Friday, October 2, 2015

Hemingway Helps Students Analyze Their Writings

Hemingway is a free tool designed to help you analyze your writing. To use Hemingway, found at, just paste some text into the Hemingway editor and it will provide you with a bunch of information about that text. Hemingway highlights the parts of your writing that use passive voice, adverbs, and overly complex sentences. All of those factors are accounted for in generating a general readability score for your passage. The short video embedded below shows how easy it is to use to analyze your writing.

Applications for Education
Hemingway is the kind of tool that I like to have students use before exchanging papers with classmates for peer editing. Hemingway acts as a kind of "virtual peer" before the peer editing process. I would also have students use Hemingway before turning in their final drafts for a grade.

How to Map Spreadsheet Data in Google My Maps

One of the overlooked and or misunderstood features of Google My Maps is the option to import spreadsheet data. Provided that your spreadsheet contains at least one column that has location information in it, you can have the data in the spreadsheet displayed as placemarks on a map. In the video embedded below I provide a demonstration of how this can be done.

Applications for Education
In the example in the video I asked people to complete a Google Form in which they shared the locations of happy events in their lives. The information collected through the Form was saved in a Google Spreadsheet that then was imported into a map. This was done to demonstrate that you could have students collaborate on the creation of data sets by having them enter data into a Google Form then map the data. You could use this method to have students create a data set about historical events, weather data recordings, or personal narratives as I did in the example in the video.

How to Create and Organize Notes in Google Keep

Last week Google finally made their popular Keep app available on iPhones and iPads. Keep is a great little app for creating task notes and reminders. You can even create notes in your web browser on your laptop and have them synchronize with the notes on your mobile device. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to use the web version of Google Keep.

Applications for Education
Using the color-coding aspect of notes in Google Keep could be a nice way for students to construct an outline for a research paper or presentation.
Google Keep can be an excellent to-do list app for students. Students can color code notes, make lists, and share notes.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Three Ways of Assessing Students' Understanding Through Mobile Phones

As all good teachers know, a score on a quiz, on a test, or the completion of a large project doesn't always give us the full picture of what students know about a topic. Let's take a look at three ways to assess a student's understanding through the use of their mobile phones.

1. Reflecting on learning.
Ask students to use the video camera or audio recorder on their phones to create short reflections on what they have learned during the week. Students can post those on a classroom blog.

2. Documenting a process.
Ask students to use their phones to take pictures and or videos of a work in progress. If they're working on a long-term, hands-on project, have them document the process through pictures or video.

3. Capturing real-world examples.
Have you recently taught a math or science topic that is frequently seen in a landscape or cityscape? If so, have your students take a picture of a representation of that topic. For example, if you recently taught a lesson on acute and obtuse angles, have students take pictures of examples of each as they see them during a walk around town.

5 Five Google Forms Add-ons I Frequently Recommend

In the course of a year I lead many training sessions about Google Forms. In all of those sessions I have a handful of Google Forms Add-ons that I introduce to participants. These five Add-ons cover a lot of bases.

FormLimiter allows you to set a time for a form to automatically stop accepting responses. You can also use FormLimiter to set a limit on number of responses a form will accept. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to enable and set limits on Google Forms.

Form Notifications is a Google Forms Add-on that will send you a notification when someone has completed your Form. You can set notifications to be sent to your email address after every response has been gathered or after a set number of responses has been gathered. You can have notifications sent to more than one email address.

g(Math) is a Google Forms Add-on that allows you to insert graphs and mathematical expressions into your Google Forms. To insert graphs and equations into your Form select g(Math) from your Add-ons menu and follow the directions that pop-up on the right side of the screen.

Choice Eliminator removes response choices from your Google Form as they are used up. This can be handy when you are having people complete a Google Form in order to select meeting times with you or you're having them complete a form to indicate what they are sending into school for a class party. To use Choice Eliminator start by creating your Google Form as you normally would. Then enable Choice Eliminator on your Form. Once Choice Eliminator is enabled you can select the question or questions that you want to have choices removed from as they are used.

CheckItOut is a great little Google Forms Add-on that allows you to create a simple check-out/ check-in system. With CheckItOut enabled in Google Forms you simply title the set of items that people will be checking out (iPads for example) then choose if you want people to choose from check boxes, a list, or multiple choice question. Watch the video below to see how the CheckItOut Add-on works.

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