Tony and Patrick after a long and much deserved Spring Break. This episode promises to be another classic as Tony and Patrick talk about some upcoming Windows news, some great advice about STEM/STEAM skills and even a bit of comic book movies and Game of Thrones. Check out the talking points below and as always subscribe to us on iTunes or your favorite podcasting app.
OK – to be fair, you need Google Sheets and the Flippity add on, but still, this is pretty handy, easy to do and works really – really well. I’ve seen a couple of articles about this on the web but I’m going to go a little deeper and walk you through from start to finish.
In this example, we will be doing some language learning though I can think of this being used for math problems and vocabulary as well and much, much more. So let’s get started.
Google Translate in Sheets
The first thing we need to do is open Google Sheets and get ready for some magic! We will be translating words from English to Spanish. I will be using specific words and not phrases. As we all know translating longer pieces of text can sometimes lead to unexpected results 🙂
As you can see, I have 10 English words about the Spring season. I could look these up, but I will let Google Translate do it for me.
In cell B2 I will type this formula which will translate it from English to Spanish automatically.
=googletranslate(A2, “en”, “es”)
So let’s break this down. =googletranslate will let Google Sheets know that it needs to use Google Translate – pretty straight forward. Don’t forget the comma!
A2 tells Google Sheet where the word is that needs to translated.
“en” (yes you need the quotations) lets it know what language the original language is.
“es” (again don’t forget those quotes) let’s it know what it needs to translate it to. (ES = Spanish by the way)
So this is what it will look like.
Now all we need to is move your mouse to the bottom right hand corner of cell B2 (it should turn into a + sign) then click and drag down like in the GIF below.
Google Sheets (any spreadsheet program really) understands the pattern and automatically replicates the googletranslate formula all the way down properly changing the cells as needed.
Now we are ready to turn this into interactive flashcards
The next thing we need to do is get the Flippity add-on. To do this open a blank Google Sheet and then click on Add-ons from the menu bar. Then select Get Add-ons.
A new window will pop up and from here search for and add Flippity to Google Sheets. You only need to do this once. After you’ve added it, every new Google Sheet you open will have the ability to utilize the Flippity add-on if you want it to.
To activate the Flippity add-on, click on Add-ons and select Flippity and select Pick a Template.
The template you will want to chose is, surprise – surprise, Flashcards. Go ahead and click Use.
Flippity will do some magic and then create a new worksheet with whole bunch of info that you do NOT want.
Do not be alarmed. This is merely an example of how and where to put your data. So go ahead delete all of their information and copy and paste your data. Your data will be on another sheet (probably called Sheet 1 like mine). You can find this at the bottom of the page.
You may also notice that you can customize the flashcard color and the text color. This is not necessary but a nice touch. Here is my finished flashcard spreadsheet.
To get to the flashcards, click on Add-ons, select Flippity and then select Flippity.net URL.
A pop up will appear with a web address. You can click that and it will take you to your very own custom made flashcards!
You can also check out my flashcards and get your Spanish learning on!
You can do this on Quizlet, but I find the translation part much faster with Google Sheets and with the URL you can easily share out your flashcards with multiple people and there is no need for an additional account (though you can sign into Quizlet with your Google ID) tp sign into.
All in all – this took me around 5 minutes to make and I think you can make this as large or as small as you would like – have fun with it! It could be a good activity for a class or a group of students to help study and quiz one another.
Flippity can also make some other cool things like a Jeopardy so be sure to explore and see what else you can do with Google Sheets and Flippity.
When it comes to Google Sheets, small mistakes in the formula can lead to big errors so it is always good to double check the translation and make sure that it is indeed correct.
I know I’m not the first (not even close!) to do this but I figured it would be a good post anyway. We now have a self-checkout station in our library, so our students can check out books on their own. This post will show how we set it up and implemented it, which was easier than I originally thought it would be.
Hardware & Requirements
OK, let’s talk about what we used to make this happen.
We decided to use a Chromebook because it is pretty cheap, doesn’t take up a bunch of space and is portable. Also, it is very easy to manage.
