Thursday, April 21, 2016

Check Yes or No - Add Polls to Google Classroom

When I taught High School Spanish, I used to use exit tickets all the time. An exit ticket can be a great way to setup the next day’s learning. Before students left my class, they would answer a quick poll about the day’s lesson.

In the past, these exit tickets could be cumbersome and difficult to check, even when you took advantage of technologies like Google Forms. Google Classrooms makes that process of multiple choice form creation a lot easier and, if you haven’t heard the news, you can now create polls in Google Classroom. Teachers can choose to create a multiple choice or short answer poll to distribute to the classroom. They will be notified and will be able to quickly see the answers to the poll.
For example, consider this example from Google’s blog, illustrating the new feature:

Cindy Nordstrom, a teacher at Oak Ridge Elementary School in Minnesota, uses polling to make sure students understand the main points of a lesson. She explains, “We were studying poetry and talking about novels in verse. Since this was the first time that most students had encountered the format, I wanted to see if they knew what novels in verse were. I created this poll as an exit slip for the class. I could click on students’ answers and see their names associated with their response. This helped me get an at-a-glance view of who understood the concept and who didn't.” Source: Google for Education

Getting an at-a-glance view is powerful for teachers, especially secondary teachers working with 80+ students, because it provides quick, easy measure of student learning.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Remarkable Research Tool

Do your students have an upcoming research project?  As we all know, it is very important to teach students how to effectively cite sources, conduct proper searches, evaluate websites, and more, all while focusing on their research. Sometime this can be a challenge but Google has some wonderful tools to help students with all of this.

As students work on research, consider taking advantage of the Research tool. Below are some highlights of the tool.

Features of the Research Tool
The Research tool is a very powerful feature in Google Drive. It allows students to conduct research simultaneously as they are writing. The Research tool is available in Google Docs, Google Slides, and Google Drawing, and it allows students to do several things:
  • Easily Search and Preview Sites: Students can easily search Google services by applying filters, such as Google Scholar, Google Images, Dictionary, and Quotes. In addition, students can preview a website by using the “Preview” feature. This will allow students the opportunity to get a glimpse of the website in order to determine if they actually want to visit it.

  • Cite Sources: Students can select which format they would like to cite their sources. Available formats include MLA, APA, or Chicago. This feature is very important because we don’t want our students for forget to cite their sources.

  • Insert Images:  Students can search for images to add to their research by selecting the “Image” filter. Once students see an image they would like to use in their research, they can drag the image from the research pane directly into their document and the image will automatically be cited. Students can even limit their Image search to “free to use, share, or modify” by filtering the image usage rights. This will help with students violating copyright and is key if the research is going to be published online.

  • Insert Links: Students can easily add links to their research by clicking “Insert Link” when they find a website they would like to include in their paper. In addition, students can click “Cite” to create a footnote citation for that link.

  • Research Google Scholar: Students can use Google Scholar for research by filtering their search for “Scholar.” Google Scholar provides a simple way for students to broadly search for scholarly literature. From one place, they can search across many disciplines and sources: articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, online repositories, universities and other web sites. Google Scholar helps students find relevant work across the world of scholarly research. If you aren’t familiar with Google Scholar, here is a good introductory video about it. 
  • Insert Quotes: Students can search and include relevant quotes in their research. Just like images and links, the quotes can be cited.

All of these features work while sharing so, if you have a group of students working on a research project, you can see who added what and when.

Accessing the Research Tool
To access the Research tool, click on “Tools” –> “Research.” The Research pane will pop up on the right hand side so you can begin searching.

Checking for Plagiarism with the Research Tool
In addition to all the above features, the Research tool can be used to check for plagiarism. All you have to do is copy and paste a few sentences from the research directly into the search box of the research pane and the search will take you to any site from which the text was plagiarized. Let your students know you will be checking for plagiarism and have them try this feature before turning in their research project. This will deter students from plagiarizing in the first place.

The Research tool can save students a lot of time when writing their research. Allowing students to focus on their actual research will only improve the quality of their research projects.