Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A Few Good Google Docs Tips





In my latest episode of The Suite Talk, I go over a few good Google Docs tips that are helpful in providing feedback to students and also a few Chrome extensions that will help provide accommodations for special education students.

First, the feedback tips.  In a Google document, you can format specific words in your comments while using the commenting tool.  Simply open the comment tool and type your comment.
  1. Insert an * (asterisk) before and after the word to bold the text.
  2. Insert a - (dash) before and after the word to strike through the text
  3. Insert an _ (underscore) before and after the word to italic the text   
Another tip to provide feedback is to install the CheckMark Chrome extension by EdTechTeam.  This can be downloaded from the Chrome web store.  This extension is a time saver! 

After you install the extension, be sure that it is enabled.  It will display as a green check mark at the top right side of the screen.  Once this is done, then you can open a Google document, highlight the text, click on the comment tool, and a floating keyboard will appear.  
On the floating keyboard there are codes that reference a specific skill or feedback comment.  Simply click on the button and the feedback will be inserted as a comment in the document.  

The next tip to help with students who have learning disabilities is to download the BeeLine Reader Chrome extension and the Select and Speak Chrome extension. 

The BeeLine Reader extension will help make reading faster and easier because it uses color gradient to guide your eyes from the end of one line to the beginning of the next.

The Select and Speak Chrome extension is a text to speech extension that will read any webpage to the user.  If you are planning to use this extension, I would highly recommend headphone or earbuds for your students.  This will help the students be less distracted and more focused on reading.

You can view the full episode of The Suite Talk - A Few Good Google Docs tips about this information.

If you enjoyed this episode, please check out and subscribe to The Suite Talk YouTube Channel.  Thanks!









Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Google Jamboard, Google Keep, Oh My!!




Another episode of The Suite Talk is completed.  On January 28, 2018, I had the pleasure of having my good friend +Tom Mullaney on my talk show, The Suite Talk, to speak about his expertise on using Google Jamboard and Google Keep in the GSFE classroom as a feedback tool for teachers.  We also discussed how it can be used for students to brainstorm concepts, and share and collaborate with their peers and teachers. 

I hope you enjoy the show!  The episode is embedded below or you can click here to watch it.  







Get to know Tom!  Tom is a Google Certified Innovator, and a Digital Learning Integration Designer in San Francisco.  He loves educational technology and he loves history.

If you would like to learn more from Tom, you can subscribe to his YouTube Channel, follow him on Twitter @TomEMullaney and check out his Sustainable Teaching website.   

Click here if you would like to access the show notes for this episode.  You can also visit The Suite Talk website and find the notes under the episode tab.  

Subscribe to The Suite Talk YouTube Channel 


Thursday, January 4, 2018

How to use the Google Assistant in the Classroom






Did you receive a Google Assistant for a holiday gift?  Are you a classroom teacher and would like to use this device in your classroom? 

As a Computer Science education teacher, I want to bring this device into my classroom and demonstrate how it is used. Plus, I want to brag about it's functionality and how it relates to computer science.  Being part of the G Suite Expert Team, my colleagues from Google informed me that the Google Assistant will not work with a G Suite for Education account.  There are privacy issues concerning student's information and activity being recorded and associated with a GSFE account. If you try to associate a GSFE account with this device,  it will immediately prompt you with an error.  So, for now, Google is aware that teachers want to use this device in the classroom, and the engineers are working on resolving this issue.   There is no timeline on when it will be available for edu purposes.

As I was disappointed about this device not working with a GSFE account, I am still determined to test it and try to use it as a resource in my classroom.  If you want  to use the Google Assistant in your classroom, I would highly recommend the following:



  • create a new personal Google account, just for your classroom and for this purpose. 
  • be sure you download the Google Home app to your mobile device.  
  • prior to using the device with your students, practice asking it content related questions to make sure the responses it provides are appropriate and correct.
  • prior to using the device with your students, be sure the device works properly in your classroom.  
    • The device needs to be accessible to the wifi and Internet in order to respond to your queries.  You may have issues regarding your school's network and/or firewall.
  • Voice Match - will allow you to train the device to recognize your voice only. This can be done in the Google Home app.  
    • This will prevent students from using the device inappropriately. 
Besides using it to play music, teachers can use it for a timer or alarm, play trivia games, model best practices on asking questions, and much more.  Here is a reference from the online help forum and here is a blog post from Google using this device.  




In addition, students can create interactive stories using a Google Doc add-on called Story Speaker.  This add-on will allow students to create interactive stories without coding.   The user will need to do the following:
  1. Open up a Google document and install the Story Speaker add-on. 
  2. Write the story using one of the templates. (At first, I recommend using the Basic template.)
  3. Play the story.  The story will be read aloud on the Google Assistant. 

Providing this technology to students will allow them to hear what their story sounds like.  This can be extremely helpful for special education students especially students with a learning disability.  It will give students an opportunity to revise their stories, provide additional scenarios or story plots, and once they are happy with it, they can share the Google document with their teacher.  At that point, the teacher or the student can play the story out loud to the rest of the class. 

A few things to consider:

  • There is a slight learning curve using the templates in the Story Speaker add-on.  However, with any new technology, that is typical.
  • The syntax used in the template must be precise.  Be sure you follow the directions that is given in the help panel of the add-on.
  • I had a hard time turning Story Speaker off.  This is demonstrated in my video.  When I didn't respond to it, it continued to play the story three times, then it disabled the Story Speaker connection and turned off the device.  
  • Remember, once you tell the device, 'Ok Google, ask Story Speaker to play...' the device goes into the Story Speaker mode.  On my Google Assistant, it was a different voice from the original voice of the Google Assistant.   This is seen in my video.
  • Be sure you fill in the required text in the story.  This is noted in the template of the add-on.
Here is the link to my video from The Suite Talk and the video is shown below.



In conclusion, I hope the engineers at Google continue to work on making this device educational-friendly/compatible  for teachers in the classroom.  Until then, I am going to test it and use it in my classroom as a resource, and of course follow my own recommendations, but still remain conscious of my activity.