We also gave the Chromebook its own scanner. This was a little more expensive than I thought and we made sure it had a base that it could sit in so students didn’t have to pick it up. Also, we want one that is a little heavy duty so it will last. Think of this as an investment. You can certainly find bar code scanners for much, much less but I firmly believe you get what you pay for here. This one in the picture is $150 USD.
We also used a label printer to print off student barcodes. We used a Brother label maker with its P-Touch software. This software lets us point it to a spreadsheet so we can design a simple template with tags in it and then print merge out all the labels for a grade level or school in one go.
This is a newer model than what we use but the labels in the end should be the same.
Here is a sample of what one of our student labels looks like.
We use these are sticks to affix a label to that will have a student’s name and patron number as a barcode. We use some plastic heavier duty sticks instead of paint sticks thought paint sticks would probably work just as well. I do know these are more expensive than paint sticks but they’re already colorful, don’t break easily and won’t give any kids splinters.
I’m not sure what ours are called but I’ll find out later and update the post with that info soon.
So our library (like many others) uses Follett Destiny to manage our collection; however, I believe that if you used another database that this could still work for you providing that it is web based like Destiny is. Even if it is run locally on your own network – there may be a place for a local user to log in and checkout books through a web browser. If so, then you could possibly set this up provided you would be able to create or modify roles in that system.
Self-Checkout Access Levels and User
In order for this to work we had to create a user in Destiny that can “check out” books. What we don’t want though is for that user to be able to forgive fines, remove books from the collection and basically bring upon an apocalypse.
Lucky for us, Destiny has lots of options and I’ll show you how we made this user.
First, you need to log in as an administrator in Destiny. Then go to Back Office. From here select Access Levels. Here we can create the role and then we will create the user.
When you are at the Access Levels screen go ahead and click on Add Access Level.
From here make sure you do the following:
Give it a memorable name
Change the Automatic log out to 240 minutes (this is the max time before the system logs the user out)
Change the Reset Circulation time to 120 seconds (or whatever you feel is appropriate)
Make sure the Collection Role is Student
Make sure the only access is Check out library materials
Then click Save.
Now we will stay on the Back Office page and but switch from Access Levels to Manage Patrons. Click on the Add New Patron button.
This will create a new patron or user. You need to fill in the information circled in the picture:
Access Level (make sure you select the one you just made)
Putting it together
On the Chromebook, we navigated to Destiny and had the librarian log in as our Sample Student. You should see that there are no options to search, check in or do anything else on Destiny except checkout books – perfect!
Now that all the hardware, access level and user are in in place here is what it looks like. I apologize for the mess, this was taken on a Friday afternoon before Spring Break – so a lot of students had returned books.
On Chrome, I zoomed into 150% so it is a little easier for anyone to see what has been checked out.
How it works
Here is how it all works together. A student has their library stick with their barcode printed on it. They pick out the book(s) they want and bring it to the self-checkout station. They scan their library stick which will bring up their account. Then they scan their books one at a time.
When they finish, they then use the trackpad on the Chromebook to click the Reset button. This resets the system and gets it ready for the next student to checkout.
If the system is inactive for 120 seconds it will automatically reset itself and after 240 minutes it will need to be re-logged in.
Details to know
We just set this up but have already had first graders use it and it went pretty well. If a student checks out too many books the system will require for an administrator to put in their username and password to accept it. If not, it will not check out that final book(s) they want.
Putting the self-checkout screen in full screen mode is also highly recommended. This will hide the address bar, bookmarks and any other tabs that may be open.
That reset button is the only real sticky point I can see. Signage is one time tutorial with the students is highly recommended but I figure after one (maybe two visits) students will be good to go. We tried it yesterday with first grade students and didn’t have too many problems!
There should be a librarian, teacher or aid nearby most times just in case.
Developing STEM and STEAM programs (Science Technology Engineering/Art Mathematics) is very exciting, but I have noticed recently there is a lack of cohesive standards to measure progress.
Like many people, I am working on building a set of standards. Some are customized, and some are licensed.
In my research, and through various networking engagements, I have settled on a set of core skills that need to be incorporated throughout the STEAM environment. The standards are being built around these skills.
