Tony Vincent

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5th grade teacher sharing friendly tech tips and ideas

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Color plays an important role in my social media posts and in the digital documents I design for students. I often get my colors from It’s a simple page with a color palette full of shades, tones, and tints. These colors have been chosen by Google’s design team for the company’s Material Design aesthetic. Each time I click a color, its hex code is automatically copied. I can then go to Google Slides, Google Docs, Google Drawings, Keynote, PowerPoints, etc and paste the hex code to use as a custom background, fill, or text color. The colors give my documents a happy and modern feel. I like that the colors are different from the default colors.
Google Classroom’s To-do page gives students an overview of missing and upcoming assignments for all classes. Students access the To-do page by clicking the menu icon at the top-left corner of Google Classroom and selecting To-do. Additionally, clicking the Done tab lists assignments a student has turned in. is a great place to find online labeling games. You can find activities like labeling continents, recognizing kitchen utensils, and identifying simple machines. And if you can’t find a game that exactly matches your needs, you can make your own! Simply upload an image, add and label hotspots, and publish your game. If you’re like me, you’ll end up using Pic Collage, Keynote, Google Slides, or PowerPoint to create and save your image before uploading to PurposeGames. To play a game, click the correct hotspot that corresponds to the label that is displayed at the top of the screen. Games can have an optional timer to encourage speed. Each game has its own URL, so you can get students to a specific game through a weblink or QR code. PurposeGames uses HTML5, which means it works on the desktop and on mobile. It’s not great on a small mobile phone screen, but it does work.
I share a lot of Google Drawings documents with my students. They make copies and then manipulate them. Often these are idea sorts or graphic organizers, and there are parts of them I don’t want students to be able to move or delete. Unfortunately, Google Drawings and Google Slides do not have a Lock Object option. As a workaround, I draw a rectangle over the area I want to lock. I give the rectangle transparent fill and border colors. It’s like putting transparent tape over the things I want to keep safe from being changed. 😁 Of course, students can delete or move the transparent rectangle, but I’ve found this method goes a long way to prevent accidental changes to the objects I want locked down.
The Chrome web browser displays a Google search page with URL shortcuts each time a new empty tab is opened. You can add up to 10 shortcuts to the New Tab page. I have mine open to links that I commonly access, like my Lesson Plans document, TweetDeck, and specific folders in my Google Drive.
It is easy for students to record video directly into the Flipgrid website or app. It’s also a simple process for students to upload previously recorded or edited video—they just need to know where to find the Import Video button. That button can be found after starting the record process and clicking the blue Options button. With the ability to upload a video file, a student can use Flipgrid to share a video made in Adobe Spark Video, WeVideo, iMovie, ChatterPix, Explain Everything, DoInk Greenscreen, and any other app that exports as a video file.
Authors often publish their Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Drawings documents as view only. If you encounter a document shared online as view only, you can get a copy of the document by clicking “Make a copy” from the File menu. The copy is opened and is saved into your Google Drive. You are the owner of the new copy, and any changes you make to the document are not made the author’s original document. There is no need to request edit access. Clicking this button sends an email to the author, and some authors receive dozens of these kinds of emails a day. And, most likely, the author does not want to give you access to edit the original document. That’s why File → Make a copy is almost always the way to go. Note: If it is not clear that author wants his or her work to be copied, you should seek permission before making a copy.
Since emojis are pictures you can type, they can easily be included in feedback on digital work. I often give feedback in comments in G Suite documents. Critical feedback can come across as harsh, so adding adorable pictures can make receiving that feedback a little less unpleasant. Plus, the emojis draw attention and just might get a student to actually read the feedback. The combinations of emojis can bring about a smile—even when the feedback is critical.
It happens. You close a browser tab and then, oops, you realize you actually wanted to keep that tab open. The next time this happens, try the keyboard shortcut of Shift + Control/Command + T. This key combination reopens the last tab that you closed. Perhaps the phrase “Surf the Closed Tab” can help you remember the combination of keys. The shortcut works in most web browsers, including Chrome, Explorer, and Safari.
There is not an emoji for everything, so symbolically representing vocabulary can be a stretch—a really big thinking stretch when you’re the one developing the representation. It can take a while to figure out how to clearly show a vocabulary term with emojis, which is why symbolically representing vocabulary can be an interesting learning activity. is a free web-based video maker. There’s no trial, no watermark, and no length limitations. It’s just free. Headliner is not quite a full video editor—it’s designed to illustrate audio, somewhat like Adobe Spark Video. At, you upload audio and then add media, which can be a combination of images and videos. You can also add text. Automatically generated captions from the uploaded audio are shown at the bottom of the screen. You can edit or turn off the captions.
Google Chrome can remember your passwords for you—making it easier to use a different (and complex) password for each website. If signed in, your passwords are synced with your Google Account and accessible on other devices, including Chrome on iOS and Android.