Thursday, January 17, 2019

Google Tools and Activities for Art Education

Although there is no replacement for getting your hands dirty with finger paints, technology can offer many ways for students to be creative when making art. In addition to creativity, technology can also allow students to explore and learn about art in new and engaging ways.

There are so many awesome technology tools for art, including desktop programs, mobile apps, and interactive websites. Along with all of those, there are many tools from Google that can help with teaching, learning, exploring, and creating art.

In this blog post we will look at a wide range of Googley tools and activities for art. Many of these have shown up in one form or other on my blog in the past, but I thought it would be helpful to pull them all together in one place. As I come across more resources in the future, I will be sure to add them to this growing list.

See below for the activities, and as always, feel free to use and share however you like!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Google Tools and Activities for Music Education

A lot of times it is common to focus on "The Big 4" of language arts, math, science, and social studies, when exploring technology tools for learning. However, it is important to see how technology can be integrated into all subject areas and skills.

One excellent area for using Google tools is in music education. Technology can help students create their own music, as well as explore and understand musical concepts that may be difficult to visualize otherwise.

In this blog post we will take a look at many tools from Google, or that work with Google, that can be used for teaching, learning, and creating with music. These include Chrome Music Lab, Song Exploder's Inside Music, AI Duet, Groove Pizza, Mix Lab, Flat, and many more!

See below for details, links, and descriptions for all of these tools.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Googley Activities and Tools for Primary Students

A common question I receive from folks is how can younger students use Google tools? I am always happy to email them my collection of resources, but figured it might be easier if I pulled everything together in a single blog post.

Over the years I have come across and/or created a wide range of fun and creative ways to use Google tools with primary aged students, typically considered to be pre-K through grade 2 or so. In this blog post I will share descriptions of and links to these activities. As I make new ones over time, I will try to come back and add them to this post so this stays up to date with all my resources.

In addition to the things I have created, I would certainly encourage you to also take advantage of some other fantastic educators who focus on the primary grades:

See below for the resources and have fun learning!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Get Healthy with Google Fit and My Maps

With the start of a new year, many of us are thinking about New Year's resolutions. And of course, one of the most popular goals each year is to exercise more.

Unfortunately statistics show that less than 10% of people are able to keep their resolutions. So how can we help to increase our motivation and commitment? One option is to make a game out of it by using technology to track our progress. What if we kept track of how many steps we took, and then mapped out that distance each day to see how far we traveled all year?

There are many tools you can use to do this, but in this post we will be taking a look at two free tools from Google. These are Google Fit (to count our steps) and Google My Maps (to track our cumulative progress on a map).

This could be a motivating project for staff, but could also have many applications for our students:

  • Social Studies - learning about the locations reached on the map over time.
  • Language Arts - writing about the "journey" and places visited.
  • Math - distance traveled, averages, charts and graphs, and other statistics topics.
  • Health and PE - staying active!

See below for details on how to use these two tools for this project. How far will you go?

Thursday, December 20, 2018

20 Awesome Add-ons for Google Docs

Google Docs is a powerful word processing program with many unique features including voice typing, the Explore tool, Version History, web fonts, and much more. However, Google knows that even with all of those features, Docs may not be able to do everything you want it to do. So Google Docs allows you to install Add-ons to extend the capabilities of the program.

Add-ons are third-party tools that provide extra features for Docs. Over time the amount of available Add-ons has grown tremendously. Over the past few years, I have done a webinar and many blog posts on notable add-ons for Docs. Since technology is a moving target, I felt it was time to take another shot at listing some of my current favorite add-ons.

As of this writing, there are just a little over 500 available add-ons for Google Docs. So how do you wade through all of these to find the best ones and the hidden gems? To help out I have collected a list of 20 of my favorite Add-ons for Docs. Certainly this is not a comprehensive list, and there are other awesome Add-ons beyond my list, but these will give you a good place to start. Some of these Add-ons will likely be familiar to you, but hopefully you will find a few new ones or be encouraged to dig deeper into one you have tried before.

See below for my list of 20 recommended Docs Add-ons, what they do, ideas for how they can be used in schools, and a quick overview of how to install, use, and remove Add-ons.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Write Better with Writer's Highlighter Add-on for Docs

Writing is a process, not a one-and-done event. When a student is writing their first draft, it is important that they simply get their ideas out, mistakes and all. After that brain dump, now comes the work of editing and revising.

This is summed up beautifully in the following quote:

"You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what's burning inside you, and we edit to let the fire show through the smoke." - Arthur Plotnik

There are many tools and techniques available to assist with the editing process. A while back I covered many such resources in my blog post "Self-Editing Tools for Student Writing in Google Docs". Recently I came across a new add-on for Google Docs that deserves to be added on to this list.

The tool is a free add-on called "Writer's Highlighter". It can be used in several ways, but the main focus is to highlight words in your document that match a customized list. For example, these could include overused words or phrases, including "very", "really", "stuff", and more. The add-on can also color-code your sentences based on their lengths.

See below for more details and directions on how to use this very useful tool. Or, rather I mean "this helpful tool".

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Learning Music, Art, Science, Math and more with Chrome Music Lab

When I used to teach middle school math, one unit I always loved to do each year was my "Music and Math" unit. We explored lots of connections between music and math, while learning about fractions, exponents, prime factorization, and more. We even concluded the unit with a day of student performances called "Curtstock" or "Curtsapalooza" (depending on the year).

One of the great things about music is how connected it is to other disciplines. As mentioned above, music can tie into math through fractions (duration of notes), exponents (decibels), multiples (beat), and prime factorization (harmonizing notes). Likewise music can connect with science when exploring sound waves, frequencies, and more, as has influence and occurrence in history, literature, and art.

To help explore musical concepts and how they relate to other topics, Google has created the Chrome Music Lab. This is a collection of 13 interactive "experiments" (so far) that let users create, play, and learn with a wide range of music concepts. These activities are also cross-platform, working on laptops, tablets, and phones.

See below for an explanation of each of these engaging tools...