Thursday, December 22, 2016

My View of Computer Science EDU Week - 2016

This year Computer Science Education Week was December 5th - December 9th and I was able to expose many students to a variety of computer science concepts.  This is my fourth year participating in Computer Science Education with middle school students, and each year, I always get positive feedback from the students.  

The 6th grade students completed the Hour of Code on, in which they can pick from a variety of topics or themes to learn computer programming. Additionally, teachers can select the 'teach' option and filter by grade level to teach a semester or year long course on Computer Science concepts.  Visit their website at for more information.

The 7th grade students used Google's CS First and Scratch to learn computer programming.  The CS First interface allows the teacher to have a dashboard that can track student progress throughout the module.  Students login to CS First using their G Suite for Education account, watch the videos and reflect on their learning.  At the end of the video segment, they use Scratch to write block base code to complete the task at hand.  

Teachers will need to create a club and have the students join the club using a club code.  Once they join the club, they will receive a random username and password. These credentials will be used to login to Scratch.  Essentially, students will be flipping back and forth between CS First and Scratch.  When students complete the block base code in Scratch, they must share it with the teacher.  At this point, the teacher will be able to access the project through the dashboard and the students will receive a digital badge. 

This year, I tried something new with the 8th grade students.  I had the students hard code using Python to create music using EarSketch.  Python is the computer programming language displayed in the image above.

First, the students needed to learn about the EarSketch interface, and the proper terminology.  Click here to view my Vocabulary Reference Sheet.  After they were familiar with the interface, I introduce a few Python commands and I discussed a connection of the command to a real-life scenario that they can relate to.  Additionally, I stressed the importance of the correct syntax of the command.  

After the introduction was over, the students were ready to code.  They needed to create an account to save their programs.  They were able to write the code, run the program, and troubleshoot it if there were errors.  The purpose of the program was to produce music using the fitMedia() command.  I was happy to see many of the students were able to produce the proper requirements for the output, which was music. They were able to enhance their program to include multiple tracks, multiple instruments, and pauses.  

When the students completed their program, they needed to share the link with me in a Google Form so that I can check their work.  I created a short screen cast on the sharing procedures and used Google Classroom to make my resources available.  The Google Form allowed the students to reflect on their learning, and allowed me to read their honest opinion about the lesson.  

Some responses:

"I like how we learned about one coding language but i would like to learn more and try more coding." ~ Noel

"I kept having errors in my coding. So i solved it by running it little by little to find out which line was the problem." ~ Na'Jualin

"I liked how to put the different sounds together to create a different and unique music. I loved it a lot. It is very fun." ~Saloni

"I liked it because we learned more about Python coding." ~ Evan

"I didn't really enjoy this activity, I do not like coding I did it because I had to and it was apart of my grade." ~ Alexa

In conclusion, I will continue to use these tools to implement Computer Science concepts into the classroom. Not only are the students learning a new language, they are learning important skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, logical thinking, collaboration and more. I explained to them that failing is a method of learning, and having patience with it will help them persevere to accomplish their goals.

In 2017, I will continue to teach the students about Computer Science using the tools stated above, plus using robots. I plan to teach students how to create mobile apps for their devices. I feel these skills are essential for students to succeed in the future.

Happy Holidays!

To all my clients, and readers: 

Wishing you and your family a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season and a Happy New Year! 


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Citations are Back!

The power of feedback!  You spoke and Google listened, and they brought back the citations feature in the Explore tool in Google Docs.

Posted: 05 Dec 2016 11:41 AM PST

In September 2016, we launched Explore in Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides to give you the insights, design tools, and research recommendations you need to do your best work. Today, we’re improving upon the feature by allowing you to easily cite those findings. Students writing research reports, analysts crafting whitepapers, and others looking to credit their sources can now insert citations as footnotes with the click of a button in Explore in Docs on the web. You can even change the format of your citation, switching between the MLA, APA, and Chicago styles. For more information on how to use citations in Docs Explore, check out the Help Center.

With the addition of citations support, we’re now ready to launch Explore in Docs to G Suite for Education customers on the Scheduled release track. That rollout will begin tomorrow, December 6th.

