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Posts from the ‘google’ Category

Clark Griswold would have loved Google My Maps. So will your kids

I spent the morning at Slate Creek Elementary in Newton, observing just a few of the cool things going on there. Lots of PBL. Lots of inquiry. Lots of great student questions.

And one of my favorite hook activities ever.

Tenae Alfaro, Slate Creek principal, is planning a summer trip and so she asked fourth grade kids to do some in-depth research and plan a trip for her. Now . . . I’m not sure she’s actually going go take the trip kids come up with. But what a cool essential and authentic question to ask nine year olds.:

Where should I go on my summer vacation?

So there’s a crowd of fourth grade kids over in Newton doing research on states and monuments and museums and all the kinds of things you might typically do on a cross-country family trip. And one of the tools that would be ideal as part of that final product is Google My Maps.

I’m still surprised by the number of teachers who aren’t aware of this piece of Google’s G Suite. If you’re still not sure what it is, think Google Docs in map form. My Maps supports collaborative editing and sharing, it’s easy to use, and it integrates with all the other G Suite apps. It’s a great tool for helping kids see connections between events, people, and place.

And for the kids over at Slate Creek (or your students,) it’s a perfect way to create rich, deep, and multi-layered visual representations of trips. So use it for planning a principal’s summer trip, as a Google Lit Trip that highlights events and travel in fictional stories, or to chronicle actual trips and events such as Lewis & Clarks Corps of Discovery.

What are some other reasons why I love My Maps so much?

Read more

Single-point rubrics and Checkmark make your life easier & your kids smarter

We’ve all been there. You just finished putting together a great instructional lesson or unit. Kids are gonna love it. They’re working together. Doing research. Creating stuff, not just consuming it. The historical thinking will be off the charts.

Then you realize . . . you haven’t created the rubric yet.

You know that clear expectations and feedback are critically important to the learning process. You know that rubrics can help you in assessing what students know and are able to do. So you sit back down and eventually decide to use four scoring columns instead of five. Six rows of criteria instead of three. Clear descriptors. Nine point font all crammed into your matrix so that it fits on one page. Definitely tons of feedback gonna happen from this beauty.

But it’s worth it, right?

Mmm . . . using a great rubric can speed up the grading and assessment process but they can also create other issues besides the amount of time it takes to create them. A student shows creativity way beyond what the rubric asks for in a way that you hadn’t anticipated and your columns and rows aren’t able to reward that. Or a kid spells everything correctly but the grammar and punctuation is terrible. Maybe she nails the document analysis but fails to use evidence in her claims and your rubric has those two things together.

And is there any way – other than individual conferences – to really know whether students actually go deeper into your scored rubric than to look at the final grade circled in the bottom left hand corner?

Yes, analytic rubrics are useful. I’m not saying rubrics shouldn’t be part of your assessment toolkit. They can help you develop and create assignments that are aligned to your end in mind. They can provide clear expectations for students and a way to share feedback. But they can also be difficult to design correctly and may seem so overwhelming to students that the expected feedback we want never really sinks in.

And, sure, holistic versions are much quicker to create and use. So that’s nice. But they fail to provide specific and targeted feedback. You get a kid who wants to know why they got a two instead of a three or worse, he won’t ask at all. Missing the whole point of providing feedback in the first place.

So . . . why not look at a third way to the rubric game? And use some tech to make it even better?

This third way, called Read more

Move your kids past simply consuming virtual reality. They need to be making it. Tour Creator can help

I spent part of last Monday working with the awesome staff of the Eisenhower Foundation at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Library and Museum. They hosted 18 teachers from around the state during a week long focus on using primary sources across the curriculum.

Part of our time together was spent talking about non-traditional primary and secondary sources. The teachers were all used to using texts such as diaries, speeches, and photographs. So it was fun sharing about stuff like artifacts and audio clips. But it was even more fun playing with virtual reality tours.

I’ve shared about virtual reality before. And if you’ve been around History Tech much, you already know that I’m convinced about the power of VR tours as part of learning.

There were some interesting conversations around primary vs. secondary sources and what really makes a virtual reality tour a primary source. And, of course, we talked about possible teaching strategies and activities for using VR as part of teaching and learning. The best question that came out of the discussion was: Read more

Google adds new Classroom features. Use them responsibly.

“With great power comes great responsibility.”

All the MCU fans out there know that this phrase was first used in the 1962 Amazing Fantasy #15 issue and then later by Uncle Ben in the 2002 Spiderman movie.

But history nerds know that different versions of the phrase have been around for much longer. Winston Churchill. Teddy Roosevelt. And this guy – Henry W. Haynes from the public library of Boston in 1879:

The possession of great powers and capacity for good implies equally great responsibilities in their employment. Where so much has been given much is required.

So.

Yes. Google has added some new features to Classroom. And yes. There may be a need for them. But . . . we need to use these new features responsibly. Yes. These features will make life easier for teachers. But here’s the problem.

Like any edtech tool or feature, these new Classroom additions can be abused, focusing not on historical thinking skills but low level learning. Focusing on teacher centered, standardized learning rather than student centered, authentic learning.

Especially the one feature that has most caught the attention of teachers. Read more

5 Chrome browser extensions that you probably haven’t heard about but need to be using

It’s not a secret. I say it a couple times a week:

“If Google was a person, I’d marry it.”

And not just for it’s money. (Though that would be nice.) I love how the Google universe has something for everyone. Elementary. Middle and high school. Different content areas. A variety of tools for consuming and creating. VR. Digital literacy.

You don’t have to look very hard before you find something you can use.

But one of the easiest things you can use is the Google Chrome browser and what Google calls Chrome extensions.

A Chrome extension is basically a small piece of software that you download from the Chrome Web Store and add to your Chrome browser. These little pieces of software extend the capabilities of the browser across multiple web sites and do something that the browser itself can’t do. Most extensions add a button to your browser’s taskbar to provide a clickable shortcut for doing, well . . . something. This might be a tool that helps you annotate text or provides text to speech capabilities or helps you edit screenshots.

There are thousands of these little pieces of code. Many designed to help you do your job better.

And I’ve got my favorites. Here are five that that many teachers I work with haven’t heard of but should be using: Read more

Tip of the Week: Joe Harmon and shared Social Studies PLN goodness

I love Twitter. And I love Google.

So when Dr. Joe Harmon posted his idea on Twitter for a collaborative Social Studies resource Google folder, it was the perfect day. Taking advantage of my Twitter PLN and the awesome #sschat hashtag. Using Google Drive to share, view, and use teaching and learning resources. The only way it could have gotten any better was if Roy’s Pit BBQ had delivered some ribs and toast while I sat there getting smarter.

This is what the Internet was designed to do and what we should be using it for – connecting people and ideas in ways that make the world a better place. What does this look like in this specific case? Read more