Ideas and Strategies for Teachers from Tom Mullaney
Tom Mullaney is a Certified Google Educator Level 2 who serves as the Instructional Technology Facilitator at Gravelly Hill Middle School in Efland, North Carolina. In 12 years of teaching in New York and Pennsylvania, Tom has taught secondary Social Studies and Special Education. He shares innovative practices with the educational technology community on his Sustainable Teaching Blog. You can follow him on Twitter, @edtechtom.
I recently had the honor and privileged of joining Amber Harper on her great podcast, Burned In Teacher. I shared the risks I have taken in education as well as my experiences with burnout and how I addressed it.
For more information on what we discussed, please read:
Google Drawings has real value for teachers and students. And it is glaringly misnamed. The tool has no way to sketch and jot. It would be a real shame if G Suite for Education had no solution for digital drawing. To learn more about the immense benefits of drawing for learning please read the following:
Google Jamboard – I will discuss both the web and mobile versions because they are different.
Google Keep – Keep has web and mobile versions. The two versions do not differ for sketching and drawing so I will address only the web version.
AutoDraw is Google’s AI experiment that predicts drawings. What a great tool! It also has a free sketch tool and text input. No login required so it is especially easy for students who struggle with signing in and passwords. Autodraw’s big drawback is that it does not save drawings. Users have to download what they create or lose it. For more about Autodraw, please watch this video.
Chrome Canvas is Google’s newest sketching tool. There is a lot to like here: sliders for size and opacity similar to those in Adobe Create Cloud apps, the ability to draw on an image, and a unique chalk tool. The pencil tool looks like pencil-on-paper. The marker tool becomes a highlighter when set to a low opacity. Chrome Canvas’s biggest drawback is it does not work in a web browser on iPads. For more about Chrome Canvas, please watch this video.
The Google Jamboard web app has two big advantages over the other apps: real-time collaborative drawing and multiple pages or “frames” as they are called in the app. The app has a limited color palette compared to the others. The ability to add sticky notes is a nice benefit. The web app does not work well in browsers on the iPad. iPad users should install the Jamboard mobile app. For more on the Jamboard web app, please watch this video.
The Jamboard mobile app has those features and much more including autodraw, shape recognition, handwriting recognition, the ability to add content from Google Drive and the web, and great backgrounds including graph paper and college-ruled lined paper. I made the image for this blog post with the Jamboard app. For more information on this very powerful and fun app, please read my blog post, Bring Collaboration to the Next Level with the Google Jamboard App, or watch this video.
Google Keep‘s advantage over the other apps is the ability to access it inside G Suite Docs, Drawings, Sheets, Slides, and GMail. That makes it a great collaborative tool. Students can collaborate on notes and add multiple drawings to a Keep note but they will not have the real-time collaborative drawing experience found in Jamboard. Drawings can have graph paper and lined backgrounds but they do not save when the image is downloaded. Please note that drawing does not work in the web app on iPads. iPad users should install the Keep mobile app. For more about drawing in Google Keep, please watch this video.
To help make sense of these drawing options, I created a table in the aforementioned Google Drawings to help compare and contrast the 4 apps. Yes, I appreciate the irony of using Google Drawings for this task.
Do you have questions about Google’s actual drawing apps? Please comment below or tweet me at @TomEMullaney. Thanks for reading.
I’ve been a Google Classroom stan for years. I am still impressed by this relatively simple tool as it grows and evolves. This is especially true of the Google Classroom mobile app.
The Google Classroom mobile app is great on iPads, Play Store enabled Chromebooks, Android or Chrome OS tablets, and phones. Here are 5 reasons to use the Classroom mobile app. Before we get started, be sure to install the app:
To do so, create an assignment. Add an attachment. Click “Take photo” on a Chromebook or “Use camera” on an iPad. Here is an animated GIF from my Chromebook:
☑️ Reason 2: Give Students Written Feedback.
If a student works on a Google Drive file attached using “Make a copy for each student” or if they add a file to their assignment, teachers can annotate the file. What an easy way to give written feedback! The file becomes a PDF added to the assignment. Please note: At present (December 2018) the PDF saves to My Drive, not the assignment’s Google Drive folder. Please send Google feedback in the Google Classroom app.
Watch as I demonstrate creating a PDF for student feedback:
☑️ Reason 3: Students Can Write on Assignments Too!
The ability to write on files in assignments extends to students too. The PDF generated is simply added to the assignment.
Want to have students digitally annotate? The Classroom mobile app makes it possible. Watch as I write on an attached Google Doc as a student:
A great application for this is students using emojis as they mark up documents.
Watch as I demonstrate how to do this with a convertible Chromebook’s onscreen keyboard:
☑️ Reason 4: Rearrange Assignments and Topics by Grabbing and Dragging.
Need to rearrange assignments in the Classwork tab? Open the mobile app. and have at it! Check this out:
Better yet, change an assignment’s topic using this method:
Please note: Topics can also be rearranged using this method.
☑️ Reason 5: Randomly Select a Student.
Need to randomly select students to group them, choose team captains, or any other reason? Look for this icon in the upper-right corner of the People tab:
Watch as I use the student selector app:
What questions do you have about the Google Classroom mobile app? Comment below or tweet me @TomEMullaney. Thanks for reading.
