Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Graph a Pi-Line Skyline with Google Sheets

Pi Day is March 14th each year (since the date is 3/14 and Pi starts out with 3.14). As a previous middle school math teacher, this is always a fun day to be a math nerd, do Pi-themed educational activities, and of course eat some real pie!

Over the years I have shared a couple technology activities for celebrating Pi Day. These include:

  • Create "Pi Poems" with Google Sheets - A fun creative writing project where students make a poem where the length of each word corresponds to each digit in Pi.
  • Discovering Pi with Google Sheets - An interactive hands-on activity where students measure real world circular objects, compile their data in a shared collaborative Sheet, then looks for patterns to discover Pi.

This year I wanted to add another tech activity and was inspired by a creative project where students make Pi-themed artwork. The idea is for students to create a vertical bar graph, where each bar's height corresponds to each digit of Pi. This gives the impression of a city skyline, which the students them color in to make their own art piece.

Although this is a fantastic paper and pencil activity, it could also translate over to a fun technology version. This project can be done with Google Sheets to add in an element of learning how to use a spreadsheet to make a bar graph, while still having fun and making a colorful creative work of art.

See below for details on how this can be done, as well as a template you can use (if you would like) to help your students with this project.

Monday, March 11, 2019

15 More Instant Google Searches for You and your Students

A while back I shared a post on 20 of my favorite instant Google searches (you can see that post and those resources at this link.)

The idea is that when you do a Google search, sometimes Google goes above and beyond the normal list of search results and provides instant search cards at the top of the page. These cards contain the information you searched for, but also include interactive controls to let you dig deeper, branch off, or experience the information in a more engaging manner, which can be valuable for both teachers and students.

In my earlier blog post we explored search tools for rolling a die, setting a timer, defining a word, calculating areas, running a metronome, and more! Since then Google has added many new interactive instant searches, so I thought it was time to share a second installment. See below for 15 new searches with details on how they work and how they can be used in school.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Add Videos to Slides with the Screencastify Add-on

Having been in education for last 27 years (but who's counting?) I have seen incredible advancements in technology. One area that has experienced much growth is recording and sharing video. I remember doing video projects with students using a large camcorder that recorded to video tape. Then we got those flip video recorders that we all thought were the height of technology. And of course now we can record with everything from phones to webcams to drones.

As easy as it is now to record video, anything we can do to make the process even smoother is a win for our students. Technology shouldn't put up hurdles to jump over, but instead empower our students to seamlessly create, express, and share their ideas.

Recently one of my favorite video tools, Screencastify, has made this process even easier with a new add-on for Google Slides. This new tool allows users to locate their recorded videos and insert them into their slideshows with fewer clicks and less time than ever. This can be especially helpful for younger students and for those still learning how to use these tools.

See below for details on how to install and use this new add-on, as well as ideas for how students can use this in school.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Background Removal Tools and Activities

Last year I shared a post on finding, creating, and using transparent images in education, such as having students cut themselves out of a picture and them put themselves into a new image.

Since then, we have seen lots of new tools pop up that make the process so much easier for removing the background of an image. So I figured it was time to revisit this topic, explore the new tools, and expand on the ideas for how students can use these in school.

The big reason for these new tools is the growth and improvement in artificial intelligence. In the past, if you wanted to remove the background from an image, it was a very manual process where you would select and delete portions of the image bit by bit. Now with machine learning, most or all of the heavy lifting can be done by the computer as it is getting so much better at identifying separate items in an image. It's like "green screen" without the actual green screen.

In this post we will look at some new tools, as well as review some classic options that still have their place, and then explore fun and engaging projects students can do. As we look at the tools we will start with the most easy to use and then move to those that require more input from the user, but also give more control.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

My OETC 2019 Sessions

I am excited and honored to once again present at the Ohio Educational Technology Conference (OETC 2019) in Columbus this February 12th through 14th.

I always look forward to this opportunity to see old friends, make new friends, share some ideas, and learn so many new things from others.

Below is a list of sessions I will be presenting at OETC 2019, along with any associated resources. Please feel free to join me for any of these sessions. I look forward to sharing, learning, and chatting with you!

Sunday, February 3, 2019

What's New in Google - January 2019

Catch up on everything new in G Suite for Education from January 2019, and see great ideas and resources!

Below is the recorded video from our January 2019 Google User Meeting, along with the meeting agenda and all the awesome resources and G Suite updates from the last month. This includes 23 new Google updates and 27 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 January 2019 meeting:

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

My 2019 FETC Sessions

I am excited and honored to be presenting at the Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC 2019) in Orlando, Florida this January 27th through 30th.

I always look forward to an opportunity to see old friends, make new friends, share some ideas, and learn so many new things from others.

Below is a list of sessions I will be presenting at FETC 2019, along with any associated resources. Please feel free to join me for any of these sessions. I look forward to sharing, learning, and chatting with you!

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?