Google Drawings, an app found inside of Google Drive, has become more and more my go-to resource for creating artifacts and activities that are interactive. You can customize the workspace to any size you need using the File -> Page Setup, access multiple line and shape tools, and insert objects from the same sources as you can from a Google Doc or Slides file. The possibilities for this tool are only limited by our own imaginations.
Case and point, I recently read a how-to article from edtechteacher by Ben Sondgeroth where he outlines the true power of Google Drawings to create interactive artifacts. Ben walks you through how to create an interactive Google Drawing using Parts of a Cell as an example, among several others. My favorite example is the interactive States of the U.S. map, where each state has been linked to a video about that state from the History Channel. You can watch his video as he goes about this step-by-step below.
- Using interactive Google Drawings fits in quite nicely if you are using a flipped classroom setup or use Hyperdocs in your lessons.
- Share this technique with your students and see what interactive Drawings products they can build. I decided to add this to the list of options for my students to use when creating their Upstander Superhero as part of our unit of study on Cyberbullying.
Branches of Power – Building humble issues into towering laws
Branches of Power is one of eight interactive modules available from Sunnylands Civics Games. In this module students take on roles in each of the three branches of the United States government: Congressional, Executive, and Judicial. Students float among the three branches as they follow an issue from its beginnings in a public forum to local governments, then to Congress and all the way to the desk of the President.
If this is their first time visiting the site, after reading through the directions have students start by going through the tutorial. This will pre-configure the players and allow them to focus more on the government processes themselves. There are many variables, values, and interest groups that students will need to consider at each step in the legislative process. Once students have a feel for the game, have them move to the main game module where they get to configure their own players within each government branch. Students will need to, for example, select what values their legislator will fight for and what issues will make up their Executive branch’s agenda. Winning occurs when students successfully turn all ten issues into laws, represented by towers on the game board.
This site requires Flash.
- If you don’t have access to a 1-to-1 environment for students to run their own governments, then project the site onto a whiteboard and divide them up into three groups (the three branches) and have them make decisions by consensus.
- After a game session is finished, have students reflect on the choices they made and places where they could have taken a different path.
Recently Google Docs added a speech-to-text option as part of the toolbox. The speech recognition that has been built into Docs has shown to be rather robust, especially for a tool that is a free add-on built-in to the app. Now, Google has expanded their Voice Typing tool by arming it with an array of voice commands to help you format/edit your text without ever having to touch your keyboard or trackpad/mouse.
For example, when you are dictating to your Google Doc you can use voice commands to select a word, a line, or the entire document. You can change the font of a word to bold or assign a heading style to a word or phrase. You can even start a bulleted list with your voice. A full list of Google’s voice commands can be found on their Google Docs Support Site or by clicking here. Please note that at this time voice commands are available in English only.
To see Google’s voice commands in action, check out this screencast video from The Gooru.
Provided thanks to the non-profit group Internet Archive, the Television Archive contains over 909,000 video clips from news agencies in the United States and Great Britain. Search the database based on keyword and/or filter your results by number of views, title, date archived, or creator. Use the topic cloud down the right-side of the page to look up video clips from specific news agencies such as the BBC News, Mad Money, Frontline, Teen Kids News and more.
Once you make a selection, a film strip-like interface will load breaking down the video clip into 1-minute segments. Each segment will start out playing in a smaller window but can be expanded to play full screen. Many of the video clips also support closed captioning. Video segments can be shared via social media or embedded onto your website.
Bojagi – Visual-reasoning math puzzles
Created by David Radcliffe, Bojagi combines multiplication with visual-reasoning skills on a grid to create interesting math puzzles. The directions are pretty straight forward:
“Draw a rectangle around each number by clicking and dragging with a mouse. Each rectangle should contain exactly one number, and the area of the rectangle should be the number that it contains. Rectangles must not overlap.”
Once you have completed the training puzzle, click on the List menu to access a growing list of user-generated puzzles, some of which are quite challenging. After you have acquired enough experience with the puzzles, click on the Create menu and try your hand at making one of your own!
- Put a new spin on learning multiplication facts using this site.
- Have students work in pairs to solve the same problem then compare their results to show that there may be more than one way to solve a problem.
