Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Making Posters with Google Drawings

As mentioned in earlier blog posts, Google has loads of awesome tools, but one thing that seems to be missing is a dedicated desktop publishing app to create brochures, newsletters, flyers, and greeting cards. (There are, of course, great third party tools, such as Lucidpress.)

However if you are willing to get a little creative, Google Drawings can serve as a good option for some desktop publishing needs. Google Drawings is a very flexible program, allowing you to add text boxes, wordart, images, shapes, and more, to any part of the Drawing, and at any angle, much like a desktop publishing program would.

One such project you can achieve with Google Drawings is creating a poster.

To try this out, I recently used Google Drawings to make a chemistry-themed poster that could be displayed in a Science classroom. See below for some tips and tricks on how to use Drawings to make a poster, as well as download links to get your own copy of the Chemistry poster for your classroom or your science-teaching colleagues.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

6 Ways to Write Bad Gmails

Over the years Google has improved and expanded Gmail to make it one of the easiest but most powerful email programs in the world. Despite the simplicity and flexibility of Gmail, if you really try hard, you still can use the program poorly.

That's right! It is still within reason that you can misuse this amazing tool so that you stay disorganized, send confusing messages, mishandle attachments, reveal people's personal addresses, display poor judgement, and more.

See below for six ways that you can send bad Gmails, while avoiding all of the tools and options designed to make your life easier.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

You're So Random (with Google Tools)

As educators we like to be well planned, prepared, and organized. However, sometimes it can be good to be a little random.

Randomization can be useful in a classroom in many ways. These may include:

  • Choosing a student at random in a discussion to make sure no one dominates the conversation, and that a diversity of students can express their ideas.
  • Randomly selecting questions or vocab terms for review in class.
  • Randomly generating math problems with a variety of numbers.
  • Randomly generating data to be analyzed, graphed, and explored.
  • Creating random writing prompts for journal entries, stories, poems, and such.

Thankfully there are a wide range of technology tools that can be used to generate random numbers, data, and other information. In this blog post we will explore several Google tools you can use for this purpose.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Learn Math with your Face (and Google Docs)

We all know it is best to learn math by using our hands (interactive stuff) and using our heads (critical thinking). But how about if we also use our faces?

Back when I was teaching middle school math (in technically a different century ... that's sad) we used to do a very hands-on activity to teach unit rates. The students would use rulers to measure a partner's facial features, then put the measurements into unit rates to see how close they were to the Greek Golden Ratio. It was a really fun activity, but definitely one that would benefit from a technology update. (Hint: Middle schoolers plus wooden rulers plus classmates' faces are not always a good mix.)

So, I have updated the activity with the use of Google Docs, webcams, and a digital ruler web app. See below for all the details on how the "Golden Ratio Face" project works, as well as access to all the needed templates and resources.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Video Mash-Ups with Google Slides

Mash-Ups are a fun and popular way to express creativity whether you are combining different styles of music, or art, or memes, or such. Mash-ups can also be educational when the creator uses the two items to explain or express an idea, or for one of the items to complement or expand on the other.

One fun way to students to try this out is by using Google Slides to mash-up videos. Google Slides makes it easy to insert videos from either YouTube or Google Drive. Slides allows you to adjust your video options so that your videos automatically play when the slideshow runs. The end results is a presentation with two videos that play at the same time.

This could be used in several creative projects such as:

  • Adding music or popular songs to famous historical speeches, or science videos, or scenes from story. 
  • Or having one video explain a concept, while the other shows examples or demonstrations of that idea.
  • Or the videos could be used to show contrast, by playing two videos that demonstrate different processes or ideas or time periods or such.

See below for directions on how students can do this activity, along with a free template they can copy and use, as well as an example mash-up to show what a final product might look like.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

My 2017 SC Midlands Google Summit Sessions

I am excited and honored to present at the 2017 SC Midlands Summit Featuring Google for Education in Columbia, SC this June 7th and 8th.

I look forward to this opportunity to see old friends, make new friends, share some ideas, and learn so many new things from others.

Below is a list of sessions I will be presenting at the SC Midlands Google Summit, along with any associated resources. Please feel free to join me for any of these sessions. I look forward to sharing, learning, and chatting with you!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Self-Editing Tools for Student Writing in Google Docs

One of the best features of Google Docs is the ability to share your work with others so they can offer comments and suggestions. As awesome as that is, sometimes a student may not have another person available to provide feedback, and will need to do the editing on their own.

Thankfully there are loads of useful tools that can help students to self-edit their writing, including text-to-speech, grammar checkers, dictionaries, and more. With these resources students can take ownership of the editing process to improve their writing. Even if they can also receive peer feedback, these tools can help student do a majority of the editing on their own.

See below for an overview of each of these tools, how to access and use them, and how they can assist students in the self-editing process.