Chromebooks were built for the web. They are efficient machines that take full advantage of GSuite apps. Sometimes as Chromebook users we find ourselves without internet access - this is when the device’s offline capabilities become handy. Google Drive is just one of the GSuite apps available offline, and with a few steps we can enable students to work when WiFi is unavailable.
Chromebooks: Make Google Drive Available Offline
The Chromebook syncs your most recently opened documents, so they can be made available without an internet connection. To work on a document, open Drive and click on the document. You will notice a small lightning bolt icon near the title of the document - this lets you know you are working offline. Changes to the file will be synced the next time your Chromebook connects to the Internet.
It is important to know that Google Classroom is NOT available offline. Most students and teachers use this app to manage assignments, so be aware of what you can and can’t do without access.
A student works diligently preparing a presentation to share with the class. Presentation time comes, and the student logs in to the teacher’s computer to share it on the classroom screen. This transition can use a chunk of precious class time. The ability to share student screens on the classroom’s big screen is an important part of any one to one program. Google has made it quick and easy to share student screens with the Google Cast for Education app. Here's how it works:
The classroom screen is no longer about what the teacher shares. It’s about allowing each student to show off their work, reveal knowledge, or even share a discovery.
Apps are mostly enhanced shortcuts that optimize the website within the browser. Some apps function primarily when the device is online, but others allow users to complete offline tasks also.
Here are some benefits of using apps:
Google Chromebooks come with several apps already in place. Many of the tasks you complete on a desktop or laptop can be completed on a Chromebook with those built-in apps.
Want to create a self grading quiz? Try Forms.
Need to backup the documents on your computer? Try Drive.
Want to edit video? Try YouTube Video Editor.
Take a few minutes to learn more about built-in apps and the resources available in the chart below.
One of the things I love about preparing for technology professional development is finding new resources and ideas. Kristy and I accumulated a large number of web applications, Google resources, and integration ideas over the summer that we will share throughout the year. This post features a technology content and curation site - Common Sense Education.
Common Sense Education (formerly Graphite)
Common Sense is probably best known for its digital citizenship resources, but don't visit this site without checking out the ratings and reviews of apps, games, and websites. https://www.commonsense.org/education/reviews/all
One of the best things about being a teacher in a digital world is having so many resources readily available. This is also one of the most frustrating things. There's so much out there! How can you tell which resources are valuable and which are a waste of time? This site uses reviews based on a rubric to evaluate the learning potential of each digital learning tool. In addition to the in-depth analysis of the tools, the site provides insights from teachers on how to use them in the classroom. Reading a review is like listening to advice from a mentor with experience leveraging technology in the classroom.
Common Sense Education also has excellent lesson plans and practical ideas to incorporate a variety of teaching strategies - all with transformative technology integration in mind.
Another school year is coming to a close. As you work through your end of the year to do list, you begin tossing unnecessary papers, cleaning up the top of your desk that you haven’t seen in weeks, and filing away documents you may need again next year. It feels nice to have an organized space once again, but wait, are you hiding the same type of clutter on your devices? Here are a few tips to help you clean up your devices and keep the clutter away.
I had a conversation with a 5th grade student this week who couldn't quit talking about something that happened in her room that day. I heard things like..."We talked to students from Alaska." "Their school has a volcano behind it." "Do you know how far Alaska is from us?" And then a few days later, I heard, "That Alaskan community was started by Russian immigrants." What is going on that is generating that much excitement? Mrs. Griffin's 5th grade classroom is extending learning beyond their walls by participating in Mystery Skypes. The following information was written by Mrs. Eva Griffin to explain just what a Mystery Skype is.
A Mystery Skype is a game created by teachers where two classrooms connect on Skype via the internet from anywhere in the world and try to guess each other's location by asking strategic yes or no questions. Students use maps, atlases, Google Earth, etc to try to locate the other class before they are discovered. This is a student led activity where they must work together to be successful. Students have roles (or jobs) for each Mystery Skype. This activity builds critical thinking and cooperative learning skills, public speaking skills as well as geography skills. It is engaging and fun. We learn things about other schools. We also learn things about the other school's weather, land features, different time zones and about their school day and class size. Once we guess a location, we then Google their town and school to learn more about them. Our goal is to visit all 50 states this year! We are creating documents in our Drive with the information we learn from our Skypes and googling the schools we visit. Then we are going to create a ThingLink map of the places we have Skyped! We have also shared book talks with other classes. We have visited these 23 states this year.
If you want to learn more about this and other things going on in Mrs. Griffin's classroom, she is offering technology professional development this summer. Click on the links below for a complete list all technology sessions that will be offered in our district this summer. Registration opens tomorrow, April 15!
Technology Sessions - Kristy Graham/Dana Lane
Technology Sessions - Eva Griffin
After Spring Break, we all start dreaming about summer...sleeping late, enjoying the outdoors, vacationing, checking something off our bucket list (I think it’s time to try ziplining.) I have so many plans for Summer 2016!
One of the things that we, as educators, always have to fit into our summer plans is professional development. Kristy and I are excited to offer six technology sessions this summer. We are also excited to use one of the hottest trends in learning - badges! Participants will have the opportunity in all of our sessions to apply what they learn through hands-on tasks and earn badges (or brag tags) as challenges are completed.
We definitely wanted to offer a Google session and a web resource session because those things are so dynamic. We also felt like it was important to design a session around the Chromebook and all of the things that make it unique and powerful. If you or your students use Chromebooks, this session is tailor made for you.
