Author: monkipi

Q&A With Google Slides

By @Mr_Kemery

I’ve always had those students that didn’t like asking questions.  Either they didn’t like to do it in front of a group, or just thought that they had the information and didn’t need to dig any deeper.  But just last week, Google released the new Q&A feature, allowing for real-timeslides questions from your class (or audience if presenting). Q&A allows teachers to take on questions throughout a lesson without interrupting, get feedback and comments from theirclass, and focus their instruction on exactly what their students need, based on their own interactions with the material. Using the link that appears on the slides, viewers can post their questions from their smartphones, laptops, and tablets. This has been such huge boost to questioning in my own class.  Students no longer need to raise hands or shoot out an email to get a question answered. The results, which appear in the presentation, are fantastic for students who feel too nervous to throw questions at the speaker in person. They may post the questions anonymously or with their name and pic.

QAvotesAs the teacher, I can see these questions while teaching, and can address them as I see appropriate. I’m sure many can relate to being asked a question that you plan on addressing in a few moments, and now I can simply bring that to their attention when I get to that part of the lesson. I can also quickly present the asked question to my students.  By clicking on the ‘Present/Hide’ button in the presentation pQAhistoryanel, I can quickly pull up an asked question and remove it once I’m ready to move on with my lesson.

Finally, another awesome feature is that students can vote on the questions that they
think badly need an answer by clicking on a thumbs up or thumbs down option. Even those students who struggle with asking the ‘right’ question can identify those questions that they themselves would like to have addressed. All Q&A sessions can be revisited through the Tools menu on Slides. This has already helped in shaping my future lessons through the feedback and questions that have arisen from the the previous day.


Share to Classroom



Too often, I find myself supplying many classroom resources for my students.  I spend hours before and after class trying to find the right websites, videos and other materials to help students not only grasp a concept, but to try to push their learning based on what they are finding most interesting.  It takes so much time out of my day and does not really support students as we try to crowdsource materials for a unit.  

Thanks to the Share to Classroom Extension, gathering of materials is something that is constantly happening in class now.  Share to Classroom helps to save time and creates a more interactive class.  The extension allows you to push web pages to your any of your Classroom classes, so that they open instantly on your students’ computers. Especially when trying to get students to evaluate materials, this extension gets your students on the right page, quickly and reliably every time. This is so valuable when you want to bring the whole class together for a moment, yet want to allow the the freedom to explore the content at their own pace. If you prefer to just gather materials for student to access, you can also post announcements, create assignments, or save webpages to post to Classroom later. As someone that uses many elements of the flipped classroom, being able to attach my own videos to a question has really helped to both hold students accountable and gather information for the next day’s instruction.     


As a teacher, what has made this extension so useful is that student no longer need to waste time finding a link, scanning a QR code, or even having students follow along with you as you present. Students get the webpages that I share almost instantaneously, without having to type out the whole URL. Even more powerful is that now students can push those webpages that they find to me!  Having students able to quickly push a resource to me has really helped with the overall quality and vetting that students are doing for websites.  I will often find that they have found a better website than I originally did, and can quickly push that out to all of my students.

student share

The Translate Extension



As a fourth and fifth grade teacher, I don’t always get beginning-level English learners. translateAlthough I do have several English learners, they often come to me with some basic conversational English skills.  I can use pictures, sentence stems, word walls and other strategies to help scaffold my instruction. The real struggle comes when I am trying to meet the needs of those English learners who are new to our school and language.  Especially when thinking about the content, it’s important that we provide resources that students can use at their native language reading level as a means of making sure we provide the content, while still helping their conversational and academic language grow.


Thanks to Google Translate Extension, I finally found a tool that not only does that, but
can also allow those students to use the IDENTICAL online resource that the native English speakers are using. After installing this extension in Chrome, you can quickly translate passages, words, and entire websites with a simple click of a button. This has clanguagesome in handy for so many reasons.  With so many of our textbooks now coming online, students can now just highlight a word, sentence, or passage and right click for a simple translation.

What I’ve found even more exciting is the ability to translate entire websites into another language. This has obviously been a great tool when trying to provide content resources for our English learners, but has also been a great way to provide the EXACT content.  My students can still participate in conversations and discussions during class on those materials.  It’s also been a time saver, as I  no longer have to search for equivalent content.  And finally, it has provided my students and me an opportunity to talk about the language– even Google can make mistakes.  Although the translations are amazinglycontribute accurate, the occasional error will occur.  Having the ability to contribute a better translation has helped students to not only clarify their reading, but contribute to the translations for further understanding.

