Cool New Things in Google Drive

Google has been busy. Updating its logo was a big deal, but there are some pretty cool new things in Google Drive.

I have been creating a ton of new docs, sheets, slides, forms, etc for the new school year and I noticed several new things popped up as I was working.

So, I go to start a new Doc and a pop-up message asks me about templates, so I clicked on it. There are now bunch of professionally made templates that you can use. The templates have a very clean look with placeholders for text and images. Sheets and Slides have Templates too!


Sheets and Slides have Templates too!

Spreadsheet Template

Slides Templates

Voice Typing
Under the Tools menu they now have “VoiceTyping.”

Voice Typing

A big microphone icon pops up and turns red when you click on it to talk.


(Parts of this post were written with voice typing. It did get a little glitchy so I had to start and stop it to work a little better.) If you want punctuation you just say that punctuation. For example “period”, it will place a period at the end of the sentence and start a new sentence with a capital letter. If you want to start a new line, you just say “new line.”

***Google Support Blog Post with punctuation, languages, and trouble-shooting.***

When you open up a shared  document, you might see this blue icon that says “See new changes”. Click it and it will walk you through the most recent changes.


When I opened up a spreadsheet a green explore symbol came up and charts were created on the right side window.


You can click on the charts and either make them bigger or bring them into the document to edit them.  You have to mouse over to get the symbols on the left of the graph below.


Now I know those items are brand new, but also played with the new changes below and they are pretty awesome too.

 I absolutely love the fact you can really customize forms. You can add image to the background, change colors for the form background, and have all sorts of fun with fonts. This was such a needed an update.



File Types
I noticed that every document now has an icon in the upper left corner that shows its filetype.


If you click on the icon it takes you to a page that just shows all the items you have that file type. for example I click on the Docs icon  and it took me to a page with all of my docs. (This is very similar to the apps I have on my mobile devices.)   

If you click on the upper left hand corner again, you will get a drop-down menu that takes you to the other file types as well as a link back to Drive.


I can’t wait to see what else I discover over the next few days.

Happy Pi Day 2015 3.1415

Happy Pi Day 2015!

When it comes to creativity on the

I still love this video created by a 5th grader last year on an iPad. It is a great example bringing together a few iPad apps to create something unique and expressive that demonstrates understanding. You can call it app-smashing or app-synergy. I always say when it comes to creativity on the iPads: “If there is an ‘app for that’ you’re doing it wrong.” When you blend apps together it becomes more of what you want to create, rather than what an app can do.

Apps used to create this video:

Garageband + YakIt + iMovie


I love talking picture apps. Two of my favorites are ChatterPics Kids and YakIt. I talk more about them in this post on Richard Byrne’s Free Technology for Teachers blog and on my blog last June. Creating talking pictures or animations offer amazing possibilities in the classroom. These two apps are so easy to use, students can complete a simple project in a short amount of time or make more complex projects that can lead to collaborative videos, ebooks, or websites.

For this video, the student:

  1. Wrote the words set to the music he picked
  2. Played the piano and recorded it into GarageBand
  3. Found images and animated them in YakIt.
  4. He did not like the way his voice sounded so he raised the pitch in YakIt
  5. Each image was a scene
  6. All scenes and the music were put together in iMovie and the titles were added.

PiDay Song

Google Earth Pro is Now Free – Used to be $400

I love Google Earth and have used it for years with my students. Because of the price, I did not use the Pro version although there were some features I really wanted to use. Now I can! I can’t wait to see what teachers and students come up with using the Pro version.


Get License Key:

You can check out the some of the features of Pro here:

Making Movies in Google Earth Pro

Google Earth Pro Advanced Measuring Tools

Google Earth Pro Map-Making Tool

Google Earth Pro data import tools

NJECC Conference 2015

Presenting at NJECC Conference 2015

“Crossroads Technology + Education”

I will be presenting 2 sessions on January 6th:

Google: More and Even More
Just when you thought you knew Google. There is so much information available to us now it can be overwhelming. Learn how to tame this information and explore many of the wonderful resources under More and Even More to help you get what you need or do what you need to efficiently. We will explore some amazing and not as well known parts of Google.

