MuseForJews

muse: n. a source of inspiration

How to use Google Forms to create a merged product

Like lots of schools, we have a tracking sheet where we, well, track some kids in academic areas, like missing homework, test grades, etc. For some time we have used a PDF document that the teachers filled out electronically. With our move to GAFE. I wanted to create a Google Form that would then merge into a separate document for each child.

With autoCrat I’m able to do just that.

MissinghomeworkmergeI started with creating what I wanted the finished product to look like. Alternatively, you can start with the form itself. Let’s say we’re tracking a student’s missing homework assignments. The finished document might look like this:

Once you know what you want to communicate, you can create the form requesting the information.

Screen Shot 2014-09-30 at 12.14.35 PM

Now, take a look at the headers at the top of the response sheet:

Screen Shot 2014-09-30 at 12.17.23 PM

So now you want to add those column headers to the merge file in the appropriate places. The modified merge file looks like this:

Screen Shot 2014-09-30 at 12.24.22 PM

So now we’ve entered some data into the Google Sheet via the Google Form, and here’s what the Sheet looks like:

Screen Shot 2014-09-30 at 1.27.18 PM

To create the merge, you need to use autoCrat. You can find it here. Once it’s installed, go to Add ons and Launch it.

Screen Shot 2014-09-30 at 1.29.32 PM

Choosing a New Merge Job allows you to set parameters like the template to use, the naming convention, and output (PDF or Google Doc). You also need to make sure that the merge tags match your spreadsheet headers. Click on Run merge to create your files.

The only thing I don’t like is that it pulls the date including a timestamp even if I don’t want it, but I’ve remedied that by using timestamp and making sure to format it to date only. But other than that, it works great and now we have PDF files to send to the parents!

October 1, 2014 Posted by | GAFE | , , , | Leave a comment

EduCanon for Flipped Classes

EduCanon is a website that enables you to take a video and assign questions for your students to answer at pre-determined spots. This is great for flipped classes. Here’s my sample video.

September 30, 2014 Posted by | Blended Learning | , , | Leave a comment

Links You’ll Love

This is just hysterical. Check out Shimon Peres’ plans for what to do after retirement:

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this before, but I do want to remind everyone about Sefaria. Sefaria allows you to choose different texts – or portions thereof – and create a custom resource sheet. It’s still in development, so every text isn’t there, but it’s awesome nonetheless.

Shameless JEDcamp plug of the week. We are proud and excited that the second annual JEDcamp Midwest will be here on Sunday, October 19th from noon until 4:00 pm. There will be swag! There will be free lunch! There will be door prizes! There will be lots of great ideas to share! Need more incentive? Watch the terrific movie about last year’s JEDcamp:

Chrome tip #1: I’m a multi-tab user, which means I often have a dozen or so browser tabs open at one time. Some of them, like my mail and Schedulet, are tabs that I always, always use. I hate it when I accidentally close them by clicking on the little x. To remedy that, and to make the tabs take up less space, I “pin” them. To pin a tab, right-click (or hold down the control key and click) and choose Pin Tab. Like magic, the tab takes up, well, a pin-size amount of space and it can’t be closed accidentally. To unpin and remove a tab you’ll have to right-click again.

Chrome tip #2: If you love to use Chrome, check out these Chrome extensions that can make your user experience even better!

September 24, 2014 Posted by | Chrome, JEDcamp, Links You'll Love | , , | Leave a comment

Links You’ll Love

Some of us spent a little time this summer talking about digital portfolios and how to implement them in class. This article expands on that quite nicely.

Here is a nice little Google docs cheat sheet you can print out and hang in your classroom.

Thinking about upgrading your iDevice to iOS 8? Here’s a list of privacy settings you should change immediately.

GAFE tip of the week: When you’re composing an email in Google mail, you can make it take up the whole screen rather than just that little puny spot in the corner. Just click on the little down arrow and choose Default to full screen.

September 19, 2014 Posted by | Links You'll Love | , | Leave a comment

3rd and 4th grade teachers love Handouts!

My colleagues have been playing with the Handouts app and they’re simply loving it. It isn’t exactly earth-shattering or paradigm-shifting, but it’s simple, to the point, and elegant. The process is easy: create a handout (either make a PDF or take a picture of something), import it into Handouts and send it to your students. Students use the now-familiar method of joining a class via code, receive the handout and fill it in and send it back. Students can “write” or type their response. Simple and elegant.

My teachers are most excited for this in terms of its potential for a digital portfolio. That and the whole paperless part. Very cool!

September 15, 2014 Posted by | Education, Technology | , | Leave a comment

Links You’ll Love

Email’s awesome, right? Well, not always. Check out CoolCatTeacher’s blog post with some great email etiquette tips.

Remind (which used to be Remind101) is the coolest thing ever! I’ve talked about this before: set up a class, ask parents and/or students to join online, and you can text (or email) everyone with one click of a mouse! It’s also the coolest because it was developed by my former student Brett Kopf. Remind has instituted some big changes this year – learn more here.

Newsela is a news site that’s designed to help build reading comprehension. Like so many sites, there is a free and not-so-free version. The free version, though, does provide multiple news articles every day at various reading levels.

If you’re planning to create a class webpage, here’s a great article that talks about what you should and should not be putting out there.

