edtech

Fluco Toolbox: Right Inbox for Gmail

Welcome to Fluco Toolbox, a series of posts that showcases potential edtech tools for the Fluvanna County classroom. Each post will discuss the tool, the type of problems it can help solve, and how it can be used in the classroom. If you’re a Fluvanna County staff member and want to learn more about using the tool in your own classroom, please schedule to see your ITRT and we will develop professional development based around your needs. If you’ve stumbled upon this post and you’re not part of the district, no worries! Feel free to use the information provided to jumpstart your own research.

Have you ever wanted to schedule emails that need to be sent? What about make notes about an email or set reminders for followup involving a received email?

Today’s Fluco Toolbox tool is: Right Inbox for Gmail

First, the basics:

Name: Right Inbox for Gmail
URL: Link here
Cost: FREE OR 5.95 per month for a yearly plan OR 7.95 per month for a monthly plan
Problem this tool solves: A Google extension that allows the user to schedule emails, set reminders, make private notes, and set recurring emails (paid option only).

I stumbled on this Google extension when I found myself wishing I could schedule emails. I thought Surely there’s some kind of extension for that! I went to the Chrome Web Store, and viola! I found Right Inbox for Gmail.

Once the extension is installed, refresh your inbox. When you compose an email, you’ll now see something like this:

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These are the new options added with the Right Inbox extension. We now have Send Later, Remind Me, Add Note, and Recurring (paid only).

Let’s start with “Send Later”. You’ll notice there’s still a “Send Now” option. First, compose the email that you wish to send. The drop down arrow beside “Send Later” provides the option to label the email as scheduled until it is delivered. This will show up in the Drafts section of the inbox.

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Click on “Send Later”. A box will pop up with some generic send later times. Don’t like those times? No problem. Click on “Customize this menu”, and you can remove the options you don’t like, and add in new ones. For example, if you know you often need to send a certain email on Monday at 9AM, you can add an option for “Monday at 9AM”. If you wish to send at a specific time, you’ll want to choose “At a specific time”. Then you can select the date and type in a time.

 

The email will be sent at at the specified time, and you’ll be relieved from having to remember to send it! If you later decide not to send the reply, simply go to your Drafts and delete the draft.

Guess what? You can also schedule a reply to a received message as well. Once Reply or Reply All has been selected, clicking “Send Later” will allow you to select the time to send a reply. The message will appear as a draft until the reply is sent. If you later decide not to send the reply, simply go to your Drafts and delete the draft.

Next, let’s look at “Remind Me”. When sending an email, this is a good way to leave a nudge to yourself to follow up, or to do something at a particular time. If I were to send an email, I might want to be reminded if no one responded so that I could get in touch again.

Once again, compose the email like before. Before clicking on “Send Now” or “Send Later”, check the box beside “Remind Me”, and set a time to be reminded. Clicking the drop down arrow will provide options. “Only if Nobody Responds” is a great one to use when requesting information from someone. Just as with scheduling, “Remind Me can be used for both composing and when reading messages.

 

Our next handy feature is “Add Note”. Add Note is useful when you want to write down some private ideas or notes that should be hidden from others as you compose the message. When reading email, “Add Note” is also available, perfect for jotting down ideas to track the conversation!

First, compose or read the email as usual. If composing, “Add Note” will be at the bottom of the screen with the other tools. Click the button, and a box will appear to type in the note. Make sure to save the note when finished. Clicking the drop down arrow will show more handy options, such as “Show Note Automatically”. This means the note will always appear when the message is opened. Once the email is sent, the note can be accessed by opening the email in the Sent folder. Notes are never visible to recipients.

 

When reading or replying to an email, the “Add Note” will be at the top of the screen. This time, use it to jot down ideas or thoughts from large threads of replies, or to compose your ideas before writing out an email response. The note will be visible any time the email is opened. The label “Note” will be applied, as seen in the email below:

 

The final option is “Recurring Email”. Since this is a paid feature, we won’t go into it in depth here. However, it functions just like the “Send Later” option, and adds in similar features to Google Calendar for recurring emails.

Hopefully, you find Right Inbox as handy as I do! It’s amazing the difference that one little extension can make!

