In many schools, especially at the elementary level, it is common for students to be using tech for core skill building. For example, they might be using Zearn to go through math practice at a level that is personalized based on pre-assessment results. This can be beneficial, but some research suggests that so-called drill and kill types of platforms might not be best and may even have negative effects on student learning. See this research page from Liz Kolb’s Triple E Framework site for more on that.
I also believe that students can be doing much more than practice problems with the devices they are using. So, I have been exploring ways to design activities that involve application of learning and using tech to build or create based on the concepts being taught. This may sound a bit daunting, but here are two examples that are fairly simple to set up:
- Google Slides Place Value Interactive. You can add background elements, like a cartoon field, that won’t move by editing the Slide Master (how to edit Slide Master in Google Slides). When students load the link, they can make a copy, or teachers can assign it through Classroom as a copy for each student. Then they interact and build.
- Google Doc Array and Area Activity. This prompts students to build some simple layouts in Geogebra and then asks questions that farmers would actually have to ask when building a fence. Like in the previous activity, students need to apply their understanding. They also have links to reference in case they need it (e.g. perimeter and area).
These are not the most polished or amazing, but they incorporate some complex thinking and some personal interaction as well. Take a look, make copies for yourself, and modify as you see fit. Please share any ideas or questions with us so we can learn from you as well.
Interactive presentation tools are useful for engaging audiences and can be used in many ways. As with all things, educators should be aware of the features as well as consider whether or not it is the best tool for the job.
Many of you have likely heard about Google Slides’ recent Q and A feature update. If not, you can go to this overview from Richard Byrne. Basically, Q and A allows a presenter to invite audience members to submit questions or comments and then vote those up or down. The presenter can then respond as needed or use the archived record for follow up.
One thing I discovered with Andrew is that a presenter cannot delete a comment, and students have the option to post anonymously. You can see the potential for trouble there. Using this feature could be a good opportunity to have conversations with students about the purpose and expectations around digital interaction, and it is probably best to be aware of what may occur when you give it a whirl with students.
As always, I encourage people to think about the potential value of an instructional choice. Is it worth the time needed for students to pull out devices and enter the link? Is a slideshow the best option for your objective? Are there other ways for students to inquire and interact? These are questions to consider. I’m not saying don’t do it, I’m just saying that we should be intentional about it.
Another tool that offers a similar feature is GoSoapBox, and it provides additional ways for a presenter/class facilitator to engage an audience meaningfully as well. Whatever is chosen, it should result in a deeper learning experience, and it shouldn’t be cumbersome, time-consuming, or distracting. If you have examples of what is working for you, please share with us and others.
Google has a robust set of training courses that any Google user can access for free. The courses are organized into segments that incorporate reflection, goal setting, and classroom application in the study of Google tools. This means that individuals that work through the lessons can contemplate what they want to accomplish with technology, not just learn what buttons to click. Go here to start the fundamentals or advanced training. You can also access training based on specific applications and devices here.
These courses, or components of them, could be used to individualize training for educators, and I recommend that they be used in conjunction with content or grade level staff meetings. In that arrangement, people can build the skills they need and then work together to build more substantial integration into their curriculum. Administrators could ask people to submit their goals or progress as a way to ensure people are participating (they should also provide contract time for doing this!).
Of course, individuals could access these as well, and it could be a good way to get new teachers acclimated or struggling teachers to a greater level of comfort. People even have the option to become Google certified. No matter what, it’s great to have a free option available.
Google is hosting a free, interactive online conference that will take place on Friday, May 8 from 10am – 3pm EDT and throughout the day Saturday, May 9, with sessions across time zones.
The sessions in the conference will focus on education. This will be of interest to educators in all roles, but also to many parents, students, and citizens. If you register for the event, Google will send you information about the exact speakers and sessions as that becomes available. Although many sessions will focus on primary/secondary (K-12) many will be of interest to the Higher Education audience too.
Even if you can’t make it to the live online presentations, the event sessions will be recorded and available for replay, on-demand.
Register today at Education On Air and read the FAQs for additional information.
Don’t miss this opportunity to attend the Kent ISD Tech Camp! This 3-day à la carte event will be chock-full with learning, interaction, and hands-on activities. Tech Camp will be held at Kent Innovation High, which affords us a much larger venue and one that’s very conducive to learning with your peers.
As we get closer, we’ll publish a full list of sessions, SCECH information and the link to sign up. For now, add it to your calendar – you’ll not want to miss it!
Want to bring technology into your classroom? Looking to discover new ways of creating meaningful learning experiences for your students?
This self-paced, online course is intended for anyone – of any technical skill level – hoping to use Google’s educational tools in the classroom. Through videos, use-cases, and examples you’ll get ideas about how to bring Google for Education (including Google Apps for Education with classroom, Google Maps and more) into your teaching.
Register for free here.
Google Drive is already one of the best cloud storage services around, and last week it got even better— that is if you’re using a Google Apps for Education (GAfE) account. In an effort to further enhance its commitment to education, Google is offering both educators and students unlimited Drive storage at no cost. As far as we can tell, unlimited means just that for as long as you have that GAfE account. There is one small caveat though – you are “limited” to a single file size of 5TB. I don’t think I even have a total of 5TB of storage in the many files I do hoard, let alone a single file of that size.
Let there be no doubt the strategy from the search giant to build their user base by getting people hooked on ubiquitous access at a young age.
Something that we should all think about beyond the ever present talk about privacy issues, which are both ongoing and debunked is: What happens to your files when you leave an EDU organization?
Since our students may move from district to district, and will eventually graduate – what’s your plan for data portability and to help them take their digital artifacts with them? Google has a relatively unknown utility which allows anyone to make a backup of most of their Google product files, to include Drive data. Formerly called Google Takeout, now Data Tools – this service creates a downloadable .ZIP file of your content.
Having a statement on data portability might be a great addition to your student handbook and might be a good topic for a short staff professional development topic.
If you ever have any questions about your organization’s Google Apps for Education accounts, please feel free to contact the expert Kent ISD Educational Technology Team at: firstname.lastname@example.org – We’re always willing to provide professional learning for you and your staff around technology integration into the classroom.