Wednesday, June 20, 2018

New Google Forms Customization Options

For years and years people have asked me if there is way to customize the fonts in Google Forms. And for years and years I've had to say no. That is finally going to change! Yesterday, Google announced the addition of new Google Forms customization options.

Choose Your Font Style
You can now choose from a selection of fonts to use in your form's title and in the questions in your form.

Mix and Match Theme and Background Colors
For many years you've been able to choose a form theme and even upload your own images to use in your form's theme. However, you couldn't customize the form's appearance much more than that. Soon you'll be able to change the background color of your form independently from the the color of the header. You'll still be able to upload an image to use in your header too.

You can find the new customization options by clicking on the palette icon in a Google Forms header. (That's the same icon you use to change the header color now).

The new Google Forms customization options will be rolling out over the next fifteen days. If you don't see them in your account today, don't worry, you'll get them soon.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Google's "Be Internet Awesome" Curriculum is Now Available in Spanish

At about this time last year Google introduced Be Internet Awesome. Be Internet Awesome offers an interactive site called Interland. Interland is a game in which students navigate a virtual world by correctly answering questions about internet safety. Starting today that game is available in Spanish and English.

The rest of the Be Internet Awesome curriculum has been updated along with Interland game. The written curriculum guide has been expanded to 69 pages from its original 48 pages. The curriculum now includes nineteen interactive slide presentations that you can copy and use for free.

The core concepts of Be Internet Awesome remain unchanged. Those five core concepts are:
  • Share with care.
  • Don't fall for fake.
  • Secure your secrets.
  • It's cool to be kind.
  • When in doubt, talk it out. 

4 Fun Summer Science Activities

Now that summer is here in the northern hemisphere it's a great time to go outside for a science lesson. SciShow Kids has four suggestions for outdoor science lessons. In Fun Summer Science adults and children can learn about the science of bubbles, kites, ice cream, and solar energy. Each segment includes an explanation of the science and brief suggestions and directions for a hands-on activity.

The Myth of the Giant's Causeway Explained

The Giant's Causeway is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites that I have had the privilege to see in person. It can be seen in Google Maps Street View too. It's a unique geological site created by molten basalt. That's interesting but not as interesting as the myth of its creation. The myth of the Giant's Causeway is the topic of a recently published TED-Ed lesson.

In addition to using the pre-made TED lesson questions, you could follow-up a showing of this video by asking your students to think about why myths like this one are created and how they grow over time.

Add Voice Recordings to Maps

Over the weekend I tested an app called JoJo that lets you create short audio recordings and have them placed on map. For a myriad of reasons including privacy concerns, JoJo is not an app that I would recommend for school use. But the app did give me an idea for combining audio recordings and digital maps. In the following video I demonstrate how you can include sound recordings on a map made with Google's My Maps tool.

Applications for Education
In the demonstration I used SoundCloud as the source of my audio file. Students could use other sources like the LOC's National Jukebox to find recordings to geolocate. You could have students map the locations of where famous songs were recorded or where politicians made notable speeches.