Creating Matching Games and Dynamic Graphic Organizers with Google Slides

A good way for students to practice their memory of terms and concepts is through matching games and dynamic graphic organizers.  Teachers can easily create these types of activities for their students by using Google Slides.  Here’s how:

  1. Create a slide that will serve as the place where your students will organize the information you want them to know.  I chose a square shape for this slide by going to File > Page Setup > Custom and choosing 8.5 inches by 8.5 inches.  I did this just in case I wanted to print the board on standard 8.5″ x 11″ paper.  I also used a table to make the game board look more uniform:
  2. Next, create a slide that contains the actual information that your players will organize.  For this game, players will demonstrate their knowledge of the various G Suite tools by matching their names, their icons, and the purpose of each app.  Your players will cut the pieces from this slide and paste them on the game board.

3. To prevent players from accidentally moving the table around as they place the information on the game board, I “locked” the table down.  To lock items on a slide, you will create a picture of the slide and then make this picture the background of a new slide.  To do this, go to File > Download as > JPEG image.  Save the file on your computer.

Now create a new blank slide and remove all content.  On the blank slide, click the Background on the tool bar, click the Choose Image box, and upload the picture you saved to your computer.  A big thanks to Google Apps guru Alice Keeler (@alicekeeler) for this tip.

 

Now delete the original slide you designed to be the game board.

4. Share the Google Slides file with others via Google Drive.  Choose the “Anyone with the link” and give them “Can view” rights to the file.  Remind them that they must make a copy of the file in order to play the game.  Better yet, share this activity through Google Classroom and select the “Make a copy for each student” option when creating the assignment.  The copying and the necessary permissions that they will need will happen automatically.

If you would like to give the G Suite Matching game a try, visit https://goo.gl/uEYg6A

What’s Next for our Student Device Initiatives?

Our team began formulating a plan in 2013 to provide devices for all students.  We began putting this plan into place during the 2014-2015 school year.  We started at Northside by supplying each teacher and student with his/her own iPad to use for instructional needs.  Our middle school students began using Chromebooks both at school and at home in 2015, and teachers and students at Wylie Elementary were provided with iPads for the 2016-2017 school year.

The success of our student device programs depends on everyone, including our school board members who approve the funding for these programs and our administrators who provide vision and leadership.  Success depends mainly on our teachers who must adapt their teaching methods to utilize these tools in ways that best benefit their students. And, speaking of students, we are counting on them to use the devices responsibly and to take good care of our equipment.  We also need parents to help with this.

So, what’s next?

For the 2017-2018 school year, we will supply devices for students at Henderson High School.  Here are our plans:

  • Students in grades 9, 10, and 11 will have the option to be assigned a device to use both at home and at school.  A fee of $30 will be required for this.
  • The device we have chosen for students is the Asus C202SA Chromebook.
  • Students will be allowed to carry the laptop in their backpacks as long as the computer is placed within a special protective sleeve that we will provide.
  • Seniors will have the option to check out existing Dell Chromebooks for use at school.
  • All students will have the option to bring their own laptop or tablet from home to use at school each day.


The C202SA is a great machine that was well received when we showed it to board members and members of the HHS student advisory council.  It has a spill-resistant keyboard with keys that are raised a bit higher than many Chromebooks.  It has a rugged design, including a protective rubber guard, and has been tested to withstand a drop from a height of almost 4 feet.  It also has a 180° hinge and great battery life. For more information, visit https://www.asus.com/us/Commercial-Laptops/ASUS-Chromebook-C202SA/


Higher Ground’s 11″ Drop In case allows students to place the sleeve into their own backpacks and then their computers within the protective sleeve. Visit https://hggear.com/products/dropin to learn more about this case. 

We also have plans to form a Student Tech Help Desk team.  Members of this team will work with campus and district technology staff to provide customer support for both students and teachers throughout the day.

We also plan to deliver a variety of staff development opportunities for our high school teachers with a focus on achieving goals and receiving rewards for certain accomplishments.  Our teachers will utilize the skills they gain to become better at using technology to accomplish the following:

  • provide access to a wide variety of instructional materials
  • streamline daily processes
  • create classrooms that function more like real-world environments
  • increase opportunities for critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration

Transferring Information from One Google Account to Another

Google Takeout now offers users the ability to transfer files from Google Drive and Gmail messages from one account to another.  This is an important feature for our graduating seniors who don’t want to lose information as they leave our district and their school-issued Google accounts are closed.

The process is shown in the following graphics:

 

Navigating the New HISD Web Site

You might have noticed that our district’s web site has changed quite a bit.  To help ease the stress that this change might be causing you, I’ve put together a few pointers as well as a video that might help.

First, the new web site is much more campus-centric.  This means that, if you want information about a particular campus, you will likely not find it on the district home page.  You will need to go to that campus’s site.  To do this, simply choose the CAMPUSES menu and then the campus for which you need information.

Once you arrive at the campus web site, the menu items become unique to this campus.  Click on the About Us menu item and you will find the events calendar for that campus.

This is the monthly calendar showing all events.

A horizontal summary of the most current events is available below the quick links on each home page.

You will find news summaries below the horizontal calendar events.

Links to the district’s Facebook page, Twitter feed, and YouTube channel are available at the very bottom of each page.

If you are on a campus page and you want to get back to the district’s home page, just click the H logo at the very top of the page.

