Saturday Suite Tip: Okay Google - Google Assistant in the Classroom

Need someone to help with all those awesome questions children come up with in the classroom? Want to find an answer quickly or play a game for that five minutes before the bell? Check out
Google Assistant

What is it?A great often overlooked feature is Google Assistant, it works to varying degrees on Google Home, mobile devices and Chromebooks and can be a very useful addition to a classroom. 

There is an ever increasing number of things you can ask Google just by talking to Google Assistant.  On most Android phones it's just a case of saying 'Okay Google' or 'Hey Google' within ear shot of your phone and then asking your question.  There may be a little more setup required if you're using an older version of Android or a device that defaults to the manufacturers setup.  If you're in posession of a phone that already has Google Assitant you wont need to install the app.  If you don't have it here's a link to it on the Play Store and in the App Store

Saturday Suite Tip: Speaking another language

Need to add a macron? Speak and write in a language other than English? Want to translate your document? Take a look, at the language features within Google Suite

Language SettingsWithin a Google Suite account, it is possible to change your default language.  To change your settings go to and switch to your preferred language.

While there are many languages available not all are there yet.  Languages are being updated all the time so do send feedback to Google about requiring your language and make sure you check back regularly.  

Adding MacronsIf you're not able to have your own language as a default you can still add things like macrons fairly easily in most Google Tools.  One option is to use special characters just like you would in other word processing programs.  Basically click the Insert menu then special characters, draw your character and it will be inserted wherever your cursor is located.  

Another way of adding macrons is to use an add on for Goog…

Have you Broken out recently?

If you haven't heard of it before BreakoutEDU is a great resource to try in almost any classroom.  It's like having your very own escape room in a box.  

Escape rooms are great fun why not give one a go for your next team development session there are plenty to chose from here in Auckland and many other locations around the world.

What is it? BreakoutEDU is the classroom version of an escape room.  Both physical and digital versions are usually based on a theme or story.  The Physical version involves working as a team to unlock the many locks on a large BreakoutEDU box.  Clues are hidden or in plain sight around the space you're working in and can be anything from putting a puzzle together, finding essential information in a video clip to deciphering a secret code. 

The BreakoutEDU community are a wealth of information on game suggestions, working through issues and sharing new games.  There are Facebook groups for most subject areas that are just a click away if you nee…

Saturday Suite Tip: Planning Events with Multiple Calendars

Have you ever booked an event only to realise your colleague, partner, child, school or business already had something in mind for you on that day at that time?

Google CalendarIf you haven't already make sure you download the Google Calendar app on your phone.  You can download it here for Android or Here for iOS (iPhone).  You can also use calendar in your browser, go directly to Calendar here

You'll need your own Google account to use Google Calendar.  Once you've created your calendar be sure to share it with those that you want to plan with.  Sharing your calendar allows other users to see your calendar right next to their own and makes it easier to see free/busy times and of course plan events to suit both of you.  

To share a calendar simple navigate to settings and sharing for the calendar and type in the email address of the person you would like to share with.  You have a few sharing options - See free/busy, See all events, Make changes to events, Make changes an…

The Handwriting Debate

There's been a debate going on for a while now about the relevance of handwriting for students in today's world.  Many people have weighed in on this from early years teachers to professors, paediatricians, psychologists and everyone in between.  What are your thoughts?

As an educator, I've asked myself this a few times and am asking again as I work with my child who recently started school.  I don't think throwing handwriting out completely is the answer here, I do think we need to look at the emphasis we place on perfecting handwriting and what purpose it serves.

In my spare time, I'm also a crafter and love creating scrapbook pages with my own handwriting.  I scribble ideas in the many ideas books I have, I keep a gratitude journal, a create cards for many occasions all with my own handwriting.  As an intermediate school student, I learnt calligraphy and occasionally accent cards, envelopes and extra special awards with it.  Over my time as a teacher, I have re…

Saturday Suite Tip: Google Keep for Reminders

Have you ever said 'I must remember to do that when I get home?' and then forgotten about it as soon as you walk in the door? Check out this tip on using reminders based on your location...

Google Keep AppIf you haven't already make sure you download the Google Keep app on your phone.  You can download it here for Android or Here for iOS (iPhone).  You can also use keep in your browser click here to go directly to Keep and there's a handy Chrome extension here

Once you have access to Google Keep add a note by typing in the 'add a note' section at the bottom of the app.  From there you can add a reminder, this is where it gets pretty cool.  Clicking the little reminder hand will allow you to add a reminder based on time or location.  Just type in where you would like to be when the reminder pops up and you're good to go. 

You'll need to make sure you have your GPS and location services turned on.  The settings for this vary from phone to phone but are most …

Saturday Suite Tip: Organise Folders in Google Drive

Does your Google Drive look like a three year old has run through it?  Try these tips to get it under control..

Colour your folders Create numbered folders Create a folder hierarchy Add to Multiple Folders

Colour Your FoldersUse colour to easily identify folders for different purposes.  Colours can be used for different curriculum areas, progress stages in projects, templates and planning folders, procedures and important documents - anything you like really.  They're great for providing a quick way to find the folder you want - just look for the colour.  

Number your FoldersAdd a number in front of a folder name to ensure they sit at the top of your folder list when looking at your Drive.   Use it to number your process for planning, organise your resources, or just have those folder you use regularly right there where you need them.  You can always change the numbering or remove it completely.

Create a Folder Hierarchy Have a think about reducing the number of folders you have or at …