5 Google Sheet Formatting Tricks


These easy-to-implement “tricks” will make your Google spreadsheets more functional!

Tip #1:
Line Break within Cell

To force a line break (a.k.a. carriage return or hard return) within a cell, use:
Control + Enter
Alt + Enter


Tip #2:
Use Multiple Columns for Hanging Indents

Use the left column for the number and the right column for the text.
Note – Format as “Plain Text” to get “1.” into the cell.
Update – Just found out from Brad Medbery on Facebook that you can begin any text string with an apostrophe and it will automatically format it as “plain text.” Try entering “1.” and then enter ” ‘1. ” and you’ll see the difference!


Tip #3:
Turn Off Gridlines

Pull down the View menu to toggle “Gridlines” off and on.
Note – It is best to create the page first, and then turn off the Gridlines.

Same sheet with and without gridlines:

Tip #4:
Use Border Colors!


The index card below was created with:
– a black outer border
– a red bottom border
– blue horizontal borders


Tip #5:
Add Free-hand Drawings

1. Pull down the Insert menu to “Drawing.” This will open a new “Drawing” window.
2. In the drawing window, click the “Line” tool and select the “Scribble” option.

3. Draw on the screen.
4. Click the “Save and Close” button.
5 . Move and resize the drawing as desired.


As always, if you have any questions or concerns about implementing any type of technology in your classroom, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly through email (lawsonj@talawanda.org) or by submitting a Technology Integration Ticket on the Talawanda Web Portal.  Have a great day!


  1. “5 Awesome Google Spreadsheet Formatting Tricks.” 3 May. 2014, http://tammyworcester.com/5-awesome-google-spreadsheet-formatting-tips/. Accessed 11 Dec. 2017.




SeeSaw – The Learning Journal

Seesaw is a student-driven digital portfolio that empowers students of any age to independently document what they are learning at school and share it with their teachers, parents, classmates, and even the world.seesaw-script-icon-combo




Easily Capture Student Learning in Any Form

  • Students can use photos, videos, drawings, text notes, links or PDFs to show what they know and store evidence in their digital portfolio. You can also import from 100s of other apps.
  • When students add to Seesaw, content is uploaded, organized by student, and accessible from any device.
  • Teachers can browse work from the entire class or for a single student. Optionally, use folders to organize work by subject area project, or assessment standard.
  • Teachers can flag items in the digital portfolio for follow up or to review at parent-teacher conferences.

Sign In Options that Work for All Ages

  • Younger learners or classrooms with shared devices can sign in with a QR code.
  • Older students can sign in with their email address or Google account.

Encourage Reflection and Provide an Authentic Audience

  • Seesaw helps capture the learning process not just the end result. Students can use Seesaw’s built-in audio recording and drawing tools to reflect on what they’ve learned or explain how they got their answer.
  • Seesaw gives students an authentic audience of their peers and parents, encouraging better work and real feedback. Teachers can control who can see what, and what feedback options are available, such as likes and comments.

Strengthen Connections Between School and Home

  • Include families in the learning process by inviting them to view updates to their child’s Seesaw journal. Seesaw’s immediate, visual updates actually get seen by parents, provide encouragement for students, and cross language barriers.
  • Teachers approve all new additions and comments before anything is shared with parents.

Seesaw Blogs — the easiest way to create a blog for your class!

  • Create a public webpage for your class and give students a global audience for their work.
  • Teachers and students can post a selection of Seesaw items to the class blog in just one tap. No other apps, websites or embed codes needed! All posts are teacher-moderated.
  • Connect to other class blogs directly within the Seesaw app so students can easily comment and collaborate with students from other classrooms.

Teacher Resource Center at help.seesaw.me

  • Getting started tips, professional development resources, FAQ.
  • More than 100 Common Core aligned activity ideas for K-12.

Need help? Have feedback? Email help@seesaw.me or tweet @Seesaw


Plan Price Details
Seesaw Free Powerful tools to capture, organize, and share student learning.
Seesaw Plus $120/year per teacher Advanced tools for assessment, teacher notes, and more classes.
Seesaw for Schools Volume Discounts SIS integration, school wide reporting, and visibility into any class.
1. “Seesaw: The Learning Journal Reviews | edshelf.” https://edshelf.com/tool/seesaw-the-learning-journal/. Accessed 5 Dec. 2017.

