Saturday, September 9, 2017

Create "Pi Poems" with Google Sheets

A poem can take on many different forms: sonnet, limerick, haiku, free verse, acrostic, and more. One fun form of poetry that mixes writing and math is the "Pi Poem".

A "Pi Poem" is composed of words where the length of each word is equal to each digit of pi in order. So for example, the beginning of the poem would be made of a 3-letter word, 1-letter word, 4-letter word, 1-letter word, and 5-letter word, for the beginning of pi which starts as 3.1415. Punctuation doesn't count.

This fun student writing activity could plug into the school year in several places:
  • During your poetry unit
  • National Poetry Month in April
  • When working on vocabulary skills, especially synonyms
  • When teaching about pi in math class
  • For "Pi Day" each year on March 14th
  • Anytime you are looking for a fun cross-curriculum activity for math and ELA

To help with this activity, I have created a Google Sheets "Pi Poem" template. The template makes it easier to create your poem with helpful boxes for each letter of each word. See below to get your own copy of the template, directions for use, some other helpful tech hints for the project, and a sample finished product.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Hipster Google: Library Edition

A few months back I shared a blog post and webinar on "Hipster Google - Google Tools You Probably Never Heard Of".

Recently I had the privilege to do a new version of that presentation with a focus on tools that would be valuable for libraries, media literacy, research, searching, and more. This was done for Infohio, Ohio's PreK-12 Digital Library, as part of their Boot Camp 2017 series of webinars.

For "Hipster Google: Library Edition" we take a look at a dozen Google tools that are lesser known, or maybe some you heard of but have not had a chance to use much, or even tools that are brand new to you. Even though these tools may not be as popular or as widely known, they are still very useful in school settings.

See below for access to the 1-hour Infohio webinar, as well as the slideshow presentation, and details on all of the Hipster Google tools covered in this particular training. For the original version of Hipster Google (with many different tools) see my earlier post "Hipster Google - Google Tools You Probably Never Heard Of".

Sunday, September 3, 2017

What's New in Google - Summer 2017

Catch up on everything new in Google Apps from the summer, and see great ideas and resources!

Below is the recorded video from our August 2017 Google User Meeting, along with the meeting agenda and all the awesome resources and Google Apps updates from the last three months. This includes 42 new Google updates and loads of Google resources for your class.

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 meeting 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 August 2017 meeting:

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Using Named Versions in Docs to Track Writing Drafts

Writing is a process. You are never really done. You are just at your current version of whatever you are working on.

This is also true for students and the writing they do in school. At least it should be true. Students should not just write their essay, paper, report, or story once, then turn it in and be finished with it. A critical part of writing is getting feedback, making changes, adding new content, and trimming out what is not needed. And then doing it again. And again.

Thankfully Google Docs has always made it easy for students to write, and then for teachers and peers to leave feedback (text, voice, video, and handwritten), and then for students to make changes to their work.

Now though, it is even easier for teachers and students to keep track of those big mile markers when a paper goes from rough draft to revised draft to final copy. Recently Google gave Revision History a face lift, renaming it to Version History and adding the new ability to name specific versions.

See below how this new process works, and how you and your students can use this to improve the clarity of the editing process.

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.