New! from Google
Google announced a new set of shortcuts that you may find useful. Now to open up a new doc, sheet, or slide, simply type new.doc or new.sheets, etc. into the omnibox (address bar).
This should prove to be a time saver and is easy to remember!
Check It! Finally a spelling/grammar checker in Google Docs, courtesy of Texthelp and Read&Write for Google Chrome! We are fortunate to have R & W pushed out to the entire district, so everyone can benefit from this new feature. Kasey Bell, over at Shake Up Learning has a nice post about this. Remember, if you need to boost your skills in Read & Write, or just want to explore their offerings, they have a great training resource here.
While I was meandering about on Texthelp's YouTube channel, I noticed something else that was new to me- DataDesk. This enables the teacher to lock in features on a student's R&W toolbar for a period of time. It is hooked into Google Classroom. Now, I don't think this tool has widespread use- but for example, if I have a student who is easily distracted and I want him to work on highlighting and defining all the vocab words in a passage, I could shut off all the other features and just leave the highlighting tools on. Check out the video below and see if this tool is useful for you.
Math Type for Google Docs
I know that some of you have been waiting for this one to come along for awhile. MathType is now up and running in Google Docs as an add-on. Note- it is currently free, but they are giving you a heads up that it will require a license in the future. So, if LaTex or Equatio aren't making you happy, now you can try MathType. There is also built-in support for chemical equations.
Now for "Secrets" from Matt Miller
I try to keep up with Matt Miller's blog, his podcasts, his tweets, since he is in the classroom and has great practical ideas. This week's blog post has 10 "secrets" "Find the tips, tricks and features of your favorite G Suite tools that you didn’t know existed!" Take a quick trip over to Ditch That Textbook and check out Matt's ideas. There were a couple I didn't know.
Stop Motion Movie Making
To Test or To Teach/Learn
I was reading through some recent work on Modern Learner and I have to say- the title:
"The Testing Emperor Finally Has No Clothes" hooked me. Bruce Dixon has pulled together a very thoughtful article around the "tyranny of testing". Although I don't often agree with Alfie Kohn, thinking that he likes to stir the waters and stand back and watch, this quote, "90 percent of the variations in test scores among schools or states have nothing to do with the quality of instruction." really struck close to home. Just go read the article.
Then come back... and read about how they are changing education in Singapore. This is the title of that article: Children in Singapore will no longer be ranked by exam results. Here's why A quote: "“Learning is not a competition,” states Ong Ye Kung, Singapore’s Education Minister. The Ministry of Education (MOE) is planning a series of changes aimed at discouraging comparisons between student performance and encourage individuals to concentrate on their own learning development."
If you still feel like reading, try this one from the Irish Times: Classroom of 2030: A flashforward to learning techniques. Education to not only use technology as tools but also to inculcate computational thinking.
The world is changing rapidly. Our education system is not. These kids are our future.
Are we gonna just test 'em or learn with them?
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.