A Must Have Dropbox Tool for Teachers

February , 2017
Dopbox for Gmail is an excellent tool to use to ‘send and preview Dropbox files and links without leaving your Gmail window’. We have tried it in multiple occasions and it worked perfectly well. If you are a big fan of dropbox this extension is a must have. Once imstalled, a Dropbox button will be added to your Gmail Compose window enabling you to instantly send large files.

Another interesting feature from Dropbox for Gmail is the ability to easily see previews of  Dropbox links embedded in your emails. You can also use these links to download attached files directly from Gmail to your Dropbox account. Additionally, Dropbox for Gmail allows you to "quickly access any important files with the Recent Files tab or use our supercharged Search tool to find the file you need to send." Give it a try and share with us your feedback in our Facebook page. Enjoy

The 5 Most important Google Drive Updates in 2017

February 24, 2017
Since the start of the new year, Google Drive released a number of important updates geared towards enhancing the performance of its services. The one we liked the most in this series of updates is the ability to add Google Drive videos right into presentations created in Slides. Before, you could only add YouTube videos but now you can easily embed videos stored in your Drive into your slides. Below is round-up of the most important updates in Google Drive, if you haven’t already seen them:

1- Preview password-protected files in Google Drive

Users are now able  to preview password-protected Microsoft Office files, presentations, and spreadsheets in Google Drive.’When you attempt to open one of these file types in Drive on the web, you’ll be prompted to enter the password and, upon doing so successfully, you’ll see a read-only preview of that document.’

2/3- Google Sheets updates

Google Sheets has added some interesting new updates most important of them are :
   A-Rotated text
‘You can now rotate the text in a cell in Sheets (Format > Text rotation). This is especially useful when you need to fit long header names into thin columns, or when you simply want to fit more text on a single screen.’
   B- Link to cell ranges in Google Sheets
This new feature allows you to create links to specific cells in your spreadsheet. ‘With this new functionality, you can create a “table of contents” for your spreadsheet, direct others to specific content within your spreadsheet, and retain links to cells when you import spreadsheets from other applications.’

4- Creating files from templates now easier in Google Drive

This update makes it easier ‘for users to create files from templates by granting access to templates directly from Drive. Instead of navigating to the Docs, Sheets, Slides, or Forms home pages, you can simply go to Drive > New > Google Docs/Sheets/Slides/Forms > From a template. From there, you’ll be directed to the applicable template gallery, where you can select the template of your choice.’

5- Google Slides

‘ Users are now able to add, besides videos from YouTube,  videos they have in their Google Drive right into their slides. The process is very simple. Here is how to insert a Drive video into your presentation: Open Google Slides, click on ‘Insert’ then choose ‘Video’ and click on ‘Google Drive’. From there you can select the  Drive video you want to use.’

Using The Power of Personal Learning Networks to Transform Education (Book)

February 24, 2017 
The featured book for this week is Richardson and Rob Mancabelli's  "Personal Learning Networks: Using the Power of Connections to Transform Education ".  This is  absolutely a great read with illuminating insights on the educational potential of digital technologies and social media.  Will Richardson and Rob Mancabelli make a strong case for the necessity of embracing digital technologies and social media networking within schools . The authors corroborate their ideas with a wide array of studies and academic researches. They also back up their arguments with anumber of key  examples of how engaging in personal learning networks have empowered individuals to perform and achieve better.

After setting the scene with a detailed account of the impact of internet on human life, the authors go ahead in their argument that the rate of the digitally-enhanced changes is accelerating at a spectacular speed and that unless schools catch up with it, students will ultimately lose complete interest in them and will end up seeking knowledge somewhere else, a thing which they have already started doing through virtual online spaces . As the authors stated :
Our children are connecting outside the school walls, using technologies that most adults are just getting used to and that most schools have not implemented. Today’s kids flock to Facebook, send hundreds of text messages a day from their cell phones, and stay ubiquitously linked to their friends in ways many adults have little context for. Research is showing that their interactions in these social networks are a different yet important part of their development, shaping the way they think and see the world
 Ito et al., (2008).  (p. 6)
Learning networks according to Richardson and Mancabelli are "a rich set of connections each of us can make to people in both our online and offline worlds who can help us with our learning pursuits." (p. 21).These learning networks have become the norm in knowledge dissemination and exchange of expertise. Their importance is well documented in several studies and here are some examples the authors advance in support of the centrality of PLNs in today's education:
  • 'Online learning networks allow us to create our own global classrooms and collect teachers and other learners around the topics we want to learn about.
  • They allow us to self-direct our learning in exciting new ways, ways in which schools are going to find it increasingly hard to compete with.
  • As authors Tony Bingham and Marcia Conner (2010) assert, networks “provide people at every level, in every nook of the organization and every corner of the globe, a way to reclaim their natural capacity to learn non-stop” (Kindle location, 319, cited in Richardson and Mancabelli, 2011, p. 22).
In the rest of the book, Richard and Rob talk about the different ways to implement a networked classroom and provide some interesting tips for ensuring success of learning network adoption in schools.

5 Excellent Periodic Table Apps for Science and Chemistry Teachers

February 23, 2017
Here are five great periodic table apps to use on your iPad in class. Tables summarize properties and provide more information related to each chemical element. These apps are especially helpful for teachers of sciences and engineering. They are also great references for students to use when working on their homework. Check them out and share with us your feedback in our Facebook page.

