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 surveymonkey.com 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.
We 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.
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!
When our year first began nearly a month ago, I asked teachers at my school to complete a survey about their technology knowledge. One of the questions asked about Web 2.0 tools. I dare say out of a staff of over 60, only 3 seemed to have heard the term. Today was our first inservice since our initial week of inservices, and I did a short presentation on Delicious. It was our staff’s introduction to Web 2.0. I heard mixed reviews of the session, as I knew I would. Some were very excited about being able to share websites so easily, some were still intimidated by the fact we were using computers, but that’s ok, everyone has to start somewhere.
We are going to try to link up everyone in our building who has created an account. It should make sharing resources much easier. While I am excited about the fact that so many want to use Delicious, I am more excited that even people who are intimidated about jumping into using technology in education are willing to try it.
I posted last week about my world being turned upside down at school. I went from being the computer lab teacher to a true technology resource teacher with the addition of a new teacher and the change of space required to accommodate a new classroom. This change was met (like most changes) with some resistance. Teachers gave up a 45 minute lab time, which means a 45 minute plan time each week. I hope that teachers soon see that this means that I can spend more time helping the teachers become more familiar and comfortable with using technology in the classroom.
So while, we didn’t land on the moon, I think Delicious became “one small step for teachers, one giant leap for our school community.”
I needed a little inspiration today. I love quotes, and feel like there is a lot that can be learned from a snip-it of wisdom. Enjoy a few about education.
“Learning is finding out what you already know, Doing is demonstrating that you know it, Teaching is reminding others that they know it as well as you do. We are all learners, doers, and teachers.”–Richard David Bach
“What sculpture is to a block of marble, education is to the soul.” –Joseph Addison
“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” –Aristotle
“Teaching is not a lost art, but the regard for it is a lost tradition.” –Jacques Martin Barzun
“The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.” –Albert Einstein
“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.” –Albert Einstein
“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”– Unknown
“A teacher who is attempting to teach without inspiring the pupil with a desire to learn is hammering on a cold iron.” Horace Mann
Acquire new knowledge whilst thinking over the old, and you may become a teacher of others.” — Confucius
“Play in Their World, Learn in Ours” was the theme for our Site Technology Specialist training last week. We started off the 2 days event by rotating through stations equipped with Wiis, Xboxes, PS3s, various web sites and games popular with students. We had about 15 minutes per station. I was introduced to several new games including Guitar Hero, Rockband, and World of Warcraft. I experimented with Wii Tennis, Wii Bowling, Webkins World, and iPods. I had heard of all of these, but had spent little time learning what they were, let alond playing them. It was eye opening, and now my list of games to rent/buy has increased. It really did help me to know what kids are up to.
A lot of discussion on how to incorporate some of these game systems into our classrooms occurred during the training. Of course the debate on how much should we encourage the game systems, iPods, cell phones, etc occurred as well. I tried googling to find classrooms using the Wii, and found a few references, mostly to the same teacher. I also ran across the following video which I had to pass along.
I am so impressed by the ingenuity of this video, and hope that others out there will find and share simple, cheap ways to have technology in the classroom. So much money goes into technology in schools, and then it becomes outdated so quickly. There are obviously ways to do things in a cheaper way- open source software and google docs seems to be the most common. If you have heard of other ideas, please share them!
I was intrigued to read that Kansas was honored for its innovative 21st Century Education Initiative.
Kansas Joins With Seven Other States in The Partnership For 21st Century Skills
Topeka, Kansas – April 24, 2008 – The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, the nation’s leading advocacy organization focused on infusing 21st century skills into education, recently approved the Kansas application to join with seven other Leadership States in promoting 21st century teaching and learning skills for all students.
The Partnership for 21st Century skills has put out a framework. I have seen this a few times, but never really took the time to explore it. The Route21 website does a wonderful job of explaining the framework and giving resources for teachers who wish to focus on 21st century learning.
The framework above shows the skills students need in the colored areas, but those skills are supported by the cloud-like circles beneath. The supports are the foundation of learning, these are the things administrators, school districts, and states should provide. The rainbow is an illustration of those skills the kids have to have to be able to live in our world. These are the skills teachers need to help students cultivate, they can’t always be explicitly taught. The industrial era required cookie-cutter workers. Today’s world requires individual thinkers, who can collaborate with others in order to accomplish things unheard of a decade ago.
I truly hope that Kansas does embrace this framework and that the individual school districts do as well.