Translation Made Easier with Google Translate

Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 10.43.59 AMThe Google Translate app has gotten some great updates for the travelers of the world, but their updates can greatly impact classroom conversations, as well. I have to admit that I’ve had the app on my iPad for quite some time and I haven’t done much with it, but I’m pretty excited about the updates and I think I’ll be using it more now! The updates allow for better translations to occur (think of your newcomers!!) and it also has visual recognition using the camera (again, think of your newcomers!).

How Does Google Translate Work?

The app launches with the languages set to English and Spanish. The language on the left is the input language, and the language on the right is the output. Tap on either language to change it. One option on the left (input) is also “Detect Language” if you aren’t sure about the language you are hearing or seeing. Google_Translate_1Enter text into the app by typing, speaking, writing (with a stylus or finger) or use the camera to snap a photo of some text.

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In the settings tab, tap on Handwriting if you’d like to turn off automatic typing when you are writing on the screen.
Google_Translate_5If you do choose to use the camera to snap a photo of some words you’d like translated, there will be some directions when you first launch that option.

Google_translate_2There are a pretty good number of languages available for translation. Tap on either the input language or the output language for all the options. Tapping on the arrows in the center will also swap the two languages for a quick input/output switch if you are having a conversation with someone who speaks a different language.

Google_Translate_6The settings gear at the bottom of the home screen has a lot of options for input, including dialect specifications. You can also hide offensive language using the settings.

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Common Core Connection

Using Google Translate can benefit all students learning to speak another language. Common Core does not have a World Languages component as of this publishing, but using this app can make the Common Core State Standards much more accessible for your English Learners, especially those in the early stages of language acquisition. It can also assist your English Only students in learning a language of their choice, which will only enhance their communication and cultural awareness.

What Do You Think?

How have you used Google Translate in the Classroom?

Get Students Using Evernote in the Classroom

Screen Shot 2015-01-19 at 8.09.21 PMI am a list-maker. I’m also a note taker; I need to write things down to remember them. As much as I love to write things down, though, I often forget to bring my list with me or I don’t have my notebook handy, and then I’m really lost. But I always have my smart phone with me (or some other device), so I use Evernote to keep my lists and to take my notes. Evernote is great as a personal production tool, but it also has many great uses for the classroom.

Evernote in the Classroom?

There are so many great ways to use Evernote on a personal level. I use it to curate the web, collaborate with my husband on home projects, keep lists (of course!) and more. After I got hooked on it personally, I wanted to figure out if there was a way it could be used in the classroom to promote the Common Core Standards. Here’s a short list of the benefits of Evernote:

  • Teachers and students collaborate and share resources easily
  • Create notebooks for each class, and create a new note for the class each day with the agenda, images of notes, and/or audio comments
  • Each note has a shareable URL, so teachers can post their notes for the day to social media and allow parents to access
  • Email notes to parents if they don’t use social media
  • Record audio comments as feedback directly in a student note
  • Tag notes with labels for easy searching
  • Prevents backaches: Instead of having to lug giant notebooks around for grading, the shared notebooks are in the Cloud!
  • Having the premium version means that you can view “note history” if you create the note
  • Having the premium version also means you can share entire notebooks instead of just single notes
  • Students can collaborate together (but not in real time)
  • Present notes to the class in presentation mode
  • The Web Clipper and iPad work-around (bookmark feature) means that students using iPads can save websites into Evernote
  • Chat with group members who are online in the app
  • Change the email associated with the account so that when students leave the district, they maintain ownership of all of their notes.
There are plenty more that I could add to the list, of course. These are just a few ways that students and teachers can use Evernote in the classroom.

How Does Evernote Work?

Evernote uses notebooks and notes. Notebooks are like spirals– you might have one for each class you are taking. Notes are more like the pages in each spiral. Each day, you might start on a new page in a spiral and take your notes there. That could work with Evernote, but students could also have one note for each week, or they could have one note for each unit of study just to cut down on how many notes are in each notebook if they wanted to.
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To quickly start a new note in the app, tap on one of the buttons shown below. Starting this a specific type of note doesn’t mean that you can only have those things in the note. Notes are dynamic, so if you start a text note, you can always add images later, or vice-versa. Once you have a note open, you will also be able to add voice recording clips to a note.
Evernote_4The latest update of Evernote introduced Work Chat, where you can chat with your collaborators. This is a good feature if you have multiple partners working on a project and you want to talk about changes you are making to a note, but you don’t want everyone to be making changes at the same time.
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If you are working on the desktop or on the Web version of Evernote, you will have the option to stack your notebooks. This is like putting all of your spiral notebooks into a binder.
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 Collaboration Project