I have found more engagement among students if the skills are presented first. The skills tend to fuel the desire for hands on work. I also want students to not focus on grades and common rubric models. I want them to focus on creating and going through the design process.
These skills have been developed by the MIT FabLab Program. The FabLab has been operating for well over a decade, and many FabLab partners have developed programs for younger students as well.
The overall philosophy is to learn the skills at every level, but increase the difficulty and complexity within the projects as students gain experience.
DIGITAL FABRICATION PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICES
COMPUTER-AIDED DESIGN, MANUFACTURING, AND MODELING
COMPUTER-CONTROLLED CUTTING / Drawing
ELECTRONICS DESIGN AND PRODUCTION
3D MOLDING AND CASTING
COLLABORATIVE TECHNICAL DEVELOPMENT AND PROJECT MANAGEMENT
3D SCANNING AND PRINTING
SENSORS, ACTUATORS, AND DISPLAYS
INTERFACE AND APPLICATION PROGRAMMING
EMBEDDED NETWORKING AND COMMUNICATIONS
DIGITAL FABRICATION APPLICATIONS AND IMPLICATIONS
INVENTION, INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY, AND BUSINESS MODELS
DIGITAL FABRICATION PROJECT DEVELOPMENT
Looking at this list, it might seem impossible to imagine a Grade 3 or even Grade 8 students accomplishing these in a meaningful way. I would argue that all are achievable at least at the planning and design thinking stage. Most of these are achievable with the correct level or equipment and/or some creative outsourcing.
Tony and Patrick are back for another outstanding episode. Tony’s travel tips, why Momo is just stupid and all the other talking points are below. You can subscribe to us on iTunes (please do) or your favorite podcasting app.
I had teacher walk into the IT office with a good question. She wanted to make a slideshow about a topic and have each student in her room create one slide to add to the slideshow. Here is what you need to know.
She is using Google Slides
This is 4th Grade
She didn’t want students modifying or messing around with other slides
4th grades don’t always make “wise” choices
OK – now you are caught up and messing around here is what we stumbled upon. I don’t think this is a new feature but it was one that I was not aware of. Before we get to the solution here is what first sprung into our minds.
She would have one slideshow on her Google account and she would share it with one or two at a time and then once their slide was done, she would take away their permissions and assign new students. Or she could just let them work on a computer that is signed into her account under her supervision as they directly added it with no sharing at all.
Obviously this is extremely cumbersome and not very manageable unless you were dealing with 4–6 students, so this would not work
Loads of slideshows and some manual labor
Each student would make their own and then they would share it with her. She would then cue up a bunch of different slide shows to show or she would re-create the slides on her own slideshow.
Again, lots of work and not very practical. I can hear you, the good reader, screaming at the screen now about copy and pasting.
The best solution
So the teacher make one slideshow to rule them all. Then each student makes their own and shares it with her. She will then copy and paste the slide(s) necessary from the student slideshow to the teacher slideshow. So check out the overly simplistic screenshots below.
So, what our teacher needs to do is copy the slide from the thumbnail view. Click the thumbnail and then copy it (ctrl+c or cmd+c or right click and select copy). Then once it is copied go to the teacher slideshow and paste it in the thumbnail area. When you do this, you will see an option to link the slide or not to link the slide.
I went ahead and chose to link the slides. When I do this this little icon shows up on that particular slide on the teacher slideshow.
Now here is why this is cool. Let’s say Student #1 decides to add a little more info. Maybe a picture in this case.
Now let’s check back with the teacher’s slideshow and see what has changed.
As you can see – very little has changed, but when you look at Student #1’s slide you will see that it says UPDATE near the top right hand corner.
So when the teacher clicks it the slide will update with the latest changes. Very, very cool.
Now, let’s say a fourth grader shares this with their “best” friend who decides it would be hilarious to replace the computer picture with a funny picture and then the teacher hits update. All the teacher needs to do is hit Undo (ctrl+z or cmd+z or hit the Undo button) and the latest changes will be undone. Simple as that.
