I enjoyed meeting old friends and lots of new folks at EdCampNQ on Saturday. This edcamp is relatively small, with about 40-50 teachers. This is the link to the Board with the topics. Some have great notes associated with them, others not so much. What I found interesting- one session about SPED/Gen Ed pretty much reinforced what I see at our school- in both positive and negative aspects. There was a lot of discussion about push in vs pull out. I enjoyed the session on makerspaces since we got to visit their new space. This is new this year (or maybe last year), but has a bunch of rooms- for CAD, for woodworking, etc. It is a required semester course for middle school. Right now it really seems like a choose your own adventure space, where kids come up with projects and work with their teams to make "stuff". It much more about entrepreneurship, problem solving and working collaboratively than robotics or electronics. I'll be curious to see where they go with this.
One other new thing I enjoyed over in Orange was seeing a demo of Jamboard. "Jamboard is a collaborative digital whiteboarding experience, available through a physical board, tablet and mobile apps as well as on the web." So, it's a very fancy interactive whiteboard- but it is easy to use and you can collaborate with folks anywhere. You don't actually have to have the fancy board to try this out. You can use the app, use the web interface, etc. Check it out.
Trying to keep up with the constant changes in Google tools isn't always easy. Even when you learn how to do something, unless it is something that you use all the time, it's often hard to remember. One solution, of course, is to Google it... watch a YouTube video, etc. The Applied Digital Skills curriculum is a great place to start for many. Now Google has a new place to find training, The Teacher Center where even your students can earn digital badges. Teachers who are interested can do these tests as well, but they recommend that adults go through the certification process. The tests are not free. What I like about this site: there are two paths- fundamentals and advanced, and most importantly there is a whole section called First Day. If you are new to Google Docs, Google classroom, etc... this may well be a great way to start. This is an example- First Day in Google Classroom.
Student Chat via GDocs
This is not news to most of us who are actually in the classrooms, but has gotten a ton of media attention of late. Yup, no surprise, kids use docs to chat in class. It should not be a big surprise is that they sometimes use these digital tools inappropriately, even using them to bully others. You can read more of the hoo-ha about this in The Atlantic, Inc, Gadget, Parents, Lifehacker and more. So, is this a problem? It is a violation of most school AUPs and can be and is addressed that way at our school. There are several different software solutions to help schools monitor this- for example Securly. In the classroom, it is just another classroom management issue, at least at the elementary level. However, if students are unsupervised at home, or if their parents assume that if they are on Google Docs that they are just doing school work, that may be a parental issue. Just as we cannot control all other things that come along with using technology, we cannot control ethical use, aside from educating our students, ourselves and the parents and guardians in our community.
PBS- Inspiring Young Scientists Series
Starting today- March 19th, PBS will be showcasing a new 3 part series Inspiring Young Scientists through STEAM Education. Read more about all of them and register here.
"Data,data, data..data is everywhere! How do we teach students to care about data? To interpret data? To understand all the cool things that can be done because of data? Look no further: join us on this LIVE conversation with NASA experts to explore how they brought visualizations of the Earth to the palm of our hands all by using, you guessed it, DATA!"
Part 2 “Live-Learning” Experience #2: Teaching Computational Thinking
March 26, 2019
“Live Learning” Experience #3: Exploring Models Inspired by Nature
April 2, 2019
Ideas to Share
VoiceIn Voice Typing
Science and Social Justice
Western Mass Science for the People with Arise for Social Justice
A two-part workshop on integrating science and social justice in
elementary and middle school classrooms. This series features
presentations and facilitation by community organizers, K-12 teachers,
scientists and historians of science on themes including:
* ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE
* WORKING WITH COMMUNITY EXPERTS
* INTEGRATING SOCIAL STUDIES AND LANGUAGE ARTS INTO SCIENCE CURRICULA
* TRAUMA-INFORMED YOUTH LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT
Participants will be provided with concrete examples and resources,
guidance on fulfilling NEXT GEN SCIENCE STANDARDS, and time to develop
and workshop individual plans for innovative curriculum units.
