Google Greatness: 9 Google tricks I had never seen

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Google tools can make classrooms more efficient, effective and interesting. Here are nine tricks to add to your repertoire. (Flickr / Matt Montagne)

I’m kind of a geek. Going to technology professional development on a weekend actually sounds like fun to me.

When you make it tech PD that’s Google-focused, I’m going to look forward to it for weeks.

If you’ve never been to a Google Apps for Education Summit and you have any interest in Google in the classroom, this is the place to be. It’s a two-day intense workshop with ideas, tools and tricks flying through the air the whole time. I attended the Indiana Summit recently and came away with plenty of new ideas.

The ideas in this post were found or inspired from presentations by Chrystal Hoe, Jeffery Heil, Adam Seipel, Tracy Arner, and Michelle Green. To see resources from all of the sessions at this summit, check out this shared folder.

Here are nine of them:

The Boomerang Chrome extension.

The Boomerang Chrome extension.

Schedule e-mails with Boomerang: The Boomerang extension for the Google Chrome browser adds a “Send Later” button to your Gmail. If you know you want to send a follow-up e-mail later but not right now, this is perfect. Plus, send e-mail reminders to yourself.

Google Connected Classrooms: I’ve loved Google Hangouts and Skypes for a long time and really think they’re one of the most powerful uses of technology in schools. Google Connected Classrooms takes it to the next level. It schedules virtual field trips via live video (or viewable later) and broadcasts them with Hangouts on Air. Sites include the Minnesota Zoo, Birch Aquarium in California, DuPage Children’s Museum in Illinois, and Science Center of Iowa.

drag to desktopDrag URL to desktop: This one was like magic for me. Drag the little icon next to a URL in your web browser onto your computer’s desktop. It creates a shortcut icon for the site you’re on. Brilliant.

Instant participation certificate: If you need to provide professional learning credits or proof of participation, this one will save you hours over the long haul. Create an evaluation survey for participants to take in a Google Form. Make sure you include all the information you’ll need for a participation certificate in it. Then, open the spreadsheet for the results from the form and use the Autocrat add-on. Use Autocrat to create a document that will auto-fill each respondent’s info and e-mail it out to all of them. This one is a bit more advanced, but the tutorial video below helps.

pdf mergy

Merge multiple PDF files with PDF Mergy.

PDF Mergy: PDF Mergy is an app for Google Chrome that combines multiple PDFs into one document. If you’re gathering PDF files for students and want them all in one single file, PDF Mergy can help.

Google Earth field trip: Google Earth makes it fun to see your house from satellite imagery and put you on the street in famous places all over the globe. Google Earth field trips can make the experience more organized and educational. Using Google Earth, place pins in locations important to the content you’re covering in class. Organize them in a folder and take students through them one by one. Check out Adam Seipel’s suggestions in the image below or see them in his presentation.

lit trip

 

Make a picture clickable in Drawings: Google Drawings is a simple, flexible design tool in Google Apps. You can add text, images, lines, and more to a blank canvas. With this trick, you can make any element on a drawing clickable. Create a rectangle from shapes and change its background to transparent. Then click the link button (looks like a little chain link) and add the link to your rectangle. Make sure your rectangle is in front of the element you want to make clickable.

email comment

Add others to comment conversations via e-mail.

People and email notifications in comments: You might get in a comment conversation in a document, sheet, presentation or drawing and want to make sure someone sees your comment. Type that person’s e-mail into the comment with a plus (+) in front. Then, add anything else you want to that comment and submit it. Google will automatically send an e-mail notification to that e-mail address to check the comments on your file.

The Amazing Race: This game is an intense mashup of Google Slides/Documents, Google Forms and Google Maps (optional). Students must complete several challenges provided by the instructor using Google Slides or Documents. Once the complete the first challenge in the slide presentation or document, they submit the link to the presentation/document in a Google Form. Once submitted, the link to the next challenge in the game is in a link on the confirmation page for the form. Clear as crystal, right? No? Check out this outstanding example by Michelle Green. Once you get it, this activity is super engaging.

Question: Which of these ideas are you most likely to use? What are some other Google tricks that work for you? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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Interested in having Matt present at your event or school? Contact him by e-mail!

