Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Give Thanks!

As Thanksgiving quickly approaches, along with the holiday season, I want to take this opportunity to wish my audience a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!  Take the time to reflect on your life and your blessings and be thankful for everyone and everything in your life!  Ask yourself, what are you thankful for?  Reflect on your life and tell your family or friends, that you love them!  

First, I am thankful for my loving husband, my children and their health. I am also thankful that I have a job that I love! Finally, I want to say THANK YOU, for reading my blog! Enjoy your holiday!

Hooray for Digital Portfolios!

A portfolio is a collection of work that has been processed over time and stored in a manila folder.  However, a digital portfolio is a collection of files stored on your computer or online, and displayed in an electronic format.  A collection of files can include, but not limited to, documents, spreadsheets, presentations, graphic organizers, videos, audio, online tools, websites, and blogs.

I require all 8th grade students at the William Davies Middle School to create a digital portfolio for Technology Literacy.  This process makes it much easier for me to grade each student on Technology Literacy.  The requirements are based from the NJTAPIN rubric from the NJ Department of Education

During the course of their 8th grade school year, the students must complete assignments or projects that must include the following tasks:

Word Processing:
  • Advanced Formatting, Graphics, Citations, Mail Merge
  • Includes Data, Chart/Graph, Function/Formula
  • Create a Database, Search a Database
  • Text, Graphics, Sound, Animation
Graphic Organizer
Links to Web Assignments

These tasks are completed throughout the school year. Students will integrated these tasks in their assignments for all their classes. Toward the end of the school year, I will grade each student on Technology Literacy and use their digital portfolio as a reference. Since there are over 300 8th grade students, this process usually takes me about 6-8 weeks to complete.

I am introducing the digital portfolios to students now, so that they are aware of the purpose and take the responsibility to complete the portfolio. I recommended to the students that as soon as they complete an assignment in one of their classes, to include it into the portfolio immediately.

Here is a copy of the digital portfolio template. I chose to create the template in PowerPoint because most students feel comfortable with that application. However, I do give them the option of choosing a different tool for their portfolio, but I stress the importance of making sure they provide me with the necessary information and requirements.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Online Safety

Think Before You Link is a website that provides FREE lessons to students, educators, and family members about online safety.  It provides children with a fun and interactive way to test their knowledge of online safety. 

Some topics include:
  •  stranger danger
  •  protecting your personal information
  •  review your profile settings, 
When the online lesson is completed, the website will review the important concepts and provide the child with a certificate of completion.  

I would highly recommend this website to review online safety with your child or students.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Google Update: New Version of Google Sheets

Upgrading older Spreadsheets to new Google Sheets

This post is from Google Support.  For additional information, visit Google Support.

Using the new version of Google sheets will soon be the only way to create and edit spreadsheets.  To make sure that everyone can take advantage of all the features available in Sheets, all spreadsheets created in the old version of Google Sheets are being migrated to the new version.  This process will take place over the course of 2014-2015.

What actions do I need to take with my spreadsheets?

No action is needed. Your old spreadsheets will automatically be upgraded to the new Google Sheets so that you can take advantage of lots of great new functionality. At any point, you can tell what version your spreadsheet is in by checking to see if there is a green checkmark  at the bottom of your spreadsheet.  
There is no way to manually upgrade a spreadsheet to the new version, although there are other ways to move spreadsheets to the new Sheets.

What is the timeline? When should I expect my spreadsheets to be switched to the new version?

Not all spreadsheets will be migrated at the same time. We expect nearly all spreadsheets to be upgraded over the course of the next year, starting in late fall 2014. If you’d like to edit older spreadsheets in the new Google Sheets sooner, there are steps you can take to manually import your older spreadsheet into the new version of Google Sheets.

Is it possible to revert back to the old Sheets?

No. After migration, your spreadsheets will exist solely in the new version of Google Sheets. You will not be able to revert upgraded spreadsheets back to the old version, and all new spreadsheets are already created in the new version by default.
After your spreadsheet has been upgraded to the new version of Google Sheets, you’ll see a banner at the top of the spreadsheet letting you know the migration has taken place. In that note, you’ll see a link to report any issues or feedback you may have. If you’re experiencing any issues with your spreadsheet, we encourage you to send us feedback via this form.

