YouTube Safety Mode

YouTube Safety Mode

Google tips

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ 1-18-2015

At our last workshop, our teachers asked about YouTube and how they could make the viewing experience safer for their students. We offered several suggestions, such as In the past, we enabled the Chrome Extension for, but that extension no longer exists. The easiest and quickest “fix” to remove comments is to enable the YouTube Safety mode. Make sure you are logged into your YouTube account so the Safety Mode will be locked, regardless of the browser you are using.

The video below explains best how to set your YouTube viewing preferences to safety mode.

YouTube Safety Mode

(Note: We generally use the Chrome browser since it works best with Google and YouTube.)

We hope this helps ease your minds and gives you a little more control, while giving your students a little more freedom.

Google Search for Education

Google Search for Education

Google tips

 Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ 1-11-2015

We teach our students how to research,
but research looks a lot different from the research we conducted when we were in the classroom.
There’s nothing more that we love than opening up a book,
but searching online is the first option our students choose.
Google has stepped up to the plate with lessons and support to help us teach students how to research online by providing Google Search for Education.

Google Search for Education is divided into four main areas of support:

Google Search for Education

“Lesson Plans and Activities” provides links to literacy plans viewed as Google Documents with CCSS objectives and step-by-step directions at beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels. Video webinar trainings are included as additional support.

Google Search for Education
“Power Searching” is divided into two main “courses”, “Advanced Power Searching” and “Power Searching”.
Each online course comes with a syllabus and videos to support the instruction.

Google Search for Education

“A Google a Day” is an easy way to provide fun and engaging classroom challenges, whether you choose to assign them daily, or even weekly. The activities reach across the curriculum in Geography, Science, Culture, and History and provide ways for students to work together, or individually on Google Slides.

Google Search for Education

Finally, “Live Training” includes Google+ webinars with the latest tips and trainings from Google.

Google Search for Education

There are plenty of additional links that offer more support as you browse and explore the options.
It’s easy to get pulled into the “World of Google”.
Take a look and we promise you will find something useful to add to this week’s lessons and activities in your planbooks.

Google Tasks

Google Tasks

app email Google iPad tips

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ 1-4-2015

It’s a new year with plenty of goals and projects ahead.
Have we mentioned that we are presenting at ISTE?
In Philadelphia?
Have we told you we are excited?
And then there’s travel, building a new home, and selling the old family homestead.
They’re all at the top of the list.

How in the world are we going to keep track of the “To-Do’s” involved!?
Let’s talk about Google Tasks.

We’ve shared Google Tasks when we present “Google Apps for Education”.
We first discovered it as a component of the Google Calendar,
and the calendar was our “tip post” two years ago.
Google Tasks can by synced across several platforms.
Starting in the calendar itself, the option to add tasks can be seen by clicking the “pull-down” arrow on the left side of your calendar where you find the option to enable “Tasks”. By clicking on it, your “Tasks” will appear in a “Tasks Bar” on the right side of your calendar.

Google Tasks 7

Watch the instructional Google video below that demonstrates adding tasks through your Gmail account which includes tips to manipulate your tasks in your calendar.

And there’s an app for that.
Our “go-to” iTunes app is “Go Tasks” which is free and has excellent user reviews.

GoTasks for Google Tasks

Another option is to make a “homescreen bookmark” as described in this Google video.

Finally, we encourage everyone to use the Chrome browser when working in Google.
There is an extension made by Google, “Google Tasks” which works well.
In researching and reading the reviews, though, we found another extension called, “Better Google Tasks” developed by Matt Atkins. I have installed it, and it does a great job. One of the features I like about this extension is that you can view all of your task lists at once.

We hope these tips help organize and simplify your crazy life a little.
We are working on ours, too. Enjoy what is for many of you, your last day of the holiday break,
and return with a fresh, revised attitude to make the rest of this year the very best for you and your students!

The Noun Project

The Noun Project


Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ 12-21-2014

The Noun Project” was initiated by a group of designers in 2010.
The result is a website collection of icons that continues to grow as new symbols are added.
It represents a global common visual language whose contributors include designers that upload images that can be used in professional presentations, all areas of education, and as a simple means to communicate.


The site includes basically two types of downloadable icons.
The first is
“Creative Commons” where you must either give credit to the artist while using the symbol free,

The Noun Project 1
or pay the artist and use it without attribution.

The Noun Project 2The other option is “Public Domain” which allows anyone to use the icon free without attribution.

The Noun Project 3
Hospital Symbol

There are also several membership options that you can choose as described on their Pricing Page.

The icons, themselves, include four essential elements:

1. The design contains only the essential characteristics and facts of the object or idea in symbol.
2. Design style is consistent throughout the symbol.
3. The symbol does not look illustrative or hand drawn and has the characteristics of a street sign.
4. Symbol designs do not include the artist’s personal opinion, feeling, or belief towards the object or idea depicted.

Once downloaded, the symbols are high-quality and easy to understand as represented:

Piotrek ChuchlaWe invite you to take a look at “The Noun Project” both as a resource,
and to share it with your students with an invitation to contribute as artists.