Saturday, April 13 and 20, 8:00 am - 3:30 pm
Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center
100 Bigelow Street, Holyoke, MA
BREAKFAST AND LUNCH PROVIDED!
Space is limited to 30 participants and registration is required!
More Info an REGISTER HERE!
O.K... it's impossible.
No one keeps up with all the changes, however we can try to stay on top of the changes that affect what we do and how we do it. One of the nice changes I saw recently was a training push by Texthelp... the good folks who created Read & Write for Google Chrome, They have created a training portal on their site to help you walk through how to get the most out of Read & Write for you and your students. This fundamentals course covers use of R & W in Google Docs, in the web toolbar and in PDFs and ePubs. They have also updated their quick reference guide- downloadable here.
Explore - New functionality across Google Docs, Sheets and Slides
This just came out last week. You can read more about it here. Essentially the goal is to make you work more productively. However, there is already a hue and cry in the edtech edu sector because the research tool in Google Docs has "disappeared". The explore button does some of what the Research Tool did, but you cannot search easily for dictionary meanings or quotes. The ability to search for images by license is missing. However it does return images which seem to be copyright-free, but it also sticks the attribution right under the image instead of in the footnote. It looks like you will need to use Easybib or Noodle Tools, etc. to build the bibliography as that is also missing from the explore button. So, either they will respond the numerous complaints they are getting online, or we can get used to a different, "improved" version.
The functionality improvements in Sheets look pretty cool. It looks like they are continuing to try to make working with data easier and more intuitive, allowing questions in more natural language. You can read more about them here. John Sowash created a quick overview of the Explore button in sheets. Richard Byrne also created a little video about the changes in Google Slides.
As the school year draws to a close, I would like to share a few of the many vendor emails I get on a daily basis. These actually have something to offer busy teachers. Check out new developments at ReadWorks, Symbaloo, JoeZoo and EasyBib.
There are 2 new, exciting updates from ReadWorks coming next fall. There will be a new digital website and a new K-5 Article-A-Day program.
The new ReadWorks Digital website will be available for all teachers and students.
Read Works - Article a Day
"ReadWorks Introduces Article-A-Day for Kindergarten - 5th grade
In just 10-15 minutes each day you can dramatically improve your students’ reading comprehension by systematically building their background knowledge and vocabulary with Article-A-Day.
Learn more about Article-A-Day"
Symbaloo Edu Lesson Plans
Symbaloo, which we use at HES for a start page for students ( with a separate start page for teachers), recently rolled out a new service using their platform- Lesson Plans for students. Essentially this is like a pathfinder. Here's their promo:
Engage your students with truly personalized learning by creating your own lesson plans and fully customizing the look and feel. Simply add videos, documents, quizzes and educational games that guide students through custom learning paths from start to finish. View the progress of your students in real time, chat with them to help them with the assignment and utilize the built-in grading tool to make your life easier. You can now get started with creating your first lesson plan. How? By taking your first lesson: A lesson plan explaining Symbaloo Lesson Plans. See what we did there? ;-)
Joe Zoo is a Google Add On, built for teachers to help with rubrics, grading and feedback. It is relatively new and has made some good upgrades recently. It is integrated with Google Classroom.
Check it out here. The video below is just a short promo video, but there is a complete playlist of how to videos on YouTube
Easy Bib Edu
I got this from Easy Bib recently. Easy Bib is an easy to use citation service and has a Google Docs add on. Click on the link to the form to get this for free if you would like to be able to view and manage student accounts. They also have a helpful resource for educators- with articles like Teaching Students How To Summarize and Paraphrase in their Own Words, or How to Conquer the Dreaded Blank Page with Writing Prompts
Questions? Check the FAQ page
To get right to it: we heard you when you said that your students loved using EasyBib, so we’re excited to let you know that you and your students can have FULL ACCESS to EasyBib EDU for free, starting with the 2016-2017 school year and beyond! This means:
We’ll keep improving EasyBib throughout the upcoming school year, adding enhancements such as a new and improved notebook, an annotation tool to help your students find and capture important information, and an improved Google Docs add-on with notes and outline support to assist students throughout the writing process.
