Google Drive · productivity · technology integration

2 New Features in Google Slides

Google Slides are super easy to navigate and versatile in how they can be used!  If you are looking for ideas on how to use slides to really get at the “M” and “R” levels of the SAMR model, check out this great blog post by Matt Miller, 10 Google Slides activities to add awesome to classes.

Two new features were recently pushed out to Google Slides and we got access to them today:

What makes these features great?

Inserting Diagrams to Slides

How do you insert a diagram on a slide?

  • When on a slide, go to: Insert > Diagram
  • A side panel will open, from which you can select a diagram to include on a slide.

Templates include hierarchy, timeline, process, relationship, and cycle.

Why would you or students want to do this?

Visuals provide access to information in a way that text does not.  Many learners benefit form seeing and sharing complex processes visually.  The provided templates are easy to modify so user time is spent developing content, not drawing or importing shapes to create diagrams.

Add content from Google Keep Notes to Slides

How do you add Google Keep Notes to a slide?

  • When on a slide, go to: Tools > Keep Notepad.
  • A side panel will open, displaying all of your Keep notes.
  • Click on the three dots at the top right of a given note to add note contents to a slide.

Why would you or students want to do this?

Often times users get wrapped up in choosing design elements when creating slide presentations at the expense of content.  Teachers can have students take notes for presentations in Keep, where the focus is on note taking, and then easily transfer them to slides for the final phase of a presentation project.

The features within notes:

  • share for collaboration
  • color code for organization
  • add checklists for items
  • include images
  • add drawings (though these don’t import to slides)

make notes a great place to store information that can seamlessly be pulled into various presentations quickly.

Google continues to enhance their GSuite tools, providing a wealth of opportunities for teachers and students to create, share, and engage with meaningful content that supports student learning.

Google Drive · productivity

Google Comments Tip

I learned something new this week!  I love using Comments in GSuite apps when collaborating with others.  Did you know you can tag others in a comment so they receive an email notification that a comment has been made?

Here is how:

  1. In your Google Doc, Sheet or Slide, start a comment – highlight what you wish to comment on and  (I love keyboard shortcuts!) press CTRL + ALT + M.
  2. Type a “+” then the name of the person you want to tag.  When his/her name pops up, click on it.  You can tag multiple people in a comment.
  3. Type your comment, clicking Comment when done.
  4. The tagged individual(s) will receive an email alerting him/her/them that a comment directed towards him/her/them has been made.

This great feature enhances the workflow on documents/sheets/slides on which you are collaborating with students or colleagues.  Happy tagging!

Chromebooks · Google Drive · productivity

Two more reasons to love Google Docs


As if Google Docs wasn’t already fabulous, I learned about an extension and a feature enhancement this week that make me love Google Docs even more!


Draftback, described as “the archaeology of great writing,”  is a Chrome extension that, once installed, allows you to watch the revision history of a Google Doc play back as a movie!  How cool is this?!?  It is like being able to look over the shoulder of the author and watch his/her writing process.  This can be enormously informative when looking at student work, as well as a means of virtually modeling the writing process for your students.  Along with watching the writing evolve, users can access document data and statistics to see a timeline of activity, note where in the document changes have been made, and view a table of writing sessions indicating the length of each session and number of revisions a contributor has made.

Want to learn more?  Check out this brief tutorial.

Ready to try it out?  Get the extension here.

Google Voice for Formatting & Editing

Enhancements have been made to the Voice Typing feature in Google Docs.  Not only can you dictate your document, now you can format and edit text with voice commands as well!

Check out this list of voice commands that includes everything from copying and pasting to changing font color to inserting tables to navigating a document.  Voice Commands are great for busy students and teachers, providing opportunities for on the fly authoring, as well as removing access barriers for students with poor keyboarding skills and motor challenges.

Learn more by watching this demo video:

voice command.PNG

Google Docs keeps getting better and better, providing an efficient and enhanced workflow.


technology integration

Whiteboard Collaboration in a 1:1 Classroom

Do you wish you had more whiteboard space in your classroom?  Do you like having students add ideas and work to the whiteboards as part of your lessons?  Do you feel as though having students come to the board takes time and only engages those at the board?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you will want to check out

Webwhiteboard is an  easy to use virtual whiteboard that has great potential in a 1:1 classroom.

No accounts are necessary and a whiteboard can be created in 2 clicks!  Once you create your whiteboard, share the link with students and start collaborating!

Everyone who has access to the board can contribute using a few simple tools:

  • Sticky notes
  • Text boxes
  • Markers/crayons
  • Eraser


Brainstorm, plan, analyze and organize as a whole class or in small groups.  The possibilities are endless!

Boards can be revisited by following the shared URL or kept via an email message or image download.

Happy Collaborating!

technology integration

Google Drive

I spent a good part of this week in classrooms introducing Google Drive to students.  I enjoyed the time in classrooms with teachers and students, and I loved the “This is cool!” reaction from several students and teachers!  Google Drive is a cool tool that helps us work more efficiently.

How many times have you left your flash drive somewhere?  How many times have you collaborated on a document and lost track of versions given the numerous edits sent back and forth via emails?  How many times have you wished you could access your documents from _____ (fill in the blank – home, waiting room, etc.)?   When you use Google Drive these headaches go away.

Google Drive is a cloud service.  A cloud service is any service delivered via the internet.  Hence, users do not host/install Google Drive, but access it through web-based accounts using a device connected to the internet (phone, tablet, laptop, desktop).  Google Drive provides users with storage, creation tools, and the ability to share and collaborate on documents.

At MHS, we are GAFE users (Google Apps For Education) which affords us unlimited storage with a 5TB  individual file size limit (equivalent to a 600 hour video file).  Any file type can be stored on Google Drive.  Drag a file into drive and open or download it when and where you need to use it.  Goodbye flash drive and email attachments!

Google Drive offers a suite of creation tools: Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms and Drawings.  These creation tools have most of the features we use in Microsoft’s equivalents of Word, Excel and PowerPoint. A lot of your files may be in Word, Excel and PowerPoint format, these files can be uploaded to Google Drive and converted to Google format for editing. A new Chrome plug-in also allows some basic editing of Office files.  Google Drive also allows you to export files in Office formats (Word, Excel, PowerPoint).

You still may be wondering about the added value of using Google Drive.  One of Google Drive’s greatest features is SHARING!  You can share and collaborate on content you have created or stored in Google Drive.  Folders and files can be shared with others, with varying degrees of access (view, comment or edit).  This negates the need to  email back and forth, or print numerous versions of files, when collaborating with students and colleagues.  Every item in Google Drive has a unique URL (web address).  When files are shared, all collaborators access one file at the given URL.  If  collaborators are given edit permissions, editing can take place in real time (multiple people can work on a single file at the same time) or separately at their own convenience.  Each file has a revision history that is stored and can easily be accessed by collaborators on the file.  This feature is great to view the progression of content, participation by each collaborator, and serve as a safety net if anything gets inadvertently deleted.

Google Drive provides an easy, intuitive interface with endless possibilities for ways to enhance professional productivity as well as student workflow.   Cloud services are being widely used by colleges and companies, integrating their use in our work with students helps them develop 21st century skills they will carry beyond MHS.

During our January faculty meeting, I will have some time to share Google Drive as well as other cloud workflow options we have available (including Microsoft’s cloud service, Office 365).  If you are eager to check out Google Drive before then, check out the Resource tab above (Teacher Resources > Google Drive) for directions on activating your MHS Google account and getting started!