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Monday, December 4, 2017

Web Address Trimming, Visual Instructions, and Seasonal Coding Lessons

In today's Tuesday Tech Tips, I'm going to show you some tools to boost your efficiency and help teach coding in a fun new way. The Free Web Address Trimmer is a free to use URL trimmer that takes long, ugly website names and makes them tiny. URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator--the fancy name for a web address.

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This is the interface. That fancy bar graph is a representation of how many times my appointment calendar has been clicked since July. Neat!

If you have a link you'd like to share a lot, you can provide it in a hyperlink (did you know you can do this by highlighting text and pressing CTRL+K?) or you can type out the address. For example, my appointment calendar is

That's not useful.

I headed over to and pressed Create Bitlink. I copy and pasted the long address inside, typed TroyDLS in the Customize field, and now I've got a short, easy-to-remember link:

Elegant. Timeless. Practical.

Important: If you type www. in front of your new site, it won't work! And it's case-sensitive, meaning students must get the capital letters correct.

Visual Instructions: Using Google Forms and Pictures to Visually Teach

Do you find that you teach the same thing over and over again? Do you have a neat classroom activity that requires a little bit of student setup? Can pictures and videos help save you time?

How'd he do that..?
Consider creating a Google Form with a required question for every step of the process, then provide one answer as a checkbox to confirm that they did it correctly. You can add a picture or a GIF (Graphics Interchange Format, pronounced with a hard "G" like "Google") to your instructions. You can find them online that demonstrate a process or you can create your own and share them to your Google Drive using an iOS or Android app like Giphy Cam.

In this example form, I ask one question and provide a GIF of how it's to be completed.

Students check off each box as they complete a step. The beauty of the GIF is that it allows for students to watch a step over and over until they get it right.

I created a Google Form with GIF instructions to help our schools use the Google Expeditions Kit. There is a teacher version and a student version. Students can work on their own or in groups with a Chromebook or you can project it so that everyone can follow the steps at the same time.

Seasonal Coding Lessons: The Google Santa Tracker for Educators

It's Computer Science Education Week! That means students all over the world are learning to code in fun, new ways. And what better way to learn than with Santa Claus hims-elf?

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Teaching elves to dance using code? Count me in!

The Google Santa Tracker is a great resource for kids Kindergarten through 10th grade (sorry, South Campus, your students probably know the truth by now) with Geography, Computer Science, Language, and Social Studies lesson plans. Learn to code by making elves dance! Learn about holiday traditions around the world with an interactive map! Learn to say Happy New Year in Chinese, German, or Elvish!

A new activity is added every day until Christmas, so explore and check back often!

If you have any questions on how to use any of these tools in your classroom, don't hesitate to contact your DLS.

Thanks for reading and we'll see you next week!