This is a great idea – here’s a website where you can share photos without jumping through a lot of hoops. Create an event, invite friends, and everybody can upload. Genius!

Food for thought…here’s an interesting article about why flunking is good.

GAFE tip of the week: if you’re doing a research paper in Google docs and want to locate and cite scholarly sources, go to Tools > Research and search for the source. Want to cite it? Click either Cite as Footnote or Insert.

GAFE tip of the week: This is not for the faint-of-heart, but those who are bold enough to hop over here to learn about how to use canned responses in their Google mail. Very cool!

September 12, 2014 Posted by | Links | , , , | Leave a comment

Why go 1:1?

One of my professional goals is to determine our course of action regarding a 1:1 initiative. We began this year with 3rd and 4th grades after a pilot of sorts last year with increased accessibility in 3rd grade. Each of the students in those grades has access this year to an iPad all day, regardless of class. The iPads stay in school.

This year we’re piloting using iPads in language arts in 5th grade. Week one brought the question of “where’s spellcheck in the Docs app?”

We’re also dealing with the issue of sharing iPads in 5th grade, since there are two carts for four sections. Students have to remember (and their teachers have to remember to tell them) to log out of the Docs app at the end of each session and to make sure they’re the one logged in at the beginning. It no doubt is cumbersome for the teachers, and I’m sure chaos will ensue at some point when that procedure isn’t followed.

So I started thinking about my own digital life.

I am not 1:1. I’m more like 3:1, with laptop, iPad and iPhone as my 3. I instinctively move from device to device, choosing the device based on the task I need to perform. If I need to do heavy word processing I reach for my laptop. If the laptop isn’t available (or, more likely, in the dining room and I don’t want to get up off the couch to retrieve it), the iPad is a suitable stand in, but only as a second choice. On the other hand, there are definitely things for which the iPad is better suited, like quick movie making. Apps like Show Me or Explain Everything are much more useful for video tutorials and much faster to use.

Is 1:1, defined as one specific device per child, realistic? Or does it make more sense to define 1:1 as the ratio of total devices available to the total student body as a 1:1 ratio, without assigning specific device to specific children?

September 2, 2014 Posted by | Mobile devices and apps, Technology, Thinking | , , | Leave a comment

Links You’ll Love – 8-29-14

Need to record a brief audio clip? Want your students to? Visit ClypIt, record your clip and get a link to share.

If you need some GIFs to explain mathematical concepts (and WHO doesn’t need those?) check out this website.

http://www.wordle.net is one of our favorite word cloud generators, but sometimes it gets cranky and stops working. This article has 9 more word cloud websites.

“Make it big, do it right, give it class…” Science teacher Steve Spangler’s science videos aim to do just that. Watch his videos here.

GAFE tip of the week: searching for a particular email message has gotten easier now that we’re using GAFE! Check out this article for tips on using Google search terms in Google Mail.

August 28, 2014 Posted by | Links You'll Love | | Leave a comment

The Programming Dilemma

Like everyone else, I’ve been reading all the back-and-forth about the need to teach programming. Like everyone else, I’m wondering when we’re supposed to find the time to do it. “How many languages can we teach in one day?” I ask…

An article in Mother Jones addresses this issue, stating that “computer literacy is the key to winning the 21st century.” I’m not exactly sure what winning the century means, but I found the article a fascinating read.

During this past school year, I had the opportunity to run two specials for 6th graders who were interested in coding. As it happened, one was a small group of boys, and the second a small group of girls. The differences were interesting. For example, the boys were mostly interested  in designing games via Gamestar Mechanic, and the girls were more interested in a methodical class in an actual programming language; working through Khan Academy’s JavaScript course. Differences aside, one thing that I did observe across the board, though, was that we needed a lot of time to go through the lessons.

Time? We just don’t have so much of it.

One way our school addressed this was to start an extra-curricular Code Club run by parents. Students sign up (and pay separately) and come to school on a Sunday evening to learn how to code. It was immensely popular…with the kids who were interested in coding. Obviously, since this was a self-selected group, it was, well, great for the kids who identified an interest.

But it occurs to me that “winning the 21st Century” needs to be about getting everybody on board, or at least more students than the ones who self-identify as wannabe programmers.

The article at Mother Jones brings up a different tactic, one that I’m interested in exploring; the principle of computational thinking. This intrigues me. It’s about teaching kids how to approach solving problems in a systematic, logical manner.

I recently worked with our 7th graders to design digital scavenger hunts using ARISgames. It’s a terrific platform, and requires no programming skills. But it does require some careful thinking about what needs to be in place in order to make things happen. It also requires careful attention to syntax (and what 7th grader cares about syntax? Slashes…we don’t need no stinkin’ slashes…).

Most of the kids loved it.

Maybe that’s the way to go…computational thinking, not programming. If they want to learn to code later, so be it. But maybe, for now, we’ll teach them how to create, how to use systematic thinking to solve their problems and get from here to there.

June 18, 2014 Posted by | Programming | , , , | Leave a comment

Links You’ll Love

Planning to organize your smart phone or iPad apps this summer? Check out Mashable’s guide to creative organization strategies.

We’re so excited that we’re “going Google” next year! If you’d like to learn a little more about Google Apps for Education, visit Google’s overview.  There are some great tutorials here.

June 13, 2014 Posted by | Links | | Leave a comment

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