Oh no! I forgot something in my template before I shared it!

A colleague of mine had to come up with a way to insert student names into a folder full of documents AFTER they had already been shared. She had no interest in opening 100 different documents one at a time, so we came up with a way to do it programmatically.

Multi-Dropdown Datavalidation Creator

This tool came about as a collaboration between Dan Sharpe and myself. He had the idea that there needed to be a better way to create the data validation dropdowns in Google Sheets. Since I was not super familiar with data validation I jumped on the opportunity to learn some new parts of Google Apps Script.

Check it out on the app store, or play around with the code below!

Creating a reading portfolio for the library

How can we better motivate students to read what they get from the library? I often feel like students are only taking out books because they are being forced to by their teachers and librarians. After a discovery discussion with one of the wonderful librarians I work with, I came up with a short list of requirements for a tool.

  1. iPad friendly
  2. Creates an individual folder to store student reading projects
  3. Randomly assign short reading projects.
  4. Provide a method for recommending books and allow students to choose their own books.

The first working prototype of these requirements can be seen here:

The Library Portfolio!

Let me take you through a quick tour of what it does, and how you can use it.

When you first visit the portfolio, you will arrive at a screen similar to above. You will have a missing avatar, your email address will display, and you will get a list of all of the projects in your portfolio folder. This folder is linked directly to your Google drive.

You can see that there was a drawing created in this directory. That can become the student avatar that will show up on the portfolio page. Change the filename to whatever you want, and it will become the name that is displayed also.

Once you have edited this file, you need to ‘Publish to the web..’ before it will display correctly on the portfolio page.

Students have the ability to search the Goodreads database for books of their own choosing. My students can select a book from the library on our campus, then find the book using search and add it to their portfolio using ‘Start Project’.

The real strength of this tool is in recommending books for students who don’t already know what they want. There is a short quiz designed by the elementary librarian that results in 5 suggestions being plucked from a list generated directly by the librarian using Google Forms.

Once you have a recommendation, you can start a new project in the same way that you did with the search feature. Each of these projects generates a separate document in the student’s folder on drive. They contain short activities that can be done with any book that the student selects (we hope!)


This is just the beginning of the project. We have a bunch of other great ideas (and a bunch of bugs to fix in the code!) Please let me know what you think on Twitter! @rheajt

Vocabulary Vines

I love getting multimedia involved in my lessons. This week we were using vocabulary words from The Littles in context. In honor of Twitter announcing they were closing the Vine platform, I thought it would be fun to create short videos with the sentences that we wrote. Plus, it is super easy to do with iMovie! Above is the version that we created while I was modelling the process for one of my classes.

Apply has in depth instructions here: https://support.apple.com/kb/PH3202?locale=en_US

Becoming little while reading The Littles

In my language arts class we are currently reading The Littles by John Peterson. A fun way to involve my kids in the reading is to write our own stories as if we were small enough to live in walls. Plus we have the benefit of living in an age with 1-to-1 iPad programs. Technology allows us to go a step beyond creative writing. We can add a visual creativity to our stories with nothing more than Apple Pages. Here are some that my students made:

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The steps to create your own transparent images with Pages are very simple. You need to start with an image that has a mostly solid background. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but the more solid and better lit you start with, the better product you will end up with. There is a reason that studios have tons of lights and giant green screens! We usually aren’t that lucky in a classroom, so we have to make do. See my example below.

First, add the picture to your document by clicking on the + in the upper right corner:

Next, select the image and click on the paint brush icon. This will open some editing options. You want to chooose ‘Instant Alpha’.

You will need to select parts of the image to remove. Depending on the colors, you can do this little by little or in giant globs. The background that will become transparent will be shown in below as you can see below. Be careful not to remove any of your main image.

In the end you will have something like below. This can be placed on top of another image. TADA! You have superimposed an image on top of another.


Caption Creator for Google Drive

Creating captions for videos is a great way to create accessibility in your classroom. YouTube has a system that works very well for their videos. However, in Google Drive you don’t have this option. Melissa Oliver wanted a way for her students to write captions as they watched a video. We worked together to come up with this prototype.

Create subtitles for videos in your Drive and save the output into Google Docs to make shared videos more accessible to students.

bit.ly/captioncreatorforgoogledrive (Shout out to Melissa Oliver for the project idea!)

Email Summarizer

Create document summaries from Gmail labels. This is an apps script that I deployed as a web app. It allows you to create a daily trigger that will create a document based on labels in your Gmail. You just need to create a filter that applies a label to incoming emails. bit.ly/emailsummarizer (Thanks to Educator Alexander for the idea in our Google Innovator group!)

Import Data from Achieve3000 into a Google Sheet

I wanted to create a sidebar that would allow me to take one of the CSV files from Achieve 3000 and import the data that I need right into a Google Sheet. I am also going to be using this as part of the #GoogleEduOnAir event on Saturday, December 3rd.

What else do you want to track from A3K? There is a huge range of possibilities I can think of, but I would like to hear how others track data!

How do you track reading logs in your classes?

This is a joint effort between myself and the librarian at my school. She wanted a way to more easily recommend books to students, and this is the first result of our ideas. How can we improve upon the idea? What other tools can we incorporate to make it a more effective tool for engaging young readers?

In the interest of being completely open source, I am posting the code below. However, it is already out of date! The code will change significantly in the next few weeks as we try and get this project built in time to start the second term. Please feel free to give me a show on twitter for help/ideas/feedback.