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.
This guide is meant to help educators get started using these new Chromebooks that have both touchscreens and keyboards. Everything referenced in this post until the very end is web-based and immediately accessible upon signing in to a Chromebook. The very end of this guide suggests some tools that are great but will require district Google administrators to enable the Google Play Store.
Before you do anything, even before reading this – beg, borrow, steal, cheat, lie, simply ask, or do whatever is necessary to get your hands on a new Chromebook the second it arrives in a district warehouse. Reading about apps and educational uses is great but nothing matches the experience of actually using the device.
On to the guide. Let’s start with sketching, jotting, and drawing on touchscreen Chromebooks.
Isn’t that straight up substitution?
Of course it is! “Substitution” has become a loaded dirty word in education. Even the most innovative teacher uses substitution in every lesson. Effective technology integration incorporates constant motion through different levels of SAMR. Jaclyn B. Stevens‘s SAMR swimming pool clearly illustrates this:
As Stevens says in this video, “Just as educators work across the levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy, the levels of the SAMR model must also be flexible and align to what students are doing in a classroom.”
Annotating a website or PDF for a grade is rotten. However, getting messy annotating a website or adding content to a Google Jamboard Jam to process information, give feedback, or create a digital gallery walk is different. Use these tools to help kids get messy. Encourage it.
An example of this is sketchnoting. Sketchnoting is so beneficial for kids and adults. Sketchnotes are often created on iPads that are more expensive than Chromebooks with a paid app (Procreate). Why shouldn’t kids sketchnote on Chromebooks for free?
Google Keep is great for this purpose though it is not the most robust drawing tool. I lamented there was not another Google tool for drawing (don’t get me started about the misnamed Google Drawings) until I saw this tweet from Jessica Garrigan:
Sketching/Drawing/Jotting/Tool #2: Google AutoDraw
AutoDraw lacks the ability to save files. Create, download, and start with a blank slate next time. Let’s hope that changes soon. It also does not have an erase tool though it has an undo button and the ability to delete elements of a sketch by selecting and deleting. For more information about AutoDraw, read these two blog posts:
Google Keep and AutoDraw do not let students sketch or annotate on top of websites. Enter the Web Paint Google Chrome extension.
Sketching/Drawing/Jotting Tool #3: Chrome Canvas
Discovered by Chrome Unboxed in December 2018, Chrome Canvas is a great Google tool for drawing. It saves images and lets students download as PNG files. I like it better than Google Keep for jotting on top of images. Additionally, each drawing tool has size and opacity sliders which are absent in Keep and AutoDraw. Users of Adobe suite mobile apps are familiar with these sliders. Check out this sketch of Gritty created by The Verge:
Watch as I demonstrate this great tool:
Sketching/Drawing/Jotting/Tool #4: (Annotating Websites Edition): The Web Paint Google Chrome Extension
Take advantage of this by using Web Paint with Google Keep to search the text on saved clippings from the web:
One drawback of Web Paint is it only works with what is on screen. There is no ability to scroll down the page. Robby Payne at Chrome Unboxed figured out that using Web Paint in conjunction with the FireShot extension allows for marking up an entire page and then saving it as a PDF.
Formative, found at goformative.com, allows students to draw in an assignment. The applications for this, especially in Math, are innumerable. In this simple example, I draw in a formative (Formative’s name for assignments) I created asking students to explain the Schlieffen Plan.
Drag-and-Drop with Instant Feedback Tool – Quizlet
Dragging-and-dropping isn’t the highest level learning activity but at least Quizlet matching gives students instant feedback. Notice what happens when I choose the wrong answer and then the correct answer:
Writing by Hand on Touchscreen Convertible Chromebooks
This applies only to touchscreen Chromebooks that are convertible – meaning that can be used in stand, tent, and tablet form factors. Students can hand write in Google Docs, Slides, to enter a website URL, or basically anywhere they can input text. Please note this does not work if a mouse is connected to the device. Watch as I demonstrate.
The web version of Google Earth is perfect for touchscreen Chromebooks. It’s not just for exploring and storytelling – Google has added a lot of educational content to Google Earth Voyager. Watch as I demonstrate in this YouTube playlist of 7 short videos:
Bring Touchscreen Chromebooks to the Next Level – Android Apps!
Web apps are great but the magic of touchscreen Chromebooks is found in the Google Play Store. Great apps for education productivity, creativity, and collaboration live there including my beloved free Google Jamboard app! Here are two blog posts where I review great Android apps for education on Chromebooks:
More important than any tool is staying up-to-date on what’s happening with Chrome OS and education. To do this:
Follow the linked Twitter handles in this post. These educators share great resources for integrating technology in the classroom. Some of them are not Chromebook superfans like me. Great! Better to have a broader perspective.
Stay up-to-date about Chrome OS updates with the aforementioned Chrome Unboxed website. The site is constantly publishing valuable updates and tips-and-tricks.
