Monday, October 12, 2015

Chromebook Offline

Don't have internet at home? Is your connection at school lagging?  Don't freak out.  You can still do many things when your Chromebook is offline.  Most assignments require you to create a document, drawing, or presentation in your Drive. You can set up your Drive to work offline (How to Video) and there are apps that also work offline (Go to the Webstore, click offline on the left.  Then you will see a collection of apps and extensions that work offline).

To save webpages for offline viewing:

Click menu bar
Select Print
Change Destination to "Save to Drive"

This will save the entire webpage as a document that you can view in your Drive (if you have set up offline in your settings).

Google Support also offers these ideas:
"Use Your Chromebook Offline." - Chromebook Help. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Oct. 2015.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Chromebook Printing

Though we are doing our best to go "paperless", there are times when you just have to print.  Printing from the Chromebook can be frustrating, unless you follow these steps.  Please take note that you must use a laptop or PC that is connected to the printer.  Chromebooks do not support drivers, so you can not just plug the printer cord into them.

Go to Google Support for more information.

Shout out to Maddie R. for suggesting this blog post.  It is shorter than most, but I hope you find it beneficial.

"Connect Your Printer to Google Cloud Print." - Chrome Help. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Oct. 2015.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Make Suggestions and Share Your Ideas

So today, I totally geeked out when I got this email...

I know it may seem stupid to get excited about an email that was probably sent to a ton of people, but calendar option to classroom was something I really wanted my students to have.  Honestly, I didn't really think anything would come from me suggesting this.  I've read plenty of discussion boards where people are complaining about features or lack of features.  But apparently, if you make suggestions/enter feedback/share ideas, Google listens.  Just like every other aspect of life, you have to do it correctly.  So now, I'm ready to make all kinds of suggestions.  In fact, I made 3 on GoGuardian today. LOL.  I told my students that I might just solve all the world's problems, one suggestion or idea at a time.

If you don't like something about a program, think of a solution and submit it to the developers.  Who knows, they might just listen and grant your wish!

PS: The Calendar feature in Google Classroom is amazing!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


In the last few days, I've started thinking about my classroom, classroom management, and of course, staying paperless in my class. Our district recently went Google and this coming school year, students will have access to Chromebooks (grades 4th-12th).  So not only will teachers and students have access to all the cool Google tools and apps, but the students will also have access to devices!  With that in mind, I've decided to write a few posts about my favorites.


Nearly all of my teacher friends complain about the time it takes to grade papers.  With Flubaroo, you can create self-grading quizzes, tests, etc.  There aren't many apps or add-ons that I am willing to pay for, but I would pay for this one.... Wait, did I mention that it is FREE???

Steps to Creating Self Grading Assignments:

1. Create a Google form with your questions.
  • Though my first question is "Student Name", I always check "automatically collect email address" because Flubaroo will email the students their grades (and sometimes they mistype their email addresses).
  • Try to have a plan of what questions you are going to ask before you start creating your form.  If you re-arrange the questions, your Google Sheet (with responses) will be all out of order.  You can redirect your responses easily though if you forget.
2.  Complete the form.
  • Click on "View live form". 
  • Take the quiz (Type Teacher Key as your name).  This will come in handy later. 

3. Click "Share" to get the link to your form.
  • I share this link on Google Classroom or email it directly to the students.
4. Once a few students have completed the form, go to your form and click "View Responses".  

  • A Google Sheet should open with yours and your students' responses.
5.  Click on Add-ons>get add-ons to download Flubaroo.
  • Flubaroo is so popular that it is usually "suggested", but you may have to search for it.
6.  Enable Flubaroo.  Click the little arrow to the side, then click "Enable Flubaroo".  

7. Now you are ready to grade!

Click Flubaroo (from add-on menu), then click Grade assignment.
  • You will now go through a series of questions about your preferences.
    • Which questions identify students and which ones are to be worth points (I always leave it at one point each, but you may want some questions to be worth more)?
    • Which response to use to grade (this is where you select "teacher key" that you created)?
  • Now another sheet with grades will added to the original grade sheet.  From here you can:
      • Decide if you want grades emailed to students - YES!  They love this.
      • Decide if you want the answer key emailed with student grades.  This one is tricky, because you don't want absent students getting answers.  I usually select yes, but then I don't "grade" them until I know that absent kids have had a chance to complete the form.  
      • Export grades for entering into gradebook. (I usually write them in my paper gradebook)
    NEW FEATURE: Auto-grade!!!  In advanced settings you can enable "autograde" and Flubaroo will grade assignments and email students as students submit forms!!!  (Just be sure to go back and look at the grades).

