Friday, November 13, 2015

5 steps to creating clean, beautiful websites using #Google Sites #GAFE #BISDwired

Pin It You REALLY can create clean, beautiful websites using Google Sites.  I promise!  It can be done!  When most people think of Google Sites, they picture an 80's version of a website with sidebar navigation and bad font packages.  But that's not how it HAS to be!  These easy tips will have you creating stunning Google Sites in no time!

1.  Start with a clean slate.  I always use a blank template and I always choose the default Ski theme.  I think it's the cleanest theme and will give you a nice, blank canvas to build your site.

2.  Ditch the sidebar navigation.  I think horizontal navigation is a more modern look for your website.  The downside to this is that you will have to manually add newly created pages to your horizontal navigation.  (Sidebar navigation automatically creates that navigation tree for you.)

3. Create a custom header.  I use a Chrome Extension called Page Ruler to get dimensions of my header area and then I use Google Drawing to create my graphic.  I re-size my Google Drawing canvas based on what I measured using Page Ruler (sometimes have to reduce width) and then layer elements until it's just right.  Then I download the graphic as a .png and insert it as my site header.

4.  Clean it up.  There are a few tweaks you can make to really clean up your site and make it look polished.  The first thing I do is turn off the site name at the top of the page.  Then, I remove the search function which is currently showing up over my header.  Last, I remove the background color on the whole page.  All of this is done in "Manage Site."

5. Configure the horizontal navigation.  In step 2 I shared that you have to manually add new pages to horizontal navigation.  While this is a small inconvenience, I think it's worth it to have a modern-looking site navigation system.  You can add existing new pages to your horizontal navigation under "Site Layout."  I am also a fan of centering the horizontal navigation instead of leaving it left justified.  This can be done under "Manage Site" in the Themes, Colors and Fonts tab.

BONUS TIP!  Adjust your page settings to create a cleaner, simpler page layout.  I like to remove the page name from the top of the page and also disable commenting and attachments.

If you need additional help or have additional questions, feel free to contact me!  Coming soon ... YouTube playlist with the above Google Sites tips!  :)

Monday, October 19, 2015

More Lights! MadLib using Google Forms + Autocrat UPDATED for 2015! #GAFE #BISDwired

Pin It My apologies ... it seems as though my original More Lights! MadLib form + Autocrat has stopped working!  Seeing as that post is nearly 2 years old, this is not surprising!  :)  I have updated the form and script, so everything is in working order again.  HOORAY!

If you are unfamiliar with what Autocrat is and how it works, click here to get an overview and step-by-step instructions on how to use this awesome FREE tool!

If you just want to see it in action to determine if it's something useful (or you just like MadLibs and want to have some fun!), go to  Fill out the Google Form, click submit and check your email.  Enjoy!

Monday, September 28, 2015

BEST. HACK. EVER! Thank you, Nicholas Cage! #GAFE #Chrome

Pin It Last week a BHS student brought me his chromebook and he was VERY frustrated that he had been hacked and/or thought he had a "virus."  On his screen, I saw something similar to this...

The student did a Google Images search for "food" for his culinary arts class.  However, suddenly all of the pictures in the search results were replaced with pictures of Nicholas Cage.

I have to confess ... I cracked up laughing.  I LOVE HIGH SCHOOL KIDS!  (Disclaimer: No, I do not condone hacking!  I just thought this was clever!)  Turns out, the student had left his chromebook unattended and a fellow classmate played a little trick on him.  After a quick Google search, I found an article about this Google Chrome extension...

I showed the student how to find his extensions and delete the extension in question.  :)  I also informed our Tech Dept.  Another confession, I immediately started thinking "Who can I do this to?!"  If I am thinking that, then we probably have students thinking the same thing.  

After sharing this little gem with my Techs4Tex family, my pal Mike Wallace found this Chrome extension that adds a mustache to all of the faces in your browser.  :)

Useless.  Harmless.  Endless fun.  Kids ... don't try this at home.  :)  Unless it's April Fool's Day!!!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Check out @lucidpress - an online design and publishing tool you don't want to miss! #GAFE #EdTech #BISDwired

Pin It

Lucidpress is an online design and publication tool that’s free for students and teachers. Here are just a few classroom materials that can be produced in Lucidpress:
  • Assignments 
  • Multimedia study aids
  • Syllabuses
  • Lesson plans
  • Magazines and newsletters
Fortunately, the interface is simple (just drag and drop) and there are plenty of templates, so there’s virtually no learning curve.

