Mighty Text is Mighty Handy

With all that goes on in a teachers life but on and off campus today, it is inevitable that you may receive text messages during class.  Either from your offspring (if they are a little older), a spouse, another teachers, or even the administration.  I get text more often than I get emails sometimes.

Since we are in a 1:1 classroom, I have made using your cell phone a crime punishable with confiscation and detention.  To set a good example, I need to refrain from reaching for that vibrating portal to the outside world during class.  But sometimes I can’t – I need to know what the information is that is being sent.

Here comes Might Text (extension and mobile app) to the rescue!

screenshot-mightytext.net 2015-01-29 08-41-29

Mighty text allows you to link your phone and your laptop/chromebook so that when you receive a text or have an important text to send, you just need to type something on your computer as if you were doing any other normal task on the computer.  The free version even sync’s some of your camera pictures and videos for easy texting (the paid version stores more and allows group messaging).

This is not to say you should be using this ability during your next Professional Development or faculty meeting, but you can use this cool Extension and App combo to keep up appearances with your students and possibly your boss!!

This weeks top 2 extensions every teacher needs

Tab Scissors and Tab Glue

tab scissors

While it may not be a huge deal to pull off one or two tabs and resize them to allow side-by-side browsing views, Tab Scissors and Tab Glue make it a one click process.  When you are dealing with multiple screens (or a screen and a projector) these two extensions become your best friends!

split screen

Try out these two free awesome extensions! I’ve even had my students install them on their Chromebooks so that they can following along with my presentation while taking notes much easier.

How to Get Files Into Your Google Drive

Making use of technology in the classroom sounds good in a PLC or Faculty Meeting when it’s suggested but the basics are often overlooked when teachers start to use it.  Google Drive in all of it’s awesomeness it quite useless if you can’t bring stuff over and into your Drive.

I have shared 100’s of files with teachers, friends, my parents, and my students.  But where does that file go after you looked at it, how can I look at it or use it again, and how can I make it my own file to edit and use in my classroom?  Are all valid questions that aren’t necessarily intuitive to the novice.  So here you go – – –


Add Shared File to My Drive

add to driveOn your ‘Incoming’ folder, next to a file that is shared with you is a link to “add to my Drive”.  Clicking that will bring that file into your main Drive folder structure and you can place it into whatever folder you would like.  This will help you to keep shared files organized and easy to find.  Shared folders work the same way.  It will not affect your Drive space if it is shared with you, and it will not affect the owners organization if you move files and folders around in your Drive.


Make a Copy

make a copy

Sometimes you want to use and modify something shared with you but you don’t have edit rights (or it’s a group document that you shouldn’t change for the sake of others use).  Make a copy is your answer.

If you open the document and under File you will see “Make a Copy”.  Clicking that will make a duplicate file in your Drive that you own and can do with as you please.  The new file will be named the same as the old one but with the words “Copy of” in front.  Remember to rename it something different so you know which is your file and which is the one that was shared with you.








Bring a MS Office or Other Document into Drive

This might be the easiest one of all.  Simply click and drag your document into your Drive via the web-interface.drag and drop into Drive

You can drag and drop into any of your Drive folders to keep your documents organized.  Once you drop the file it will either ask you if you want to convert it to a Google Doc (which does not count against your storage quota) or if you have previously set your upload defaults, it will simply start uploading.  When it’s done you’ll get a confirmation.

Upload complete


Keyboard Shortcuts for Google Drive

Keyboard shortcuts for Google Drive on the web

Below, you’ll find a list of keyboard shortcuts for Google Drive on the web.

Some shortcuts differ depending on your Google Drive version. To display the keyboard shortcut list in your version of Google Drive, press Ctrl + / (Chromebook or Windows) or ⌘ + / (Mac).

