Google Productivity Tools for Everyone

At The Fletcher School, we use G Suite for Education and associated apps. Our teachers and students use Google Classroom, Google Drive with Docs and Slides, and Google Calendar on a daily basis. Hopefully,  you are also using Google apps in your personal digital life. BUT IF you are NOT I urge you to give it a try. Many individuals use Gmail with a Google account but are not accessing the other tools that are associated with the account. You can sign up for a Google Account here if you don’t already have one. If you are a parent, this will give you a window into the digital interface used by your child.

As we become more mobile with phones and tablets and move away from a traditional (I can’t believe I said that about a computer!) desktop computer and file storage we need to be aware of the tools available to replace how we worked on a desktop. And with a Google Account, many of the same tools that we use with G Suite for Education are also available to everyone else.

But are you using these tools? What are they? Are you still storing files on your home computer? Are there items you could access from other devices?  What if you could share files and allow edit rights to other collaborators? With a Google account, you have the resources of all the associated apps.  For this post, I will focus on Google Drive but don’t overlook the possibilities of other apps such as Calendar, Photos and Sites. 

From the Google search screen, log into your account and check out the ‘waffle’ on the right side of the screen. Here you will see the Google tool icons that are associated with your account. Select the Drive icon and see what might already be in there. 

If other people have shared documents with you, you will see those files under Shared with me. Check out Google Drive Help to get oriented and start to create documents, share them or upload files from a computer. Google Drive gives you 15 gigs of storage for free.

How can Google Drive work for you? With family activities, clubs and projects, sharing documents with others gives everyone access to information and duties and spreads ownership around. (Yes, they too would need to create a Google account.) Make a Christmas shopping list doc and add a new list each year. Now you can track gifts year to year and watch for patterns. Use a Google Doc to keep track of family login information and share the doc with all family members. When an account needs to be changed, update the document and everyone can find the new information. Use Google Sheets to maintain a family budget with a sheet for each month.

When my parents transitioned into assisted living and left a big house for us to empty and sell I made a spreadsheet keeping track of plans, furniture, repairs. As a family, it has been wonderful to be able to have all the information and details (and there are so many details) in one place where everyone can see it and add their own notes and stay informed about what is going on without sending countless emails redistributing the latest news. As my sister said, “A lot of people aren’t aware of all the apps they can use and to be able to all contribute to the same document in real time and add their own thoughts is a powerful tool.”

The reason for using technology has to relate to your interests and needs. Think about what you are doing that can be expedited with Google Apps. Do you have a babysitting Co-op, Book Club, or Carpool Schedule to keep track of with others?

When my daughters got married, I created a spreadsheet that could be shared with the bride, groom and bride and groom’s families to enter guestlist members and address information simultaneously. Right after their engagements, I set it up, shared it with them and the new in-laws and watched the invitation count grow. As you can see my son-in-law had the most friends! I shared my Wedding Guest List template with Google and over 2000 other people have used it and you can too.

I have highlighted the capabilities of Drive but that is only one component of Google’s apps. I created a website for my Supper Club to archive our events. That gave me experience in a personal way with websites and improved how I would use a website as an educator. You, too, could host your own website using Google Sites. The new interface is drag and drop and is a great place to start building a website for a club or activity. Using Google Photos as a way to archive photos, view across devices and keep your phone’s camera roll to a minimum is another valuable tool.

These and other Google Apps are available on any mobile device, IOS or Android. They can be shared with others which can allow everyone access to edit the same file in real-time. Hopefully, you are finding ways to leverage these Apps to your own advantage to enhance the many activities and interests you have.

Hour of Code 2016

It’s time for Hour of Code 2016! Computer Science Education Week is December 5-11 when the whole world participates in an Hour or more of Computer Coding. There are many ways to experience computer programming for every age group. Listed below are some of the Apps and Websites showcasing Hour of Code and coding apps. The Fletcher School EdTech Team encourages all grade levels to explore these age appropriate coding programs. Teachers: Contact EdTech if you would like us to help you plan a coding lesson. Resources will be posted in Monday Memo. Mac Users can click on the Hour of Code button in Self Service. #kidscancode #socanadults!

