However, that link has been removed by Google for some reason.
Tuesday, October 27, 2020
However, that link has been removed by Google for some reason.
Thursday, October 15, 2020
The print tutorial below takes teachers step-by-step and shows how to run online parent-teacher conferences using Zoom. It does mention that the conference slots were scheduled using a 3rd-party tool. We use a feature of our SMS, "Skyward," but your school could have parents sign up for the conference slots using a tool like Google Calendar's "Appointment Slots" feature or a free online tool like Calendly or Signup Genius.
Once the parents have signed up for appointment slots, the tutorial I made will show you screenshots on how to enable and manage the Waiting Room in Zoom so that the teacher can send a message to anyone waiting, letting them know approximately when the current conference session will end, and who is next on the list. I hope this helps you use Zoom for virtual parent-teacher conferences at a time when it is often best to stay at home and still get the essential jobs done.
Saturday, October 3, 2020
l received some requests to create a video with tips for students on how to take better photos on a Chromebook. With students being required to submit assignments via the Chromebook camera, this video gets in-depth about the camera's features, settings, basic photo editing in the Gallery, and how to just make those photos better for turning in to teachers.
The video is made for students and teachers, or anyone with a Chromebook who wants to take better photos. Learn how to crop, increase the countdown timer, do a one-click fix, take snapshots from a video (even in Tablet mode), and more. Feel free to share it with anyone who might find it helpful.
Friday, August 14, 2020
I try to share some of the most comprehensive tips and recommendations I write up for teachers here. This is one of the most recent. When asked what is out there for music teachers to use with students on Chromebooks, particularly if those students are learning at home, I had to start from scratch. Knowing very little about what was available, I just started with the Piano apps available for Chromebooks, extended it to Android, and then added Web apps that work in the browser, as well.
The music teacher who contacted me about this also wanted to know what was available in the way of drums and drum kits. So I added that as well. Below, you will find a section for each. If you know of additional web tools or apps that may be good for elementary music teachers (with an emphasis on free), please add your comments and recommendations below.
- Music teachers have been using Chrome Music Lab as a tool in their classrooms to explore music and its connections to science, math, art, and more. They’ve been combining it with dance and live instruments.
- From the Chrome Music Lab website, here is a collection of some uses they curated from Twitter.
- Also included in the Lab is the Song Maker experiment, which lets you make and share your own songs.
- This is about as basic as it gets, but Chrome Piano does have what students need: Key Assist, Record, Stop, Play, a Music Sheet button with a lengthy drop-down list of songs that can be played (and the keys highlight when the songs are played), and there is a Tips button to get students started.
- Students will be playing the piano in minutes, and recording themselves playing. The basic features all all here, without any ads, and that is extremely rare for any free piano.
- Key Assist (labeled keys) can be toggled on or off.
- The Music Sheet button at the right is a huge plus, as it gives students a lengthy list of songs to play (anywhere from Beethoven to Beyonce, and Franz Schubert to Forrest Gump. It not only plays these songs on the keyboard, but it also includes the notes in a large text box, so students can follow along with the notes or with the highlighted keys. There is a Play Song and Stop Song button.
- It takes a bit of getting used to when first recording. First, you need to tap Record to engage the Recording feature, and then tap Record again to stop recording. Then, the Play and Stop buttons become engaged - for playback and stopping. Once that is mastered, the rest is pretty easy.
- Make sure students remember that the piano cannot be played manually by them unless the purple button says Turn Off. If nothing happens, students will need to tap Turn On. This makes sure the piano knows whether it is playing a song from the Music Selections, or being played (and recorded) by students.
- You can also open the Virtual Piano Keyboard by bookmarking this site: virtualkeyboard.nsspot.net
- Notes are saved as Input Codes to the text box below the keyboard.
- Notes can also be copied, pasted and erased, and spaces can be added.
- There is also an Old Flash version which transforms the piano into an electronic keyboard with various virtual buttons for organ, saxophone, flute, pan pipes, strings, guitar, steel drums, and double bass. The Flash version worked on the Chromebooks when tested, and you can revert back to the Virtual Piano by changing flash=yes to flash=no in the Address Bar above.
