“The Michaels” on YouTube

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So, in a catch-up technological moment, I finally (stupidly) figured out how to upload longer videos to YouTube (by verifying my account; I’m not a big YouTube user, so had never gotten that far). I had the video files of both productions of “The Michaels”, our Classical Lit project from last spring, on my desktop, but wasn’t quite sure what to do with them: they were too big for Vimeo and too long for YouTube (though I of course knew longer videos existed). In any case, for your viewing (pleasure?) and for posterity (and potential future embarrassment), here they both are.


Focused Video Questions Using GoogleForms

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Was emailed this article about using embedded videos in GoogleForms to ask directed questions with efficient access to the videos (for rewind / review). Seems like a good approach, one I might have to try.

Innovation Summit 2016: Friday Keynote – A Culture Shift in Education

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Jaime Casap, Education Evangelist, Google

  • there is no end point in education; it is continuous
  • grades are an end point; a B sends a message
  • why are we teaching our kids that collaboration is cheating?
  • flip it around: what if he went to his CEO and handed in a project, saying that he did it all by himself
  • we live in a team-based world; we live in a world where collaboration is the norm
  • how do we teach our kids to change their minds?
  • leadership = building consensus, influencing, leading

Low-Tech Fun: Senior Project on GoogleMaps

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No, I have not hacked the NSA, nor am I running my own double-top-secret operation. I teach a sibling of a former student this year, and I mentioned to her that I noticed an addition going on the house. I know where she lives because her brother and some friends made a battering ram for their final project for my Medieval Lit class and, since the house is near the school, and I wasn’t sure how admin would feel about a battering ram on campus, we walked to his house to see it. I mentioned this to her and she laughed and said that the battering ram shows up in the GoogleMaps image of their house. Clearly I had to check that out and memorialize my Medieval Lit project’s brief moment of fame.

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PBL – Classical Play Project – Table Read

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The script is done? Ok, so the script is on its way; we at least have a working draft of the script. And today, both because of the performance approaching and because I didn’t want the same groups working on the script for too long at a time, we’re doing a ‘table read’. The class is in a circle and the actors are reading the script through. The goal is to get a sense for portions of the script that are awkward, forced, loose, off-topic, etc. The class has access to the script via GoogleDocs and are editing / commenting as the actors read through.

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I had originally conceived this as a straight read through, saving comments until the end, for continuity’s sake. I have quickly found, however, that that is pretty much impossible, that students are invested enough in the script and its writing to not be able to resist commenting as the script is read through.

The read through itself is going, well, predictably. There is enough double entendre and implication in the original that my juniors have taken that and run with it, likely too much so, which we’ll talk about.

Otherwise, it’s interesting to hear the class as a whole interact over the writing. Much of the interaction has been digital, via the GoogleDoc, especially over the bigger picture points of discussion, but there has also been some interesting discussion. A lot of that discussion hasn’t actually been discussion but non-verbal reactions (laughs, one-way-comments, etc.) but it’s been interesting to hear students accept those reactions well / without defensiveness; there have really been no arguments, so to speak, which has been a pleasant surprise.

So we have to cut down on the (unnecessary) profanity (all of it? we’ll see) but otherwies an interesting beginning to the script. We’re on our way?

An iOS Email Client I Actually Like

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I have never been a fan of Apple’s Mail, either on the Mac or especially on iOS devices. I used it early on when, in OS X, it was the only (obvious) option, but, once I shifted to Gmail, I used (and liked) the Gmail interface. It’s not particularly slick, but it’s functional and easy. I especially like Gmail’s columns / categories (Primary, Social, Promotions, Updates, Forums). I have more email addresses than I care to admit forwarding to one Gmail address, so those columns provide a good baseline of organization.

I avoided Apple’s Mail on my phone and iPad from when I first got them. I was on Gmail, liked its web interface, and so just used it via iOS Safari. I would see on the App Store, in MacWorld, through various promotions, different mail clients that tout greater efficiency and organization over Mail. I tried a number of them but found them too slick, e.g. swipe slowly to archive and quickly to trash (I archived a lot more things than I wanted). I did like some of the organizational tricks (at least a couple had a feature that would redeliver a message at a future date, say the agenda for a meeting that isn’t for another week, and CloudMagic has a version of this (see below)) but not enough to override my familiarity with Gmail.

