Google Lens may have saved the day after a series of unfortunate events. Or at least made a less-than-desirable day okay. Let me set the scene for you: it’s 4 am, all lights are off, and a sleepy teacher walks into her bathroom and steps on the ‘squishy’ rug. Said rug should NOT be squishy. This can only mean 1 of 2 things. Neither is good. Option 1: one of the dogs peed. Unlikely, as this is out of the norm for them, and it would have been A LOT of urine. Option 2: I have a leak. Alas, after opening the cupboard door under the sink, I was presented with Option 2. Oh, joy.
Fast forward to me calling the plumber after school today, he tells me that he may or may not be able to fix it depending on the problem. We agreed he would return tomorrow to fix it (or not). Side note: it was close to 6 pm and not an emergency. Fair enough, he’d been working all day. This led to a discussion on what to do if it can’t be fixed. Seeing as I like the faucet and it matches the others in the bathroom, I have little choice but to find another one. It’s a unique waterfall faucet. So a Google Search will take a while.
Enter Google Lens! What is Google Lens? It is an app that allows you to point your camera at something, like a waterfall faucet for a bathroom, and does a Google image search for that thing! So being the big brain thinker that I am, I used it to locate where it could be purchased. And Bingo! I now have the name and places where I can buy a replacement.
Google Lens can be found using your Google App (iPhone), and tap the camera icon in the search bar. On Android, open the camera app and tap the Lens icon (pictured above). There are several options, including translate, shopping, and search.
I love that I am lucky enough to work with teachers who go along with my crazy ideas. Last week, I had the idea that primary learners could learn to create a turkey using Google Draw in a virtual environment. And let me be very clear on this. These were 1st and 2nd graders many of whom do not have an adult sitting with them. Many are doing this on their own.
In this virtual environment, the students were assigned a blank Google Draw via Google Classroom. In two sessions we created turkeys. Many of the teachers were learning right along with the kids. I am thankful to work with a group of educators who have a growth mindset and celebrate the fact that they are learning with the kids (and openly share their learning with their students). I am also thankful that they never limit what their students can/cannot do in the creative world.
Honestly, this lesson went much better than I anticipated. I knew it would be a challenge and the students rose to the occasion sion. Sure, there were a few who couldn’t access the tool so they got to draw the turkey on paper and share with the class. The students learned to create a shape, copy it, paste it, move it, rotate it, color it, and in some cases insert a photo, background, use the draw tool, and explore different shapes to create their turkeys. I was so tickled, I decided to share our success. Enjoy! Thank you, teachers for allowing me to join you and giving permission to share!
Oh, my, word! I have been a fan of Jamboard this year. I played around with it pre-Covid-19 times. Nothing major, just getting a feel for what it can do. However, I have really started using it during this distance learning thing we are doing. Now, this picture may not look like anything special. Until you realize that two students are writing on it at once.
I had a few students stay after virtual class today. They wanted to get some extra help with math. Okay. I gave them editing rights. We discussed how to find a common denominator. Then, I had two of the students write the multiples. They each took turns finding equivalent fractions and finally, added them. The writing isn’t super easy as they were using a touchpad on their Chromebooks, but it was enough to be able to collaborate and solve.
I also enjoy the laser feature. While I am explaining or correcting, students can see exactly where I am. I was elated to find that I could assign a Jamboard to each student in Google Classroom. This really is an underutilized tool.
There are some drawbacks. It doesn’t track revision histories. So, if several people are on it, issues can arise. Not that 5th graders would ever do such things. Jamboard is not in Google Drive. You need to go to jamboard.google.com to create them. This is also where they are stored. However, if you recently opened one it will appear in your ‘Recent’ in Google Drive.It was pointed out by Melissa Hero that Jamboard is indeed in your drive. Another thing to watch out for is if several people are writing on a post it or dropping an image, they will all drop in the same location. Unlike a tool like Padlet where each new response is in it’s own location. This can get messy. I recommend when setting it up, assign students to a page using the post it tool.
Over the summer I read an article about this. I was intrigued. I contacted my district’s tech person. After several tries (apparently there is a small checkbox or toggle that was causing an issue), he got it working for me and my students!
I had been thinking about potential uses in the classroom. One idea I had was to use it as a collection tool in the same way many of us use Padlet. I love Padlet but I am a teacher. What I mean by that is that I can now only have 5 for free. If I want to create more, I need to purchase the premium version. I don’t use it enough to justify the cost.
Then this week happened. The week before Winter Break. The week we teachers try to keep it together. So, I did a bit of experimenting. Each year I have students create ninjas using Google Draw. I am 1/2 of TLC Ninja after all. This year’s ninjas were awesome! My favorite was the Ninja Avengers. Normally, I would collect and display them on Padlet. However, I decided to experiment with Jamboard. I did a bit of prep with my class. I told them that all this could go terribly wrong. They were up for the challenge and did NOT disappoint.
After creating our ninjas, we downloaded them as JPEG files. I then set up the Jamboard so that 5 ninjas were on one jam, thus creating a total of 5 jams for the ninjas. The class was super respectful of each other’s work. I was so happy!