    Check out the Tackk I made for Google Academy for more help: Self Grading Forms Tackk

    Thursday, May 14, 2015

    To my 8th graders...


    Summer is upon us.  Most teachers and students are ready for summer.  Teachers are trying to finish up crazy to-do lists, while students are frantically turning in late work.  As I was looking through my last bit of lesson plans and trying to figure out what else I "need" my students to know before they leave, I realized something...  My 8th Graders are going the high school next year.  They won't be in my class driving me crazy or pulling at my heartstrings.  

    You see, I get these guys when they enter 6th grade.  I like to call my 6th graders babies.  They really are in terms of being Jr. High students (and their breakfast in the classroom behavior and manners).  I spend three years with them and they become my children.  I have watched these students laugh, talk too much, and cry.  They have made me laugh, talk too much, and cry.  The truth is, I will miss them more than I can put into words.  Even though I know they will do great in high school, I worry about them.  

    Ok, ok... Enough of the mushy stuff.  You 8th graders are probably reading this and thinking either "Wow, I never knew she was such a softy" or "Who is this alien pretending to be Mrs. McFarlain".  It's true, I have a little bit of a soft side, but don't worry.  I'm not going to slack off on you.

    So here we go...

    To Jackson, Joshua, Gage, Destiny, Zane, Christian, Zavalla, Jacob, Katie, Coral, Jorge, and Marshall:

    Love Yourself, Love Others.

    Respect Yourself, Respect Others.

    Dream Big, Work Harder.

    Create, explore, and investigate.

    Make History Everyday.

    Research and cite your sources.

    Go Big or Go Home.

    Go to Win, Win, Win,
    But if you don't, learn from your mistakes (Remember the Alamo, Remember Goliad)

    Always Shout "Remember the Alamo, Remember Goliad" when you read it.

    Don't trust what you read on the internet or what the media throws at you.

    GT is not the classes you take, it's who you are.

    You are Lion Country.

    Build others up.
    Keep blogging.

    Good is the enemy of Great.

    Be Great.

    Never stop learning.

    Laugh... A lot.

    Remember each other - it's a jungle out there.

    You are responsible for your own learning and education.

    No talking means no talking.  Whispering is talking.

    Listen more than you talk and try not to interrupt others when they are talking.

    Life is not fair. There will be circumstances beyond your control, but you must persevere and be great, "After all, tomorrow is another day".

    Use your intelligence for Good not Evil!
    I expect to see big and important things from you in the future.

    Study - Being GT does not mean you know everything, part of being smart is knowing what you are dumb at.

    People do not like being corrected as much as you like to correct.
    Sometimes you have to go with the flow, other times, you have to fight the tide

    Burning effigies or using tar and feathers is probably not the best protest method.

    If you have to yell or talk over someone to prove your point, your point may not be that good.

    Practice writing in cursive (especially your signature).  

    Be careful what you post on social media.  Dirty laundry needs to go into the washing machine not posted online.  Colleges and employers check social media before references when looking at applicants.

    And one last thing to remember:

    I hope that you heard my voice as you read through these.  I hope that I taught you even more than what I listed.  I also hope that you noticed that most of my list had nothing to do with "history", but the things we learn as we live out history (and study others' history).  You are an amazing group of students.  Everyone of you possess a character and intelligence that is perfect for the works ahead of you.  I love you, even though you're "so weird".  (Not only did you hear me say "so weird", but you imagined my facial expression too.  Don't lie, you did).  :)

    Love Always,

    Mrs. McFarlain

    PS, Oliver and Amber, we miss you!

    Thursday, April 16, 2015

    Converting Worksheets to PDF

    So if you decide you want to use Notable PDF (see my post from yesterday), you will probably want an easy way to convert your worksheets to pdf files.

    These are the two options I use most. 

    1. Use classroom scanner.  My printer is a 3-in-1, so it is equipped to scan.  When I scan documents, I save them to pdf on my Google Drive.

    2. Use copy machine to scan to a flash drive.  This is actually my favorite option because it is faster than scanning with my printer.  You can do several pages (even a whole workbook if you want).  The copier can scan in black and white or color.  Click here for instructions on how to do this.  Remember, you will want to upload files from your flash drive to your Google Drive.

    Gavin says, "Did you get it?"

    Let me know if you have any questions or if you have any other quick options.

    Tuesday, April 14, 2015

    Notable PDF

    My new favorite Google app and extension!

