Friday, October 30, 2015

Comic Strips with Google Drawing/Slides

Earlier this week I had the pleasure to work with Jennifer Furey of ITSCO in Mrs. DeMooy's 5th grade classroom at Emerson Elementary. Jennifer led the students through a lesson creating comics using either Google Drawings or Google Slides.  Using comics is not only fun but it makes students think about how text and images work together to tell a story.  The finished comics can then be downloaded as PDF's or photo formats(PNG, JPG) to be inserted on a web site, tweeted out, added to a blog or embedded in a classroom newsletter. Thank you Jennifer for the great idea!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Google Smarty Pins Game

Students love learning with games.  Try out the new Google Smarty Pins Game! It’s a great Geography lesson.

Click the “Start a game now” button
Optional – Click “Select a category” to filter the type of questions. (History is my favorite)                 
When the game loads, you’ll see the question on the left.  Grab the pin and drag it to the correct location on the map.
Click the “Submit Answer” button.
If you submit the answer within 15 seconds, you get a bonus!
After 15 seconds, a hint will appear under the question.  .You start the game with 1000 miles. If you get the answer right, you keep all of your miles;  If you  “miss”,  the miles are subtracted from your total.  See the “Miles Remaining” gauge under the question. Keep answering questions until you win or until you use all of your miles. Have Fun!

PD gets rolling

Just as things start to settle down, I feel like I can finally start to do the job I was hired for. Today I spent my morning working with a teacher at Cherrington Elementary running through all of the bells and whistles of Read & Write for Google. This is available to all Westerville City School teachers and students. (Check it out below)

After spending the afternoon perusing through teachers classroom websites, I saw just how diverse our staff is when it comes to technology. Some teachers have websites that are updated daily, and have a multitude of course information, helpful tools for students and parents, calendars for classroom activities and assignments, and easy to use communication tools to reach the teacher. Other teachers have some cool looking websites that offer the basic contact information for the teacher as well as some information about the class. There are still a number of teachers who either don't have a website presence at all, or a very limited one at that (offers an email contact and a school address).

This is why I'm excited to be able to offer a classroom website work session for some of my teachers next week. Teachers often forget how out of the loop some parents feel after dropping their kids off at school and driving away. Many want to feel connected to the class, know what their student is working on, but don't want to be a helicopter parent. Classroom websites offer a wonderful solution for parents to connect to the class without being a burden on the teacher asking questions that they feel they should already know. As students get older, and can navigate the web, classroom websites become a valuable tool for them to be able to get any resources that the teacher has provided to be able to complete their assignments.

Classroom websites are a vital tool that make communication easier for the teacher, and more meaningful for the parents and students. If you haven't set up yours, make sure you contact your Technology Integration Coach for some help!

I'll be working with my teachers on School PointWeebly, and Google Sites, but there are lots of other website creators out there. Its worth the time to put one together today!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Inspiring Students through Genius Hour

Today I was honored to witness and take part in a wonderfully creative and innovative student experience facilitated by Mrs. Amici at Alcott. She expertly led her students through their first Genius Hour providing prompts, asking clarifying questions and encouraging her students to push further into creativity and innovation.
Genius Hour is said to have come from Google as part of their creative process. Google encourages their engineers to spend 20% of their time to think about and create whatever interests them. In the classroom, teachers can give students a set amount of time to explore what interests them. They provide students with journaling and brainstorming strategies, facilitate the creation of driving questions, support research skills and techniques and provide students a place to publish their work. Students have the freedom to explore any idea and create any project.
Below are students thinking about their innovations just before they were given time to share their ideas with each other. We used a combination of paper and pencil to record personal ideas and a shared Google Drawing to capture the student ideas during the share out.  The video is what Mrs. Amici used to introduce Genius Hour.

The Hour of Code will be happening December 7-13.  This is a wonderful and easy opportunity to get kids involved with coding skills as early as Kindergarten.  We have had several WCS classroom participate in past years with a high level of engagement from students.  You do not need any coding skills to participate, just a willingness to let students visit the website and participate!