Resources

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Fluco Toolbox: Timeline JS

Welcome to Fluco Toolbox, a series of posts that showcases potential edtech tools for the Fluvanna County classroom. Each post will discuss the tool, the type of problems it can help solve, and how it can be used in the classroom. If you’re a Fluvanna County staff member and want to learn more about using the tool in your own classroom, please schedule to see your ITRT and we will develop professional development based around your needs. If you’ve stumbled upon this post and you’re not part of the district, no worries! Feel free to use the information provided to jumpstart your own research.

Have you ever wanted to have students do more than just another timeline on a poster? Have you ever wanted them to be able to create a timeline that was interactive with different multimedia elements embedded?

Today’s Fluco Toolbox tool is: Timeline JS

First, the basics:

Name: Timeline JS
URL: http://timeline.knightlab.com/
Cost: FREE
Problem this tool solves: Create interactive timelines rich with multimedia tools. These timelines can easily be shared and saved. The timeline is created using a Google Spreadsheet template.

When I first began teaching in 2009 (I know, I know, I’m young!), this was the kind of tool I wished was around back then. Who hasn’t given a project that involved creating a timeline? Chances are, students created a timeline for a project on paper or posterboard, and it only showcased the date, the importance of the date, and maybe an image. It was a static timeline, and pretty basic as far as the information it represented.

Fast forward to today. Timeline JS is more than just a static timeline with pictures and information. Now links, Google maps, videos, and more can be embedded within the timeline, which is created through a Google Spreadsheet template.

Before I delve into how to use the tool, check out some of these created samples:

Nelson Mandela’s Extraordinary Life: An Interactive Timeline
Revolutionary User Interfaces

Those are definitely a step up from the timelines of days gone by! This post will introduce creating a timeline, but it is highly recommended that you watch the How To video under Resources to guide you.

The first thing that must be done when creating a timeline is to copy the template that Knightlab provides on their website. It can be retrieved here. This will save a copy of the Google Spreadsheet to your Drive.

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Once the template is downloaded, it’s time to edit the spreadsheet. Timeline JS instructs users to NOT edit anything in Row 1. These are the column headers, and should not be changed, as this will mess up the timeline. Though there is not a limit for how many slides can be used in a timeline, Knightlab recommends no more than 20 slides. This keeps the timeline from becoming too long and unengaging to the user.

Row 2 is where the timeline is begun. This will be the title slide in the timeline. Users should skip to Column J and give their timeline a title. Column K will provide a simple description of the timeline. Columns L-O deal with the media. This is where an image can be added. Provide the link to the image, and make sure to credit the creator.

Here is what mine looks like, both in spreadsheet and as a final timeline image. I have used an image that is saved on my Google Drive and shared publicly. There is no way to preview your timeline as you work, but you can use the Publish to the Web feature. To find the directions for this, refer to the video in the Resources section below. Once the timeline is Published to the Web, follow the directions at the bottom of the Knightlab homepage. Now you can preview as you work on the timeline simply by clicking the blue “Preview” button.

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Once the title slide is done, all that’s left are the information slides to go along with it. These will be done similarly to the title slide. First, input the date to use. You can be as specific as the time, but it’s not required. If there is an end date, such as with a battle that lasted multiple days, you can add that as well. After the date is entered, then do the media, and add captions where necessary. If importing images from a cloud-based storage, such as Google Drive, make sure you have set the sharing options to public. Finally, you can add a color background by putting in the HTML color code for the color you wish to use. Also, here is a link to all of the different types of media that Timeline JS supports and how to embed them in the timeline.

Here is a snapshot of the data for my timeline within the Google Spreadsheet:

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Here is a quick video sample of my timeline. Unfortunately, WordPress.com sites cannot have the timeline embedded into it. For a direct link to this timeline, go here.

For those importing images from Google Drive: One thing I noticed as I worked on my timeline was that I had to get a specific share link in order for my images to show up. Right click on the image to be shared, then change the share settings to “Anyone with the Link can View”. Once this is done, copy the link directly from that same screen by clicking the “Copy Link” button. If you only right click the image in the Drive and then “Get Shareable Link” the image won’t appear in the slideshow.

