Time to Make Amends…

At some point in time, everyone needs to take back something they have said. Today is one of those times for me on this blog.

I wrote a post in May of last year offering a recommendation for an extension which could be used to leave voice comments in a Google Doc. The beginning of the post gave a short backstory on an add-on which did voice comments very nicely. That add-on then did a massive update which was also a redesign of their method for leaving any type of comments. I found the update to be a disservice to their original functionality as well as quite clunky for usability so I stopped recommending it to teachers. Now in the post, I didn’t go as far as to name names, but I still vented some frustration.

Now, over time, we’ve discovered that the extension, which I recommended as a replacement for the add-on, has caused some of our Chromebooks to sloooow doooown. I had to stop suggesting the extension to teachers. Around this same time, I started to see posts about the original add-on:

Kaizena is Back!

The Google Doc add-on has gone back to their roots of having commenting take place within the document. I look forward to sharing this tool with teachers!

Now to give a well-rounded recommendation, I have noticed two items where I think improvements could be made. First, you aren’t aware of the comments left in the document, you only see highlights until you open the add-on. The original functionality of Kaizena inserted a statement as a header explaining what to do to see the text or voice comments. The second improvement is expanding the voice comment limitation of thirty seconds of recording time per comment. Hopefully that can be expended upon.


Have you used Kaizena? I would love to read your opinions on the add-on in the comments below.

4 Favorite Audio Recorders for Chromebooks

So a little bit of info upfront… I’m usually not a fan of what I consider the ‘click bait’ of numbered post titles. I typically try to avoid them, but today I caved. I know that “studies show…” whenever there is a number in the post they get more attention, mainly because people believe them to be brief and to-the-point. I did it because it went with the topic and since I wanted to try out a new trick I learned, I thought audio recorders would be the best topic to share while trying out Amit Agarwal‘s tidbit. Below the audio player I will post the links, in order of simplicity (in my opinion) to each resource shared.

  1. Simple Audio Recorder
  2. Vocaroo
  3. Online Voice Recorder
  4. TwistedWave

What did you think of this style of post? I would love to read your thoughts in the comments below.

Take Apart Day 2017-18

The third annual Maker Ambassadors’ facilitated Take Apart Day happened on December 20th & 21st, 2017. (You can check out the posts from 2015 & 2016-17) The ‘Maker Ambassadors’ is a component of PRISM, a self-selected offshoot of my school’s gifted and talented program facilitated by my classroom-mate, Rebecca McLelland-Crawley.

This year we had items like two electronic keyboards, an iron, iPod Touch, wireless mouse & a USB presentation controller, just to name a few. I created a ThingLink as an example (embedded below) for students to try and create their own (will update with student examples hopefully soon). Also, take a look at the gallery of images from the day:

What would you take apart? Would love to hear about it in the comments below.

A Google Slides Hack…

I was asked recently by a colleague, Stacey Lindes if it was possible to link to a specific slide in a Google Slides presentation. After a little thinking, this is what I came up with.

***Note: I truly cannot recall seeing this trick anywhere else, but with that being said, there are tons of ‘Google tricks’ out there that I may have forgotten where I saw it. If you have shared this previously, I apologize for not crediting you.***

Does this trick help you? I would love to find out more in the comments below.

Assisting My Colleagues with a Holiday Inspired Tech Exchange…

If you have read previous posts on here, I tend to get asked questions like, “Would it be possible to…” Well two of my colleagues, Kim Lowden & Jess Verrault, are putting together a pretty cool way to celebrate the holidays with a ‘tech-ified’ gift exchange.

They will have teachers fill out a Google Form where they submit a digital resource of some type & request one in return. Then they will go into the Sheet results and try to match up, as best as possible, each staff member with someone who submitted a resource they are looking to receive. Utilizing a couple of formulas & add-ons (I’ll describe them in more detail) a Google Doc will be created which will be delivered to the staff member’s inbox. In the Doc will be the link to the resource, a description of how it is used (with students, if possible) and a means to send a pre-formatted “Thank You Card” email back to the giver. Below I will embed all of the Google-y things (Form, Sheet, & created Doc from the Template with <<tags>>)

Formulas & Add-ons, Oh My…

I needed a means to create a pre-formatted link to an email address. I had to insert a few columns into the Sheet:

  • Column B: =IF(A1=“”,“”,“mailto:”)
  • Column D: =IF(A2=“”,“”,“?subject=Thank%20You&body=Dear%20Secret%20Snowman,”)
  • Column E:  =CONCATENATE(B2:D2)

This will create all the text needed to take the ‘response recorded’ email address in Column C and map it out to create a hyperlink ‘mailto’ trigger with a specific subject and body.

Next, they wanted it to be as personalized as possible using the correct pronoun in the Google Doc. I added a column to the Sheet which uses Data Validation to create a dropdown list for “he” or “she”. Kim or Jess will have to select the pronoun when they are matching up colleagues so the correct pronoun will appear in place of the <<tag>> in the template…

Finally, another column was added where Kim or Jess could input the email address for the “gift” recipient.

Now as for some Add-ons used:

  • copyDown – will insert each formula when a Form is submitted
  • autoCrat – will insert data from the Sheet into <<tag>>ed text within a Google Doc template

Have you participated in a technology holiday gift exchange? I would love to read about your experiences below.

‘Force a “Comments version” Copy’ Integration Activity…

Google recently announced the ability to make a copy of a Google Doc w/ all the comments &/or suggestions from the original document replicated. (You can read about it here)

By the time of this posting, after November 29th 2017, all users have the feature and can make a copy of a document with the comments and suggestions carrying over.

Eric Curts over at Control Alt Achieve, posted a means to modify the ‘Force a Copy’ trick in conjunction with the copying of comments. I’m not going to go into too much detail (mainly because Eric does a fine job explaining the process w/ screenshots) the main gist is…

  • Change the Doc w/ prepopulated comments to ‘Anyone with the link can comment’
  • Go to the shareable link, NOT the URL of the Doc, and copy it.
  • Change the /edit?usp=sharing to /copy?copyComments=true
  • Give this new link to anyone you want to ‘force a copy’ of a document

I created an example activity (linked below) which showcases how this could be utilized in the classroom. The document has the Gettysburg Address with questions posted as comments. Students could then reply to the comments with their answers. The idea would be to manage this through Google Classroom where I create an assignment with nothing attached. The ‘force a copy’ link will be included in the directions of the assignment. When completed the student would attach their copy of the Doc to the assignment, then turn in.

I also feature another one of my favorite tools within this activity, an extension called Talk & Comment. This tool allows a user to embed voice recordings within the comments of the Doc. Plus, a bonus, notice some of the comments have bold text? I learned about that trick from Kim Pollishuke over at Inquire & Inspire. In her May 2015 post, she highlights some text tricks to create bold, italics, strikethrough, or all three.

  • *text*   → text
  • -text-   → text
  • _text_   → text
  • _-*text*-_   → text

Google Doc with Comments, click the image to ‘force a copy w/ comments’

How could you use this technique with your students? I would love to read about your ideas in the comments below.