Wednesday, 28 October 2015

5 speedy keyboard shortcuts for Google Docs

In the last few months we’ve shared keyboard shortcuts to help you save time in GmailGoogle Calendar and Google Drive. This month, we continue the series with five Google Docs shortcuts that will help you access common features in a flash!

ActionShortcut key
Insert or edit a link to a websiteWindows: Ctrl + k
Mac: Cmd + k
Insert a commentWindows: Ctrl + Shift + m
Mac: Cmd + Option + m
Save a commentWindows: Ctrl + Enter
Mac: Cmd + Enter
Increase font size   Windows: Ctrl + Shift + >
Mac: Cmd + Shift + >
Decrease font size  Windows: Ctrl + Shift + <
Mac: Cmd + Shift + <

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

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

University referencing in Google Docs with Paperpile

Many universities and colleges require the use of in-text referencing when writing papers. This can be challenging if you’re writing your paper in Google Docs, as most of the referencing tools available only provide footnote referencing. One tool which does provide in-text citations is Paperpile.

Paperpile is available as a free Google Docs add-on, letting you search for, insert and manage your in-text citations and reference list. It’s also available as a feature rich web-based reference management tool, starting at $2.99/month (with 30 day free trial). You can learn more about Paperpile’s features here.

This add-on is a must to check-out if you’re writing papers that require in-text referencing! Drafting your papers in Google Docs has the added advantage of cloud-based storage (taking care of the backup for you) and easy collaboration.

How do I get it?

Follow the steps below to install the Paperpile add-on into Google Docs.
1. Open a Google Doc.
2. Click the Add-ons menu > Get add-ons.
3. Search for Paperpile (top right corner).
4. Locate Paperpile in the list and click the +FREE button

5. Grant permission for Paperpile to integrate with Drive.
Tip: If you do not see the grant permissions box, the pop-up may have been blocked by your browser. Look for the pop-up blocked message and allow the pop-up.

How do I use it?

Adding in-text references

1. Type the content that you need to add a reference for.
2. Insert your cursor where you want to add the in-text citation.
3. Click the Add-ons menu > Paperpile > Manage citations. The Paperpile add-on will open in a pane the right of the screen.

4. Select your referencing style (i.e. APA, Chicago, Harvard, MLA etc.) from the drop-down box at the bottom of the Paperpile pane.

4. Search for the reference you need by entering the title, authors, keywords, year, DOI or PubMed ID in the search box. You can also search for a website by entering the URL.

5. Locate the correct search result. Hover over the result and click the Cite button.

The in-text citation will be added as a hyperlink at the current location of your cursor. The hyperlink formatting will be removed when you generate a reference list. Learn how to do this in the next section.

Creating a reference list

To create your list, click the Update citations & bibliography button at the bottom of the Paperpile pane.  If you add or remove more references, simply click the button again to update the list.

Editing references

All references in the current document are shown in the Paperpile pane. To edit a reference’s data, simply click on the reference and select the Edit data link.
Tip: If you don’t see a list of your references in the pane, try clearing the search results by click the X in the search box.

The Edit Details box for the selected reference will open in a new tab. Make the required changes and click Save.

This is just a quick overview of some of the basic features of the Paperpile add-on. To learn more, check out this Cheat Sheet and the Paperpile forum.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Tips for using text questions in-auto graded Google Forms & Flubaroo quizzes

Google Forms are a great platform for classroom quizzes and tests. Using the Flubaroo add-on makes them even better by saving you the task of grading the questions! However, many auto-graded quizzes only use fixed response questions (e.g. multiple choice), meaning students only have to identify the correct answer, not actually come up with it themselves. In this post I’ll share how you can overcome this by using text response questions AND still get Flubaroo to grade them with some clever tweaks.

Note: The information below assumes you’ve got some knowledge of how to use Google Forms and Flubaroo. If you’re new to these tools, I suggest you check out the Google Forms Learning Centre and the Flubaroo website.

Tip 1: Allow for multiple correct answers in a text field

If you’ve got a text response question to which there is more than one possible correct answer, you can tell Flubaroo to consider any of several answers correct. That way, any of the correct answers your students type in the text box will be accepted.

Here’s how to do it:
1. Create your text question.
2. When completing the answer key (i.e. filling out the form with the correct responses), put %or between each correct answer in the text box.

This is very handy if students might use different spellings for a word, or if you’d like them to identify one of several possible answers.

Tip 2: Require a numerical response

If you want your students to enter a numerical answer to a question in a text field (e.g. the answer to a calculation), you can configure the text response field to only accept numbers. That way, you won’t have some students entering ‘nine’ and some ‘9’!

Here’s how to do it:
1. Create your text question and enter the question title.
2. Enter some help text advising students that they need to enter their response as a numerical value.
3. Click Advanced settings.
4. Tick Data Validation.
5. Select Number from the first drop-down box and Is number from the second drop-down box.
6. Enter some suitable text in the Custom error text box. This will be shown to students if they enter a word instead of a number.
7. Click Done.

