Thursday, July 28, 2016

Hit me up on Voxer!

We posted about Voxer a while ago but I wanted to encourage you to check it out before the school year starts. I used it the other day when I was having another tech issue with Aurasma. I reach out to Brad and we chatted in near real time on Voxer. That is when it hit me, have teachers reach out to us on Voxer!

Last year we helped a number of teachers through Facebook messenger, Twitter and email. I really liked using the social sites because it was just way faster than email. I find that Voxer is just about ten times faster than social sites. Super pumped about how this will play out for the 16-17 year.

How do you use Voxer? Think back to your golden years of your youth, do you recall how cool a walkie talkie was? Push and you talk, as simple as that. Download, install and hit us up! Really, just reach out and we will be there to help you out.

I just sent a quick message to Sarah by pressing the little orange button in the lower right corner. In seconds she will receive a short audio message from me. So simple yet very powerful.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Discovery - Pokemon Style

I didn't think I would like Pokemon Go until I started playing it. One of the most amazing parts of the app hit me while walking in downtown St. Louis with the family. Most of the PokeStops are historical landmarks. Did you know there is someone famous buried under a parking garage? What about the Republican convention that happened in St. Louis over 100 years ago? These are just a few of ther things I might never have uncovered if I wasn't playing Pokemon. The discovery process was so fun that we couldn't wait to find the next thing. What if you could create a buzz like that in your classroom or building?

A week ago Dr. Parker tweeted me.

This tweet referenced a post by Dr. Brad Gustafson about creating a super engaging school tour in the style of Pokemon Go. He used Aurasma to create a series of posters that come alive in a way that kinda reminds me of the pictures in the Harry Potter movies. His idea was to engage new students when they come to the school for a tour. Who wouldn't want to seek out a series of eggs and hatch them? So fun!

We decided to try this out. I am so very thankful for Dr. Brad Gustafson for helping us out. I ran into some trouble and he walked me right through it. The power of the twitter community never ceases to amaze me.

This post is the process we followed to get our interactive school tour up and running. Our next step is to do this in a classroom in some way.

Just follow these three steps:
   1. Setting up Aurasma
   2. Creating some target images/posters
   3. Using Aurasma

Setting Up Aurasma
Visit Aurasma.
Click Sign Up in the upper right corner.

Be mindful of the username you pick. That is what people will search for and follow after they download the app.
Example: Long School - we used the morning announcement Google account for the username. This helps Long keep consistent branding on the web.

Creating Images/Posters
This is a sample we used for Sappington Elementary. We had trouble with some of the images/posters at first but once we added the boarder everything started to work. This poster is an example of something that might hang somewhere outside the gym.

The image of the two PE teachers appears to be floating in midair once you scan the poster with the app. Pretty fantastic!

To start the process you will need to create some type of poster similar to what is above. We used Microsoft Publisher but pretty much anything will work. You could even use paper and markers. The final step is to convert your poster into an image. Save As or the camera on your mobile device works well to covert it into a jpeg.

Using Aurasma
Log into your Aurasma account to begin the creation process.
Click + Create New Aura in the upper right corner.

1. Add the image of you poster.
2. Click Next.

Click to Upload Overlay.
The overlay is the image that will suddenly appear to float over your poster.
For this example we used the pictures of the PE teachers.

Click Save.

Click Share. This allows what you created to be visible to the public.

In Action
Download the Aurasma app

Open the app.
Click Discover Auras at the top of the screen.
Type in the username you want follow. 
Example - If I was a parent at Long I would search for lobroadcast.

Click on their Public Auras.
Click Follow.

Monday, July 25, 2016

ELMO - Quick Start and Image Mate

Get your Image Mate software up and running in a snap. This is the recommended method for using your ELMO in the classroom.

1. Power button. It will light up green or blue if the ELMO is powered on and ready to use.
2. Click the PC button to use the Image Mate software. Click the camera button to only use the ELMO without the laptop.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Is your projector ready?

The most used tool in the classroom is usually the projector. We created this post to cover two of the most used projector tools, the pens and Easy Interactive Tools. These videos will help you get up and running for day one.

Having a calibrated board is pretty fantastic. You and your students can interact right at the board without the need to hover over the laptop. Below are some highly produced videos from your instructional technology team to show you the calibration process.

Use the remote control images to identify which calibration process you need to follow.

We would recommend that you calibrate your board at the beginning of the year so your pens are 100% before the students arrive.



Easy Interactive Tools

Watch this basic overview for an understanding of how to use the interactive tools.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Google Forms + QR = Pretty Sweet

Only one short month until school is in session! We are wicked pumped up about that. This post shows you a quick and easy way to gather information from your new students using Google Forms.

Create a Form
Open Google Drive.
1. Click New.
2. Hover on More.
3. Click Google Forms.

1. Add a title. Below the title it is recommended that you add some directions or a guiding statement about the survey.
2. Click and you can change the question type. I picked Short answer for the last name question. I generally start with asking the survey taker their last name. I find it is easier to sort responses later on.

1. Click the + symbol to the right to add a new question.
2. Toggle Required if you need the kids to answer that question. I always make the name fields required to make sure that information is always collected. The survey taker can't submit until they have answered all required questions.

1. Right under the checkbox/rectangle are three little dots. Click those little dots. I sometimes call it an ice cream cone. (Why? Who would ever have an ice cream cone with one or two scoops? Three is more like it.)
2. Click Description.
3. Add some text that would help the survey taker.

Click the eyeball at the top of the screen to see what the survey looks like.
Click Send when you are ready to share with your class.

This appears when you click Send.
1. Click the link icon.
2. Click COPY.

