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?
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
“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.
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
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
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
I’m probably showing my age. But the old orange juice commercial still comes to mind every once in a while. You know the one. Everyday folks drinking orange juice all day long cause . . . you know, it’s not just for breakfast anymore. (You’re welcome, Florida Orange Growers Association.)
And it came to mind again yesterday while I was working with a small group of educators as they explored all of the different tools available in Google’s G Suite for Education. I had stopped to talk a bit about Google Search and a teacher shared what I’m guessing was the overall mood of the group:
Search isn’t really a tool, is it? Not like Docs or Slides. And don’t most kids already know how to search on Google?
Yes, it is a tool. And after a few minutes of gentle conversation and examples, mmm . . . it was clear that maybe we don’t all know as much about the power of Google Search as we think we do. (Yesterday I overheard one particular user mention that she starts all of her searches by clicking the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button on the Google search page.) And while we’re all pretty good at putting some keywords into the Google search box and hoping for the best, I think we can do better.
Google Search isn’t just for breakfast anymore – we need to realize that finding and organizing information is a vital digital literacy skill that we and our students can’t ignore. And it’s becoming even more critical as more and more of the documents, sources, and tools that our students need are being pushed online. So . . . Read more