Find My Phone

by Joe Kemery: @Mr_Kemery

If you’re anything like me, everything goes through your phone– everything– And I’m not just talking social media here.  Anything that has to do with work is going through my phone nowadays, from emails, to my gradebook, to our school’s Facebook and Instagram accounts to my classroom Drive. But with all of that information, it makes not only find my phonekeeping my phone secure a priority, but also having a means of tracking and wiping that phone essential.

One little known Chrome trick is the ‘Find My Phone’ feature.This feature only works if you have your Google account connected to your smartphone and your computer.  You simply type ‘Find My Phone’ into a google search on your computer, and you’ll instantly be brought to a map showing the location of the phone. This has been great for my peace of mind whenever I walk out of the house without my phone, quickly letting me know that it’s still sitting on the counter, charging.

If you happen to misplace your phone, you will quickly be able to see not only where the phone is, but also if it’s on the move. On the occasions where my wife had just pulled out of the driveway, and I left my phone in her car, I could just click on the ‘Ring’ feature and she was able to pick it up and turn around. This is also great if yolock and eraseu’ve ever lost your phone inside the house, and just want to have it ring so you can track it down. Regardless of whether your phone has been set to silent/vibrate, the phone will ring for up to 5 minutes at full volume.

Unfortunately, we also need to prepare for the event that someone may have your phone who shouldn’t. Whether you leave it in the backseat of your Lyft or Uber ride, or  someone swipes it, you want to be able to quickly disable the phone and remove all of your important information. In order to do that, you will still need to sign into your Android Device Manager.  You’ll again be prompted to sign into your account, and will see a backdrop of a map with your phone’s location, with the option to ‘Lock and Erase’ your phone. Especially in a world where so much information is digital, it is great to know that you can quickly remove any secure and private information.

Chrome Shortcuts

by Joe Kemery: @Mr_Kemery

We are all creatures of habit.  Most of us are Google users because it just feels natural for us but even within the Google sphere, we have our personal preferences.  Today, I wanted to explore some of the most frequently used shortcuts that have made life easier for me, as well as custom shortcuts that can really make using Google personal.

One of my favorite shortcuts is the Ctrl + Tab Number.  I almost always have 8+ tabs open in Chrome.  Having the ability to toggle quickly between those tabs has been such a simple blessing.  I never realized just how much time is wasted using the mouse until I didn’t have to use it any longer.  Where I’ve found it is especially helpful is when using pinned tabs.  In order to pin a tab, simply right click on the tab and select ‘Pin Tab’.  Pinned tabs are tabs that have been condensed and will open each time you open Chrome.  With that being done, I ALWAYS keep those tabs in a very specific order and they are never moved.  Regardless of what I am doing, I know that tabs #1-4 will be exactly there, further simplifying the process.

To get the most out of Chrome, extensions are such a huge part of my browsing expe
rience. Setting custom shortcuts is yet another fantastic way to really make Chrome wpinned tabsork for you. A few clicks within your Chrome browser can create custom keyboard shortcuts, opening your favorite extensions in seconds! In Chrome, enter the Settings, and Select the Extensions on your right hand side. If you scroll down to the bottom of the list, you will find the Keyboard Shortcut option. Here, you can create custom shortcuts for all of your most frequently used Extensions.  A few of my favorite Extensions to use with shortcuts are the URL shortener, the TechSmith Snagit Screen Capturer, and the Open Compose Window in Gmail. Each of these is an extension that I use almost every day. It helps that I can quickly compose an email, gather resources, or create a quick tutorial without completely shifting my attention from what I am doing.

And finally, two last shortcuts that I use daily are Ctrl + F and Ctrl + L.  Both of these are essential to lightning fast researching and resource gathering.  Using Control + L will help you quickly move the cursor back into the Omnibar for another search.  I find this really helpful for gathering student resources.  Even my students are finding that to be useful as we explore how to do their own research. Octrl Fnce in a web page, I use the Ctrl + F feature to quickly skim for important information. This is an added search bar that will search any site for specific words or phrases.  No matter how refined my Google Search is, I am generally left with thousands of options to choose from. Using Ctrl +F is a great way to quickly determine if a page is what I am looking for.

There are hundreds of different shortcuts, and I can’t say that I really use or think about the vast majority of them, but finding those few that make your life easier really makes Chrome feel personalized.

Voice Typing Shortcuts and Edits

by Joe Kemery: @Mr_Kemery

I know that we’ve already seen one post on Voice Typing, but with all the new tricks that have recently been added, I just felt that another post was in order. Voice typing is great for capturing ideas, jotting down a quick note or letter, and really capturing those ‘stream of thought’ moments. It is so useful to be able to really focus on ideas and concepts without needing to touch your keyboard.


