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Nerdfest 2015 Day Four: Google Apps and Extensions for the Social Studies

The last day of any conference is always a bit bittersweet. You’ve had a great time. You’ve learned a lot. But, man, Sunday mornings are rough and a large piece of my brain is suggesting – loudly – that I should have stayed in bed.

Yeah, I know. #firstworldproblems.

But this session looks like it’s right in my wheelhouse. If using Google apps and tools to teach social studies doesn’t wake me up, then I’m in the wrong job.

We start by agreeing that Google is a great entry point for using lots of tools that helps students do social studies. Why should we be using Google?

  • supports the reading of non-fiction and content texts
  • encourages deciphering primary sources
  • applying social studies concepts
  • it’s more fun

They suggested buying their own website domain for using with kids. In fact, they suggest having two – a public one and private one for the teaching and learning. They can be connected but the private domain allows for specific filtering and controlling access. There was some discussion about why a separate private domain for individual classes adds value past what a district or school wide GAFE account might add.

They’re a Chromebook school so the Chrome Browser is already built into those laptops. But if you’re not using Chromebooks, using the Chrome Browser is still probably your best option if you plan on using tons of Googly things.

They continued to share a wide variety of ideas and resources. Get their Google Slides preso here. They shared a quick tutorial of using Google Classroom – which they use a ton.

Here’s their list of favorite Chrome Browser Extensions. (Extensions are little pieces of computer code that modify and add usability to the browser. If you’re not using them, you need to be. Get them at the Google Web Store.)

  • Readability
    Strips away ads and extra text from online articles
    (Also try Clearly and Print Friendly)
  • Tab Resize
    Creates two side by side windows
  • Google Dictionary
    Doubleclick words to get spoken definitions
  • SpeakIt!
    Select text and the browser will read it
  • Save to Google Drive
    Creates an image file of a specific website and saves it to your Drive account
  • Awesome ScreenShot
    Lets kids take a screenshot of stuff and then annotate it, save, and share
  • Kami
    A PDF viewer that works well with the Chrome Browser that allows for lots of annotations
  • uBlock Origin
    Blocks online ads
  • WOT
  • Called Web of Trust, helps you and students evaluate websites
  • 1 – Timer
    Classroom timer
  • Alice Keeler Grade
  • Allows you to bring up your online gradebook side by side with online student work
  • Goobric Web App Launcher
    Launches the Goobric web app, a rubric based assessment tool that works with the Doctopus Add-on for Google Sheets
  • Share to Classroom
    Pushes web pages to any of your Classroom classes, so they open instantly on your students’ computers
  • An extension I would suggest is one called Add to Classroom
    Adds links and online resources directly into your Google Classroom

They also shared some other tools for creating digital presentations:

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 8.33.46 AM

They went on to share specific examples of using Sites and other specific tools to do social studies activities. Get the details on their presentation. Lots of stuff. And at this point on an early Sunday morning, you’re on your own.

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