Will this affect my spreadsheet data?

No data should be affected; however, the results of some formulas and some other features may be slightly different. See "What's different in the new Sheets?" for more detailed information.
What's different in the new Sheets?
You may notice some subtle differences in behavior between the old and new versions of Google Sheets:
  • Formulas — You may notice some subtle differences in formula behavior, most of which fix problems or bugs with some formulas in the old version.
  • Text wrapping — Previously, if you’d turned off wrapped text in your spreadsheet, text would get clipped at the end of a cell. In the new Sheets, you’ll see text flow into the adjacent cell, if that cell is empty. To wrap the text, simply click the Wrap text button  in the toolbar.
  • APIs — You may notice some subtle differences in API behavior.
  • External tools — Spreadsheets may not interact the same way with third-party tools. We encourage you to provide feedback on issues you may be experiencing with any popular add-ons, scripts or tools.
  • Unsupported features — A few features have been retired in the new version of Sheets.

How can I provide feedback on the new Sheets?

As mentioned above, if you notice any issues immediately after your spreadsheet is migrated to the new Sheets, please click on “Send feedback” in the notification you see in the bottom right corner of your file. Filling out this form will help us investigate any potential issues.
Otherwise, you can always click on the Help menu and select Report an issue from within your spreadsheet, or post in our product forums.

Here is a short video about the new Google Sheets by the Google Guru

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Handy Dandy Google Apps and Extensions Symbaloo!

I created a Symbaloo on some helpful Google Apps and Extensions that are available at the Chrome Webstore. These apps and extensions were installed using the Google Chrome browser.  I am not aware if these apps or extensions are available on a different browser.

Here is the link to the Google Apps and Extensions Symbaloo.  I hope you find it helpful!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Move from Expressions Web to Google Sites

Many teachers use Microsoft Word to modify their webpages, while others use Expressions Web. Since both of these applications are installed and accessible on a computer,  many teachers who were issued Google Chromebooks cannot update their webpage on their Chromebook..  They need to use their Windows computer to update their school webpage.

However,  I figured out a way of how teachers are able to take their webpage from Expressions Web and convert it into a Google Site.

Here are the directions:

Web Expressions

  1. Go to the computer that has Web Expressions on it.
  2. Click on 'File' and 'Open'
  3. Browse for the index.html file in the www_pub folder 
  4. The index.html file will be displayed on your screen.
  5. Click on 'Panels' on the menu bar.
  6. Toward the bottom of the screen, about half way down, click on the 'Compatibility' tab
  7. Click on 'Code' to display the html code for the webpage.
  8. Select all the text by performing a 'CTRL + A' on the keyboard.
  9. Copy the highlighted text by performing a 'CTRL + C' on the keyboard.
Google Sites
  1. Login to your Google Account
  2. Click on the Apps Launcher and select 'Sites' 
  3. Click on 'Create'
  4. Select 'Blank Template'
  5. Give your website a name, for example: Mrs. Mattina, 6th Gr ELA
  6. Select a theme
  7. Click on 'Create' to create the website
  8. Once completed, the site will be displayed.
  9. Select the 'Edit' button to edit the page, as shown below.

      10.  Click on 'HTML' on the tool bar

     11.  Paste the HTML code by performing a 'CTRL + V' on the keyboard.
     12.  If you receive a message about the HTML content will be modified, click 'ok'
     13.  All of the HTML code should appear on your screen.

At this point, you can create pages, include navigation, a sitemap, a header, and much more. 

I would recommend the following for your page settings:
  • disable the page title option
  • disable the show links to sub-pages option
  • disable allow attachments option
  • disable allow comments option

That's it! You just converted your webpage from Expressions Web into a website using Google Sites.  

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Google Apps for Education Alert Update

In the spirit of giving you even more flexibility and customization, we’re launching add-ons for Google Forms--new tools, created by developer partners, that bring even more features to your surveys (just like add-ons for Docs and Sheets).

Check out the growing list of available add-ons, several of which are particularly relevant for education, from the “Add-ons” menu in Forms, or by directly visiting the Forms add-ons store.

