Monday, January 27, 2014

Save Time. Use Your Omnibox

The Omnibox is the search bar at the top of your Chrome Browser.  It does a lot more than just search for information or take you to your web site URL.

The Omnibox can be used as a timer, a calculator, search your google drive, and can even add events to your calendar.  

If you need a quick timer for a class activity, type timer and the amount of time into the Omnibox.  
It will start counting down.  You can even make the timer full screen by clicking on the blue image of "four corners" on the bottom right.

Type in a problem to see it solved on a calculator.
Or just type in calculator.
You can even make line graphs....
and moving 3D graphs!

Search your Gmail (or Google Drive, YouTube, etc.)
To be able to use the omnibox to search your Gmail, you have to set it up in the Chrome settings.

1.  Go to settings.
2.  In the "Search" section, click on "Manage Search Engines".
3.  Scroll to the bottom to add your custom search engines.  
4.  In the first box, enter your new search name.  (Gmail, Drive, etc.)
5.  Then in the keyword box, enter in the letter or shortcut you want to use.  (g for Gmail, dr for Drive, etc.)  You can choose anything you want it to be.
6.  In the last box, enter in the web URL from below.
Keyword: g
Keyword: dr 
Keyword: yt
7.  Now, when you want to search your Gmail, Drive, or Youtube, type in a g (or dr or yt) into your Omnibox, followed by tab.  You will see this:
8.  All you have to do now, it type in what you want to search your Gmail (Drive or Youtube) for.

Add Google Calendar Events from Your Ominbox
To add a calendar event directly from your omnibox, you will do the same thing as above.  Go to settings, manage search engines, other search engines, and then add in the following:
Add Calendar EventKeyword:  cal

Now, to use it, type "cal" into the Omnibox and press tab.   
Then, type in the name of the event, the date, and time.  It will bring you to the calendar event add page.  And then you can choose your calendar, edit the event, and then save the event!

One Last Tip
Have you ever had too many tabs open, and want to easily and quickly switch back and forth between tabs?  Press "Control" and the Number "3" (If I want to open the third tab).  On a mac, press "Command" instead of "Control".

Maybe Just One More....
To open a tab that you accidentally closed, type "Control", "Shift", and "T".  (On a Mac:  "Command", "Shift", and "T")

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Help Students Find Credible Sources

Common Core State Standards & Finding Credible Sources
Common Core Standards require that students are able to find sources when doing research and analyze them for credibility.  Here is an applicable CCSS standard for Writing in History, Science, and Technical Subjects: 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.WHST.9-10.8 Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the usefulness of each source in answering the research question; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.
Finding Sources can be tough for students.  I cringe when students post or as their sources in their bibliography.  I want my students to learn how to find actual and credible sources (and be able to site them properly).  Wikipedia is a good starting point to find out general information, or find links to other sources, but Wikipedia itself should never be their source.  And is a search engine, not a source!

The first thing I do to help my students is to find some reliable sites and create a Custom Google Search for my students.  Students don't search the entire web, but use a custom search bar on my webpage that only searches sites that I have preselected.  Here is a link to my previous post about creating Custom Google Search Engines.  But even then, how do students really know that the source is reliable?  They won't always have a teacher creating a Custom Search Engine for them.  Students need to be able to determine if the website is credible.

A Great Idea from Catlin Tucker
Last fall, I attended the Fall CUE conference in Napa, and went to a session by Catlin Tucker - Common Core:  The Art of Argument Writing.  (If you ever get a chance to see her, be sure you do!  And read her book - it is great if you are thinking of how to integrate technology and Common Core practices into your classes.)  

One of the activities she shared was her Got Credibility? Google Form.  (Here is a link where you can find a copy of her form and her video on how to make a copy of it so that you can use it with your students.)  This form asks the students to answer questions about their web source such as "Does the source have an author?" or "Is there any bias presented in this resource?".  After students go through all of the questions, they should have a pretty solid idea of whether their resources is credible.  

I copied Catlin's form, and modified it a little bit for my class.  (In my biology class, I have students use APA instead of MLA.  I also added some info on websites that will work on our iPads to get the APA citations.)  I then set up the Google Script autoCrat to merge the data students submitted on the form into a Google Doc that was then emailed back to them.  I wanted students to have access to their citations and work that they did when they checked the credibility of their sources.

My Lesson Plan
When I first introduced this form to my students, I asked my students what resources they use to research a topic.  We had a discussion about credibility, and then I showed them the Google form.  I then gave them a website/resource to use to fill out the Got Credibility form.  I used a great website called Help Save the Endangered Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus.  This website is very detailed and students have to navigate around it to be able to answer the questions on the Got Credibility form.  