    I don't know about you, but I hate spending time in the copy room.  I also have a lot of really good worksheets that I want to use. And if I do decide to re-type them in Google Docs, I certainly do not want students to have the ability to "edit" aka "delete/manipulate my work when I share the document with them.    For the past few months, I have felt that this has been a downfall of Google Classroom.  Don't get me wrong, I love that Google Classroom will make the students their own copy, but that still allows them to edit that document.  You can share a pdf, but they can't do anything with it unless they have a program that allows them to annotate pdf's.  I am sure there are several programs that will do this, but so far Notable PDF is my choice.

    I found Notable PDF while searching for a way to display our Mock STAAR test so that I could go over the questions with my students.  After I downloaded the app and extension I imported the PDF file of the Mock test.  Then I was able to annotate each question with available tools.  At this time I was still working with the Basic (FREE) version.  I was able to show students keywords, how to eliminate, and reason choices.  I also made the students find where they had previously learned the information from the question. (INB - Interactive Notebook).


    As I was working through the questions, I thought how useful this would be with other worksheets and assignments (like labeling maps)!  I also thought that it would be great for teachers in any subject.  As a former Math teacher, I could see where this would be great for word problems.

    I did have a little scare...  

    I couldn't figure how to save and I had to leave to pick my son up.  After considering leaving my teacher computer on for the night and deciding that was a bad idea, I decided to click the dreaded X.  When I got home, I held my breath as I opened the document.  The PDF was clean...  NONE of the revisions were saved.  I was torn.  I loved what I was able to with the app, but if I couldn't save it really was no use to me.  I went to their website and decided to buy the premium version (so that I could draw, share, and save to drive).  I figured out (after paying), that all I had to do was import the PDF into the app/or use the extension to open it and a little pop screen would come up and ask what version I wanted to use.  Yes, one of those versions was the PDF with 268 annotations (The STAAR Test is LONG).  The good news is that I retrieved all of the annotations and learned how to save it.  I could have exported the version to a PDF and had it saved to my computer with the Basic (FREE) version if I would have been a little more patient.  I don't regret buying the Premium version though.  I like that Premium allows me to draw and save directly to drive.  There is also an option to collaborate, but I haven't tried that out yet.

    How I plan to use this app in the future... 

    I currently use Google Classroom to "announce" daily objectives and share assignments. Now when I can assign "worksheets" for the students to complete and turn into me.  When creating the assignment, I will attach the pdf and select "Make a copy for each student".  I would also include that they need export to a new pdf and save the file as "yourname worksheet name".  They would then turn in using Google Classroom.  (I haven't had a chance to have them try the "Turn it in" step, but if that doesn't work, I will have them email the pdf to me).

    Screenshot of my Google Classroom assignment.

    So... What do you think?  Is this something you could use in your class?  Comment ideas and questions below!   

    Tuesday, March 31, 2015

    Developing Warriors

    "It's not that the smart kids constantly feel afraid; it's that when their minds get stuck on a a fear, they can't focus on anything else"  ~~Allison Edwards, LPC

    The topic of worry is something that is quite close to my heart.  Being a worrier myself, I have often wondered why I allow myself to wonder into irrational worries.  I have read a lot of articles and some books about worry, how not to worry, and effects of worrying.  Now that my son seems to have inherited the worry gene, I find myself searching for answers about how to help him.  I want my son to be a warrior not a worrier.

    The ugly truth is that most gifted kids struggle with anxiety.  There are many different forms of anxiety and from what I have read, most of them can be contained through practices or therapy (and not medicine).   I am very cautious when giving my kids medicine, so I search for coping skills.

    The book I am currently reading Why Smart Kids Worry and What Parents Can Do to Help by Allison Edwards, LPC is an excellent source.  I am about half way through the book and so much of what it says makes perfect sense.  I think the most profound thing I have read so far is this, gifted/smart kids worry because their high intelligence reasons that bad things do happen.  They are capable of understanding that bad things have happened and could happen to anyone.  Unfortunately, most gifted kids have some asynchronous development (see my previous post).  So while they can understand reality of events occurring, they can not emotionally handle it.   For instance, a gifted 8 year old may be able to understand what terrorism is, but they are not emotionally prepared to handle it.  Gifted kids often have an imagination that will run wild if not contained.  Sometimes, they will hear bad news and immediately relate it to themselves.  For instance, Little George hears that his friend's parents were in a car wreck.  He immediately worries that his parents may be in a car wreck.  If they are in a car wreck they may die.  If they die, what would happen to him?  This whirlwind of worries can escalate quickly and continue for long periods of time if coping skills are not used..