Some of my colleagues and I put together an Evernote Collaboration Project that we presented at the Annual CUE Conference in 2013. We grouped the students into quartets: two students from a fifth grade classroom in one district partnered with two students from an eighth grade classroom in a different district. The teachers decided that their collaboration project would focus on Science and Language Arts standards, and students collected information and resources about disastrous weather. In an effort to circumvent asking for funding from the principals, I created a shared account and all the teachers and students had access to the same account. I created notebooks for each group and each group took written notes and audio notes in their respective notebooks. There were incidences of students putting notes in the incorrect places, but we didn’t experience any issues with students doing anything unsavory to anyone else’s notes. They were extremely respectful and they “kept their digital hands to their digital selves.”

Common Core Connection

The collaboration project proved that Evernote can be a valuable resource not just for personal use but also for classroom use. Students were able to communicate and collaborate using the app because all of the students had access regardless of the device they were using. Common Core standards call for students to collaborate and to use the appropriate tool for the appropriate job. While this is a predominantly a personal productivity tool, using Evernote in the classroom can be beneficial for teachers and students as they work to build their technology skills.

What Do You Think?

How have you used Evernote in your classroom? Please share in the comments!

Need More than the Docs App Can Do? Use the Desktop Version!

Screen Shot 2015-01-05 at 1.35.58 PMThe Docs App on the iPad is great and it allows for students to quickly create and share documents with others. Students can change the font to a limited number of fonts, they can change the size and color of their text, they can highlight, and they can also add a bulleted or numbered list. But what if they need to do more, such as double-space their text, see the revision history of a document, or use research tools? Have them use the desktop version!

How Does It Work?

The desktop version of docs or drive is accessed through a Web browser. Start by having students open Chrome or Safari (or whatever Web browser they use) and go to drive.google.com. From there, they will log in with their Google Apps account username (their email address) and password. The screen will then look like this:

drive_desktop_1This screen is really more of a viewer. Even if you choose one of the folders or documents from your Drive, you will won’t be able to do anything with it. In order to be able to edit, you need to open it in the desktop version. On the left, you’ll see three little lines. Tap those lines for the menu. Then choose Desktop Version.

drive_desktop_2You will be brought to the desktop version right away, but you will have to go through a few more steps before you are able to edit a document in the desktop version. Scroll through and select the document you want to open by tapping on it.drive_desktop_3You’ll be sent back to a very basic editor. drive_desktop_4You could edit the document from here by choosing Edit, but you’ll want to remind your iPad that you are trying to use the desktop version by choosing the two little down arrows next to the Edit button. drive_desktop_5The iPad really resists doing this, as you can see, so remind it again that you do, indeed, want to use the desktop version.drive_desktop_6After this, your document should open right away and you’ll have access to just about everything you have on the computer.drive_desktop_7

For example, you might not be able to create a table in on the iPad, even in the desktop version. But you will be able to double space documents, see the revision history, and use the research tools within Docs.

What Do You Think?

Yes, this process can be frustrating, but it provides additional functionality to Google Docs if your students are using iPads and there isn’t access to computers. Or have you found a better way? If you have, please share!

Get Students Playing with Kahoot!

Screen Shot 2014-11-21 at 12.18.15 PMGames are fun, and turning a quiz review or a discussion into a game can make these activities exciting and engaging for students. Kahoot.it! is a game-based Web 2.0 tool that teachers and students can use for content reviews or formative assessments. All you need is a projector, a host device, and mobile devices in the classroom to run a game of Kahoot!

How Does Kahoot! Work?