Tip 3: Remove case in-sensitivity

Flubaroo ignores case when auto-grading, which most of the time is a good thing! However, on occasion, you may want students to enter an answer where case does matter. For example, you might require them to enter the name of a person, place, publication etc. using accurate case.

Here’s how to do it:
1. Create your text question.
2. When completing the answer key (i.e. filling out the form with the correct responses), put %cs before the correct answer.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Three tools for developing students' thinking skills

Developing higher-order and critical thinking skills in our students is a key focus for many educators across the globe. Intel’s education division has three free, collaborative tools which help support this endeavour. These tools encourage students to examine and justify their own reasoning, explore the reasoning of others, find and evaluate evidence and examine cause-and-effect relationships.

Every tool comes with a variety of resources to help you implement it in your classroom. Be sure to check out the link at the bottom of each tool below for unit plans and project ideas.

Visual Ranking tool

Available for: Web, iOS and Android.
The Visual Ranking tool lets students create ordered lists. However, unlike a regular list, students must identify, refine and justify the criteria and reasoning they use to select the order of items - in other words, they need to think about their list creation. The Visual Ranking tool is designed to be used in groups, meaning students need to discuss and agree on their criteria. Once each group has ordered their list, the Visual Ranking tool lets them compare their work with other groups. This is a great opportunity for getting students to explain and rationalise their reasoning through group discussions or debates. Teachers can also view students progress and provide feedback through the tool. You can find a demo of the Visual Ranking tool here.

Ideas for the classroom

The Visual Ranking tool is great for helping students prioritise concepts or information, explore differences of opinion and reach agreement on contentious topics. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

- Get students to explore open-ended questions relevant to your subject by ranking events, people, personality characteristics, products and more. For example Who were the most influential pharaohs in Ancient Egypt? What are the most important things individuals can do to reduce their impact on the environment? Which actions had the biggest impact on the downfall of the main character in the story?

- Get different groups to create their lists from different perspectives or roles. For example, ask them to rank the importance of particular facilities in their local communities from the viewpoint of young people, families, businesses and the elderly.

-Have students use the Visual Ranking tool to create a relevant list at the beginning and the end of a topic. This is a great way for them to see how their understanding and opinions have changed as a result of their learning.

Get more unit plans and project examples here

Showing Evidence tool

Available for: Web, iOS and Android.
The Showing Evidence tool helps students learn how to back-up their opinions with evidence. It also assists them in evaluating the strength of other people’s arguments or actions by providing a visual framework for identifying and assessing evidence. There are two complexity levels in the tool, making it suitable for both primary and secondary levels. After the teacher has entered a project task or question into the tool, students create and rate relevant evidence, explaining their rating of the evidence’s quality. Once sufficient evidence has been entered, students or the teacher can create a ‘claim’ based on the evidence. The evidence can then be linked to the claim, with students explaining how the evidence supports it. At the end of the task, a final assessment of the claims validity is made and justified by students. The Showing Evidence tool is suitable to use in groups or by individual students. Again, teachers can view student progress and provide feedback via the tool. The Intel website has primary and secondary demos of the Showing Evidence tool.

Ideas for the classroom

Before using the Showing Evidence tool, it’s a good idea to have your class collaboratively develop a set of criteria for evaluating the quality of evidence. Students can then use this criteria as part of activities that involve comparing conflicting viewpoints, defending their opinions or developing an argument. Here are a few ideas:

-Get students to analyse the opposing views of controversial issues such as smoking laws, drinking laws, refugees, climate change or junk food advertising.

-Use the Showing Evidence tool for students to analyse issues in a text. For example, did a particular event or the actions of a particular character lead to a specific outcome? Students can then find and use evidence from the text to justify the claim.

-Have students use the Showing Evidence tool to explore a hypothesis as part of a scientific research project. This would work well in a Mythbusters-style challenge!

Get more unit plans and project examples here

Seeing Reason tool

Available for: Web
The Seeing Reason tool assists students to investigate and understand cause-and-effect relationships. Students use the tool to create visual maps of the factors involved in a situation, showing and explaining how they relate to each other and contribute to the issue. Intel recommends students use this tool in groups of 2-3. Like the other two tools, teachers can view student progress and provide feedback. You can find a demo of the Seeing Reason tool here.

Ideas for the classroom

Before getting students started with the Seeing Reason tool, it’s a good idea to get the class to define the problem they will investigate and brainstorm some factors that might contribute to it.  Students can then investigate how these factors do contribute to the problem, using the Seeing Reason tool to record their findings and present the end result. Here are a few project ideas to get you started:

-Get students to use the Seeing Reason tool to show how character traits affect their actions and the plot of a story (e.g. analyse the protagonist and the cause of their downfall)

-Ask students to explore how climate change will affect the lives of people in different countries, or how the destruction of natural habitats affects the ecosystem.

-Task students with investigating a social issue in their community. For example, how diet affects physical and mental health, or the causes of online bullying.

Get more unit plans and project examples here.

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