Create a QR Code and Tiny URL

Navigate to
1. Paste the code.
2. Click Shorten URL.
3. Click details.

1. Students can use this short URL to access the survey directly.
2. Copy and paste this QR code to a document you print or just display this screen on the board. The students can scan the code or type in the shortened address.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Pokemon Go has me thinking about...

Pokemon Go has me thinking about so many things. One story caught my eye and it started me digging through my Google accounts. The story talked about the permission you grant when you install any app. I usually just download and start using the apps with little thought to the overall security of my data or device. Take a look into your account and see what level of permission your apps have. Not all apps will be listed just the ones with hooks into your Google data.

1. Click your image in the upper right corner of Gmail.
2. Click My Account.

Click Connected apps & sites.

Click Manage Apps.

A sampling of apps that are connected to my Google account.
I don't recall giving access to Kinja or The Teachers Guild.

I clicked on Kinja.
I could click on Remove if I didn't want to give the site basic access to my Google account.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

I love talking to Alexa.

Click the mic and start talking.

We bought an Amazon Echo a while ago and using it is pretty epic. No more hassle of actually picking up my mobile and talking into that. I can just start talking and Alexa will hear me. Slightly amazed at how sensitive her mics are.

So I started looking around to see what voice commands were available for my phone. I know I just said it was pretty inefficient but I was going on a road trip and there was no room in the car for my Echo.

Sunsets on Lake Michigan are pretty impressive. We always eat ice cream then walk down to see the sky and water slowly change as the sun sinks below the water. It is wicked important to time it just right, missing the sunset would be devastating. I guess I could have typed it out but talking just seems faster.

Opening an app or website is wicked easy. Just say open and then the site/app. You could just wait for the thing to open or click the little check mark to open it right away. This might be my favorite voice command right now. Try asking to turn on the flashlight.

I really love Google Keep. The geofence feature is pretty awesome and you can easily add notes by voice. Love this for when you are driving but stopped at a sign or light. The key is to say note to self then dictate your note. 

Check out this post with about a million voice commands to try out. 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Road Trip? Check this out.

As I am preparing to get on the road to drive home I had to share two apps with you. I'm sure some of you already know but if not you are in for a treat!

Google Maps
Open the Google Maps app on your phone.
Click the hamburger icon in the upper left corner.

Click Traffic.
Return to the map.

I zoomed the map over to near Chicago to check out the flow of traffic.
If highway 80 was green it would be smooth sailing.
The section I highlighted above shows me in real time that this section of the road is very congested. When I am driving I appear on the map as a little blue dot. Real time navigation like this is fantastic.

Waze is a community-based navigation app. It gives you alerts about hazards in the road, stalled vehicles on the shoulder and where the speed traps are. I am pretty sure I have avoid a few shredded tires and maybe a ticket or three while use the app.

This is pretty close to the same section of highway 80 as shown above. What Waze will do is put these little icon on the screen. The red one shows a bunch of cars meaning traffic is pretty slow. The blue is police. They could be for an accident or out looking for speeders. 

Friday, July 8, 2016

No more remembering passwords!

I struggled for years to remember all these passwords. From banking, investing, Moodle, various cloud tools, a few emails and so many social sites. I know I was supposed to create a different password for each one but that was kinda impossible. 

I was listening to a podcast that forever changed my life. They were talking about this extension called LastPass. The theory was that you would only need to remember one master password to log into the extension and LastPass would remember every password after that.

I tried it out. I created an account with a strong password (a combination of letters, numbers and symbols). Every time I came across a site that needed a password LastPass would pop up and ask me to enter the password. Once I did that it was saved so every time I visited the site LastPass would automatically fill in the password for me.

I have been using LastPass for years and have never looked back. I even upgraded to the premium version for only $12 a year. That is worth every penny. Below describes what it is like to use the extension on my laptop.

Using LastPass
Note: I already installed the extension and created a LastPass account. I have visited this site in the past and entered the username and password only once.

I needed to log my reading in the St. Louis County Summer Reading Program
I pulled up the site and see these three little dots in the username and password fields.

1. I click on the three dots.
2. LastPass pops up. It recognizes the site and offers up the username. All I have to do is click.

LastPass filled in the credentials.
All I need to do is click Login and I'm done!

This is an example of what happens when I visit many of my sites. I'm not sure how I would manage to keep my passwords secure without this great tool.

If I ever need to give my laptop to someone else to use I just log out of LastPass. All my passwords are secure. 

Need advice? Just email us. We would be glad to help you get set up.

Downloading & Creating Account
(official video)

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Calming Waves Opens The Mind

It is amazing what a little background noise will do. The hum of a fish tank, the dishwasher or the waves on the beach of Pentwater can be awesome when you need to really focus on something. Check out this app/extension to help create background noise for your home and classroom.

The Noisli apps super inexpensive and a worthwhile investment. Maybe have an iPad in a writing center, this background noise could just be exactly what some of the kids need to help them focus. Why not try out the Chrome extension now. Using the extension is completely free. Check it out!

Install the extension.
1. Click the extension to launch Noisli. It looks like a little green button with a wavy line on it.
2. I would recommend clicking on the g+ Sign In button. It uses your Google credentials to create an account. 

I started using this site by clicking Add Combo

A new window will appear.
1. Settings.
2. Preset buttons. One click and the sounds will start playing. Too much wind? Keep reading to learn how to adjust it.
3. Scroll down the screen. Click on/off the sound icons. Each icon has a slider to show how intensely the sound will play. This allows you to create a very unique soundscape soundtrack.

Tasty FACS! (2018)

This post is to support the LHS FACS students creating their Tasty final.   We stumbled upon this app a while ago and it just keep...