Google Search Tools

Have you ever noticed that ‘Search Tools’ button that comes up in Google Searches? Ever taken the time to explore it? Google Search Tools button

Here are some handy tools that you can use with your students.

Tip: click on the GIF image to load a larger (and easier to see) version.

Adjust Results by Reading Levels

Note: Basic results often brings up ask.com, answers.yahoo.com, etc type pages. This is a great opportunity to teach about content reliability.

Adjust Google Results by Reading Level

Search Images for Creative Commons

Click here to learn more about Creative Commons license types.

Creative Commons Google Image Search

Search Images by Type

Image type Google Search

Search Images by Size

Note: this is useful if you need a high-resolution picture to print or a low resolution for when building online content.

Image size Google Search

Traveling with Google

 

I want to start off the 2012-2013 year by singing my praises about Google Translate and Maps.

 

Not enough is said about the wonderful – granted, still developing – but wonderful tool of Google Translate. I’ve recently returned from a 6 week vacation in Spain, Portugal and Morocco and Google Translate has been by my side the whole way to help me through a number of situations that would have been a lot more difficult without it, including:

 

  • Buying bus and train tickets online – a number of the website that I needed to use to book my next travel option weren’t in English. By simply copying and pasting the whole website URL into Google Translate, any text on the page (including drop down menus) is translated to your desired language.
  • Reading menus – countless times I used google translate to help me understand some of the foods that I was about to order from various menus – and which ones not to order!
  • Medical help – with my wife and I falling ill from food poisoning during the trip, Google Translate helped us when at the pharmacy to get some much-needed rehydration salts!
  • Hotel and attraction reviews on www.tripadvisor.com – with their built-in Google Translator tool, you can read all the reviews, not just those in your language.
  • Just for fun – during some of our downtime we ended up watching Spanish game shows on TV. Google Translate was great at helping us play along – as long as I could type the question quickly enough 🙂

 

Of course, I should also mention the many hours and kilometres extra walking that were saved with thanks to Google Maps and the directions feature within, helping us to find hotels down winding lane ways in Spain, bus and train stations, and even provide some sense of direction in the medieval, maddening medinas of Morocco.

 

Thanks for the great vacation Google!

Making the Most of gmail’s Priority Inbox

Recently I’ve been playing around with the filters and priority inbox in gmail to help keep myself organised.

I’m one of those people who struggles to remember the millions of small tasks, ideas and ‘to dos’ that occur throughout a day. I’ve tried many ways of managing various ‘to do’ lists such as ‘tasks’ in gmail, ‘reminders’ on my iPhone and iPad, and even setting up a checklist in Numbers on my iPad. Oh, and then there’s the sticky notes upon sticky notes on my desk. Unfortunately the problem is I never remember to check my ‘to do’ list.

For work, I always have my inbox open and so I started to think about how I could use this to remember to do things, without cluttering up my regular inbox. This is where the use of Priority Inbox combined with a filter work well in gmail.

setting up your filter in gmail

Setting up a filter in gmail

Firstly, I set up a filter to filter emails from myself and with the subject ‘to do’. To do this, click on the small down arrow in the search box at the top of the screen, fill in the relevant details, then select ‘Create filter with this search’.

Next, I need to tell the filter what to do with these emails. I want it to apply a label to the emails, so I have set up a label called To Do List.

The second step of this process is to set up your Priority Inbox so that you have a section that displays only emails with theTo Do tag attached to them. This keeps them separated from the rest of the mail, making it easier to see your To Dos and your other emails. To do this, click on the cog wheel in the top right corner, then Mail Settings. Then click on the Inbox tab. If you don’t have your priority inbox already turned on, you do this in the first section. In the second section you can use the Options links to choose what to display in each part of your Priority Inbox.

Priority Inbox setup

Priority Inbox setup

Now, whenever I need to remind myself to do something, I can send myself an email with To Do in the subject and it will automatically appear at the top of my Inbox, with all of my other mail displaying below.

I have also used this same process to filter out readings, blog posts, articles, etc that I want to follow up on. With these however, I need to apply the label (Readings) manually rather than using the filter.

Thanks to filters and Priority Inbox I am able to stay (a little) more organised all within one system.

Integrating ICT into the classroom

Finding the right blend to support technology integration can be difficult.

Recently I started in my new position of Technology Integration. I’m working with teachers and students from Early Childhood Education to Grade 3 with limited technology and varying teacher attitudes. Starting the year I was nervous, yet enthusiastic. I’ve been very fortunate to be moving into not only a new position for me, but a totally new position for the school. This has meant loads of flexibility and no expectations of how it was ‘done last year’. As a result, I was able to develop a model of integration that I think would work best. In this post I’d like to outline the major (and successful:)) parts of the model that I’ve worked to implement.

