Google Suite

Nesting Pages on the NEW Google Sites

newfauxsitehome2009 marks the first year I began teaching Google Sites for grades 6-12 student portfolio publication and student global research contests. At that time, many templates were available already with Classic Sites and we often used templates appealing to us (I let experienced template portfolio users choose their own). Classic Sites, while being wonderful in its free availability, was not intuitive compared to other Google Apps and I spent an awful lot of time answering questions and helping with navigation difficulties. I also learned from student exploration and use. All teachers should never feel uncomfortable about learning alongside students. Yes, it’s somewhat humbling but you soon get over yourself when you enjoy that you’re learning.

At the recent release of the New Google Sites, I was initially disappointed. The ability to have one or more lengthy navigation is not a feature. However, I’d read multiple reviews touting the new look and quickly realized that what they’d done with the navigation format is so sensible and yes, so very streamlined. You just have to use hidden pages and page linking. See here my edit mode for the model I provide to preservice teachers:

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Okay, a couple of things I did with this screenshot was to downsize the page. When I did that, it displays “More” (more pages) and this page, Tech Tools Analysis, is nested there. If I expand this page to full screen, “Tech Tools Analysis” shows on my navigation. That’s a nice feature for mobile devices.

When you’ve hit the layer of pages allowed for display, this is when you employ the hidden page feature and create a hyperlink to the site page. You’ll notice the hidden page icon at each of those two pages. While I don’t have to have them nested with their flow page, I do want them nested there for my own organizational purposes. To nest a page, all you do is drag it to the right of the page above it in hierarchy. It’s simple! And it requires sound structural organization – good critical thinking application for all users.

My only other request is that Google give me back the blog (announcement) feature. That’s the only missing element I could possibly ask for reinstatement.

Try out the New Google Sites – you’ll love it.

Curriculum

Learning with Images

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What’s going on in this photo?

This is a picture that a friend of mine from high school posted recently on Facebook. I absolutely love it. It’s from the early 60’s and she is the sassy young lady arms akimbo by her sister’s carefully posed stance. The dress with the Peter Pan collar, the ankle socks, and the defiance to perfect behavior capture the joyful attitude. It makes me smile every single time I look at it. Can we all agree that we love that child in our classroom, even when we reprimand them to behave?

For pedagogy purposes, the use of images allows a deeply authentic activity for students. With this image a teacher could ask students to write a story about this picture, analyze the personalities of siblings, or ask students to identify/research the era of the photo based on the clothing and accessories.

Based on personal experiences, a student can identify with either one of these sisters. They can project those experiences into a story. The main purpose in implementing photos can further develop the cognitive activity through connection of both experience and creative thinking. With the use of technology, a single photo can be shared to a classroom of students and each can find their voice through writing. These types of activities encourage the learner’s autonomy and confidence and they also promote empathy because when we connect with people and places, we find our similarities.

Photo property of Grace Penny Fair

Curriculum

Manage GAFE Units of Learning with a Hyperdoc

tableofcontentFor several years I’ve managed my Technology for Teachers course in units of learning to coincide with a 16-week and 8-week (summer) semester schedule. Google Drive makes this simple with Drive folders – inside each folder is every link, image, and needful content. As I gather all the resources, I create hyperdocs to upload to the college’s LMS platform. Once that’s done, I have all the necessary components for a unit laid in a weekly format so my students simply read and click on outside resources I’ve linked. My preferred method is to break up units into weeks. For example, if a unit has several weeks of activities, I create hyperdocs that are titled “Unit 1.1,” “Unit 1.2,” etc. and then link it in the LMS so that it’s one click to find all available content for that particular week.

Hyperdocs streamline gathering and delivering multiple correlated content sets to the student audience. The author can use the provided shareable link so that only the domain users can view or the .doc can be converted to a .pdf to reduce clicks to other resources. You can learn extensively about hyperdocs and get free templates with this useful HyperDoc Handbook at Amazon.

Here’s an example of a PD hyperdoc I created for teachers recently. After gathering resources and making links on the file, I simply made certain the sharing privilege was “Anyone with the link can view” for the file and then sent the link out. This is also a terrific method for presentations because the audience doesn’t have to take notes unless they prefer; they know they can access the information once the link is made available to them and they can hit the file whenever they need it. Google Docs also allows commenting and I often annotate any particular item that I want to emphasize – it could be directions or expectations I have for students to follow.

You can find all sorts of resources about hyperdocs. Here’s a great one at Pinterest: Hyperdoc Web Tools

Gaming

FYI – Mobile Community Game You Should Know About

pokemongoOn July 7, Pokemon GO was released to the United States. Maybe you’re already familiar with Pokemon. It began as a television show for adolescents in the ’90’s and then became a trading card game quickly afterwards. Both my sons watched the show and participated in the card-trading phenomenon. Now in his early 20’s, my youngest made me aware this week that all over our community (and other places in the world) kids of all ages are quietly roaming their communities playing a game via their Google account because the game employs Google Maps.

My son showed me his Pokemon Go app yesterday when asking if I’d seen it – two days after its release. After he explained how the game worked, I downloaded it myself. Imagine my surprise to see that there was a Pokemon “critter” on my driveway. I threw a pokeball at him to capture him and gained experience/trainer points. This has been the level of my participation thus far. But it made me consider how this type of game is similar to geocaching, where we have students look for hidden elements in their environments for points.

