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Google Teacher Academy Returns

12 May

goglegabThe newest Google Teacher Academy is going to be held in Boudler, Colorado on August 5, 2009!  Applications are due by midnight on July 3rd.

The Google Teacher Academy is a wonderful, FREE, opportunity to meet and collaborate with educators from all over the country- and world! It is also an opportunity to learn about all that google has to offer educators.

More information is located at Google’s Teacher Academy site. The application process includes a written application as well as a video application.

When I applied, I was so nervous about the video application.  I had never really created a video and wasn’t even sure what tools to use.  Since creating that video, I have gone on to create many more.  If you would like some inspiration, here is my video as well as several others. All of these people were selected to attend the Mountain View, California Google Teacher Academy last June.


Google Gab- Doodle 4 Google

3 Feb


Google has announce its latest Doodle 4 Google.  Google frequently replaces its typical logo with a creative one.  They do this for holidays and other special days.  I’m sure most of you have seen some of them.  Doodle for Google allows students to design their own Google logo and have it published.  Th


ey can also win some great prizes including a $15000 scholarship (yes, 3 zeroes). They also have prizes for school districts in the way of technology grants.

This years theme is “What I Wish for the World.”   How appropriate given the dynamics in our country.

Please head over to the Doodle 4 Google page to find out more!

Google Gab- Google Forms

11 Nov


Google Gab has been MIA lately, as have I from my blog.   No real excuse for that, other than I needed to spend some time with my family and haven’t been on the computer much at all outside of work- in fact, my GoogleReader inbox is shamefully full!

I wanted to post about a project ou school’s tech committee put together last week.  Back in August our committee decided that we would look into sponsoring an election day at our school.  We put together a website that was full of election resources for kids, and we coordinated a day for them to all vote in the Presidential Election.   We had looked into a couple of ways to have them vote by computer, including and using a “group” site like Yahoo Groups or Google Groups.  There were pros and cons to each.  After asking the Google Certified Teacher Forum, I proposed the idea that Google Forms might be just what we needed.

voteWe set up the ballot page to ask about the Presidential candidates, our local school bond issue, favorite subject, and favorite special’s class.  We set up part of our library with voting stations (laptops surrounded by privacy shields) and patriotic decorations.  Each class came down for a 15 minute time frame and each student had a chance to vote.  Then they received their “I Voted Electronically” sticker and headed back to class.

Last year I had used surveymonkey to have some grade levels vote on a name for a permanent art display they had made.  What I didn’t realize when I began the survey, was that I would have to go in and delete cookies after each child voted.  Talk about a pain!!  This worked so much easier.

I created the form using Google Docs.  Creating it was very straightforward.  Go to Google Docs and sign in using your google account information.  Then click new and form.  From there you simply fill in the boxes with your information.  Once complete you click “email this form”.  I always send it only to myself and then forward it on to whoever using outlook so that I don’t have to type in each email address.

At this point we could have saved the hyper link as the home page on the laptops and called it good, but we had the problem of reading.  We wanted all of our students to be able to vote, including the primary students who may not have been fluent enough to read the questions.  Google Docs does have drawbacks- I couldn’t insert the picture directly onto the form, but I did come up with a way to work around this.  After I finished creating the form, I went to the top to “more actions” and selected to embed.  This allowed me to embed the form into our election website, where I could add pictures to the side. We made that page the home page on each laptop and then only had to click home after each user voted- no clearing cookies!

Google Forms also allowed me to see the election results live, and created graphs that we then shared with teachers to use in their math lessons.  Using Google Forms was the best choice for our situation.

A couple of questions I have heard asked about using google forms:

Does each user have to have a google account?

  • No!  As long as you provide them the link, anyone (including students) are able to vote in the form.

Can I make a form with a rating scale?

  • Yes, the scale can have 3-10 choices.

Google SMS

6 Oct

Have you ever been out and about with firends and wanted to know the closest movie theater?  Ever been on vacation and wanted to order pizza in?  Well Google has the answer!  I know, I know, you already knew that, but you don’t have a computer with you?  No problem, as long as you have your phone.  Simply text what you need to know to Google (466453) and they will text you back with the info.  Anything from the weather or stock quotes, to money conversion and word translations can be at your fingertips.

To the left is an example of what might appear if I text “weather Chicago” to Google.  To learn more about this service, click here.

There is no charge for this service (as with most google services) but you cell phone company may charge for text messages based on your plan.

Do you not have texting on your phone?  Call 1-800-Goog-411.  This is the new way to find out a phone number or address for businesses.  There is no charge for this service as with most 411 services.  Goog-411 can connect you to the phone number, or will even text you the information you need if that is your preference.

These two tools can be invaluable when traveling, when you are just out for a day of shopping or a night on the town.  Be sure to save these numbers on your cell and the next time you need answers, you know who to call!

Google Gab- Google Reader

30 Sep

Today’s installment of Google Gab comes a day late.

