Saturday, September 30, 2017

Build a Jack-O-Lantern with Google Slides

A few years ago I created my "Build a Jack-O-Lantern" activity for Google Slides. It was a giant hit with students as it let them be creative while improving their writing skills and tech skills.

With Fall here once again, I decided to revisit this favorite activity and add a new twist to it. In the years since I first created this project, we now have an amazing new tool in the Chrome Web Extension called Mote.

Mote is a free tool that makes it easy for you and your students to record your voice and add it directly into your slideshow (or document, form, email, and so much more). With Mote we can make this activity even more engaging than ever.

  • You can use Mote to add audio support to the activity by recording directions and embedding them right into the slideshow.
  • Your students can use Mote to record themselves reading aloud the Jack-O-Lantern story they write, and embed their narrated story into their slide.
  • And the students can record themselves making spooky sound effects or speaking for their pumpkin.

I had the pleasure of recording a video with Jon Neale and Sue Tranchina for their pop-up Mote PD series. See below for the short video explaining how your students can do the "Build a Jack-O-Lantern" activity with Google Slides and Mote, as well as detailed written directions.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

23 Google Projects for your Students

I recently had the privilege to be a guest on Vicki Davis' show "The 10-Minute Teacher Podcast". Vicki is an amazing educator who I have been following and getting inspiration from for many years, so it was an absolute honor to get to be on her podcast.

Vicki uses her show to highlight educators from all over the world, so we can all grow and learn from each other. This mindset is perfectly captured in my all-time favorite quote of her's ... "Leaders don’t play king of the hill, they make a bigger hill."

For this particular episode the topic was creative ways to use Google tools for student activities (a real surprise from me, right?) I ended up covering about 23 example projects and ideas for Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Drawings.

You can listed to the audio through the embedded player below:

Or go to Vicki's blog for the original post complete with a full transcript of the episode and all of the linked resources I shared. That can be found at:

A big thanks again to Vicki for "making room on the hill" for me to share, connect, and learn with everyone!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Launch Tour Builder Tours in Google Earth with One Click

I have been a big fan of Google Tour Builder for a long time. It is a great tool for students to create virtual tours, including locations, images, videos, descriptions, hyperlinks, and more. These tours can be used in any subject area such as retelling the events from a novel, tracing the locations of a historical event, visiting different biomes or landforms around the world, and more.

A while back I added a blog post on how to use Tour Builder to create a tour and then open that tour in the new web version of Google Earth (see here: Create your own Lit Trips (and more) for Google Earth). As awesome as that was, there was a bit of a pain point near the end when you needed to export the Tour in a special KML format, then change some settings in Google Earth, then finally find and load the exported tour. Not a deal-breaker, but still a bit of a hassle.

Well now that process just got a whole lot easier! Thanks to a Google+ post by Michael Fricano, I learned that Tour Builder now has a simple menu option that will open your tour automatically in Google Earth. All with the click of one button!

See below for directions on how to do this, as well as a sample Tour to try it out with, and also details on an upcoming webinar where we will be diving deep into these tool.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Amazing Mobile Features of Google Classroom

Most Google-using educators already know that Google Classroom is a great tool for managing class assignments, collaboration, discussions and more. However, as much as you may think you know about Classroom, there are several awesome features for you and your students that you may not be aware of.

In addition to the normal web-based version of Classroom, there is also a Google Classroom mobile app. The Classroom mobile app can be used on phones (Android and iOS), tablets (Android and iOS), and on Chromebooks (with Android apps enabled).

Many times when we think of mobile app, we think of a simpler, watered-down version of the full program. However, that is not always the case, and certainly is not true for Classroom. In fact, there are several awesome tools and features that can only be accessed if you and your students are using the mobile version of Classroom.

These features include:

✍️ Digital handwriting
📸 Taking pictures
🎞️ Recording videos
📄 Scan Feature
✋ Student Selector
📶 Offline Access
🔔 Notifications
➡️ Content from other apps

To learn all of these powerful mobile features, see below for my recorded video training, detailed written directions, links, and other resources.  See how you and your students can take Classroom to the next level with mobile!

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: