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What is Google Keep and Why Use it in Your Classroom?

Google Keep logo

My daughter just bought her first house (though it went on hold several times as the Navy threatened/offered to move her). We wanted a simple way to share a ToDo list that would be available on phones, iPads, and computers, and would auto-update with our ideas. I looked at a variety of options, but found something wrong with each of them.

Until I found Google Keep. It is marketed as a note-taking app — which it is — but trades sophisticated note-taking tools (like formatting) for simplicity. It is similar to iPhone Notes, but with more options, more visual, syncs across all devices, and allows collaboration. You can add thoughts by typing or speaking (mobile devices only), as a narrative note or a bullet list, and include images from your collection, your camera roll, or by taking one with the native camera (mobile devices only). The title is auto-formatted to stand out from the rest of the note. You can organize notes by category or color, search for a particular note, pin the most important to the top, and re-arrange the collection by dragging-dropping. As in Google Reminders, you can set a location-based reminder to pull up your grocery list when you get to the store or a time-based reminder to make sure you never miss a parent conference.

It requires a Google account and — as with other Google Apps — the amount of space you get for saved notes depends upon your Google Drive size. It works on iOS, the web, Chrome (with an add-on), and Android.

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Categories: Google, Teacher resources, Web Tools | Tags: | Leave a comment

How to Use Google Drawings

google appsGoogle Drawings is a free, web-based drawing tool that allows users to collaborate and work together in real time to create flowcharts, organizational charts, website wireframes, mind maps, concept maps, drawings, and more. It is included in GAFE, Google Classroom, G Suite, and Google Drive (this may vary in managed domains, depending upon whether the administrator turns on access to this tool).

To use Google Drawing, here’s what you do:

  • Open your Google Drive account; go to New and select Google Drawings. 
  • Insert shapes, lines, an image, or text with the editing tools.
  • When finished, add this drawing to another Google Doc, slideshow, or spreadsheet, save it as a stand-alone file, and/or share it with others in a wide variety of methods. 

There are a lot of drawing programs available — SumoPaint, KidPix, and TuxPaint to name a few. All wonderful in their own right. So why use Google Drawings instead of a tool you are already familiar with? Here are seven reasons:

  • it’s collaborative
  • projects are easily shared with teacher 
  • it can be used at home and school — and synced between the two locations
  • it is minimalist — the project is easy to find in the student’s Google Drive (if they attend a Google school). No tracking it down and wondering, “What tool did I use to create this project?”
  • changes or edits are easy to add — just open the project in Google Drive and edit
  • project can be embedded into student digital portfolio or class gallery
  • project can be downloaded as an image file, a vector graphic, or a PDF

Be aware: Each drawing program mentioned above may have some of these, but few have all. Except, of course, Google Drawings.

Here are eight projects that are perfect for Google Drawings:

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Categories: Google, Reviews | 1 Comment

How Google Docs Improves Writing

google docsGoogle Docs is a free word processing program that does 99% of everything a student will ever need to do when writing. What isn’t included as part of the Google Docs program tool can be augmented with mostly free third-party add-ons, extensions, and apps. It operates in the cloud so there’re no download foibles, pesky maintenance, or expensive yearly upgrades. The end result is a learning tool that is powerful, robust, scalable, and because it’s free, is the equitable solution to so many concerns over education’s digital divide.

It’s no surprise that Google Docs and its sister programs — Google Spreadsheets, Google Slideshows, Google Draw, and Google Forms — have taken education by storm, usually in a package like Google Apps for Education (GAFE) or Google Classroom. While it does have a moderate learning curve (no worse than MS Word), once traveled, teachers quickly adopt it as their own and find many reasons why this has become their favorite tool. Here are the top eleven reasons from the educators I talk to:

Always up

I’ve never had the experience of logging into Google Drive (where Google Docs live) and having it not open. On the other hand, I have often experienced that heart-stopping occurrence with MS Word when it suddenly won’t work or a Word file has become corrupted for no reason I can tell. Using Google Docs has probably added years to my life just in the lowered stress levels.

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Categories: Google, Writing | 2 Comments

How to Use Google Forms in the Classroom

google formsThere are lots of free survey and polling sites (two popular options are PollDaddy and Survey Monkey), but often they limit the number of surveys you can create or how many questions you can include without ‘leveling up’ to a premium version. Among the teachers I know who are always looking for ways to save their limited pennies, Google Forms is a run-away favorite. It is intuitive, flexible, professional, can be adapted to school colors and images, and can be shared as a link or an embed. You can work alone or with colleagues and there are a wide variety of options that tweak the form to your needs.

Using available templates, a customized form can be completed in under five minutes. Responses are collected to a Google Spreadsheet that can be private or shared with participants and can be sorted and analyzed like any other spreadsheet.