Enjoy this “Winter Solstice” and the final Sunday before Christmas.
We will be taking a break next week to spend time with our families, as well.
See you in the New Year!

Winky Think Logic Puzzles

Winky Think Logic Puzzles

app App Review tips

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ 12-14-2014

This week I received an invitation to try out Spinlight Studio’s newest app, “Winky Think“.
Uhhh…Spinlight Studio?
Yes, please.

I immediately downloaded the app and worked through the first 80 levels.  Yep…hooked.
When I took a break (a.k.a. pried myself away from the game) to make dinner, I caught my 13-year-old daughter continuing on through another 40 levels while listening to her say, “Ooohhh…I like this level….this one is cool!”
Well done Spinlight Studio, to impress a 13-year-old social media/video game/app connoisseur.
(Side note: there are 180 levels in all.)

Winky Think“Winky Think” is a logic app that begins with very basic puzzles for the youngest of users. Don’t be fooled though; the levels build upon each other to provide increasingly difficult puzzles for kids who like a good challenge. And the multi-touch feature throws in a layer of complexity that is fantastic. Especially if, as a teacher, you use iPads in small groups.

The former math teacher in me not only loves the use of logic in this app, I appreciate the integration of nicely designed polygons for the reinforcement of shapes and colors. Perfect for early childhood students all the way up into the intermediate grades!

I also value the place of this app to meet Common Core standards. I know…blah blah blah. But really, if you know anything about the Common Core standards, you know the need for students to persevere through problems. This is the perfect app to model this skill. Heck, who am I kidding? Perseverance is really the key to pretty much any life skill, not just a skill coined by the Common Core folks. I would post some CCSS that this app supports, but really, who wants to read that on a Sunday morning Sit and Sip?  Not us!
Ok…maybe just one.
CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP1 Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
Done. And again, DONE. I promise I am done talking about standards!

As many of you know, Mom and I are BIG fans of this app designer. We originally reviewed “Table Tots” which you can read about over here.
It’s still one of our all-time favorite “teaching” apps.
We continue to love every app they have launched.

And RIGHT NOW they are having a launch sale.  That’s right A SALE.
Head over to their site and check out all their apps on sale right now for only $0.99.
I would, but we already own them all. And believe me, we paid more than $0.99 for them.  Totally worth it!

Even better yet…ask the parents of your students to gift these apps to your classroom iPads.
Much better than lotion and coffee mugs. 😉

(Mom and I do not receive any compensation for our reviews.  We just like to share things we love with all of you.  And we LOVE Spinlight Studio!)

QR Voice

QR Voice


Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ 12-7-2014

QR Voice ( is a little web-tool that will convert 100 characters into a digital synthesized voice file.
The file is encoded into a QR code that can be resized, copied, and used to link back to the message.

The website has several language options:

QR Voice

The FAQ page will help with any questions you might have, and the authors definitely have a sense of humor…

QR Voice

How does QR Voice work? From the FAQ page, the steps are very simple:

QR Voice

1.    Enter a message up to 100 characters.
2.    Optionally choose a language in which the message is written, and it will be reproduced.
3.    Optionally resize the desired qr-code image to be generated using the slider.
4.    Click the “Generate Button”, (the one with a tiny qr-code in it).
5.    The qr-code will be generated in the center of the screen.
6.    You can scan it with your smartphone qr-code scanner app to hear the message.
7.    Also, use the link above the qr-code image to save/share/embed/print the final qr-code image.
8.    Use the social buttons to spread the word about your recent generated qr-voice.
The browser URL location is also bookmark-able.

QR Voice

As educators, our imaginations and creativity have no boundary in creating ways to use these little web-tools like QR Voice.
Don’t hesitate to share.
For more information, visit the QR Voice “Help Page” where all of you questions are sure to be answered.

One more thing.
Hover your mouse over the little blue “speech bubble” QR Code in the upper right-hand corner.
Just a little “fun” animation.
It’s a “smile generator”…

Pinning Tabs

Pinning Tabs


Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ 11-30-2014

Six tabs open along the top of my current browser window.
In the toolbar below, I see four browser windows running…
wo Firefox windows, two Chrome windows, and yes…
one Explorer window.
Correction: six tabs before we were “pinning tabs”.

Recess TEC pushes our computers to the limit.
“Multi-tasking” is our middle name.
Sometimes, when our computers start running slowly with all of our open programs, windows, and tabs, we just have to shut it all down and start over.

We have one quick tip that will save you some time as you open another browsing session on your computer.
We have posted about Symbaloo in the past, and my personal Symbaloo is set as my “Home Page”.
I can log into Symbaloo on any computer, thus allowing me simple and quick access to all of my sites.

To save even more time, I “pin” the website tabs I use most often, including Symbaloo.
By pinning the tabs, the browser window will open with those frequently used tabs, and it will give me more room to add more tabs as I work and browse.

The image below shows tabs that are open, but not “pinned”.
They take up a lot of room leaving you space for only about six open tabs.