So far, we’ve seen lots of students creating presentation and posters to show off what they’re learning. Lucidpress is especially suited to team projects, since multiple users can edit a document together in real time or leave comments for others to see.

After a Lucidpress document is finished, it needn’t be displayed once and then forgotten. Since Lucidpress is cloud-based, it supports digital publication and sharing. That means you can embed your document in a website, promote it on social media, or create a unique, permanent link so anyone can refer to it.

A new Lucidpress Edu Premium option will include Google Classroom integration, administrative controls, and digital portfolio creation. If you’re an educator, you can try Lucidpress for free just for signing up!

Guest post by Eliza Wright, Manager of Online Marketing, Lucid Software, Inc.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Why Audible is my new favorite app and should be yours, too!! @audible_com

Pin It I have loved reading for as long as I can remember.  I come from a family of readers.  When I was little, we would always stop at a book store before heading out on a road trip.  The whole family would get new books and my sister and I would read all the way there and all the way back.  I've been known to stay up all hours to finish the last tasty morsels of books like Tuesdays with Morrie, Educating Esme, Harry Potter and even Twilight.  :)

When my first son was born 6 years ago, I managed to still carve out time for hobbies and reading.  However, when my second son was born almost 4 years ago, that all came to a screeching halt.  Two kids is MUCH more work than one and our youngest was a sickly little thing to make matters worse.  For 2 years straight, I didn't read a single book.  Not.  One.  Book.  At night, I fell straight into bed and most free time was spent on domestic duties.

But then everything changed.  I desperately wanted to read a book recommended by several friends, Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg.  I learned about Audible and, despite my slight aversion to audiobooks (I was still a firm believer in turning a page!), I decided to try it out.  I walk or run almost every night and decided to give the audiobook a try in lieu of listening to music.  While I LOVED the book, I'll be honest ... listening to a book took a little getting used to.  In fact, I didn't get another audio book after that for almost a year.

Last year, however, a lot of traveling and another recommendation from a friend (Yes Please by Amy Poehler) had me going back to my Audible app.  Something clicked and I have been completely hooked ever since!  I have "read" more books in the last 6 months than the last 6 years!  I even went so far as to sign up for an Audible monthly membership so I can get a new book each month.  Confession ... I am buying extra credits because I am mowing through books!
If you're like me and love to read, but have trouble finding the time to turn pages, I would encourage you to check out Audible.  I don't get any sort of kick back here, I just want to share the literacy love!  :)  Click here to try Audible for 30 days and you can even get a free audiobook!  Each time you get in the car or go for a walk or hop on a bus or a train or a plane, you have an opportunity to enjoy a good book.

Need some ideas to get started?!  This list that I found on Pinterest really got me excited and I have loved every one of the books so far!  Happy listening and I would love to know what your favorite audiobook is!

Monday, August 31, 2015

A new take on the same ol' AUP spiel thanks to some help from my pal @edtech2love! #GAFE #chromebooks #BISDwired

Pin It At the start of each year, teachers who have chromebooks ask me to come in and talk to their students about AUP and Chromebook use.  It's such a BORING spiel and I get tired of finger pointing and fussing at the kids ... telling them what they can and cannot do.  Because I am assigned to a high school campus, the reality is that these kids know right from wrong.  They know the AUP.  They know the student code of conduct.  And they know the device pledge.  So we might as well mix it up and have some fun!

Last year I cut the AUP statements into strips and had the kids work in small groups to come up with a hashtag that would convey the message in their statement.  That was quick and fun and easy, but I have a lot of the same kids this year and didn't want to bore them with the same activity.

I started researching design thinking activities and was trying to come up with a fresh idea when it occurred to me that I could go to my former-colleague-turned-boss, +Kim Strauss  (who is very creative) and pick her brain.  She had a great idea to get the kids to make AUP BUMPER STICKERS!  So off to Wal-Mart I went to buy stickers sheets and markers!  I also designed a short preso to accompany the activity and tried to structure it like a mini PBL ...

The activity was great!  I had fun ... I think the kids had fun (although it's sometimes hard to tell with high schoolers) ... and I was excited about what they created.  Here's a glimpse of the bumper stickers from the first group ...

Do you have any favorite AUP or Chromebooks 101 activities that you like to use?  If so, I'd love to hear about them!  I'll likely have to mix it up again next year, so I might as well start collecting ideas now!  Happy Monday everyone!