Flexible schedule for me and the computer labs:

 One of the most disheartening aspects of technology teaching in schools is seeing the ‘technology time’ scheduled in to class schedules. Imagine your life if you were only allowed to use technology at 1pm on Tuesday for 40 minutes and then again on Friday at 11am for 40 minutes! This isn’t how technology works. We all use technology to serve a purpose and we use the technology when we need that purpose met, so why do we insist on telling students when they should and should not use technology.

Now ideally, we would have enough technology for students to use it when they need it and put it away when they don’t. Unfortunately we don’t have this flexibility, but we have implemented a flexible booking system for both our computer labs and the in-class support from me. Teachers make use of Google Calendar to book in the times when the technology is needed or when the support is needed, giving greater ability to use the technology as it’s needed.

Priority grade levels:

Currently I am working to support 43 teachers and their classes (approx. 800 kids), plus our single subject teachers. To try to equally share this support each week would be impossible and ineffective. Instead, a key element to ensure technology integration is to work with teams to identify the strongest and most demanding units of learning (in terms of new skills and time) where technology fits in best. These grade levels then become a priority for me. I will work with that grade level intensely over a period of a unit of learning to help the teachers and students meet their goals. Throughout the year, each grade level will have at least one ‘priority unit’. As we believe all teachers are technology teachers, the classroom teacher is responsible for integrating technology into other areas of their curriculum as they see fit and are comfortable to do.

Work with what’s in place:

My goal when helping teams plan their units is to work with what they have in place and to then tie in the technology where it fits best. Let’s consider the example of our grade 3 team who had a heavy focus on research skills for their current unit. As our school makes use of Google Apps for Education, we saw this as a great time to introduce the kids to Google Docs as a place where research groups can keep shared notes on their research questions and inquiries.

Being mindful of teachers’ workloads:

Building on the example from above, I was cautious not to overload teachers with more ‘stuff’ they need to teach. With that in mind, I left the planning meeting with the objective of building a technology unit that would coincide with the unit of inquiry already in place. Some of the key elements were:

Central idea: Technology can help us to work together.

Assessment focus: How well do students use Google Docs to take shared notes with peers?

Inquiry areas:

  • How do we use the Internet to research?
  • How do we stay safe and act responsibly when online?
  • How to we use Google Docs to work together?

My job is to then allow teachers to book their time with me to help them work through the process. With the flexible booking (and a little encouragement or reminder here and there), teachers were able to build the technology skills alongside the unit of inquiry so that students were ready to use Google Docs for their note taking at the time that they were ready to begin their group research.

All in all, teachers have been happy with the many aspects that have been built in to allow for more genuine integration of technology in to the classroom learning experiences. How does technology work at your school? What are the upsides and what are the downsides?

EdTech tips and tools from the week – 9th Sept 2011

TIPS

Unfortunately didn’t get around to any readings this week – it’s been a busy one. A few handy tools below however. Enjoy!

 

TOOLS

KinderChat (via @hechternacht)

  • A lovely wiki hosting all of the tools and resources that emerge from the #kiinderchat on twitter. You don’t need to use twitter to benefit from the chats – simply go to this site to see all of their resources.

Lexilogos – multi-language dictionaries and multi-language keyboard inputs

  • This is a great site with loads of multi-language supports.
  • My favourite feature is the Multi-Lingual Keyboard. It displays an onscreen keyboard in loads of languages and also takes phonetic keyboard input. For example, when I type ka on my keyboard using the Japanese keyboard, the input on the screen is か. Used in conjunction with www.google.com/translate, this tool may well save the sanity of many ESOL learners and their teachers.

Edheads (via @deir75)

  • Some great interactive, child (sometimes older child) friendly resources on the human body, simple machines and the like.

7 Ideas in 7 Minutes (via @ianaddison)

  • Some fantastic resources for teachers, displayed in a 7 minute video.
  • There are some excellent tools for early childhood/kindergarten educators.

5 gmail tips for teachers via @jutecht

  • A last minute inclusion, this blog post from Jeff Utecht gives 5 great tips to help you manage your email – if you use gmail or Google Apps for Education at your campus. I make use of every one of these tips every day!

EdTech tips and tools from the week – 26th Aug 2011

TIPS

Reading – What do kids say is the biggest obstacle to technology at school? 

  • iPads. Interactive Whiteboards. Netbooks. Video games. Although educational technologies are being implemented more and more in classrooms across the country, we don’t often stop and ask students – or their parents – what they think their technology needs are. But the newly-released Speak Up 2010 survey has done just that.”