Google Keep is the cat’s pajamas. It is great for brainstorming, to-do lists, collaboration, and feedback. Watch as I demonstrate the Google Keep Android app which comes with slightly more functionality than the web app.
Ability to add voice recordings using the device’s mic.
Why spend precious memory installing the YouTube app? The answer is simple – 360° video! Convertible Chromebooks act like windows into another world when viewing a 360° video in the YouTube Android app. Watch as I demonstrate:
Usually, when I suggest a tool on this blog, I wholeheartedly endorse it. That is not the case with Science Journal. It’s worth sharing because it has great capability for capturing and organizing Science lab data. It debuted in Spring 2016 and it seems like Google has not been interested in it since. (Update: Google has recently published new Science Journal content. Yay!) Still, Science teachers should check out the Science Journal activities Google published in Spring 2016.
Great tool for collecting and organizing Science lab experiment data.
But what if Chromebooks incorporated Android apps in a way that did not compromise the OS while giving teachers and learners the best of all worlds – mobile apps, keyboards, and touchscreens?
I recently purchased the ASUS Flip C302 which has Play Store access. My wariness of Android on Chrome OS was mistaken. The Flip C302 is a dream. Everything works great, including Android apps.
Long term, I hope companies make convertible flip touchscreen Chromebooks with a world-facing camera above the keyboard. This gives the device full tablet functionality. ASUS has done this with its C213. Time will tell if these Chromebooks are iPad killers. In the meantime, here are five educational Android apps to consider using with your students.
Has your district told you your students will bring Chromebooks with them to class in the fall? Are you eager to integrate this technology into instruction but unsure how? Here are ten things you can do this summer to hit the ground running in the fall, brought to you by a teacher who has been in your shoes.
1. Ask your administration for a Chromebook to use this summer.
You want to know the Chromebook user experience before school starts. What better way to learn than by doing? This teacher loves Chromebooks in the classroom for many reasons. You will too, especially if you understand the platform your students use. See if your administrators are willing to loan you the same model students will use in the fall. Use it for everything this summer and you will be prepared.
2. Become a Google Educator.
If you want to successfully use Google Apps for Education (GAFE) in classroom instruction, you need to be proficient in them. Go through Google for Education’s process to earn Google Educator certification. The process involves online modules and five $15 (as of Summer 2014) tests. Author’s Note (6/28/15): This process has just changed. Please have a look at Google’s new options and see what works for you.Going through the modules will make you more than proficient in Google Apps. Taking and passing the exams will earn you a Google Educator certificate, a nice asset for your CV.
3. Upload your files to Google Drive.
This is essential for you to work with your students in a 1:1 classroom. After the Google Educator modules, you should be able to easily upload folders to Google Drive. Or, you can watch this video about doing it with a Windows computer:
Or this one about doing it with a Mac:
4. Get to know Google Classroom.
First, watch this video introducing Google Classroom. Imagine the possibilities. Get excited!
There is so much great content about integrating technology into the classroom. It can be overwhelming. Start small by following these eight experts on Twitter and reading their blogs regularly. If starting a Twitter account seems overwhelming, read Alice Keeler’s blog post about signing up for Twitter. Here are my favorite education technology experts. Their names hyperlink to their blogs.
Author’s Note (12/3/15): The visual tutorial linked above will work for you if you are working with the old Google Forms. If you are working with the new Google Forms, please read this post to get acquainted.
8. Use TEDEd to change the way video is used in instruction.
9. Use Split PDF to break up large curricular PDFs into smaller documents.
Instead of printing the pages of the PDF you want your students to read and scanning them, use Split PDFto make original quality PDFs of the exact pages you want students to read. Split PDF connects to your Google Drive to access your PDF. It makes a new file with only the pages you specify. Students then read beautiful PDFs on their Chromebooks, not scans of photocopies.
10. Join Google Plus education technology communities.
This will serve as another great source for education technology information. Just like with education technology experts on Twitter, start small. Here are four great communities to join:
Teaching in a 1:1 classroom with Chromebooks reignited my passion for education. I hope it does for you too! If you would like to talk more about successful technology integration in the 1:1 classroom, please comment below or send me a tweet at @TomEMullaney.
Making video recaps of my lessons has revolutionized my teaching. I am so grateful to Chris Aviles for suggesting it at EdCamp New Jersey. A parent told me she wishes every teacher made video recaps. A learning support teacher uses them to help my students study in her instructional support classes. Students who need multiple opportunities to learn and absent students benefit the most from video lesson recaps.
Watch this video where I discuss how I use Screencastify:
After installing the extension…
Before starting the recording be sure “Desktop” is selected and “Embed webcam” is not.
“Desktop” makes sure Screencastify captures the entire screen. “Embed wecam” puts a small webcam in the lower right corner of the screen when you screencast. I prefer to open the computer’s webcam and size the window to my liking.
When you stop recording, Screencastify puts the video file in a Google Drive folder.