Undiscovered Treasure: Free Public Domain Books Online
This session will focus on the best sites for free books. The books we will specifically be looking for will be authentic pieces of literature that are in the public domain. These books can be powerful tools for encouraging and strengthening reading skills. You will be amazed at how easily you can access and share many classic books in your classroom on a variety of devices, including computers, tablets, and e-readers.

Plus, I will be doing an Ignite at the end of the day.

Looking forward to a great day!

Chatterpix and YakIt: Great Apps to End the School Year

This first appeared as a guest post on FreeTech4Teachers.

The year may be winding down, but you still have your students for a few more precious weeks of school. If you have access to iPads in your classroom, a great end of the year activity with your students is to make pictures talk, create animations that anthropomorphize objects, or use personification to demonstrate understanding. It’s actually a great activity anytime of the year. You can create with your students and keep them engaged and learning right up until the last day.
Two fantastic sets of apps for creating talking pictures on iPads are ChatterPix /ChatterPix Kids and YakIt / YakIt Kids. With both sets, the non-kid versions provide additional sharing features such as uploading to e-mail and social media sites like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, while the “kid” versions only save to the Camera Roll.


ChatterPix Kids & ChatterPix

ChatterPix Kids and ChatterPix from Duck Duck Moose are simple, elegant, and useful apps. Both allow students to take a picture or use an image saved to the camera. With a swipe of their finger, students can draw a mouth on any image. There is one button to press to record, and the mouth then animates with the recording.


  • 30 seconds to record.
  • Add stickers, frames, or text.
  • Send movie to the camera roll.


YakIt Kids & YakIt

YakIt Kids and YakIt from Freak’nGenius are similar to ChatterPix Kids but have a few more features which make them slightly more complicated to use but add more to the final product.

These apps have the same features as ChatterPix Kids and ChatterPix plus:

    • Several different types of mouths. Spend a little time aligning the points of the mouth and chin to create an interesting effect.
    • More stickers. Create different types of faces on imported objects.
    • Change the pitch of the voice. Instead of a standard recording, make some audio tweaks. While this may seem like a very simple change, I have found that being able to change the voice brings out more from our introverted students.
  • Multiple scenes. Rather than just one taking image, string together several different talking pictures.

Since all of these apps save to the camera roll, they are great for app smashing or building and blending with other apps to create something that exceeds the possibilities of just one app.

Here are some examples:

Face on coins & Chatterpix

Face On Coins Booth + ChatterPix Kids

YakIt Smash

Garageband + YakIt + iMovie

Creating talking pictures or animations offer amazing possibilities in the classroom. These two apps are so easy to use, students can complete a simple project in a short amount of time or make more complex projects that can lead to collaborative videos, ebooks, or websites. Not only are these apps fun for students, but they also allow them to think, create and demonstrate understanding.

Flipped Classroom & Twitter

It’s exciting when you see work you’ve done days, weeks, months or even years ago reappearing on social media. Back in February, I did a webinar on the flip classroom model in education. Just recently EdTech K-12 magazine (@EdTech_K12) posted an article The Do’s and Don’ts of Flipped Classrooms. The article included quotes from the webinar as well as the video itself. It’s been tweeted around for the past few weeks, which is really awesome.  If you haven’t checked it out, the video is below.

So while I’m on the subject of flipped classroom and Twitter I wanted to let everyone know about some great opportunities to learn with me this summer. I’ll be doing the flip classroom in Chicago June 19 and 20th and in Cambridge July 17 and 18th I’ll be doing a workshop on Twitter and PLNs June 23 and 24th in Cambridge.

I love doing these workshops. I have seen incredibly thoughtful and creative work produced by caring, energized educators come out of the flip classroom workshops. I love the flip classroom concept because it really addresses how we can maximize our face-to-face time with our students. It also starts great conversations which allow me to constantly evolve and grow as an educator. I strongly believe that technology in the hands of energized and thoughtful educators can transform our educational experiences. The flipped classroom helps kickstart that process.

The Twitter workshop allows me to help educators discover the world of social media and become a part of it. When it comes to learning, it is my best PD. When it comes to sharing and reflection, it expands my reach allowing for multiple and varied perspectives. And when it comes to support, there’s an entire world of educators out there who have been there and done that and will help you through. Together we are better, and social media can bring us together.

Hope you can join me!