4 Fake Sites to Teach Students Website Evaluation

As adults, we (hopefully) know that not everything online is true. For our students though, this is a concept they need to learn.

Students can use Google to quickly find millions of websites matching their search request, but are they able to determine which sites actually contain information that is accurateunbiasedup to date, and written by someone with authority?

One step in helping our students identify quality information online is to introduce them to the exact opposite… websites that pretend to be truthful but actually are full of intentionally incorrect information.

Such “fake” websites can be a great way to show students that just because something is online, does not mean it is true. You can ask students to do research on one of these sites as part of an assignment and then see how many were able to realize the site was not authentic. This can be a fun and engaging way to begin a lesson on website evaluation.

Now you might think this would be easy to do since there are so many sites online that are biased or misleading. However, if we are going to use these sites with students we need to look for certain characteristics:

  • Believable – The fake website needs to look not fake. That is, it should look reasonably modern and not like a practical joke from the late 90’s.
  • Child Safe – The site needs to avoid inappropriate content. There are loads of hoax / humor / satirical websites, but many of them have adult content not suitable for students (for example, I think The Onion can be hilarious, but it is absolutely not appropriate for education).
  • Operational – Sadly many of the great fake websites of the past are no longer maintained, or have shut down entirely.

So what are some great websites that meet these criteria, and that you can use with your students to help them learn how to evaluate online information? Below are four “fake” sites you can use…

Dihydrogen Monoxide
One of the oldest and still one of the best, this website provides loads of scientific data on the dangers of a common substance called Dihydrogen Monoxide. Of course, two hydrogens and one oxygen make up H2O, so it is just a fancy sounding name for plain old water. This is a particularly good site for older students as the content it more advanced and the site has a more academic look and feel.

Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus
This hoax website is easily one of the best-looking sites, which goes a long way to make it look credible. On the site you will learn all about the amazing Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus, complete with believable photos, videos, and downloadable plans to build your own tree octopus house.

All About Explorers
One quick glance at this website and you will be reminded of countless educational webquest sites from years gone by. Students can choose from many explorers and read a detailed, but highly incorrect, biography for each. The site is specifically educational though as they provide lesson plan activities that have the students compare and contrast the information found on the site with other reputable online sources.

Dog Island
And finally there is Dog Island, a wonderful location where thousands of dogs live natural, healthy, and happy lives. Be sure to check out the facilities, photos, and see how you can send your dog to this canine paradise!

As always, if you have any questions or concerns about implementing any type of technology in your classroom, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly through email (lawsonj@talawanda.org) or by submitting a Technology Integration Ticket on the Talawanda Web Portal.  Have a great day!

1. “Control Alt Achieve: 4 Fake Sites to Teach Students Website Evaluation.” 25 Feb. 2016, http://www.controlaltachieve.com/2016/02/fake-sites-teach-website-evaluation.html. Accessed 27 Nov. 2017.

Tip 37 – Ohio’s Technology Learning Standards

Did you know that Ohio has learning standards for Technology?  Well, now you do!


The recently updated 2017 Ohio Learning Standards in Technology define what students need to know and be able to do to succeed in a technological world. Revised from the 2003 Ohio Technology Academic Content Standards, the 2017 standards incorporate three key technology disciplines:

  • Information and Communication Technology
  • Society and Technology
  • Design and Technology

Organized by grade bands, these strands provide three lenses through which kindergarten through grade 12 students consider and engage with technology. Together, they instill in students a broad, rich understanding of technology and its effective use and role in their world — an understanding they need to become technology-literate citizens. (1)

*** CLICK HERE – The-2017-Ohio-Learning-Standards-in-Technology (1) – CLICK HERE***

The 2017 Ohio Learning Standards in Technology are the work of Ohio educators. Education professionals from across the state made up the Advisory Committee and Working Group responsible for revising the 2003 Standards. This collaboration brought together representatives from K-12 and higher education, education service centers and state technology agencies and associations; participants from urban, rural and suburban areas; and a range of educators that included teachers; technology coordinators and coaches; library media specialists; technology educators; curriculum directors and administrators. Regional focus groups open to all Ohio educators and an online survey open to the public provided feedback on the revisions. The process produced a rigorous set of technology learning standards that reflect the varied perspectives of Ohio residents. (1)

As always, if you have any questions or concerns about implementing any type of technology in your classroom, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly through email (lawsonj@talawanda.org) or by submitting a Technology Integration Ticket on the Talawanda Web Portal.  Have a great day!