It only takes one hour to do the Hour of Code lesson.  If you organize an official Hour of Code activity at their website, you will receive a gift card to iTunes, Amazon or the Windows Store as a thank you.  Register today!

In addition, there is a local opportunity for elementary teachers to be trained in the elementary K-5 curriculum, for free, at ITSCO on November 14, 2015 from 9am-3pm.

If you know of any teachers who would be interested in attending, please have them register here

For more information about the elementary program, please check out

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Voice Typing on Google

Lately, many people have been utilizing the tools that Read & Write for Google offers. Teachers have been using the talk to text feature for kids who have a need or desire to use the dictation tool to complete assignments. Did you know that this feature is also available in Google Docs?

Key points about voice typing in Google Docs:

1. You must use the Chrome web browser.
2. You must speak clearly.
3. A list of voice typing commands is available here.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Blogging Polar Bear: Welcome!

Does YOUR district have a blogging polar bear? Ours does!!!

Check it out: The Blogging Polar Bear: Welcome!: Welcome to the first entry from The Blogging Polar Bear! As the mascot of Westerville School's Early Learning Center Preschool Program...

Friday, October 9, 2015

Tech Walk

Have you ever heard of a Tech Walk? We often read about the components of a 21st Century classroom and creativity is one of the main ideas mentioned. How do we teach and support creativity? What does it look like in the school or classroom setting? This week I had the pleasure of seeing one strategy to support creativity in action. I was working in Mrs. Griffith's classroom helping to create habitat projects using Google Drawing when she stopped her kids and said to take a 3-5 minute Tech Walk.  The kids then stopped creating their Drawings and moved around the room looking at each others creations. They were able to quickly see each others work, gather ideas, ask questions, be reflective of their own work and take back new ideas to include in their project. It was an easy, quick, non-tech technique to support the creative process in her classroom and it was extremely effective. Nicely done Mrs. Griffith and her students!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Why haven't you tried Google Drawing yet?

Google Drawing gets no respect. First, it is not listed as one of the first applications available in Drive. Users need to click the New button in Drive and More to find it.  Second, we tend to think of Docs and Slides as the go to productivity and presentation tools. I believe this comes from the years of working in Microsoft and making the transition from Word and PowerPoint. Third, users do not realize the tools available in Drawing. It does so much more than simply provide users with rudimentary drawing tools.

From Google Support: A list of things users can do with Drawing.
  1. Edit drawings online in real time with others and invite people to view your edits in real time.
  2. Chat with others who are editing your drawing, from within the drawings editor.
  3. Publish drawings online to the world as images, or download them in PDF, JPG or PNG formats.
  4. Insert text, shapes, arrows, scribbles, and images from your hard drive or from the Web to enhance a diagram or painting.
  5. Lay out drawings precisely with alignment guides, snap to grid, and auto distribution.
  6. Insert drawings into other Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides using the web clipboard.
Here are a few examples users can use in their classroom.
  1. Use Drawing as a digital whiteboard.  Create the Drawing, share it with your students and use it to create a Sticky Note board, a graphic organizer, a timeline, or whatever you and your students can think of.
  2. Use Drawing to annotate a screenshot.  Capture a web page or diagram from the web, insert it in Drawing and use the text, shapes and arrow tools to annotate the captured photo. 
  3. Create hyperlinks on a photo or diagram.  Insert the diagram or create a drawing. Using the Polyline or Shape tool, draw a shape around the area where you want the hyperlink. Insert the link to the webpage you want to add. Change the shape color and line color to transparent. You have now created an invisible hyperlink for students to click on to find more information. Even better, your students can create hyperlinks to connect web sites and additional Drawings to present their work on a topic.
There are an endless number of ideas that can be created in Drawing. I hope you find Drawing to be as cool as I do and it becomes a valuable tool in your classroom.