Monday, September 28, 2015

Do you really like what you "LIKE" on Facebook


A Facebook Hoax

Facebook.  Most of us use it, I would even bet a large number of you found our blog through Facebook.  Well today when I logged into Facebook, there are a number of post all over my newsfeed was another privacy hoax about Facebook starting to charge for the use of the service.  FYI, if the currency is not in US dollars, dealing with a US (granted multi-national) company, it most likely is a hoax.  Now this is trying to get you to click on a fake link and by now you have people calling out the hoaxes quickly, but it got me thinking about other posts on Facebook

Tugging at your Heart Strings

Images encouraging people to like and share if they love Jesus.  An image of a premature baby, pictures of military troops cuddling puppies.  Anything that's going to kind of tug at the heartstrings: the sick kids, the animal abuse, acting like it's some kind of pet shelter.  All of these post are created to get you to like and or share.  But here is the question that you need to ask, why did someone take the time to create this post?

Many Facebook pages are created with the sole purpose of spreading viral content that will get lots of likes and shares.  Once the page creators have piled up hundreds of thousands of likes and shares, they'll strip the page and promote something else, like products that they get a commission for selling. Or, they may turn around and sell the page through black-market websites to someone who does the same.  They do this to trick Facebook's News Feed algorithm, which is designed to give more value to popular pages than the ones, like scams and spam, that pop up overnight.  Thats why your post don’t always show up in chronological order.  The more likes and shares and comments and that sort of thing you have, the more likely it is to be seen by other people ( so make sure your like The Tech Ninja Blog Facebook page and this post).  

If you see a post like this, that seems to be focused only on gaining traffic, hover over the top-right corner of the post and click the arrow to report it.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Working in your Classroom with Google Classroom

If your school uses Google Apps For Education there is include a totally free tool that will allow you to change how you offer feedback to your students,

 Google Classroom. 

 Classroom has under one roof every tool the teacher will need to create a meaningful and engaging task, without having to learn multiple interfaces or do any complex shuffling around of files that only a school’s tech enthusiast usually battles through.  Teachers are able to easily communicate with classes by using Classroom to make announcements, without the need to email groups or individual messages.  Classroom is going to have an impact beyond what it does for the assessments because of the ease of access.  This is because it’s delivered through the Chrome browser rather than an app and is thus totally device-agnostic. Students can use it on their phones, the $50 Android tablet they got for Christmas, Chromebook, anything.  One of its greatest features is its usability. Google Classrooms offers every tool teachers need to create a task. Teachers can easily add links, or attach files.  Then every task goes to a student’s Classroom folder in Drive, their Calendar, and their Gmail. Students can see what they’ve been assigned and teachers can see what’s been submitted.  Both student and teacher can comment and improve in real time.

How to get started:

Easy! Go to and click sign up using your school’s Google Apps account. Only teachers and students whose school has Google Apps can get access to the classroom. Outsiders are not welcomed! After, create your first class, and either enlist students directly or give them the class code on the left-hand side box. After that, simply distribute your first assignment and teach!

There are two ways that Google Classroom makes your classroom more efficent

1) Distributing & Collecting Assignments

There is the problem of distribution of assignments, readings, and resources. I use Google Drive for all the files I use for teaching. I have come up with a couple different ways to distribute them to students. In the end, the result was always the same. Students would have to be logged into their school Google account and click “Make A Copy”. But that lent itself to a whole new host of problems.
By the end of the year, my inbox looked like it was getting spammed by Google Drive share emails from students. Every time a student completed an assignment and shared it with me, I would receive a notification email. This was a nightmare.  By June my inbox was so cluttered that I could not even find my other emails.

With Google Classroom, everything is in one centralized location. Students can view all of their assignments in a specific folder, teachers can store their  materials and activities for the school year on the cloud and all grades can be viewed within Classroom.