So, if you’re ever in this situation of making a single slideshow based and want the class to contribute then give this a go. It seems to work very well.
I’m not a fan of interactive whiteboards. My opinions on interactive whiteboards have not changed. Basically I felt that it forced teachers to change how they taught in order to use the technology. I always felt that a teacher should use it as a way to enhance how they teach not force them to change.
Then I saw the Google Jamboard and thought YES! This is something that gets out of your way and lets you work. Then I used the Google Jamboard and it felt like a dream that was interrupted with a fire alarm going off next to your ear. It is a good idea but not quite finished. That on top of its ridiculous price and tiny display made it less realistic for just about anybody – regardless of budget.
Despite this I still felt hopeful. I felt that finally we getting into an interactive panel that lets teachers mirror their display, allow for annotations and white-boarding and do all this fairly fluidly without tapping the board a hundred times just to get to a map of the world (I’m looking at you Promethean).
Last week I attended a demo of a new display hitting the US market in early Spring. I won’t divulge the company or the model of the display because I’m not here to shill for them. The demo had two representatives from the company. A regional sales rep (that you would expect) and then a representative from the development team. This person apparently helps to oversee the software and the hardware implementation and how the two work with each other. This is not something you see. He was there to gather feedback and to take it back to the team. Apparently at an early demo, someone had asked for a way that the interactive display could support multiple accounts. Within 8 months they had that feature and pushed it out to older boards as a firmware update. Impressive
Attending the demo with me was a science teacher, an IT director for a larger public school system, an IT director for a division of a university and an administrator of an engineering firm. A Pretty diverse group all in all. Each had their own budgets and needs and that came out in the questioning.
The physical screen
The screen itself was quite similar to what you see on the market right now. 60–80+ inches, 4K, can be mounted on a trolley or mounted to a wall and are quite sturdy. It also has a stripped down version of Android and has lots of inputs to connect your device or another peripheral. Pretty standard features really.
In fact, the reps both said that many of the panels are all made at the same factory and then the individual companies wrap their own case, add their own software to help make their “product” stand out. So when if you’re deciding what screen your school should buy based on its appearance good luck.
Then we got to what the screen can do. Basically you can connect your computer to the screen and mirror your display or extend it and then quickly annotate on it with just a quick gesture touch on the screen. You can then save that as a screenshot or you can actually record a video of what is happening while you are working.
Thank goodness it is simple.
You can sign in to your Google Drive or your Office 365 account and so when you (a teacher) sign into the board, your cloud storage is right there at your fingertip.
Thank goodness that is simple.
You can easily bring up a whiteboard to collaborate on and you can use your finger or a passive pen (a pen without a battery) to write and multiple people can write at the same time. Again the whiteboard can be saved or recorded as people work on in.
Nice and simple.
As I mentioned before the board runs a stripped down Android OS. The problem with this is that there is no Google Play store meaning that you cannot easily download and install apps of your choice. You side-load an app into the board but there is not guarantee that the app will run or run properly. The representatives commented that this panel cannot run Google Play Services (no specific reason was given) because they do not meet some Google requirements. If you know what this may be please let me know in the comments.
This can limit the functionality of the board and certainly can cause issues when trying to expand its functionality. Also this is not the most intuitive or easy process for most teachers to undertake and then there are no guarantees that these apps will not crash or cause problems with the OS which may cause issues with the basic functioning of the board itself.
Basic usability has come a long way from the Promethean and SmartBoards of 2010 and that is a very good thing. Now that there are a lot more companies offering a variety of options from the uber expensive Microsoft Hub to the more affordable lesser known brands such as ViewSonic.
Now these items are far more expensive than projectors but their portability, meaningful interactive features and longevity make it an appealing option for schools. We are looking at one to use in our library which will give more flexibility when dealing with a single class, small group or a large group.
Tony and Patrick are back! We talk about snow and other important topics and there is the first ever Story Time with Uncle Tony and it is a good one! Check out the talking points below and as always please subscribe to us on iTunes or your favorite podcasting app.
Virtual Reality – I am hopeful for its future by Patrick Cauley
Imagine you have had to evacuate your high school. Could you facilitate your classes and business processes without physically being in your building?
