Special Education District of Lake County
Exceptional Services for Exceptional Students

SEDOL Tech Blog

  • Google Drive Tip: Adding Annotations over Content

    Posted by Donna Strollo at 3/24/2016

    Did you ever wonder how to add shapes, arrows, or other types of annotations over your Google Docs, Sheets and Slides?

    Annotate over content

    Do you want to create flexible content?

    Google Drawing

    It's actually very easy to do by using the Google Drawings feature! 


    You may have found the Drawing Tool in the menu (Insert > Drawing) in Google Docs, Sheets and Slides, but it can be confusing at first glance because it opens a drawing pad window outside of the document. Once you get the hang of using all the formatting tools however, you'll soon realize the flexibility and creativity of Google Drawings!


    You can also use Google Drawings directly from the Google Drive menu by selecting NEW > more > Google Drawings. You can create your drawings separately and insert them into any Google file, or download them as image files to use in other programs or on your web pages!


    Please click HERE to view step-by-step instructions for using Google Drawings in Google Docs. This instruction sheet also has links to detailed instructions from Google.


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  • Google Drive Tip: Adding More Fonts and Setting a Different Default Font

    Posted by Donna Strollo at 1/12/2015
    One of the very few complaints I receive about Google Drive is that “there aren’t enough fonts to choose from”. There are plenty of fonts available in Google Docs, Sheets and Slides, you simply need to learn where to find them in order to add them to your font list.
    A word of warning before you get too font-happy is to be aware that fonts you add to your list will show in your collaborators' font lists also. The following link contains instructions for adding fonts to Google Docs and Slides.
    Please click this link for detailed instructions: Google Font How-To 
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  • SEDOL's Online Google Training Center

    Posted by Donna Strollo at 1/9/2015
    If one of your New Year Resolutions is to learn more about Google Apps for Education, then this blog post is for you!
    In the 2013-14 school year we focused technology professional development on Google Drive and the imminent switch from FirstClass email to Gmail. There were close to 100 beginner and intermediate sessions offered to get all of our staff trained using Google Apps for Education. We continue to offer sessions in the fall for new staff, but on a much smaller scale. 
    What is often forgotten about is the online training website that is available for you to learn all about Google at your own pace. Just go to learngoogle.sedol.us, login with your sedol.us Email/Google Apps account, and you'll find a training center that is rich with detailed instructions and visuals of how to use Google Apps. It's a great place to reinforce what you've learned at an in-person training and dive deeper into topics that time did not allow for. The site is organized with a left navigation pane linking to the training sections and topics, and it was recently updated to include links to learn more about Sheets, Slides, Hangouts and Google+.
    Make 2015 the year to develop your Google Apps skills!
    Learn Google  
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  • Get to Know the Chrome Web Browser

    Posted by Donna Strollo at 12/9/2014
    As a Google Apps for Education district, SEDOL is able to customize the Chrome web browser to add bookmarks and apps for online tools and resources pertinent to our staff and students. These will be available to you when you log into the Chrome web browser (or a Chromebook) with your sedol.us account. You'll see "Apps" and "sedol.us bookmarks" listed in the toolbar of Chrome. The sedol.us bookmarks are quick links to SEDOL online systems, and clicking on Apps will give you an icon view of the SEDOL Google Apps for Ed and any other apps you've downloaded from the Chrome Web Store. For more information on how to customize your Chrome web browser with themes, extensions and apps, click here!
    Chrome apps and web store  
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  • Understanding the New Google Drive

    Posted by Donna Strollo at 11/13/2014
    Try the new Drive
    So you were tempted to "Try the new Drive" and clicked that blue button, but oh no! Suddenly your Google Drive looks very different. Don't worry - your "shared with me" isn't gone and your files are still there, it's just a totally different user view that is confusing you. "Shared with me" has been replaced by "Incoming" with files listed by date it was shared (this week, last week, etc). The view defaults to a grid style view instead of the normal list view you are probably used to, and there's a detailed file activity pane on the right side.  I've put together a little graphic to point out a few changes and where you can change the look and settings of your "new Drive".
    Using the New Drive  
    With the new look and style, it's quicker to use the simple and advanced searching feature to find files rather than scrolling through a list. Many of us are conditioned to keep files in alphabetical order, but you'll soon find out how the power of Google's search engine works to your advantage to find files in your Drive once you train yourself to start at the search bar. Click here to learn more about advanced searching.
    Back to Drive Another change is returning to your Drive list when you are working in a file. Normally you click the Drive icon in the upper left corner of the file, but now that icon is replaced by a Docs (Sheets or Slides) icon. Google has added these Apps as separators I suppose. So how do you get back to the main Drive? Click the icon in the top left corner to go to the App main file list, then you'll see a menu list with Drive at the bottom. 
    If you absolutely can't work with the new look of Drive, you can simply go to the "gear" icon in the upper right corner for settings, and choose "Leave the new Drive", for now. If Google receives large positive feedback, they will probably make the new Drive the standard. I'm on the side of embracing change and learning something new, so I encourage you to give the new Drive a spin! Click here to learn more about the new Google Drive interface. 
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  • Portable Interactive Technology

