Thursday, 24 September 2015

Thursday, September 24

Google Tips

Have you ever written an email and pressed send before you were actually ready to send it? Or, maybe you wished you could reword a few lines. With Gmail, that ability now exists. Earlier in September, Google introduced an undo feature to their email. When set up, you have 30 seconds to undo the sending of an email. It isn't a lot of time but it does give you the ability to "unsend" your email. To set this feature up in your email, follow the directions in the video below. 

A Gathering Place

At the end of the 2014/2015 school year, I asked for some feedback from all Grasslands teachers. One item that came up many times was the desire to have a space where we could collect examples of lessons and student work. People said to me they would really like to see what their colleagues were doing in their classrooms. There are a number of ways we could to this. However, to me, the easiest way is to use this blog as a gathering place for lessons, activities, assessments, or student work that you would like to share with your colleagues in the district. As such, I am putting out a request for anything you would like to share. I am not looking only for lessons which utilize technology in the classroom. Rather, I would like to share what you are proud of. If you have something you would like to share with your colleagues, whether it is a lesson or a piece of student work, please email me and we can discuss the best way to showcase what you have. 

Education for All Success for Each

During our Welcome Back PD session, Superintendent David Steele used the phrase above to plot out the goals of Grasslands. The phrase exemplifies the values of Grasslands Public Schools. These include being a welcoming and safe environment for all of our students and ensuring that each one of them is successful in their learning journey. Success will not look the same for every student, and, as teachers, we need to be aware of this and ensure we have the appropriate tools to make this happen. Over the course of the year, I will try to use this blog to point to different tools, resources, and practices we can utilize to achieve the idea of education for all and success for each. 

One such tool we have access to is the Google Drive. This is a powerful resource to utilize with our students, due to the ease with which we can share, collaborate and provide feedback. One way you can use your Google Drive to promote student success, is to ensure all your students have access to your class notes. You can create a folder on your drive where your students can access the notes for your lesson. In this way, if the students miss something in the lesson or if they were away, they have the ability to catch up. In addition, it provides them with a resource to prepare study notes. By universally providing access to this resource, we can potentially increase the learning outcomes for all of our students.

If you would like help setting this up on your Google Drive, please do not hesitate to contact me. I would be happy to help!

Friday, 11 September 2015

Voice Typing

Speech to Text

Last year, and already this year, I have received many requests from teachers looking for a speech to text tool to assist some of their students. There are definitely many products on the market which provide this tool. Some are very expensive and somewhat unweildy and some are free but do not work well. It would seem, that Google has come up with a solution they call Voice Typing. 

Voice Typing is a free tool that is incorporated into Google Docs and is available to anyone. To access voice typing, open a Google Doc, click on Tools in the Toolbar Menu and then select Voice Typing. When you are ready, click on the microphone to speak. Like most speech to text software, Google Voice Typing recognizes editing commands like "new line," "period," "comma," and "new paragraph." From what I have seen, it is very good. However, like most speech to text software it may have some difficulty picking up a voice in a loud room or distinguishing what the speaker is saying, particularly if they have an accent. Therefore, the students using Voice Typing will need to read their work to ensure it actually says what they want it to say. 

Some Words of Caution

The strength of Google Voice Typing and other speech to text software actually comes in the ability of the student to complete pre writing activities. I always said to my students that if you couldn't speak an essay/paragraph/thesis statement, there is no way you could write one. However, in order to be able to speak an essay, or write an essay, students must complete some prewriting work, whether that is an outline, or a writing web. Without the background work, I believe it would be difficult for students to use this tool. 

One thing I was thinking about as well, is how this could be utilized with our ELL families. Google Voice Typing recognizes 40 different languages. Combined with Google Translate, itwould be very powerful if used during parent-teacher interviews with parents who have difficulty expressing themselves in English.

I hope your week was awesome! Have a great weekend!

All the best,

Friday, 4 September 2015

Welcome Back!!

Welcome back everyone! Hopefully you all had time to relax over the summer. As I did last year, I will try to send out this blog every week, depending on my schedule. In the blog, I will highlight things that are going on in the division and things that are going on with our Google Apps for Education. Google was very busy over the summer making quite a few changes to Google Apps. I will share as much information as I have in the coming weeks. I will also use this blog to share information about teaching and learning, curriculum, and assessment.

I want to keep this entry short as I know how much you have going on. But, I think it is important for you to all know you all have access to funds to work one on one with me. The funds are available to pay for a half day sub so we have time to plan and problem solve together. To access these funds, book a time with me by either following this link Learning and Innovation Booking Form or by sending me an email request. Once we agree on a time, you book a sub and complete the Learning and Innovation Collaboration form found here: Bring that form to the meeting and we are set!

In addition, I will come work with you and your students in your classroom. Last year, I had the privilege of working with students from grade 1 through 12. I will be in schools at least once per month throughout the year. If you would like the schedule of when I will be in your school, please let me know.

Ultimately, I am your resource. I thoroughly enjoy being in schools and working with our teachers and students. I am looking forward to another great year in Grasslands!

Have a great day and a great long weekend!!