December 21, 2012
Recently I attended the Midwest Google Summit in Wisconsin. What an incredible conference! I was overwhelmed and excited by all that I learned at this conference. I am not even close to being a Google Guru, but I have been working with Google for several years. One of the reasons I attended was to seek out potential presenters for our Great Plains Google Summit in Nebraska. (Watch for it in July). I wasn’t positive I would learn anything new; boy, was I in for a treat! Due to space and time, I will try to wrap this conference into a nice little package and talk about the five favorite things I learned.
1. Google Story Builder - This is a sweet tool! Create characters and your story, add in some free music from the short list available to you, and you have a beautiful story. Check out the one I just did for you - http://goo.gl/8ai2a.
Another similar tool you should check out is Google Search Stories.
2. Teaching with Images - This session often reminded me that having images for students also helps you, the teacher, to have a focus of the lesson, a common starting point, and also prompts questions for both you and the students. I think that is what makes teaching with images such a success! ThingLink is a site for posting or searching images and allows linking of other connected information. An example is one I created for ESU 10. (Login is
required.) Along these same lines, adding a video is another idea to add to part of your instruction. Use YouTube to make super quick videos for almost anything; leave a video for your substitute or an instructional video for students, or
record an entire lecture if you want. You just need to sign in to YouTube with your Google account, create a channel (one per account), and click “Upload”. Once you get to this screen you can choose to upload files, record from your webcam, or start a Google Hangout. Check out the YouTube video I created for you. Note about Google Hangouts: Education domains are coming soon - this is a great way to video communicate with others. Each session can be recorded. You will be able to share desktops as well as collaborate on docs while you are conferencing/recording.
3. Timer - In Google Chrome you can find extensions and add-on applications (or you can go right to the website). One of the best ones I have seen is the Timer. The simple layout of this timer alone sold me. This timer opens in a new tab, which also shows the time as it is counting down. Additionally, mousing over the information in the bottom right corner allows you to add a video that will play when the time runs out. You might cue up an instructional video of yourself or the next item on your lesson plan. This tool rocks for any classroom.
4. Google Voice and Google Groups - These tools are oldies but goodies and have been improved along the way. I was surprised to hear how teachers and schools are using them, so I wanted to include them in this article. Google Voice is a voicemail and telephone hub. You first have to sign in and then it will have you get a phone number. You can redirect this number to your cell phone, school office or home. Any messages left on this phone number will go into your “inbox” and will also transcribe the message. This won’t be perfect all the time, but you can usually figure out what was said. As they talked about this, they explained that teachers were getting their own classroom phone number. The teacher would forward that number to the classroom phone for daily use or to the teacher’s cell phone when they were on a field trip. It can also be used to do audio recordings for reading fluency or presentations. This tool has massive potential! I just got my own number and plan to try it out soon.
Google Groups is often confused with contact groups in Gmail. You can use Groups to create email lists and discussion forums. Districts are using this within as well as outside of the building. You can have many lists to communicate with tech committees, retired teachers, bus drivers, administrators, PLCs, classes and much more. Set your preferences to have those messages go right to email or have them set for read only on the web site. This is a nice flexible tool.
5. Speak to Text with your Android, iPhone 4s/5, or new iPad in Google Docs - This was my favorite idea, hands down! On your smart phone open Google Drive and then open a new document. After you set a title your new document will open and your keyboard will pop up. On that keyboard you will find a microphone, click the microphone and listen for the signal. Begin speaking what you would like to type, and tap on done to end your paragraph. Watch Google type what you spoke! Speak/type your lecture, shopping list, lesson plans and even your blog. Google does a great job with speech to
text. There will still be a few mistakes but not as many as you might think. Speaking the punctuation while you are talking will also help with final editing. For added emphasis, project the document you are speaking by loading that document on your laptop. You will see an almost instant development of your doc!
This is not a comprehensive list of all the great things I saw at this conference. YouTube is a popular tool that I hope towrite my next article on. There were tons of great YouTube videos shared. For fun, check out this student sharing How to Tie Shoes Super Fast.
You can find presentations and materials for each session at the Midwest Google Summit Site.
-by Deanna Stall, Tech Integration Specialist