Notes & Voice Typing

pexels-photo-355988.jpegMy students constantly amaze me. They come up with great ideas and are innovators in their own right. Not only do I enjoy hearing their thoughts and ideas, often times we implement them in our classroom. I also feel fortunate enough that my students feel comfortable enough to share their ideas with me; knowing they will be taken seriously and not ridiculed.

Recently, one of my resource students (one with an IEP for both reading and math) created her own accommodation. We have been reading Tuck Everlasting and using a Hyperdoc to help guide us. While discussing one of the slides in the Hyperdoc, I noticed that the student had written some notes in the ‘Speaker Notes’ section. I found this interesting. It also made me a bit giddy as she was taking full advantage of our discussions. I privately talked to her about taking notes to tell her how impressed I was with her choice. She then revealed that she put on ‘Voice Typing’ during the conversation in order to capture everything that was said. Not going to lie, THIS really impressed me. Honestly, not sure I would have thought to do something like this.

student using voice typing

Later, I shared with the class what the student had done. Expressing how I felt it was a good use of technology, but shared with them my expectation that if they used this strategy, it is to be used as a means of note taking and all responses should be in their own words.

The next day, we were discussing the events that took place at Lexington and Concord – studying the American Revolution. At one point a group of students had ‘bug eyes’, began giggling, and pointing to their computer screens. I walked over to find out what was so entertaining. Sure enough, someone in their group had turned on ‘Voice Typing’ to capture the information. All I thought was, “Go kiddos!”

Auto Copy in Google

I, like many teachers, like to share my creations and ideas. I believe that when we share – freely, not paid for (this is a different rant) – that we build a strong community of teachers. We want our students to collaborate, so we should be setting that example. As always, two heads are better than one.

Okay, now that my rant is over I will get back on topic. Some of you may have been in a session where the presenter wanted to share his/her work. If that work is on a GSuite product, like docs or slides, when you went to the URL you may have seen this screen:

copy 1

Auto Copy

If you have, you know that you simply select the blue ‘Make a copy’ button and your own copy is made in YOUR Drive! So easy! Here’s how it’s done:

Find the word ‘edit’ in the URL of your doc or slide or spreadsheet. Then replace the word ‘edit’ with ‘copy’.

copy 3copy 4 That’s it. Now take that URL and use a URL shortener like (Google) or bitly  to share with others. When sharing, even this way, make sure that your document is viewable to others in your share settings. I like to have ‘anyone with the link can view.’

copy 2

One final note. I have noticed that when many people (maybe 50+) are trying to copy your document with this method at once, it is unsuccessful. A message appears stating that the item isn’t available. This was a fun fact I learned during a presentation (the first time I thought it was a fluke) and then later at another presentation. So this method works best with smaller groups or when sharing on your blog.

Notes on Google Slides

Earlier this week my students started on a group project – Road to the Revolution. I had given them a Hyperdoc with the information on the French and Indian War. I gave them very specific guidelines and some questions to answer. The end product is an Animoto video. As I was walking around and helping, I noticed that a group of students had Google Slides open. I got worried. It took a long time for me to get my students out of the habit of wanting to create a slideshow for presentations. So I stopped and asked why Slides was open and “Please don’t tell me you’re creating a slideshow.” I was so relieved when one of the girls explained that they were using it to take notes! I didn’t even show them this trick. Yeah, proud teacher moment.
download One of the girls created and shared the slides with the rest of the group. Each person in the group had their own slide to take notes. I know this isn’t the first time this has been done, but I was really proud of my students for thinking of this. It is so much easier to take shared notes on Slides as opposed to Docs.

I LOVE it when students take learning into their own hands and make it work for them. Go Innovators!

Just another great example of what students will do when we give them the freedom to own their learning.

Google Docs: Emojis

Last week, my students were writing an essay in their Google Docs. In the middle of writing, one student asked, “Hey, Ms. N., did you know you can insert emojis in docs?”

