Google Docs: Explore Now w/Citations

screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-1-45-55-pmIn September of 2016, Google added the Explore tool to their suite of Google Drive apps (i.e. Docs, Sheets, and Slides). The Explore tool takes a look at the product that you are working on and then uses its vast resources to provide insights, additional design tools to enhance your work, and recommendations to help you make a better product. However, this also meant that the older Research Tool was removed from Docs. A critical feature inside of the Research Tool was the ability to generate citations based on MLA, APA, and Chicago formats that were then added to your Doc as footnotes. Many users, educators in particular, sent feedback to Google pleading with them to bring back the Research Tool and its citation capabilities. Google responded by keeping the new Explore tool for Google Sheets and Slides, but rolling back Docs and restoring the Research Tool in the process.

Fast forward to this month and Google has reintroduced Explore to Google Docs, and this time it has its own citation tool!

  1. Open a Google Doc.Screen Shot 2016-12-17 at 1.50.30 PM.png
  2. Locate the Explore tool, located in the bottom-right corner of the window.
  3. A sidebar will pop out from the right side of the window. Use the search box at the top to enter your keyword(s). Explore will search the web for sites and images, as well as any files from Google Drive that match your criteria.
  4. Notice that, when you click into the search box Explore will show you several of your past keyword searches. Then, as you type will suggest additional keywords that may be helpful.
  5. When looking at the results of your search, locate the three vertical dots (what my students call the Oreo cookies). Clicking here will allow you to select the citation format you would like to use (MLA, APA, or Chicago).
  6. When you find a resource that you’d like to cite, hover over the entry then click on the quotation mark tool in the top-right corner to generate a footnote citation. Remember to place the cursor at the proper location on your Doc prior to clicking on the Cite as footnote button.


For more information, please refer to the Google Docs Help Center and their post from the G Suites Updates blog.


How to Spot Fake News

newspaper-151438_640In today’s world where many people rely on social media just as much, if not more, for their daily dose of news it is becoming essential that we know how to tell the difference between ‘real’ news stories and ‘fake’ ones. With the hand-held technologies we have today news stories of every kind can easily be posted and shared, spreading like digital wildfire. As a result, it is our responsibility to educate our students as they grow up in this environment on how to find the truth among all of the opinions, biases, and all out fake information that’s out there. But, where do we begin?

Check out this article from Common Sense Media on How to Spot Fake News (and Teach Kids to Be Media-Savvy). In this article, author Sierra Filucci discusses how to look at news stories critically and ask questions to help determine their validity. These questions can also be applied to research skills when using online sources. Too often, when my 5th grade students research something online for me and I ask them, “What’s your source?” they often answer with: “Google.” I feel like they’re not taking the time to verify who is giving them the answer. So that is why we are taking the time to really focus on taking those old “W” questions (Who?, When?, Where?, etc.) and applying them to our online research, as well as developing a list of trusted primary sources who we can go to first with our questions.

Television Archive News Search Service (Gr. 5-12)

Television Archive News Search Service – 900,000 results and growing

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.

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Google Newspaper Archives (Gr. 6-12)

Google Newspaper Archives – Read newspapers from around the world!

From part of the Google News app, the newspaper archives contains digital versions of various newspaper editions from around the world from various points in time. Search the archive by keyword or alphabetically, or if you know the specific newspaper by name use the ‘Find’ command (Ctrl+F or Cmd+F) to quickly locate the newspaper in question. Each newspaper listing shows the number of issues contained within and the time span covered (note that there may be gaps within the timelines).

Clicking on a newspaper will take you to a new window with a horizontal timeline organized by year. You can adjust the display settings so that the timeline is organized by day, week, month, year, or decade. At the top of each column you will see the number of available issues. Clicking on an issue will bring up a page-by-page view with options to scroll, fit to height, and view fullscreen. Use the ‘Link to Article’ tool to generate a link to a specific article within a specific newspaper issue.


  • Compare and contrast news headlines from different newspapers from different places around the world.
  • Compare writing styles from different time periods.

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Information Literacy w/Google Apps (Hangout Archive)

This is an archived video from a Google Hangout ‘On-Air’ session, presented to an audience of middle school level educators.


This Google Hangout Archive introduces staff to Google’s Research Tool found in Google Docs/Slides. This video also covers how to use Google’s advanced ‘Search Tools’ for students in our 1-to-1 Chromebook environment (5/6th grade) and for students in our 1-to-1 iPad environment (7/8th grade).

Duration: 11:18

How Search Works

In my lesson on the use of keywords when conducting Internet searches, I found this video by Matt Cutts. Matt, an engineer at Google, explains what Google does when a user inputs a search query into their search engine. Students don’t realize the work that goes on behind the scenes of a search engine and what they do to get the results they are trying to looking for, or how fast they do it all.

The Monkey ‘Selfie’

While I was building a lesson on plagiarism and citations, I decided that I wanted to expand it and talk with my students in more detail about Copyright and Creative Commons licensing. And then our school librarian shared with me this story: “PETA suit claims monkey holds copyright to famous selfie.” I felt like I had just struck gold! This story is a great classroom discussion starter on the topic of ownership and how sticky this can sometimes be, especially when it comes to digital artifacts.

  • What is your take on this situation?
  • Who do you side with?

Ducksters (Gr. 2-8)

Ducksters – Safe research portal for students

Ducksters is a safe, educational research site designed with students in mind. The site is pretty basic without a lot of flash and fanfare so students can focus more on the content they are consuming. There are no ads on the site.

To get started:

  • Choose from one of the five content category buttons at the top of the site.
  • Choose a more specific topic from the available links in the center square of the site.
  • Use the Search box in the top-right corner if you have a specific topic in mind. Note that while the search results may look like a standard Google Search they are in fact a custom search that shows results only from

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Trading Card Creator

Trading Card Creator – Student interactive activity

From the website, the Trading Card Creator is a great interactive tool for students to use to add some excitement to a research project. There are seven different card topics to choose from including people, places, and events – both real and fictional. Which card topic they choose will determine the card layout. As students click on each section, the application displays bubbles with helpful tips for students as to what types of information could be entered. Once complete, students may save their trading card or print it out.


  • The Trading Card Creator is available both as a web-based application and an iOS app for the iPad, so if you don’t have enough of the same type of technology for your whole class then you could mix and match. Please note that the projects are not necessarily transferrable between computer and iPad though. There is no login required for the web-based version, and students can save their projects as a .rwt file if they need to finish their card at a later date. The iPad app requires students to create a username in order to save projects and keep them separate, but no passwords are used. Finished projects can be transferred the the iPad’s camera role.
  • If you scroll down past the app entry window on their website then you can access lists of lessons plans (organized by grade level) that use this interactive tool as well as related classroom and professional development resources.

Web application

TradingCardCreator Screenshot


iOS app.

TradingCardCreator iOS app


Thanks to FreeTech4Teachers for tweeting about this very cool resource.