Taking Badging to a Whole New Level

Sometimes I really think my teammates say to themselves, “How can we really throw Dan a curve ball?”

That’s what I think was going through Kim and Jess‘s heads when they described an idea they had that needed a little help from me. I’ve written about badging ideas in the past (please check out my past posts if you haven’t read them before); because what I’m about to describe is so far above any of the past workflows. They are both positioned at the high schools and are prepping the 9th grade teachers for the 1:1 chromebook program. So as a kickoff to their training they wanted to see where the teachers were but also recognize what they know. So they created a Form to check their understanding in three different areas: Drive, Classroom, & Chrome. The Form uses Google’s Quiz feature to auto-grade and provide feedback based on their answers. There is also a task component built into each area which Kim and Jess have to grade by hand in the accompanying Google Sheet. If they get a perfect score in any or all of those areas they receive a badge recognizing their knowledge of the respected area(s). But that wasn’t the challenge!

They also want to give out leveled badges based on their overall score. But in addition to leveled badges, the Form is being used between two different schools, so their leveled badge will also be dependent on which school they are from. Wow! So utilizing add-ons for Sheets, copyDown and formMule, I helped them create a system for awarding badges to their teachers. I think my hardest aspect was figuring out using a formula like this: =IF(AND(X2>=1,X2<=6),1,0) which helps determine a level based on overall score falling between a 1-6. formMule is setup with four different templates; the first two are specific to go to Kim or Jess dependent upon which school the submitter selected in the Form, to notify them that someone submitted so they can go in and ‘grade’ the tasks. The second two templates are the emails which go out to the participants with their badges.

***Note: all items embedded are copies of the original so to not disrupt the functions of the  system described in this post***

Below are the Form, Sheet, and an example .pdf of what a potential email looks like.


Have you created any systems for your workflows which at first seemed daunting? I would love to read about it in the comments below.

An Add-ons Extravaganza!!!


Had to add another column (fixing the formula to make sure it places the edit Form URL in the correct column) called: “IF Condition”

We discovered that formMule ran faster than the script to insert the URL. Now that I added the formula [=IF(H2=“No”,IF(E2=“”,“No”,“Yes”),“No”)] and change the trigger in formMule to run hourly, there shouldn’t be any problems (famous last words).

***Update Part Deux*** K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid)

We eliminated the event title column in the Google Sheet and modified the multiple choice question on the number of kits needed so the Event-o-matic would not have to rely on the copyDown formula to create a title. We found that it initially would create an event with ‘no title’ until the one hour re-sync would replace the text.

***Update*** It’s only been a couple of days and we already have made adjustments.

The embedded items will be updated to reflect the various changes.

  • Yes/No question added to Form with the answer going to a specific section. This way if a teacher says, “I don’t know which breakout I want to do” they can still reserve a Breakout kit(s) and edit the Form submission later with lock combinations.
  • With the question above, another section is created to describe what happens next. The intent will be that either an email is sent with the link to edit their Form responses or an email will be sent sharing the Doc created by autoCrat. With this in place, response receipts can be turned off.
  • Another column is created for the unique Form URL to go back in and edit. This was setup through a script discovered here.
  • Google Doc template is altered to include unique Form URL in case of changes. Update autoCrat to recognize the new tag as a hyperlink. [One drawback, the Doc will not update to reflect any new changes submitted]
  • Trigger is set in autoCrat for creating & sharing the Doc to the submitter. It is activated by text appearing in the 4-digit lock (NOT NULL).
  • formMule add-on is setup to send email template with the link to re-submit the information when they know which Breakout they want to do.

One of my colleagues, Kim Lowden, recently received some Breakout Edu kits for her building. She wanted to create a means to manage it so teachers could see how many are available and sign them out for use as well as give them a document of what they receive (locks, box, hasp, etc.) w/ the combinations set. We developed the system below (the components are all a part of a Google Site).

***Note: all items embedded are copies of the original so to not disrupt the functions of the  system described in this post***

The Form below is used for teachers to sign-out kits as well as submit the combinations for the various locks and request extra features (key lock, invisible ink pen/flashlight, etc.). This Form is crucial to the rest of the system.