Apps of the Day

11/18  Many coding apps have been pushed to all Fletcher School iPads.The Swift Playgrounds app is one of them. Swift Playgrounds is a new app for iPad that teaches you to write Swift code in a fun, interactive way. “Swift code is a programming language developed by Apple to build apps.”  Check out the Hour of Code Swift Playgrounds challenge in the app. Learn the code developers use to build apps. Another great coding app for lower school is ScratchJr and Scratch can be used by grades 5-12 students on a Mac.

swift               scratch              image00

11/21  Check out, the headquarters for Hour of Code. has a diverse set of modules and tutorials of varying length and topics that appeal to all ages. Work with code in Star Wars or Minecraft settings or create unique artistic designs using coding commands. CodeAcademy, “teaching the world how to code” is a higher level interface with many options to take coding the next and real world level. Learn HTML, Java, or Sass or learn to make a website. It can be accessed by iPad or Mac users.

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Poetry Podcast

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 1.11.27 PMBy Kathy Poe and Shannon Nichols

Mrs. Nichols’ classes developed a poem based on a famous person that has made a difference. She had her students create a poster of their poem with photos. Mrs. Poe extended the project by having the students make a podcast of the poems.

This Written Expression project was twofold. First the students studied the style of Narrative Poetry. We listened to, read, and dissected three infamous narrative poems: Casey at Bat, Harriet Tubman, and Caged Bird. After closely reading each poem, students determined that narrative poetry tells a story, uses repetition as a tool, and often contains symbolism. In the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the students identified and researched a person that has been a champion of human rights. They applied the knowledge learned about their chosen role model to create a narrative poem for the second piece of this assignment. The poem was presented as a poster with illustrations.

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 1.19.53 PMWith the poem written our students turned their poetry into a Podcast. They watched videos of champion poetry readers from Poetry Out Loud to see how other students deliver a poem in a dramatic way. To make them come alive our students practiced recording their poems working on diction, fluency, timing and presentation. They used GarageBand to record their poems and added music that fit the time period. Recording their poems brought them to life beyond the bulletin board. Finally, we created a QR code to listen to each one.

Click here or use the QR code to listen to all our Poetry Podcasts!

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Hour of Code at Fletcher

IMG_0247This is our third year to participate in Hour of Code, an International focus during the week of December 7th to highlight the possibilities that learning to code can offer to students in our technological age.

This week Paula Paul came and spoke to us about her career as a programmer and introduced us to what real coding looks like through

Mrs. Poe’s 7th grade computer classes will spend not just an hour but more than a week working with a coding simulation interface to experience how to talk to a computer and what it takes for a computer to interact with them.

There are many options available to learn to code such as, Code Academy and Khan Academy and we match the students to a site that fits their interests and abilities. These sites are available to anyone, anytime so check them out and try coding yourself!


Ghost Story Podcasts

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Click to listen to our students’ podcasts of ghost stories on SoundCloud.






Mrs. Kathy Poe’s 7th graders worked on podcasts of stories by SE Schlosser from American Folklore. Ms. Schlosser allows the use her stories if she is given credit. This project allows students to focus on the production of a podcast using Garageband to record a story, add music and sound effects, edit the audio and give attribution to the source of our story, music and other sounds.

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What students thought about this project:
It helped me with my reading skills because I could listen to myself. CM
You can also have your voice sound scary and like monsters. AM
To accomplish a project you first need to obviously record. That sounds like a one time deal but only if your a great reader on the first try. If your not you could be recording for a long time. It’s always a good idea to add sound effects to get your listeners attention. Lastly make sure to give credit to the websites you borowed from. LG

Modeling Programs With Cell Models or Student Cellfies!

Every year Mr. Elliott has his students create a model of a cell. This year I had our students take photographs of their cell models with either cell phones, iPads or cameras. We used the photos to create digital projects supporting the lessons about cells and organelles that they had learned in Science class.

Hannah used the picstitch app on her phone to build a collage of cells.

We learned to extract the cell image to make our cell into clipart using Pixlar Editor, a Google App.

With the extracted images we collaborated on a presentation in Google Docs where each student worked on their own slide in the same powerpoint.    1st Period Cell Project

And finally we imported the powerpoint into Prezi to experience another tool and how to use it.

Cell Model Prezi

We will continue to use content from other classes to explore programs and applications such as Glogster, Scratch, Kidblog and more!

Kathy Poe