"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.
Newsela collects daily news articles and edits them to meet the needs of readers with different abilities. Teachers and students can click the appropriate Lexile score in the sidebar to change the complexity of the given text. Their frequently-updated library has news articles on many subjects and many of them have quizzes attached (the articles with quizzes are aligned to Common Core standards). Teachers can create classes which students can join to see their assigned reading. Newsela is available now in a no-charge beta version for teachers and students. Create a free account for unlimited access.
Computer Science Education Week may be over, but our exploration of computer programming has just begun. Students (and teachers!) who want to learn more about coding are invited to join an informal working group to continue learning. None of us are experts; in true 21st century fashion, we'll be learning with and from each other, setting our own goals and designing our own projects, both as individuals and a group.
The Strong group will meet on Wednesdays during Flex (except on SSP days) and the Coginchaug group after school. People are busy and scheduling can be difficult, but please don't let that stop you. We can also use email and other technology tools to cooperate, collaborate, and communicate.
Please see Mr. Kurtz with any questions or comments, or sign up on the form below.
Patrick McConlogue describes himself as a "23 year old entrepreneur, programmer, designer, and social media strategist." In August, he met Leo Grand, living on the streets of New York City and made him an unusual proposition: he would either give Leo $100, no strings attached, or give him a used laptop computer, a couple of books about Java and an hour of his time each morning to teach Leo programming. Leo chose the latter and a couple of months later, his app Trees for Cars will be available for iOS and Android on December 10th.
If we start giving our students these skills now, what will they accomplish?
Computer Science Education Week runs from December 9-15 this year and one of the big initiatives is the 'Hour of Code', a one-hour introduction to computer programming intended to demystify the magic of technology and introduce students (and teachers!) to the idea that anyone can be a programmer, creator, or inventor.
The Hour of Code challenge is to spend one hour during that week introducing your students to computer programming, even--and this is key--if you have little to absolutely no understanding of it yourself. The website Code.org is providing a variety of self-guided beginners' tutorials that can be used in classrooms with any technology (and many of them can be used in classrooms with no technology).
Memorial teacher Lindsay Petroski has been working with her students on coding and they are excited to share what they have learned about programming and eager to see more district schools participate in this year's Hour of Code. Stay tuned for an informational video they're producing right now, but in the meantime, check out these resources from the CSED Week page and Code.org.
Computers with Microsoft's new Windows 8 operating system are starting to appear at CRHS. Windows 8 is a new redesign; it represents an attempt by Microsoft to blend mobile and desktop experiences more seamlessly and it's packed with interesting new features, like a touchscreen friendly tiled interface.
But users will find enough familiar features to make the switch to Windows 8 relatively easy. See Microsoft's introduction to Windows 8 or download and print this handy cheat sheet about shortcuts and touchscreen moves.
A few things you need to know about Windows 8
I know I've done this--accidentally typed my top-secret, super-secure password into the 'username' field when trying to log in to my email or Google account and then panicked a little every time I clicked into that field and saw it pop up as suggested text to be filled in. What if some scammer is looking over my shoulder? The autofill feature is convenient but can also be problematic. Fortunately, it's pretty easy to remove those suggestions from your browser's memory. Here's how to do it in Google Chrome:
First, click the 'Settings' icon (sometimes called the 'hamburger') in the top-left corner. Click 'Settings' from the menu.
Next, click 'History' in the left sidebar. Then click the button to 'Clear browsing data . . .'
In the dialog box, check the boxes for the things you want to erase. In this case, we'll check 'Clear saved autofill form data' and leave everything else unchecked. Choose a time range to clear in the top pull-down. 'the beginning of time' is fine. Click 'Clear browsing data' and you're done!
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.