So far I have covered Google Search and iGoogle.  Today I will discuss the the tool I use as much as iGoogle and Google Search- Google Reader.  Google Reader is a great way to organize the blogs that you read.  I figured it would be much easier to show how to use it than to explain it in words.  Then I found a couple of excellent YouTube videos showcasing ways to use Google Reader and how to set it up.  So, why reivent the wheel??  Here are some excellent tutorials on all things Google Reader!

Very Basic Tutorial on How to use Google Reader

Adding Subscriptions

Viewing RSS Feeds

For more Advanced Users- Organizing your feeds

A special thanks to expertvillage for the tutorials.

You can also add you Google Reader to your iGoogle! I have mine fed there and I can keep track of all of my blogs on my iGoogle page.  To add this, go to your iGoogle Page and click on “add stuff”.  Search for Google Reader and follow the  prompts.

**Please note-  My schedule has done a lot of changing.  From today on, I will post Google Gab Tuesday evenings.  Thanks to all of you who are subscribing or coming back each week!

Google Gab- iGoogle

15 Sep

Today I am reposting about iGoogle.    Many of you are probably very familiar with iGoogle but for those of you who are not, it is a wonderful tool.  iGoogle is a customizable homepage.  It allows you to have one page with many mini-pages, gadgets, widgets, and applications feeding into it.  You can have your email, news, blog updates, weather, jokes of the day, and countless other apps delivered to one place.  Here is a copy of my page:

As you can see, I have my gmail, weather, top news stories, and RSS feeds among other applications.  I can rearrange, add or delete from these any time.  I can also change my theme to fit my mood. Once you have added several apps, you can begin tabbing.  I set mine up with categories- home, games, teaching.  I have seen some set up with Now, Soon, Never or Politics, News, Blogs.  You can have more than just three tabs, or you can just stick with the one homepage.

So, how do you sign up for iGoogle?  Simple!  Go to iGoogle. Click on “Get Started” and follow the prompts.  Once your account is set up, experiment with different themes and adding “stuff”.  Reset this page as your homepage so that you can see it each time you open your internet browser.

For those of you familiar with iGoogle, here is a tip that I just learned while at Google.  You can share tabs with other people.  You simply click on the delta on the tab you wish to share.  It will give you the option to “share this tab”.  When you click on that, a box will pop up with directions for sharing.  You simply type in the email address, choose what you want to share, and add a message.  The recipient will then be able to add your tab to their own iGoogle account.

How does this apply to the classroom?  I have heard several teachers who are using various gadgets in the classroom.  Those who teach kids under 13 (the age to have their own account) will use their teacher iGoogle to present information.  Many have election tabs that include countdown timers, quotes from the candidates, videos of speeches, campaign trail maps, and much more.  By using the tab sharing feature, teachers of older students can have a class each download the tab and it can become a classroom or virtual discussion topic.

For a couple of great tabs on the election go to Googlitics and click the links just under the picture on the home page.

Next week I will post on Google Reader.  iGoogle and Google Reader are the 2 Google tools I use more than anything!

GoogleGab- Search

8 Sep

Welcome to the first edition of Google Gab!  Today I am going to start with the basics of Google- Google Search.  There is so much more to Google search than most people realize.  Most people know how to type what they want information on and then they muddle through millions of listings trying to find “the right one.”  There are more ways to use Google search to speed up the process.  You can use it as a calculator, dictionary, thesaurus, unit converter, time converter, and more.  You can search for only books, powerpoints, .pdfs, images, documents, or excel spreadsheets.  Even with all of the things Google offers, it still claims web search as its “bread and butter”.  In fact, while a nearly unheard of word 10 years ago, Google is now a noun and a verb!  Have you Googled lately??

Let’s get started:

Google- the calculator.  Simply type your problem into the search bar, click search and Google will calculate the answer, using order of operations!

Google- the conversion expert.  Do you need to know how many milliliters are in a cup?  How many miles is a 5K run?  Let Google convert units of measure for you!  Type in the unit you know (inches) and what you want to know (millimeters)

Google knows time and weather!  Need to know what time it is in London?  Need to know about the weather in Cairo?  Google knows!  Type in either time or weather followed by the city.

Finally, have you ever wanted to find a powerpoint, word document, or .pdf document?  Google can help!  If I am looking for a powerpoint on adding fractions, I would type in the search box followed by filetype:ppt  This will search only for powerpoint files.

The filetype may be changed to any below so to fit your needs:

.ppt- powerpoint
.pdf- Adobe PDF file
.xls- Excel
.doc- Word
.swf- Shockwave Flash

There a few others that can be found by clicking on advanced search.

Now I realize that many of you may already know these tricks, but I wanted to make sure everyone reading did.  Next week, GoogleGab will continue with more tools and how to use them in the classroom.   If you have not already signed up for a Google Account, I would encourage you to do so.  As GoogleGab continues, we will be using tools that will require a google account.