All posts by judygriffinaea

About judygriffinaea

Digital Learning Consultant for Green Hills AEA in Southwest Iowa


Many think that a PDF is static… you can’t do anything but read it. But here are two Google Chrome Apps/Extensions that allow you to copy text from a PDF, annotate, draw on, comment, “white out”, underline, and more: Kami and DocHub.

To start, open a PDF from your Google Drive. Above the PDF, click on “Open with…”, choose “Connect More Apps” and search for Kami and/or DocHub. (You may have to ask your GAFE administrator to ok these extensions in your domain.) Allow it to connect to your Google Drive. Now, click open with… and choose either Kami or DocHub. They both allow you to do basic annotations but they also each have tools that the other does not. For example, DocHub will allow you to insert blank fields (text, checkboxes, signatures, initials, etc) and Kami does not. DocHub’s free version allows you to legally digitally sign up to 3 documents a month and you can have others digitally sign the same document as well. Of course, there are Pro (paid) versions of both Kami and DocHub for anyone who wants more than the basics.

Here is a quick overview of Kami:

Here is a screencast for DocHub to get you started:

Literacy and Tech Webcast

Green Hills AEA (Southwest Iowa) Digital Learning Consultants, Maryann and Judy, met with Lynn Hockenberry, one of our expert Literacy Consultants creating a combination webinar/podcast. (See recorded video at end of this article.) We discussed the K-5 Iowa Core Literacy Standards and the technology embedded within those standards. Some of the vocabulary that definitely alludes to using technology to meet the standards includes: digital text, electronic menu, multimedia, icons, sidebars, hyperlinks, digital tools, dictate, research, digital sources, keyboarding, create engaging audio recordings, publish…

Here is a Google Slide presentation listing each kind of standard (Writing, Speaking and Listening, Reading, and Language) and some more suggested tools for teachers and students to meet those standards.

The tools that Lynn shared included:

  • Newsela – Free leveled news, primary sources, and more, with standards-aligned formative assessments.
  • Glogster – create multimedia posters
  • Blabberize – fun way to combine writing and fluency
  • ComicLife – get kids writing with this comic maker!

Check out Lynn’s Blog, Lynn’s Literacy LINCS!

Maryann summarized an article entitled: Strategies to Help Students ‘Go Deep’ When Reading Digitally and even better, showed an example of how to do it using Google Docs – according to suggestions in the article.

Hope you find this short webinar/podcast helpful!

OpenEd – Assessment, Videos, Homework, Lesson Plans


OpenEd offers over a million assessments, homework assignments, videos, games, and lesson plans aligned to standards including Next Generation Science, Common Core Math and English Language Arts, TEKS, and more. Teachers will find any online resources their students need at this one stop shop! The formative assessments and “homework” are graded automatically. If a student misses a question, OpenEd connects them with a video or game to help them master that skill.

OpenEd resources can be shared via Google Classroom, Edmodo, Schoology, and many other LMS’s. There is also an app from OpenEd called Common Core Quest that is available from Chrome Web Store, iOS app store, or Google Play. This is a resource perfect for your Blended or Flipped Classroom!

Awesome Tables are… Awesome!

Awesome Tables is a web application that allows you to turn Google spreadsheet data into easy to filter tables, maps, cards, and more. The Awesome Table documentation will help you create your first table step by step. You might want to look at the example templates on their site first to get an idea of what this application can do!

Once you’ve created your Awesome Table, you can either let people view it on the Awesome Table site or embed it into your Google Site with Insert>Gadget – then search the public gadgets for Awesome Table.

Here is an example table view made by copying the spreadsheet of all the Google Expeditions available to teachers and students.

Here is an example of the Geocode template which creates a Google Map from Spreadsheet Data – this one is on some Famous Iowans.

Here is an example of the Cards template – the Google sheet pulled in all the tweets with our #ghaea hashtag, then Awesome Tables makes it not only sortable and clickable but easy on the eyes!

Make YouTube Work for You!

YouTube Extensions can help you enjoy and have more control over how you use YouTube in your classroom or at home. Here are some I learned about from Daniel Sharpe @get_sharpe at ISTE in Denver this summer (plus a couple others that I use.) (Thanks, Daniel!)

Google Cast for Education

“Teach and learn from everywhere!”  – “Make every student a presenter.”

New from Google this summer, Google Cast for Education gives students the ability to share their Chrome screen and sound wirelessly through the teacher’s computer connected to the projector and speakers. The teacher then can accept or deny their request to project. The beauty of this is that when students are doing presentations or showing a video they created or even if they just want to share a photo or some resecastarch they found with the class, it’s as simple as clicking the extension! No more moving from their seats, unplugging the teacher device and speakers, and plugging in to the student’s device.

To get started, teachers need to install the Google Cast for Education app
and set it up – name it. Students need the Google Cast extension in their Chrome browser. Chrome management admins can install the new Cast for Education app for all teachers, and the Google Cast extension for their entire domain. Important… make sure Chrome is updated to the newest version for this to work!

Zaption Is Closing

For a couple years, I’ve been promoting Zaption to make interactive videos for flipped or blended classroom learning. However, as of this summer, Zaption is moving on to bigger and better endeavors. (If it’s technology, it’s going to change.) So… for those of you Zaption fans, you can still use all the videos you’ve made interactive simply by exporting them to EdPuzzle. Start by going to and follow the directions in the video below.

Find Copyright Free Google Images

If you are an Iowa student or teacher, you can use to find copyright free images (log in with your Iowa AEA Online username and password). But sometimes the image that you need cannot be found there. If you are going to use Google to search for images for projects, here’s how to make sure they are copyright free and also how to copy the full-sized image so it will not be pixelated when put on a slide or in a video. Happy searching!

Virtual Field Trips with Google Expeditions and Cardboard

In the last few weeks, elementary students in Council Bluffs District and middle school students at Lewis Central District got Google Expto take a field trip! However, they never had to leave their school. Thanks to Google selecting them to pilot the soon to be released “Google Expeditions“, students were each handed a Google Cardboard VR viewer. Their teacher was in charge on a tablet with the Expeditions app and selected what students saw and experienced in their viewer.

Students were able to travel to Shakespeare’s London, the moon and Mars, under the ocean, the Grand Canyon, the jungle, and many more places! Right now, Google Expeditions has over 100 “experiences” for teachers and their students!  Teachers can easily point out important details that they want students to focus on. There are also editable notes for teachers to help them explain to students what they are seeing in their viewers.

If you are interested in trying out Google Expeditions, scroll down on the Expeditions link and sign up. Otherwise, wait until fall when Google expects to release this app to the world!

If you are a school in Green Hills AEA in southwest Iowa and want to check out Google Cardboard viewers (or VR viewers from Sunny Peak), you can check them out from Green Hills AEA at MediaNet. There are more and more apps that work with these VR 3D viewers plus you need an iPod, iPhone, or Android device!