Tip 36 – Build a Jack-O-Lantern with Google Slides

You can do this with this fun, and educational, Google Slides activity. This is a great way for students to be creative and to work on their writing skills by describing or writing about their Jack-O-Lantern. (1)
Here’s how:

  • Make a copy of the Google Slides “Build a Jack-O-Lantern” template, found further down in the blog post.
  • The template has a blank pumpkin and several slides full of items to add to your Jack-O-Lantern including eyes, mouths, hats, arms, feet, and more.
  • Copy and paste the items to build your Jack-O-Lantern.
  • If you need different pictures, you can search for more.
  • You can even add or draw your own shapes as needed.
  • When done building, write about your Jack-O-Lantern in the textbox. You can describe it, tell a story about it, or explain who it is.
  • When all done you can download a picture of your Jack-O-Lantern and writing to share with others. (1)

This activity is created with Google Slides. To get your own copy of the template simple click the link below. (1)

Your students can click this link to get their own copy, or you can use Google Classroom to push out a copy of the template to each of your students. (1)

What’s in the template?

The Google Slide template has multiple parts for the activity. These include:

Slide 1 – The title slide

Slides 2-4 – A brief set of directions

Slide 5 – The blank pumpkin. This is where you will build your Jack-O-Lantern and where you will write about them.

Slides 6 through 13 – Items for building your Jack-O-Lantern. These slides contain images that you can copy and paste onto your blank Jack-O-Lantern. The items are grouped on the slides by topic including Eyes, Mouths, Arms, Feet, and Hats.


Building your Jack-O-Lantern

To build your Jack-O-Lantern, simply copy and paste images from the items slides onto your blank pumpkin. You can copy and paste in several ways.

To copy an item:

  • Click on the picture and press “Ctrl” and “C
  • Or click on the picture and click “Edit” then “Copy” in the top menu bar.
  • Or right-click on the picture and choose “Copy” from the pop-up menu.

To paste an item, go to the pumpkin slide and:

  • Press “Ctrl” and “V
  • Or click “Edit” then “Paste” in the top menu bar.
  • Or right-click and choose “Paste” from the pop-up menu.

Once your item has been pasted in you can adjust it in many ways:

  • Drag and drop it to move it around.
  • Press the arrow keys on your keyboard to move it around.
  • Hold down the “Shift” key and press the arrow keys on your keyboard to move it one pixel at a time.
  • Click and drag the blue circle on top of the image to rotate the image if needed.
  • Click “Arrange” in the top menu bar, then “Rotate” and “Flip horizontally” or “Flip vertically” if needed.
  • Click and drag the corners of the image to change its size if desired.
  • Click “Image options” in the top menu bar, and then “Recolor” to adjust the color (works better for lighter colors).

Adding your own images

Although the template provides a large variety of items to use for your Jack-O-Lantern, you may still want to add some more of your own. You can add more images as follows:

  • Click “Insert” in the top menu bar, then click “Image”.
  • You can add an image in several ways including “Upload” or from your “Google Drive” or with a “Search
  • If you use the “Search” option, you may want to choose “Clip art” from the “Any type” drop down menu to limit your results to clip art style pictures.

Adding other shapes

Since Jack-O-Lanterns often have geometric shapes cut out of them, you can also do this by adding a wide variety of shapes from the “Shapes” menu in Google Slides.

  • Click “Insert” then “Shape” then choose the shape you want.
  • Drag to create the shape.
  • Rotate and resize as needed.
  • Color with the “Fill color” tool.

Drawing your own shapes

If you want, you can also draw your own shapes to be as creative as you want. You can do this by using the “Polyline” tool in Google Slides.

