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History Nerdfest 2016 Day Two: VBQs – Using Google Forms and multimedia to create engaging problem solving

And now it begins.

This morning is the the first day of the full on #ncss16 conference. Five sessions to attend today ending with a 5:00 presentation with @MsKoriGreen that will focus on using VR and Google Cardboard. Diet Pepsi, almond croissant, and fully charged devices.

First session?

Video Based Questions. Using Google Forms to create a more interactive version of a DBQ. I’ve been using something that I called a MDQ for a while that sounds very similar. My Media-Based Question also uses video, audio, and photos to engage kids in some sort of a writing prompt.

Kelly Grotrian from East Brunswick, NJ has also been using the idea of mashing up Google Forms with Document-Based Questions. She’s done Read more

More goodness from Google Forms: Self-grading quizzes

Over the last few weeks, Google rolled out a variety of new tools and goodness. Expeditions that focus on using their very cool virtual reality Cardboard tool, Google Cast for Education, new creation apps for Chromebooks, and my new favorite – self grading quizzes via Google Forms.

How sweet is that?

We’ve been using Flubaroo as an Add-on for years to help us collect, organize, and grade student responses. And now we can easily do the same sort of thing right inside the upgraded version of Forms. Read more

62 ways to use Google Forms

I feel bad. I ran across a very cool Google Doc and I can’t remember who told me about or how I found it. So . . . if it was you, thanks.

For the last couple of years, I’ve been pushing teachers to use Google Forms. Google Forms is a tool built into the free Google Docs app that allows you to create online surveys and assessments. People are using the tool in a wide variety of ways, from pre-tests to exit cards to collaborative time lines to lunch counts to graphic organizers to instant feedback to, well . . . you get the idea. Basically, you create a fill in the blank type form that automatically and instantly transfers the collected data in an easy to use spreadsheet.

If you don’t get the idea, here’s a Google Form that might help make things clearer. Head here, take the survey and get a sense of how powerful this free tool can be. Find the results of the survey here.

The cool Google Doc I found is titled 62 Interesting Ways to Use Google Forms.

My favorite? Number 56 – Classroom Compare and Contrast. What is the document missing? A reference to how Google Forms work great on mobile devices like smart phones, iPods and iPads.

If you don’t have a Google account, you really need one. Google Docs and Forms is just one of the reasons why.

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Google Keep – Note taking alternative, cross-platform sharing tool, and all around nice guy

I waded into the shallow end of the Google Apps / GAFE / Chromebook pool last summer. In November, I dove off the high board as my office went all Google – mail, calendar, documents, the works.

I’ve been using Google Docs forever so it’s not like the stuff is completely foreign to me. But going all in . . . with all my stuff, emails, contacts, online? Yeah, there was an adjustment period.

But after a few months, I really am falling in love with the syncing of info and materials between all my different devices. I’ve also had a chance to start playing around with all of the different Google tools buried in my account.

My latest favorite? Google Keep. Basically Keep is Google’s version of

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Quick and easy way to find the perfect Google Expeditions tour

Even after a couple of years working with Google Cardboard apps and tools, I am still fascinated with the possibilities of virtual reality as part of the instruction and learning process.

And, yes, there are other VR viewers and apps out there. But the price (free) and ease of use (super duper easy) of the Cardboard viewer and associated Google VR apps makes it a quick and simple entry into integrating virtual reality into the classroom. I especially like the power of Google Expeditions.

You can catch up with a longer description of the Expeditions app here but the quick overview is that the app allows you and your students to experience virtual reality together – each on your own device.

As the Expedition Guide, you have some control of what students experience while using the app and allows you to direct the learning that happens. I also like that students can switch roles in the app, moving from Explorer to Guide. This makes Expeditions not just a consumption tool but a creation tool as well.

(Want to extend the learning? While it’s not yet possible to upload Tours to the app’s database, you can still ask students create their own “Tours” – researching a specific place or event, finding or producing their own 2D or 3D images, and writing contextual information for each of their scenes. Share their “Tours” with with a Google Sites or Doc.)

It’s a great way to create emotion as part of the learning process and build empathy.

One of the shortcomings in the app has always been actually finding just the right tour to use with your students. There is a search function and several categories that you can browse through. But as new Tours are added, these simple search features become a more cumbersome to use.

The solution? Read more

Google Street View, art, and quality social studies instruction

I never really thought much about using art as a social studies instructional tool. It was never something mentioned during my methods classes. We never studied it during my history content courses. And I never had much experience actualy creating art.

I mean . . . sure, I finger painted with the best of them. But it just didn’t occur to me to find ways to integrate art as part of my social studies instruction.

Then my kids came along. They loved creating all sorts of art. (The whale to the left is from my son’s primitive stage.) So I learned more about past and present art, I began thinking about the context of the artists, and I started seeing how art in all of its forms are great examples of primary sources.

The Smithsonian and the National Portrait Gallery strategies and lessons helped. I also fell in love with Google’s Arts and Culture site. So much goodness.

And now Google is making it even easier to find and view artwork for your lessons and units. Read more