Launch Details
Release track:
Launching to both Rapid release and Scheduled release

Available to all G Suite editions

Rollout pace:
Full rollout (1–3 days for feature visibility)

All end users

Change management suggested/FYI

More Information
Help Center: See and use suggested content in a document

Monday, December 5, 2016

Google Announced New Features on Education On Air

Google Education on Air, #ItTakesATeacher, was implemented on December 2nd- December 3rd.  It offered free online professional development for anyone who registered around the world. All of the session links can be found at the website.  
I had the opportunity to present with Heather Breedlove, Susan Herder, and Michael Fricano, who are Top Contributors in the G Suite for Education forum, on tips and tricks of Google Classroom.   (We were able to collaborate and plan our session in 4 different time zones!)  Here is the link to our session. 

At the end of the Education on Air sessions, Google announced 3 new features to G Suite for Education, in which users will appreciate.  They are as follows:

  1. Alternative ways for students to log into Chromebooks
  2. Parents no longer need Google accounts to receive email summaries in Google Classroom
  3. Graduating students can transfer email and Drive files to their personal account

Alternative ways for students to log into Chromebooks

Logging into a Chromebook got easier a while back when Google gave admins the ability to pre-populate their domain name in the login box. That way students only had to type in their username, and not the “” portion. However, this could still be a challenge, especially for younger children.
During Education On Air, Google announced two new ways for students to log into a Chromebook: badges and pictures.  This is extremely helpful for elementary students.  

Badges - You can create a unique QR Codes for each of your students.  The students would need to hold the QR Code to the webcam on the computer and it will login them into their account.

Visit Clever Badges for more information:  

Here is a sample text message that you will receive.  Additionally, you will receive an email with the same information.  You would need to printout the email with the QR Code on it. Note, this is a demo account.

Pictures - A second new option for logging in is to use a set of chosen images in place of a password. This system has been developed by Cloudwise, a Netherlands company. With this option, instead of letters, numbers, and symbols, the student’s password is a series of pictures. When they student goes to log in, they are presented with a grid of images, and they need to click on the pictures that make up their password to log in. 
(Credit to Eric Curts)

For more information you can visit their website at:

Parents no longer need a Google Account to Receive Summaries in Google Classroom

You spoke and the Google team listened!  The team has allowed parents and guardians to use any email address to receive Google Classroom summaries.  

Graduating students can transfer email and Drive files to their personal account

The final update is allowing students to move their emails and Drive files to their personal account.  One of the options right now is to use Google Takeout which allows you to select the app data to download as a zip file to your computer.  This feature will be available some time early next year.

Friday, November 18, 2016

GSfE Update: New Google Templates Available

Posted: 16 Nov 2016 10:01 AM PST
We recently launched new tools in G Suite like ExploreAction items, and other features to help your teams save time and focus on what’s important: creating impactful work, quicker. We know time spent re-creating files in the workplace takes away from the time your team can spend collaborating and achieving results.

That’s why, today, we’re introducing custom templates in G Suite for the Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Forms files your teams use the most.

Simply submit files to shared template galleries in the DocsSheetsSlides, and Forms home screens for your co-workers to adapt and use as needed. With these customizable templates, your teams can focus less on formatting and more on driving impact and sharing success.

Note that if you disabled template submissions to the old Google Drive templates gallery in the Admin console, users in your organization will not be able to see and use the new galleries when they launch. You can enable the new galleries for your users in the Admin console (Apps > G Suite > Drive and Docs > Templates). You can also configure the categories available for your organization’s templates from that same section in the Admin console.

In addition, G Suite for Business and Education customers can require templates be approved before they appear in the galleries, or prevent end users from submitting new templates altogether. These features are not enabled by default, so you’ll need to update your settings if you want to moderate or restrict template submissions to the galleries.

The old templates gallery will be shut down in early 2017, giving you and your users time to transition to the new galleries. We’ll let you know the exact date with a message in the old gallery, but it will not take place before February 1st, 2017.

An important note regarding this rollout: 
To give you a chance to update your settings and curate your organization’s template galleries, we’re rolling out these features (both in the Admin console and in the home screens) to all admins, regardless of their release track, starting today. We’ll launch to end users on the Rapid release track today as well, with the rollout to end users on the Scheduled release track starting on December 7th

Launch Details
Release track:
  • G Suite administrators
    • Launching to both Rapid and Scheduled release
  • G Suite end users
    • Launching to Rapid release, with Scheduled release coming on December 7th


  • Template galleries
    • Available to all G Suite editions
  • Moderation and restriction capabilities
    • Available to G Suite for Business and Education customers only

Rollout pace:
Gradual rollout (potentially longer than 3 days for feature visibility)

All end users

Admin action suggested/FYI

More Information
Help Center: Enable templates for Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Forms
Help Center: Create a file from a template

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Gmail and Calendar Update on iOS

Posted: 07 Nov 2016 10:01 AM PST
(Cross posted from the Gmail blog

Posted by Matthew Izatt, Product Manager 

Today we're making some changes to the Gmail and Google Calendar apps on iOS.

