Technology

Who Has Access to Your Google Documents?

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Image Courtesy of Lifehacker.com

In the push for collaboration between students (as well as their own teacher colleagues), many teachers have turned to the Google suite of products, and specifically Google Drive, which enables users to collaborate on documents in real time. In Drive, the original document must be “shared” with one or more collaborators, which are given editing rights to the document. Additional viewing rights may be granted to one person or to the world in general.

Sometimes, however, individuals who were meant to be given viewing rights are given editing rights. These individuals would in turn be able to alter or even delete the aforementioned documents. Even more problematic is when editing rights are given to everyone!

Typically, in order to view who has editing rights within Google Drive, one must right-click on the folder or document in question and select “Share…”. If multiple documents or folders are in question, this process can become quite cumbersome.

Luckily, there is an easier solution. WhoHasAccess is a website (and also a Chrome app) that will scan one’s Google Drive and provide a list of everyone who has rights to one’s documents. Clicking on each person on the list will yield another list of the documents/folders that s/he has rights to, as well as the type of right (editing or viewing). After twenty-four hours, the WhoHasAccess servers will delete the information they gleaned from searching one’s Drive; one can also press the red button at the bottom of the results page to delete this information instantaneously.

Teachers can use this valuable tool to see which students have access to their files, and students can also benefit by running the WhoHasAccess search periodically to ensure that they have not given editing rights to those they should not have. WhoHasAccess is an essential tool for all who are collaborating on Google Drive!

-Maria Vlahiotis, Literacy Specialist, ACOE Core Learning

Robot to the Middle

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Robots have long been used to help students with geometry.  In 1971, Seymour Papert and Cynthia Solomon wrote a paper called “Twenty Things to do with a Computer” in which they talk about using a robot they call a turtle to draw geometric shapes.

Robot TurtleTurtle Robot

Last year at the MakingMath Expo we had two versions of this, drawing bots and a program where you could draw with a virtual turtle robot.

cbnxlamwkaehvru Drawing Bots (foreground) and Virtual Turtles (background)

This year we are going to use the bots to raise the question, “How can you figure out the exact middle of various shapes?”  Students will start with a rectangle and move through other shapes like parallelograms, triangles, and circles.  At each shape they will have to justify how they know they are right about where the middle of the shape is before they are given a robot.  Once they have the bot they will drive it with a remote control to the exact middle then stop.  In the classroom, however, they would have to program their bot to go from the origin and stop in the center on its own with minimal information about each shape.  Here’s what the entry document might look like.  At the expo there will be a leader board with a prize going to the closest at the end of the day.

Come join us at Lighthouse Community Charter School in Oakland on March 12th between 9am and 1pm, tickets are still available (and free) but are going fast!

Hope to see you there!

– Jim Town MakingMath Specialist

 

March Math Making Madness

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Join us for a month of #makingMath!  A whole month of free activities brought to you by the Alameda County Office of Education Core Learning Math and Technology team to promote Making in the Math Classroom.

In our Make and Take series, educators will work on a specific, standards-aligned project to take back to their classroom. They will leave with a better understanding of how making can be embedded into the classroom, and construct a whole new meaning from the phrase: “use appropriate tools strategically.”

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Thursday March 3rd is the Make and Take: Gravity Car workshop, participants will make a “gravity car” using simple tools, recycled materials, and just plain tinkering. They will struggle with the question: “What math can my students learn by making a gravity car?”

Participants will:

  • Experience making a gravity car using various materials and mathematics
  • Plan a MakingMath gravity cars lesson/project to take back to their classroom

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Thursday March 10th is the Make and Take: PVC Flute workshop, participants will make a flute using simple tools, PVC pipe, and math.  They will struggle with the question: “What Math Can Your Students Learn by Making an Instrument?”.

Participants will:

  • Build a PVC flute using mathematics and simple tools
  • Explore ways math can be applied to designing and building musical instruments
  • Plan a MakingMath instruments lesson/project to take back to the classroom
  • Leave with a better understanding of how making can be embedded into the classroom

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Finally, on Saturday March 12, come get inspired at our Making Math Expo where educators from around the Bay Area will we showing off their #makingMath projects at Lighthouse Community Charter School in Oakland.  This is a day dedicated to the fun and exciting world of Problem Solving, where students, teachers, and parents will have various opportunities to apply their math and problem-solving skills.  Come experience an assortment of non-traditional problems that will work your thinking muscles, and understand why the Mathematical Practices must be an integral part of every math classroom.  All participants will leave with strategies and tools to improve student problem-solving abilities.

Hour of Code

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HourOfCode (3)As we are ramping up for ACOE’s Math and Technology Team’s first Hour of Code hosted in our very own Meaning Maker Studio, I wanted to share the resources we are using in case you can’t make it.

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Lightbot

Ages: 5-9 (and up)

HOC Website: lightbot.com/hoc.html

What is it? You are responsible for telling a little robot what they need to do in order to blink a light on top of all the blue squares.  As with most engaging games, the challenges start of simple so you can learn about the game and then increase in rigor.  What starts out as a coding game for five year olds quickly escalates into an interesting challenge, even for adults.

How is this coding?  Coding, according to thefreedictionary.com is “a system of symbols and rules used to represent instructions to a computer; a computer program.” Which is exactly what you are doing to help the lightbots meet their objectives.  

Can I use this after the hour of code? Yes, but the app costs 2.99 for iOS and Android.

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Scratch

Ages: 9-12 (and up)

HOC Website: scratch.mit.edu/hoc

What is it? Scratch is a block based language that has a simple, but powerful interface.  Besides being easy to use, they have great resources for people teaching themselves and teachers looking to use this in their classes.  The Scratch online teacher community has a plethora of resources, lessons, and active participants who can answer your questions quickly and intelligently.

Can I use this after the hour of code? Yes! Scratch is free and has both a browser based version that work on most modern laptops (including Chromebooks) and an offline version that work better on older computers (including really old ones that can only run Puppy Linux) or places with spotty internet.

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CS Unplugged

Ages: 8-14 (and up)

Website: csunplugged.org/activities/

What is it? Activities were created to get students thinking about computer science even if their school couldn’t afford computers (or their teacher could never book time in the lab, the lab was always down, etc) or the students had access, but felt reticent to sit down at a computer and hammer out some code.

How is this coding? The two activities are a Magic Trick and Binary Cards.  For the Magic Trick, students turn one card upside down in an array of two sided cards.  Using a parity bit at the end of each row and column, the magician can tell the student exactly which card was turned over.  This is a form of error detecting commonly used when transmitting data.  Another common method of error detecting similar to this that most people have heard of are check sums.  The activity helps them understand the idea using physical cards so they understand it in a different way than if they had learned it on the computer.  The binary cards are dots representing the first few powers of two.  Students represent base ten numbers using the cards (ie 12 would be an 8 dot card plus a 4 dot card) then translate that into a binary number (ie 12=01100).  Binary numbers are how computers transmit and store information, this activity help students understand that binary is just a different way to represent numbers (and letters).

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Raspberry Pi + Scratch = Scratch IRL

Ages: 12-18 (and up)

Website: raspberrypi.org/hour-of-code/

What is it? Raspberry Pi is a small, inexpensive computer that was designed to help students learn to code.  Scratch is described above.  With the Raspberry Pi, students can integrate objects in the real world (etc buttons, LEDs, etc) into their Scratch projects.  This helps bring the abstract world of coding into the real physical world and opens up exciting possibilities like playing a buzzer noise when someone opens your door or blinking a light when you get a high score on a game.  If you don’t have a Raspberry Pi, but still want to play with Scratch IRL, there are several options that work with regular computers such as Lego WeDo, Picoboards, and Makey Makey.

Can I use this after the hour of code? Yes! Scratch is free and has both a browser based version that work on most modern laptops (including Chromebooks) and an offline version that work better on older computers (including really old ones that can only run Puppy Linux) or places with spotty internet.  Also, Raspberry Pi’s are available for $40 and the new Pi Zero is only $5.

How to Build Your Own Google Apps Script

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appsscriptFor a few years now Google has allowed users to create their own scripts to extend the capabilities of Docs, Forms, Drive,  Sheets, Calendar and even Gmail. Google Apps Scripts can be used for small projects, such as creating custom functions in Sheets, or more advanced projects that can be published as Add-Ons that anyone can install, like this one. They can also be deployed as  full-fledged web apps that anyone can run from a Form or Doc, for example, that has them enabled.

Today we are going to walk through the steps to build your own simple Apps Script that runs on Google Docs.  It’s called SelfRubric, and while it is not much of a rubric, it will show you that with very little coding (or none, if you decide to cut and paste), you can create your very own Add-on, that will live on your Docs menu.

**Note: Apps Scripts are built with JavaScript and usually some HTML/CSS, so make sure you are at least familiar with these before continuing **

What will it do?

SelfRubric will open up a simple side panel when a user selects it from the Add-On Menu. It will give the student some options to rate their writing from 0-5 on simple attributes like conventions, ideas, etc. Then it will inject a summary of their self-evaluation into the doc itself. We think it could be a great little add-on that, if built out, could be of use to many teachers and students who want to encourage self-reflection.

Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 3.42.24 PM

So let’s get started. You can probably get away with building this example, and possibly modifying it if you DO NOT have any programming experience, however, you might find yourself stuck and not sure why something doesn’t work if you don’t, at least, have the basics down.

Start here

There are a few ways to start, but today we’ll start by simply creating a new blank Google Doc. Name it something that will stand out in your Drive, such as My First Script

Next select Script Editor from the Tools Menu. Now get acquainted with the interface. Google did a good job of keeping things both easy to navigate and powerful. Watch this video below from a couple of Google developers if  you want to get the long story behind the UI, and then go down their rabbit hole on your own (there are plenty of videos).

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Go ahead and erase the first default line. We’ll be using the Code.gs file for the doc and the related functions. Don’t forget to name the project, in this case, SelfRubric, unless you have something better in mind.

Now create new HTML file: File > New > HTML

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Name the HTML file and remember the name (We’ll need to make sure it matches our script). I’ve named mine rubric. The file extension will automatically be added.

The Code 

Head over to GitHub to our repository for this project to grab the Code.gs code: https://github.com/acoecorelearning/SelfRubric/blob/master/Code.gs

Go ahead and copy it, and paste it into the appropriate file in your Apps Script window. (Brownie points for transcribing it!)

Good. Now switch over to the rubric.html file. and do the same with this file:

https://github.com/acoecorelearning/SelfRubric/blob/master/rubric.html

Paste that one into the rubric.html you created. If all works well, that is all you need. Just make sure that if you named your HTML file something besides rubric.html, you will have to change your Code.gs  on this line: var

html = HtmlService.createHtmlOutputFromFile(‘rubric’)

Replace ‘rubric’ with your own file’s name.

Now save both files by clicking the anachronistic Floppy Disk icon.

Back to the Doc

Head back to your My First Script doc and write something. It actually doesn’t matter what you write, or if it’s blank. The script will work regardless. It will just feel better that way.

Reload the page to make sure your script loads. You should now see it on the to menu:

Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 5.26.05 PM

Click on the name Self Rubric and select Launch Rubric. (See if you can see what part of the code made those menu items appear. )

If this is the first time you run this, you will need to Authorize the script and Allow it to see your Drive:

Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 5.29.24 PM

Now you should see the panel appear. Go ahead and enter some values into the text boxes. and click Submit.

A Table should now be inserted into your document, along with a message displaying a total out of 20 points.

And that’s it!

Next steps

To try this script out on other documents, click on Publish > test as add-on. Then Select a Doc from your Drive.

Make sure your options look like this:

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Click Test and this will open the Doc in question. Take a peek under Add-ons, and you should see yours there! It should behave the same.

Other next steps:

Obviously, this is not a complete and deployable script as it stands now. It needs to handle different cases, like a user entering values that are not numeric, or that are are greater than 5, for example. Also, the rubric is simple and really should be something that a teacher builds on their own as part of the interface. But the proof of concept is there. Another enhancement would be to have the script generate an email using that API.

Take a tour of Google’s extensive documentation and see other samples and quick tutorials.

Transport Your Students with a Virtual Fieldtrip

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Google Art Project: Musee D'OrsayMore and more, schools have turned away from field trips as yet another expense the budget does not allow for.  Still, the benefits students receive from seeing the world outside their school walls is priceless. So what can teachers do give their students the world without having to pay a world of money to do so?

Take their students on a virtual field trip!

  • The Google Cultural Institute Art Project (see image above) lets students visit many of the most famous museums in the world.  Students can virtually walk through museums, zooming in on art that looks interesting to them, and reading information about each piece of artwork.  Students can also search this website by theme, by artist, by curated collection, or by location.
  • Google Lit Trips take students on a journey through a piece of literature.  Search by grade band (K-5, 6-8, 9-12) to view and download a plethora of lit trips.  Double-clicking on the downloaded file will open Google Earth (make sure you have downloaded it first!), overlaid with the route the character(s) have taken throughout the course of the book.  Students can click on photographs that accompany each site to gain a better sense of context while reading.
  • Google Earth now has views of the sky, Mars, and the moon.
  • The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History has their own stunning virtual walkthrough.
  • 360Cities offers 360-degree panoramas of famous cities and sites around the world.
  • In UPM Forrest Life, take a virtual tour of a forrest.
  • Finally, watch for Google Cardboard Expeditions

*Please note: I have only included 3-D, panoramic virtual tours here.  Many websites offer “virtual tours” with photos and captions that students can also explore.

