Friday, October 13, 2017

Enhance Your Google Classroom Experience

Google Classroom is a blended learning solution that was introduced by Google in 2012 and it is one of only two products that Google has created specifically for education. It's purpose is to provide teachers with a simple way to collect,distribute, and grade assignments. Like all Google products, Classroom is constantly evolving and improving.

Let's take a look at some apps and extensions that make Google Classroom even better.
  • Share to Classroom- This extension allows teachers to push any website to their students and have it open for them in a new tab. This would be useful if you want to get all of the students to the same place quickly. 
  • Classroom Split- This extension makes Google Classroom easier for students to use. It will split their screen even so they can have their directions on one side of the screen and their work on the other side. It is similar to Tab Scissors, but it works inside of Classroom. 
  • Google Classroom App- This app allows you to have instant access to Google Classroom from your phone making it easy to do things like post assignments, ask questions, and interact with students. 
  • Whisper- This app is undergoing some upgrades so it is not working right now, but I wanted to include it because it will be incredibly useful once it is ready to go. It will allow you to quietly send messages to the entire class or to just one student. This is perfect for those times when you need to send make an announcement to the class, but everyone is working quietly and you don't want to disturb them. I will provide an update once Whisper is ready to go.

Anchor - A Good Alternative to AudioBoom is a free podcasting service that I started using about ten months ago. It has steadily added features throughout the year. If you find yourself looking for a replacement for AudioBoom which this week announced the removal of all free accounts, is a service that you should try.

Here are some highlights of

  • Record by simply holding down the record button the Android or iOS app. 
  • Publish recordings to your Anchor channel or publish directly to iTunes or Google Play. Learn how in this video
  • Have your spoken words automatically transcribed and displayed in a video suitable for posting on YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter. See a demonstration in this video
  • Import audio from other sources to use as bumper music. 
  • A "call in" feature lets users speak responses to your podcast (if it is published on an Anchor channel). 
You can find some other alternatives to AudioBoom in this post that I published on Monday. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Tabs Scissors & Tab Glue

Tab Scissors and Tab Glue are two Chrome extensions that will make your life a lot easier when you find are toggling between two different tabs. Tab Scissors works by splitting your Chrome browser into two perfectly sized windows at the selected tab. Tab glue will join the tabs together again. You can do the same thing by dragging tabs apart and resizing them, but this method is tedious and can be frustrating. Tab Scissors and Tab Glue make this task so much easier.

Applications for Education
Tab Scissors is useful when grading assignments. You can have the assignment open in one window and your grade book open in another. Students will find it useful when they are doing things like reading and answering questions or researching and taking notes. Tab Scissors and Tab Glue are almost as good as having dual monitors.

Halloween Resources for Students of All Ages

Teachers probably don't need a reminder, but Halloween is just around the corner. Today I'm going to share some resources that are Halloween-themed and can be used with students across grade levels.

Current Events Sites for Students

CNN Student News, now called CNN 10, is one of the most popular sites for student news and current events, but there are many other sites out there that are worth taking a look at. Here are some of the ones that I have used over the last couple of years.

  • KidsPost- This is associated with the Washington Post. This site focuses on important events, but has plenty of fun and entertaining articles as well. 
  • PBS NewsHour Extra- News site for students in grades 7-12. This site also includes a searchable database of articles based on topic as well as lesson plans for teachers. 
  • National Geographic News- This site is not designed specifically for students, but it is packed with interesting articles that focus on current events around the world. 
  • TweenTribune- This site is associated with the Smithsonian and has articles that are lexile leveled for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. 
  • CBBC Newsround- This is a good site for news and fun facts for students. It includes stories, pictures, and videos.
Applications for Education
Instead of having all students read and summarize the same current event, why not provide students with a list of places to find current events and have them select articles that interest them? You could link these sites on your classroom website or in Google Classroom to make it easy for students to access them.