Navigation and views
Go to navigation panel (folders list) g then n

g then f

Go to items view g then l
Switch between grid and list in items view v
Go to details pane g then d
Go to top of application (Google bar) g then t
Go to download status g then a
Go to upload status g then u
Show or hide details pane d
Show or hide activity pane i
Select items
Select or deselect item x
Select next item down j

Down arrow

Select next item up k

Up arrow

Select next item to the left h

Left arrow

Select next item to the right l

Right arrow

Extend selection down Shift + Down arrow

Shift + j

Extend selection up Shift + Up arrow

Shift + k

Extend selection left Shift + Left arrow
Extend selection right Shift + Right arrow
Select all visible items Shift + a
Clear all selections Shift + n
Move between items
Move down without changing selection Ctrl + Down arrow (Chrome OS, Windows)

⌘ + Down arrow (Mac)

Move up without changing selection Ctrl + Up arrow (Chrome OS, Windows)

⌘ + Up arrow (Mac)

Move left without changing selection Ctrl + Left arrow (Chrome OS, Windows)

⌘ + Left arrow (Mac)

Move right without changing selection Ctrl + Right arrow (Chrome OS, Windows)

⌘ + Right arrow (Mac)

Take action on selected items
Open selected item Enter


Rename selected item n
Share selected items . (dot)
Move selected items to new folder z
Add selected items to an additional folder Shift + z
Star or unstar selected items s
Remove selected items # or Alt + Backspace (Chrome OS)

# or Delete (Windows)

# or Fn + Delete (Mac)

Undo last action Ctrl + z (Chrome OS, Windows)

⌘ + z (Mac)

Redo last undone action Ctrl + Shift + z (Chrome OS, Windows)

⌘ + Shift + z (Mac)

Create new items
Document Shift + t
Presentation Shift + p
Spreadsheet Shift + s
Drawing Shift + d
Folder Shift + f
Form Shift + o
Open menus
Create menu c
More actions menu a
Current folder actions menu f
Sort menu r
Settings menu t
Application actions
Display keyboard shortcuts list Shift + /

Ctrl + / (Chrome OS, Windows)

⌘ + / (Mac)

Choose next visual density

(row height and element spacing)

q then q
Show last message m
Search your Drive /

*Table from Google Drive Help

Google Drive and Chromebooks print from anywhere in the world

Since we have moved to 1-to-1 Chromebooks in my district, I have moved to a totally paperless classroom.  Other teachers have had more trouble doing so in such a short amount of time.  Part of the issue they have is that they are still using Office products so they can print things, and not moving them to Drive or creating in Drive.  If you realize how easy it is to print (if you still need to) from Google Drive or your Chromebook you might rethink continuing to use Office in favor of Drive.  Here’s what you need to know.

Let’s start this with the assumption that you do not have a Cloud Print ready printer.  You have either a USB connected printer, or a networked printer but it’s not cloud ready.  These printers are considered ‘classic’ printers by Google.  For you to be able to print to classic printers, the printer and a computer connected to it must be left on and ready (and the computer need to have your Google account left logged in.

On your current computer (connected to your printer) Open Chrome, log in with your Google Account, and go to settings.












Once you open your settings page you will want to scroll down to “Show Advanced Settings”.

Advanced Settings





In the advanced settings screen, scroll down to Google Cloud Print and click Manage button.Manage PrintersIn the “Classic printers” section, click Add printers.




You’ll see a confirmation that Google Cloud Print has been enabled. Click Manage your printers to learn more.

The printer is now associated with your Google Account and connected to Google Cloud Print. You can print to this printer using Google Cloud Print whenever you’re signed in with the same Google Account.  This will work from any computer, phone, tablet, Chrombook, ect… that you are logged into your same Google Account with.  You can also share printers (just like docs, sheets, and what not) so you could share a printer among your multiple Google accounts or share your printer with a teacher from another school if you are working together on a project.

Just remember that the computer connected to the printer must be left on and logged into your Google Account and connected to the printer.  Now the next time you go to a conference, you can print that extra copy of the review for a student in the classroom even though you are hundred’s of miles away.

Search By Owner in Google Drive

If you are using the new Google Drive you can still search by owner!

screenshot-drive.google.com 2015-01-06 12-14-30


Type the word “owner” followed by a colon. No space and then the email address of the owner. This will filter your Google Drive for all of the documents that are owned by that email address.