Overall, I have been thrilled with Screencastify. Its file sizes are roughly 10-20MB per minute. That is much lower than SnagIt-made video files. This saves me time when uploading videos to YouTube. If you do not want to be on YouTube, share the video in Google Drive with your students. The small file sizes mean less bandwith used when multiple students view it in your classroom.
Video lesson recaps have tremendously benefited my students. I am happy to share this strategy far and wide. Please be in touch if you want to discuss further!
I went to to EdCamp New Jersey at the end of November where I heard Chris Aviles suggest teachers should make video recaps. He argued that in a 1:1 classroom, video lesson recaps are a powerful tool to fight learned helplessness. A student doesn’t know the answer to a question? Have them watch the video recap. Chris also made the point that video recaps give students multiple opportunities to learn and help absent students catch up.
Intrigued, I set about using December to incorporate video recaps into my practice. I made this video about what I have done so far:
After you create your account (I used my school Google e-mail), SnagIt creates a folder in your Google Drive. It is called “TechSmith” after the company that makes SnagIt.
When you record using SnagIt, the app will capture your screen and the Chromebook’s microphone. I use the Chromebook camera so students can see my face rather than listen to a disembodied voice. When you stop a recording, it will appear as ” unfinished video” in the TechSmith folder.
You can rename your video in the SnagIt video player and push it directly to your GAFE connected YouTube account.
When SnagIt is finished processing you can access the video file in the TechSmith Google Drive folder.
From Google Drive, you can download the video. I take this extra step because I post videos to my personal YouTube channel. I want the videos to still exist should my job change. It is very easy with only upload and download time as minor inconveniences. Login to your personal GMail account and go to YouTube. From there:
Then simply click on upload and you’re good to go.
Pixiclip is another tool with great potential for video recaps. As I explained in the video above, I stopped using Pixiclip because when my students play it back on their Chromebooks they cannot rewind and fast forward.
Video lesson recaps are one way educational technology transforms educational practice. I am only one month into using them and am thrilled with the opportunities they create for my students!
Remember when consumers and schools had two computer choices: PCs and Macs? Both came with significant negatives. For PCs, it was computers that frequently crashed or froze. For Macs, is was price. Many schools now use the iPad for 1:1 classrooms. It still has a high cost and lacks a good keyboard. At last, a new solution is here.
The Chromebook outdoes PCs for affordability while being sleek and stylish like a Mac. Like the Mac I had at a previous teaching job, my Chromebook performs very well and does not crash. My students and I are loving our Chromebooks.
My district is using Chromebooks with eighth and ninth grade students this year as a pilot program. I am so fortunate two-thirds of my classes are with eighth and ninth grade. I hope the district makes the entire middle and high schools 1:1 with Chromebooks next school year.
How Chromebooks are Different for the User
Here are two slides I have used to explain the unique features of Chromebooks to my colleagues. These are not the most beautiful slides; I used them to go over this topic quickly before a longer discussion on 1:1 classroom management.
Why My Students and I Love Them
Let me list the reasons:
The quick boot-up time. Please, Google, do not change this. Please do not switch to Android. The Chrome OS has no applications save for the Chrome browser, a calculator, and a camera. I often have students close their Chromebooks for class discussion. Students are right back where they left off upon re-opening them.
Automatic log-in to Google Apps for Education. Using a COW or a computer lab meant that students would boot up the computer, log in to the computer and then log in to Google Apps for Education. All this took some time. Chromebooks change this process to one essentially instant step. Once a student has logged in, they can click icons for GMail, Google Drive, Google Classroom and Google Calendar and arrive instantly.
Great battery life. I have been using a school-issued HP Chromebook since July. During the summer I worked with it all day. By the end of the day there was a good deal of battery life remaining. This included a lot of use of video and music too. Students at my school leave their Chromebooks on chargers in their homerooms overnight. Battery life has not been an issue for them.
The keyboard. My school-issued HP Chromebook has a nice keyboard. I much prefer my students use it than type on an iPad or an iPad add-on keyboard.
The screen! My school-issued HP Chromebook has a beautiful wide HD screen. YouTube HD videos look stunning.
My One Concern
As you can tell, I love the Chromebook. There is one concern I have with it: the touchpad. The touchpad requires two fingers next to each other to right click. I have been doing this since July and have not mastered it. I plug a mouse into the Chromebook to be as productive as possible. If you have students with motor issues, I highly recommend pairing mice with their Chromebooks.
The Chromebook touchpad is also very sensitive. When they started using Chromebooks in the classroom, some of my students would inadvertently click “submit” on Google Forms I used for assessment when they did not mean to. My work-around for that has been to make every question in my forms a required question.
The Ideal 1:1 Solution
That issue aside, Chromebooks are the ideal solution for 1:1 classrooms. They are more affordable than iPads and PCs without the crashes and clunky-ness of PCs. They are cheaper than iPads with a better keyboard and seamless integration with Google Apps for Education. The Chromebook is an efficient, powerful machine. I have a feeling it will become a big part of education, personal and business computing in the next few years.