Friday, September 4, 2015

How to Use the Google Drive Templates Gallery

The Google Drive templates gallery is a good place to find designs for slides, documents, and spreadsheets. As someone who gets frustrated by manipulating spreadsheets, I find the Sheets templates to be particularly useful. The Docs and Slides templates are also helpful when I need inspiration for layouts and color schemes. In the short video embedded below I provide an overview of how to access and use the Google Sheets, Docs, and Slides templates.

Google Docs for Android Now Includes a Research Tool

This post originally appeared on one of my other blogs,

The research tool within Google Documents is one of my favorite features for students. That research tool has been available in the browser-based version of Google Docs for years. Now that same feature is available in the Google Docs for Android app.

The research function in Google Documents allows students to conduct Google searches without leaving the Android app. When students find links, pictures, or quotes that they want to include in their documents they can simply tap the insert button to place it in their documents. For students who are using Android tablets or phones as their primary devices, the research function should make the process of writing research papers a bit more efficient.

How to Create Custom, Multimedia Maps on Scribble Maps - No Account Required

Scribble Maps is a free tool for creating custom, multimedia maps online. Scribble Maps allows you to create your maps without creating an account on the site which makes it a good option for students who don't have email addresses or for any setting in which you don't want to make students go through yet another account creation process.

Scribble Maps provides a variety of base layer maps on which you can draw freehand, add placemarks, add image overlays, and type across the map. Compared to creating a custom map on Google Maps, Scribble Maps is much easier for students to learn how to use. Scribble Maps also provides far more default placemark icons than Google's My Maps tool. Scribble Maps will work in the web browser on your laptop, Chromebook, iPad, or Android tablet. In the video embedded below I provide an overview of how to use Scribble Maps.

Applications for Education
Scribble Maps could be the ideal mapping tool to use in social studies classes when you want students to identify natural and man-made landmarks. They can use the drawing tools to circle the landmarks then use the placemark tools to write about the landmarks. For example, you could give students a list of ten landmarks to identify then have them use the numbered placemark icons to identify and write about those landmarks. The drawing tools will help students make their placemarks standout.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Why Do We Celebrate Labor Day? - A Short Lesson

Labor Day weekend is just a couple of days away. For many of us it marks the unofficial end of summer. Your students might be wondering why we celebrate Labor Day in the United States and Canada. This TED-Ed lesson tackles that topic. The lesson covers the origins and meaning of Labor Day.

Why Do Americans and Canadians Celebrate Labor Day? could be a nice short lesson to end your week before the long weekend. Or you might use it on Tuesday when your students return to school after enjoying the long weekend.

For more Labor Day resources, take a look at Larry Ferlazzo's extensive list of resources on the topic.

Explore in Google Sheets - A Helpful Data Visualization Tool for Students

Yesterday, Google announced a slew of updates to Google Classroom and Google Drive. My favorite of those updates is the new Share to Classroom Chrome extension. My second favorite of the updates is the new Explore function in Google Sheets.

The Explore function in Google Sheets will help students see and understand data sets in new ways. Now when students open a Google Sheet they will have the option to click the Explore function to have a set of suggested graphs and charts based on the data in the Sheet they're viewing. The Explore function is found in the bottom, right corner of the Google Sheet you're viewing. The Explore function won't work in every spreadsheet. It is dependent on the spreadsheet having data like locations, currencies, or demographics. See how it works in the video embedded below.

Applications for Education
Making sense of large data sets can be challenging to students. Some of the graphs and charts that Explore can provide could help students understand what they're seeing in a large data set.

Students don't have to generate their own data sets to take advantage of Explore in Google Sheets. They could upload spreadsheets from places like the Google Public Data Explorer to their Google accounts then analyze the data through Explore in Google Sheets.