A ‘City Comparison’ App Smash

Yesterday I was working  with a class in Wanaka around the theme of ‘Thinking Global, Acting Local.’ We had a great day learning about Sphero SPRK+s, Makey Makey and Scratch and also seeing how to integrate the G Suite tools into a learning progression.

Our first activity was to ‘think global’ and explore the common features of some famous cities around the world, including their own town. We did what lots of people would call, ‘an app smash!’ This is really just combining apps together in some way. Our app smash was to integrate Google Slides with Google Maps and the Street View feature.

Here’s a link to your own copy – it’s very simple but had the students engaged for a long time – they didn’t want to finish. Just open your own copy, follow the instructions and complete the thinking section at the end.

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Hidden feature on Google Maps

Did you know you can explore other people’s 360 photos on the standard Google Maps site and apps? Last night we went for a run (in the dark… not intentionally) along the Wanaka Lake walk way and ran past this stunning set of trees. This image was taken with my iPhone 7 Plus which has brilliant low light capability for a phone camera.

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If you want to take a closer look at what the lake front is like by using the street view mode in Maps – just drag the little yellow man, in the bottom right corner, and the roads will appear blue since the Google Street Car has taken images down those streets. But what about other locations?

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Screen Shot 2017-05-23 at 6.25.57 AMAfter activating the little man you will see little blue dots appear where people have uploaded their own 360 photos. I’ve found the Street View app to be the easiest way to create these. Have a go on any Google Maps location!

 

Why would I get certified?

Did you know you can now be certified in whatever platform of digital tools you use in your classroom or school? Whether it’s Microsoft, Apple or Google, there are online modules, videos, lessons and exams you can do to get qualified and earn some recognition of a certain level of competence.

Yesterday I completed another Google Certified Level 1 Bootcamp where we take teachers and Principals through a 2 day course that helps them prepare for and sit the 3 hour exam. It’s a really rewarding exercise for those who come along.

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Here are 4 reasons why you’d want to go for some of these qualifications, whether independently online or at a face to face course with a company like ours.

  1. You get a badge!
  2. You learn SO much in the process.
  3. You become an asset to your school.
  4. You add another ‘string to your bow’ when applying for further positions.

If you’re interested in finding out more, click these links to find out more about these certifications.

 

Google Maps and Instagram

One of the huge perks with my job is that I’m able to travel a lot and one of the best ways to see a new place is to go for a run. Running is my way of staying mentally sane. It helps to clear my head and gives me some good thinking time.

Screen Shot 2017-05-10 at 6.53.09 AMI’ve started to map the different locations I run in and post little video clips on my Instagram account with the tag, #whereismarkrunning. To help keep  track of these locations I’ve started to locate them on a Google Map in My Maps, a great way to create your own Maps, just like a Google Doc.

Here’s the map so far. Click on the image to see the interactive version on Google My maps. Each location has a screen shot of my video clip and the link underneath will take you to the Instagram version.

*there seems to be a ‘500 error’ if trying to view the map on IOS at the moment. Desktop might be best – online forum threads suggest Google is working on it…

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Chromebooks on a Macbook?

Most NZ Primary teachers have Macbooks as their main teaching tool under the Ministry’s leasing scheme, but their student have Chromebooks. This isn’t a bog deal as most of what they do with their students is in the cloud on platforms such as Google.

screen_shot_2016-09-15_at_11_05_42_amBut – every now and again it’s helpful to be able to model things using the same OS (operation system) as the students, especially in the early days of setting classrooms and accounts up. So what to do? A teacher ‘could’ just use a Chromebook  in those situation but that would be much too easy and no where near as cool as using Parallels!

screen-shot-2016-09-15-at-11-10-06-amThis software (comes with a free trial for 14 days and costs $79 after that) runs a different OS inside your MacOS in a seperate window. Simply download, install and choose the Chromium OS system download to get going. And then you are away!

You can also run Windows 10, even an Android phone’s OS if you really wanted to…I did and it was totally nerdy fun!