- Pair with an interactive whiteboard and have students solve one number at a time. Can they solve a number and still leave room for their peers to solve the remaining puzzle numbers?
Some of us have yet to see a flake so far this season, while others have already had to break out the boots, gloves, and shovels. Regardless of where you are on the winter scale, Google is here to help usher in the season with Magnetic Poetry. Similar to the Halloween post I shared back in October, the winter version uses Google Slides instead of Drawing to create a digital version of the magnetic poetry once found solely on the kitchen refrigerator. In addition, this template comes with a word bank so you can see the list of words that are already present. Use this link to make a copy for yourself and then distribute the template to your students.
The word bank is extensive so students may need to go digging in search of specific words. Of course, since it is a Google Slides file students can make their own ‘word magnets’ if needed using the shapes tool. Project the file onto an Interactive WhiteBoard (IWB) and have students work in teams to see who can craft the best poetry piece.
My thanks again to Kasey Bell for sharing this resource.
With the recent integration of calendars into Google Classroom, some of our students are seeing some of their class calendars in Google Calendar but not others (i.e. the class calendars are not visible from the Calendar web app or the iOS mobile app). Why some students are experiencing this and not others is unknown.
This tutorial will show how to force Calendar to add Classroom Calendars so that they can be seen within the web application and from the Google Calendar iOS app.
Halloween is only a few days off and teachers are on the lookout for fun and creative activities to get students into the spirit of the holiday. Look no further than this Google Drawing template designed to work like the magnetic poetry pieces one might find on a refrigerator door. Clicking the link will prompt you to “Make a copy…” from the template and save it to your Google Drive. You can then share your copy with your students as well as your peers.
The word bank is extensive so students may need to go digging in search of specific words. Of course, since it is a Google Drawing file students can make their own ‘word magnets’ if needed. Project the file onto an Interactive WhiteBoard (IWB) and have students work in teams to see who can craft the best poetry piece.
My thanks to Kasey Bell from Shake Up Learning who shared this template in the Google for Education Trainer forum for anyone to use and share alike!
The Peanut Gallery – Add text dialog to silent movie clips
One of my favorite improv skits from Whose Line is it Anyway? was called “Film Dub” where the cast would have to watch a video clip with the sound muted and provide all new dialog, the results of which would often cause audiences to erupt in laughter. Now, thanks to a Google Chrome extension, students can flex their own improvisational muscles with The Peanut Gallery.
Before you begin, you will need the following:
- Google Chrome web browser app
- An enabled or connected microphone
There are 15 silent movie clips to choose from with themes that range from The Lost World to Phantom of the Opera and Plane 9 from Outer Space. Once you make a selection, verify/approve the extension’s access to your computer’s microphone. When ready, speak the word “Action!” to begin. When you want to add textual dialog, simply speak into your microphone and the extension will do the rest. If you want specific punctuation then include it in your voice command (e.g. “What day is it question mark”). Once complete, you have the option to watch your film with inserted text and soundtrack, start over, or share over social media. If the use of social media is not an option, then copy-&-paste the URL from this screen into an email, Google Form, blog post, etc. to share.
For recording tips, background information on the origins of the Peanut Gallery idiom, and bibliography for the film clips click the ‘About‘ link in the bottom toolbar for the website.
- Use this with students to conduct digital role-playing scenarios.
- Create a PSA (Public Service Announcement) on a past or current events topic.
- To maximize speaking opportunities, it might be helpful for students to storyboard out each scene in the video clip so that they can script out the dialog that would like to add.
Play the hit memory game Simon from your computer! Simon uses four colored tiles and corresponding sounds to create a pattern that you need to repeat. For each successful pattern you repeat, Simon will add one additional step at the end. Points are awarded for each successful pattern repeat. There’s nothing more to it than that. This site requires Flash.
- Pair Simon with an interactive whiteboard to get the entire class involved.
- If you have multiple student devices, divide your class into teams and have them compete against one another.
- Add another level of difficulty by muting the device to remove the audio cues. If you really want to make things challenging, hide the display while Simon plays the next pattern so that students have to rely exclusively on the button sound effects.