- Key Assist can be turned On, which gives the keys numerical values.
- The recording feature is turned on by toggling Recorder/Input Sample On. Toggling it Off makes the recording feature below disappear.
- This piano can be played by tapping the keys with the touch-pad, by using the individual Chromebook keys which correspond with the piano key numbers (when Key assist is On), and also by using the Chromebook's touchscreen feature.
- There are hundreds of songs in the list. All you have to do is type the letters from the song and students can be playing piano right away.
- Additional ads are also found below the keyboard.
- The keys are somewhat small on the screen and may need to be zoomed-in by students when using the touchscreen feature.
- This is a simple, realistic Web Piano that works on Chromebooks and doesn't require any plugins to be installed.
- Keys are labeled - to help students practice piano chords and scales using their keyboard.
- Songs can be saved into the Songtive web project site (songtive.com) to share with the world. The developer can be contacted by email.
- Upon further look, there is also a small menu in the top left with +New and Tools buttons. These buttons add advanced features such as a programmable Drumset with programmable, editable sections and sounds (just click the Edit button when Drumset is launched). Additional "tools" include Virtual Piano, Web Tuner, Piano Chord Chart, and Guitar Chords.
- Keys can be displayed in 1 Row, 2 Rows, and labels shown or hidden. The Instrument sound can also be switched between Piano, Xylophone, Acoustic Guitar, Cello, and Flute.
- Not as pretty or deeply customizable as the other apps, and the colorfully-labeled keys could be distracting or confusing for some students, but these labels can be Hidden by tapping the Hide button at the top.
- Social media buttons and a printer button at the left could be distracting, along with the large green "Download Now" button at the right. Students will need to avoid these.
- The only ad is found along the very bottom, so that is a plus. And this is one of the most realistic-sound pianos in this list.
- The top of the interface is rather cluttered (for some users) yet it gives a ton of features and settings all in one place, without having to search through multiple menus. Because of this, it makes the buttons/controls rather small to the touch.
- There are tiny buttons to control the Key Size (important with 88 keys!).
- The keyboard can be heightened/extended with a tiny up-arrow to virtually eliminate either of the two toolbars on top.
- There are also buttons for Piano, Flute, Organ, and Guitar sound modes.
- A Music Control drop-down menu has about seven songs that can be listened to, but the keys are not highlighted when the song plays. Tap the Play or Pause button to start and stop these songs.
- There is also a Record List which flies out and shows what has been recorded. Tap the Record List button again to make this disappear.
- Tapping some of the options, such as playing songs from the Music Control or bringing up the Record List brings up a full-screen advertisement the first time, and that can be annoying.
- This is an extremely powerful piano app for Android. When it first opens, there are the following choices: Multiplayer Game, Multiplayer Connect, Records Manager, Piano Circle, Learn to Play, and, finally, Keyboard. If students just go directly to Keyboard, it is quite powerful and easy to use. However, choosing any of the other options will yield far too many distractions, connecting to game servers, enabling video ads, and other unwanted potential messes.
- There is a menu at the right for Reverb, Sustain Control; and there is a button at the top that will transform the piano into an Organ, MusicBox, Synth, Rhodes, Bright, and other piano types.
- There is also a Metronome button in the top left (next to the Record button).
- Record mode can choose between recording in MIDI or from the MIC, and then save the file to your Chromebook or Google Drive.
- Students can also use the little arrow buttons to scroll back and forth, focusing on different parts of the piano's keyboard.
- When choosing the Learn to Play option, it brings up various pre-loaded songs that can be played with varying choices in difficulty, and saved as Favorites.
- As long as students stay in Keyboard mode only, this could be a useful app. But if they choose other options than Keyboard, that is where the annoying advertisement trouble lies.
- Choosing Multiplayer Game or Multiplayer Connect requires the user to choose from one of two Game Servers. Exiting out of this mode often loads at least one video ad which is not kid-friendly.
- This app also has ads, but the ad is found only at the very top middle, and it doesn't disrupt the use of the piano. It is probably the easiest piano app to figure out right away, and quite powerful, too.
- When recording (using either the circle or the microphone), there is a timer that runs at the right, telling you how long you've been recording.