Matt is scheduled to present at the following upcoming events:

 DateEvent / Event DetailsCity / More Info
+ 01/19/2015
Western Wayne (Ind.) SchoolsPershing, IN
 Full-day Seminar:Ditch That Textbook: Why and How?Private Event
+ 01/31/2015
9:00-12:00 p.m.
U. Indy's Power of Education ConferenceIndianapolis, IN
 Keynote:Ditch That Textbook: My JourneyPublic Event
Sponsor:University of Indianapolis Student Education AssociationRegister to attend
Venue:University of Indianapolis Schwitzer Hall Basement
Indianapolis, IN
+ 02/03/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
World Languages Workshop @ Lafayette Jeff HSLafayette, IN
 Venue:Jefferson High School
1801 S. 18th St.
Lafayette, IN 47905
765-772-4700
Private Event
+ 02/26/2015
9:00-4:05 p.m.
Indiana Conference on LearningIndianapolis, IN
 Workshop:Ditch That Textbook (et al)Public Event
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Venue:Wyndham Indianapolis West Hotel
2544 Executive Drive
Indianapolis, IN 46241
317-248-2481
Get more information
+ 03/18/2015
08:00-04:00 p.m.
Fall Creek Intermediate School WorkshopFishers, IN
 Venue:Fall Creek Intermediate School
12011 Olio Road
Fishers, IN 46037
(317) 915-4220
Private Event
+ 03/19/2015
7:30-3:00 p.m.
Hamilton Southeastern (Ind.) SchoolsFishers, IN
 Full-day Seminar:Ditch That TextbookPrivate Event
+ 04/09/2015
04:00-06:00 p.m.
PVETI Social Media WorkshopRockville, IN
 Sponsor:Parke-Vermillion Education and Training Interlocal (PVETI)Private Event
Venue:Rockville High School
506 N. Beadle St.
Rockville, IN 47872
765-569-5686
+ 04/11/2015—04/12/2015
08:30-05:30 p.m.
Indiana Google Apps for Education SummitFranklin, IN
 Sponsor:EdTech TeamPublic Event
Venue:Franklin Community High School
2600 Cumberland Drive
Franklin, IN 46131
317-346-8100
Register to attend
+ 05/01/2015
09:00-03:00 p.m.
Ditch That Textbook workshop @ CIESCIndianapolis, IN
 Venue:Central Indiana Educational Service Center
6036 Lakeside Blvd., Building A
Indianapolis, IN 46278
317-759-5555
Public Event
+ 05/08/2015—05/09/2015
Education On Air by Google for Education 
 Sponsor:Google for EducationPublic Event
+ 05/08/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Ditch That Textbook workshop (CIESC) 
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+ 05/11/2015—05/13/2015
Ivy Tech Community College Tech Workshop 
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+ 06/02/2015—06/03/2015
PowerED Up ConferenceLeopold, IN
 Sponsor:Indiana Department of Education Office of eLearningPublic Event
Venue:Perry Central Jr/Sr HS
18677 Old State Road 37
Leopold, IN 47551
812-843-5576
+ 06/04/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
HSE Summer Learning FairFishers, IN
 Sponsor:Hamilton Southeastern SchoolsPrivate Event
Venue:Fishers High School
13000 Promise Road
Fishers, IN 46038
(317) 915-4290
+ 06/08/2015
Greencastle EdTech ConferenceGreencastle, IN
 Sponsor:Indiana Department of Education Office of eLearningPublic Event
+ 06/10/2015
08:00-04:00 p.m.
Connecting the 4 C's Conference @ Mt. Vernon (Ind.)Mount Vernon, IN
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Venue:Mount Vernon High School
700 Harriett Street
Mount Vernon, IN 47620
812-833-5136
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+ 06/11/2015—06/12/2015
8:00-3:00 p.m.
Yorktown WeLearn ConferenceYorktown, IN
 Keynote:Ditch That TextbookPublic Event
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Venue:Yorktown High School
1100 S. County Road 575 West
Yorktown, IN 47396
(765) 759-2550
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+ 06/15/2015—06/16/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Summer Spark SymposiumMilwaukee, WI
 Venue:University School of Milwaukee
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Milwaukee, WI 53217
414-352-6000
Public Event
+ 06/17/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
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 Sponsor:CAPE of Madison CountyPublic Event
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Anderson, IN 46012
+ 06/22/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Seymour Schools Tech WorkshopSeymour, IN
 Sponsor:Seymour Community SchoolsPublic Event
Venue:Seymour High School
1350 W. 2nd St.
Seymour, IN 47274
812-522-4384
+ 06/23/2015—06/24/2015
Digipalooza 2015Scottsburg, IN
 Sponsor:Indiana Department of Education Office of eLearningPublic Event
Venue:Scottsburg Middle School
425 S. 3rd St.
Scottsburg, IN 47170
812-752-8926
+ 06/25/2015—06/26/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
South Vermillion trAnSfoRM ConferenceClinton, IN
 Sponsor:Indiana Department of Education Office of eLearningPublic Event
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770 Wildcat Drive
