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Technology Tips – edu|FOCUS
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Technology Tips Tag

17 Little-Known Tips, Tricks and Hacks for Using Google in the Classroom

Here’s a slightly Orwellian way to check whether your students may have plagiarized part of their essays: the Chrome extension Draftback, which plays back the revision history of any Google doc you can edit—down to the keystroke. That was just one of the many extensions, add-ons and hacks for the Google ecosystem shared at a pair of sessions packed to the rafters at the Spring CUE 2018 conference in Palm Springs, Calif. The tools span everything from music to time-saving shortcuts and supports for struggling students or those with learning disabilities. Check out these educators’ top picks or explore a list of attendee favorites here. Looking for a way to introduce music to young learners? Chrome Music Lab is a visual way to plot musical notes and create songs, punctuated with simple percussion, said technology director Bill Selak. It’s also a great way to teach AB patterns. “Instead of teaching with a math textbook, it’s way more fun to teach with Chrome Music lab, he added.” Bitmoji is an emoji-avatar creator popular with kids and teachers alike to create a cartoon likeness of a real person. (Hot tip: “Ask someone else to design it for you. It will look like more like you,” suggests Nancy Minicozzi, a media specialist at Las Virgenes School District, who had students create hers.) Using the Bitmoji Chrome extension, Minicozzi plopped it into a Google Doc, added word art—“Great Work,” “A+,” “Good Thinking”—to create feedback posters. When finished, you can save each one to Google Keep as a .png file (to preserve transparency) and pepper them into student essays or assignments on Google Docs. Bitmoji feedback poster in a DocLike the Bitmoji posters, the extension CheckMark can help reduce typing repetitive grammar corrections into Docs. Just install it, then highlight text to see a popup menu with pre-written comments asking students to check their spelling, punctuation or tense, or to add more detail or rephrase a sentence. To help make things easier for struggling students, Tracy Sneed, a teacher and technology specialist for Kern County, Calif. showed off three Chrome extensions useful for those with reading difficulties. Auto Highlight automatically searches a webpage and highlights what it thinks is the most important content in bright yellow, drawing students’ eyes to that information quickly. Internet Abridged is a summarization extension that sums up any website in a few paragraphs (perfect for long Wikipedia articles, Sneed said). And Google Keep’s extension is a fast way to bookmark content on a site and review later in a Doc. For students with dyslexia, the OpenDyslexic extension converts web page text into a special font designed to make reading simpler, said Monica M. Daniel, an instructional technology coach for McFarland Unified School District. Read Aloud is a rather self-explanatory extension for listening to websites or text selections in spoken form. OpenDyslexic fontDocAppender is another time-saving Chrome extension that takes the results submitted in a Google Form and puts it into an existing Doc. English teacher Alice Chen creates separate Docs for each of her students, then uses...

The 10 Best VR Apps for Classrooms Using Merge VR’s New Merge Cube

Recently, the world of virtual reality was shaken up when the popular Merge Cube by Merge VR dropped in price from $15 to just a dollar at many Walmart stores. When using specific apps, these cubes showcase different experiences as you rotate the block around with your hands. If you haven’t held a Merge Cube yet, they're made of a soft rubber material that’s comparable to a stiffer stress ball. (If you want to test out the apps first, you can print out a temporary paper cube.) The Merge Cubes work with most mobile phones and tablets, and the apps are found in the Google Play and App Store. There’s also an optional VR headset users can wear for hands-free play, which makes the experience more immersive. The most exciting aspect of the Merge Cube is the opportunity for students to become a Merge Cube Developer and create their own applications. While educators are flocking to scoop up hot deals at their local store, many are now wondering how to use them in the classroom. I’ve listed some of my favorite educational apps to load on your devices, but I anticipate the list will continue to expand as more developers jump into the Merge Cube Madness. 10. Th!ngs (FREE) The Th!ngs app is a perfect starting point to use the Merge Cube because it’s kind of like a sample of all the available apps. Add a cozy campfire in the middle of your station while students read or give them time to share their weekend happenings until the Jack-in-the-box pops out. App Store | Google Play 9. Elemental Order ($1.99) The Elemental Order app is similar to Simon game, but instead of tapping the colors that you see and hear, you rotate the cube around to find each color and select the same pattern. Elemental Order draws on memory, focus and more importantly, repeating patterns. App Store | Google Play 8. Mr. Body (FREE) Explore the solar system and watch the planets rotate around the sun (aka, your cube). Select each planet for additional information while the sounds recorded in space are played in the background. Use this app in your classroom to discover how the planets orbit the sun or discuss why various planets make different sounds. App Store | Google Play [embedded content]7. MyARquarium (FREE) Don’t have an aquarium in your classroom? No problem! The MyARquarium app allows you to select from more than 60 fish variations in your cube aquarium and feed them, too. Adjust the floor of the AR aquarium and easily view the fish swimming as you rotate the cube. The class can use the aquarium to identify various fish species and label their major body parts or their adaptations for survival. App Store | Google Play 6. Galactic Explorer (FREE) Explore the solar system and watch the planets rotate around the sun (cube). Select each planet for additional information while the sounds recorded in space are heard in the background. Use this app in your classroom to discover how the planets orbit the sun or discuss why the various planets...

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