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Friday, March 4, 2016

Check Out the New Google Docs & Slides Templates

This week Google added some new templates to the Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets template galleries. The most notable of these templates for students and teachers are the new book report template and the new science project template. The templates can be found and modified in your web browser or in the Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets mobile apps.

Watch the video below to learn how to find Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets templates.


The video embedded below will show you how to modify Google Docs templates.

How to Find Google Earth Files That Aren't in the Google Earth Gallery

Yesterday, during my workshop on Google Earth and Google Maps someone asked me if I knew of any files about Rome. I did know about a couple, but I couldn't find them in the Google Earth gallery. So I turned to Google and did a search by file type. My search was refined to .KMZ files. Once I made that refinement I was able to find the files I was looking for. The directions for searching for Google Earth files through Google are included in the screenshots below (click the images to view them in full size).

Enter a search term. In this case I am looking for files related to World War II. You could also do a search for something like "Maine Seafood." You have to enter a search term and do the search before you will see the screen pictured below.

In the advanced search menu select "file type" then select KMZ or KML.

Alternatively, you can search by file type by entering filetype: KMZ after your search term.

To clarify, you will have to open the file in Google Earth to see its contents. This method is just for finding files to use in Google Earth.

Finding files in the Google Earth gallery:
Google Earth has a lot of great layers of information built in. Simply open the "layers" drop-down menu in Google Earth and select a layer to view it (remember, the more layers you select the slower Google Earth will run). You can also open the "Earth Gallery" in Google Earth to find and add more layers to your view of Google Earth.

Apply Soon for the Discovery Summer Institute

A few years ago I had the privilege to speak at Discovery Education Network's Summer Institute. It was a great event and I have wholeheartedly recommended it to teachers ever since I attended. This week long event brings together educators from the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. This year's event is being held in Chicago. You have to apply to attend. Those who are accepted only need to pay to get there. The application deadline is April 1st. The application information can be found here.

CamFind - Conduct Research With the Help of Augmented Reality

In my last presentation at the NCTIES 2016 conference I shared some mobile apps and ideas for using them with ELA and social studies classes (slides are available here). CamFind is one of my favorite apps in the presentation.

CamFind is a free iOS and Android app that enables you to take a picture of any object and then instantly conduct a web search about it. For example, when I take a picture of my computer bag CamFind instantly starts to search for objects like it as well as web pages about computer bags. I've also used CamFind to take pictures of blocks of text and let CamFind then search for web articles related to the text in my picture.

Applications for Education
One obvious use of CamFind is on field trips or simple walks around your school's neighborhood. Students could use the app to find information about plants while they walk. They could use the app to learn more about a landmark on a field trip.

Another possible use of CamFind is to have students scan passages of text (zoom-in on the page first) and then let CamFind search for related articles. Once they have a list of related articles students could dive deeper by entering search terms into a Google search.