  1. Sign up for an account at getkahoot.com.
  2. Start a quiz, discussion, or poll, and give it a name. Kahoot!1
  3. Type in your first question. You can add an image or a video to make the question a little more engaging, especially if it has something to do with the question! You have options to make the question worth points or not, and you can also change how many seconds you provide to click an answer. Each question starts with the same number of points, and points are awarded to correct answers based upon how long it took to choose the answer.Kahoot!2Kahoot!4
  4. Add answers at the bottom of the page. You will probably need to scroll down to see where to add the answers. There’s a 60-character limit to the answers which is reflected by a number to the left of Incorrect/Correct button. Each answer defaults to incorrect, but you just click on the incorrect/correct button to change it. You can have up to four answers per question, and you can also make all of the answers correct if there isn’t just one right answer.
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  5. Continue to add questions by clicking on the “Add Question” button at the bottom of the page. You can also move between questions by clicking on the numbers at the bottom left.Kahoot!11
  6.  When you are finished with the quiz, choose Save and Continue. You’ll be asked to provide a little more information about the quiz. You can keep the quiz public or set it to private, and you need to indicate who the audience of the quiz is. You can add a description or tags if you wish.Kahoot!6
  7. When you are all finished with that, choose Save and Continue. You’ll be taken to the final page, which allows you to play or preview the quiz. I recommend doing the preview because it shows you exactly what your quiz will look like to the students.Kahoot!8
  8. When the preview screen comes up, make sure to choose “Launch” on the right so that you are given a code to enter the quiz. Enter it on the little phone on the right and you’ll be able to play just like the students would.Kahoot!10
  9. When you are ready to allow students, launch the Kahoot! game and provide the code to your students. Project your Kahoot! on the screen so all students can see it, and you are all set!

Classroom Connection

Kahoot is a fun way to have students work individually (if you have 1:1) or in teams to play a review game or have a class discussion. If you have a few devices in your classroom or even if you only have two, have students work in larger teams. When you create the game, make sure to allow a little longer to answer each question so that students have the opportunity to talk about the answer with their group. Pass the device around so that all students have the chance to choose an answer. They get really competitive with this game and they want to be at the top of the leaderboard! It will get loud in the classroom, but it’s the kind of loud you want– engaged-in-learning-loud! Even adults get into the competition with Kahoot! Students could also make their own Kahoot! quizzes for themselves or their peers as review.

Common Core Connection

As a review game, Kahoot! can potentially help students meet the standards because the questions you ask will be Common Core-aligned questions about the content you are studying. If you choose, you can wait between questions and discuss answers that were given to help students process the questions and answers. This will help students go deeper and explain their thinking on an answer, which helps with their communication and critical thinking skills.

What Do You Think?

Have you used Kahoot! in the classroom? How have your students responded to this type of review?

Inform Your Teaching with Google Forms

forms-iconIf you are a teacher who has access to technology in the classroom and you aren’t using Google Forms, you really should be! Forms can be used by any teacher who has a Google account, even those who don’t have Google Apps for Education through the school, and they are a fantastic way to gather information from students or parents.  Teachers can collect all sorts of data using forms, including:

  • daily attendance
  • quick exit survey
  • quizzes or tests
  • parent or student contact information
  • signups for volunteer activities
  • walkthroughs
  • evaluations
  • staff surveys
  • reading logs
  • walkthroughs
  • evaluations
  • staff surveys
  • choose your own adventure activities
  • applications for school programs

If you are teaching in a school that has Google Apps for Education, students also have access to Google Forms in Drive, so they can also create their own surveys for class projects.

I recently presented a session at the Ed Tech Team Orange County Summit featuring Google for Education called InFORM Your Teaching with Google Forms. The session was geared toward teachers who are just beginning to use Google Forms, and it was a standing-room-only session with lots of energy. When I present to teachers, I like to include a hands-on aspect to my sessions, and this one was no different. Teachers spent about half the time creating a new form that they can use as the school year begins.

Want to Create a Form?

To get you started, I’ve created a Google Forms Task Challenge. It’s the first in what I hope to be many, but it gives you a starting point to create a share a form. If you do create one, you do not need to share it with me (unless you want to!). The purpose of the Task Challenge is just to give you a starting point. Sometimes it’s hard to know what to do or ask in a form, so this is just meant to be a jumping-off point. You are not bound to only do what’s on the challenge. In fact, many of the attendees went above and beyond in creating a form.

Sending Vs. Sharing

Usually when you work in Google Docs, you share your documents rather than send them. Forms are a bit different. You can share them with collaborators and have other teachers add and edit questions on your survey, but when you are ready for respondents to fill out the form, you have a few options:

  • send via email
  • post a link on a website
  • embed in a website
  • make a QR code for quick access

Here is a quick video that shows you a couple of steps in this process. It doesn’t include how to embed in a website, but it does show where you will find the code. It also doesn’t include how to create a QR code.