That is not to say that the process wasn’t without its pitfalls. First of all, one of my darlings kept selecting the > on the top of the Jamboard which, at one point, created 28 jams. Secondly, all uploaded images upload in the center of the jam. Fortunately, I was demonstrating when a student uploaded hers on the same jam as I was on. This allowed us to stop and see what happens. Great learning opportunity! That happy happenstance helped students to be respectful when uploading.
Overall, I’d say the experiment was a success. I would say it’s an ‘aight’ replacement for Padlet, not great but you can make it work. I can see other uses for Jamboard, too: exit ticket, voting, catch the pulse of the class, and brainstorming. I know there’s more, but like I said, it’s the week before Winter Break.
Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend an Energizer event for Google Innovators. And it was energizing!
Roughly 60 innovators were welcomed to the Google Campus to learn, grow, and become energized! Most importantly, we were able to connect with colleagues we haven’t seen in a while, have only met online, or connect for the first time here. I’ve talked about how I need my tribe. These are my people. They all do amazing things in their classrooms/districts.
I’m still processing all that happened and reflecting on how fortunate I am to be apart of this amazing group. Thank you to Google and Innovators for a great time!
A while back Google came out with an App for us to ‘scan’ our photos – PhotoScan (Android and iOS). The reason I love this app is the ease of use. That and the fact that the quality is good and it the glare removal.
How many of us have old photos lying around? Personally, I have boxes upon boxes not to mention the dozen or so albums. I want to share them with my family, especially my dad, but scanning each photo takes to long. Then, if the photo is in an album, the gum from the album sticks to the photo. So when I try to remove the photo, it becomes damages. I could take photos of them all, but who has ever taken a great photo of a photo? So Google came up with this app. And bonus, I can save it to Google Photos!
This is a picture of my Grandpa Zig and me – it was clearly the 80’s. In case you’re wondering, we owned a butcher shop and it was taken there.
To scan this photo, it took me less than a minute. I have some abilities to turn the glare on and off, rotate the image, and adjust corners.
Once you download the app; open it.
Find a photo, or two, you’d like to scan and take a photo.
Align the empty circle with each of the filled circles. The app will automatically take a photo.
Once a photo from each of the filled circles has been taken, the photo is ready. You can now rotate it if necessary and save it to your camera roll, Google Photos, or share with others.
The result (this would be my dad, looks a bit like Beaver from Leave It to Beaver):
When creating a website, having more than the home page is, sort of, a must. The new Google Sites allows you to create a new page with just 2 clicks. The simplicity and ease of the new Google Sites make creating a great website incredibly easy.
One of my favorite features to show students is Control + f or f3 on Windows, Linux, and Chromebooks, or Command +f on Macs. This will open up the ‘Find Bar’ for that page. What is Find Bar? Well, it’s a handy feature to narrow your field when looking for specific text. Have you ever done a search and found a great website, but there was so much text it took a while to find the exact information you needed? The Find Bar solves that problem for you!
Here I am on Google’s Wikipedia page. There is a lot of text on the page, but I only want to find out about “BackRub”, which I was told was the original name of Google. I could go to the Contents section, find History (which would be the most logical place for it to be), or I could use the Find Bar and locate Back Rub instantly.
Open up Find Bar: Control + f (Windows) or Command + f (Mac). A small bar appears in the upper right corner.
Type in the desired text. In this case, I’ll type BackRub and hit the enter key. There are 2 places on the page where BackRub is written.
I can either click on the arrows to the right of the Find Bar or use Control + g (Windows) or Command + g (Mac) to navigate to the next location of the text. The orange highlight denotes the current match while a yellow highlight denotes previous or an upcoming match.
It’s pretty slick and so much more efficient. Give it a try!
I’m a huge fan of YouTube, but then again who isn’t? One of my favorite features is the ability to create Playlists. These are a collection of videos of your choice. For example, I have a playlist for grammar to help students who are struggling with various grammar issues.
In YouTube, on the left side is my menu. The second section shows my ‘Library’ (aka playlists). creating them is SUPER easy!
When I find a video I like, I add it to (or create a new) playlist. The ‘Add to’ choice appears just below the video.
If you are creating a new playlist, you will have the option to have it ‘Public’ (open for anyone to find), ‘Unlisted’ (other can view if they have the link), or ‘Private’ (must be shared directly with others).
After you name your playlist, select ‘Create’. Viola! You now have started your playlist collection
I have been editing my students NaNoWriMo Stories in Google Docs. The easiest way to communicate with them is to write comments. Since we are in the ‘it must be perfectly polished’ mode, I’m making a lot of comments! I’ve invited other teachers to give their input as well.
When I find an area that I would like to comment on I highlight the word or area with my cursor.
I can then either navigate to the toolbar at the top, find ‘Insert’, then scroll down to comment. OR I can locate the ‘Comment’ button on the right side of the toolbar, select it, then choose the comment button from there.
There is also a keyboard shortcut – Option + Command + M (Mac) or Alt + Control + M (PC and Chromebooks). Any of the 3 options will then bring up a comment window on the right side of the document. When this appears, type your comment, then select the blue ‘comment’ button. When the reader clicks on either the comment or the highlighted area, the highlight becomes a bit darker and the comment window becomes more prominent.