The data collected is dumped into the Google Sheet below. Within the Sheet I have the following add-ons copyDown, autoCrat, & Event-o-matic running for various tasks. copyDown repeats any and all formulas located in row 2 when data is submitted through the Form (since a Form creates a new row of data in the Sheet). One sort of formula is creating the event title for the Calendar, pulling together the number of kits and who they are for into a cell via =E2&” kit(s) for “&B2

autoCrat takes a formatted Google Doc with tags (<<referenced to Form questions>>) associated from the Form data to create a new document so each requester gets a copy to keep track of what they will receive and to what the locks are set. One of the coolest features they offer is the ability to set how the <<tags>> respond. Typically, when set to ‘Standard’, what ever is submitted through the Form will be included in the Doc as text. But autoCrat also offers ‘Hyperlink’ or ‘Image’ which is useful in this case for the extra features. We are able to take a URL to the image of a key lock and have that inserted to the Doc as an image.

Finally, Event-o-matic creates calendar events from each Form submission. Underneath the Sheet, I have embedded the Google Calendar associated with this system as well as an example created document.

How do you manage materials within a school? I would love to read about it in the comments below.

COPPA & Change… #EdublogsClub

***Update*** I am re-posting this as part of the #EdublogsClub week 8 prompt.

This post is part of the #EdublogsClub – a group of educators and educational technology enthusiasts that blog around a common theme each week. Simply write a post and share it (via social media w/ #edublogsclub or posting a link as a comment to that topic’s posting on the Edublogger site) to join in, or sign up to receive email reminders of each new prompt. 

Prompt: Write a post about student privacy.
Some helpful notes:

  • Should student work be public on the web? Why or why not?
  • How do you evaluate the tools that you use in your classroom when it comes to student privacy?
  • Do you have a favorite resource or video that discusses this topic
  • Do you have tips or rules that you use with your students relating to identifiable information?
  • Do you have any other ideas, rants, or questions about student privacy you wish to discuss?
Originally posted: Dec. 1, 2015
***Disclaimer – I, in no uncertain terms, claim to be an expert on Federal Law and Regulations***

COPPA which stands for Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act is meant to protect students online from knowingly or unknowingly giving out personal information (full, formal name; address; etc.). It went into law in 2000 and is designed for websites to either not allow users under the age of 13 or parent permission must be given for their services to be used. Some great webtools have been removed from students’ use or teachers have had to create accounts with no identifiable student information (i.e. google +1 email hack)

One tool which I find useful but fell into the category of users under 13 were forbidden was Screencastify.  Working in a 1:1 middle school with chromebooks, the Screencastify Extension would be easy to use tool for students to create multimedia presentations. Their Privacy Policy stated:

Our Services are not intended for and may not be used by children under the age of 13. We do not knowingly collect information from children under the age of 13 and we do not target our Services to children under the age of 13.

But, it did have this key line after it: “If you have questions about our Service, please contact us at info@screencastify.com So I thought, why not? I reached out to them and found Manuel, or Manu as he signed his emails, very responsive and wanted to make sure their tool worked for schools. We communicated back and forth for about 2½ weeks till they had an updated policy which included the above statement, plus:

Educators that have the authority to act on parent’s behalf, may allow students under 13 to use our Services, if such use is for educational purposes, and if this use ensures that students will not provide any personal information and will not share or otherwise distribute recordings containing personal information of a student.

Thank you, Manu & Screencastify for being willing to allow your tool to be used for educational purposes while remaining COPPA compliant.

So my big takeaway from this experience, reach out! I sent an email and asked a question which had two potential outcomes: no, we won’t change our policy or yes, let’s explore this!  If Screencastify said no, I would have been in the same position I was before sending the email.  Yet, they said yes and I now have two grade levels in my building which can utilize a tool for creation purposes.

Do you have a tool which you can’t use with your students? Have you ever tried reaching out to them? I would love to hear about your experiences in the comment section. 

“What Is COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act )? – Definition from WhatIs.com.” SearchCRM. 1 May 2010. Web. 24 Nov. 2015. <http://searchcrm.techtarget.com/definition/COPPA>.