The new Gmail app for iOS

When you get the next Gmail iOS app update, you'll notice some exciting changes: The biggest overhaul of the app in nearly four years. It's the Gmail you know and love, with a fresh new look, sleeker transitions and some highly-requested features. It's a lot faster, too.

With the new app, getting things done on the go is a lot easier — whether you're trying to find a message your colleague sent you last month, or trying to get through your work inbox on a Monday morning.

Starting today, you'll be able to:
  • Undo Send, just like you do on the desktop, to prevent embarrassing email mistakes
  • Search faster with instant results and spelling suggestions (like when you type "flighht," but you really meant "flight")
  • Swipe to archive or delete, to quickly clear items out of your inbox

Google Calendar: Updated for you

Based on your feedback (thank you!), the Calendar app on iOS has some shiny, new features:
  • Month view and week in landscape view, so you have even more ways to see your schedule at a glance.
  • Spotlight Search support, so you can search for events, Reminders and Goals in Apple's Spotlight Search and find what you're looking for faster.
  • Alternate calendars. If you often look up dates in a non-Gregorian calendar — like Lunar, Islamic, or Hindu — you can now add that calendar to easily see those dates alongside your current calendar.

We'll continue to improve both Gmailand Calendarfor iOS so you can be more productive on the go.

Launch Details 
Release track: 
Launching to both Rapid release and Scheduled release

Rollout pace: 
Gradual rollout (potentially longer than 3 days for feature visibility)

Available to all G Suite editions

All end users

Change management suggested/FYI

More Information
Gmail app on iOS change management guide (pdf)

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Tech Tip: How to Bulk Copy Share a Google Site

Do you use Google Sites with your students?  If not, I would highly recommend it.  You can use Google Sites to allow students to publish a digital portfolio to showcase their work, or to have them create a product or theory and market it. The possibilities are endless!  

As a Technology Integration Coach, I will use Google Sites for all of the 8th grade students to collect information to determine if they are proficient in technology literacy.  All students must complete a series of assignments that contains many skills that meet the NJTAPIN rubric. (A technology literacy in NJ.)

Since all of the students at my school are using G Suite for Education, I decided to have the 8th grade students, (about 300 students), showcase their work using Google Sites rather than using a template in Google Slides.  The purpose, to expose them to another app other than Drive. 

My process:  I created a template for the digital portfolio using Google Sites, then I created a spreadsheet with their account information which included their first and last names, and email address.  Then, I installed a Google Sheet add-on called SiteMaestro, which allows you to bulk copy share a Google Site with a roster of students.

The SiteMaestro add-on takes all of the students who are listed in the spreadsheet and it creates a new Google Site, renames it, and shares it accordingly. At this point, the students will see the digital portfolio template listed under the Sites app, and they will also receive an email notification that a site was shared/created.  At this point, they will be able to modify it to include my requirements. 

A convenient feature is the spreadsheet I created will contain a link to all of the student websites, so that I can easily access them.  In addition, all of the Google Sites that were created using the add-on, will be listed under my Google Sites list.  However, this can be cumbersome for me because I have so many students, so in my case, I created another G Suite for Education account just for this purpose. This will prevent my account to become flooded with student's sites.

I found this add-on to be a life saver!  I was so impressed with it, I decided to create a screen cast of the process.  I hope you find it helpful. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

A Sweet Update for G Suite

Posted: 19 Oct 2016 11:04 AM PDT
(Cross-posted from the The Keyword

One of the core promises of Google Docs is to help you and your team go from collecting ideas to achieving your goals as quickly and easily as possible. That’s why last month we launched Explore in Docs, Sheets and Slides — with machine intelligence built right in — to help your team create amazing presentations, spreadsheets and documents in a fraction of the time it used to take.