I was surprised and answered, “Wait, what? No? Really? Cool. Show me how.” So I went over to her table and she showed me. Pretty cool!emoji-1

So how’d she do it?

Start by going to ‘Insert’ in the menu options





Choose the desired emoji and viola! You have an emoji in your doc. Now, what if we had students summarizing stories with just emojis?!

Thank you to my student, Johanna, for spreading her knowledge!


Create A Link in Docs

Creating a hyperlink in a Google Doc is simple. One reason you would want to create a hyperlink is for cleanliness. Having a large URL (short for Uniform Resource Locator) is messy on a document. Instead, I link a word or phrase to a particular web address. For example, if I am talking about Order of Operations in 5th grade I would link the words ‘Order of Operations in 5th grade’ to a particular web address like so:

This is a great resource for Order of Operations in 5th grade.

That is much nicer to look at than

Now, let’s check out how to do this in Google Docs (this also works in Gmail and Slides):

  1. Find the resource you want to link in your document and copy the URL. To copy highlight the URL, go to Edit > Copy. Or you can use the keyboard shortcut (Mac) command + C or (PC) control + C
  2. Now that it’s copied to your clipboard (this is a virtual clipboard) navigate to your Google Doc. Find the word or phrase that will be connected with your site. Highlight the word or phrase. Now go to your menu bar and select Insert > Link
    link-2Or highlight the word or phrase then find the chain (or links) screen-shot-2016-10-02-at-7-39-33-pm in the toolbar.

    And there is always the keyboard shortcut. After highlighting the desired text, (PC) control + K or (Mac) command + K

  3. This will bring out a pop-out window which asks what you want the words to link to. Paste in the link. Go to Edit in the toolbar and select ‘Paste’.
    Keyboard shortcut – (PC) control + V, (Mac) command + V
  4. And there you have it! A hyperlink in your doc.

‘Explore’ in Google Docs

Late last week, I was creating a Hyperdoc for my students. I needed an image so I did my usual and went to Tools>Research. And that’s when I noticed it… Research was MISSING! I’ll admit it, I did panic a bit.


Then I noticed ‘Explore’ was new. So I clicked on it. Note: I say when curious, or in doubt, click on it. It’s not like I’m going to break the internet. And when it get too scary, exit out. That’s when the sidebar I was looking for appeared. Albeit a little different looking than what I’m used to, but it was there!


Some of the features are a bit different. I do like that I, and my students, no longer have to filter our image search to ensure that they are free to use. Now, Google finds the free to use ones. And just like before, when I drag the image into my document it automatically cites it for me. However, instead of the footnote that it use to be, it is now cited directly below the image.

The feature to cite a website is missing, hopefully, it will return. I do like the ‘Drive’ feature. This searches my drive for all items matching my search query.

Other ways to access ‘Explore’

Keyboard shortcut: (Mac) – command+option+shift+I
(PC) – control+alt+shift+I

Icon on bottom right of screen:


Have fun Exploring!

Google Docs: Comment

I have been editing my students NaNoWriMo Stories in Google Docs. The easiest way to communicate with them is to write comments. Since we are in the ‘it must be perfectly polished’ mode, I’m making a lot of comments! I’ve invited other teachers to give their input as well.

When I find an area that I would like to comment on I highlight the word or area with my cursor.

Comment 1

I can then either navigate to the toolbar at the top, find ‘Insert’, then scroll down to comment. OR I can locate the ‘Comment’ button on the right side of the toolbar, select it, then choose the comment button from there.

There is also a keyboard shortcut – Option + Command + M (Mac) or Alt + Control + M (PC and Chromebooks). Any of the 3 options will then bring up a comment window on the right side of the document. When this appears, type your comment, then select the blue ‘comment’ button. When the reader clicks on either the comment or the highlighted area, the highlight becomes a bit darker and the comment window becomes more prominent. comment 4

Happy Commenting!