Ed Tech Tips with E. Mosier

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Getting Clever with Google Tools

Overview

Knowing what Google tool to use for a certain project is pretty commonplace anymore. If a student needs to type an essay, send them to Google Docs. If they need to present on a topic, use Google Slides. If they need to chart data, use Google Sheets. But, these tools can be used well beyond that general scope. In fact, these are several creative ways for you to "think outside the box" and really challenge your students to think, create, and collaborate using these tools. The following suggestions are from a presentation by Eric Curts, an amazing Google Trainer and Innovator out of Ohio, whose website Control Alt Achieve is outstanding. The materials and tips there are many and extremely clever.

Google Slides

Creating a presentation is a breeze with Google Slides. We can even go online to download custom templates to make it really stand out. However, Slides can be used as a collaboration tool among students. For example, if you have something to discuss with students, share out a single Slides presentation using the "Allow Students to Edit" option. Then, assign each student a slide where they add their content. This allows students to view other slides and add comments and questions to create an engaging, collaborative lesson. This could be useful when studying vocabulary, complex math problems, parts of a story, country studies, and even the Presidents of the United States.

Google Sheets

Charting data with Sheets is a very basic use of the tool. With the data charted, students can create graphs and add filters to sort that data. But, what about using Sheets as a way to document simple information? Mr. Curts calls this a "Learning Database." A few examples of this would be to chart characters in a story. Then in the columns that follow, notate important events or changes that character endures. Or, simply describe the character using short adjectives. That would allow students to filter the results to determine which characters drastically changed or how they progressed. Outside of Language Arts, this method could be used to learn about different animal species and their habitats, different elements on the periodic table, or even branches of the government. Again, it's probably a decent idea to assign students to rows, so the craziness doesn't overtake the Sheet once students begin filling in the data.

Google Drawing

This is easily my favorite Google tool to use simply because of its versatile options for creativity. Think of Drawing as a blank canvas that can be shaped into a myriad of projects. For example, the workspace could be resized to create a digital poster board. Instead of running to the store for glitter, glue, and stencil letters, students can work for free on a digital canvas. Or, this could be used for manipulatives. Fill up a workspace with numbers, equation symbols and an alphabet of letters, and you have just created a magnet board for students to showcase their learning. Or, fill it with a couple dozen elements, give them some reactions, and without worrying about a pencil, students can have a chemical equation showing up fast.

Google MyMaps

If you're lucky enough to be where MyMaps is allowed as an option, the possibilities are plentiful with mapping tools. Of course it's always interesting to see the distance between two places, but this thinking can be expanded even more. One option for this is to look at Google Street view of a location being studied in class. Whether it's a famous city, landmark, or even the hometown of a character in a novel, being able to manipulate a map and see a location from the usual perspective could be awesome. Another amazing tool that Google offers is the Tour Builder. Students can create different "pins" on a map complete with images and information about that location. They can then track distances between the two, or have a visual representation of where a character traveled to and from in a story.

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