You can also filter by typing the word “to” followed by a colon. No space and then the email address. This will filter Google Drive for documents that are shared with that email address.

screenshot-drive.google.com 2015-01-06 12-15-09


Instead of the word owner you can also use the word “from.” In other words, Google Drive is filtering documents that are from that person.
screenshot-drive.google.com 2015-01-06 12-15-59

Filter your Google Drive Searches for Better Results



Have you noticed the search box at the top of your Google Drive Screen? This allows you to search your files in Google Drive. This is one of Google’s powerful search tools to help you find what you need, when you need it!  The search will search not only the names of your files and folders but also the content of the documents (if they are text based).  This can yield massive numbers of results if you’re search terms aren’t very specific.  That’s where filtering can save the day.

Notice in the search box there is a small drop down arrow to allow you to choose what type of document, how it is shared or who owns the document.  For example, let’s say you assigned your students a project where they had to create a Google Drawing (something that doesn’t have searchable text in it).  If you filter “Drawings” that are “Not owned by me” you can more easily find the students work. Adding a keyword and a date filter can help also. Typing after:yyyy-mm-dd (notice no spacebar after the colon) or before:yyyy-mm-dd will help you to narrow down your search.

Screenshot 2015-01-05 at 4.42.09 PM

Top Three Ways to Organize your Google Drive

Google and more over Google Drive make it easy for you to take your classroom into the virtual realm of online assignments and paperless living.  Being Google, Drive is setup with all kinds of Googley tricks to help keep you organized and on track.  When I first started using Drive (some 8 years ago) I quickly realized that I had a plethora of files and folders but started having difficulties keeping it all organized and quickly accessible.  While Google’s bread and butter – it’s awesome search abilities – are available in Drive, having to search for everything you want kinda defeats the purpose of having a folder structure.  Here are the top three ways I’ve found to keep my Drive nice, neat, and organized.

1. Naming Conventions

Drive Naming Folders

If you use numbers or symbols in your Folder (or file) names they will appear towards the top of your List of Folders.
For example, I have a folder with all of my lesson plans in it.  I renamed it from “Physical Science LP” to “1 Physical Science LP”.  This makes it the first folder I see in my list of folders when I open my Drive.


2. Color Code your Folders

Drive Folder Color Coding


If you right click on the folder one of the options you get is to “change color”.  By color coding your folders you can have a quick visual reference for your folders.  This is not unlike many teacher’s organization scheme that I have seen in file cabinets.  Instead of having physically different or differently colored folders you can put your hands on, it’s the exact same concept but in your virtual file cabinet – Google Drive!


3. Star your Folders/Files for quick reference

Star Drive Folders

Just like in Gmail, you can start folders in Drive.  This will allow you to be able to sort by stared folders, or have yet another quick visual reference point to help you locate important or frequently used folders quickly.  Just remember that the more folders you star, the less effective this feature becomes.


Final tip – give your naming conventions some serious though.  The better and more consistently you name your folders and files the easier it will be to locate them when you need to.  Also, just like I’m sure you already do with your paper files, folders, ect.. take some time each day or week to go through and make sure that everything is organized properly.  15 mins of organizational time now will save you hours of time and frustration later down the road.

Have Students Use Google Drive to take Paperless Notes

What’s the point in having a $200, $300, or even $400 device in your students hands if they don’t use it but as a fancy video player or over sized Google searcher?  Taking notes has been a conundrum for me in my class ever since we started BYOT and now with 1-to-1 Chromebooks. I’ve tried everything from Evernote to giving the students my notes with blanks they had to fill in, to challenging them to find a good way to do notes. All of the had their pro’s and con’s. The biggest issue for me is that I want my students to be able to take advantage of cloud based organization – thus removing the “I lost it” excuse and giving them better access to the notes to study by. Here’s the best solution I’ve found (thus far)…

Google Drive makes organization a breeze and for the eternally unorganized it has what can only be called a super awesome search so you can still find what you need in seconds.  So there is my answer to what service to use, but how to take the “art” of note taking with all of its sketches, highlighting, scribbles, and what not from pencil and paper to the paperless classroom is now the question.  Google has that answer too, as it turns out.