-Maria Vlahiotis, Literacy Specialist, ACOE Core Learning

Summer Learning

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As parents, we often get stuck scrambling to book summer activities for our kids. Let’s face it. Not everyone can afford to book day-camps and vacations back-to-back for two whole months. If you are like millions of working parents, you might find yourself trying to figure out enriching things for your kids to do while you slog it through the summer months. You certainly don’t want them watching endless hours of television or playing video games all day…or do you? You might if the content they watched was engaging and educational.Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 10.54.13 AM

Here at Core Learning we have compiled a list of free online learning activities, resources and games for kids to try on their own. These vary by subject, grade level and ease of use, however, the common denominator is their high educational value and accessibility.

Here are some tips before you set off exploring these great sites and products:

  1. Never leave young kids unattended. If you are going to leave them alone, make sure you check with the local laws regarding the minimum age for leaving a child unattended. Also, make sure your child is ready and willing.
  2. Children unsupervised with computers can lead to mischief, so make sure to review your own expectations around being online, staying safe, and being a good digital citizen. For help with this, check out Common Sense Media’s Digital Passport, or their new offering, Digital Compass.
  3. Take advantage of the some “Free trials” offered by some of the paid apps and sites. These might not take you through the whole summer, but they will make do for a week or two.
  4. Don’t just tell them to go “learn online”. Create a playlist for them. Be their teacher and create a checklist of activities, and review their completion. There is a variety of ways to do this, from a simple check-off list to a Google Doc with clickable links. Ask them to submit a screenshot, or a log of their progress. Better yet, use some of the sites that actually monitor progress.
  5. Balance your content with creative options as well. A lot of educational tech companies out there offer products that only require kids to click through modules, but don’t offer them a chance to create anything on their own. It’s important to see the value of both.
  6. Pick products that they might not have tried in school already. Summer should be a break from the routines of the regular year.

Ok, here is the list of options categorized by subject:

Language Arts: 

  • Storybird: With Storybird kids can read and write their own stories with beautiful, curated illustrations. It is an online community for kids who love to read and write. For elementary to middle school kids.
  • NoRedInk: Developed by a teacher, NoRedInk lets kids practice their grammar skills with content tailored to their own interests and likes. Parents can create classes for their kids and assign lessons, monitor progress and more. All for free. Best for upper elementary to high school.
  • Newsela: Kids can read the news at their own reading level. You can assign them passages to read and respond to.
  • Storyline: Can’t be there to read to your kids? Have ‘famous people’ parent for you instead! With Storyline, your kids can read along with the Closed Captions as popular childrens’ titles get read to them in the comfort of an embedded YouTube video. Best for elementary ages.
  • Quill: an exciting new product for learning writing, proofreading and grammar. Kids can write interactive stories, practice their writing and take benchmark assessments.
  • WriteAbout: With WriteAbout, students unleash their creative writing prowess to the world. It’s digital writing for an authentic audience, coupled with the option for teachers to create and manage writing assignments. Best for middle school and higher.

Math: (No, WE didn’t include Cool Math Games, because, well, they are neither cool nor math games.)

  • Sumdog: Students will be hyper-engaged, especially if they play against their friends or siblings. Compete in fast-paced math (and English) games built around the Common Core.
  • Mangahigh: Engaging games and Common Core aligned math activities. For elementary and middle school.
  • Prodigy: Battle in a Pokemon-like world by casting math ‘spells’ against cute creature opponents. Highly engaging for elementary kids. It claims to be the world’s “Most engaging Math Game”.
  • Lure of the Labyrinth: Move through mazes solving math puzzles to complete a quest. Or just play the games without the story. Either way, it does a fantastic job of making middle school math relevant and exciting.