    One of my latest goals in life is to help my son and my students learn to cope with fearful situations. They are too smart to convince that they do not have reason to be scared.  Instead, I want to teach them that they may be scared, but they can face fears and overcome them.  They can be warriors and not worriers.  It is very important to start young (before the grow into worrying adults).

    Are you a worrier?  Are you a parent of a worrier?  What things do you do or do you teach your child to do to help them overcome fear?  Comment your ideas and experiences below.  As I start the second half of this book and read your comments, I hope to write a post on coping skills.

    Together we can develop Warriors, not worriers.

    Image source:

    My First Screen Cast: Self Grading Spelling Tests

    This afternoon I was talking with a teacher-friend about all the things we want to teach our students and co-workers to do with Google Chrome and Google Drive.  As I left school, I thought about our conversation and went over my list in my head.  As a teacher, one of my favorite tools is Flubaroo.  Flubaroo is an add-on that can be used with Google Form responses (Google Sheets) to grade assignments.  I decided to create my first "how to" video using Screencastify.  Several of my students have used this extention so I thought I would give it a try.  First of all, I don't like the way my voice sounds so this was a bit out of my comfort zone.  I quickly learned that you have to know exactly what you are going to say and what you need to show.   I fumbled over my words a little and even said punctuation when I meant capitalization.  It's also a good idea to create the video alone.  I had my 8 year old sitting at the table with me.  You will hear me laugh a little because of his facial response when his sample grade was a 60.  Lastly, I will note how proud I am of my students that have created teaching screen casts.  

    If you are interested in how to create a self grading spelling test using Google Forms and Flubaroo, watch my video below.  

    Please feel free to comment any questions you have below.  

    Tuesday, March 10, 2015

    Asynchronous Development

    There is a monster in the closet...  The monster is scary, but not because we know what it is or what it can do...  It is scary because we don't understand it or how it works...

    For most teachers with gifted students, this monster is Asynchronous Development.  Asynchronous Development is the idea that the mental,  physical, and social developments of gifted children are out of sync.  What this basically means is that you can have a 3 year old with the intellectual ability of an 7 year old, physical ability of a 3 year old, and the emotional ability of a 2 year old.  Or you could have a 10 year old with the intellectual ability of a 15 year old, physical ability of a 9 year old, and the emotional ability of a 6 year old.  The more intelligent the child, the more out of sync their abilities will be.  This is why we have students that can solve great math and science problems but cry if their pencil gets broken. 

    I first learned about Asynchronous in GT Training.  All teachers that teach GT students are required to take a 30 hour training about the needs of GT students.  I will be honest and say that when it was explained to me, I thought, hmm, that's interesting and that was about it.   After all, it seemed that all my JH students acted like normal jr high students and seemed to have the same maturity of development.  I needed to focus on challenging them and making sure they weren't bored in my class.

    The day it all made sense....

    Gavin Rayne McFarlain is my 8 year old highly intelligent son.  It seems that his actual giftedness is in math, but his personality is that of a teacher pleaser so he does well in school.  Gavin loves being challenged mathematically and often tells me "new" ways to solve math problems.  I will never forget when he told me how he added double digit numbers (when I knew for a fact that they were only adding single digits in his class).  There was also a time with I was teaching his older brother how to work 2 step equations and Gavin was solving them in his head before his brother wrote the problem down.  I found this very intriguing since I taught 8th grade Math for years and knew that most 8th graders struggled with the concept.  I could go on and on about how he works Math in his head, but that would just turn into a math nerd mom bragging about her son.  The reality is this... Gavin's intellectual ability was far above that of his emotional ability.  The same kid that was able to add double digits at age four and solve two step equations at age 7 could have a complete meltdown over the silliest things.  And better yet, he would have the same emotional response to situations that were vastly different.  My boy was out of sync.  Asynchronous Development had landed right in my living room, and the training and lectures I had heard flooded my mind.

    I am thankful for two things:

    1. As gifted kids grow up, their development gets in sync.  They can actually grow into normal development!
    2. The training helped me deal with my son and understand my students even more.
    How this changed my teaching:

    Once I realized just how real Asynchronous development was, I looked at my students different.  I observed their actions and reactions.  I soon found that some of them seemed socially awkward because they were.  Their intelligence was way higher than their social (emotional) ability and they reacted in what most would say "weird" ways.  I think the training, experience with my students, and my experience with Gavin has made me a better teacher and mom. The coolest thing about all of this is that I have my students from 6th grade through 8th grade. I get to see them mature into young adults and watch their development get in sync.  

    What is your experience with Asynchronous development? What are your thoughts about how we can help students as they grow into "normal"?  Please comment below.