Tag Archives: google apps

New Google Sites

Example of google sites header

While Google has put out some great tools in other areas, Google Sites has always been a bit lacking.  It is difficult to create sites that are visually appealing and many end up looking like something straight out of the ’90s.  Not anymore!  The totally rebuilt version of Google sites is intuitive, simple to use, and makes clean, modern looking websites.

What’s new in the rebuild?

Real-time collaboration – The new sites will function just like any other google product – allowing multiple collaborators to work on the site at a time.  Currently, multiple people can edit a site, but only one at a time.  This opens up better possibilities for students using this tool as well.

Drag and drop design – In the new version, you will see a sidebar that provides all of your options for adding content to your page.  No more complicated menus.  Simply click to add a new text box or image, resize it, and move it wherever you’d like.

Responsive Design – As you design, you can view what the site would look like on a mobile tablet or phone.  The design will adjust based on the device being used, so content will still look nice and be accessible regardless of the device. If parents are accessing your classroom website on their phones, it will be much easier to use.

More to come – While the new sites is much simpler to use, it also means that are fewer features than in classic sites.  Google will be adding in additional features in the future, but we will have to wait and see what those include.

What about my current site?

Migration tools to transition classic sites to new sites will be coming out in 2017.  Gradually, classic sites will be eliminated in 2018/19, but Google will provide at least a year’s notice of this change.  If you would like to transition your site prior to this, you will have to do so manually by copying and pasting or recreating content from your classic site.

Quick Introduction Video

If you are looking for something a little more detailed try this New Google Sites Tutorial.

How do I access it?

Google sites is now built right into your Drive.  Once you are in your Drive, Click New > More> Google Sites.Create a new site from DriveYou can also go to the sites app in your grid or sites.google.com.  When creating a new site, make sure you choose New Google Sites from the left.Choose new google sites when creating a siteHow can I use this?

This new version of sites is a simple way to create a classroom webpage for parents or to post information for students.   Maybe even more importantly, it can be a great tool for students to build a portfolio, demonstrate learning in a different way, and share their work with a wider audience.


Stay Organized with Keep

keepWe all have different ways to stay organized, notifications on our phones, lists, post-it notes (way too many post-it notes)!  I have found Google Keep to be a helpful tool for my various lists and notes.  Keep is a Google app that is available within your school account: keep.google.com.  I keep it open in a tab all day so that I can check off tasks as I finish them.  It’s also an app on my phone so I always have it with me.

It’s simple to use.  Create a note, title it, and start writing.  You can write a note or add checkboxes to mark off tasks as you go.  Other features:

NotificationsReminder for Keep

You can set a notification based on a date and a time to be reminded, or choose a location.  When you arrive at that location, the reminder will be activated.


Organize and Search

When you create a note, you can give it a background color and tags to easily find it later.  You can also search your notes by keyword or filter based on a variety of things.  To keep your notes visually organized, you can drag and drop notes to exactly where you want them.


CollaborateKeep (1)

As with other Google services, you can share notes so that you and your team can stay on the same page.  If the information in the note gets to be too much, you can copy it to a Google Doc instead.  Just open the note and click on the overflow menu (three dots).  It gives you the option to Copy to Google Doc.  That’s it!


Voice Memos

With the phone app, you can take voice memos instead of typing out your note.  Tap the microphone icon at the bottom of the app and start speaking.  It will dictate your message and add a new note.


Give it  a try!

There are many note-taking options out there, but I have found Google Keep to be a simple and effective tool to keep myself organized.  Have you tried it out or use something else that you love?  Let everyone know in the comments!


Capture your Screen with Snagit

I will preface this by saying that I love Snagit!  I have been using it to create quick how-to videos when someone has a question that is answered more easily with a visual walkthrough, as opposed to an email or conversation.  I also use it to create help documents because I can easily take a snap shot of what a menu looks like or what to click on.  This is much easier for people to follow than text alone.

So what is it?

Snagit for Google Chrome is an extension that allows you to take a screenshot or screencast from within your browser.  The screen capture tool allows you to take a snapshot of all or a region of your screen and annotate it with text, arrows, and shapes.  The screen recording tool allows you to record and narrate a video of the activity within your chrome browser.  These are great tools for showing “how-to” or having students explain their thinking.  Here’s a quick overview:

Is there something that you need to show students multiple times for them to understand it?  Create a screen recording that students can refer back to as many times as they need.  Post it to your class website, Google classroom, or share it with students so it is available right within their drive accounts.  Your screen captures and recordings save directly into your Google Drive into a folder called TechSmith, so they can be shared in the same way as any other file; with a few people or an entire class.

Want to learn more?  Here’s an overview:

Snagit for Chrome Extension Overview

And a quick tutorial video (the look of the app is updated slightly, but features are the same):

Learn More from Video with VideoNot.es

Information is available to us in all formats – text, photo, video, audio, interactive graphics, social media, and more.  Most of us are comfortable with consuming information in text form, taking notes, and organizing our thoughts.  VideoNot.es provides a simple platform to simplify the process of learning from video.

VideoNot.es is an app that connects with your Google Drive account.  It allows you to import a video from from a variety of sources (e.g. YouTube, Kahn Academy, Vimeo) and take notes that are time stamped as you watch the video.  The entire file – video with notes – is then saved into your Google Drive.

This brief video gives an overview of the process:

Give it a try or share this tool with your students!

Pixlr Promotes Creativity

High school French and German classes have begun a unit titled “Beauty and Aesthetics.”  To help students learn and practice new vocabulary, French teacher Danielle Schoenwetter planned an activity in which students made an ugly picture beautiful and a beautiful picture ugly.  Using the new vocabulary, they then had to explain what they did and how that changed the aesthetics of the images.

The students used Pixlr, an online photo editing program similar to PhotoShop.  The benefit to an online program like this is that students can add it to their Google drive and do all of their work on a Chromebook.  The image is saved directly to their Google Drive and can be shared easily with the teacher.

Both teachers reported that the students were highly engaged in this activity and produced creative images.  For example, one student found a photo of an oil field for her “ugly” image and turned it into an ocean. The explanation of that change used quite a bit of new vocabulary!

Google Tool Thursday

google appsApps, extensions, add-ons, yikes!

There are so many Google tools to choose from – where do I even begin?

Just like adding apps to your smart phone, there are a ton of options – some great, some not so much.  How do you decide what to use?

I can help with that!  Each Thursday, I will highlight a Google tool that you might find useful.  When you see something that looks interesting, give it a try!

Here’s a quick rundown of the different types of Google tools:

What are Google Chrome Extensions?

Extensions add on to your Google Chrome browser and provide additional functionality.   They are designed to make tasks easier, more visible, more interesting and save you time!

How do I add extensions?

For extensions to save, you have to log in the the Chrome browser.  Click here for help on logging in. The login button is in the upper right-hand corner and will either have your name or will be a person icon. Extensions can be added from the Chrome Web Storehere’s how.

What are Google Apps?

Google Apps are simply web applications.  The basic ones are Docs, Sheets, Slides, Mail, and Calendar, but there are many more that you can add into your Google drive.  Just like the apps you add to your phone, these are created by all different companies.

How do I add Google Apps?

You add apps directly to Google Drive.  Check out this tutorial for step by step directions.

What are Google Add-ons?

Add-ons are tools built by third-party developers for Google Docs, Sheets, and Forms.  They add additional functionality that isn’t built into those apps.

How do I install add-ons?

Add-ons are app specific (some are for docs, others are for sheets), and you add them from the menu of an open doc or sheet.  Take a look at this help documentation for step by step instructions.

There’s the run-down!  Watch for a featured tool next Thursday!