Category Archives: Google

Slides Carnival

Slides Carnival is a wonderful free template gallery for Google Slides users that scaffolds the process of creating an effective slide show for users. All Slides Carnival templates contain the same slides and options, but different formatting, colors, fonts and layout. They are also all customizable. Unfortunately, Slides Carnival shows advertisements and does not allow downloads when on the iPad.

So, I added all the templates into a Google Folder and am happy to share them with anyone in the district. Please just click “Add to Drive” and once you have selected a Slides template that you like, go to File, Make a Copy.


5 Links Monday (on Tuesday 10/6/15)

As a famed poet of our time once said, “greetings loved ones, let’s take a journey.” Here are my favorite 5 links from the web this week. Let’s dig in!

1.) You can wake up now, September has come to an end! Hopefully you caught my Green Day reference, if not, you need to catch up here! Although the aforementioned song reached the peak of it’s popularity in September of 2005, using our first link of the day, Google Trends you can see that each subsequent September, this song makes a very substantial resurgence in the number of times people search for the hit using Google. Google Trends is an amazing resource that allows you to dive into the nitty gritty surrounding Google searches. Using Trends, you can explore search data at a country, state, city, or county view! What an amazing tool for developing wonder and creativity in our student’s! There are multiple applications to using this in the classroom, but one of them is asking students to make predictions based on trend data…why, for example, is the number one state for googling “Wake me Up When September Ends”, California, or why does the term “Shot-Put” spike in searches every 4 years? Here is a great site that discusses more specific ways to use it in the classroom!
Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 10.21.47 AM

2.) This link combines things that don’t often go together: roller coasters, and reading! This intriguing article discusses an intricate 4 mile roller coaster for books at a Library in Budapest, Hungary. If you think constructing a 4 mile roller coaster would be difficult even with an owners manual and “how to videos”, imagine how difficult it would be using smuggled unlabeled parts because your country was under embargo! It takes about 10-15 minutes from when a reader requests a book for it to take the “ride” and arrive in the desired reading room. While this roller coaster is an impressive engineering feat, I still prefer 24/7, instant access to our St. Vrain Digital Library!

book coaster

3.) Teaching is often a thankless job. Maybe this story will encourage you! We don’t always understand the power of our reach, nor do we understand how and when our hard work will pay off. “When Dr. Michael Shannon saved the life of a premature baby 30 years ago, he would never have thought decades later, the favour would be returned.” Keep delivering a world class education for our students, it will pay off!
4.) “More power from the sun hits the Earth in a single hour than humanity uses in an entire year.” This fascinating article discusses the common misconception that in order to rely on solar energy we would need to cover most of the globe in solar panels.

5.) You’ve probably heard of a “first world problem” but have you heard of a first world invention? This device is an “ambient physical display that visualizes various weather conditions like rain, clouds, and lightning. By receiving weather forecasts from the internet, it can reproduce tomorrow’s sky in your living room.” If we were to place this device somewhere on the SAMR spectrum, it would definitely just be an overly expensive substitute. No need to fret if you can’t pony up the $200, you can always just open the blinds 🙂

5 Links Monday (on Tues. 3/31/15)

What do cat videos, passwords and Rube Goldberg machines have in common? They are included in this week’s 5 Links, along with PDF conversions in Google Docs and a social media tool.

Link #1 – #tagboard

#tagboard collects publicly shared hashtags from several social media sites. The visual display of the collected content makes for an enjoyable viewing experience. Sadly, you only get one tagboard with a free account, but it is easy to delete and recreate a new tagboard.  Here’s one I created for #HighFunctioningMeans, which seems to only be popular on Twitter right now.

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 4.10.58 PM

Link #2 – “Animal Translations are Great for ELLs”

Cat videos being used as an educational resource?! Larry Ferlazzo explains that students learning English can practice fluency by showing muted videos, like those in the “Animal Translations” YouTube channel (you may want to preview the vids as some may have inappropriate language), and asking students to think of a dialogue to go along with the video. Read about other ways you can use media to support English Language Learners here.

