Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Read & Write for Google

Read & Write for Google

Get this app from Google and try it out for 30 days free. This is a text-to-speech and word-prediction tool that supports Inclusive Education, ELL, and UDL. I heard of it for the first time today at the community of practice. It can be used with Google docs, epub or while browsing websites. You can use it to simply read aloud text to students who are struggling, reluctant readers. It will highlight the sentences being read as well as highlighting each word as it reads. It has a variety of voices to choose from as well as the languages English and French. Hopefully they will add more down the road. As the student listens or reads a document, story or website independently they can stop, highlight a word they do not understand and click on either the dictionary for a definition or the picture dictionary to see a picture which will deepen comprehension.

Another use for this app is to create a document that provides a personal dictionary of words students struggled to comprehend when reading. Students can highlight words they did not understand or could not read and use the multi-coloured arrow tool to group them into a document. It can then be shared with you the teacher to provide you with information of vocabulary to review, or introduce, to build students English vocabulary. These documents are automatically created when the coloured arrow icon is clicked and it will be saved in the students drive. They need to remember to name the document so they can refer to it again or share it with you or others. 

There is one last icon you need to know about. It is the vocabulary icon that has 3 bullets with lines. After students highlight words they are unfamiliar with, they then click on the icon and it will automatically create a document. It will provide them with a personal dictionary that includes a picture, if it is available, and a written definition or synonyms for the words. This is also saved in the students Google drive. Remind your students to rename the document so they do not have a long list of untitled docs. This can be useful in growing basic vocabulary or as a research tool. 

It will be a word prediction tool in the near future as well. Look for this update coming soon!

Please add comments to this post if you try it out and find different uses for the app. I have added a link to a document that was used in the presentation I was at. Please make a copy of it and try navigating through the different icons. You will have to add it to your Google apps connected to your user. Search for it on Google Chrome or look for it under the apps icon on a Chromebook. You can also search for it under your drive , create button, connect more apps. Once I have tried this with my students I will do a follow up post.

Read and Write for Google Treasure Hunt- Created by Lindsay Ballance (ILS)


Keep Your Skills Sharp, Use Google Apps When Making Unit Plans

This year I have decided to try to integrate more multiple intelligences activities into my units. One of my first road blocks was trying to keep all my ideas, resources and planning in one place. I decided to try using Google Document to meet this goal and so far I like the result.

More Time?

Like anything new, there it can be more time consuming initially. However, I think in the long run, having everything in one place will be time saving in the future.

Useful Skills

There are a few basic skills that you will need to make this effective.

1. Scanning
2. Uploading and converting
3. Bookmarking and linking
4. Make A Folder

Why?

The biggest reason I did this change is to have everything in one place that is accessible at one time. When I started working on my magnet unit (after not having taught science for a number of years), I always seemed to be missing something. Either I was working at home and forgot something in a binder at school or I was working at school and had left something at home. By having everything online, I could access everything I needed anywhere.

A secondary benefit is the fact I am keeping up on my Google Apps skills by using them regularly.

The third reason maybe wishful thinking. My thinking is that I could share my unit plans with other grade two teachers and that could lead to some collaborative planning.

Example and Steps

Here is a unit I have in progress. It is a math unit on equalities and inequalities. Here are the steps I used.

  1. Create a Folder for the unit
  2. Scan Materials to PDF
  3. Upload Word Documents and scanned PDFs to Google Drive  * If you have your unit folder open in your Google Drive when you upload your documents, it will automatically add them to that folder. If you do not, you will have to move the relevant items to the folder.
  4. Create a Document that will be the core of your unit plan.
  5. Create a table of contents.
  6. Create headings in your document (such as curriculum outcomes or scope of lessons).
  7. Highlight these headings and make them a bookmark. Then go back to the table of contents and link the contents to the related headings you just bookmarked.
  8. Begin to plan/write. As I get to a lesson that requires one of the items I've uploaded, link it to your plan.
  9. Share your folder (it will therefore share everything that folder) with those you wish to collaborate with.

So No Paper or Word Documents?

I still have paper copies of things I want to photocopy and I still have my Word documents for now...

Reflections On ESPB Edtech Community of Practice (COP), October 29

EPSB EdTech Google Apps Community of Practice

Today was this school year's first EdTech Community of Practice (COP) for Edmonton Public Schools. For me, these sessions are not only to learn new things but it is a chance to confirm I am on the right track as well as network with other educators using technology.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Android Apps And Grade Two, Part Two

Android Apps And Grade Two, Part Two

I was so excited to hear that my new school had tablets; I even did research over the summer. I do a lot of centres in class across the curriculum and I anticipated that tablets would enhance them. Then I started to look into how to use them and my excitement waned.

