Google Apps

Mr. Marchyok and Xavier

Mr. Marchyok helping a student edit his writing using Google Docs...

Today I was visiting Mr. Marchyok's classroom and saw something that made more greatly appreciate what technology in our classrooms can do when we think about it differently. As I entered the room I noticed that his students were working on their Chromebooks. As I walked around the room, I noticed that the students were working on biographies. I noticed that Xavier was writing about Rock and Roll guitarist Jimi Hendrix. As I walked around the room I noticed that Mr. Marchyok was also working on his computer, and when I got close I could see that he had Xavier's Jimi Hendrix document open and was basically conducting a writing conference with him via the chat feature built into Google Docs. With Google Docs users can share documents and view and work on them in real time.

Using Google Docs and the Hapara Teacher Dashboard program Mr. Marchyok, and our other 4th and 5th grade teachers, are able to conduct writing conferences on the fly with students. In this example Mr. Marchyok was using the Teacher Dashboard to quickly view what students were working on and to open those documents and provide feedback and encouragement. Something different than collecting notebooks, shlepping them home, writing responses with a red pen, and then redistributing them to students the next day.

Using WordPress and Google Reader Notes to Make Blog Posts...

I've never been much of a long form blogger. Maybe that's why I have been attracted to tools such as Flickr and Twitter. Anyway for the 3 or 4 folks out there who have bothered to look, you may of noticed that for much of the past few months my weblog remained dormant. I've been busy with school and doing lots of writing for my staff and community, just not much that makes it on to my weblog.

During this time, I have also begun to use Google Reader as my main tool for mining RSS feeds and keeping up with news and content related to my work and interests. Both on my computer, and on my phone, Google Reader is the tool I use to keep up with news related to school, my profession, and things that I am interested in. In addition I have started to utilize the share feature in Google Reader. This tool allows you to note items and share them with others. In addition Google Reader also has a notes feature that allows you to add an annotation to items that you share from your reader. Both the Share and Notes tools create unique pages that list the items shared or noted. In addition both also produce an RSS feed. There is also a bookmarklet that you can install in your browser that will let you add any page you visit to your Google Reader Shared Items.

I have been looking for a way to incorporate my Google Reader notes into my blog. While sidebar plugins are available, I have been looking for a way to make items noted in Google Reader appear as posts in my WordPress blog. I recently found a WordPress Plugin called WP-O-Matic that will allow you to grab RSS feeds and repost the contents on your blog. While not a perfect solution, and one with a few bugs, I have begun to use it and for the most part am happy with the solution.

Here is how it works. I installed the WP-O-Matic plugin in my WordPress installation. WP-O-Matic has quite a few features and can be used to create custom feed collections for posting. In my case I just set it up to follow the RSS feed from my Google Reader Notes. Once configured properly, WP-O-Matic will grab your latest Google Reader Items with Notes and publish them to your site. My initial results were problematic because the items were being posted multiple times. I did some research and found a fix to this problem and since have been quite happy with the work flow. The first screencast below demonstrates how notes work from within Google Reader and how I use the WordPress plugin to grab them and repost them in my blog. The second screencast show how to use the Note in Reader bookmarklet to post from any web page.