I was honored to participate in Transform Your Learning Space with Jamboard, a Google for Education EDU on Air event on November 28, 2018.
I was joined by fellow educators and Googlers. We discussed both the Jamboard device and the Jamboard app. Please note the app is free! I shared how students and teachers are using the Jamboard app on iPads at my school.
Devices in classrooms can empower students if used effectively. But how do teachers know if they are integrating technology effectively? In my BAMRadio Network EdWords blog post, Ask These Questions About Time to Evaluate Classroom Technology Integration, I suggest six questions teachers can ask about time and technology integration in their classrooms. Please share your thoughts these questions and technology integration in the comments below or tweet me at @TomEMullaney. Thanks for reading.
I recently had the pleasure of talking about Chromebooks in education with Michelle Luhtala for an instalment of edWeb.net’s webinar series. Michelle took one thing I mentioned to heart – look at what she created after I suggested Autodraw.com as a tool for Chromebooks during the webinar:
Michelle and I spoke about how Chromebooks differ from Windows and Mac devices as well how Chromebooks can best be used in classrooms.
Michelle documented links to tools and media we talked about using Pearltrees:
Do you teach about volcanoes, plate tectonics, seafloor spreading, or other geology concepts? If so, click the ship steering wheel in Google Earth to access Voyager.
Then click “LAYERS” and enjoy some very useful content. Watch as I demonstrate:
Tip # 2: Use Google Earth for History
Google Earth Voyager has plenty of great content besides Geography. Click the steering wheel and click “HISTORY.” Each unit of content, called “stories,” leads students through an interactive map. PBS Learning Media authored five of the History stories. Watch as I demonstrate how to access Voyager History stories and the first two scenes of the Underground Railroad story:
Tip # 3: Find Voyager Stories
There are stories in each tab in Voyager. The tabs other than Layers and History are Editor’s Picks, Travel, Nature, Culture, Sports, and Education.
This content is very useful but challenging to find because there is no search function inside Voyager. Scrolling is the only option for finding stories in Voyager. The good news is the search in the Google Earth toolbar searches Voyager stories. At present, a search term has to match a term in the story title. Watch as I demonstrate:
Tip # 4: Learn More About Countries and Cities with Points of Interest
Search Google Earth for a country or city. The search will take you there on the map and add points of interest in the right part of the screen.
Each point of interest comes with content. What a great way to introduce foreign places. Watch as I preview Tanzania’s points of interest:
Tip # 5: Use Google Earth to Measure, Distance, Area, and Perimeter
The ruler in the Google Earth toolbar is useful for showing students real-life applications for the geometry concepts they learn in math class.
The ruler measures the distance between points on a line. It also creates shapes and displays their perimeter and area measurements. On the iPad, there are buttons for copying that data:
One drawback of shapes in Google Earth is they cannot be saved. To level up using Google Geo Tools to teach geometry, have students create shapes in Google My Maps. This is a great way to teach scale and how maps can be distorted. For example, maps show Greenland to be about the size of Africa. Is that true? Make a copy of this Google My Map and have your students move the shape to find out.
Click the [ ] in the upper right corner to view this map fullscreen.
Click the three dots. Then click “Copy Map.”
Watch as I demonstrate using shapes in Google Earth and Google My Maps:
Tip # 7, Your Anchor Activity: Use I’m Feeling Lucky for Anchor Activities
All done reading the first 6 tips? Great! The Google Earth toolbar has a dice icon. When clicked, it functions as “I’m Feeling Lucky” and takes students to a random location. What a great anchor activity!
When students say, “I’m done,” reply with “Great! Click I’m Feeling Lucky and share three things you learned about your random location with the class during the last five minutes.” Watch as I demonstrate using the “I’m Feeling Lucky” dice:
Thank you for reading this post! What Google Earth questions do you have? Please comment below or tweet me @TomEMullaney.
Find the layouts tool under the Insert menu in the Google Sites editor.
The editor uses the picture icon but Google Drive files, YouTube videos, Google MyMaps, file uploads, and Google Calendars can also be added to a layout. I hope web embeds will join this list in the future.
My Digital Breakouts Platform Site
I created the platform for my digital breakouts using Google Sites. For each subject area, I embedded a Google Doc that listed and linked to breakouts. I decided to revamp each subject area page using layouts. This meant using thumbnail images and text instead of a single doc for each page. Here are before-and-after shots:
Pro tip: When using images in Google Sites, pay attention to accessibility by adding alt text:
How using Google Sites Layouts instead of embedded Google Docs improved the site:
Design. It’s cleaner and nice. The thumbnails are much more prominent.
It is searchable. The content in the embedded Google Docs was not searchable in the Google Sites search:
Look what happens now that the site uses layouts with images and text instead of embedded Google Docs:
The site is now much more mobile friendly. The embedded Google Docs did not render nicely on tablets and phones. They had to be opened in the Google Docs app to be accessed. Now they are all available with no additional apps to open.
So check out my digital breakouts site. Hopefully, you will like how I used layouts and find a digital breakout or two to use with your middle or high school students. How do you use Google Sites in your instructional practice? What Google Sites questions do you have? Please comment below or tweet me @TomEMullaney. Thanks for reading.