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765-832-3551
+ 06/27/2015
09:00-03:00 p.m.
#ReadTL15 ConferenceReading, West Berkshire, UK
 Sponsor:Reading College (Reading, West Berkshire, United Kingdom)Public Event
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United Kingdom
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+ 06/28/2015—07/01/2015
ISTE Conference 2015Philadelphia, PA
 Full-day Seminar:Sharing Is Caring: Collaborative Google Apps ActivitiesPublic Event
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1101 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
800-428-9000
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+ 07/08/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
USD 242 Weskan Schools Staff DevelopmentWeskan, KS
 Venue:Weskan Schools
219 Coyote Blvd.
Weskan, KS 67762
785-943-5222
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+ 07/22/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Northeastern Middle School WorkshopFountain City, IN
 Venue:Northeastern Middle School
7295 U.S. 27 North
Fountain City, IN 47341
(765) 847-1331
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+ 07/24/2015
08:00-3:00 p.m.
Greater Clark Connected ConferenceJeffersonville, IN
 Sponsor:Greater Clark County SchoolsPublic Event
+ 07/28/2015—07/29/2015
Catching the Wave of eLearningLafayette, IN
 Sponsor:Indiana Department of Education Office of eLearningPublic Event
+ 07/30/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Seymour Schools Tech WorkshopSeymour, IN
 Sponsor:Seymour Community SchoolsPrivate Event
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1350 W. 2nd St.
Seymour, IN 47274
812-522-4384
+ 08/10/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Idabel Public Schools 
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+ 08/13/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Palmer ISD (Texas)Palmer, TX
 Workshop:Ditch That TextbookPrivate Event
Venue:Palmer Independent School District
Palmer, TX
+ 08/18/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Brandywine Heights Area School DistrictTopton, PA
 Workshop:The Digital PIRATE 
Sponsor:Brandywine Heights Area School District
+ 09/08/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
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 Venue:Cascade Middle School
6423 S. County Road 200 West
Clayton, IN 46118
(317) 539-9285
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+ 09/15/2015
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Ditch That Textbook workshop @ SIECJasper, IN
 Workshop:Ditch That TextbookPublic Event
Sponsor:Southern Indiana Education Center
+ 09/23/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Ditch That Textbook workshop @ WVECWest Lafayette, IN
 Workshop:Ditch That TextbookPublic Event
+ 09/24/2015
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Ditch That Textbook workshop @ CIESCIndianapolis, IN
 Workshop:DItch That TextbookPublic Event
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MSD of Steuben Co. (Ind.)Angola, IN
 Keynote:Ditch That TextbookPrivate Event
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Angola, IN 46703
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+ 10/03/2015—10/03/2015
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Islamabad, Pakistan
Pakistan
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 Workshop:Ditch That TextbookPrivate Event
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+ 10/07/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Ditch That Textbook workshop @ Region 8 ESCDecatur, IN
 Workshop:Ditch That TextbookPublic Event
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+ 10/08/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Ditch That Textbook workshop @ NIESCPlymouth, IN
 Workshop:Ditch That TextbookPublic Event
Sponsor:Northern Indiana Educational Services Center
Venue:Christo's Banquet Center
830 Lincolnway E, Plymouth
Plymouth, IN 46563
+ 10/12/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Tyler ISDTyler, TX
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+ 10/15/2015—10/16/2015
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18111 Cumberland
Noblesville, IN
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+ 10/22/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Mt. Vernon CSC (Indiana)Fortville, IN
 Workshop:Ditch That TextbookPrivate Event
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+ 11/10/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Cascade Middle SchoolClayton, IN
 Venue:Cascade Middle School
6423 S. County Road 200 West
Clayton, IN 46118
(317) 539-9285
Private Event
+ 11/11/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Hamilton Southeastern Schools (Indiana)Fishers/Noblesville, Indiana
