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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 MBQ 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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Best posts 2017: Tips and Tricks for using Google Expeditions

I’m sure most of you are doing the same thing I’m doing right now. Spending time with family and friends, watching football, catching up on that book you’ve been dying to read, eating too much Chex Mix, and enjoying the occasional nap.

But if you need a break from all of the holiday cheer, we’ve got you covered. Between now and the first week in January, you’ll get a chance to re-read seven of the most popular History Tech posts from 2017. Enjoy the reruns. See you in a couple of weeks!


I will be the first to admit that I love new and shiny gadgets quickly catch my attention. I love finding new tools and ideas that can help teachers and kids do their jobs better and more effectively. And here at ESSDACK, it’s actually part of my job. I get the chance to play with and learn about all sorts of shiny toys.

My latest gadget? Virtual and augmented reality tools. The potential for engaging students and using this sort of technology to gather, organize, and create information is pretty mind blowing. I especially love the work that Google is doing to make the tech more accessible for schools. The Google Cardboard virtual reality viewer is especially affordable and easy to use. Plus it’s designed to be used with a wide variety of third party tools. And the Google has also developed its own apps that work with their Cardboard viewer. Read more

History Nerdfest 2017 Day Three: Google Maps + Newsela = glorious mashup

This morning, I feel old.

As in, that old guy who gets up at 5:30 am, eats a hard boiled egg with black coffee, and wanders around the neighborhood mumbling something about early to bed, early to rise.

Saturday morning at #ncss17 is always a bit slow. And I probably actually am that old grumpy guy but this morning seems especially sparse. It’s ten minutes before the first session and there are four of us here. And no presenter. I need more coffee.

And of course, a couple of Newsela folks show up and it’s an awesome session. Cause . . . it’s maps and Newela.

I love Google My Maps and Newsela. Combining them together just makes sense.

JJ, the Newsela guy in charge this morning, kicked off our conversation by talking about what he called the “edtech ecosystem” that exists in our classrooms. I like that. There are healthy ecosystems and ones that aren’t as healthy. I love this idea.

So . . . Read more