2) Revisions & Feedback

One of the best ways students can improve their writing is going through the process of revisions. Editing, feedback, peer editing, and revisions improves student writing. Assuming that you want to take student writing into the 21st century, there are many platforms that teachers can use to help improve student writing.

In the Google Classroom, assignments are distributed to students and when they are ready, they submit them back to the teacher. Students can not revise their document further until it has been seen by the teacher. This prevents students from trying to meet the deadline by submitting incomplete assignments.

Students can then submit the assignment again and again after each teacher revision. All of this is tracked with a student assignment “feed” that keeps things orderly. The assignment also has a space that teachers can message students privately and students can then respond.
Google Classroom provides enhanced feedback and communication.  It allow to easily manage and speed up the feedback process for teachers and student.  This allows the feedback to have a greater impact due to the rapidity of feedback turn-around.

Now Google Classroom is far from a perfect system and it is still missing some features that other Learning Management Systems have.  It is a young product being release publicly for about 13 months as of this writing.  Google has been proactive about release updates to Classroom, recently they have released some new features.  One of these new features is an ability to reuse old posts. Teachers can choose from announcements or questions that they have previously posted and simply tweak them, rather than creating each post from scratch.

Google is also working to make Classroom even more collaborative. Teachers can now post a question, video, or article and ask students to write a response; other students can then respond to their peers’ answers, making it a more conducive forum for discussion.  Google Classroom will create a Google Calendar for each class, which can be accessed from either Classroom or Calendar. Any assignment with a due date will automatically be added to the calendar, and teachers can manually add other relevant dates.  Other updates include the ability to bump an old post to the top of the stream, post an assignment without a due date, and attach a Google Form to a post, which many teachers utilize for surveys or tests.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Celebrate Monday

"Find joy in everything you choose to do. Every job, relationship, home... it's your responsibility to love it, or change it."
Chuck Palahniuk

I am proud to be a teacher.  I think that as a teacher we need to show a respect for our profession that is often missing.  So I came upon this twitter campaign #celebratemondays that wants you to tweet out the amazing things that are happening in your schools.  Here's hoping it can change some attitudes.

Oogling Google Photos

Ok so this post is months (and I mean months) late, but that being said, if you do not already use Google Photos, stop reading, download it, then comeback and finish reading, you’ll be glad you did.  

I just want to know, do you take photos? Do you take a lot of photos (I know I love the burst photo feature on my phone)? Do you have a hard time finding space on your phone for all of them?  Then, when you want to show them to someone, do you spend 95% of the time scrolling for that specific one?

Google Photo’s will show you a better way.

Google Photos wants to automatically backup, organize and enable you to share your photos with who you want, when you want.  It also offers unlimited, FREE storage for life.
You can download Google Photos for your phone or tablet, or even access on a desktop browser to have every photo (and video) on every device synced and available everywhere. 

If you’re on the home screen of the mobile app, you get a reverse chronological view of your photos. The most amazing part of the app is “hidden” though, until you tap the magnifying glass in the bottom right corner. Here’s where the magic happens.
Up top, you’ll see faces of people you know; tap on one of those, and Google will show you all the pictures in your library of just that person. Choose someone who’s grown from a child to an adult, and Google picks them all out and you’ll see the transformation before your eyes.

If you go back to the main search screen and scroll past the Places section, you’ll begin to understand the real power of Google Photos as an organizer. The third section is (vaguely) named Things, but it automatically categorizes your images by everything in them besides people.
If you haven’t fully grasped the gravity of what I’ve explained so far, think about it. After a bit of processing time, Google will have combed through your thousands of photos—from the one you took of yourself in the gym yesterday to the one you took of your dog when he was a puppy 10 years ago—and neatly organized them all with tons of keywords and metadata.

Google above all else is a search company. They’ve made search so easy you don’t have to think about it anymore, and the same can be true with your own pictures. After playing with some of the categories of People and Things, you can do an actual search of your photos and the results are surprisingly accurate.  

Basically, there’s no reason not to love Google Photos.