As an educator, I can see that this would be a great way for kids to explore their communities on foot. After a user accumulates enough experience points to Level 5, they can battle. My son did this today, mainly out of curiosity. The physical “gym” indicated for battle in our town is the American Legion Veterans Organization building. When he arrived, he noticed at least 4 cars in the parking lot with probably about 6 people that appeared to be battling while sitting in their cars. On a bench outside, a 13-year old was playing on his phone – indicative that he was battling as well. This makes this game one of the first I’ve seen in which participants must physically travel, either on foot or by vehicle. There they were, connecting with other people – only not each other necessarily. More info is here: Pokemon Go Gyms, candy, pokeballs and everything else you need to know

Scary stuff? Well, it’s a bit unsettling if you have a younger child participating. Read this article and decide for yourself: Pokemon Go users find everything from dates to dead bodies. Also, you must consider that part of the game is being able to buy game items. If your child has a bank account of some type connected to their phone/tablet or if you do and you let your child use your phone, be aware that up to $99 can be spent with one click.

Update: Teens used Pokemon Go app to lure robbery victims

Like all wise parents, you should monitor your child’s use of mobile devices. If they’re playing Pokemon Go, ask questions and note that it’s required for a child to move around a community to battle and gain experience points.

As I’ve concluded writing this, my son informed me that we have a Pokemon Venonat bug right now in our kitchen. Great… !!

 

Behavior Managment

Elements of Game Play

ClassCraftStudents use gaming programs for entertainment, but did you know that these elements can be applied directly to engagement of your curriculum or your classroom management? How do the elements of gaming apply to learning?

  • Self-reflection
  • Critical thinking
  • Engagement
  • Collaborative tasks
  • Constant challenge with reward through practice (repeated failing) and unusual tasks
  • Safe space in the mode of learning (Don’t shoot the player while they’re learning audiocast)

Gamification in Education – Vicki Davis shares several informative resources to better understand best practices if you want to gamify your classroom.

Classcraft is a new tool available for teachers that applies gaming elements to classroom management: Transform any class into a role-playing game that fosters stronger student collaboration and encourages better behavior – Classcraft statement.   

Classcraft is free to teachers, so take a look now while it’s free and to have time to use it this fall. Purchase for access to more authentic and broader personalized use.

Ed Tech Tools

Google Classroom Updates

Google continues to make extremely useful updates to their newer child, Classroom. I’ve been using Classroom for an online Technology for Teachers course activity since its release, and one particular need I had was to be able to move posts (announcements) around for a fresh semester’s use and also to recycle the content with a new date. Both are possible!

For example, I had an announcement from a previous semester that I want to use again this semester but I don’t want my preservice teachers confused when they see the date it was first posted – that’s a different semester! And I want it back up the top of the stream. To move a prior announcement up to the top, simply click on the 3 dots in the top right hand corner of the post :MoveAnnouncementGClassroom

To reuse an announcement so that it has a current date instead of the date you first created it, click on the red  + button, then you choose the classroom and the announcement. This update means any announcement in any of your classrooms is usable – you now have a library of announcements to share wherever you please!

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This means no more copying/pasting content in Classroom – a step eliminated that needed!

Curriculum

NextLesson – A New Approach to Curriculum

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You have projects and lessons you’ve nurtured for years. You’ve had to devise file management for digital resources and piecemeal them together. There’s a way to bring all these together and inject some refreshing, new content to boot: NextLesson.

Before you roll your eyes at yet another technology tool to implement, consider this: NextLesson manages to straddle the divide of traditional education tools (paper, pencil, and textbook) and the use of digital tools in a manner that is almost effortless. The platform feels intuitive. It uses recognizable icons and doesn’t overwhelm the user with too much functional information at onset, a critical feature for engagement.

Content is laid out in textbox format and has a streamed learning approach, called “stepping stones.” These stepping stones allow both teacher and students to view individual progress as it occurs. And the amount of content? I was blown away by how meaningful, intentional and authentic to performance tasks the content is. There are project-based and project-oriented products. A teacher simply downloads lesson or project plans with the ability to customize by adding files, images, videos, and websites as additional resources and the ability to remove content not warranted. I found this similar to using a digital textbook – a free textbook loaded with content that I chose and could amend as desired, and one with which I could create lessons from scratch if I desired. NextLesson provides free curriculum products and has negotiable pricing if you wish to access all the content available.

Features

  • Standards-based alignment and the ability to search for content based on standards. Currently there are CCSS/NGSS, Virginia SOL, and Texas TEKS with plans to align to all state standards.
  • Support can be easily found through videos and and an abundance of FAQs that covered all my questions. I was contacted after access via email by a representative offering assistance if I needed it, so prompt support is always there.
  • Integration with Edmodo online classroom is simple using the “500+ Projects and Lessons” app found in Edmodo’s store. You choose a lesson and add it to your K-12 classroom. Schoology and Google Classroom are not integrated as online classrooms, so this is a slight drawback for my own GAFE use. However, you do not need to have an online classroom as NextLesson is a supporting platform for its curriculum. You can create teacher and student roles with privacy controls, and resources can be integrated through shareable links.
  • Discussion forums, connection to a projector/whiteboard, and printable materials make the content flexible for most educators – those new to technology and those not. These allowances to hesitant adopters and restricted budgets may be the best features of the platform.

Meaningful learning is the driving force behind NextLesson. Educators desiring critical thinking components in conjunction with technology will not be disappointed. Some products are created for Rank and Reason activities which allow students to rank items in a list to answer a question that doesn’t always have a right answer. Students must justify their reasoning for the rankings they choose, leading to deeper discussion. After discovering this capability, I envisioned a classroom of global students and the cultural perspectives they could supply to each other using NextLesson as a springboard.

Free products and access to the platform are the key elements that make NextLesson attractive. All you need to test it out for yourself is an email address and a bit of curriculum exploration to find lessons and projects to suit your needs.