Tag Archives: Google

3 Google App Hacks for the not so 1:1 iPad Classroom

I love the collaborative aspect of Google Drive, but with a classroom of varying numbers and age levels of students and 10 iPads I’ve had to learn to be a bit creative when it comes to using Google activities with my students.  The release of specific apps for iOS such as Slides and Sheets is still problematic when you are not in a 1:1 environment since a login is required to access the files.  And some of the features that look great on other devices won’t work on iPads in a browser – even in Chrome.  Here are a few “workarounds” I’ve developed that some of you might also find useful:

  • Docs are an easy way to share website links with classes. For example, I created a Google Doc called, “Websites for Class.”  I made it public, opened it on each iPad, and sent the shortcut to the iPad home screen.  Now I can change the links any time, and the students can click on them without needing to type in URL’s.  (Sure, you can use a bookmarking site, Google Classroom, or even apps like Chirp to share links, but this simple solution has streamlined the process immensely.)  If you think you are going to want to keep those links for future use, make a copy before you change to new links and save the copy with the title of whatever theme the old links shared (“Optical Illusion Sites,” for example).
  • Create a “generic” G-mail account to use Sheets.  The new Sheets are currently not editable on an iPad browser.  I learned this the hard way.  My students use Sheets for checking in at centers (using the above method, but with a spreadsheet) but that suddenly stopped working.  The files work great in the Sheets app, but I didn’t want to have each student log in since multiple students share iPads – or have my own account permanently on the iPads. So, I made a “generic” account. This G-mail account is used for the sole purpose of sharing documents on my iPads.  All of the iPads are already logged into that account, so the students do not have to do anything but open the app and find the appropriate Sheet.
  • Make a Google Site to share Forms that you change frequently.  This is a bit more advanced.  You can also use a Google Site to share links that you change frequently (but the Doc method described above takes a lot less steps!).  Once you make a free Google Site, you can just click on the html button and embed the code for your form.  Be sure to click inside the Google Gadget area to get the settings button at the bottom and add a scroll bar.  Otherwise, your students may only be able to see part of the form on the iPad.  Add your Google Site to the Home Screen of every iPad and you can then share whatever you want the students to access with a tap on the icon.

Do any of you have Google App iPad hacks?  Please share!

image from speedofcreativity.org
image from speedofcreativity.org

 

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Fun Stuff to Do with Google

I’ve collected a few fun Google activities during the last week that I thought I would share for this week’s Phun Phriday post.  Remember, these are not necessarily educational – but that doesn’t mean you won’t find a way to integrate them into your classroom 🙂

I saw this Google Docs trick tweeted out earlier this week via @DenverUbow.  By typing in the Konami code while you are on a Google Doc, the text will reverse to its mirror image.  Type in the same code to get it back to normal.  Someone on Twitter (I can’t remember who) mentioned that this might be a fun trick to play on a student who leaves a Google Doc up on his or her screen when leaving the classroom for a restroom break. 😉  In our district GT program, the students learn about Leonardo da Vinci, so I’m thinking of a way to tie this in to his mirror writing in his journals.

Ozge Karaoglu’s blog has a recent post on this fun Docs Demo: Master’s Edition.  You can type in the Google Doc, and then have famous collaborators add to (or revise) your composition. Shakespeare and Emily Dickinson are two of the people who might join in.  What’s really cool is that Google records the whole process, and then gives you a link you can share with others.

And, lastly, @rpetitto shared that Build with Chrome now offers a Build Academy.  The online Lego building academy walks you through different challenges, and can be just as fun as doing the real thing.

Screenshot from Lego/Google Chrome Build Academy
Screenshot from Lego/Google Chrome Build Academy

Made with Code

Made with Code

In the past couple of years, there have been an overwhelming number of stories from media outlets that point out the huge amount of computer science jobs that are available and the dismal number of American students prepared to fill them.  You can see some of the sobering statistics on this infographic provided by Kodable. Although coding is not the only requirement for these jobs, many people argue that it would benefit our children to learn this valuable skill.

A recent article, “Why (and How) To Start Teaching Coding in School,” by Kate Wilson for Edudemic, highlights the reasons that support adding coding to the curriculum.  One comment that she makes is, “Unfortunately, there’s a stigma we need to break that coding is nerdy, boring, or mostly for boys.”  This is very true.  I have seen this in my classroom and our school Robotics club.  Like many others, I would like to work on removing that stigma.  According to CS Education, only 18.6% of the students who took the AP Computer Science Exam in 2013 were female.

Google (who is also offering a free Maker Camp starting in July) is hoping to change statistics like these with its new initiative, “Made with Code.”  On the Community page, Google explains, “If girls are inspired to see that Computer Science can make the world more beautiful, more usable, more safe, more kind, more innovative, more healthy, and more funny, then hopefully they will begin to contribute their essential voices. As parents, teachers, organizations, and companies we’re making it our mission to creatively engage girls with code.”