On February 24th, Google announced that you can also edit and format your documents with your voice. Getting started is a breeze, simply select “Voice typing” in the “Tools” menu when you’re using Docs in Chrome. Anyone familiar with the speech-to-text applications on most phones will be very comfortable with the technology.  The biggest thing to get comfortable with is saying the punctuation marks. Although a bit awkward while typing those first few sentences, it becomes very fluid after a few minutes.  When teaching my students how to use this tool, I generally start by having them read a page from a book, practicing the punctuation marks in particular.


Editing and Formatting do take a bit more time to get comfortable with, but for quick changes, it has proved to be invaluable.  Simple edits and revisions can now be done hands free! Rather than selecting text, clicking buttons and toggling between different tools, you can now quickly tell Docs exactly what you want it to do.  In the short amount of time that this has been available, I’ve really found it beneficial when conferencing with students on their own writing.  It is no longer about making edits on their writing, or explaining my notes to the student.  We can now edit together, with our conversation being an authentic, teachable moment.  The editing and formatting commands can be a bit overwhelming, so for my students I have started with a very simple list of commands. It’s also helpful in the teaching of grammar rules, with students being taught a new commands after direct instruction that has been given.

As they become very comfortable with those commands, I will be adding others. My focus has been on the basic rules so far, but I plan on expanding to include formatting in addition to editing.


Check out the full list of commands in the Help Center or simply say “Voice commands help” when you’re voice typing.


Read&Write Extension

by Joe Kemery: @Mr_Kemery

toolbarRead&Write for Google Chrome is one of those tools that I completely overlook, yet I use almost daily. But this week, I was reminded of how powerful a tool it can be for students. Read&Write offers a range of powerful support tools to help students gain confidence with reading, writing, studying and research. Students are able to hear words, passages, or whole documents read aloud with easy-to-follow highlighting, guiding students through the text as it is read aloud to them. Having documents that the students are writing read aloud has been so powerful when trying to teach about the flow and tone of their writing, even if it is kind of robotic in tone. Thanks to the picture dictionary, students can explore a .pdf or website with the  meaning of words explained with text and pictures. Especially with our English learners, content specific articles can be translated.  Beyond that, when I think to my social studies and science instructions, it is very empowering to have them hear text translated into their other languages. Now, the focus can be on the content being taught, using the same materials that my native English speakers are using.

notesWhen trying to gather resources, using the highlights tool and having them collected is so valuable in making sure that key concepts are not overlooked. I can pull from multiple resources using highlights, and have those highlighted notes instantly compiled into one document which can be easily shared with my students and colleagues. Even more impressive, it will bring the source information with it, helping students to cite their sources. I like to have my students use different color highlights to help them organize ideas as well, which is  a key visual cue for tgathered highlightshem as they begin to compose a written response. Read&Write will also summarize text on websites, which has really helped when trying to assist students in getting the main points of a text when academic language and reading level are a concern.  When creating a document, many of the standard features are available.  Speech-to-text is included with the extension (though I still tend to use Google’s Voice Typing more often).

The Premium version of Read & Write for Google Chrome is Free for Teachers.

If you are a teacher, use this form to enter your information, and you will receive a premium license.

Cultural Institute

by Joe Kemery: @Mr_Kemery

History is only made boring by text books. There, I said it. They’ve become so absent of feeling, emotion, or relatability that they become a students’ least liked subject. When I think about history, I find that using anything that can add a human element to a subject is makes it instantly more engaging. But, having access to and ease of exploration of these human elements have always been a struggle for me. Field trips are not always the most practical and my knowledge of art history is somewhat limited. All of that changed when I stumbled across the Google Cultural Institute. With over 6,000,000 photos and artifacts, you have access to the collections of over 1,000 museums.

letterMuseums and curators have already collated and curated exhibits taking photographs, paintings, and letters from various sources into one place. It provides a perfect place to
start your research on certain topics, and it even points you to the sources of those pieces. Students explore digital images and can research using the Google Cultural Institute.

The Explore feature is fantastic, allowing you to look up virtually any item. Search the name of a person, an artifact, or a specific event and you’re ready to go. Yet, with so many artifacts, I really wanted to highlight a few that I find most useful.  Historic Moments is a collection of curated images, sites, artwork, landmarks and other relevant information. When searching for supplements for a unit on the Civil War, I can qtranslationuickly find six different galleries from around the globe, street view maps of the Ford Theatre, and images of artifacts from the time. Each of these images is a great resource, linked for further exploration.  In history, I find this especially useful when asking my students to cite primary sources.  Since these are oftentimes letters and other written documents, the links will take them to the museum link that will have the artifact transcribed (imagine trying to translate old english/handwriting). The descriptions that accompany the image will often add the context that helps make each item more relevant.