Once the timeline is set up to your liking, you can then refer to the website and make optional changes, such as font, starting slides, and more. There is a direct embed code, as well as a direct link. Here is the direct link to my timeline. I can always go back and make changes to my timeline in the future using the same Google Spreadsheet file. All changes to it are automatically updated in the link.

Enjoy creating your own awesome timelines!

Resources

Minecraft Resource: 4 Quadrant Template (Grass Version)

In a recent post, I mentioned beginning to work with some 4th grade teachers. They wanted a world where they could have multiple classes working, but each class separately contained. Thus, this template was created.

Name: 4 Quadrant Template World (Grass Version)
Creator: Rachel Moravec
Description: A downloadable world with 4 grass quadrants for PC editions of Minecraft. Students should spawn in the central building, and teachers using add-ons can easily set spawn points. Signs are posted to divide each class into their zones. Each zone is laid out with grass to make natural builds easier. Each zone is 402 x 402 square blocks.
Notes: This world works great on vanilla versions of Minecraft. However, it works best on versions running Spigot with the EssentialsX add-on. With this add-on, the spawn point can be set, as well as different warp points for each class. Please note this isn’t required, but optional.
Link: 4 Quadrant Template (Grass Version)

Preview Images:

Need help importing world files into your Minecraft? Check out this tutorial for more information.

Minecraft Resource: 4 Quadrant Template (Colored Zones Version)

In a recent post, I mentioned beginning to work with some 4th grade teachers. They wanted a world where they could have multiple classes working, but each class separately contained. Thus, this template was created.

Name: 4 Quadrant Template World (Colored Zones Version)
Creator: Rachel Moravec
Description: A downloadable world with 4 colored quadrants for PC editions of Minecraft. Students should spawn in the central building, and teachers using add-ons can easily set spawn points. Signs are posted to divide each class into their zones. Each zone is a different color for easy sorting, and has grid marks that makes laying out a build easier. Each zone is 402 x 402 square blocks.
Notes: This world works great on vanilla versions of Minecraft. However, it works best on versions running Spigot with the EssentialsX add-on. With this add-on, the spawn point can be set, as well as different warp points for each class. Please note this isn’t required, but optional.
Link: 4 Quadrant Template (Colored Zones Version)

Preview Images:

Need help importing world files into your Minecraft? Check out this tutorial for more information.

Minecraft Resource: City Layout Starter

I’ve been working on setting up the city layout that will guide my Minecraft: Cityscapers kiddos in their design of their project city build. I decided to share this project world with anyone who wants to have the basic layout done.

Name: Minecraft City Layout Starter World
Creator: Rachel Moravec
Description: A downloadable world with a basic layout for a city completed for PC editions of Minecraft. This particular layout has a central focal point. It can be used to design a tower, monument, or small park. A roundabout encases it, and I started doing the roads that branch out from this area. The area of each city block (encompassed by the white quartz) is 70 x 71. From there, the design is up to the creator!
Link: City Layout Starter

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Need help importing world files into your Minecraft? Check out this tutorial for more information.

 

Fluco Toolbox: Note Board App

Welcome to Fluco Toolbox, a series of posts that showcases potential edtech tools for the Fluvanna County classroom. Each post will discuss the tool, the type of problems it can help solve, and how it can be used in the classroom. If you’re a Fluvanna County staff member and want to learn more about using the tool in your own classroom, please schedule to see your ITRT and we will develop professional development based around your needs. If you’ve stumbled upon this post and you’re not part of the district, no worries! Feel free to use the information provided to jumpstart your own research.

Have you ever had a great idea and scrambled to write it down on a post-it note? Later on, you couldn’t find that same note in your work space. What about a great idea on a trip? How can one manage everything together?

Today’s Fluco Toolbox tool is: Note Board App

First, the basics:

Name: Note Board App
URL: https://www.noteboardapp.com/
Cost: Free (ads) OR $1.99 (ad-free)
Problem this tool solves: Use this tool to save ideas and notes on corkboard screens, no matter what device you’re using. There is a website, Android, and iOS version available. Create multiple boards, public boards, save web page info, and more

While there are many apps and websites out there that can do the same thing, Note Board App is one of my favorite note apps, mostly for its ability to sync across devices so that whether I’m out and about or at home, on my iPad or my Chromebook, I always have access to all of my notes. But… what else can this app do?