100+ Google Tricks for Teachers

  • As the title suggests – it’s a list of more than 100 tricks using Google products, from search to email to docs to calendar… the list goes on.

18 Ways to educate yourself every day (because nerds are sexy)

  • I think the title says it all!

 

TOOLS

Speech to text in Windows 7:

  • I had a teacher come and ask me about converting speech to text for her Early Childhood Education (ECE) kids after having mentioned the iPhone App, Dragon Dictation. This particular teacher would like to keep accurate records of conversations with her very young students, but can find it difficult to keep up with written or type notes. Normally I would have sent her straight to this app, as we are soon to move in to our new campus, we are lacking wi-fi at our current campus. So I did some research and found that Windows 7 has quite a robust speech-to-text facility, called Speech Recognition. This was, it seems, developed as an accessibility option as an alternative to mouse and keyboard controls, however when using it with Word it becomes a speech-to-text program. Now, it turns out that the ECE kids’ pronunciation isn’t quite clear enough for Speech Recognition to be accurate, but this utility does have great potential for slightly older kids. Do a search for Speech Recognition, or find it under All Programs, Accessories, Ease of Access. Follow the tutorial (we skipped the voice setup tutorial), open Word and start talking.
  • Potential Uses: 
  • Accurate record of conversations.
  • Transcription of reading.
  • Story telling for younger years.
  • Punctuation and other editing development. Have the kids read something, then edit the text (as it doesn’t punctuate and sometimes detects words incorrectly).

Online/Social Bookmarking for Younger Students

  • Of course, there’s the big guys in social bookmarking – diigo, delicious, etc – but for younger students these tools are simply too complex. I’d been looking for a clean, simple bookmarking tool that provided a thumbnail of the linked site. After a quick tweet out, @hechternacht was able to help me out with a great tool called Tizmos. It’s very simple and great for the younger kids – check it out.

7 Successes of Student Blogging

Without a doubt, the buzz word in our class this year has been BLOGS. Seven months into the school year, and the enthusiasm and enjoyment for blogging in our class is as strong, if not stronger, than day one. The kids are motivated to use their blogs for their school work as well as for personal posts.

So what’s so great about them? Well here are seven reasons that I have loved having the kids blog this year. I hope you are inspired to give blogging a go with your students and see similar results. You can check out all of the tasks I have my kids work on on their blogs at my class blog http://mrg-gr4.blogspot.com.

WHY BLOG?

To build IT skills

There is no doubting that our students are going to need to know how to use and adapt to new technologies. Having students blogging for class and homework has allowed us to learn some of the following skills, beyond the basics of editing and formatting text: embedding video and sound files using YouTube and AudioBoo; embed charts from GoogleDocs, insert photos after using an iPhone to photograph and email them, modify colour and formatting themes, hyperlinking, and the list goes on. Click on the links above to see some examples.

To learn about students’ knowledge

We all have them… those quiet students who hardly make a peep in class. Delightful at times, but I can’t help but feel there’s so much I never get to know about them. Blogs have helped me to gain an insight in to some of these kids’ learning by giving them the time and privacy to share their thoughts in a less confronting way. Take the case of one boy whose reading fluency is lacking, not because he can’t read the words as I thought, but because… well you read what he said by clicking the top image to the right.

Or there’s the girl who gained an incredible understanding of the concept of why biodiversity exists. I didn’t get to learn about this on the field trip because I was too busy telling her other ‘answers’. When she got home and had the time to process and explain her thoughts, only then did I get to hear her understanding.

To track learning over time

Starting the beginning of a unit of learning, it’s always a good idea to see what your students know. Well to start our recent simple machines unit, I had the kids watch a video of a Rube Goldberg machine and explain what was happening and why, and what parts of the machine they knew. Later in the unit I had the kids review their post and update it with their new learning. You can see the task instructions here and one example here: first attempt, second attempt.

To allow for genuine self-reflection

Having kids make reflections of their own reading can be hard when they can’t hear themselves. So, with the assistance of my iPhone and the AudioBoo app I was able to record the kids reading and then have them embed their reading into their blogs. Once this was done, the kids were able to make more accurate judgements on their reading fluency and expression and set goals for improvement. Check it out here.

To share personal achievements

Isn’t it nice when kids have a place to celebrate? Their blogs have become this place. Check out the nice example to the right.

To allow parents to easily see work and give feedback

It’s wonderful when the parents are able to see their kids work as they complete it. It’s more wonderful when the parents are able to leave a comment sharing their pride. Here’s a nice one.

 

 

 

To have a genuine audience

That’s you guys! Please take some time to visit the kids’ blogs who are open and leave them a comment. It will make their day. You can visit all of their blogs here (well the ones that are open at least).