Common Core Connection

Is there a Common Core Connection here? Sure, there is. Using Google Forms as a teacher will help you assess your students’ progress toward achieving the standards, but if you have students creating forms, it’s even more of a tool to help students meet the standards. Additionally, students are improving their 21st Century Skills when they collaborate to create a form, which can be used for any subject or reason. Asking clear and precise questions, and determining the correct type of question for a specific purpose,  helps students improve their communication and critical thinking skills.

What Do You Think?

Have you used Google Forms with students? What are some suggestions you have for using Google Forms in the classroom?

Google Tip: Shortcuts Rule!

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 5.51.27 PMHave you ever wanted to know something really, really fast when doing a Google search? I know I have! The thing I’ve been most curious about is earthquakes. My husband always feels them and I rarely do. When he asks, “Did you feel that? We just had an earthquake,” I never believe him. But now there’s a quick and easy way for him to prove himself right! Not only that, but there’s a quick and easy way to find information about many different things in Google using these shortcuts.

Give it a Try

Go to Google in your favorite search engine. My favorite happens to be Chrome. Type in earthquakes, and you should see this!

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Traveling soon? Type in your flight information. You can also find out what time it is in your destination.

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Need to know money conversion rates for upcoming travel?

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Do you cook or bake? I love cooking but sometimes I can’t find my teaspoons. I always wonder how many teaspoons I’d need to make a tablespoon. Check this out— and the little arrows allow you to change any of the value types so you can convert any measurement (not just in the kitchen!).

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Type in an arithmetic problem (or the word, calculator) and, guess what? You’ll get a calculator.

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Wondering how your stock is doing?

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Feeling bored? Type in the name of any celebrity and “bacon no.” You don’t need the quotation marks. I have yet to find any celebrity that has a Bacon number of more than 2. That’s insane! (and no, I won’t tell you how long I spent doing this today…)

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Is This All?

I could go on and on. You can use find the weather forecast, sports scores, upcoming movie times at your favorite theater, word translations, driving directions, health conditions, restaurants in the area, anything! I was reminded of these shortcuts this weekend at the Annual CUE Conference. Thanks to Brandon Wislocki, who demonstrated these awesome shortcuts at the Google in Education West Coast Summit and at the CUE conference.

What Do You Think?

Do you know of any other shortcuts that aren’t listed here? More importantly, have you found a celebrity that has a larger-than-two Bacon Number?

Kids Can Code!

HTML Code

HTML Code by Marjan Krebelj under CC License 2.0

Code.org is hosting the Hour of Code throughout the week of December 9th-15th, 2013. The creators of the website Code.org believe (rightfully so) that anyone can learn code. The most successful people in life will be those who are able to code and who understand the principles behind coding. Everything electronic is run by code, not magic! And by learning to code, students also learn to think critically, to solve problems, and to be creative.

In order to expand participation of Computer Science in schools, Code.org is promoting one hour— 60 minutes— of time for students to learn to code. On the code.org website, there are a number of coding activities for students to try using blockly, JavaScript, and Scratch. There is even an opportunity to try coding to create apps!

Apps for Coding

Speaking of apps, there are two apps to help students gain coding skills on the iPad.

  • Daisy the Dinosaur, which is perfect for Kindergarten through second grade as an introduction to coding, and
  • Hopscotch, which is a little more advanced.

Daisy the Dinosaur allows students to choose one of two modes: Challenge or Free Play. Challenge mode provides guidance for students and teaches them how to navigate and make Daisy do things; Free Play is just that— students program Daisy without direction from the app.

Hopscotch looks a little more like Scratch and other programming languages I’ve seen for kids. The toolbox with the commands is on the left and the students drag commands into the workspace on the right. Pressing the play button animates the character or characters the student has selected to use. One of the great things about programming this way is that if the program doesn’t work, students can tinker with the numbers to refine their program.

Common Core Connection

The Common Core State Standards do not include coding as a standard. However, the standards are in place so that students can leave schools College and Career Ready. Students need to be able to solve non-routine problems and think critically, and these skills are reinforced using these types of apps to practice coding. Coding apps and websites also promote Creativity and Innovation by allowing students to play with scripts and see what happens.

I’ve heard many stories recently about students who get high-paying jobs straight out of high school because they have the skills necessary to be successful in jobs that require writing code. Daisy the Dinosaur and Hopscotch can help young students begin to build the skills they will need to be College and Career Ready.

Let’s Hear from You!

What apps have you used to explore coding with your students?