Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Where I'd Like to Go - An Icebreaker With Google Drawings

As the new school year starts many you may find yourself looking for some new ideas to break the ice and get to know your new students while they also get to know each other. One thing that I've always asked my students is "where in the world would you go if you could go anywhere today?" Recently, I've started thinking about turning that question into the prompt for an activity in which students learn a bit about Google Drawings

The idea is to have students virtually place themselves anywhere in the world through the use of Google Drawings. To do this students first need to find a picture of themselves and remove the background from it. Photoscissors makes it quick and easy to remove the background then download a new background-free image. Once they have a picture of themselves then students open Google Drawings where they insert a picture of place that they want to visit or revisit. Finally, they then insert their profile picture over the background image in Google Drawings. Those steps might sound complicated, but they're not. In this short video I show the whole process. 

As I mention in the video above, you can modify this activity to be completed with Google Slides or Google Jamboard. And, as is also demonstrated in the video above, you can use Google Classroom to distribute a template for the assignment.

Image Search and Autodraw - My Favorite Book Creator Design Tools

Disclosure: Book Creator is currently an advertiser on This post was written by me, Richard Byrne. 

In yesterday's post about Book Creator's back-to-school resources I mentioned the integrated image search and the autodraw feature that students can use on every page of their books. Those are probably my favorite design tools incorporated into Book Creator because they enable anyone to add helpful storytelling imagery into their books. Autodraw is particularly helpful to people like me who are not good at drawing. The integrated image search is helpful because it only returns copyright-free images. 

Both of my favorite Book Creator design features, Autdraw and Integrated Image Search, are demonstrated in my latest Book Creator tutorial video

Zoom Tip - Screen Share Zoom Windows

If you have recently updated the desktop version of Zoom you may have noticed a new option in your "in meeting" settings. That option is "show Zoom windows during screen share." By enabling that option your screen shares will include the webcam or profile picture windows of the people who are in your meeting. See my screenshot below for directions on where to find this setting in your Zoom account. 

Unfortunately, during my testing of the setting I found that it doesn't screen share the Zoom control bar so you can't use it to show meeting participants where the mute button or other settings are during a meeting. 

Applications for Education
My first thought when seeing "show Zoom windows during screen share" option was that it might be useful to those who want to be able to include their students' video feeds in a screenshare. I can see potential for this to be useful when I want to have include a side-by-side view of a student's screen and my screen during Zoom meeting. For example, if a student asks for help on a coding problem and I want to explain the solution to the whole class I can have that student screen share right next to my screen share. Then I'm able to display my screen with the correct answer and my student's screen with the error and how to correct it.

How to Set Google Scholar Alerts - Two Options

I've published a few posts about Google Scholar lately because I think it's a valuable research tool that students often overlook or haven't been introduced to. It can be used to conduct research on court cases, inventions and inventors, and all kinds of academic topics. There's one more feature of Google Scholar that students should know how to use. That feature is setting alerts for new material that appears in Google Scholar and matches a predefined search term.

In this new video (embedded below) I demonstrate how to create a library of resources in Google Scholar as well as how to create Google Scholar Alerts that will notify you when new content related to your research appears in Google Scholar.