Link #3 – 10 Important Password Tips Everyone Should Know

You may have already noticed that you will be required to use a more complex password. Changing your password is not the only thing you can do to protect your online accounts. This article by Vicki Davis highlights ten other things to consider with regard to your password.

Link #4 – Convert PDFs to Google Docs 

Another tool that makes it easier to modify those old lessons! PDFs that are text heavy will have the cleanest conversion, while those with images and tables will likely not convert well. Here is Google’s Support site providing more comprehensive directions.

Link #5 – Passover Highlights Through a Rube Goldberg Machine

In honor of the holiday that starts this Friday night, a group from Techion created a Rube Goldberg Machine that includes features of the Passover meal. This site and this site offer resources if you’d like to try this out with your students.


Google+ in SVVSD

google-plus-buttonBeginning in 2015, SVVSD is allowing staff members the opportunity to add Google+ to their SVVSD Google Apps account. Google requires a person to be older than 18 years to use Google+. For this reason, St. Vrain students will not be able to utilize this feature.

Google+ is a social network that builds off of your SVVSD Google account and adds additional features and functionality. It is possible to post and interact with people outside of SVVSD on Google+ but there is no requirement to do so. If you choose to post to Google+ using your district SVVSD account, be mindful of district policy EHC-R Responsible Use Guidelines.

Support: Google+ and the related tools are not considered ‘primary tools’ like Docs, Mail, Calendar and Sites so you will need to rely on the Google+ Help Center for support. The SVVSD HelpDesk may be able to help if you are having issues, but Google+ and the related tools won’t be top priority.

Activate: To activate your Google+ account you will need to complete the following form: Request to enable Google+ (Plus).  Your account will be enabled within 2 business days. Once your account is enabled, you will need to establish a Google+ Profile by going to or by finding your name with + at the end of it in the upper right of your email inbox.

In the next few weeks, we will post more information about how to get the most out of this new set of tools.

How to back up your Notability files to Google Drive

Screen Shot 2014-10-09 at 3.11.07 PM

Unless you are backing up your iPad to a computer or iCloud, data stored in your apps, like Explain Everything, Pages, Notability, etc,will no longer be there if you need to wipe and restore your iPad.

Let’s say you use Notability for your observations of teachers if you are an administrator, and observations of students if you are a teacher. You are using Notability to not only write in notes onto the observational document, but also recording audio from the classroom. This can take up a lot of data, and the 5MG of storage in iCloud may be used up quickly. You can use Google Drive as a place to back up your documents.


iBooks Author & the Colorado Flood of 2013

Over the past couple of weeks I reflected on all that has happened in the year that has passed since the flood. When we participated in iBooks Author training the other week I decided that I would learn to use this tool by telling some of my experiences during the Colorado Flood of 2013 and what followed. The book is still in draft form, but I thought it may be helpful to see a tech work in progress. Your feedback is welcome, please leave a comment or send an email to Thank you!

This blog has 2 parts, kinda like the book:

Part 1. iBook Viewing/Creating/Organizing Notes [Read this for notes on how to read this book.]

Part 2. Some of my story with regard to the flood and why I’m sharing it on the ITC blog.

 Part 1. iBook Viewing/Sharing Notes

1. If you want to read the iBook I created you will have to have the iBooks app downloaded on your device. Some notes on this: 

  • These files are too big to be shared through email, but can be shared through Google Drive.1
  • The file shared through Google Drive opened differently on different iPads. One of them was to find it through Google Drive App by title, after selecting on this link, the others opened it simply by selecting the link and not having to open the Google Drive app. The same thing happened with desktops.
  • If you want to share this with someone without iBooks you can save and share it as a PDF file. As you can see in the PDF version of my iBook, it will lose the fancy interactive widgets or other features like videos.