Below are the descriptions for the sessions that we will offer this year. All sessions will be in the Rivercrest Elementary Computer Lab. Use your shoebox account to register (http://crowleys.crsc.k12.ar.us/shoebox). These sessions are open to anyone in our co-op area, so register quickly. (Registration opens April 15.) They fill up fast!
You can click HERE for the printable version of the sessions.
Google: The Old, The New, The “Oh, Yeah”!
June 7 8:30-3:30 - Session 281789
June 15 8:30-3:30 - Session 281790
If there is one thing we know about Google applications, it’s that they are always evolving. This session will take a look at some of the tried and true features of GAFE that educators and students love, some of our favorite new updates, and the changes that have us saying…”Oh, Yeah!”.
The Chromebook Craze: What’s the fuss about?
June 8 8:30-3:30 - Session 281794
June 16 8:30-3:30 - Session 281796
Have you heard the buzz about Chromebooks and wondered what the fuss is about? Or do you have Chromebooks in your school and want to make sure you use them to their fullest potential? Whether you are already caught up in the Chromebook craze or still exploring what Chromebooks have to offer, you don’t want to miss this session. Participants will spend the day exploring the device and what makes it unique, learning the advantages of using a Chromebook and some pitfalls to avoid, and discovering the possibilities this device can bring to your classroom.
June 14 8:30-3:30 - Session 281800
June 20 8:30-3:30 - Session 281801
What is a smackdown? A smackdown is a sharing of websites, tools, or technology tricks found to be useful. What makes it fun? The person sharing is given only two minutes to convince participants that her tool is the best one for the job. Watch as the facilitators describe common classroom tasks, go toe to toe to showcase their favorite applications to complete that task, and give the participants time to explore each app and vote on their favorites.
As custom has it, we are always excited to have older students work with younger ones to impart knowledge that can only be gained with age and experience. Mrs. Sarah Imler, second grade math teacher, recently flipped this idea on its head by having her little students teach the big students.
Mrs. Imler’s students are learning math through gamification. Gamification is basically using the motivational parts of games, such as points, rewards, and ranking, in a non-game situation. It is all about increasing engagement and motivating students to learn. She introduced the web based math game Prodigy to her second graders and it was a hit. Prodigy is a role playing game that gamifies the many math skills needed to be successful in first through eighth grade - and the magic word is free! Students are motivated to practice math skills on their levels. Teachers are provided with real-time reporting along with built in formative, diagnostic and summative assessment. Teachers will also appreciate the personalized approach in which Prodigy evaluates students to begin closing gaps in understanding and move them toward deeper understanding. If students are working on specific skills during class, teachers can also choose to assign those skills to reinforce the teaching.
Mrs. Imler loved the way her students interacted with the game based program and wanted to share with other classrooms. Mrs. Griffin invited the second graders to teach her fifth graders how to get started with Prodigy. The second grade students helped the older students set up accounts, work through problem solving, and set out on quests on Prodigy Island. Prodigies answered questions and battled monsters along with the help of their pets. The littles not only shared their knowledge with the bigs, but proved that it isn’t necessary to know it all - just be willing to share your experience and excitement.
Interim assessments, classroom assessments, summative assessments... One thing is for sure. We have lots of assessments. Our elementary recently completed its first round of ACT Aspire interim assessments, and grades 7-10 are scheduled over the next couple of weeks. Now is a great time to remind you of the resources available to learn more about the tests and the available reports.
ACT Aspire Overview:
Below is a quick comparison of the two types of periodic assessments:
More information on Periodic Assessments can be found here: http://www.livebinders.com/play/play/1851411# Check out the Resources for Periodics tab.
Our walk in the PARCC is over, and it is now time to “Aspire”. Spring testing will look different this year with all juniors taking the “real ACT” on March 1 and all 3rd-10th grade students taking the ACT Aspire (April 11-May 16). Both assessments will be administered online.
A few high level facts about Aspire:
In December our technology department started planning for online testing. We have our obvious testing goals - to ensure that our infrastructure and devices are test-ready (and in our district that equates to about 850 devices), to install and test caching servers, and to assist our counselors with data uploads and assessment logistics. In addition, Kristy and I have taken some time to focus on the instructional side of the assessment and have accumulated some resources about navigating the online platform and familiarizing ourselves with test content and design. You can find those resources at http://lightbulblearningblog.weebly.com. Click on Assessments and then Teacher Resources. You can also go directly to the ACT Aspire Teacher Resources page here - http://goo.gl/BQ3dwQ.
To feel prepared for an assessment, it is important to not only know the content but to also understand how that content will be tested (types of questions, number of questions, time limits, etc. ). Add the online component on top of that, and it is also important we minimize any uncertainty students have about navigating the assessment platform. The more we know about a test, the more comfortable we feel.
Two of the best resources for digging into the test design and the online platform are Testing in Arkansas and the Student Sandbox. Also, as part of the ACT Aspire assessment package, the state purchased periodic assessments which we have the opportunity to use - interim and classroom. Each school will decide how and when to use those.
Let our technology department know if you need help with anything….we aspire to help you in any way we can. (I couldn’t resist.)
Dana Lane is a Technology Coordinator, and Kristy Graham is an Instructional Technology Specialist - both at Rivercrest School District. They are passionate about technology and learning and enjoy sharing this passion with teachers and students.