Friday, 9 October 2015

Friday October 9

Google Apps, Extensions and Add-ons

It seems everyday there are more bits and pieces that work with Google Apps for Education. Two areas where there seems to be constant development are with Google Apps and Extensions and Google Add-ons.

Google apps are direct links to web based programs. Adding apps gives you a bit more functionality such as linking directly to your Google Drive. An example of an App is Google Classroom. This is an application that links directly to your Google account an enables you to create a digital learning space for your students. Extensions are small pieces of software that link with the Chrome Browser to enable you to do some really interesting things very quickly. There are literally hundreds of apps and extensions to choose from. They can be found through the Google Webstore. We are in the process of adding apps and extensions to the Grasslands section of the Webstore. If you find ones that you think people would use let me know and I will ensure they are added.

Here is a link to a Google Slides presentation about some very useful Apps and Extensions. It was put together by Michelle Armstrong, a Google Certified Teacher and Trainer from Calgary:

Add-ons are small pieces of software that connect directly to Google Docs and Google Sheets. They can be found by clicking on Add-ons in the toolbar in a Google Doc or in Google Sheets. You then select "Get Add-ons" to see what is available. One that is very popular among math teachers is gMath. This Add-on gives you the ability to include mathematical notation in a Google Doc. You can either type in your notation or you can use the microphone on your computer to speak the notation which you can then insert into your Google Doc. 

Take a look at Apps, Extensions, and Add-ons to see how you can increase the utility of Google Chrome and Google Apps for Education. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask!

A Gathering Place

Last week I created a space on my Google Drive for teachers to share lessons, units and examples of student work. One request I have heard from many teachers I've worked with are examples of strategies they can use in their classroom to promote student learning. I was very fortunate to attend a session in the summer with Barry Bennett a University of Toronto teacher educator and author of the Book Beyond Monet. This book provides teachers with hundreds of teaching strategies that are useful in all divisions. Barry gave us all a digital copy of this book and asked that we share it with whoever we felt could use it. As such, I've put it on the shared drive for all of you. I have also put on another of Barry's books called Classroom Management: A Thinking and Caring Approach. 

Both of these resources can be found here: Please feel free to download the two resources and add any that you think would be helpful to your colleagues!

Education for All Success for Each

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend a High School Redesign symposium. I am always amazed to hear about the great things that are being done around the province. One item that came up during the day that applies to all grades is the idea of planning for learning.

In the session I attended, teachers from Lethbridge talked about the process they went through to ensure everything they did in the classroom was related back to concepts and outcomes in the program of studies. They told us about the collaborative work they did during PD sessions to mine through the curriculum. They also spoke about the need to link their planning with the needs of their students. They had very powerful stories of success from both teachers and students who spoke about flexibility, mastery learning and consistent feedback. One piece of advice they had for all of us in the room was to ensure not to "grade" everything the students did but to provide lots of descriptive feedback to the students. In addition, they spoke about ensuring their lessons, planning and assessment was continually linked to curricular outcomes.

Ultimately, their message was to be mindful of preparing and assessing students. By doing so, they said they were able to promote individualized success. Students who needed some extra supports in their learning received them. Students who were ready for a larger challenge were given that opportunity.

Having visited so many classrooms throughout the division it is so great to see so many teachers finding success with students in a similar way to what was described by these teachers from Lethbridge.

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