Monday, March 27, 2017

Best Google April Fools Videos

Each year Google releases a new set of prank videos for April Fools Day. I always look forward to these videos as they are so well produced and poke fun at current trends and technology and even at Google itself. Even better though, they provide more professional development materials for me.

Here's what I mean…

Technology training can be challenging for novices as well as seasoned users. There is a lot of content to cover and new features to learn. Depending on the school, organization, or event, the training may also last a long time, from a full day inservice to a 5-day bootcamp.

During any professional development training it is important to break things up, add some variety, and most importantly have some fun and laugh. Google's April Fools videos are perfect for that! As often as I can I try to insert one or more videos into the PD session depending on which ones relate to the content we are learning.

These videos can also be great for your next training session, or staff meeting, or technology instruction for your students, or even as examples of parody videos for your language arts or media classes.

Thankfully Google keeps producing new videos each year to add to this collection. I can't wait to see what they have made for us this time! In the meantime, see below for my top 20 favorite Google April Fools videos (in no particular order) and the PD topics they best relate to. Hopefully you can use these yourself to make your next teaching or learning experience more engaging.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Hipster Google - 21 Google Tools You Probably Never Heard Of

Google is well know for certain tools and services - Search, Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Docs, Slides, Sheets, Maps, Chrome, and such. These are all powerful and useful tools that are transforming teaching and learning in schools around the world.

However, in addition to those tools, Google has also created a wide range of services, apps, extensions, features, and other tools that are not as well known. Even though these tools may not be as popular or as widely known, they are still very useful in school settings.

These are the "Hipster Google" tools.

In our culture, one of the defining characteristics of the hipster movement is to appreciate things that are not mainstream, to use services that are not well known, or to embrace something before it becomes popular among the masses. With that thought in mind, I have collected a list of tools from Google that the average person may not know about yet.

Of course with any such list, there will be some tools that you do know, but hopefully you will pick up a few new ideas and resources from the bunch. And of course simply by sharing this blog post I am potentially making these tools more well known.

Below you will find my 1-hour recorded webinar covering each of the tools, as well as the session slideshow, and a write-up for each tool with a description and related links. So, jump on them now while it is still cool to say you used these before they were popular!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Black Out Poetry with Google Docs

March 21st is World Poetry Day, so this is a good time to revisit some ideas for creative ways for students to write poems. In the past I have shared activities for Random Writing Prompts for Poems, as well as drag-and-drop "magnetic" poetry templates in a Winter Theme and a Valentine's Day Theme.

Another fun way to engage students in poetry is by having them create "Black Out" poems. Basically you give the student a page of text pulled from a book, article, websites, or such. The student then blacks out all of the text, except for the words they want to leave behind to form a poem. This can be helpful for students struggling to write a poem, since they do not need to come up with any words of their own, but instead are working within a set collection of available words and in a particular order.

A lot of times you see this activity done with physical paper and big black markers. However, "Black Out Poetry" works great in a digital format. Using Google Docs and a few simple tricks, students can easily create and share their poems. See below for detailed directions on how to do this, including a short tutorial video and a step-by-step example.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Using Google Keep for Grading Comments in Docs

One of the great features of Google Docs is the ability to leave comments in the margin. This is a useful way to provide helpful feedback to students when grading their work. You can offer suggestions, point out areas that need correction, highlight great work, and even provide links to additional resources or videos.

As great as that is, one of the challenges has been getting easy access to your list of comments. Over time, you may have collected quite a large list of often used comments. Rather than have to type them in each time, it would be much easier if you could simply pull up the list and copy and paste the comments you need.

Certainly there are creative ways to accomplish this, such as having another Google Doc with all the comments listed, and then switching back and forth between that Doc and the one you are grading.

Thankfully though there is now an even easier way to do this. Recently Google announced that Google Keep is now integrated right into Google Docs. That means anything you record in Keep can easily be accessed in a panel in Docs. This can be an easy way to organize all of your comments in Keep, pull them up when in Docs, and copy and paste the ones you need.

See below for details on how to do each step of this process, as well as a short tutorial video.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

What's New in Google - February 2017

Catch up on everything new in Google Apps over the last month, and see great ideas and resources!

Each month we usually hold a meeting of the Google Educator Group of Ohio where we go through all the latest Google Apps updates and other helpful resources. In February we did not have our normal meeting, since we had a social meetup at the OETC conference instead.

However, I still thought it would be useful to share all of the latest updates and resources. See below for a list of everything new in Google for the last month. This includes 24 new Google updates and 41 Google resources for your class.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

"One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish" Sorting with Google Slides

With the birthday of Dr. Seuss coming up this week (March 2nd) millions of children will be doing activities related to many of his wonderful books. I have always been a fan of Dr. Seuss' work, having read his books more times than I can remember to my four kids.

At my wife's school they are highlighting one book each day, with projects tied to the book of the day. In preparation for the week, she asked if I could help out with some technology ideas for some of the activities.

I was more than happy to connect my love of Dr. Seuss with technology! For the first day this week the book will be "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish." As we thought about the book, we decided a fun related activity may be using a graphic organizer to sort fish based on their characteristics.

To do this we created a Google Slides template. Some of the slides have students dragging fish into Venn Diagram bubbles based on characteristics, and other slides have the fish already in the bubbles so that the students need to figure out what rules have been used.

See below to get your own copy of the "One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish Sorting Template", as well as detailed directions on how it can be used.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Have Students Create Educational "Motivational Posters" with Google Drawings

We are all familiar with motivational posters. They typically have a black background, one large image at the top, then a word or short phrase in large type below it, and finally a short inspirational sentence at the bottom. These motivational posters have been around for decades, and most likely can still be found in the classrooms, libraries, and offices of your schools.

However, beyond just providing some encouragement to students, motivational posters can actually be used as a fun and educational activity. With some simple technology tools, students can create and share their own motivational posters. These creations can be used to show students learning and understanding of any concept being taught in your subject.

See below for some free templates, directions on how students can create the posters, and ideas for how this activity can be used in your class.