If you could be a fly on the wall of an average classroom, it’d be pretty likely that you’d hear something like “Don’t forget to study your vocab words tonight!” or “Remember to review your flashcards tonight!”
While there’s been a move away from the rote learning of yesteryear, most educators agree that having a firm grasp of content area vocabulary is still an important piece to the learning process. I think that there are two important goals for learning vocabulary in content areas: (1) retention of the words (sticky learning) and (2) application of the words.
In Episode 34 of the Educational Duct Tape Podcast, I spoke with Dr. Jared Cooney Horvath, author of Stop Talking, Start Influencing, about both of these goals.
A week after that episode came out, I was joined by dozens of “Duct Tapers” in the #EduDuctTape Twitter Chat to discuss the podcast episode, including these two goals.
Below are some strategies that you can use in your classrooms to increase your students’ ability retain and apply their vocabulary learning. Some come from the chat and others come from the episode. Continue reading Strategies for “Sticky” Vocab Learning!
Mike Mohammad joined me in episode 28 of the Educational Duct Tape Podcast to discuss 2 questions that an educator might have. One of the topics that we discussed was learner profiles. Mike posed the question, “How can students create a profile of themselves as a learner to share with an audience beyond the classroom?”
While Mike and I did not discuss the it during the show, I want to quickly compare and contrast the terms learner profile and digital portfolio. While there are similarities (both are typically curated by the student, both showcase the students work in school and both are often done digitally) there are also some differences (typically, digital portfolios are a showcase of academic work and growth while learner profiles also often focus on the students’ capabilities, characteristics and aptitudes as a learner).
Regardless of which end result you’re looking to cultivate in your school (learner profile, digital portfolio or a blend of both), there are plenty of tools that you can leverage.
A week after the episode in which Mike and I discusssed this aired, I hosted a Twitter chat about the questions from our talk.
Here are some of the participants’ responses to the question about learner profiles:
Continue reading 8+ Tools for Developing Learner Profiles
There are lots of reasons that you might need images with transparent backgrounds! Maybe it’s for a #StopMotionSlides project! Maybe it’s for a graphic design project! Maybe it’s for a green screen video or image!
No matter what your reason is for wanting an image with a transparent background, the easiest option is the same: do a Google Image Search for images with a transparent background!
There are ways to take images and remove their background, but if we can start with no background, that’s even better!
Search in Google > Images > Tools > Color > Transparent
Note: Unfortunately, this is not a perfect process. Using this strategy misses some images with transparent backgrounds and includes some images that it should have left out.
Check out the #EduGIF below. A Pausable #EduGIF is available here.
On the Google Teacher Tribe podcast (one of my favorite podcasts) Kasey Bell & Matt Miller often refer to Google Slides as the “Swiss Army Knife of gSuite.” And I agree! There are so many things that you can do in Google Slides. In this post, I’m going to show you 3 super useful Graphic Design tools that are available in Slides.
Align – When you select 2+ objects (images, shapes, text boxes, etc.) you can align them horizontally (left, right or center) or vertically (top, bottom or center) with each other!
Distribute – When you select 3+ objects (images, shapes, text boxes, etc.) you can distribute them horizontally or vertically in relation to each other. This spaces the objects out evenly. It’s important to note that it’s based off of the positions of the leftmost and rightmost objects. So, get your left and right objects into place and then use this tool to distribute everything else out evenly in between.
Center on Page – This tool does exactly what you’d expect it to, but with one nice bonus – if you have multiple objects selected it will center them as a group. So, the objects themselves may not be in the center of the slide, but they will be arranged with the center of the group at the center of the slide.
A note for the Google Drawings fans out there: each of these items are also available there and work in the same manner.
Check out the EduGIF of these 3 tools in action below and, if it moves too fast, check out the Pausable EduGIF here.
Adjacent Possible. Have you heard of it? If you listen to the Educational Duct Tape Podcast, you probably have. It’s this theory that a new set of possibilities is enabled by taking one step beyond the current state of things. Every step opens up new possibilities, just like every conversation with a person can lead to new possibilities that you had not considered.
Well, I had an Adjacent Possible experience a few days ago while interviewing Tony Vincent for Episode 26 of the Educational Duct Tape podcast. Tony was responding to a question about how to help students get to know each other. He shared with me about this activity that he had done where his students took side profile pictures of themselves and then turned them into silhouettes of in Google Slides. They then added in images and words that showed their interests. The students presented their slides to their classmates and, later, those same slides were played on a loop on a screen in the room. What I love about this activity is that, on the surface, it’s a great “getting to know each other” activity. But, underneath that, it’s also a fantastic way to teacher kids some new skills with a tool that the teacher planned on using in class.
This is actually an activity that Tony teaches participants in his fantastic Classy Graphics course. If you’re interested in learning Graphic Design with Google Tools, you should check it out!