2. To create a book like this you will need to download iBooks Author to your desktop or laptop.

3. Organizing tips I wish I would’ve known before starting this project:

  • Create an outline of the book. I tried to organize photos beforehand, but found it would’ve likely been more beneficial if I took the time to draft an outline.
  • Organize photos or videos taken on your iOS device for an iBook into chapter or section photos, while making space on your device. This would’ve helped me to learn more about the tool and less time trying to reorganize later. I expect any first time learning to be messy, but this may spark an idea as you enjoy the features of the tool and your creation.

 Part 2. Some of my story with regard to the flood and why I’m sharing it on our work blog.

This past year I wanted to create something to thank those that supported my family during this time, and share an update for the interested folks that brought hope and beauty to our lives this past year.  Given this group included several folks from SVVSD2, and the surrounding community, it seemed an appropriate topic, more so to share it here. Then I realized that I could write about my experience using iBooks Author and make something that may support or inspire others in our district to create something awesome and help other learners to do the same!

When I attended our neighborhood commemorative event two weekends ago there were neighbors that expressed interest in sharing their stories and media in this book. I was glad because I had already decided that this would be a draft, as I had not properly organized the media for the iBook. So pardon the inevitable grammatical errors or empty pages.

Below is a motion picture and a section pulled from one of the chapters of the book:

As I look around my home, especially the basement, there are many reminders of the support that came from so many and not only restored my home, but helped heal and grow my heart. These are also reminders of the strength that came for us this past year, and the hope for what the future will bring.

The following pages present a few of the images of our home one year later. There are remains of the flood in small ways when compared to where were were a year ago. Thank you to all that helped get us here. It still brings tears to my eyes as I consider how much you all have impacted our lives. I do hope that my life will reflect your gift to me in the best possible ways.

Again, thank you for all that you’ve done for us, our family, the community and beyond. I look around my home, especially the basement, there are many reminders of all that has happened in the past year, and hope for what the future will bring.

Finally, to those that are still in the hardest part of the recovery process, and/or your loss included life, our hearts ache for you most. Our hope is all the support you need will come to you swiftly. If you need help recovering from Flood 2013 please email me and I would reach out to my network to see if there is something that might be of support to you.

  1. More information may be found on this and other iBooks Author stuff via this iTunes course. []
  2. I still hear the voices and see the images of my colleagues supporting me through this experience. A particularly vivid image is one of mud slinging in the face of our CIO Joe McBreen and Leroy Martinez carrying up the treadmill that Michelle Bourgeois and her spouse had carried down two weeks prior. Or Michelle telling me that she wouldn’t get off the phone with me until my dog was safe with my sister and I (it must’ve been past 8pm and she had been keeping me posted for hours prior). []

Google Add-ons

Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 2.35.20 PM

You may have noticed a little shake up in our Google Docs over the last week. Google has rolled out a new feature to Google Doc and Google Sheets called ‘Add on’s’. Add on’s are developed by third party vendors, and other Google Developers to add additional functionality to Docs and Sheets. You can read more about what ‘Add on’s’ are on the Google Drive blog here, but don’t hesitate to check them out on your own.

*Important note* If you want to check out ‘Add on’s’ in Sheets you will need to follow these steps to turn Sheets on.

– Open Google Drive and go to the ‘Setting’ gear on the right hand side of the screen.

Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 2.40.30 PM







– Open the Editing tab and ‘Try the new Google Sheets’

Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 2.40.44 PM








If you are a teacher that uses Google Docs with your students be sure to take a look Doctopus and Googbric. Powerful Add on’s that can distribute folders and docs to students like a giant digital copy machine. Oh, and you can attach a digital rubric to each document as well.

Here is a fantastic post from Silver Creek librarian Phil Goerner published in the School Library Journal.

Eagle Crest 2nd Grade Tall Tales Project

The following post was penned by Michele Keener over on the ecestechnology blog. Ms. Dudly and her 2nd graders were fantastic hosts but too busy with the lesson to pay that much attention to the instructional tech guy walking around.

