Sunday, January 15, 2017

Solving Story Problems with the Highlight Tool Add-on for Docs

If Bob leaves at Noon on a west-bound train traveling 60 miles per hour, and Mary leaves at 1pm on an east-bound train traveling 70 miles per hour, how many minutes will it take before you suffer a math induced panic attack?

If solving story problems brings back grade school anxiety, you are certainly not alone. Many students struggle with word problems. Such problems are more challenging because they require skills higher on Bloom’s Taxonomy, including evaluating, analyzing, and creating. We may feel comfortable (relatively speaking) with math when simply given an expression to evaluate, but it can be quite a bit more difficult to decide what is important, determine relationships, see what is missing, and construct a plan to solve a problem.

A while back I did a blog post on "Highlight Tool", an add-on for Google Docs that allows you to assign meaning to colors with which you can highlight text in your document. In that example I primarily applied the tool to language arts situations. See here for that blog post.

In this blog post we will look at the same tool, but this time see how colored highlighting can help student solve mathematical story problems. See below for details.

Friday, January 13, 2017

7 Super Screencasting Activities for School

Screencasting tools are a popular option for use in schools. At their most basic they allow you to record a video of what is on your computer screen, along with your voice, and depending on the program perhaps your webcam as well. Some may go further to provide you with annotation tools to write on or highlight portions of the screen while recording.

There are many tools and programs that can be used for screencasting, and better yet, there are many ways for students and educators to use such tools for teaching and learning.

In this blog post we are going to take a look at seven creative activities that can be done with screencasting. Although these activities can likely be done with many of the common screencasting tools available, for the demonstrations I have included here I will be using the free Screencastify Chrome web extension.

See below for a detailed tutorial video as well as seven examples of how your students and you can spice up learning with screencasting!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Have Students Write Better by Writing Less with Google Docs

Certainly one of our goals as educators is for students to write more. However, that does not necessarily mean to write more words. Quite the opposite, there are actually several benefits that come from having our student write fewer words.

By that what I mean is having students distill their ideas down to just the most important, relevant, clear, and concise words. By putting limits on the number of words or characters our students can use, this forces students to:

  • Summarize key points
  • Select what is most important
  • Choose words that best convey meaning
  • Restate concepts
  • Avoid unnecessary filler and fluff

In this blog post we will take a look at how students can use the "Word Count" tool in Google Docs to easily check the amount of words and/or characters they have written. This can be used for writing activities where you put a limit on how long the students’ writing can be. See below for details and directions.

And I will try to keep it short. As Shakespeare said, "Brevity is the soul of wit."

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Video Dubbing Learning Activities for Students

When I was a kid, we used to find creative ways to keep ourselves entertained. One of our favorites was the Dubbing Game. Basically we would turn on the TV, find a good show, and then turn off the volume. Then we would make up new lines for the characters on TV (bonus points for using funny voices). I am sure we thought it was much funnier than it really was.

As an adult, I have seen the same idea done on the show “Whose Line is it Anyway?” where they play the improv game called “Film Dub”. (I am sure they are much funnier than we ever were.)

Although dubbing a video can be a great source of entertainment, it actually can be very educational as well. There are quite a few learning activities for students when they take a video, remove the original audio, and add their own narration.

See the rest of the blog post below for ideas on how video dubbing can be used for student learning and creativity, and a free and simple technology tool they can use to create the dubbed videos.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

My Top 20 EdTech Posts of 2016

It was just one year ago that I launched the Control Alt Achieve blog. I have been involved in educational technology for over 20 years, and have had various websites, blogs, and podcasts over that time, but decided I needed to try something new.

So last December I started up Control Alt Achieve as a one-stop-shop for all of my resources, activities, help guides, training videos, and more.

And it has been a great first year!

During 2016 I shared 106 posts (not counting this one) and the site received a little over 1.3 million visits. However the most important statistic was the number of people who contacted me via email or Twitter or in the comments to share their awesome ideas, or to let me know how they used one of my resources in their class, or to share pictures of their students engaged in an activity I had posted.

Your comments and feedback mean so much! Over the years I have transitioned from being a classroom teacher to a tech integrationist at a district level to a tech integrationist at a regional level. It is so great to see that even though I am no longer in the classroom myself, the resources I share can still impact real students, helping them create, collaborate, write, learn, and explore.

Below are the top 20 posts from this year, based on the number of page views each received. I would encourage you to look through the list to see if there are some you missed the first time around, and consider sharing these resources with other educators you know who would benefit from them.

Finally there is a very short optional, anonymous feedback form at the bottom. Please feel free to provide some feedback to help me make 2017 even better!

Monday, December 19, 2016

What's New in Google - December 2016

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

Below is the recorded video from our December 2016 Google User Meeting, along with the meeting agenda and all the awesome resources and Google Apps updates from the last month.

The monthly meetings are hosted by the Google Educator Group of Ohio, but are open to anyone from any location. The purpose of these meetings is to:
  • Connect Google-using educators
  • Share the latest Google Apps news and features
  • Provide tutorials, demonstrations, and how-to’s
  • Share best practices of how Google Apps is being used within schools
  • Ask questions and get answers
The video from the meetings is recorded and available for later viewing for those who cannot attend or connect live. See below to view the recorded video, agenda, and all the resources from the December 2016 meeting:

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Build a Snowman with Google Slides

Do you want to build a snowman?

Well now you can 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 snowman.

Here’s how:

  • Make a copy of the Google Slides “Build a Snowman” template, found further down in the blog post.
  • The template has a blank snowman and several slides full of items to add to your snowman including eyes, mouths, hats, arms, feet, hair, and more.
  • Copy and paste the items to build your snowman.
  • If you need different pictures, you can search for more.
  • When done building, write about your snowman or snowwoman in the textbox. You can describe them, tell a story about them, or explain who they are.
  • When all done you can download a picture of your snowman and writing to share with others.

See below to get your own copy of the template, as well as more detailed directions and a video tutorial on how to do the activity.