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...

Thursday, December 6, 2018

10 Writing Prompt Tools for Creative Inspiration

I love writing… blog posts, stories, poems, and more. As much as I love it though, writing can be a challenge. Often one of the most difficult parts is just getting started. Sometimes we just need a little inspiration, a jump start to get us thinking down a new path.

When my daughter was younger we used to do poetry nights where we would use a website (Watch Out for Snakes) that would randomly create titles for us by putting together adjectives and nouns. We would then challenge each other to write a poem based on one of the prompts, followed by reading our new creations. Yes, I have always been a nerd.

Just like those random titles inspired me to compose poems, such tools can help our students when they need to write a journal entry, short story, essay, article, poem, or such. Thankfully there are many resources available to use for writing prompts, story starters, and other writing inspiration. In this blog post we will take a look at 10 example tools to use in your class.

By the way, if you are interested to see some examples of what came out of my poetry nights, feel free to check out Elemental Love, Moonstruck Conifer, and Smallest Pony.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Self-Checking Assessments in Google Sheets with Conditional Formatting

There are so many excellent tools for online assessment including Google Forms, Quizlet, Kahoot, Flippity, Quizizz, and more. In addition to providing teachers with data on student performance, online quizzes can also be valuable simply for student self-assessment.

With self-assessments the purpose is for the student to test themselves, see if they are correct or not, and usually retry until they get the right answer. Grades are not collected, because by the end the student should have every question correct. The point is to let the learner practice, see what they do and do not understand, and then work toward improvement.

There are several tools that can be used for this sort of self-assessment. One great option is to use Google Sheets with conditional formatting. This allows you to provide feedback based on what the student types in for their answers, so they can identify and work on questions they are struggling with.

To help make this easier, I have created a "Self-Checking Assessment Template" for Google Sheets. See below for a link to get your own copy, along with directions on how to use it, and some behind-the-scenes explanations of how it works.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Adding and Using Comments on Screencastify Videos

There are many excellent screen recording tools available, but one of my favorites is the Screencastify Chrome extension. It is simple to use, has lots of nice features, works on Chromebooks, and is free for videos up to 10 minutes long. (See my earlier post about "7 Super Screencasting Activities for School" for more details and ideas.)

Recently Screencastify updated the Chrome extension with a new convenient feature. When you record a video, you now have the option to add a comment (or comments) to the video, including text and links. When people view the video in Google Drive they will be able to see your comment, and leave their own if you have given permission. This can open up many opportunities to provide additional resources, get feedback, and spark a class discussion on your screen recordings.

See below for how to use this helpful new feature, as well as ideas on how this might be used in school.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

What's New in Google - October 2018

Catch up on everything new in G Suite for Education from October 2018, and see great ideas and resources!

Below is the recorded video from our October 2018 Google User Meeting, along with the meeting agenda and all the awesome resources and G Suite updates from the last month. This includes 25 new Google updates and 17 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 October 2018 meeting:

Monday, October 22, 2018

Make Mondrian Art with Google Sheets

Although you might not recognize the name, you most likely will recognize the look. Mondrian Art is an abstract form of art that uses a creative layout of squares and rectangles, often filled in with primary colors.

This style of painting was popularized by Dutch artist Piet Mondrian during the early 1900's. In addition to influencing art, the Mondrian look has shown up in fashion, architecture, advertising, design, and more.

Because Mondrian Art is composed of lots of different sized rectangles and squares, it is the perfect style to be created with digital tools... specifically with Google Sheets!

As we have explored in many previous posts, Google Sheets can do much more than just crunch numbers. Sheets is a fantastic tool for writing prompts, online games, interactive learning databases, and more. Mondrian Art is just one more project to add to the list.

In this post we will take a look at how to create Mondrian Art with Google Sheets. While doing so, we will learn several cool Sheets features such as merging cells, fillings cells with color, and more.

Monday, October 15, 2018

360 Degree Learning with Google Tour Creator

Google has a rich history of creating map-related tools that can be used across all subject areas for engaging, immersive learning experiences. Some of these include Tour Builder, Earth, Expeditions, My Maps, and many more (see my slideshow on Google mapping tools).

Recently Google has launched a new tool called Google Tour Creator. This tool allows you and your students to create 360 degree tours, which can then be shared with and viewed by others. It is very much like creating your own Google Expeditions.

Don't have a 360 degree camera? That's ok! Although you can use a 360 degree camera to take pictures for Tour Creator, you can also just use the images from Google's Street View, or you can use a free mobile app such as Cardboard Camera to take the photos.

Tour Creator can be a powerful way for students to demonstrate their understanding, learn from others, and put themselves inside of a virtual experience. Tours could cover:
  • Scenes from a novel
  • Locations from a historical event
  • Biomes from around the world
  • Highlights of a city in a different country
  • Biographical information from a person's life
  • A student-written fictional story
  • And much more!

In this post we will explore Google Tour Creator and detailed directions on how you and your students can create your own tours today.