To pin a tab, right click on the tab, and choose the “Pin Tab” option.

PinTheTab2What’s left after pinning, is the “favicon” (see image below) associated with your page, and what you gain is more real estate.

One word of caution, though. Choose wisely which tabs you want to “pin”. If your browser has to open with too many tabs, the browser will take longer to respond. We limit ourselves to 3-4 pinned tabs. This works in both Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.

We hope this little tip will save you time and make your workflow more efficient.
At this time of year, we can all use a little more of that!

Favicon Definition
Our “Word of the Day”.
Google Cultural Institute

Google Cultural Institute

Google tips

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ 11-23-2014

We promised to share from IETC (Illinois Education & Technology Conference), and this is another gem we picked up from one of our attendees. Natalie Young, an instructor from Northern Illinois University, sat with us all day in our “Google for Education” session, and approached us as we were packing up. She had a few questions, but most of all, Ms. Young wanted to ask us if we knew anything about the “Google Cultural Institute”. As she described it, we realized that this was new to us. Once again, it reinforced that we “don’t know what we don’t know.”

I started my teaching career as an art teacher, and Natalie had me with “galleries”. Google Cultural Institute has “partnered with hundreds of museums, cultural institutions, and archives to host the world’s cultural treasures online.” You can learn about this project on the “About Page” for the Google Cultural Institute. And of course, they have a channel on YouTube. We invite you to watch this video to see the powerful potential this project possesses to add dynamic “multimedia” to the lessons you bring to your students.

You can take your students on a virtual tour of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, or The Art Institute of Chicago.

Google Cultural Institute 2

Google Cultural Institute 1

Once you have signed into your Google account, you and your students can personalize your own gallery. Collections of relative resources, including videos, documents, art pieces, and artifacts, can be grouped to use with specific lessons, or your students can collect what they need for research projects.

Google Cultural Institute 3

One you have added “pieces” to your collection, you can add personal notes as captions, or a YouTube video.

Google Cultural Institute 5

So on this rainy day, take some time to visit the Google Cultural Institute and browse through the museums and galleries.

New York Metropolitan Museum of Art

Google Slides + YouTube Videos

Google Slides + YouTube Videos


Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ 11-16-2014

IETC 2014, the Illinois Education & Technology Conference, is in the history books.
We shared, we learned, we collaborated, and there is still more to share and learn.
Every session proved that we “don’t know what we don’t know.”
One feature we enjoyed sharing was how quickly and efficiently Google Slides + YouTube Videos can work together to turn a presentation into a multimedia project.

One of the observations made in our Google Apps for Education workshop, was how easy it is to insert a YouTube Video into a Google Slide. Within our own classrooms, our students have collaborated on Google Slides in an environment that is easy to manage when you assign a separate slide to each student. They can easily take ownership of their portion, but still contribute to the group project.

Here is a video tutorial to demonstrate just how easy it is to add a video to your multimedia Google Slide presentation with a YouTube Video.

Remember that, once you publish your Google Slides, you have the option of embedding them into your website. This includes the video. Below is an example of an embedded slide with the same video that we have included. Remember, anything we do to the live Google Slide will be reflected on the embedded slide without saving or embedding it again.

Hope this little trick has helped and that you can find a use for it to share with your students as they begin holiday projects.

Stay warm and dry, and have a great week!

IETC 2014

IETC 2014

News tips workshops

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ 11-9-2014

It’s time for IETC 2014, the Illinois Education & Technology Conference.
We are looking forward to once again seeing good friends and making new friends.
We’re always excited to share ways to collaborate, instruct, moderate, and expand the use of technology.

Our first IETC 2014 event will be this Wednesday, September 12th, when we will be presenting a Pre-Conference Workshop, “Google Magic: Captivate, Motivate, and Educate Your Students”, from 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. in the Plaza D Meeting Room. Although registration for this workshop is closed, we always learn from our attendees.
We promise to share tips and ways to use Google Apps for Education each day as we attend IETC 2014. Follow us on our Facebook Page or on Twitter, @nbrach and @brachsmith.

IETC 2014

We will host two sessions on Thursday:
Session II:  11:15-12:05 – “Digital Storytelling for All”
Digital storytelling? Uhhh, no thanks. I don’t teach Language Arts. We know, we know. We’ve heard it before. You might not realize what is involved in digital storytelling. Or maybe we can convince you to incorporate it into your classes no matter what subject or age you teach. Students want to create content. Attend this session to find out how! (CCSS will be addressed in this session.) (Audience: All grade levels).

Session III: 12:15-1:05 – “The Classics”
With all of the new technology introduced on a daily basis, sometimes you forget what you’ve already learned. Or, maybe you missed it the first time around. Join us for a technology integration “refresher.” We’ll talk about things that we’ve loved from the beginning of our technology adventures that we think have stood the test of time! (Don’t worry, we’ll be sure to point out all CCSS integration.) (Audience: All grade levels).

Yes, there is a walk for me before the end of the day.
But not until we work to finalize our presentations so that our friends can have workshops where they will learn and have a great time.

See you soon!