Ok, so I’m not actually going to list 2,953 reasons for anything. I’m just feeling left out of the put-a-number-in-your-blogpost-title bandwagon, and wanted to jump on board. I also want to say that more than ten of anything on a list is too many. Who has time to look through the “65 best web tools” post, read the summaries, download the apps or check out the websites of those that sound interesting to you, and then actually test them out? Give me your top five. Really. Sixty-five, ninety-two, or twenty-seven is not vetting. It’s overwhelming. And not too time-efficient for most of us.
But, I really do love Google. Here’s why:
1. Google Drive – This is the easiest way to collaborate on projects with other people. You can work simultaneously on projects with people around the world, or across the conference table. Your work is constantly being saved, so no accidental deletions. Your files are synced and stored in the cloud, so you can access it anywhere on any device.
2. Google Hangouts – Similar to Skype, but I’ve had a much easier time using GHO than I do Skype. G are also similar to Face Time, but users aren’t restricted by devices. You can livestream, record, audio or video call, share photos, go back to previous conversations.
3. Chrome Extensions – Extensions are like apps in your Chrome browser. Again, this is nice because you have your extensions available on any device if you are logged into your Google account. Todd Nesloney did a great job vetting extensions to give us the Top 10 Must Have Extensions.
4. Gmail/Calendar – Gmail is just easy. That’s pretty much all I’m going to say about it, but the calendar is my organizing go-to. I have access to all of the principals’ calendars, my professional calendar, my personal calendar, my task list, the professional development calendar, the testing windows for our state tests, and an events calendar for our junior/senior high school. It sounds overwhelming, but it couldn’t be easier. It sure makes scheduling things so much easier than emails back and forth trying to find a common opening.
Well, look at that – only 4 reasons. Of course I cheated a bit and included the link to Todd’s post, but I’m going to let myself off the hook for that one. And I didn’t talk about Google Earth, Google searches, Google Offers, Google images, Google glass, Chromebooks…so much to love about Google.
One of my job responsibilities (and personal interests) is to vet digital resources for the teachers of our district. I typically blog about specific apps and websites. While I know this is helpful for our teachers who are short on time, or on the knowledge as to where to find these resources, I don’t want to give the impression that this is what innovative learning is about. I have thought through different directions I wanted to go with today’s blog post, and in the end decided to steal and plunder from some great educators in my PLN. Justin Vail and Joey Till of Education Shift have fantastic resources on their website. I have been to one of their sessions on Discover, Collect, Create, and that is what I want to write about. They have a great list of resources on their website under each of these headings. Learning is really just a series or combination of discovery, collecting information, and/or creating. I am only going to highlight a couple of resources from each area that work the best for me. Not all of them are on Justin and Joey’s lists, but since I am using their session title, I wanted to give them credit. I believe in the spirit of collaboration to work towards the common goal of best meeting the needs of today’s students. Since we all like to learn and teach differently, feel free to check out their Google doc to see more resources. Oh – and don’t forget to follow them on Twitter @ed_shift.
- Twitter is definitely one of my favorite professional resources. By connecting with the right people on Twitter, you can discover any number of helpful resources for your classroom. The key is finding the right peole and best hashtags.
- YouTube – What can’t you discover on YouTube?
- Google Search & Google+ – We all know how to do a basic Google search. Check out Education Shift’s website page on Google, though, on how to do advanced searches. This will save you tons of time if you know how to correctly refine your search criteria.
- OneTab is a new favorite. It’s a Chrome extension and has just endless possibilities. It is a place to curate websites into common themes, or just minimize the amount of tabs you have open in your browser at one time.
- LiveBinders is an old favorite. I’m pretty much a LiveBinder addict, but OneTab is giving it a run for it’s money. LiveBinders are exactly what they sound like. They are digital binders that hold curated content. The best part is that you can share a binder with someone else giving them access to your collection. I have over 200 binders from Differentiated Learning to Twitter in the Classroom. I know a teacher who collected websites about authors and then shared the binder with her class to narrow down their research sites during an author study.
- Google Chrome & Bookmarks & Google Docs
- iWork and iLife apps. If you have iPads, there aren’t much better apps for creating than those in iWork (Pages, Numbers, Keynote), and iLife (Garage Band, iMovie, and iPhoto).
- Animoto is a favorite in our district. Students of all ages love using it to create book trailers, but it can also be used to review for tests, present specific information to the class, etc.
- Google Sites & Maps & Docs
“Technology doesn’t make teaching easier, it makes it different” @chrkennedy