Are you a Strong student interested in coding and programming? If so, you are invited to join an after-school learning community: #StrongCodes! We'll meet on Wednesday afternoons in the Strong LMC for six weeks, beginning on on January 6 to explore the fundamentals of computer programming using free online resources. We'll also have dedicated forum on Google Classroom where we can share, collaborate, and problem-solve as we work on self-guided projects. Join us as we learn with and from each other. Participation is free! See me or email me for the class code.
Computer Science Education week is December 7-13 this year. I will have the Multimedia Lab (room 218) open for several blocks on Wednesday, December 9 and Thursday, December 10th for any students who want to try their hand at one of several self-guided introductions to computer programming during their study halls or tutorials. Interested students can sign up using the form below.
As RSD 13 teachers, we're committed to helping our students grow in good citizenship and personal integrity, as represented by the Core Ethical Values of Honesty, Responsibility, Kindness, Respect, Kindness and Courage. We look for ways to reinforce those values by integrating them into our lessons like any other fundamental skill.
With so many multimedia projects depending on photos, video, and graphics pulled from online sources, the Google image search is a useful venue for emphasizing the importance of Respect, Responsibility and Honesty since the propriety of using 'Google' images is often overlooked. Students often do not know that 'Google images' is not a content creator cheerfully providing (for free!) photos and graphics for their projects but rather a sophisticated method of sifting through the millions of pieces of digital content found online. They often do not stop to consider that the creators of that content have rights which honest citizens have the responsibility to respect.
You can help students meet these obligations by encouraging (or requiring!) them to ethically source images they use or modify as part of class projects. This slideshow explains the importance of copyright and how to use the tools built into the Google image search to find photos and graphics licensed for reuse or modification. The CRHS LMC specialist has a school subscription to Encyclopedia Britannica which has a library of images that includes the proper MLA format citation information. Other sources of public domain or Creative Commons images include the Flickr Commons and the Wikimedia Commons.
The Hour of Code is a global movement reaching tens of millions of students in 180+ countries. Anyone, anywhere can organize an Hour of Code event. One-hour tutorials are available in over 40 languages. No experience needed. Ages 4 to 104.
From the Hour of Code website:
Any teacher can sign up through the website to host an hour of code in their classroom but you don't even have to sign up. Talk to me details!
Timetoast is a free online timeline generator. Users can add events and timespans to create a graphic history of personal, cultural, historical or other events and share their timelines with the world. Timetoast also allows collaborative editing. It's a great tool for student presentations and projects. See my quick sample about Great Moments in Le Tour de France below:
Users can add links and pictures to their timelines, but at present there doesn't seem to be a way to directly embed videos. Another drawback is that it seems to be impossible to remove the month and day from an event, so if you're creating a timeline about ancient Egypt, for example, you had better be prepared to guess at King Tut's birthday. But aside from these small quirks, it's a versatile and easy-to-use tool.
A number of people have said to me that they like Google Docs, but wish it had more of the boutique features found in Microsoft Word, such as proofing and grammar-correcting tools and the ability to 'track changes' rather than just making inline edits. Back in July, Google introduced new 'editing modes' for Google Docs and the 'Suggesting' mode works very much like the 'Track Changes' feature in Microsoft Word:
To access it, open any document (one you have created or to which you have access) and look in the top-right corner for a button labeled 'Editing' and marked with a small pencil icon. Click the button to open a drop-down menu:
Choose 'Suggesting' to 'Track Changes'. Any alternations made to the text will appear inside green frames, with a comment box in the right sidebar that identifies the review and describes the recommended change to the original text:
The writer or review has only to click the '√' or 'X' inside the comment box to accept or reject the proposed changes:
Watch it in action:
Regional School District 13 has launched an ambitious initiative to increase access to technology in and out of the classroom. Strong School has 125 Chromebooks on carts available for classroom use and for 2013-2014, Coginchaug plans to move to a 1:1 device model, with every incoming freshman being issued a Chromebook for school use.
I'm offering a five-week series of after-school training sessions on Wednesday afternoon to prepare teachers to incorporate the new technology in their classrooms. They're open to anyone, but should be of particular interest to teachers of freshmen. Teachers can sign up for as many as they like with the only restriction being on session 5.
Docs is Google's answer to Microsoft Office or other desktop based productivity software. Users can word-process documents or create slideshows, presentations, forms, surveys and drawings using cloud-software. Google Docs can be accessed anywhere with an internet connection and they enable real-time collaboration and communication--ideal for collaboration student projects.
Google Drive is an online folder in which users can securely store files of any kind and access them from anywhere with an internet connection. Together, these two tools can all but eliminate paper in your classroom. In this session, you will learn how to create, edit, share, and manage files of all kinds using Docs and Drive.