Google Earth and Tall Tales

Recently I had some time to sit and visit in a second grade classroom.  They were reviewing map skills and ECE2ndGradetall tale unit through daily oral language sheets.  It made me think that it was possible to do something similar using Google Earth via the ipads.  I asked the teacher if she would consider creating a quest type worksheet using geographical locations in one of the tall tale stories.  Part of the questions would be facts or things they noticed about the sites and incorporating the use of the compass rose.  We chose the Bunyans, by Audrey Wood as the story uses many iconic places in the United States such as Niagara Falls, Yellowstone National Park, the Rocky Mountains, the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans just to name a few.

Students were given directions on how to interface with Google Earth (though many had used it at home) and what the expectations were for the worksheet.  They were so excited to begin.  We started Google Earth from our school location and headed for Niagara Falls.  They were astonished by the view, oohing and aahing over it! The facts and comments kept them engaged throughout the hour we had allotted for the project. All the students finished and wanted to know when they could do it again. This particular lesson did not take much time to put together and it covers many of the second grade core standards. Examples:

Social Studies

  • 2.1.a.1   Unit 4
  • 2.1.b.2  Unit 4

Reading, Writing, Communicating:

  • 1.1.b.4   Unit 2 Reading
  • 1.2.b.5   Unit 6 Reading
  • 4.1.b      Unit 6 Writing
  • 4.1.d      Unit 6 Writing


Numbers App Training

Last week I facilitated a training in coordination with Eagle Crest Elementary School’s P.E. teacher Jason Goldsberry. He asked that teachers be exposed to the iPad Numbers App for purposes of grading, tracking data, and collecting student artifacts.


I conducted a brief overview on basic iPad features, and then described the process of getting the information from one device to another via Google Drive. This training could be adapted by anyone wanting to lead a similar session, or the resources could be used by a person wanting to know more about Numbers.

This session  was added to the P.E. blog where I discovered other lesson plans posted by SVVSD P.E. teachers. I looked at some of these lesson plans and found some could be used in a classroom for team-building or movement activities.

SVVSD Googleverse Part 2

Google Drive Mobile App

In the previous post we looked at our Google Apps for Education suite on standard laptops and desktops. However, more of us are accessing our Google Apps suite on mobile devices. iPads, iPhones, and Androids are becoming the platform many teachers and students use for getting work done. Being able to access all of your Google documents and files from a mobile device has plenty of advantages and we will list some of those advantages here, there are some important limitations teachers and students should know before diving in with the Google Drive mobile app.

Users can’t make copies of Google Docs from the Google Drive app. – This a significant drawback for teachers that want their students to be able to make a copy of a doc that they have shared.  Workarounds: A. Have students create a new doc from their Drive and then copy and paste content from a view only doc the teacher provided.

Users can’t edit or create Google Presentations in the Google Drive app. – It is possible to view presentation from the Google Drive app but a teachers wouldn’t want to assign a project that required student to create and edit a Google Presentation on the iPad. Workaround: Use Keynote to create and edit a presentation.

Users have limited editing ability in Google Docs. -Users can edit text in Google Docs, but you won’t have the full features you do on the desktop. For example, you can’t add a photo to a doc, change line spacing, or change text color. Workaround: Open the document in Safari or Chrome on the iPad and go to the ‘desktop’ version. You will need to look at the bottom of the page to find the magic ‘View in: Mobile : Desktop’ link.

This is not a support method by Google and your mileage may vary but you will be able to access more of the editing tools and can even add a photo to a doc.

Even with some of these drawbacks the Google Drive iOS app is incredible and it is only getting better. I would not be shocked if all of the issues listed above are fixed in the next 6 months, but for now you should be aware of them before diving in with students. If you haven’t yet Download Google Drive for iOS

Be sure to talk a look at Google Help on Drive on iPhone and iPad

If you have other workarounds please share them in the comments below. Thanks!

Upcoming topics:

Chrome Web Browser Apps and Extensions

Google Drive Apps

Chrome OS and Chromebooks

Chrome Web Apps