If most of your infrastructure is in a cloud based environment, odds are you can maintain business continuity without your building. You might need an office or some type of staging area, but your organization can still meet it’s core requirements.
But what if you are self-hosted? What if most of your systems rely on infrastructure and data that is on premises?
This is an important conversation senior management and all the creative thinkers in your organization need to have. Here are some ideas to help guide you through the process and make (or test) your plan.
Choose a Secondary Location
Before anything technical happens, choose a secondary location to run your operations. Assume that the current location, and immediate area around the current location, are off-limits. Where can you affordably establish and maintain an operational space?
The space would need to include:
Enough space for the core team to work
Basic communication resources
Hardcopies of data that is required to contact parents, students, and teachers
Hardcopies of schedules and other data that are needed for basic school operations
Basic supplies and consumables (even food and water) for the team to work for at least 14 days
Remember, this requires some minimalism. People could rotate in and out, but the core team should be as small as possible. Anyone who can work from home, should work from home.
If you can maintain business continuity without technology, then by all means try to achieve this. Every new requirement will only add complexity to the situation.
If you need technology, keep reading.
Create a Portable Network
For any data to flow inside or outside of the secondary location, a computer network is required. Here are some core items that would be required in a normal metropolitan/urban/suburban area where the mobile service has not been disrupted:
5-10 individual LAN cables; 1-3 Meters each; longer cables look messy but add flexibility
5-10 power extensions with sockets; avoid cheap ones
Cable ties, double sided-tape, duct tape, and a few box knives
This setup will connect to the internet, and allow the small group of users to get online.
The environment will most likely be small, so maintaining basic safety when rigging equipment is essential. Damaged equipment will be difficult to manage during any type of emergency. Preventing trip wires prevents damage.
Create Portable Data
Many organizations have offsite servers that mirror their data. These organizations can keep operating without their normal infrastructure.
Most schools do not do this. Most schools cannot afford to do this. If the school is using an online classroom environment, then maintaining classes will be fairly simply as long as there is a protocol to follow. For all academics functions, creating a protocol. This should include:
Attendance for teachers and students (time stamped, and strictly followed)
Mimic the course schedule; when a teacher should be in math class, they should be online answering questions about math; they need to follow their schedule
Establish office hours and lunch to provide some break time and organization
Assign administrators to contact teachers for daily feedback and summaries
Assign administrators to randomly contact students for daily feedback and summaries
Send parents status updates on the situation at the same time everyday, unless a critical time sensitive issue presents itself
Using an online classroom system for your day-to-day teaching is not a requirement to have an online classroom system. A school can setup a Google Classroom or Microsoft Classroom environment for emergencies. These are usually free with educational licensing. These classroom environments need to be kept up-to-date with enrollment and scheduling.
There are a few other ways to run online classes without these cloud services, the cost is higher, but it is totally feasible. If you need this type of information, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Data files, such as spreadsheets and text documents, will be required for business functions. You may have an emergency where going into the campus is not prohibited. Retrieving hardware will be difficult and the outcome uncertain. Relying on external drives is not a great idea unless a set of those drives is stored off campus on a regular schedule.
Offsite storage is easy to manage using systems like Resilio Sync. The assumption is that the school does not want to use any cloud services. Using a peer-to-peer system would send copies daily from one location directly to the next.
There are other ways to sync files from one private location to another. Feel free to email and inquire.
Not Complete But Enough to Get Started
There are many options when designing these plans. Even if you feel the ideas here are not feasible, the questions raised are worth answering. The thought exercise should help develop policies and procedures for all stakeholders.
Administrators should be engaging their IT teams to find out how data is saved, where it is saved, and how it can be accessed. IT teams should be engaging administrators to determine the minimum core requirements for maintaining business continuity, and the total amount of downtime the organization can withstand.
That's what we are here for. We want to help teachers and educators integrate technology in the classroom in sensible and relevant ways. Just drop us a line by commenting on any of our posts and we will get back to you as soon as we can.
And don't get stressed out...crack open a cold one on us :o)