    Posted by Donna Strollo at 10/29/2014
    Sector classrooms pose challenges for moving and storing technology equipment every summer. Computers and printers can be picked up and stored, but Promethean or SMARTboards are too large to safely transport back and forth each year. We cannot install any permanent devices in buildings we do not own, nor does that make sense in classroom locations that change from year to year. So how do we provide the benefits of using interactivity for instruction when the logistics prevent it?
    This year we are testing a solution to bring a different type of interactive "whiteboard" in three sector classrooms housed at Millburn Elementary School. LASSO2 teachers Shamim Choudhury and Kelly Johnson, along with ELS teacher Sandy Halevy are doing a trial using tabletop mounted Epson interactive projectors for instruction. The three teachers spent a day this past summer learning software programs and sharing ideas for integrating this technology into their instructional day. We discussed the paradigm shift of instructing down onto a table instead of the standard method onto a board in front of the room, and other curricular tools that could be used for interactive lessons. The teachers may have left that summer PD day a bit overwhelmed, but they were completely enthusiastic, excited and ready to start. 
    I had the opportunity to visit Kelly Johnson's classroom about a month into the school year and observe some lessons and methods she is using with the interactive projector and tabletop. Kelly has circles taped on the floor around the perimeter of the table for the students to stand on and a pair of cutout feet close to the table for the student who is working on that step of the activity. This works very well by keeping the class on task with the activity and setting limits so that the entire class isn't touching the table at the same time. Kelly does a great job Interactive Lesson managing both the lesson and the classroom environment - the students are engaged in the lesson and are respectful to each other while waiting their turn. 
    The students exhibited excellent problem-solving skills, patience and collaboration as well. I observed the students who were waiting their turn making suggestions to their classmate who was working at the table, and when Kelly's computer went into energy mode and turned off the projected image, one of the students quickly and quietly went over to wake up the computer. Kelly also mentioned her early apprehension moving instruction from the wall down onto a table, but that its actually working out well for the students being up out of their seats to participate rather than sitting in their desks.
    I'm looking forward to visiting these classrooms throughout the year to see the progression and innovative development of incorporating this technology into the SEDOL curriculum!
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  • Google Sheets Tip: Using a conditional format to alternate row colors

    Posted by Donna Strollo at 9/22/2014
    Use a conditional format in Google Sheets to alternate the color of rows in your spreadsheets for easier viewing!
    To create this effect in your spreadsheets, start by choosing/highlighting the cell range.  Go to Format on the menu bar and choose Conditional formatting. Change the drop-down to Custom Formula Is, type in =isodd(row()) or =iseven (row()) and choose a background color.  Note that Google sheets automatically sets the cell range you've highlighted. In the example above I added another rule to make the odd rows blue and the even rows gray.
    Conditional Format  
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  • Summer in the Tech Department

    Posted by Donna Strollo at 9/14/2014
    When summer arrives the Tech Department shifts into high gear to fit in a multitude of projects in a short window.  Summer is the time for equipment maintenance, infrastructure upgrades and other building projects, ensuring the least disruption in computing and network services for our staff and students.  It's a bigger challenge at SEDOL, as 12-month employees, evaluations, and the Extended School Year (ESY) program are operational for all or most of the summer months.  
    Summer is the time for offering professional development for our staff on new systems or applications, and for orienting new staff as they learn to navigate the digital processes and procedures at SEDOL. In the summer we also work closely with teachers starting trial programs such as 1:1 iPad classrooms, interactive projectors, Chromebooks, and we work on committees to research mobile apps, programs and other digital content to support the SEDOL curriculum and the state-adopted standards for technology. We formed a committee with an Administrative staff member from each school and learned how to develop and maintain the new website in the summer of 2014, and worked on plans for training our teachers in building their own webpages.
    Website Managers  
    "Working on the New Website" L-R Terri Nilson-Bugella, Judith Ormerod-Assmann, Theresa Hagedorn, Donna Strollo and Jessica Trudeau 
    Summer is also a time for preparation and review. We update compliance, policy and procedural documents for electronic systems, and we inspect and update security systems in place on the network. We prepare for the school year by maintaining accurate information in all data systems, updating each one as staffing and enrollment changes occur. Our technicians upgrade computers and operating systems to the highest level of performance possible, as well as install or replace with new equipment as needed. 
    It couldn't all get done without a great team of dedicated IT professionals, innovative educators, and supportive Administration.  We are fortunate that trilogy of collaboration exists here at SEDOL! 
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