Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Find classroom resources using advanced Google search

Let’s imagine it’s Sunday afternoon and you’ve just realised you’ve still not found a decent class activity for tomorrow’s lesson on volcanoes. What to do? You use Google to begin searching, but end up with pages of results that don’t have anything suitable. At this rate, you’ll be here for hours! But wait...there is an easier way to find classroom resources...using advanced Google search.

The trick is to use advanced Google search to limit your search results to only certain file types. Given many class activities are likely to be worksheets, they’ll probably be in either PDF or Microsoft Word (.doc) format. By telling Google to only show these results, you’ll have a much greater chance of quickly finding something suitable.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Search for your topic and the type of resource you are looking for - e.g. ‘volcano worksheet’.

2. Once the search results have been displayed, click the Settings cog button (top right corner), then select Advanced search from the menu.

3. Scroll down until you find the file type section. Click the drop-down list and select either ‘Adobe Acrobat PDF (.pdf)’ or 'Microsoft Word (.doc)'.

Tip: You can only search for one document type at a time, so you may want to conduct a separate searche for each type.

4. Click the Advanced Search button at the bottom of the page.

Your search results will now all be the file type you selected. Notice how Google has appended the words ‘filetype:pdf’ to the end of your search query.

Note: This method is also great for locating PowerPoint slides and Google Earth lessons.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

5 speedy keyboard shortcuts for Google Calendar

Using keyboard shortcuts is an easy way to speed up administrative tasks. Google Calendar has several shortcuts that will have you navigating your calendar and creating events in a flash.

Enable keyboard shortcuts

Before trying out the shortcuts below, you first need to make sure keyboard shortcuts are enabled in your Google Calendar.  To check:

1. Click the Settings (cog) button in the top right corner of Calendar.
2. Select Settings from the menu.
3. Scroll down until you find the Enable keyboard shortcuts section.
4. Make sure Yes is selected, then select Save.

Get speedy!

Here are five shortcuts to try out:

Action Shortcut key
Create a new event e
Move to the next date range (ie. the next day or week) j or n
Move to the current day t
Change to day view 1 or d
Change to month view 3 or m

Once you’ve mastered these, be sure to check out this complete list (from Google) of keyboard shortcuts for Google Calendar.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Get extra fonts in Google Docs, Slides & Drawings

Google Docs, Slides and Drawings all come with a set of eight standard fonts. However, If you want to get creative with your formatting, you can add extra fonts from the huge range available in the Google Fonts library. They are all optimised for use on the web.

Here’s how to add extra fonts to Google Docs (once installed, they’ll be available in Slides and Drawings too):

1. Open any Google Doc.
2. Click the Font box in the menu bar.
3. Select More fonts.

4. Scroll through the list to find fonts you like. You can also use the Show and Sort buttons at the top to filter by font style, name, date and more.

5. When you find a suitable font, click it once to add it to your My fonts list. Repeat this for all the fonts you want to add.

6. Click OK when you’ve finished adding fonts. They will now be shown in the font list in Docs, Slides and Drawings.

A word of caution

Adding a large number of fonts can result in Docs, Slides and Drawings performing slowly. If you experience speed issues after installing lots of fonts, remove those you do not use regularly. Fonts can be removed by following steps 1 to 3 and then clearing them from the My fonts list.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Images get interactive with ThingLink

Last month I shared two tools for making interactive videos. Today I’ll show you how to make images interactive using a great tool called ThingLink.

ThingLink lets you add ‘tags’ to specific parts of images. These tags can contain text, images, videos and links to websites. Here’s a ThingLink I put together on the cities of Australia.

There are heaps of different ways ThingLink can be used by teachers and students. My example above is similar to what a student could produce as an assignment piece. Alternatively, I could turn it into an interactive task sheet, with each tag giving instructions or clues to students. If you’d like some inspiration, here are 88+ Interesting ways to use Thinglink in the classroom (ThingLink provide this link in their sign-up email). There are also some examples on their home page.

How do I get it?

To sign-up for ThingLink visit

Be sure to click on the ‘students & teachers get started here’ link to access the education edition.

ThingLink has both free and premium versions. You can see a comparison of the options here. I used the free version to create my ThingLink.

How do I use it?

Create a ThingLink

Once you’ve signed-in to ThingLink:

1. Click the Create button in the top right corner.

2. Upload or import the image you want to make interactive.

3. Enter a name for your image in the Title box.

4. Click on the section of the image you want to add a tag to.

5. Enter the information you want displayed on the tag in the Link and Text boxes. Links can be to websites, images and videos. Click Save tag when you’re done.
Note: Other features may be disabled if you are using the free version.

6. Continue adding tags until your interactive image is complete.

7. Click the Sharing settings link at the bottom of the screen to configure visibility and editing settings for your image. You can choose to have your image public or unlisted.

8. Click Save image when you’re done adding tags and configuring settings.

Share a ThingLink

After you have saved your ThingLink, you’ll be shown a preview. Select the Share button from the menu on the right.

Choose how you want to share the image. You can use social media, embed the image on a site or blog, or just share the direct link via other channels.

Learn more

The ThingLink Education Tutorial has heaps of information about using ThingLink with your students.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Mention people in Google Docs comments

Comments are an excellent feedback and collaboration tool available in Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and Drawings. This tool can become even more powerful by making use of the mention feature which ‘tags’ a person in a comment.

When you mention a person in a comment, they’ll be notified. This both alerts them to your message and encourages them to take part in the discussion. It’s a great way to call-out to people who may have a valuable contribution to make to a shared document. It’s also very useful for reminding people (particularly students and colleagues!) that they need to contribute, or for directing questions to specific individuals.

It’s super easy to mention someone in a comment.

Within the comment box,  type + or @ followed by the person’s name or email address.  If the file is not already shared with that person, you’ll be prompted to adjust the sharing permissions.

Note: Mentioning a person in a comment does not make that comment private. All comments in a shared document are visible to all collaborators.

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