Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Embarrassed Opening a New Tab and Showing Your Most Frequented Websites? Here are Two Solutions.

In Chrome, when you open a new tab, you see your eight most frequently visited webpages. (To open a new tab, click on the little "baby tab" to the right of your existing open tabs.)   

When projecting your screen to your students, you may not want to share your most frequent webpages and reveal your addiction for shopping on Amazon.com or your hobby of bird watching.

There are two great Chrome extensions that allow you to view random Google Earth or Google Art Project images when you open a new tab, instead of seeing your top webpages. Below is a view of Amposta, Spain.  Each time I open a new tab, I get a different image and can imagine I'm traveling the world.

To install these extensions, click on the corresponding link below.  (You can only install one of these two extensions.)  You will need to accept the terms of using the extension.  Then, when you open a new tab, you'll see beautiful Earth images or artwork.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Familiarize your Students to SBAC Style Exams

Our students are getting ready to take the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) exams in a few weeks.  Taking an online exam, especially the Smarter Balanced exam, which has questions such as drag and drop, table fill in, hot spot, etc. can be a huge barrier for students who are not used to participating in this type of exam. 

The exam should be testing our students on the skills that they have learned, not their ability to navigate an online exam.

I'm not a huge fan of "teaching to the test", but I believe that we should be preparing our students to take this new type of exam.  Our students should walk into the exam familiar with the technology, so they can focus on the content of the exam.

There are two free online tools, Edcite and Edulasticthat allow teachers to create their own SBAC style exams.  You can use their question banks or create your own to match the content you are currently teaching in your course.

As you are assessing your students in the next few weeks, try out one of these tools to help students learn how to navigate this online style exam.  By giving our students this opportunity, it could alleviate some of their stress about these new exams.  

**I don't recommend giving one of these exams to your students as a summative assessment that counts for a grade, because the goal is to teach them how to answer the online SBAC style of questions, but I think it could be a great practice test or class activity to review material.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Clear your Cookies

Sometimes Chrome (or other internet browsers like Internet Explorer or Firefox) can act a little funny.  Things may not load correctly, or something just doesn't seem to work.  The first thing I do to try to solve the problem is clear my cookies.  
Support.google.com defines cookies as "a small file containing a string of characters that is sent to your computer when you visit a website. At Google we use cookies to improve the quality of our service and to better understand how people interact with us".  
Sometimes, these cookies can cause some problems with how your browser works.

 Fernandez Gegen Den Strich

Follow the steps below to clear your cookies.  After doing so, refresh the page you were having problems with.  Hopefully, the problem is solved.  If there are still problems, this would be the time to put in a ticket at support.seq.org.  

Clear your Cookies

  1. Click on the three bars on the top right of your Chrome window.
  2. Click on "History".
  3. Click "Clear Browsing Data".
  4. Change the time to "the beginning of time". 
  5. Check "Cookies and other site and plug-in data. (And it doesn't hurt to add "cached images and files.)
  6. Press "Clear browsing data".  

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Google Docs Speech Recognition Add-On

Many of us have students that have a hard time typing or writing, for a variety of reasons.  There is now an add-on in Google Docs, Speech Recognition, which allows students to "talk" to their computer, and their words become the text of the document. 

Students can speak in a wide variety of languages and dialects.  The add-on doesn't add in punctuation, so a student would need to go in and edit their document to polish it up.  However, this add-on is an amazing tool to help students get started with a writing assignment.

The video below shows you how to install and use this add-on.