This Summer, I had the opportunity to participate in the EdTechTeam Google Summit in NJ, where educators and GAFE specialists showed some new tools and ways to implement the Google Apps for Education (GAFE). Over the course of two days, more than 130 teachers and administrators sat in on sessions led by Google certified instructors as they presented Google tools, apps, and extensions.
Sessions ranged from how to use tools like Google Forms or the Read&Write Google Chrome extension, to introductions to apps like EdPuzzle or TextHelp. Some sessions were more in depth, e.g., how to differentiate teaching and learning styles for students based on their individual needs using Google Classroom or how to personalize a video segment to get information across to students. There were classes on using tools such as Google Drawing, mobile apps, coding, and New Google Sites. All wonderful new ideas and applications used in the classroom, when implemented correctly, can unlock new and exciting ways for our students to learn.
For example, many teachers like to bring videos into the curriculum, but want to have their students do more than just view. Enter EdPuzzle, which allows teachers to take an existing video – from Learn360 – and add questions, voice, and images making the video an engaging, interactive learning lesson, that students can complete on a self-pace. For those teachers who may need inspiration, the website has several ready made videos that can be used as well as edited. EdPuzzle is available online, but you have to enable the extension on your Chrome browser to use.
There were four sessions per day and each block of time, usually an hour, included 4-5 topics. The most popular session each day was on Google extensions. One cannot get enough of extensions, which you can find on the Google Store. Extensions are used with the Chrome browser to modify and enhance the functionality of the Chrome browser. Some favorites to try are:
Grammarly: Used to check spelling in email and docs.
Cite This for Me: Used because we want students to cite their research.
CraftyText: Allows the user’s text to be displayed on screen on top of a web page in large type.
Fluency: Makes reading aloud more fun and satisfying for students who need extra support.
Pocket: When you find something in Chrome that you want to view later, put it in Pocket.
And the number one extension– Readability(now known as Mercury Reader): removes ads and distractions, leaving only text and images for a clean and consistent reading view on every site.
In all, Summit participants had the chance to network with one another, and many of the workshop presenters shared resources enabling participants a way to take back what they had learned with colleagues, or via training other teachers to prepare to implement Google for Education tools during the school year.
Armed with the new and enhanced knowledge of all the tools Google brings to the classroom, CTN is ready to share with teachers and administrators all the ways to take advantage of the exciting possibilities for student learning made possible by GAFE.
Submitted by Angela Russell, Instructional Media Specialist