- Recorded files can be saved as Sample, Track or MIDI.
- There is also a mode button which emulates a Grand, Organ, Violin, Synth, Sax, Electric keyboard, Bass, Guitar, Harp, Rhodes, and Harp.
- Very few cons with this piano, due to only having one smallish ad in the top middle, above the keyboard itself.
- Once switching sound modes, choose Home to return to the default piano mode.
- For a 6-minute video tutorial showing all of the features, click here.
- Also in the Settings is a Magic Piano setting where any key pressed shows the correct note. You can also listen to the song when you select it in the song list.
- The Vibration of the keys is turned On by default (and pressure can be increased/decreased), but can also be turned off with a slider in the Settings.
- Song Book is a featured revealed by tapping the hidden toolbar arrow at the top.
- Students should be discouraged not to tap any buttons other than the Menu and the Record/Play/Stop/Settings buttons in the top right corner, and leave the toolbar open. Otherwise, closing the toolbar brings up a floating ad in the top right corner.
- The biggest complaint about this app is that it is overly feature-packed and actually overly customizable.
- A big drawback right away is that it asks the student to log in (an I'm New Here button) with an Email address or Log in with Facebook. This is probably a deal-breaker right away. Then, when/if you get past that point, it asks What kind of things can you play? Nothing yet, some basics, lots of songs, or almost anything... It then asks if you have a piano to practice with: Yes or No. Then there is a free trial.
- As a teaching tool, this would be wonderful, and maybe even your best bet overall. But at the recommended 12-month plan at $11.99-13.99/mo. price, No. Move on.
- Initial prompts require students to sign in with Facebook or an email. Then it is very much like a piano tutor and works as a pay service.
- Just avoid the ads at the top of the page. 9 Exercise buttons are found below the drum kit which take students through various drumming routines.
- The Drum Games, Drum Lessons, and Advanced Lessons are pretty good, but the Drum Sheet Music must be downloaded individually, which is not recommended on Chromebooks.
- This app is all about learning how to drum. There are quick YouTube videos which load (ads included) and show how to use a drum kit. Lessons are also included which highlight the correct drum to tap at the right time. The drums sound very realistic, and the kit can be re-arranged with the tap of a Refresh button at the top. Everything can also be recorded and played back.
- Tapping on the various Drumset button on the toolbar brings up various Kits to choose from, depending on music genre interest. Each is followed by an ad.
- Tapping the blue Play button brings up various Loops which play in the background while the student drums along.
- Other tabs in addition to Loops are Recordings, Lessons, Songs, and Metronome. Recordings are anything the student has recorded with the red Record button.
- Lessons are where the drums are highlighted, the student watches first, and then taps the highlighted drum or cymbal from the lesson, so it is Watch and Play format.
- After a student taps the red Record button to stop recording, a full-screen advertisement loads. Then, the student has to locate the X button in the top right corner to close it, and remember where he/she left off.
- There is also a rather large ad in the top right corner of the toolbar, but most students will probably ignore it because they're too busy drumming.
- What makes this app different from the rest is that it does not emulate a drum kit at all, but is more of a programming interface, allowing students to plug in cells or squares into a large waffle-looking interface.
- No actual drums are seen. But students can create their own drumming routines and then save them, play them back, and add to them later. Files are saved in the JSON File Format, which can be read outside of a Chromebook and played back within this web app.
- Those who like to learn programming and who are creative types will appreciate it and its ability save what they create, but there will be a learning curve to deal with otherwise.
- The default drum kit that loads is only the "Classic" version. Then, each additional set of drums (Hip-Hop, Electro, and Metal) require separate apps to be installed. It is nice to be able to move the drums around (with the tap of a toolbar button), but full-page ads load at various times and have to be closed manually to return.
- There is an MP3 button that allows students to record, save and play, so it is also an MP3 player that can play external music files stored on Google Drive or on the Chromebook's hard drive.
- The app is optimized for screens of any size, so it can also be used on Android tablets and phones.
- Has the ability to not only play, but also to save, play, and loop the playback of your tracks. This would allow a user to play other instruments along with the drum kit.
- Menus are hidden and so are the ads when doing the drumming. The app has a very realistic look to it.