 

 

My Favourite Video Site = Youtube

fav 1.pngThis is the first of a series of ‘My Favourites’ posts. There are loads of different options for things when it comes to tools and resources but sometimes it pays to have a favourite. One tool that you commit to, develop a real depth of understanding about and build up a profile of bookmarks and links within it.

This first ‘Favourite’ is one of my favouritist favourites. Here are 5 reasons why Youtube is the video platform to rule them all!

1. Shear volume of content – Youtube hasvideo a remarkable 500 hours of video upload every minute! That’s a LOT of watching, but the upside is that you are just about guaranteed to find what you are looking for. As a teacher (or if you want to learn about or fix anything) this is a gold mine of a resource.

2. Removal of visual distractions – one of the problems with video platforms are the distracting ‘suggested videos’ that they display and Youtube is no different. When you use a Chrome Browser, however, you can download extensions (like the DF Youtube extension) that will only show the video you want to show!

Screen_Shot_2016-09-06_at_6_22_39_AM3. Subscriptions and Playlists – when you have a Google account and have signed into Youtube, you can subscribe to a channel and receive notifications whenever they have new content or uploads. This is a great way of keeping up with developments from apps and tools you already use. As well as following your favourite up-loaders – here are some of my favourite channels.

4. Filtering Options – If you’re a GAFE school you now have the option of restricting videos to those approved by Google for Education, or even only those approved by teachers at your school. These settings can be found in the Admin Console and clicking on ‘Other Google Apps.’

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5. HIGH Definition – Youtube has different settings for your device to get the best stream rate for your screen or wifi connection. You can leave the settings on automatic and it will set the stream rate to be best for your connection. Otherwise, choose the higher settings such as 1080 or 4K(if you have a screen that rates that high) and watch the video the way nature intended!

Screen_Shot_2016-09-06_at_6_29_25_AM6. Baked in Video Editing! – I’m not sure of any other video streaming platform that has an editing suite built into it. The Youtube Video Editor lets you upload video, add audio, captions, photos and transitions. It even has some free licensed music to add as soundtracks which has a huge range of tunes to choose from. Just go to My Channel > Manage Subscriptions > Create.

 

I’m such a Youtube Fan that I’ve subscribed to Youtube Red. This gives you no ads, save videos off-line and play videos in the background – perfect for screening to a Chrome Cast. It’s totally my fav!

Google whats? The difference between Apps and Extensions

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 4.08.11 pmOnce an educator has a grasp of the basic Google Apps (Docs, Calendar, Forms and Slides) they may start to hear talk about other apps and things called extensions. It can be enough to make the head boggle!

Here’s a brief explanation of both and a shortcut to getting your own little powerful tools to move your Google experience to the next level!

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There are 8 basic apps that most users see when they click on the 3×3 grid in the top right corner when signed in. By clicking MORE you can see a few more…and… you’ll then see the link to the App Market Place.

This is where you’ll be able to search, find and install the apps you’d like to find. I’ll post some of my favourite apps and extensions in a later post; I’m always finding and hearing about new tools and the possibilities seem endless.

They can also be found by going directly to the Chrome Webstore.

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Apps are like websites that allow you do some amazing things, just like an iPad app, but on your browser – and they’re connected within your Google Account.

Google Extensions

Extensions are like little add-ons that you attach to your Chrome browser to give them some extra functions – again, many are amazing tools that make your google experience really grow arms and legs.

They’re also found in the Chrome Store but sit next to the URL bar of Chrome and mostly work in the background to change or adapt things or, when clicked on, activate a great little tool.

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Here’s a poster that explains the differences. It could be a great print out for your Staffroom or classroom wall!

Download High Res Poster

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Google – Where do we start?

Many schools are either thinking about using, using or are expert practitioners at using the Google Apps for Education suite of tools with their learners. Especially when paired with Hapara Dashboard, these apps are such a powerful way to create meaningful and manageable learning programmes with your students, as well as being a great way to create, share and store all of your staff files, also.

One of the places you can begin your Google journey is with the page linked below; this provides an overview and basic tutorial for the most commonly used Google Tools that come with a google account for your school – remember that this is a free service for schools!

Click on the image below or use the page of Google links (that will grow as time goes on) in the page menu. It’s a great place to start!