  • Click “Insert” then “Line” then “Polyline“.
  • Click endpoints to create the shape.
  • Color with the “Fill color” tool.

Writing about your Jack-O-Lantern

When you are done creating your Jack-O-Lantern, now you will want to write about it. You can type in the textbox to the right of your Jack-O-Lantern to enter your own writing. This could include:

  • A description of your Jack-O-Lantern.
  • A story about your Jack-O-Lantern.
  • An explanation of who your Jack-O-Lantern is and/or what he or she does.
  • Be sure to include your name at the bottom of your writing.

Downloading your Jack-O-Lantern

When you are completely done, you can download a picture of your Jack-O-Lantern and your writing as follows:

  • Make sure you are on the slide that has your completed Jack-O-Lantern and your writing.
  • Click “File” in the top menu bar.
  • Choose “Download as” from the drop-down menu.
  • Choose “PNG image” from the sub-menu.
  • This will download an image of just the slide you are on and not any of the rest of the slideshow.

You can now share your image in several ways:

  • Email it to someone.
  • Turn it in through Google Classroom.
  • Post it on your class website.
  • Share it through social media.
  • Combine it with others to make a new slideshow with everyone’s creations.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns about implementing any type of technology in your classroom, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly through email (lawsonj@talawanda.org) or by submitting a Technology Integration Ticket on the Talawanda Web Portal.  Have a great day!
1.  “Control Alt Achieve: Build a Jack-O-Lantern with Google Slides.” 30 Sep. 2017, http://www.controlaltachieve.com/2017/09/build-jackolantern.html. Accessed 24 Oct. 2017.

Tip 35 – FlipGrid


Don’t simply watch video.  Participate and collaborate with video in an active, social community of your peers.  Flipgrid is an active, social learning platform that engages learners through video-based discussion.  The app extends the web-based environment and creates new possibilities for reflection, discussion, demonstration, and collaboration. (1)

How Flipgrid works:

Educators create grids of short, discussion-style topics to share with their users.  Grids are collections of topics around a common theme.  Each Grid can hold an unlimited number of Topics, and each Topic can hold an unlimited number of user-recorded video responses. (1)

flipgridtwittercard.jpgTopics are short text or video prompts that can include basic formatting (e.g., bold, italic) and links to websites or documents for critique and feedback opportunities.  Response videos are limited to a maximum of 90 seconds to promote clarity, organization, and engagement.  Individual response videos can be liked and shared (e.g., Twitter, Facebook) or embedded on blogs, learning management systems, or websites. (1)

For educators, Flipgrid enhances community and social presence in face-to-face, hybrid, and online classrooms.  In other words, Flipgrid brings the back row to the front and gives all students a voice. Flipgrid is also a wonderful research tool for collecting qualitative data from individuals or focus groups. (1)

Get Started! (2)

  1. Go to www.flipgrid.com and set up an account.
  2. Create a “Grid”. Free accounts get 1 Grid while Classroom “pro” accounts get unlimited Grids. Think of a grid as a bundle of Topics or questions.
  3. Your Grids will look like the image below:

Start Sharing! (2)

  1. Create a Topic. Think of this as a question or concept students will record about.
  2. Make sure to adjust settings as you want. Consider privacy, moderation, and student ability to reply to posts from other students (Classroom Accounts Only).
  3. Post a topic to your class.
  4. Share the Topic Code with your students and watch the magic happen!
  5. Once students are done you can “Freeze” the Topic so others will not add to it.
  6. These will be listed in your Grid like below:

Classroom Uses for Flipgrid! (2)