If you have already disabled add-ons for your domain in the Admin console, Forms add-ons will be defaulted off. To change this setting, click on Google Apps -> Drive > General Settings and check/un-check the “Allow users to install Google Docs add-ons” box.

Release track:
Rapid release and Scheduled release

For more information:
Help Center
Get these product update alerts by email
Subscribe to the RSS feed of these updates

Thursday, November 6, 2014

What is Sphero?

Sphero is a robot, smart toy, game system that features multiplayer fun, hand held play, precision driving and augmented reality.  It can be used in a computer science or STEM class in an elementary, middle or high school classrooms using SPRK lessons, (Schools Parents Robots Kids). Sphero gives children the opportunity to program or code in a fun and inviting environment.  

To get started using Sphero, you must download the app for your mobile device to be able to control the robot.  Visit the iTunes or Play store for more information on the FREE app.  After the app is downloaded, be sure bluetooth is turned on for your device and that any previous bluetooth device is unpaired.. 

Next, plug in the base and put the heavy part of Sphero into the base. Once Sphero is out of the charger, you must wake it up by tapping it twice with your fingers. Sphero will blink a 3 color combination, this is the name of the Bluetooth connection. Once it is paired with your mobile device, you are ready to experiment with it.  The picture below displays Sphero paired with a Samsung Galaxy Tab S tablet.  Sphero was also paired with an iPhone 5S smartphone.

This interactive toy will allow your students to drive the robot, change its color, perform tricks, and play games.  Every time you reach a milestone, Sphero provides rewards and unlocks tricks, such as turbo mode.  

I have two teen age sons, 16 yrs old and 19 yrs old, and they both downloaded the Sphero app and experimented with Sphero for a while.  They both were engaged and quickly adapted to the robot. They were able to teach me about it, demonstrate different tricks, and explain the control panel on the mobile device for the robot.  

Right now I am in the learning stages of this smart toy.  I will be using this robot with 6th grade students at the +William Davies Middle School in STEM class during the month of December to promote computer science and computer programming.  I am looking forward to learning more about Sphero.  Stay tuned for my follow up post!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

PLEASE vote for The Tech Lady!

I am truly honored that I am nominated as the Most Influencer Blog of the Year from VoiceBoks. I started to write my blog, The Tech Lady, as a journal to be able to help others with technology issues, not ever thinking it would get this kind of recognition.  It has now become a following and I am so thankful!  

I enjoy sharing my experiences with my audience and most of all helping others with their technology issues, answering questions, and most of all being a resource.  I feel it is my responsibility to "pay it forward" to others, my peers, and other technology geeks in the community. 
A few months ago, your votes helped me win first place for the Top Tech and Internet Savvy Award from VoiceBoks.  Now, I need your assistance again.   I am asking you to vote for me, The Tech Lady, as the Most Influencer Blog of the Year!  
Click on this link to vote for me!    You can vote everyday and from your smartphone, computer or other mobile device that has Internet access.  Thank you so much for your support.  I will continue to do my best to write about my experiences with technology integration.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Are you stuck using iTunes? Think Again!

Scenario:  You always owned an iPod and purchased and downloaded all of your music through iTunes. Now, you hundreds of songs in iTunes, but you want to change to a droid device.  How do you get all of your music from iTunes onto a new droid device?  

Well, that scenario was me.  I wanted to purchase a droid device to become familiar with another type of device, but I found myself in this situation.  All I can say, thank goodness for Google Play Music Manager!  

Note:  These steps were performed on a Windows 7 computer using Chrome.

Here is what I did:  
  1. First, you must create a Google account.  
  2. Then, on your computer that has your iTunes library, download and install an application called Google Play Music Manager.  
  3. Once it is installed, go to Google Play Music 
  4. click on the 'Add Music' button
  5. select 'from your computer'
  6. select 'My Music' folder
  7. select 'iTunes'
  8. select 'iTunes Media'
  9. select  'Music', then find the artist's folder and select the song, click on 'Open'.  The song will be added to your Google Play music library.
That's it!  Enjoy your music on your droid device!!! I know I will!

If the music file does not upload into your library, you may have to convert the track to a supported file type.  For example, if you wanted to upload your audio CD into your Google Play music library, you would have to convert the audio track to a mp3 track.  I recommend downloading and install a free application called Format Factory

For more information, visit: