Instructional Technology Blog

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

You wanted it, you got it! Google Docs Columns and Classroom update

One of the biggest requests in Google Docs has been adding columns in the layout of the document.  Well, Google has just released this  and it is already making a lot of people happy :)  Here's where you can find the new Columns feature in Google Docs: under the "format" menu, choose "columns". You can have up to 3 columns.  You can also specify if you want spacing between them and if you want lines in between them. Ok, now go and try it!

A new feature of Google Classroom is allowing parents to see a summary of student's activity in Google Classroom.  Once a teacher adds a guardian email to a student account, that email will stay with the student in all other classes the student may have in Classroom.
It is important that teachers are aware of this so that there is no confusion.  For more information visit Google's Classroom help center here.

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Monday, August 29, 2016

New Features for Back to School from GAFE

Summer is coming to an end and a new school year starts! Here are new features that you will enjoy from Google for Education.

As any teacher would tell you, the classroom isn’t the only place where learning happens — it’s just the tip of the iceberg. From parents who help students with homework, to extracurriculars, field trips and more, there are so many ways students can learn beyond the walls of the classroom. This is why today we’re announcing new features to help teachers inspire learning for students, regardless of place or time. 

Parents and guardians stay informed with Google Classroom email summaries

Parent participation has a major impact on student learning. Today, we’re launching a new feature in Google Classroom that will automatically share summaries of student work with parents. Once invited by a teacher, parents and guardians can receive automated daily or weekly email summaries of student work and class announcements, making it easier to stay up-to-date on what’s happening in the classroom. 
“I enjoy helping my children prepare for assignments that they have coming up – and the earlier I know about them, the better,” says Michelle Barrette, a mother of five Medfield, Massachusetts students and pilot user of the new Classroom feature. “This way I can prevent them from missing deadlines and see if they need help brainstorming topics or solutions.”

Annotations help students color outside the lines — and the classroom

When teachers want to help students understand complex math or science concepts, visuals — like drawings on a whiteboard — can help. But how does this work when students and teachers aren’t in the classroom together? Today, we’re announcing the ability to annotate documents in the Google Classroom mobile app.

Using annotations, students can complete assignments, sketch out math problems or even create visuals of creative ideas directly on their devices. This gives students a portable classroom whiteboard on which they can easily draw and sketch. Now, thinking through complex homework challenges from home, school or on the bus is even easier. 

Teachers can use annotations to quickly grade assignments by writing directly on the student’s work, or highlighting the most important passages in a text or novel. Anne Farrahar, an English teacher in the Medfield Public Schools district, explains how her lessons benefitted from her high school students annotating a critique of Shakespeare’s "The Merchant of Venice." “They highlighted all the ideas they thought were convincing arguments in one color, and all the ideas they disagreed with in another color,” says Farrahar. “This gave me the chance to assess students' individual understanding and, based on their responses, gather ideas for future lessons.”  

More Expeditions thousands of miles away or inside the human body

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to visit the White House Kitchen Garden or what it would be like to travel inside the human body? Today we’re announcing new Expeditions that bring students far beyond the usual places they can travel. With these adventures, like a visit to Bhutan or an exploration of the human vascular systems, teachers are able to deeply immerse students in lessons, creating vivid and memorable learning experiences.
In addition, the Expeditions app is coming soon to iOS. More teachers, including those who use iPads, will be able to share Expeditions with their students by using full-screen mode on the devices in place of a VR viewer. With over 200 Expeditions available, we’re excited for them to experience these virtual field trips on more devices. 

More Google for Education features for busy teachers and curious minds

In celebration of the new school year, we’re excited to share more new tools for teachers and students to break down traditional barriers within the classroom:  
  • A more organized Classroom. To make Classroom even easier to use, teachers can organize the class stream by adding topics to posts, and teachers and students can filter the stream for specific topics. Plus, users can now preview documents, PDFs, images and videos, all without leaving Classroom. 
  • Share your screens wirelessly at school. With the latest Chrome update, Cast for Education is now available to all teachers and students. This free Chrome app carries video and audio across complex school networks and has built-in controls for teachers — no new hardware required. Look out for updates including support for secondary domains coming soon. 
  • Google Forms get an upgrade with images. In Forms, teachers can now add images to questions or as multiple choice answers. This is perfect for subjects like math when students need to show their understanding of diagrams and graphs. 
  • Inbox by Gmail for the classroomInbox by Gmail is rolling out to Google for Education users. Coming soon, email notifications from Classroom will be intelligently grouped in Inbox, making it easy for teachers and students to find important updates and highlights. 
Whether students are at home or in the classroom, teachers can continue to inspire and support their curiosity with Expeditions, Classroom, Apps and Chromebooks. Stay tuned this week on Google+ and Twitter for more details on these exciting new tools.

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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Old PowerPoints are better with PearDeck

It's never too late to turn your old lessons into new engaging ones.  Us teachers know that summer time is for relaxing but, the back of our minds we are always thinking about the new school year and how to improve or bring new things to our students.

Are you dreading the use of your old PowerPoints once again with your new students? why not give them a twist and make them real time interactive and engaging with PearDeck?

You may not see yourself as a very tech savvy teacher but I can assure you that using PearDeck is super easy!

PearDeck is:

Want to get started with PearDeck?  We have it available for you here at Guilderland.  To use it, simple log in with your school account and use these resources to get you started!  As always you can "book" time with me to help you! click on the "book now" icon on the top right of this page. 

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