Saturday, May 30, 2015

Google Drive Revision History - A Powerful Tool for Teachers

This is the first of a series of posts on Google Drive features that classroom teachers may find quite valuable.

As a classroom teacher it is not enough to grade an assignment and move on. Why a product misses the mark is as important (if not more so) than the mark itself.

This was a problem I struggled with as a classroom teacher.

Is the work below expectations because I did not present the concepts well? Did the student misunderstand the assignment? Was the project completed in a rush the day before the deadline? The answers to these questions each suggest a different way to help the student and teacher improve.

In the "dark ages" of classroom technology, we used Clarisworks/Appleworks.  Students would bring their printed writing to the writing conference. We would discuss the work. I might make a few suggestions for improvement. The student would work on the revisions and later turn in a revised final draft. It wasn't chiseling on stone tablets but it was Old School. I am certain, but couldn't prove, I frequently received a freshly printed copy without any changes.

I needed a good way to find out the "who, what, when and where" of the project timeline.
  • Who contributed (especially important for group assignments)?
  • What was contributed, changed, pasted or otherwise added?
  • When was is done?
  • Where was it done? (This one is easy.)

Teachers and students in Austin ISD now have access to Google Drive and the extensive suite of productivity applications it provides. There are too many features for one post.
I want to highlight the revision history available in most document types.

Revision History shows time stamped changes in the document. It is accessed from the file menu within a document.
File>See revision history

There are several useful features in revision history:

Notice that each collaborator is listed with different colored text. Collaboration is a crucial skill but group projects can be difficult to assess. Did everyone contribute or did Vanessa, Diane and Shelley do all the work while Marc and Howard played "Monty Python quotes" and made rude noises? That almost never happens but you get the idea.

Clicking on an entry in the revision history will show the changes made at that time. Did Howard change one word and call it a "revision"? Did Marc paste an entire paragraph without citation? Once again, examples are for illustrative purposes only.
Howard never does revisions. His work is perfect from the first draft.

Every entry in revision history has a time stamp. Now it is easy to tell if an assignment was finished two weeks ago and polished or if it was done start to finish the night before the deadline.

A teacher can easily tell the who, what and when about the work from revision history.

That is easy- anywhere there is internet. Google Drive is available on the internet 24/7, no software to install and nothing to buy. A device with a browser and an internet connection is all that is needed to use it.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Go Outside The Box Using Google Apps

When using Google Presentation or Google Draw from your Google Drive, you should notice that your workspace or page is usually surrounded by gray space which is not a part of your printable document.  We usually try to avoid putting anything useful there because, well, it won't be visible in your Presentation or printed page.  We can make that gray space very valuable!

One great reason for teachers to use that gray space is that it can be a place for assignment directions or resources that you don't necessarily want on your final products.

Open this document for an example:  Math Fraction Assignment  (Thanks to Google, you do not need to have a Google Account to view this document.)

Usually, the documents we share just contain content on the main workspace.  This particular assignment utilizes Google Draw and the gray space to the left.

That gray space isn't very big to begin with.  To make it larger, create any shape, like a square.  Drag the square to the gray space, off the edge of the screen.  As your object goes partially out of sight, notice that your scroll bar at the bottom of the window moves to the right.  You can now scroll farther to the left, exposing more gray space. 

My favorite use of this space is to use it for math manipulatives.  Students can copy/paste or move them to the workspace and use them to demonstrate lesson objectives.

This 'extra space' is available in Google Draw and Presentation.  What are some other ways that you would use this space with students? 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Register For Summer Technology Training!

The technology training calendar for Summer 2015 is filled with great opportunities for continued education. There are still many open seats and we’d like to get the word out before school is but a memory.  Please pass this one to all of your dearest AISD teacher friends! 

The easiest way to register for these trainings is to access HCP in the AISD Cloud.  Click the Professional Development tab. Type the section# of the class you wish to register for and click search.  Click the name of the Course to find the sections listed along the left margin of the course page. Click the section you want and then click the Register button. See? It’s that easy!  

Please email if you have any questions about the training sessions listed below.

June 16 - Use Web 2.0 for Authentic Student Engagement Session #77365
June 22 - Computer Science- Coding 101 #77118
June 23 - Web Literacy Section #77148
June 24 - Web Literacy  Section #77148
July 7 -    Edmodo  Section #77122
July 9 -   Coding 101  Section #77119
July 15 - Web Literacy  Section# 77149
July 21 - First 12 Days Using Technology Session #77411
July 22 - First 12 Days Using Technology Session #77412
July 22 - Edmodo Training Section # 77123
July 23 - Brainpop Training Section # 77124
July 27 - Use Web2.0 for Authentic Student Engagement Session #77366
July 28 - Getting Google Going In Your Classroom Session #77409
July 29 - Getting Google Going In Your Classroom Session #77410
Aug 4 -   Google Classroom: The Math Classroom Session #77358
Aug 5 -   Google Classroom: The Writing Classroom Session #77407