 Full-day Seminar:Ditch That TextbookPrivate Event
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+ 11/14/2015
09:00-02:30 p.m.
Northeast Literacy RetreatFort Wayne, IN
  Public Event
+ 11/17/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Ditch That Textbook workshop @ ECESCConnersville, IN
 Workshop:Ditch That TextbookPublic Event
Sponsor:East Central Educational Service Center
+ 11/18/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Ditch That Textbook @ WCIESCGreencastle, Indiana
 Workshop:Ditch That TextbookPublic Event
Sponsor:West Central Indiana Educational Service Center
+ 11/19/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Elgin Local Schools (Ohio)Elgin, OH
 Sponsor:Elgin Local SchoolsPrivate Event
+ 01/13/2016
8:00am-3:00pm
Madison eLearningMadison, IN
  Private Event
+ 01/18/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Hudson ISD (Texas)Lufkin, TX
 Venue:Hudson Indpendent School District
6735 Ted Trout Drive
Lufkin, TX 75904
936-875-3351
Private Event
+ 01/26/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
South PutnamGreencastle, IN
 Sponsor:South Putnam SchoolsPrivate Event
+ 02/03/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Sheridan MS/HSSheridan, IN
 Sponsor:Sheridan Community SchoolsPrivate Event
+ 02/09/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Southern Indiana Education CenterJasper, IN
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Venue:Southern Indiana Education Center
1102 Tree Lane Drive
Jasper, IN 47546
812-482-6641
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+ 02/15/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Educational Service Unit #13Scottsbluff, NE
 Workshop:The Digital PIRATEPublic Event
Sponsor:Educational Service Unit #13
+ 02/16/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Rockford Public SchoolsRockford, MI
 Keynote:Ditch That Textbook!Private Event
Sponsor:Rockford Public Schools
+ 02/24/2016—02/25/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
ICE ConferenceSt. Charles, IL
 Sponsor:Illinois Computing EducatorsPublic Event
Venue:Pheasant Run Resort and Conference Center
4051 E. Main St.
St. Charles, IL 60174
(630) 584-6300
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+ 02/25/2016—02/26/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
ICE Conference (Illinois)St. Charles, IL
 Sponsor:Illinois Computing EducatorsPublic Event
+ 03/07/2016
01:15-03:30 p.m.
Mandan Public SchoolsMandan, ND
 Sponsor:Mandan Public School DistrictPrivate Event
+ 03/09/2016—03/11/2016
MACUL ConferenceGrand Rapids, MI
 Sponsor:Michigan Association for Computer Users in LearningPublic Event
Venue:DeVos Place
303 Monroe Ave NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
(616) 742-6500
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+ 03/14/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Concordia Lutheran HSFort Wayne, IN
 Sponsor:Concordia Lutheran High SchoolPrivate Event
+ 03/23/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Westwood Community School DistrictSloan, IA
 Sponsor:Westwood Community School DistrictPrivate Event
+ 04/13/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Wabash Valley Education CenterWest Lafayette, IN
 Workshop:Ditch That Textbook!Public Event
Sponsor:Wabash Valley Education CenterRegister to attend
Venue:Wabash Valley Education Center
3061 Benton Street
West Lafayette, IN 47906
(765) 463-1589
+ 04/18/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Monroe #1 BOCES (New York)Fairport, N.Y.
 Full-day Seminar:The Digital PIRATEPublic Event
Sponsor:Monroe #1 BOCES
+ 04/26/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Caesar Rodney School DistrictCamden, DE
 Keynote:Ditch That TextbookPrivate Event
Venue:Caesar Rodney High School
239 Old North Road
Camden, DE 19934
+ 05/03/2016
Paoli Community School CorporationPaoli, IN
 Venue:To be determined
Paoli, IN
Private Event
+ 05/25/2016
09:00-09:45 a.m.
Pacific Northwest Apprenticeship Education ConferencePortland, OR
 Sponsor:The Bureau of Labor and Industries, Oregon Building Congress and Oregon Tradeswomen Inc.Public Event
Venue:DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel and Conference Center
1000 NE Multnomah Street
Portland, OR
Register to attend
+ 05/31/2016
10:30-12:00pm
West Central Career CooperativeCrawfordsville, IN
 Venue:Crawfordsville Country Club
Crawfordsville, IN
Private Event
+ 06/06/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
PowerED Up ConferenceLeopold, IN
 Venue:Perry Central Schools
18677 Old State Road 37
Leopold, IN 47551
(812) 843-5576
Public Event
+ 06/07/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Making a Splash with Digital Learning ConferenceBatesville, IN
 Venue:Batesville Community School Corporation
626 N. Huntersville Road
