage Rights in Google Images

Using images appropriately is a digital citizenship and copyright issue. It is an easy thing to let Google help you find only copyright-free images that are free for you to use, modify, or share - you just have to know one little trick. In Google, type your search term and press Enter. Click Images > Search Tools > Usage rights

If you are not planning to further edit the image, select Labeled for reuse. 

You still need to cite your source! To locate the image URL of the image you want to use, right-click the image, then left-click Copy image address.

When you paste the image address, it should end in .jpeg, as this one does:

Another source for images is Pixabay. Per their website, you may download, modify, and use these images without attribution. Note that you need to download these images before using, rather than linking to them.

Edcamp Dallas is Saturday, October 15 at our very own Sockwell Center! Tickets are sold out, but it's possible there will be some available at the door. Check the Edcamp Dallas Twitter account for updated information.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Presentations that Pop!

This week's blog post features a new application called Bulb.  Click on this link to see how Bulb can beautify presentations, keep digital portfolios, and put goal-setting/progress tracking back in the hands of your students.