By featuring videos with examples of female mentors and makers in the world of coding, Google hopes to give girls some role models and to show them the many facets of a world that uses code.  But that isn’t all.  The site is a one-stop-shop for finding coding events in your community, connecting with other coders for help, finding resources, and offering projects that might especially appeal to girls.  One example of the latter is the fun “Code a Bracelet” project.  My own 11-year-old daughter was enthusiastic about using blocks of programming to design a personalized bracelet that will be printed on a 3-D printer and sent to our home in about 3 weeks for free (courtesy of Shapeways).

I will be adding Made with Code to my “Programming for Kids” Pinterest Board.  If you are looking for other posts that I’ve done on this blog (and there have been many) about teaching students to code, please feel free to do a search for “coding.”

Maker Camp 2014

Maker Camp

For the past couple of years, Google and Make Magazine have partnered to sponsor an online Maker Camp each summer.  The 2014 Maker Camp runs from July 7th-August 15th.  There is a special theme for each week, and it includes projects, instructions, and virtual field trips.  You do not have to register ahead of time, but you do need a Google Plus account.  Since G+ is only available for 13 years old and above, a parent needs to be involved for younger participants.

If you do not want to actually register for the camp, there is still a wealth of resources from past camps available for those who are interested in making. You can access instructions for all kinds of projects (such as “How to Make a Vibrobot”) as well as videos (such as “Making Magic with Pixar“).  Some of the projects might require a trip to the store, but many use items from around the house.

Like the post I did yesterday on Camp Wonderopolis, this is another example of the multitude of activities that are available to inspire students to have fun learning and creating over the summer -and throughout the year.

I’ve included a video below from last year’s Maker Camp.  If you would like to access some other resources for Making, check out my Pinterest Board.

Chrome Cube Lab

Created with Type Cube in Chrome Cube Lab
Created with Type Cube in Chrome Cube Lab

Well, it’s Phun Phriday, and I am being completely selfless by sharing a site with you that I find more torturous than fun 😉 You see, I was never a huge fan of the Rubik’s Cube.  I have some sort of visual/spatial disorder that makes finding my car in parking lots and solving the Rubik’s Cube without removing all of the stickers impossibly frustrating for me. However, as many of you know, one of the Google Doodles this week was an interactive Rubik’s Cube. Fun – if you like that sort of thing…

But then I saw a link on Joe Hanson’s “It’s Okay to Be Smart” to Chrome Cube Lab. And, for some reason I followed the link.  And I found some amusing digital ways to utilize the Rubik’s Cube. I was able to use “Type Cube” to create the image above. Then I stupidly clicked “Done” and scrambled it. But then it miraculously unscrambled itself. To me that is the best kind of Rubik’s Cube!

Scrambled, then put back together
Scrambled, then put back together

 

The other tool I liked was the “Image Cube.”

Cool - I can add images from my blog!
Cool – I can add images from my blog!

Then I thought it would be cool to offer one of those blog contests; you know, I could scramble the images and give a prize to the first person to identify all of the posts they came from.

Scrambled Image Cube

Then I realized that I have no prizes to give out.  Then I got distracted by adding different backgrounds.

Image Cube with Background

Then I realized I had wasted about as much time as I usually spend trying to find my car in the mall parking lot…

Gwigle

gwigle

Yes, you read that right!  Gwigle is a site that bills itself as “an educational game to help you use Google more effectively.”  Apparently, Gwigle has been around for awhile (since 2006, at least), but I just discovered it.  The concept is that you are given a short list of search results, and you have to guess the search term.  Along the way, you are given access to different search tips, and learn a little about how to refine your searches.  I think that Google searches have changed a bit in the last 6 years, but it’s still a fun and challenging game that teaches some basic search skills.  If you are interested in trying it, or having your students try it, I found a very helpful blog post by “Sophie”, in which she listed all of the answers.  Another idea might be to develop your own Gwigle type game in the classroom, possibly using vocabulary words or historical events as search terms, and using it as a different way to review for your students.

The Twenty Percent Project (Reblog)

For the summer, I have decided to use my Tuesday and Thursday posts to reblog some of my favorite posts that some of my readers may have missed the first time around:

Last year, a friend of mine told me about Google’s 20% Policy, and I immediately thought of its applications for the classroom.  It was among many of my ideas that I had for the new school year that just didn’t come to fruition.  And now, I find that a teacher named AJ Juliani had the same inspiration – but is actually following through with it.  You can read all about Google’s Policy, and how Mr. Juliani is applying it with his students here on the “Education is My Life” blog.  Be sure to read the comments that follow, as well.  It makes for an interesting discussion!