Batesville, IN 47006
(812) 934-2194
Public Event
+ 06/08/2016—06/09/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Ignite Your SuperpowerLafayette, IN
 Venue:Sunnyside Intermediate School
530 N 26th St
Lafayette, IN 47904
(765) 771-6100
Public Event
+ 06/13/2016—06/14/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Summer Spark (Wisconsin)Milwaukee, WI
 Sponsor:University School of MilwaukeePublic Event
+ 06/15/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
REMAST Conference (South Dakota)Brookings, S.D.
 Sponsor:South Dakota State Noyce Scholarship ProgramPublic Event
+ 06/20/2016
Indianapolis Sister Cities Int'l ConferenceIndianapolis, IN
 Keynote:Connecting Your Classroom to the WorldPublic Event
Sponsor:Indianapolis Sister Cities InternationalRegister to attend
Venue:Covenant Christian High School
7525 W. 21st St.
Indianapolis, IN 46214
+ 06/22/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Western North Dakota ESADickinson, ND
 Workshop:The Digital PIRATEPublic Event
+ 06/26/2016—06/29/2016
ISTE ConferenceDenver, CO
 Venue:Colorado Convention Center
700 14th St.
Denver, CO 80202
Public Event
+ 07/12/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
MSD of MartinsvilleMartinsville, IN
 Sponsor:MSD of MartinsvillePrivate Event
+ 07/13/2016—07/14/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Pulaski County Special School DistrictLittle Rock, AR
 Sponsor:Pulaski County Special School DistrictPrivate Event
+ 07/18/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Sheridan/Hamilton HeightsSheridan, IN
  Public Event
+ 07/19/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Launching INquiryFishers, IN
 Venue:Fishers High School College & Career Academy
13000 Promise Rd
Fishers, IN 46038
Public Event
+ 07/20/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Blended Learning SummitSalina, KS
 Sponsor:Smoky Hill Education Service CenterPublic Event
Venue:Smoky Hill Education Service Center
605 E. Crawford
Salina, KS 67401
785-825-9185
+ 07/21/2016
08:30-04:00 p.m.
iPadpaloozaEastTXLongview, TX
 Keynote:Ditch That Textbook!Public Event
Sponsor:Region 7 Education Service CenterRegister to attend
Venue:Pine Tree High School
900 Northwest Drive
Longview, TX 75604
(903) 295-5031
Get more information
+ 07/22/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Tyler ISDTyler, TX
 Sponsor:Tyler ISD 
+ 07/25/2016—07/26/2016
E3 Technology ConferenceWarsaw, IN
 Venue:Warsaw High School
1 Tiger Lane
Warsaw, IN 46580
(574) 371-5098
Public Event
+ 08/01/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Catholic High SchoolNew Iberia, LA
 Sponsor:Catholic High SchoolPrivate Event
Venue:Catholic High School
1301 de La Salle Drive
New Iberia, LA 70560
+ 08/05/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Fort Wayne Lutheran Schools PartnershipFort Wayne, IN
 Sponsor:Fort Wayne Lutheran Schools PartnershipPrivate Event
+ 08/09/2016
Southwest School CorporationSullivan, IN
 Venue:Southwest School Corporation
110 North Main Street
Sullivan, IN 47882
(812) 268-6311
Private Event
+ 08/11/2016
Groesbeck ISD Tech ConferenceGroesbeck, TX
 Keynote:Ditch That Textbook!Private Event
Venue:Groesbeck Independent School District
1202 N. Ellis
Groesbeck, TX 76642
(254) 729-4100
+ 08/15/2016
Beggs Public SchoolsBeggs, OK
 Venue:Beggs Public Schools
1201 West 9th
Beggs, OK 74421
(918) 267-3628
Private Event
+ 08/16/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Etoile ISDEtoile, TX
 Sponsor:Etoile ISDPrivate Event
+ 08/17/2016
8:00-3:00 pm
Tech Academy 
  Private Event
+ 08/22/2016—08/23/2016
West Central School DistrictHartford, SD
 Venue:West Central School District
705 E. 2nd St.
Hartford, SD 57033
(605) 528-3217
Private Event
+ 08/24/2016
8:00am-3:00pm
Walled Lake Consolidated School District 
  Public Event
+ 08/25/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Hillsboro School DistrictHillsboro, OR
 Sponsor:Hillsboro School DistrictPrivate Event
+ 08/29/2016
8:00am-3:00pm
Service Learning School DistrictDetroit, MI
 Sponsor:Service Learning School District 
+ 09/16/2016
New Prairie High SchoolNew Carlisle, IN
 Venue:New Praire High School
New Carlisle, IN
Private Event
+ 09/19/2016
Big Walnut Local SchoolsSunbury, OH
 Workshop:The Digital PIRATE: Tech Like a PIRATEPrivate Event
Venue:Big Walnut Local Schools
36 Harrison St
Sunbury, OH 43074
(740) 965-3205
+ 09/20/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
NH Best Practices in Curriculum, Assessment and Assessment ConferenceConcord, NH
 Sponsor:New Hampshire School Administrators AssociationPublic Event
Venue:Grappone Conference Center
Concord, NH
+ 10/12/2016—10/13/2016
Mississippi Bend Area Education AgencyBetterdorf, IA
 Sponsor:Mississippi Area Bend Education AgencyPrivate Event