The World Wonders is another great aspect of the Google Cultural Institute. Archaeological areas are brought to life, displaying the wonders of the modern and ancient world to anywhere. Using the Street View, Google has made world heritage sites available to users across the globe. In addition, multiple resources are available as well, adding to the depth of possible exploration.


The Research Tool

by Joe Kemery: @Mr_Kemery

Google Docs will forever be my favorite tool.  It was the first thing that really opened my eyes to cloud-based applications. The ability to collaborate, comment on and share documents was a game changer for me as a student, and now as a teacher.  As I continue to work with students on improving their writing, the ability to research without having to leave the document is such a great feature (This post will be written using those features from the research tool). Not only does the research feature save you time, but allows you to easily compile a bibliography of sites that you have visited and used.  With the shift to common core, this is perfect for students as they evaluate a variety of resources, both online and in print.

reasearch tool

In my class, this has been a great tool for introducing how to cite sources and keeping track of those sources for future reference. Any research project in my class needs to start with a brainstorm session, focused on organizing our thoughts about what we know on a topic and areas that we need to further explore. I’ve found that a graphic organizer is a great way to have them start.  Especially when students are trying to make connections to different ideas, being able to quickly add and draw those connections is invaluable. I generally leave this to the students to choose, but the Popplet app is the current favorite with students.  This organizer is really a living document. Students are not only trying to organize what they need to research, bresearchut adding to it as more information becomes available. As resources are gathered, initially in a research document and eventually into a final product,  students can reference relevant information which will allows them to understand the topic in more depth.



The easiest way is to access the research feature is from the ‘Tools’ menu. This will pull up a tab to the right of the screen. From there, you can enter your word or phrase that you would like to research.  You can refine your search by clicking on the icon to the left of the search bar.  By clicking on the google image you can refine your search to Images, Scholar, Quotes or Dictionary. Once you’ve started a search, there are a number of great features that are built into the tool. It immediately sorts a search into personal results and web results.  If you hover over the search result you will see a box pop up with three options. The Preview Box shows you a preview of the website in the search results.  This is a great way to quickly evaluate a source, or to look for something that you’ve seen before.  Working with 4th grade students, they often can tell me everything on a website, without remembering the site’s name or URL. The Insert Link box inserts the words in the search box into your doc and converts them into a hyperlink. Finally, the Cite Box creates a footnote to the website as part of the document.  If the citation format is important to you, you can click the little arrow just under the the search query and then choose MLA, APA or Chicago.


And finally, what elementary essay would be complete without some images?  Again, using the research tool you can search for relevant images. I like that I can continue to teach my students about image usage rights, filtering for free-to-use images easily.  And like the other resources, the dragged image will automatically be cited in the selected citation format.


by Joe Kemery: @Mr_Kemery

As with most things in my class, I love using Google Drive to store student work.  It is so easy to share between students and teachers. More and more websites are allowing you to connect an app to Drive, which enables students to have access directly from their Drive while also saving it for them!  Eliminating those added steps (no matter how easy) is such a convenient feature. One of those apps that can be connected to Drive is Powtoon. is a presentation tool that allows you to create animated presentations by simply dragging and dropping designed elements to your slides. Plus, slides can be turned into video presentation by clicking a button – literally.

Presentations can be created from scratch or by customizing a ‘Ready Made Powtoon’.

powtooncreatetemplateIn my class, I generally like to have students use those templates for quick and easy presentations, while allowing for the start from scratch option on larger projects. This helps to add some versatility in how and how often you can use Powtoons. The styles you can choose from all have their own library of characters in different poses. Although certain features are locked in the free version, this also helps when asking students to focus on the content.   It has enough features and pizazz to keep students engaged, though it may not be as customizable as Slides . Even with these restrictions, students have ample opportunities to express themselves creatively.

drag and dropMost everything within Powtoons is adjustable.  From text styles to objects, you can quickly click, drag and drop to modify a presentation.  They also have a Simple and Customized mode which can help with the learning curve of Powtoon. The text options are pretty awesome too, with some very cool animations attached to them. You also have plenty of ticks, crosses, arrows and circles to choose from, and the props go into the hundreds.  Even in a pre-created powtoon, you can always add features to a slide and voiceover recording is another great feature.

I love that tutorials are available to show how it all works. The training videos are 1 to 3 minutes and do a great job of highlighting the features in an easy-to-follow directions. Especially when students are watching, they are just enough to get them moving on a project without taking too much out of their work time.

The free account includes the ability to create your own Powtoons that last up to 5 minutes long, plus cool presentations that can include up to 5 minutes of animations.


You can make an unlimited number of presentations and animated clips and easily share them online on YouTube or through social media. The free account does show the PowToon watermark, which isn’t too much of a deal for me. If you want to export your PowToon without the PowToon watermark, Export in HD, or download to your computer, you can buy a subscription or buy credits for export.