1- iElements - Periodic Table of The Chemical Elements

‘The periodic table of the chemical elements is a tabular display of the chemical elements. Although precursors to this table exist, its invention is generally credited to Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev in 1869, who intended the table to illustrate recurring ("periodic") trends in the properties of the elements. The layout of the table has been refined and extended over time, as new elements have been discovered, and new theoretical models have been developed to explain chemical behavior.’

2- Quick Periodic Table of the Elements

‘Quick Elements offers rapid access to information on the elements useful for anyone in the sciences and engineering. Four periodic tables summarize a variety of information. Separate screens for all 118 elements provide 22 specific types of data. Access to that data is provided by a searchable list of elements that the user can organize by atomic number, symbol, or name.’

3- Mild EleMints: Free Periodic Table

‘Mild EleMints is an interactive Periodic Table for the iPhone and iPod Touch. It is the free version of EleMints, which not only offers a Periodic Table, but also a Plot Graph, Element listing, Electron Diagram and a wealth of information on every element.’

4- The Elements by Theodore Gray

‘The Elements: A Visual Exploration is not just a reference app, it is a rich and engaging love story of the periodic table, told in words and pictures, and allowing you to experience the beauty and fascination of the building blocks of our universe in a way you've never seen before.’

5- K12 Periodic Table of the Elements

‘K12 Periodic Table of the Elements lets you explore the elements and their key attributes in a simple, easy-to-use way. It's a perfect reference for working through homework problems for Science courses.’

8 Great Exit Ticket Tools for Teachers

February 23, 2017
Exit tickets or cards are informal assessment tools teachers can use to assess students understanding at the end of a class. They can also be used for formative assessment purposes to help teachers design better instructional content based on students feedback. Exit tickets can take the form of a prompt or a question related to what have been taught in the lesson. Here are some examples of questions and prompts to use in your exit cards as featured in Brown University:
 “Name one important thing you learned in class today.
 What did you think was accomplished by the small group activity we did today?
Write/ask one question about today’s content—something that has left your
Today’s lesson had three objectives (These would have been shared at the
beginning of class and should still be available for referencing.), which of the
three do you think was most successfully reached?  Explain.  Or, which was not
attained?  Why do you think it was not?”
The traditional way exit tickets were used to be delivered was through pen and paper. But with the pervasive use of technology in education, there appeared a number of useful web tools teachers can utilize to create and share exit tickets with students. Here is an updated list of some of the best tools we recommend for teachers:

8 Great Exit Ticket Tools for Teachers
1- Google Forms/ Docs
You can create an exit ticket form in Google Forms and share it with your students. You can collect and store students responses in a spreadsheet to use for later reference. Alternatively, you can create a Google document with the questions and prompts you want students to work on and share it with them. Using the commenting feature, students add comments to the document and in this way you will be able to see what each student has contributed.

2- Polling tools
You can also use a number of interesting polling tools to instantly assess students learning at the end of a class. Examples include:

Poll Everywhere is a powerful web tool for creating and distributing polls. It offers you five types of polls to choose from: multiple choice poll, free response poll, true or false poll, clickable images poll, and discourse poll. Your respondents can vote on your poll either through SMS or via the web using the generated link you will provide them. Poll Everywhere also has a wonderful way of displaying the results of the poll. You can have the results displayed on a chart of bouncing bars.You can also present your polls as a seamless part of your PowerPoint or Keynote slideshow. Flip on through and instead of another flat picture, your respondents see your slide come alive with real time poll results.

B- AnswerGarden

AnswerGarden is another great tool to use for collecting feedback from students. This is how it works: you type in your question in Create New AnswerGarden page. When you hit ‘submit’ you will be directed to your newly created AnswerGarden page. From there you can share your page with others or embed it in your class blog or website. Respondents will have to either enter their answers or choose from existing ones.”If you're satisfied with the results, you can for instance show the AnswerGarden to your friends, tweet about it or export it to Wordle or Tagxedo.

3- Student Response tools

Here are some of our favourite student response tools to use in class to do the same job a pen and paper exit slip can do:

A- Today’s Meet

This is an excellent tool to use with students to gather instant feedback on their learning or poll them on matters related to what you teach them. Today’s Meet allows you to create rooms and invite students to join them with no sign up. It is also a very good backchannel platform where students can engage in fruitful discussions and conversations.

B- Socrative

Socrative is anther great tool for getting feedback from students. Teachers can use the different question types provided by Socrative to poll their students and garner their feedback in a variety of formats using both smartphones or computers.

C- iClicker

iClicker is a powerful formative assessment tool and intuitive student response system that allows for dynamic student-teacher interaction. Here is how it works: Instructors ask questions through any presentation application; students answer questions with a remote or smart device; instructors display results in real-time and record responses.

Plickers lets you poll your class for free, without the need for student devices. Just give each student a card (a "paper clicker"), and use your iPhone to scan them to do instant checks-for-understanding, exit tickets, and impromptu polls. Best of all, your data is automatically saved, student-by-student, at plickers.com.

Chromebook Guidelines Chart for Teachers and Educators

February 22, 2017
For those of you using Chromebooks in their instruction, the chart below is a great resource to keep handy. The chart is based on insights collected from Chromebook Help. As is the case with Google Drive Guidelines chart, the purpose of this work is to provide teachers and educators (and students) with  a quick and easy way to access, search and find almost anything related to Chromebooks  from how to get started setting up a Chromebook for the first time to how to turn on accessibility features and edit advanced settings. If you are looking for educational apps to use on your Chromebook, check out this page.

Chromebook Guidelines for Teachers

Get started with Chromebooks
Tour of your Chromebook
Connect your Chromebook
App replacements
Add apps and extensions
Files and downloads
Web browsing
Appearance and language
Users and sync
Advanced settings