Today, we’re introducing five new time-saving features designed to speed up and simplify the way you work, so you can focus on bringing your team’s ideas to life.

1. Spend less time figuring out who owns what with Action Items

According to research by the McKinsey Global Institute, employees spend about 20 percent of their work week — nearly an entire day — searching for details internally and tracking down colleagues for answers. This can be especially true when a document is full of ideas, requests and comments, making it difficult to get a clear sense of who’s responsible for what.

To help keep your projects moving, when you type phrases like “Ryan to follow up on the keynote script,” or “Andrea to schedule a weekly check in” on desktop, Docs will intelligently suggest an Action Item to assign to the right person, thanks to Natural Language Processing (NLP).

You can also manually assign an Action Item to someone in the Docs, Sheets and Slides desktop and mobile apps by mentioning their name in a comment and checking the new Action Item box. The assignee will get an email notification and see the Action Item(s) clearly highlighted with a blue bar when they open the file.

2. Spend less time searching for the files that need attention

Once Action Items have been assigned, it’s easy for team members to identify documents, spreadsheets and presentations that need their attention. The next time they visit Docs, Sheets, Slides (or Drive) from their laptops or mobile apps, they’ll see a badge on any files with Action Items assigned to them, plus any unresolved suggestions that others have made to their files.

3. Spend less time building questions with smarter Forms

Since its launch in 2008, more than a billion questions have been asked in Forms, allowing us to identify common patterns, like question types and the response options that usually go with them. With the help of neural networks, we can now predict the type of question you’re asking and suggest potential responses for you to choose from, giving you back about 25 percent of the time you used to spend creating a Form.

Let’s say you’re planning an all-day event at the office and need to know which day works best for your team. When you type “What days are you available next week?” Forms will intelligently determine that “Checkbox” is the ideal question type, and generate related response options that you can add one by one or all together.

Also debuting today is a top-requested feature from our business and education customers — the new “File upload” question type. Your respondents can now upload files from their computer or Drive — all of which are neatly collected for you in a new Drive folder. Note: This feature is only available for G Suite customers in Forms shared within their organization.

4. Spend less time typing with a set of new voice commands

Last year, we launched Voice typing in Docs on the web to help you capture ideas, big and small, without lifting a finger. Today, we’re adding more ways to format and customize content with commands for changing text color, deleting words, inserting links and comments, plus a number of other ways to format, hands-free.

5. Spend less time switching between apps to get things done

We want you to be as productive and collaborative as possible, regardless of the tools you choose to work with, so we’ve partnered with Slack to make it even easier to work with Google Docs files. With a click of the "+" button in Slack, you can bring files from Drive directly into a conversation with your team, or create new Docs, Sheets and Slides files right from Slack. You can check out more details on Slack’s blog.

With the introduction of Explore, and more and more updates to products that build in machine intelligence, taking back time spent on mundane, repetitive tasks will only get easier with G Suite. Now, you can focus your energy on creative and strategic work, not busy work.

Launch Details
Release track:
  • Launching to both Rapid release and Scheduled release
    • Assigned action items
    • Priority badges
    • Voice typing improvements
    • Slack integration
  • Launching to Rapid release, with Scheduled release coming on November 2nd, 2016
    • Suggested action items
    • Suggested response options in Forms
  • Launching to Rapid release, with Scheduled release coming on November 9th, 2016
    • File uploads in Forms
Available to all G Suite editions

Rollout pace:
Gradual rollout (potentially longer than 3 days for feature visibility)

All end users

Change management suggested/FYI

More Information
Help Center: Add, edit, reply, or delete comments
Help Center: Edit your form
Help Center: Type with your voice
Slack Blog

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Exploring the Explore Tool

The NEW Explore Tool

In Google Docs, the Research tool has dramatically changed. First, it is now called Explore and many popular features are not available any more such as the citation and link features.  For more information on the new changes and to alternative options, refer to the table  below.

Still available Changed

- Search for content
- Search for images
- Personal is now changed to Drive

- Insert citations for links, websites and preview are not available.
- Insert image citations appear under the image, as shown.
- Image citations do not appear at the bottom of the Google document as a footer.
- To insert a link into a Google doc, you must drag and drop it into the document

- Scholar, Quotes, Dictionary
- Citation Format, MLA, APA, Chicago
-Search image filters
are not available
Extensions: Cite This For Me
Google Doc Add-on: EasyBib