Month: December 2015

Teaching Speaking Skills Using Voice Typing

by Joe Kemery: @Mr_Kemery

One of the hardest things for me to teach and evaluate has been the voice typingspeaking and listening portion of the progress reports.  I mean, by what criteria should I be assessing students? How can I keep them from some sort of formulaic writing style while pushing the content discussed in their presentations? Using Google Doc’s new ‘Voice Typing’ feature, I think I’ve figured out exactly how to get students to not only consider what they’re saying, but also to maintain the personality, style, and fluidity that normal conversation and speaking should have.

Students start by outlining exactly what they’d like to talk about, keeping outline mindmapin mind the order, sequencing and audience they will be addressing. This outline is just used to ensure that they have included a beginning, middle and end to their presentation. Using an add-on, MindMeister, students can then convert their bullet point list into a mind map.  Any first revisions can be done here.  They will then use only their mind map in order guide their talking point and,   using the Voice Type feature, they will have a very casual talk on their topic.  The point of using the mind map is to help them avoid simply reading from their notes.

Voice Type does a fairly good job at word recognition. Students are able speak naturally rather than concerning themselves with common spelling and grammar errors.  Once done, students are able to review their fluent speech and obvious grammatical errors and other omissions can be corrected.  I like to use comments to add those notes to help students improve their own presentations.  I will generally have students run through this process at least twice in order to really help students to improve their speeches and presentations while keeping their natural tone and voice.



Using Snagit and

by Joe Kemery: @Mr_Kemery

snagitextenstionAs someone who has used elements of the flipped classroom for the past four years, I can honestly say that it was the accountability piece that often was the biggest challenge of the format.  Whether the videos were watched at home or in class, how could I both hold students accountable for viewing the content as well as assess wh
at they took away from the videos and lessons?

Using Snag-it, a Chrome Extension, with has done so much to help solve that problem. I’m a firm believer in recording my own videos whenever possible.  Using the Snagit Extension, I am able to capture any instruction as a video. All videos will be quickly uploaded to your Google Drive, making saving and organizing your videos a breeze. From here, it’s just a quick upload to YouTube, and you’ll have your students hearing your instruction anywhere! This is a great way to tailor your instruction specifically to your students’ needs.

Next, you’ll want to select from you Drive. is an app that can be linked to your Google Drive. You’ll see a blank page prompting you to paste a URL. Students will then be able to paste the URL of your video and will take notes. One of the best parts of is the direct integration with Google Drive.  This means that you can sign into and use Google Drive to save their video notes.  There is a save button in the toolbarvideonotes, but the application will also auto save your work every few seconds. Changes will be saved in the Google Drive that is associated with the account and the program will automaticall
y generate a new folder called “” in the top level of Drive. I have students rename the folder the Notes, and use specific titles to help them organize their notes.  This way,students have an archived record of both the videos used and their notes.  These notes are quickly shared with me, either through email or through an assignment.  I like to have students share the folder with me so that I can check notes throughout a unit. I may not collect notes, but students’ understanding is something  I am always using to guide future instruction. Having students share the folder with me gives access to the folder at anytime.  

K12 Education Information Technology [Graphic] #EduIT

photo (10)

by Howard Chan @socratech 

There was a time when K12 technology departments were just seen as technical support, district compliance (also known as “control”) and managers of data information. It was the office filled with “geeks” who knew very little about teaching and preferred to speak in bits and bytes. It was often treated as a separate entity responsible for making sure equipment was working properly and data was protected from security breaches. The thought of the technology department making decisions on any academic programs was as far fetch as teachers making decisions on technology infrastructure. How times have changed…

Full Blog Post: Evolving Role of the K12 Technology Department 

When I meet with the wide variety of stakeholders in education, I have always used a version of the following graphic to explain the evolution of technology in education. The team no longer consists of just IT anymore, it includes stakeholders in leadership (academic), teachers, and operations staff. In our world, we translate that to the TAO (Teachers, Admin, Operations).

Google Scripting Resources

Here are some links to resources we use to inform our Google Scripting…check them out!

Google Developers –

Digital Inspiration –

New Visions Cloud Lab –

Apps Script Tutorial – Shot 2015-12-10 at 12.15.20 PM


Kicking Your Gmail into Hyperdrive with Labs!

by Joe Kemery: @Mr_Kemery

We all have our own ways of organizing our emails: some mark things as important, while others may be the type who need to address an email and delete it immediately. What makes Gmail continue to be my email of choice is that I can customize the functionality through Labs. Labs are located in your settings and are a testing ground for experimental features that aren’t quite ready for primetime. They may change, break or disappear at any time, but from my experience, this hasn’t happened on any of the most useful features.

Here are some the more useful labs that I’ve enabled:

calendarGoogle Calendar Gadget – My lesson plans are done primarily through Google Calendar, having my calendar and email open on one tab is just more convenient. Calendar appears in the bottom left corner of my mail and is just a short list.

Right-Side Chat and Picture in Chat – More of personal preference here.  With my calendar going on the left side column, I felt that it was a bit cluttered.  Moving it to the right side was just a clean way of keeping my chat available.  Seeing who I’m talking with is just another nice touch and is especially useful when in a group chat.

Smart Labels – Exactly what it implies.  Once you’ve created a Label, you can now quickly select it from a drop down menu for quicker organization of your inbox. Choose as either one of your predetermined tabs or a personalized label.  This will also help in making google more intuitive for presorting your mail, if you use tabs.



Unread Inbox– See how many unread messages are in your inbox with a quick glance at the tab’s icon.  Great tool for making sure that you’ve addressed any incoming messages (even if it is just deleting those spam emails).


Organizing Google Drive

by Joe Kemery: @Mr_Kemery

If you’re anything like me, at some point your Drive ended up looking like your ‘My Documents’ folder (or Desktop for that matter!): unorganized and cluttered. Google has done everything they can to keep that from happening, and with some clever use of folders, Drive can be very user friendly. These four tips are key for me when trying to maintain my organization in Drive.


Sharing Folders

Making content available to others is such a trademark of what makes Drive such a dynamic tool.  Rather than sharing content individually, selecting each document or file that you’d like to share, it can be far easier to merely create a shared folder.  Anything that goes into that folder will automatically be shared amongst a select group of people.


In the top right of Drive, you’ll see the ‘Share Project’ button, the silhouette of a person and a plus sign. From here, you are able to either get a sharable link or  invite select people to have access.  As with individual documents, you can allow them to either view, comment, or edit documents.  What makes sharing at a folder level so useful is that those permissions are automatically applied to ALL files in that folder.


Add Files to Multiple Folders

Open Drive in the browser and select the files and folders you’d like to move. Next press Shift + Z and you’ll see an “Add to Folder” pop-up. Select the folder where you wish to place the selected files and click OK. I find this particularly useful when I want to allow multiple groups to view a file.  I will have the sharing settings different on each folder, and and will share the file in both. This allows some to edit the file, while others may have ‘view only’ permissions.


Color Folders

These are ridiculously easy, but do so much when trying to organize folders. Just right click on any folder and select ‘Change Color’– such a nice and easy way visually organize folders beyond just the hierarchy folder system.


Download Contents of a Folder

Once I started using subfolders, I especially found that when I needed files, I would want to download  entire folders.  By either right clicking on the folder or selecting from the upper right corner of drive, select download. A zip file will be downloaded for the contents of the entire folder.