Google's Chrome browser and Chrome Operating System (OS) offer users the ability to make their internet experience seamless across devices and locations. Bookmarks, history, and preferences can follow you wherever you log in. In addition, there is an incredible number of third-party apps that can be 'connected' to Chrome or Drive and used just like desktop software. Graphing calculators, video editors, photo managers, educational games, quiz and flashcard generators and more can be used anywhere with an internet connection. In this session, you will learn how to manage Chrome Sync and cloud-based apps.
Session 3: Google Tools: Earth, Maps and Sites
Everyone has used Google Maps to find their way across town and Google Earth to look at their house from space but they can be used for a lot more. Learn to create 'tours' of interesting sites and incorporate Google Earth and Maps tools into your curriculum. We'll also look at Google Sites, their free website builder and explore same ways it can be of use in your classroom.
Session 4: Collaborating with Google+ and Hangouts
Extend your classroom beyond its walls by using tools such as Google+ and Hangouts to collaborate both within and beyond the class or school community.
Session 5: Collaborative Planning Session
In the final session, we'll review what we have learned and collaborate on ways to bring it into the classroom. To be eligible for this session, you should have been at at least two of the previous ones.
"Google it!" may have entered our lexicon as a way of saying, "look it up", but the search-engine giant has a few more tricks up its sleeve that you can use:
To use Google as a dictionary, type 'define: word' in the search box. Google will return a comprehensive dictionary entry, including definitions, pronunciation, statistics on use over time, word origin and a tool that you can use to translate the searched word into another language.
Speaking of translating, just type 'translate ABC into language' to get a quick translation of a word or phrase. You can use this feature to translate text in an unfamiliar language into English, too.
To use Google as a calculator, type 'calculator' into the search box or just type your problem into the search box, followed by the equal sign. Press enter/return and the calculator will appear on the screen with your answer already displaying. You can use common arithmetic symbols such as '+', '-', '*' (multiply) and '/' (divide) as well as typing in more complex queries (i.e. 'square root of x=') to get a result.
Google Chrome users can use their computer's microphones to voice search. Just click the microphone icon in the search box and speak your search term.
Quickly find out the weather in a given location. Just type 'weather' into the search box to see what it's like outside where you are at that moment (Google will use your computer's IP address to estimate your location), or type 'weather' followed by a place to find out if it's better than here.
The upgrade to the district email server has brought a couple of changes to the spam summary. The daily summary looks different, but works the same: simply browse your lists of 'spam messages received' and 'good messages received' for anything blocked or allowed in error. Just click the blue links to adjust the settings. Mail blocked in error can either be 'delivered once' or 'always allowed' while spam messages that have slipped past the three-headed dog on duty at Lightspeed Systems can be 'always blocked'.
But remember the method to check for spam before your email summary arrived? That works slightly differently. First, open the mail summary and click the blue 'Click here to view current messages held as spam link.' You will be asked to log-in with your email address and password.
The default date range is 'Today' but you can open that pull-down and choose a different time frame to check. With that done, find the message in the list you want to allow and check the box to its left. A pull-down menu ('Select Action') will appear above. Open it and choose whether to 'Mark Not Spam' (add sender to whitelist and approve all further email from this address) or 'Forward Only' (allow the individual message through this time). The message will quickly appear in your inbox and that's it! You're done.
A couple of tips: 'Forward Only' is good for messages you can't identify or senders you don't recognize. The individual message will be allowed through but the sender will not be whitelisted.
NEVER EVER, NO MATTER WHAT YOU'RE PROMISED OR THREATENED WITH (eviction, account shutdown, freezing of funds, $1,000,000 from the British lottery) give usernames, passwords, or account information in response to an email request. IF you receive an email that appears to be from a bank, credit card company or other financial institution containing some dire warning about your account status, close it, and go directly to that company's site to log-in and find out whether the communication is legitimate. Reputable companies will NEVER ask for password information in an email. Be especially aware of 'phishing' scams which aim to trick you into revealing account information by sending an email directing to a site that looks and works like an official company site. ALWAYS check the URL (website address). Remember that the URLs of sites using secure encryption will begin with 'https:' and not just 'http:'
Strong and Coginchaug teachers are making increasing use of Google Drive and Docs in their classrooms. With a few simple steps, a live, editable Google Doc can be embedded directly into your website. Posting a Google Doc (rather than just the link to one) could be a good way to make a resource like a syllabus or rubric more quickly accessible, or an embedded Google Doc could provide a forum for collaboration. See what it looks like and find the steps to embed a Google Doc here.
NOTE: embedding a live document means that viewers with editing privileges can change the file right on your website (although embedding it doesn't change the permissions. People with no access still won't be able to get to it). Check your sharing settings to make sure you don't see unwanted changes. You can set the file to 'Anyone with the link can view' to allow access without editing. To post a static, unchangeable version, embed a PDF instead.
I'm a Technology Integration Specialist supporting students and teachers in grades 7-12 at Strong Middle School and Coginchaug Regional High School. Strong and CRHS are part of Regional School District 13, serving Durham and Middlefield, Connecticut.