Apple Distinguished Educator Program Submission…

…Or Hoping Third Time is the Charm.

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. 

We have made it through to the 10th week of the year!

And we thought that this might be a great time to spend some time to catch up, reflect, or finish that post you’ve been wanting to publish but haven’t gotten around to.

So here is the plan, this week choose one or more of the following:

  • Go back through the first 9 topics and publish a post on any that you may have missed.
  • Write a post reflecting on your experience blogging so far. What have you learned? How has it gone?
  • Spend some time publishing a post on any topic at all. Your choice!

I applied back in February (Deadline was the 15th) and haven’t had a chance to share here. This week’s #EdublogsClub Prompt gave me the chance to get back to this draft…

I ThingLink(ed) my submission video and tagged it up with links to other items referenced in the video. Fingers crossed, there is no listed timeline of when I should hear if I have been accepted.

Have you ever applied more than once for something? I would love to read about your experience in the comments below.


Well, third time is not the charm in my case. Here’s what I received on April 3rd in my email. Your ADE Application 2017 The next opportunity would be in two years. Not sure if I will attempt a fourth try… Thoughts?

Creating an Organized Feedback/Evaluation Workflow

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 giving feedback to students.
Some questions to jumpstart your thinking:

  • What is your favorite type of assignment upon which to comment? Why?
  • Do you have any tips to share on using rubrics, alternative assessments, or anything else related to feedback and grading work?
  • How do you balance constructive criticism and sensitive students?
  • How do students respond to your feedback? Do you have any thoughts about changes that could strengthen your feedback?
  • How do you give feedback “in the moment” during classroom activities? What are the most effective strategies you’ve used?

The following Post from March 8, 2017 might not fit exactly to the prompt above, but may help some teachers develop a workflow for feedback with students. Enjoy!

Recently, I met with a teacher who was looking for a way to digitalize her 3-page evaluation rubric for her students. In the past, the teacher would give this out at the end of a group project to each member. She would then have pages from her four periods to have to scour through and determine what each member thought was their personal strength, why (or why not) they thought the group collaborated well together, etc. She wanted a way to save time on the collection and distribution process as well as the dialogue of feedback. We setup a Google Form to collect the information, but the data on a Sheet is not easily readable. So we used a Google Sheets add-on, autoCrat, to take the data and input it into a <<tagged>> Google Doc template. Below are the Form (for you to fill-out and receive your own version of the Doc) and the template Doc. When the Doc is shared with the submitter, it is shared with ‘Can Comment’ rights. This way the teacher and can make comments on their selections without the students being able to make changes to their rubric.

Around the same time the teacher reached out to me, this Tweet appeared in my Twitter stream. Coincidence, I think not!

What have you automated in your classroom? I would love to read about it in the comments below.

Creating Digital Breakouts using ThingLink VR/360°

Last June, I wrote a post about my ‘Escape the Classroom‘ first attempt at a digital breakout. After that 360° ThingLink received some attention, I collaborated with Susan Oxnevad, Director of Education at ThingLink, to offer a webinar on utilizing this feature for teachers to create their own (read the posting on the ThingLink for Education Blog). The webinar took place on Tuesday, February 28th, below is the Google Slide presentation from the webinar as well as a re-take of the webinar after some recording snafu.

Create a lock with a Google Form

Creating a digital lock can be easy through Google Forms, which offers lots of possibilities. Embedded is a video I recorded showing how to create word, number, or the same method can be applied to directional locks. By creating a short answer question, setting it to required, and using data validation a simple lock can be created.

Some of my best tips & tricks for building your own.

  • Want arrows (←↑→↓) or other symbols for your locks? Check out
  • Want to include audio directions? Use Voki (download the video and upload into the ThingLink VR/360° tag) or AudioBoom (add as an embedded item to the ThingLink VR/360° tag)
  • Want to include a YouTube video, but don’t want the suggested videos or want to trim it to show a small clip? Use (add the URL as an embedded item to the ThingLink VR/360° tag)
  • Want a link in your caption for an image? Type the text in brackets [] followed by the link URL in parenthesis ()
  • Want to have your participants automatically prompted to ‘Make a Copy’ of a Google item (Doc, Sheet, Drawing, etc.)? Use this trick nicknamed “Force a Copy”
    • Step 1: Set your item to ‘Anyone with the Link’ Can Edit
    • Step 2: Copy the actual URL of the item
    • Step 3: Replace the word “edit” (and anything after it, in the case of Google Sheet URLs) with the word “copy
    • Step 4: Use the new URL and create a link as described in the bullet point about brackets & parenthesis

Advanced features/extras

Depending on how involved you want your Breakout to get, you can utilize some different Google Sheets add-ons to make items more advanced. A couple of add-ons to look at are:

  • autoCrat – merge data collected into a Google Doc template and then email to the participant; great for a successful completion certificate
  • copyDown – ensures any formulas in row 2 of your Google Sheet are copied into the ‘inserted’ row of data when a Form is submitted; great for setting up =IF() formulas
  • formMule – utilizes conditional triggers for sending different customized & personalized emails to participants; great for sending “success” or “still locked” emails
Want to join the challenge? (ends March 30th)

I look forward to learning beside you and exploring your creations.

Here is the ThingLink VR/360° I had as my demonstration version from the webinar

Have any questions? I’ll try to answer them in the comments below.

Popular Culture… #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 using popular culture in the classroom.
Some questions to jumpstart your thinking:

  • What kind of popular culture do you bring into the classroom? How do you use it?
  • Do you have any comic books or graphic novel favorites that you use for reading and textual analysis? Why do you choose those?
  • What are your favorite television shows or movies in your classes? Why do you find these helpful tools?
  • Do you have any favorite songs that you bring into your classroom? How have students responded to your music? Why do you bring in these pieces?

Pop culture, really? You want to hear how to use pop culture from…

Me?” – James T. Kirk

Well then sit back and get ready to hear about it.

“What’s happening, hot stuff?” – Long Duck Dong

See I believe that technology is always changing and…

“If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller

I like to incorporate pop culture to make connections to (hopefully) references people understand. Technology, for many is like a foreign film, but if I can create the subtitles (through pop culture references) that people need to understand it, then it makes my job a little easier. Sometimes it works, and sometimes I feel like, “Anyone, anyone” – teacher [played by Ben Stein] from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. For instance, when I introduced Padlet to staff I started by showing this commercial which was quite popular, at the time, and asked if anyone ever heard about the tool and how it worked.

I also like to include pop culture references in my blog posts. Here is a link to some posts I have done with, in my opinion, the biggest pop culture movie(s) referenced ever!

Now, I can’t end this post without giving you some tech nugget, so here it is: GIFit! If you read my previous post on free tech tools, then you would be familiar with this tool. Quick and easy way to take a YouTube video and make it a .gif image.

Now the closing, if you didn’t get all the pop culture references from the .gifs above then all I have to say is…

“No soup for you! Come back in one year!” – Soup Nazi

Do you incorporate Pop Culture references? I would love to read about that in the comments below.

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.