Sunday, September 17, 2017

Improve Online Reading Comprehension with a Highlight & Right-Click!

Chances are you or your students come across words you don't understand when reading on the web. Try as you might to discern the word's meaning using context clues, sometimes the necessary info just isn't there, or you are focused on the task at hand without adequate time to figure out what the word is. There's a super easy and quick way to figure out an unfamiliar word or term you come across online if you are using Google Chrome.

Just Highlight & Right-Click!

Click This GIF to View a Larger Demo of the
Highlight/Right-Click Process
A few minutes ago, I was reading an interesting article on how to get yourself or others to change their mind when I came across a word I was not familiar with: Schadenfreude. So, I did this:
  • Double-clicked the word to select/highlight it.
  • Right-clicked the word and selected Search Google for "Schadenfreude".
  • Read the definition in the new tab that opened up.
  • I also clicked the sound icon under the word to hear how it is pronounced.
    After getting an idea of what the word meant, I returned back to the tab with the article I was reading and carried on.

    Train Yourself & Teach Your Students to Use This Trick

    I encourage you to train yourself and teach your students to use this quick trick for improving vocabulary and comprehension. Teaching a new skill in context when the need arises helps transfer it to long-term learning. Quick and natural in context ways to teach this trick include:
    • When you and your students are discussing online information which you are projecting in front of a group or the whole class, highlight and right-click a word your students seem unfamiliar with.
    • When a student approaches you to ask what a word they are reading online means, talk them through the highlight and right-click trick

    I hope this tip has been helpful! If you know other quick tech tricks that enhance learning, please share in the comments below, so we can all learn together.

    Pin Me! The graphic above is perfect for saving to Pinterest!

    All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0). Please see specifics on my re-use policy before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.

    Thursday, July 20, 2017

    Shortcut for Adding Hyperlinks to Google Docs & Slides (Sheets & Drawings, Too!)

    Have you ever discovered that something you usually do with a tech tool in multiple steps can be done far more easily/efficiently in fewer steps? It happens to me all the time! Sometimes, it's just not knowing there's always been another way, and sometimes, a new feature is added to tool and we are just so used to doing things one way we never notice the improvement.

    A recent example for me: I discovered while helping facilitate a session on G Suite Basics earlier this summer that adding hyperlinks in Google Docs and Slides (and Sheets and Drawings) has been massively streamlined. Now, if this is old news to you and it's been around for years, please don't tell me. I don't want to know how long I've been missing out on this shortcut!

    Up until recently, I've been adding links to Google Docs and Slides the same way I always have:
    1. With doc/slideshow open in one Chrome tab, open another Chrome tab.
    2. Search for site I want to link to in new Chrome tab.
    3. Click on site to open it.
    4. Copy URL from browser address bar.
    5. Go back to doc/slideshow.
    6. Highlight words I want to make into a link.
    7. Right-click on words I want to make into a link.
    8. Select Link from the menu that pops up.
    9. Paste URL into link box and apply.
    So, that's nine steps. Not a big deal or burdensome until you realize you could do it in far fewer steps in many cases! I finally noticed it this summer when watching multiple people add links to docs and slides during a professional learning session. 

    Here is the new shortcut method I discovered:
    1. Highlight the words I want to link in the doc or slide.
    2. Right-click the highlighted words and choose Link from the menu that pops up.
    3. NOTICE the opportunity to pick from a couple of sites Google nicely found for me. Or search from right within the link dialog for the site I want if the suggestions aren't quite right.
    4. Preview the suggested sites if needed. See my quick tutorial video below for a demo of this.
    5. Click on the link I want to use.
    6. Click Apply. DONE!

    That's three to four fewer steps, and a whole lot less clicking and tab switching!!!!

    NOTE: It's still best practice to search ahead of time for quality online resources to link to, as this shortcut method only gives two results to choose from. The shortcut method works well if you are fairly certain of what you're looking for.

    SECOND NOTE: This shortcut process works in Sheets and Drawings, too!

    Because it often helps me to see a demo of a new-to-me skill, I made a short tutorial video on how the process works. You can view it below. I hope you find as much benefit from this shortcut as I have!

    All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0). Please see specifics on my re-use policy before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.

    Monday, July 17, 2017

    Real Staffing Percentages in Texas Public Schools

    Source: Texas Education Agency
    Retrieved July 17, 2017

    Earlier today, Kimberly Reeves sent out the following Tweet:

    The myth of the 1:1 public school teacher to administrator ratio strikes again. It is a convenient myth to believe if you are someone who wants to convince the public that their local school districts don't know how to properly prioritize their financial resources. I had a pretty keen sense of déjà vu, since a similar statement by then Texas Governor Rick Perry led me to write about this same issue in 2011.

    I've posted a screen shot above of 2016 staffing statistics as reported by the Texas Education Agency, but just to clarify, here's a quick summary of the classifications of all public school employees by percentage, charter schools included:
    • Central Administration - 1.1%
    • School Administration - 2.9% 
    • Professional Support - 9.8%
    • Teachers - 50.5%
    • Educational Aides - 9.6%
    • Auxiliary Staff- 26.1%

    Comments I made about public education staffing ratios in my 2011 blog post still apply:

    With teachers comprising 50% of the employees of Texas public schools, and administrators only comprising 4%, it can hardly be argued that there is a 1 to 1 ratio of administrators to teachers in our schools. As a professional educator, I myself would be appalled if that were so.

    The 1 to 1 ratio of teachers to administrators only works if you count everyone except teachers as administrators. Lumping professional support, aides, and auxiliary staff in with administrators is inaccurate at best and deceitful at its worst.

    If some of our state leaders are going to question the way public education is run in Texas, they could at the very least use accurate information. The Texas Education Agency maintains an enormous amount of data, and I was able to find the most current snapshot of public education data in less than five minutes, by searching their website from my smartphone. Surely, government staffers could do the same?

    I will close with the graphic below, which shows a snapshot of state staffing percentages from 2010, the last time I addressed this issue on my blog. The percentages haven't changed much. It's time to put the 1:1 teacher to administrator ratio myth to rest. Now. We have enough alternative facts floating around Washington D.C. We don't need them muddying the waters in Texas.

    Source: Texas Education Agency
    Retrieved July 27, 2017

    All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.
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