So, getting started with our tablets was not as smooth or as quick as I had hoped. It is almost November but we are finally going to start using them in classrooms.


Road Blocks

I know tablets are intended to be single user devices but I had seen iPads used successfully without too much headache in a kindergarten classroom. Being an Android user myself, I was pleased that we had Android tablets. However, Apple has somewhat of a way to help schools manage iPads and apps. It has not been as simple with the Android tablets. Here are some of the road blocks:

  • Logging onto the WIFI is not simple for younger students (and reminding users to log off WIFI when done).**
  • Paid apps are user specific.
  • By using the Google Play store, the tablet automatically connects to your Google account. You have to delete your account EACH time after using the Play store.
    • You have to go into Settings, then select Accounts, then select Google and then select the option "remove account".   
** We still wanted to be able to track individual users and that is why we still want to have students sign on to the WIFI with their own usernames and passwords.


Work Arounds

  • Like all technology, it is important to take the time to teach the skills to students and provide them opportunities for repetition so they can become proficient at logging in and out of WIFI.
  • NO paid apps (means many free apps have ads)
  • Plan ahead - get a list of all the apps you want to install on the tablets so the long process of signing into Google Play and then removing the account only happens a few times.

Resources

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Chrome Books in Grade 1... CRAZY... not really...

Getting Started
First thing you need to know is all passwords must be changed if your students have not done so. I recommend you add a 1 to all existing passwords as that seemed to be the easiest for me. They were eager and excited to go as was I. We used a buddy system so only half my students had to log on so I only had  half the problems. The next time they would swap so after two visits everyone would have logged on. This provides scaffolding for the students who may struggle.  I had a plan to show them what they could do once they got on, so they were motivated to be independent. I chose a free app called Lego builder that I would help them get.(Fits with building things curriculum in science) Everything was going as well as expected with 11 of 22 grade 1's logging on for the first time when we reached a road block. After they got all of the email and password in they received a security message where they need to type the funny written letters. In grade 1 they have a hard time with proper letters so this required a lot of patients from myself and them.This happens the first time you use the email and password. As it turns out having only half log on at a time was smarter than I thought. I have an EA who was able to help so those of you that are flying solo you may want to do this one at a time in the class or have a couple volunteers to help you.

Step 1-I started modelling in the classroom showing them the basics of what logging in to a computer would             look like. I also showed them how it did not work if they even made one mistake. We talked about               how to problem solve by checking each letter one by one and retrying the password carefully and                 slowly.

Step 2- I took out one Chrome book and modeled how to log on and how to get @ symbol. They chanted               "hold shift, tap 2" repeatedly until they had it stuck in their brains.

Step 3- Show them the Lego building app they will use,  if they can get on. Insert " wow, cool, so fun"                  here. This is the carrot you need to dangle for motivation. Go on the Chrome book look for what will              work in your class. Under apps, education there are many free ones that your students will love. Just               remember you will have to model how to get the app and help them get it. Once they have it, it will be           there forever.

Step 4- Release the Chrome books to the partners. Wait for it.... they all get on with minimal assistance                     (funny written security word)  and enjoyed the app. Some students did it in 10 or 15 min others only              had 5 min to build but they all were successful. They were able to take turns and build.

Step 5- Repeat next time so the other 11 students can log on.

Friday, October 4, 2013

A Small Step Is Still A Step (A Reflection)

How Do You Know All This Stuff?

Today I was casually sharing with a colleague some of the things I do with Google Apps. Her response was, "how do you know all this stuff?" The answer is by playing and trying. A significant amount of my playing and trying was because of the professional development I have received from EPSB.

My First Exposure To Google Apps For Education (GAFE)

I remember when I went to my first professional development day for GAFE, at the time called the Portal Project. I was a deer in headlights. Teachers were talking about what they were doing with their students and I couldn't even wrap my head around how I would do it myself, let alone with grade twos. Now when I talk about what I do with my grade twos, I get grade six teachers giving me that same look.



Where To Start? One Small Step!

The best advice I can give is start small but start It's amazing how one small step at a time can accumulate to a long road of knowledge and skill! With all things technology, what I find useful is to pick just one subject area to focus on. When Smartboards first came out, I chose math to focus on. By picking one subject it became manageable and less overwhelming. That's not to say I never used the Smartboard in other subjects. Rather that I tried to use it as often as I could in math and gave myself permission not to use it regularly in other subjects. I was quickly able to apply what I figured out during my math lessons to use in other subjects once I felt comfortable. 

I did the same for GAFE. I chose social studies as the area I was going focus on with my students. My students did many of the summative projects using Presentation over the last two years. As a result, many of my blog posts related to social studies and technology