- Another nice app that is bogged down with annoying full-page ads at inopportune times when tapping essential buttons.
- Many users have reported a delay, which might make it difficult to play with others.
Tuesday, June 9, 2020
I created the video tutorial below because I know I will be referring to it for various scenarios, which include:
- Teachers who want to give out a copy of the same Quiz in Google Forms to multiple classes but have the results feed into the same Google Sheet.
- Technology trainers (or any trainers) who provide classes during the year and want to keep a record of all class lists in the same spreadsheet. Using a Google Form for each class session, all of the class lists can feed into the same master spreadsheet.
- Band directors who send out a form to multiple schools and want the results to be sorted by tab according to which school the students are coming from.
- High schools receiving students from multiple feeder schools. Each Google Form they fill out can be sent to a specific tab in a Google Sheet.
- Middle schools receiving students from multiple feeder elementary schools. Each Google Form that students (or parents) fill out can be sent to a specific tab in a Google Form.
- Any other groups in which you want to receive data from Google Forms and have that data sorted by specific groups into separate tabs at the bottom of a Google Sheet.
Insert the picture as a drawing.
Add a text box to the drawing and insert the text.
This seems very cumbersome...Any thoughts?
Monday, May 11, 2020
Did you know that each person who uses Chrome can create his or her own profile? This is also known as Adding New People, so you can easily add a new person within Chrome, which will allow each of you to have your own set of bookmarks, open tabs, extensions, and settings specialized to meet your own needs. The video below should help to demonstrate and clarify how to this up. Please leave a comment if this video helps you make some sense out of your Chrome browsing experience. Just remember: Everything is tied to your own individual Google/Gmail username and password.
Friday, March 20, 2020
The slides below are provided free of charge. My thanks go out to everyone who helped me put together these great resources, including the Zoom trainers themselves. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me by email. My contact information is on the last slide, and feel free to share these slides with anyone else who made find them useful.
Monday, January 20, 2020
I might add that Office 365 is also free for students and educators at eligible institutions. Teachers at my school district get it for free, for example (we have a .us domain), as do students with an .edu domain in his or her email address. When you go to this site, you can enter your school email address to get started. If you have questions, a Chat pop-up will appear in the lower right corner of your screen, where you can find out if you are eligible.
If you are not eligible for the free version of Office, this link will provide you with pricing for the various options of Office for both Home and Business users.
One more thing. If you scroll quite a bit further down the same page, you can get to the apps for the free online version of Microsoft Office. For example, the link for the online version of Word is https://office.live.com/start/Word.aspx. The free version, for my money, is definitely worth trying, as is Google's free G-Suite. I just wanted to provide equal opportunity so that no one thinks I work for either company. I don't. Just don't forget to create a free Microsoft account (or a Gmail account if you ever plan to use the Google suite) before even trying anything mentioned in this article.
Monday, June 17, 2019
Friday, April 26, 2019
Tuesday, April 23, 2019
- About 85 Live Channels + some on-demand channels. Over 100 channels total.
- You can watch local channels, such as your local news channels. I was afraid of missing our local news, but that is not a problem;
- All major networks, including TNT, TBS, IFC, History, the Food Network, the Golf channel, HGTV, the Weather Channel, AMC, Lifetime, etc.;
- Here is a list of the channels that we get in the Detroit area: https://www.fubo.tv/
- Free Cloud DVR;
- A very nicely organized TV Guide grid. This is far better than the one that DirecTV provided us. I mean you can actually search and it brings up accurate results, unlike DirecTV which was so badly organized and all they really seemed to care about was that you saw their scrolling On Demand shows, which you could NOT hide. You had to scroll through those every time you used the Guide. This has nothing irritating like that;
- You get Fox Sports 1 and 2, which is where our local baseball, basketball games, etc. come from. And the Tigers and Pistons games are not blacked out even when at home. You also get the BTN. With DirecTV, local sporting events were often blacked out. I'm not sure if that was part of DirecTV's policy or if we were having a technical problem with our zip code;
- No hidden costs, and you can cancel anytime. And no additional hardware to purchase. If you have a smart TV, it may already have the app, but I like the Fire Stick and consider it essential for every TV.