Students spent the rest of the period exploring the Tree Octopus website and checked its credibility by filling out the form.  Below is a copy of a filled out form from one of my students.  (This is what was emailed to each student after they submitted their form and the autoCrat script merged the data and sent them the document.)  Most students discovered that the source was NOT credible, that in fact it was a hoax.  

Click here to view the original document

After the students participated in this activity in class, I had them search for their own resources to use as sources for their upcoming research project.  I required them to complete the form for each of their resources that they used in the project.  After filling it out a few times, they now seem to have a good grasp on how to tell if a resource is credible.  Here is a video one of my students made of tips on determining the credibility of a source.

Other Hoax Sites
I have been searching for other "fake" websites to use when introducing the Got Credibility form.  Here are a few good ones.

If you find any other good hoax cites, please list them in the comments.

Here is a copy of my version of Catlin's Got Credibility? spreadsheet/form and the merge document I used with autoCrat to send out a filled out form/document to my students.   Be sure to make copies of both into your Google Drive.  You will then need to install the autoCrat script into the spreadsheet, and then link the merge fields from the document template when you set up the script.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Google Cultural Institute - an Amazing Resource for Educators

If you can't take your students on field trips  to view artwork in museums, visit other countries to view heritage sites, or show them original archives, bring the world to your students in your own classroom.

Google Cultural Institute is an amazing resources that is broken up into three sections:  Art Project, World Wonders Project, and Archive Exhibitions (Historic Moments).  

I learned about the Google Cultural Institute a few months ago, but didn't really explore it in depth until after I attended the Google Teacher Academy last month in December.  I think it is a wonderful tool for teachers to use in their classes.  Below, I have described the resources available and included some screen shots and Google created intro videos to introduce the different parts of the Google Cultural Institute. 

I believe that this is a great tool that can be utilized in every subject area with a little creativity. It's pretty obvious how history and art teachers would use it.  But math teachers could have students calculate the angles on historical buildings using the World Wonders Project.  World language teachers could have students visit historical sites or look at artwork created in the countries that students are learning about.   Science teachers could have students learn about ecosystems and environments, or the see some the effect of the nuclear bombs in the Historic Moments Collection.  English teachers can have their students visit the Globe Theatre

Check it out.  The Google Cultural Institute is an amazing tool that can bring the world to your students.

Art Project

Art Project has brought "street view" inside museums around the world, which you can access from any computer in an internet equipped classroom.  

Walk the floors of the Museum of Modern Art and discover Van Gogh's Starry Night,

look at the entire painting,

and even zoom in to see the brush strokes.

You can even create galleries of work and compare two pieces of artwork at once.  The museum exhibits not only include paintings, but textiles, statues, etc.  And, the educator page gives you some lesson ideas and you create your own quizzes.

World Wonders Project

The World Wonders Project brings World Heritage Sites to life with Google Street View and 3D Modeling.   

View images and street views of amazing historical and important sites from around the world and learn about the history of each location.

Visit the World Wonders Project education page for resources and lessons for educators.

Historic Moments

Explore online exhibitions (including photos, documents, videos, etc.) detailing the stories behind significant moments in human history.  Learn about Nelson Mandela, Marie Curie, the bombing of Hiroshima, and much more.  

The search feature is great.  It allows you to search for any topic or historical figure and find information, videos, photos, and other media.  The LIFE photo collection is included in the Google Cultural Institute too.

Learn How to Use the Google Cultural Institute
Watch this quick video to learn how to use the Google Cultural Institute website.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Happy New Years! PD Opportunities for the New Year

A new year brings lots of new opportunities for educators to renew their passion for education.  There are some great local opportunities for teachers to meet with other dedicated educators, get some new ideas for the classroom, and add some inspiration back into their work day.  

Below is a list of local (to Northern California) conferences that I have attended in the past, or will be attending/presenting at this year.  Many of these conferences included workshops on how to integrate technology into your curriculum (which is a very important part of CCSS).  There are beginner to advanced sessions on using technology, so don't be afraid if you are just starting to look into how to integrate tech into your teaching.   There are also many workshops about great teaching and learning, that can be used with or without technology.

Learn how to integrate Google Apps for Education in your classes.  I attended the one this past summer at Sequoia High School and it was great!  There are a lot of session choices to attend.

CUE conferences and great... you get to learn about different ways to integrate technology into your class, breakfast and lunch is included, and the day always ends with a great raffle.