I heard about CloudMagic (can’t remember where) and, as I’ve done with similar email clients, gave it a shot, figuring that I would not take to it any more than I did the other clients I tried. But, a month or so later, I have conferred on CloudMagic the ultimate compliment: I have replaced Safari with it in the dock on my phone; it is now, with Messages, Phone, and Calendar, among the Big Four.

CloudMagic presents a relatively straightforward interface (and I will say at this point that it does not maintain Google’s columns / categories, even in a sidebar-way like Gmail presents on iOS Safari; the linearization of my inbox isn’t great but, since I don’t use any phone client for hard core emailing, I can get past it). Messages appear with a search bar above, the account name / label above that, a compose button at upper right, and a menu button at upper left: clean and straightforward.

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The menu button brings up a list of folders / storage that mimics whatever your account has. The settings button is at the bottom right of this menu.

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There is one swipe available: trash, archive, and mark read/unread (whichever it is not). I do wish (and I have looked, though might have missed it) that there is a preference or setting that could customize these choices; I’d much rather a file option than a mark read/unread option, but I can live with that. I appreciate the simplicity of the approach, rather than the perhaps more common and more heralded fast swipe / slow swipe for different options.

The star function is a common one and you can of course isolate based on your starred messages (as well as your inbox, which I use, and your unread messages. Tapping and holding the star, on the other hand, brings up a delay option whereby you can hold a message for a fixed period of time. I would like to see a few more options here but this is a handy feature for organizing email (if a bit unintuitive being hidden behind the star).

The lock screen and out-of-app functionality of the app is adequate, if not perfect. Messages of course appear on your lock screen if notifications are enabled and a swipe to the left allows archiving or deletion (a swipe to the right takes you to the app). The only potential annoyance to this (which might, I admit, not be unique to CloudMagic) is that messages will not actually archive or delete without inputting your passcode or fingerprint (if enabled), which makes the process a bit less efficient. Other messages in the same group of notifications, however, can be deleted without reauthenticating.

More useful is the functionality of notifications when using the phone. They appear at the top of the screen and a swipe down allows for archiving and deleting.

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I think I’ve covered the range of at least basic functionality of CloudMagic. I’ve been using it consistently for at least a month now, which is about three weeks and six days longer than I used any other iOS mail client. And I no longer use Gmail via Safari on my iOS devices. I still do (via Firefox or Chrome) on my Mac; there is a CloudMagic app in the app store, but I’m not sure it’s $20 better than the web-based Gmail interface. But I recommend the iOS app, especially if you are a dissatisfied (Apple)Mail user.

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Scheduling Student Appointments in GoogleCalendar

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When I go blended with my senior English classes, I use Doodle for students to schedule their mandatory appointments with me. And I love Doodle: it is easy, straightforward, and does exactly what you want it to do (with some nice advanced features too). The problem with Doodle is this: I have to go there and see the poll to see who is coming when. And, while knowing this isn’t essential info, often students will ask me when their appointment is. So this evening, for instance, I spent about five minutes transferring the appointments from Doodle into my GoogleCalendar. (And Doodle does link to GoogleCalendar, but only, it seems, in the sense that your calendar will appear on you Doodle calendar but your Doodle appts won’t appear on your GoogleCalendar; I can’t guarantee this but this is my experience with it.)

So I saw this post on Twitter about using GoogleCalendar and one of the tips was GoogleCalendar’s appointment slots, which I had never heard of. But basically you do the following:

  1. Create an event in GoogleCalendar the way you normally would.
  2. In the pop up window, click (next to Event) ‘Appointment Slots’.
  3. On that screen, you’ll be able to divide the event into blocks (or ‘appointment slots’).
  4. You’ll then get a link to share with people with which they can sign themselves up for those blocks / slots.

The only real advantage over Doodle, but it is a significant one I think, is the ability for appointments to show up directly in your GoogleCalendar.

Now this wouldn’t work for random appointments, i.e. you couldn’t use it for students to schedule unstructured extra help sessions but for, say, my blended periods or language oral exams, etc., this could make scheduling and knowing who’s coming next much easier and more efficient.

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