Stay tuned for more updates and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to let us know, and don’t forget to sign up for EasyBib EDU here.
Thanks and we will be in touch!
The Imagine Easy Team
Google introduced voice typing over the summer and has made some big improvements. If you haven’t tried it out, it’s worth the time to check. Located right in Google Docs- top navigation bar- Tools, you can now use your voice to format your document. Is it perfect? No… but it can be very helpful for both teachers and students to quickly get some notes down, as well as for students who are articulate, but struggle to put their pen to paper. Even though it’s still a blank white space, I have seen it help kids who think they “can’t write”.
These are the basic punctuation commands, but you can access the full list here, including lots of ways to format your document simply using your voice.
· Exclamation point
· Question mark
· New line
· New paragraph
Google Forms for Quizzes
I spent Saturday morning over at Mahar in Orange, at edcamp North Quabbin. I was really impressed with how well the teachers at Mahar are integrating technology into their day to day work with students and how much they love using Google Forms with flubaroo, integrated into Google Classroom. If you 've never tried flubaroo, here's the quick overview.
If you are not using Google Forms for multiple choice or short answer quizzes, you’re missing out on a quick and easy way to collect student data, to teach and give formative assessments and more. Google Forms has changed recently, so it may look different to you. The icon- accessed from your google drive> more> forms is now purple.
Here’s an overview video for the new version of Google Forms:
Forms to Teach and Assess
Tom Mullaney recently posted about using google forms for remediation and review, featuring his Impossible to Fail Quiz. What, pray tell, is an impossible to fail quiz? Here are 2 examples- Tom’s French Revolution Quiz and a Quiz on Google Classroom. Essentially, if you get the question wrong you are directed to a video or website or document to help you, then you get to answer the question again.
If you want to give this a try yourself.. check out his tutorial here
By the way he also embedded this into a Thinglink… pretty cool idea. We have a thinglink account that can be used at the elementary school for HES classes.
Since Mike Duffy has worked so hard to get all of the chromebook carts up and running at both schools, here is just a quick reminder of all of the "hidden" features on the chromebook keyboard. Now, these keyboards can vary from one manufacturer to the next, but here's a quick animated gif from chrome48.info. How do you get this to come up on your chromebook?
Simply press Control Alt ? and you will see the initial screen. Hold down control and you will see all the shortcuts that start with control, or hold down alt or shift and see more. Some folks love shortcuts, others hardly ever use them. To get out of the screen- click esc.
Note, this is for chromebooks- not the chrome browser on your PC or Mac.
So what are add-ons? Add-ons are additional programs or functionality that can be manually added right from the Google application. How do you get them/find them? On the top navigation bar of your Google Document-click on Add ons. Then click on Get Add ons... Add-ons vary from docs to sheets to forms, etc.
My favorite used to be the speech recognition tool, but now that you can get an even better speech to text tool from Voice Typing- right in Tools, I think my favorite is the SAS Writing Reviser. You do have to create a free SAS curriculum pathways account. There is an app with a 4 part writing process built in, but this SAS Writing Reviser is right in Google Docs. If you've never checked out their resources, it is worth your time.
Here's a quick video to show you some other favorites- including some for math teachers/students and world language teachers.
Add-ons for Google Sheets
My favorite add-on for Google Sheets are Save as Doc and Autocrat. Autocrat lets you take the info collected from a form or a spreadsheet and put it into a document. Save as Doc lets you quickly and easily consolidate data into a text document instead of a spreadsheet. Here's another quick video to show these and a couple others
Add-ons for Google Forms
This surprised me... the add-ons for forms have disappeared in the new version of Google Forms... but I know that they are coming back. I can see them in my personal Google account forms, but they have not been rolled out yet on the District accounts. Here's a very quick overview of where to find these- once they come back- and a Google Hangout with a lot more info- but it's over an hour long. Jenn Judkins is an expert as is Erik! Here's a link to the resource doc for that one. This is a link to one of Jenn's Google Forms Cheat Sheets. If you love to play with data, this is for you. New to forms and excel sheets... skip this one.