Create a board for your notes. You might have one for lesson plan ideas, one for inspirational quotes, and another for links to saved webpages of articles you want to read later. These boards are large, and the notes can be resized and dragged about. When a new note is created, you’ll have access to the Rich Text Editor, allowing you to customize the look of the note.

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Here is a board I have created to store ideas on revamping a workshop that I run for middle school students.

Organizing and taking notes is great. However, let’s take it to the next level. Create a board and share it with your colleagues in read-only access. They can view all of the information, but not change any of the data. Want them to be able to make changes? Give them permission. Want the whole world to see your board? Make it public! Your board will be viewable by anyone, but they will be unable to make any changes to it.

Create boards for more than just notes. Use the boards to save links to webpages, or embed YouTube videos. Use the Chrome or Firefox extension for Note Board to save and create notes on a webpage. This includes images, links to the page, and highlighting snippets of text.

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Here’s a board created about Icon for Hire. Videos have been embedded, as well as links to different websites/articles.

Your students can use this exact same tool for note taking. Instead of creating links in one location, videos in another, and notes still in another, use Note Board to have them create a board for their topic, and pin all information in the one space instead. They can refer back to their board on any device, meaning they aren’t limited to just their Chromebooks.

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A note created from text that I highlighted on Wikipedia. I only had to add the URL to my note.

Give Note Board App a try and see what you can create!

Resources

Here are some examples of boards that have been created for public viewing:

Music Board
Gift Ideas Board
Fan Board of a Band

Try the Demo Board and test out different ways to create notes before creating an account.

5 Ways Literacy is Used in Minecraft

Minecraft isn’t just a game where kids explore locations, kill mobs, and build random objects – It’s so much more than that! The game can spark much creativity and release imaginations. It has made its way into classrooms across the country, and there are lesson plans and worlds being designed for teachers all of the time. Literacy is just one topic that is embedded into Minecraft. It is a key skill for children, especially when they are very young. Here are 5 ways that literacy is used in Minecraft:

Logical Inferencing: Players have to figure out the mechanics of the game, and how things work. They must learn how to create new objects from collected items and how those objects go together. For example, they must take gathered wood, turn it into sticks, and then combine it with more wood, stone, iron, or diamond to create picks, hoes, swords, and axes. They must learn the vocabulary of the game, and how to navigate the world. Players must figure this out on their own, as no tutorial or directions come with the game.

Storytelling (Oral and Written): There is no set story for Minecraft so players create their own. Stories come about whether students are exploring or simply building. Younger children share their stories about their world orally with family and friends, while older children may both write and speak of their work. Creating a new Minecraft world starts children with a blank slate, so stories can build up over time.

Research (Tutorials & How-to Guides): Minecraft does not come with game instructions. Instead, players start the game right in the thick of things. The only directions they are given is how to move and how to jump. Players must learn to play on their own. This usually leads to searching for YouTube videos, wiki guides online, and how-to books in stores. Many written materials are written for levels beyond elementary, but players are motivated to push forward and learn. Players will also seek out friends who can help with new ideas, tips, and tricks for the game.

Analyzing: Players must analyze situations and react appropriately, whether it’s a plan of attack, how to make a machine work, or how to add detail to a build. Some players learn to code or modify the game to suit their needs and ideas. A lack of instructions often forces players to seek solutions and rework their methods until things work correctly. Again, players will seek answers from a variety of sources. They will also create new objects or contraptions to share with others.

Creation of New Media: Players jump on the bandwagon with their own creations: they showcase their work via videos, write discussion posts online and create user guides, or they simply create audio podcasts. Many want to emulate their favorite media stars. For example, a 12 year old wrote a Minecraft Recipes for Dummies book! Players also create their own fictional pieces based on ideas from the game. Players who create and share are adding to the multitude of resources available about the game.

So the next time your child logs into Minecraft to play, sit down with them and talk to them about what’s going on in their game. Teach a younger child how to play the game, or, better yet, learn how to play the game yourself! You’ll be surprised at what you can do with Minecraft!