I teach High School Freshman, so I still need to give them some direction and instruction on how to take effective and useful notes.  Fortunately our district is an AVID district and the my answer was basically handed to me in the form of Cornell Notes.  I have made a note taking sheet template in a Google Doc and linked it from my teacher website.  Students can easily go there, make a copy and rock and roll on notes for the day (for any class for that matter).

Cornell Notes Template
Cornell Notes is an AVID strategy that teachers and students find very effective for taking and using notes.

Ok, great – they can type and organize notes, but I teach science, math, art, or whatever, and I want them to have some diagrams/pictures/drawings/formula/ect… in their notes.  Well, Google has that covered too.  Below I show you an example of using Research tools to add an image of the formula in the notes complete with automatic citation for further study.  No need to figure out how to use formatting tricks or take more than a few seconds to search, click and drag and then move on with the notes.


screenshot-docs.google.com 2014-12-30 17-49-36


Well, that’s pretty cool, but I want my students to draw and arrange the parts of an atom in their notes with labels.  Google has you covered too.  Below is just that example.  I prepare the notes template before class and share it with the students using Google Classroom.  The students double click the picture, it pops up the drawing editor, and they can click and drag the parts to the right place.

screenshot-docs.google.com 2014-12-30 18-00-02


On the same token the student can create their own drawings in the document using the same methods.  Click insert -> drawing and make a quick sketch or diagram using the preset shapes in a matter of seconds.

The key to all of this is you absolutely have to teach your students how to use the tools you expect them to take advantage of.  I suggest starting with just one or two things at first and slowly building over the first week or two of the class so that students won’t get overwhelmed with how to use everything and have the act of note taking take away from the content of the class.  This also allows you to better learn the tools as you slowly incorporate them too!!

Google Classroom will give you Time

Here’s the situation: You want to set up folders so your students can receive and turn in assignments all electronically. You school has Google Apps for Education, all you students have a Google account, and all you students have a means of accessing and working online during class – how do we use this great new technology effectively???

screenshot-classroom.google.com 2014-12-26 14-00-30

I’ve been asked time and time again by teachers who want to use Google Drive in their classrooms how to set up folders for their students. I’ve had all the questions that could be asked; how to get started, how to keep everyone from seeing everyone else’s work, is there a faster way, and on and on. The good news it Google has you covered!! Google Classroom does the organizing for you, and organization will set you free.

Google Classroom is easy to setup, easy for your students to access, and does the work for you.  Here’s how.

Log into classroom.google.com and take the quick tour it gives you.  Then you just have to set up your classes, and have your students access the site using the correct class code to join your class.  If you have been doing much with EdTech in your classrooms, this process is similar to most others (ie – Edmodo, Pear Deck, EDUCanon, ect…).  Finally, create your first assignment and you are off and running.  Here’s where Google Classroom shines –

Google Classroom automatically sets up shared folders for you and your students.  You will find a folder in your Google Drive called Classroom.  Salvation lies within!  Classroom sets up class folders within, and then within those class folders you will find a folder for each assignment you create.  The same happens for your students but documents are only shared between you and the individual student – not everyone in the class.  screencapture

screenshot-drive.google.com 2014-12-26 14-13-24



So when a student accesses the assignment, Classroom creates a file named “the assignment name – student name” and is shared between you and the student.  All of this is organized within the Classroom Folder->Class Folder->Assignment Folder .

screenshot-drive.google.com 2014-12-26 14-17-54screenshot-drive.google.com 2014-12-26 14-18-15

Other services such as Hapara do similar things (with other bells and whistles most of the time) but the organization is much less useful to me as a teacher.  When I’m ready to sit down and grade papers – having a folder with nothing but the assignment at hand and each file labeled with the same naming convention is a HUGE time saver.

Google Classroom also allows better feedback options than Hapara by allowing you to enter grades right into the assignment where the student can see what they got, and enables two way communication between student and teacher all through the Google Classroom interface.

screenshot-classroom.google.com 2014-12-26 14-27-31

And the best news of all, because this is a Google product, there should be continued improvements and Google’s team of experts ensuring that the up-time is as high as humanly possible.

While my school currently pays for Hapara service, I will be exclusively using Google Classroom with my students this spring.  Expect more reviews, tips, and tricks as I better learn this system.

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