You can also select another campus web site from the Select a School menu at the top left.  You can change the default language of the page from English to another language by selecting the Language drop-down menu.  You can search a campus web site for keywords using the search box in the upper right-hand corner.

5 Simple Things You Can Do to Make Yourself a Better Educator

We are nearing the end of another school year.  When you reflect on the weeks of school that have passed by, how are you feeling about what you have accomplished?  Are you proud of the impact that you’ve had on your students this year?  Are you a better educator this year than you were last year?  What things would you change about the outcomes from this school year?

To finish this year strong and to better prepare yourself for the new school year that will begin in August, consider this to-do list:

  1. Never stop learning and trying new things.  This includes learning new teaching methods and learning new ways to integrate technology into your teaching and learning.
  2. Build meaningful relationships with students and their parents.  The more time you invest in proactive communication with your customers, the less time you will have to spend reacting to the negative fallout of frustrated students and angry parents.
  3. Listen to what your students are saying (and not saying) and adjust your classroom accordingly.  Student voice is important.  Your students will be much more interested in your subject and your activities if they get to have input.  Be attentive to their likes and their interests and adjust your lessons accordingly.
  4. Build relationships and work together with other teachers to accomplish your goals.  We cannot do this alone.  To maintain healthy morale and to continue growing, we must have the support of others.  Being a part of a community of professionals is essential to your well being.
  5. Always be professional, positive, and prepared.  I shared some information in an earlier blog post called “7 Things Effective Teachers Do Every Day” with some great tips at http://wp.me/p3EhRs-cM

Student-Centered vs. Teacher-Centered Instruction

In your classroom…

  • Do you create all the media and handouts, or do your students get opportunities to create and share media, including videos, presentations, and handouts?
  • Do your students work on assignments until they achieve mastery with your feedback and help along the way, or do students get one chance to get it right with the only feedback being a final grade?
  • Do your students collaborate with you and with other students during the class periods, or must they remain quiet while you do most of the talking?
  • Do students get to work in real-world situations and scenarios and solve authentic problems, or do the bulk of your classroom activities have them filling in blanks and bubbling scantron sheets?
  • Do students get the chance to share what they have learned and created with people outside your classroom, or are you the only person who sees their work?
  • Do students use technology as an integral tool for productivity, collaboration, creativity, and for publishing, or is technology used only as an afterthought or for drill and practice?

Shifting some of your teacher-centered activities to those that are student-centered is not easy.  As professionals, we want to take full responsibility for everything in our classrooms.  Control is important.  We like order.  We like quiet classrooms where students leave each other alone in order to concentrate on the tasks at hand.  We like tasks where the correct answers are unambiguous and easy to score.

Knowing what type of instruction is best comes down to a question of efficacy.  What results are you getting?  Are you creating students who are prepared for work?  Are you creating students who are prepared for college?  Is the technology in your room being used to allow students to do meaningful things that will change their lives?  The most important question- Are we creating a love of learning within our students, or will it take leaving our schools to find this love on their own somewhere else?

Good teachers are the most important part of any student’s success.  Shifting instruction in a more student-centered direction doesn’t demand less of you; in fact, it may demand more.  In my opinion, we should be more than vessels pouring our knowledge into other vessels.  Our job is to show our students how to acquire knowledge by providing them with the best tools and opportunities to facilitate their learning.  I also believe that technology is one of the most powerful tools that our students can use to reach their learning goals.

If you are looking for ways to transition your role from “sage on the stage” to “guide on the side,” I encourage you to explore some of the resources below:

https://hendersonisd.wordpress.com/2016/03/20/tech-tools-for-improving-student-centered-learning/

https://edutrainingcenter.withgoogle.com/advanced_training/preview

http://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2013/12/24/ctq_powell_strengths.html

http://www.friedtechnology.com/stuff

 

Google Team Drives

Google recently added a new feature to Drive.  It’s called Team Drives, and it solves one of the big problems that we have had with using Google Suite for collaboration at Henderson ISD.

Here is the scenario:  A teacher uploads some files to Google Drive or creates some files in Google Docs, Slides, or Sheets and places them in a Google Drive folder.  She shares this folder with her co-workers.  Some time later, the teacher leaves the district and her Google account is deleted.  Since she was the owner of the shared folder of files, these items are deleted along with her account.  Her co-workers no longer have access to these unless they made copies of each and placed them in their own Google Drives prior to her account being deleted.

Team Drives allows you to establish a special Google Drive for each of your collaborative teams.  Here is an example of a special drive I set up for a team called Technology Committee:

First, create and name the drive.

 

Add members of the team who will need access to the drive.

The folder has several levels of permissions that you can assign to members of the team.  Those include Full access (a member can manage the team members and can upload, edit, and delete files; Edit access (a member can edit all files and upload files); Comment access (a member can comment on all files); View access (a member can only view files).

Once the drive is created, you have options, like adding more members, removing members, changing the theme, renaming, viewing the trash, or deleting the drive completely.  If a team member accidentally deletes a files, it can be restored from the trash by members who have the appropriate permissions.

Now, any file or folder that is added to the drive will be available to all members of the team.  No one member of the team owns any of the files and folders; all own the files.  Even if a member of a team leaves, the files stay exactly where they are- they do not leave if a member of the team leaves.

Google has resources in their learning center with full information about Team Drives at https://gsuite.google.com/learning-center/products/drive/get-started-team-drive/