Google Forms integrates well with Google Apps for Education, Google Classroom and many LMSs such as Blackboard.

How to use it

Google Forms is simple to use. Just follow these steps:

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Categories: Google, Teacher resources, Tech tips | 18 Comments

9 Google Apps Tips You Don’t Want to Miss

gafeHere are the top 9 nine Google Apps tips according to Ask a Tech Teacher readers:

  1. Embed a File from Google Drive
  2. Google Apps lesson plan
  3. 8 Google Apps Tricks Every Teacher Should Know
  4. Google Hangouts–Are You Using Them Yet?
  5. How to Embed Student Work into Digital Portfolios
  6. Book Review: Google Apps Meets Common Core
  7. Dear Otto: How do I teach Google Drive to K/1?
  8. Google Gravity
  9. Google Apps Support Bloom’s Taxonomy–Take a Look

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Categories: Google, Teacher resources, Web Tools | Tags: | Leave a comment

8 Google Earth Tips and Resources You Don’t Want to Miss

Here are eight of the top Google Earth tips and resources according to Ask a Tech Teacher readers:

Monday Freebies #38: Introduction to Google Earth

Google Earth: User-Friendly in the Classroom

5 Google Earth Lesson Plans

Tech Tip #65: Google Street View

Monday Freebies #39: Google Earth Board

Monday Freebies #40: Wonders of Google Earth

Lesson Plans: Where Did I Come From?

Weekend Website #88: Drive a Ship

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Categories: Google | Tags: | 1 Comment

Embed a File from Google Drive

As a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each week, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!

Q: So many colleagues are embedding documents to their blogs and websites, but I don’t know how to do that. Can you help?

A: I love this part of Google Apps. When your Google document is complete–that includes Docs, Spreadsheets, Slides, and Drawings:

  • Go to ‘Share’ in the upper right corner; select the option you prefer–allowing viewers to just view or edit
  • Click File>Publish to the Web (on the menu bar)
  • Select the link and copy-paste to your website (I’ve done this below) OR select Embed
  • Copy the HTML code that starts with ‘<iframe…’
  • Paste into blog, wiki, website like I did below:

Let’s try this out. Here’s a collaborative spreadsheet to share Exit Ticket ideas. Your name is optional. Strongly consider adding the linkback so we can add each other to our PLN–a great way to share ideas and knowledge. Access the spreadsheet and tell us your favorite warm-up activities and exit tickets:

Here’s the embedded document:

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Categories: Classroom management, Computer skills, Google, Teacher resources, Tech tips | 2 Comments

Tech Tip #108: Got a Tech Problem? Google It!

As a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each Tuesday, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!

Q: Sometimes, I just can’t remember how to accomplish a task. Often, I know it’s simple. Maybe I’ve done it before–or even learned it before–and it’s lost in my brain. What do I do?

A: One of the best gifts I have for students and colleagues alike is how to solve this sort of problem. Before you call your IT guy, or the tech teacher, or dig through those emails where someone sent you the directions, here’s what you do:

Google it.

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Categories: Classroom management, Google, Problem solving, Tech tips | 2 Comments

Google Hangouts–Are You Using Them Yet?

google hangoutClasstime traditionally is a static point in time. Students show up in your room. You teach for 50 minutes (or however long the period is). You may post study guides and homework on a class website, but they don’t make a lot of sense to the student who missed class because s/he was sick or out of town. Those students—you try to meet after school to catch them up, which may or may not work with your schedule or theirs. Or they get notes from friends which also may or may not work.

That has become a dated idea. Let me give you an example. My daughter invited me to participate in one of her MBA classes at the University of Maryland (with instructor permission). I’m in California; she’s in DC. Five years ago, that would have been a show-stopper, but not anymore. She broadcast the class on her iPad with her Google Hangouts (GHO) app, sent me an invite, and that’s it. I saw everything she did. When her professor accessed an internet program, I brought it up on my computer and worked along with him. When he played a TED talk, I listened on my screen. When I had a question, I typed it into the backchannel (a message board that pops up with GHO) and my daughter asked for me (since I was observing, I muted my mic).

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Categories: Google, Reviews | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Lesson Plans: Where Did I Come From?

Students find their country of origin on Google Earth and grab a screen shot of it. Save to their computer. Import it into a drawing program like KidPix and add the country flag and student name. Students learn about importing data from one program to another with this project.

[caption id="attachment_5431" align="aligncenter" width="564"]lesson plan Use Google Earth in Second Grade[/caption]

–from 55 Technology Projects for the Digital Classroom.

More articles on geography and Google Earth:

149 Websites for K-8 Geography/Geology

Tech Tip #65: Google Street View

Monday Freebies #40: Wonders of Google Earth

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Categories: 2nd, 3rd Grade, Geography, Google, Lesson plans | Tags: | Leave a comment