12 Podcasts to Check Out (The Listicle)… #EdublogsClub

This post is part of the #EdublogsClub – a group of educators and educational technology enthusiasts that blog around a common theme each week. Simply write a post and share it (via social media w/ #edublogsclub or posting a link as a comment to that topic’s posting on the Edublogger site) to join in, or sign up to receive email reminders of each new prompt. 

Prompt: Write a listicle.
Some helpful notes:

  • Write about any topic at all that interests you
  • A list can be as short as 3 entries
  • Be helpful, make the list a resource your readers may want to bookmark and come back to
  • If you aren’t up for a list, write about lists, list keeping tools, or tools to embed lists
  • Marketing tests prove that putting a number in your title will often increase shares and clicks

Another timely prompt. I have a ThingLink which I use to share out the podcasts I listen to, as a recommendation tool. Well it was overdue for a much needed update, so here is my list of podcasts I currently listen to with a ThingLink embedded below so you can get the links to each one.

Note: the numbers are not indicating any kind of ranking
  1. The Way I Heard It with Mike Rowe
  2. House of #Edtech – Chris Nesi
  3. The EdTechTV Podcast with Brent Warner
  4. The Wired Educator Podcast – Kelly Croy
  5. Always A Lesson – Gretchen (Schultek) Bridgers
  6. Angela Watson’s Truth for Teachers
  7. The Cult of Pedagogy – Jennifer Gonzalez
  8. Check This Out with Ryan and Brian
  9. Teachonomy Talks – Chuck Poole
  10. My BAD – Jon Harper
  11. Google Teacher Tribe Podcast – Kasey Bell & Matt Miller
  12. The EdTech Take Out – Jonathon Wylie & Mindy Cairney

Challenging Situations… #EdublogsClub

This post is part of the #EdublogsClub – a group of educators and educational technology enthusiasts that blog around a common theme each week. Simply write a post and share it (via social media w/ #edublogsclub or posting a link as a comment to that topic’s posting on the Edublogger site) to join in, or sign up to receive email reminders of each new prompt. 

Prompt: Write a post about challenging situations.
Here are some ideas or topics you may wish to include:

  • Share your biggest teaching challenge and explain how you overcame it
  • Write a motivational “how-to” for overcoming a common challenging situation.
  • Do a review on a book or website that has helped you overcome a challenging situation. What was the challenge? How did the book/website help you?
  • Discuss any thoughts or experiences you have about challenges in education.
  • Talk about a time when a student was facing a challenge and you provided strategies to help the student. What were they? How did they help?

I’m a technology coach (my district loves long titles, so I’m really a Teacher Resource Specialist for Technology) which many people expect to mean I know everything about technology and how to operate/use all the digital tools available. With technology constantly changing, new tools coming out each day, that is an impossibility. At times it is beneficial that many tools utilize the same icons and I can get a handle on something quickly. But the expectation to “know it” can be daunting.

So when a teacher friend of mine, from the south, who knows what I do, scoffed at me not knowing/using Instagram; I felt challenged.

“You use technology all the time, how are you not using Instagram? I needed you to explain it to me and why my students want me to use it?”

Well, maybe this can be a social media tool that could come in handy. So that night I opened an account. Started to use it to share one of my hobbies. I’m slowly getting a handle on it, might not know all the ins & outs, but getting there; it’s a work in progress. I even added a new page to this blog to embed a ThingLink which will share each of the posts.

The main thing is this, when provided a challenge, make it an opportunity and jump in (feet first is best, diving is not approved because we don’t know the depth). Challenges, as someone once described to me, are the speed bumps which keep us from increasing our velocity and loosing control of our vehicle.

What’s a challenge you’ve had to deal with lately? How did you ‘jump in’ and tackle the challenge? I would love to read about it in the comments below.

Nearpod’s Newest Feature… Collaborate!

It think the easiest description for it is, imagine Nearpod & Padlet had a child… that child would be Collaborate!

Nearpod announced via a post this week the new feature on their blog.

This is part of their paid features, but you can try it out for a limited time in a free account. Below is a short video on the Activity tool in action as well as an embedded image of the final results (some of the students who tried this had a little fun with it).

Have you tried the new feature? What are your thoughts? I would love to read about your experiences with this interactive feature in the comments below.