Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Engage Your Students with Google Apps!

This week, I had the privilege of attending the Google Apps for Education California Summit. It was truly an amazing (and a bit overwhelming) experience. I learned a gazillion new things that I can immediately begin incorporating into my kindergarten classroom in the fall. I hope that in sharing here, you will find something you think might be useful to your classroom as well. Click on the picture above to see when the Summit might be coming to an area you are near. You WON'T want to miss this amazing opportunity!

One of my most favorite presenters was Molly Schroeder! She is one of the most innovative teachers I have met. She is a very down-to-earth and super engaging presenter.

As I am always searching for a way to engage my students in their learning experiences, I recently began looking at how I can incorporate what Google has to offer into my classroom.

Molly presented an amazing class called Chrome Ninja Tips and Tricks. Click on the Google picture for the link to her presentation.

One of the things that she showed us how to do was to use our "omni box" (the white search box at the top of your browser that you type urls into) for more than a search box. You can type any type of math problem into it and get a solution. You can type: define: followed by any word and get a definition. You can type in a flight number and the airline and get an instant link to the information.

Molly showed us how to install apps and extensions onto our toolbar. To read about the difference between apps and extensions, click HERE

The amount of free apps in the Chrome Web Store for educators is vast. As we began to look at (and install) some of the free apps, I began to think about all the ways you could use the apps in the classroom.

One of the apps that Molly shared with us was called Webcam Toy. You can use the camera on your computer to take pictures using over 60 free special effects. I think my students would have fun taking pictures of themselves to create "characters" that they could then use to write stories.

Take a look at some pictures my son and I made after the session.

Any of these pictures could be given different character names and inserted into a digital story that the students write. How fun would it be to have each child capture themselves using their favorite special effect and insert their picture into a story. The digital story could then be shown by LCD projector to the entire class. It could also be printed out as a classroom book that I am sure would be a well-loved book!

Though not a Google product, this project could be made more fun and interactive by incorporating the free online product called Blabberize. Blabberize allows you to upload a picture and make it "Blabber" or talk with your own voice.  Look at what I did with one of these pictures for free on Blabberize.

I hope you found some of the links on this post useful. What are some ways you think you could use these tools in your classroom? I would love to hear!


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