Multiple subjects:

  • ScootPad: Offers a 30-day free trial for their ELA and Math content. Perfect for a summer fling of online, adaptable learning. Available for most grades.
  • IXL: A popular product for English Language Arts and Math. Track your child’s progress in a variety of subjects and levels. They offer a 30-day free trial for teachers, and who is the best teacher, but the parent.
  • PBS Learning Media: KQED has pulled together an amazing amount of content from videos to articles and lets teachers and students mix them. All grades.
  • BrainPOP: BrainPop offers animated lessons on topics from engineering to language arts. Although their service is paid, the games listed are all free, and actually fun. Elementary and school, although there is also a BrainPop Jr. for the K-2 demographic.
  • GlassLab Games : GlassLab built a platform to measure and track standards-based progress as kids play popular video games. Play SimCity, Slice Fractions, and more. They have a 60-day free trial perfect for a summer of educational gaming.
  • GooruLearning: Community curated collections of learning content. Assign playlists, remix them or create your own. And best of all, it is completely free.

Coding and Game-making: Summer is the perfect time for learning to code

  • Scratch: Arguably the best place to start learning to code. It is a free community where kids can make video games, animations, art, and more.
  • CSFirst: For a more structured approach, try Google’s CSFirst course. The lessons are built around Scratch and they walk the students through fun and creative projects.
  • CodeAvengers: Learn to Code in a step-by-step process. HTML, CSS and JavaScript served free.
  • Code Monkey: Play and learn coding through a visual, block-based environment. Free for home use.
  • Unity3D: More advanced students can learn to make their own 3D computer games on one of the world’s premier platforms for games, Unity. Unity offers many tutorials and the community of developers is huge.
  • MinecraftEDU: If you don’t know what Minecraft is, you probably should spend more time with your kids. What you might not know is that Minecraft also comes in an EDU edition built for classrooms —at a reduced price. There are lessons that teach computational thinking, design, and more.  Of all the sites here, this is the only one you might actually end up paying for.

Videos:

  • YouTubeEDU: YouTube EDU filters out the comments and non-educational material that YouTube is famous for. What is left is pretty amazing in terms of breadth and content. There are great series as well. Parents can also create playlists for their kids to watch.
  • PBS Video: PBS streams many of their shows for free online. There are links to teacher (or parent) resources as well. Nova, Frontline, Nature are just some of the more popular titles.

Alas, we have omitted many, many useful and engaging sites, not to mention the overwhelming constellation of iPad apps. But this list should be enough to get you started. Again, in no way are we advocating that you make this the cornerstone of your summer activities for your kiddos. In the end, nothing beats the library. But if that starts to wear thin, or if you find your children are begging you for more screen time, at least offer them options that are sure to add value to their lives.

Google Training Options for your School or District

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As the summer approaches, many districts are beginning to plan and schedule their summer and fall PDs and trainings. Here are Core Learning we are well-positioned to provide the customized, affordable training that districts and teachers are asking for as they transition to Google Apps for Education. Research shows that effective technology integration is linked to the training and follow up support teachers get. Below is a PDF that shows what our team can offer your district. Download it and share it with your team.

GAFE Summer-Fall opportunities - Large

Keeping Up with the Latest Education News is a Breeze with Paper.li

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Paper.li ExampleDo you want to know about the latest tools and news in education, but don’t have the time to scour the internet to find it? Have you tried using Twitter, only to discover that it still takes a long time to sift through the tweeted links?

Try Paper.li!

Paper.li is an online “newspaper” that one creates by choosing up to 25 websites feeds to follow (with the free version). Select sites such from ed bloggers, professional organizations, and education magazines to create a robust newspaper that is “delivered” to your email inbox every morning. Your newspaper will not only have a title and link, but also a brief summary of the article, many times with an image included. Create as many newspapers as you would like, all focusing on different themes…OR find others’ Paper.li’s and follow them!

Click here to see my educational technology Paper.li, “Latest and Greatest Updates for an Intrepid Educator.”

Happy reading!

-Maria Vlahiotis, Literacy Specialist, ACOE Core Learning

Spoonlick’s Spoons

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Spoonlick's Spoons Logo

The first featured table at the Making Math Expo is hosted by ACOE Core Learning’s own Jim Town.  At his table you will be tasked with designing a vessel that holds exactly a tablespoon.  You will then create your vessel using CAD software.  After your design is realized in the CAD software, you can print out your design on a 3D printer and take it home.  The only catch is you must scale your design so that it only prints a teaspoon sized vessel.

So come see us on March 28th between 9am and 3pm at Lighthouse Charter School in Oakland and make some math!

If you are a teacher who wants to use this project in your classroom, supporting documents and scaffolding activities can be found here.

(pictures from US patents 3931741 and 2654252)