  • Genius Hour Presentations: Students share their projects with others on a shared Topic or have individual topics to show progress
  • Verbal steps on solving Math problems: Students can dictate (and show with video) step by step procedures on how to solve math problems
  • Goal Setting Progress Diary: Students can have their own Topic to share progress towards a goal
  • Daily Classroom “What we did today”: Classrooms can keep parents up to date with a daily log of what was done in class
  • Introduce next year’s class: Have your current class introduce the incoming students to procedures, projects, and how COOL your classroom is going to be for them!
  • Staff Grid: Introduce parents (and the world community) to the staff in your building through short clips
  • Discussion Board: Post a question and let students debate/discuss the topic in their own way
  • Project/Unit reflection: Students can post and reflect on a long-term project to deepen their understanding
  • Book Talk: Students can post chapter reviews or understanding during a novel study to discuss text
  • Exit Tickets: Get some fun and quick feedback on a covered topic when students are leaving
  • Daily News Report: Post the morning or daily announcements or news in a way that is archived for others to come back to easily
  • Biography Reports: Create a Topic that allows students to post a video of their impersonating a famous person
  • Book Reviews: Have a Topic full of AWESOME book reviews for students to watch to help them choose a new book to read
  • Field Trip Comments: Did you go on a fun field trip? Have students give feedback
  • Classroom Announcements: Post classroom announcements in ways that both parents and students will enjoy hearing
  • New Class Introductions (Get to Know): Have your new students introduce themselves to each other in a Topic
  • PE Skills: Students can show the correct way to do physical activities such as warm-ups, sports moves, or others
  • Music samples (student playing): Your Music class students can demo their awesome Recorder skills (save all those squeals for Flipgrid)
  • Art critiques (student grid or all students on 1): Students can explain their artwork (saved as response image) or help provide feedback to other’s creations

Pricing (1)

Plan Price Details
Flipgrid One Free 1 grid. Unlimited students. Unlimited topics. Unlimited responses. Video transcriptions. Free iPhone, iPad + Android apps.
Flipgrid Classroom $65/year Unlimited grids. Unlimited students. Unlimited topics. Unlimited responses. Unlimited replies-to-responses. Video keywords + video transcriptions. Embed fully functional grids. Student Feedback + Assessment. Feature responses and topics. Download video responses. Global Classroom Grid Connections. Export data to gradebook and Excel. Move/Duplicate grids, topics, videos. Customized grid code names. Usage Visualization and Dashboard. Exclusive webinars and certifications. Free iPhone, iPad + Android apps. + much, much more!
Classroom 10-Pack $400/year Want to ignite discussions with your school, district, or department colleagues? Contact us to learn more about our Classroom 10-packs today!

As always, if you have any questions or concerns about implementing any type of technology in your classroom, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly through email (lawsonj@talawanda.org) or by submitting a Technology Integration Ticket on the Talawanda Web Portal.  Have a great day!


  1. “Flipgrid Reviews | edshelf.” https://edshelf.com/tool/flipgrid/. Accessed 16 Oct. 2017.
  2. “Flipgrid (@Flipgrid) | Twitter.” https://twitter.com/flipgrid. Accessed 16 Oct. 2017.

Tip 34 – Extensions vs Add-ons vs Apps

The Google ecosystem provides a wide range of powerful programs to help you do ext-apps-addons-postpicpretty much anything you need. This includes browsing the web, typing a document, creating a slideshow, sending email, collecting data, and so much more. (1)

However, even with all the features in their tools, Google knows they can’t do everything. There is probably some task you wish you could do, but can’t. (1)

To help address this, Google allows third parties to create tools to extend the functions and features of Chrome, Docs, Sheet, Forms, and more. These tools come in three forms:

  • Chrome Extensions
  • Chrome Web Apps
  • Add-ons for Docs, Sheets, and Forms

At the most basic level, all three of these do the same thing. They are tools that help you do something in the Google ecosystem that normally you would not be able to do. They provide extended features, tools, and programs that Google did not build into their products by default (at least not yet). (1)

Even though all three types of tools have that in common, they are still quite different in many other ways. A common question is:  “What’s the difference between an extension, a web app, and an add-on?”  To help answer this, check out this chart that compares and contrasts these three different types of tools.  (1)


As always, if you have any questions or concerns about implementing any type of technology in your classroom, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly through email (lawsonj@talawanda.org) or by submitting a Technology Integration Ticket on the Talawanda Web Portal.  Have a great day!


  1. “Control Alt Achieve: Extensions vs Web Apps vs Add-ons.” 1 Jun. 2016, http://www.controlaltachieve.com/2016/06/extensions-webapps-addons.html. Accessed 4 Oct. 2017.