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

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.

My BreakoutEDU

I almost forgot that one of the most fun parts of the Google Innovator Academy was something that I didn’t get to share with everyone as we ran out of time. We were supposed to bring a short puzzle with us that would help us explain our stories as educators. We ran short on time and my puzzle didn’t get solved (along with another teacher in the group.)

So, I may as well share my puzzle with the group. I even wrote a little bit of code to to automate the process, though the puzzle is easy enough to solve without it.

The code:

The puzzle itself:

A single shift will reveal your clue, then the rest is up to you!

“uif bvuips pg uif nptu gbnpvt qmbzt pg fohmjti mjufsbuvsf xbt tjnqmz dbmmfe uif …”

The answer is a 4 letter word that opened the breakout box to reveal a clock! My story revolved around how I started to learning to code in order to develop my own content for the iPad program at school. Then that evolved into finding ways to programmatically save time as a teacher, and developing add-ons to serve that purpose.

Reflections from the Google Innovator Academy

In 6 years as a teacher I have never had a professional development experience as rewarding as this. Especially since the last 3 years have been spent in Turkey with very little in the way of a PD community. The focus of the program is on helping teachers advance their project ideas, however, my big take-away from the time was the networking with other teachers who all have a technological focus in their districts/schools/classrooms.

Beyond that facet of the program, there were things that really stood out to me from each day of the program.

Day 1:

breakoutBreakoutEDU. That is all I really need to say. I was basically the only teacher who had no familiarity with the program prior to this conference.

It is an escape room for your classroom. I have posted about escape rooms before, and I am not shy about telling people that “it is more about the puzzles than the escape” despite how pretentious that statement sounds.

Day 2:

Wesley Chun (@wescpy) gave a talk about Google Apps Script! This is my favorite part of using Google Apps and to hear from someone who creates the kind of add-ons/apps that I am interested in creating myself was incredible. Google Apps Script has been a big part of me learning javascript and other web technologies in the first place. It has been an invaluable resource in my learning, and I am hoping to build my innovator project around it.

Beyond that, he gave a demo of his new add-on for Google Forms that allows you to build a form from a document called GFormIt. It streamlines the entire process of creating a form. This was really cool for me, because I had created a similar add-on months ago just to play around with the Form API and see what was possible.

Day 3:

Have you heard of Google Cardboard??? Virtual reality is coming into the education space in a big way with very cheap VR devices.

I think this is going to completely change the way we take field trips in schools.

Simply put, this was a great experience for me as a classroom teacher, especially as a classroom teacher in Turkey. I work at a school that is certainly not for lack of resources, however, it can feel like teaching on an island.

I would encourage any teacher with an idea for integrating technology and education to start putting together a proposal!