There are certainly ways to make these silhouettes that would be easier. But that’s not the point. The point is, opening students’ eyes to the possibilities within the tools that they have access to. As Tony shared in the episode, his students became highly capable at using Slides to create all sorts of things. I don’t know about you, but I’m not surprised. By doing this activity, his students saw slides as more than just a tool for presentations. They saw it as a creation space.
Well, as you have probably already guessed, I was compelled to turn this into an #EduGIF, so here it is. After the GIF, I’ll share step-by-step instructions for making these. By the way, I’d be honored if you used this GIF and these instructions with your own students in class. You can repay me by showing me some of their creations!
Continue reading Making Silhouettes in Google Slides
On 1/7/19, Google announced that you could now embed previously created Google Drawings into Google Docs. Before this announcement, you could create new Drawings from within a Doc, but you could not pull in Drawings created in the regular Drawings platform.
This was limiting, because the Drawings tool within Docs was only provided a small workspace and had less tools. It was also frustrating that a Drawing couldn’t be in both places – a Drawing and Doc – without copying and pasting or using the following workaround.
Up to this point, the best workaround was to download the Drawing as an image and then insert that image into the Doc. This was frustrating for a few reasons: it involved inconvenient extra steps and it meant that the Drawing in the Doc would not update if the actual Drawing was updated.
Well, now Google has made good on fixing this. In the Google Docs Insert menu, go to Drawing and now you can select New to create a new one or From Drive to select one that you created in the Google Drawings platform. When the drawing is changed in Drawings, you’ll see an Update option in the Doc to show the changes (unless you selected Unlink when you added the Drawing). Check it out in the animated GIF below:
Sometimes, I think a trick, hack or shortcut that I do with technology is unimpressive and something that everyone either knows or doesn’t care about. But then, when I mention it to someone, and they’re like “Whoa!” I think “Welp, this should be an EduGIF.”
Recently, I had the good fortune to be recording a guest appearance on the Shukes & Giff Podcast (er, maybe it’s the Shukes & Jake Podcast, now!? Kidding!). When I was chatting about Emoji Bullets with Kim Pollishuke (a.k.a. “Shukes”), I mentioned, “So, I’ll just click Shift+Command+8 and then…” and she said “Wait, What!?” And then I knew it, EduGIF time. So here it is . . .
in most Google Tools:
- Click CTRL (Command on Mac) + Shift + 7 for Numbering
- Click it again to undo numbering
- Click CTRL (Command on Mac) + Shift + 8 for Bullets
- Click it again to undo bullets
Here’s the EduGIF!
A few weeks ago, I shared a post about putting Drawings in Google Docs that are assigned in Google Classroom. After seeing some of the reactions, I realized that some educators either weren’t aware of the powers of Google Drawings or had never thought of using them in assignments with Google Classroom. I was all “whaaaaat!?” So, now I’m here to dial it back a notch… Let’s talk about assigning Google Drawings (not Drawings in Docs, just Drawings) in Google Classroom. First up: an animated GIF for your viewing pleasure; and then: a quick step-by-step of how to use Drawings in Classroom.
Continue reading Google Drawings in Google Classroom
When given the chance, I’m always going to pick an assignment where students are creating their own representations of their mastery of learning standards. However, I know that it’s not realistic to expect this all the time. So, I can see the value in annotating images rather than just typing. Google Drawings and Google Slides are great platforms for this . . . but what if it’s part of a bigger activity that does involve typing? Well, insert a drawing into a document, put the picture in, and tell the students to annotate it! Check it out in the animated GIF below (typed instructions follow the GIF).
- In the Google Docs menu, click Insert > Drawing.
- In the Drawing that pops up, copy and paste in an image (or drag it in from a separate tab as I did in the GIF).
- Add instructions within the Drawing as needed.
- Click Save and Close to finish preparing the drawing.
- Assign the document in Google Classroom as Make a Copy for Each Student.
- When students open the document, instruct them to double-click on the image that they see to open up the drawing and annotate it.
When presenting about #StopMotionSlides, someone inevitably asks about cutting the background out of a picture so that it has a transparent background. Up to this point, my answer has been Microsoft Word, but I wasn’t satisfied with that since it wouldn’t work on Chromebooks or on computers without Microsoft Word. And then I listened to Episode 13 of the Shukes and Giff Podcast. In it, Kim Pollishuke shared about Lunapic.
Lunapic is a free, web-based photo editing platform. Along with a lot of other features (seriously, go to it and explore!), is the ability to make the background transparent. If it’s a solid colored background (i.e., green screen), there are tools that automate it. For images that don’t have a solid colored background (or have backgrounds that include colors that are in the main part of the image), you can also do it manually. Check it out in the animated GIF below! Side note: there’s even a Chrome extension so that you can edit images you find online more conveniently.