Stumbled across this Mr. Mannix from Philadelphia who is also a social studies teachers and appears to have the same interests as me. He keeps posting stuff on Edmodo and every time he does, being the absent minded professor that I am I think "Did I write that?" Small world.
When will the Google madness end? They started with becoming dominate in search, entered into an amazing position with the number of Gmail emails across the globe and have gradually introduced hundreds of features that are amazingly simple to use, but can easily transform how you do your day to day life.
Think Google Calendar, sharing an online calendar with your spouse where you can enter appointments and he/she can enter appointments from separate locations, but on the same online calendar. Never again do you have to check and see if you are available. 7 Reasons To Use Google Calendar
Google's Gmail, made email easy and searchable. You never have to delete another email and it is virtually impossible to lose one because of the amazing search capabilities. Google's Approach to Email
Think Google Voice. Imagine having one phone number that people can call and you can pre-route them to your home phone, your cell phone, your work phone, or all three at the same time. Have that relative that you never want to speak with? Send them straight to voicemail every time they call. Group parents together in your contact list and you can record a separate voicemail greeting just for them. You can actually individualize a voicemail for whoever is calling that is in your address book. "Hi honey, sorry I'm going to be late. Meet you at the . . . " For school this tool can be amazing. Have students call the Google Number, send it straight to voicemail and have them answer questions that you have pre-recorded. Don't have time to listen to 100 student recordings? No problem. Google automatically transcribes (pretty darn accurately, too) all of the messages and can email them to you or text or even attach the audio file.
And what about Google Docs. It is truly amazing that students can now work together on a group project and you can see a virtual play by play of how they entered the text, how much they edited and how much time they spent contributing. Students now have the ability to peer edit in a moment using the Insert Comment key or discuss what should come next in the chat feature that is available. Want to share the document, excel sheet, presentation with the teacher, just enter their email. You can mark the papers write in the document itself. . . and you have a running revision history that saves approximately every five seconds.
The highlight of Google Docs for teachers is Google Forms. On Google Forms, one can very simply create a multiple choice test or a fill in the blank survey of their students. All information that is sent out via a website link arrives neatly organized in an excel spreadsheet giving teachers the ability to organize by period, last name, first name, etc. The possibilities with this type of too are endless.
Google Sites has allowed virtually anyone to create and publish an easy to use website for free. Do this on your own or with a group. You can post all of your worksheets with the click of a button. You can ask the students to leave comments on a topic or on a photo with ease.
For days in the computer lab, Google Moderator takes the cake. This product allows you to have the students posts ideas or questions on a topic and then vote which question is the best one. For example, in the Connected Classroom, we will often ask the students to come up with questions that they have after a lesson or questions that they may have had from the previous night's homework. The students will add their questions individually and then the class will vote on which question do they think is a questions that they would like to know the answer to. The third component of this exercise allows students to research the answers and then post responses to their peers answers. It is amazing to see how they can find the answers and validate the correct information. It is a mini-wikipedia that involves active student engagement.
And now Google introduces one more toy, as if there weren't enough already. Google Teacher Tube. This service gives teachers the ability to virtually create their own television channels, lining up pertinent content for their students and embedding questions with Google Forms built right into the videos. You can see in real time how students are answering the questions and how they are understanding content. It can be used as a great station when putting together a multi-station lesson. Here is an example of a lesson in math where they have "flipped the classroom" allowing the students to watch the video, while the teacher goes and focus on the students who are having individualized problems.