This is a free conference where the purpose is for you to play with different technologies or apps so that you are comfortable using them in your classes.  (Playdate stands for People Learning and Asking Y: Digital Age Teacher Exploration.)

CUE Rockstar camps are a lot of fun.  Each session is two hours long, so you really get a chance to try out what you are learning with the support of the faculty.  There are long breakfasts and lunches where you get to network and continue you learning with the other participants.  The locations of the camps allow you to explore some great areas of California and are an extra bonus "vacation".  Here is a blog post I wrote when I attended a Rockstar Camp this summer.  And here is another one written by the creator of the Rockstar Camps.

This is another free event where the educators develop the schedule for the day in the morning.  It is a great way to meet other passionate educators and discuss topics that interest you.

See the description above fore the East Bay CUE Cool Tools

See the description above for CUE Rockstar Napa Valley.

Try something new this year and attend one of these great events!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

2014 - A Time to Renew, Re-imagine, Recommit, and Reach Out

A week ago I received an email from David Theriault inviting me to be a guest moderator of #caedchat (California Ed Chat) on Twitter tonight.  I was surprised to be asked and I consider it a great honor to be included.  

I have actively been participating on twitter and in different ed chats for the past nine months and have developed a very strong PLN.  My PLN has allowed me to grow as an educator and I have been provided with many new opportunities because of the connections I have made with many great local educators as well as those in other states and countries. 

I have always been very shy, and with the encouragement of those I have met online, I have started blogging, and presenting to "strangers" instead of just the staff at my school. I have taken steps to move out of my comfort zone and get more involved.  Because of my PLN I was able to learn about, attend, and even present at different conferences.  I even helped moderate a chat tonight!  And my best memory or achievement of the year was being selected to participate in the Google Teacher Academy in Stockholm last month.  It was an amazing experience and I loved meeting and learning with such a diverse, international group of educators.

The topic of tonight's chat was "A Time to Renew, Re-imagine, Recommit, and Reach Out".   The first question was "What is your favorite renewal process or activity".  What really helps me clear my mind so I can start fresh is going out into nature, getting away from it all.  I love to go birding.  Hiking and seeing such beautiful animals in beautiful spots really focuses my mind on nothing but being outdoors.  Then I am rejuvenated to go back to reality and work towards achieving new goals in my classroom.  The greatest thing about birding, is that it allows me to renew each time I do it, not just at the beginning of the year.  

Another question was to create an image with my motto for the year.  I chose an image that I took in Sweden last month of a Great Gray Owl.  The Great Gray Owl was the bird assigned to me for a report in my first Avian Sciences course at UC Davis my freshmen year of college.  It was during this class that I decided to switch my major from the safe engineering to the unsafe Avian Sciences.  My parents weren't thrilled... how would I ever get a job with that as a major?  But I realized I loved studying birds and conservation and I knew that I had to follow my heart.  Here is my image and motto:

This motto is fitting... for both me in college following my heart, as well as for me trying new things now in my career, for my students as they are learning and growing into adults, and for the other teachers that I interact and work with as they try new things in their classrooms.  Everyone should believe in themselves.  As you try new things, you may fail.  But failure allows you to learn and grow.  If you believe in yourself, you have the potential and pretty much the guarantee, to be a success.

Another question in the chat tonight was what was your favorite inspirational moment.  In teaching, my students always inspire me.  Well, not always... but each student has done little things, or sometimes big things, that are inspiring.  But as a teacher, I am always inspired by conversations with my PLN on twitter,  at conferences, or edcamps. I always learn from educators who choose to attend, participate and share what they are doing.  Professional Development is what keeps me moving forward.  I want to learn new things and find better ways to be an inspiration and a motivator to my students.

In tonight's chat we were also asked to share a inspirational video, quote, or resource.  One of my favorite's is Google's Moonshot Thinking video.  I think it is a great video to show students (and other staff) that anything is possible if you believe in yourself.

The last question was what I wanted to focus on this year as a connected educator.  This year, my focus as a connected educator is to make more real connections and build relationships with those in my PLN.  I want to step out of my comfort zone and introduce myself in person to members of my PLN if I see them at a conference.  I want to build better relationships and friendships with those I interact with online.  I also want to give back and share what I have learned with others - teachers at my school, or other educators online who happen to find my blog or read my tweets on twitter.  I have learned so much from my PLN and I want to share the great things you have given me.

This year, I will believe in myself to renew my passion for education, re-imagine my curriculum to meet the needs of all of my students, recommit to why I became a teacher, and reach out to form stronger relationships with members of my PLN.

Thanks David for inviting me to be a guest moderator!  It was a great experience which I hope to be able to do again.