Saturday, January 21, 2017

5 Emoji Learning Activities with Google Docs

A while back I did a blog post on the "Emoji Random Writing Prompt Generator" I had created with Google Sheets. Basically the sheet randomly selected a set of emojis that the student could use as inspiration for writing a story, poem, or such. With a simple reload, a new random set would be produced. You can see the post and get your own copy of the template here: Emoji Random Writing Prompt Generator

In this post we are going to dive deeper into creative ways to use emojis in Google Docs beyond just writing prompts. As mentioned in my previous post, emojis are a great tool to use in student learning activities for many reasons:
  • Since emojis are images, they can be used with students of any age, language, or reading ability.
  • Also since they are images, they can provide and represent a wide range of ideas since each student will have their own interpretations of the pictures.
  • Emojis are very popular with students, so they will likely have familiarity with the images.
  • They are fun!
See below for details on how you can insert emojis into Google Docs, and five fun ideas for learning activities the involve emojis.

Note: Emojis appear differently on different operating systems. Because of this, the images may not look the same on every device. If you are using any modern computer or device (Chromebook, Android, iOS, Mac OS, Windows), the emojis should display well. However if you are using an older version of Windows earlier than Windows 8.1, the emojis do not appear in color and many may be missing.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Make Sequencing Questions with Google Forms

Google Forms is a great tool for assessments, and it provides a wide range of question types, including multiple choice, checkboxes, short answer, and more.

However, it is becoming common for our students to see high-stakes online assessments with more advanced question types, such as drag and drop, hotspots, and ordering items. Unfortunately Google Forms does not support these more interactive types of questions yet.

However, if we get creative with some of the features in Google Forms, there is a way to do ordering or sequencing type problems. These types of questions have students put randomized items in the proper order, such as dates of historical events, stages in a science process, parts of a story, and more.

In this blog post we will take a look at how to create a randomized sequencing question using just Google Forms with written directions and a short tutorial video. We will also try out several examples to see what the end result would look like.

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!