An Interactive Tutorial: Google Presentation

Google Presentation is a great tool for helping students construct knowledge about a topic as they create. Here is an interactive tutorial designed to demonstrate how to use some of the handy built in features.

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If you are interested in learning more about the features in Google Docs Presentation, you might want to check out my recent post on GettingSmart.com.

Google Presentation for Collaborative Learning
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A ThingLink Toolkit for Teachers

I am excited to share a ThingLink Teacher Toolkit of Resources.

The toolkit is designed to provide teachers and students with all the resources needed to use ThingLink as an efficient and effective tool for teaching and learning.

  • Several samples of Common Core aligned projects by grade level.
  • A collection of quick video tutorials to demonstrate how to use ThingLink. The tutorials can be used with students to provide tech support right when needed. 
  • How to integrate with Edmodo, Flickr and Facebook.
  • Resources for creating original artwork to be used as a starting point for a ThingLink image.
  • Samples of images used for Professional Development
  • A help button for support from a real teacher. (That’s me!)
  • An opportunity for sharing.
  • A brand new blog for sending updates. Sign up!

Edublogs 2012 Nominations



Nominations for 2012 Edublog Awards are open. 
The purpose of the Edublog Awards is to 
promote and demonstrate the educational values of these social media.” 



The nomination process supports the goal of the contest because it requires nominations via a blog post with a follow up link to that post submitted to Edublogs. What a great way to share, discover and credit the folks whose work inspires us and contributes to our own success!


My nominations for the 2012 Edublog Awards:

Individual Blog – The Innovative Educator

Group Blog – Mind Shift
EdTech Blog – Edudemic
Teacher Blog – Engage Their Minds
NewBlog – EduTech for Teachers
Library/Librarian Blog – The Daring Librarian
Administrator Blog – Life of an Educator
Twitter Hashtag – #edchat
Free Web Tool – ThingLink
Educational Wiki – Web Tools 4 You to Use
Social Network – Twitter

Learn more about the Edublogs awards.

Research Tool Added to Google Presentation


Good news for Google Docs users! The powerful integrated research tool made available in the Google Document last spring has made it’s way to the Google Presentation at last. The tool couldn’t be easier to use. Just pull down the Tools menu, click on Research and search for information in the research pane that appears on the right side of the screen. Users never have to leave the page.


This Research Tool is the perfect compliment to the Google Presentation because it supports the idea of using tech as a tool for learning rather than an add on at the end of a traditional unit of study. Students can find information, images, maps and quotes as they create a multimedia presentation without having to sort through the overwhelming amount of content yielded by a typical Google search.  Here are some of the highlights of the features found in the research pane:

  • Web results display a relevant snippet of information with citation information and a link to the full website. Select the Insert Link button to include a link to the full website in the document or select the Cite button to include a footnote citation in your document.
  • Maps are displayed in the search results when searching for geographic locations. Edit maps by zooming in and out and choose Insert to add the map to your body of your text.
  • Search for quotations with the click of a button, then choose the Insert button to include a properly formatted quotation in the document.
  • Choose Scholar to access a link showing the number of times an article has been cited and a list of sources that have cited the article. View the full website and insert a footnote citation into a document by selecting Cite.
  • Select your default citations format by clicking on Settings in the research pane. Choose from MLA, APA or Chicago.

Use the Research Tool to Check for Plagarism

In addition to the obvious ways to use the new integrated research tool, it can also be useful for checking for plagiarism. Just copy and paste a few sentences of text from a document directly into the search box of the research pane and the search will lead directly back to any article from which text has been plagiarized. I like to teach students how to do their own plagiarism check before turning in their work to help them understand the importance of creating original work.

What About Video?

Google Presentation already supports an efficient video tool. Just click on Insert Video to access a search tool for finding, previewing and embedding video into a presentation with the click of a button. Once again, users don’t have to leave the page.

Digital Tools for Differentiating Vocabulary: K12Online

If you’re looking for innovative ways to use free and user friendly digital tools to help students acquire vocabulary, please check out my session, Digital Tools for Differentiating Vocabulary Instruction at the K12OnlineConference. While you’re there you are sure to discover more terrific 20 minute sessions, available for viewing at your convenience.

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Teaching vocabulary today? Get ideas to “Kick it Up a Notch” at  conference.      innovate

Common Core Connections: Using Multimedia to Present Knowledge & Ideas


Technology can be a powerful tool to help us meet the Common Core Standards and move our students forward to prepare them for success in school and beyond. In general, the Common Core calls for the seamless integration of technology into the curriculum. There are also specific Common Core standards dedicated to using technology. The Speaking and Listening strand across all grade levels asks students to create presentations that are enhanced by a spiraling complexity of multimedia components.

am excited and nervous about this standard. My excitement stems from a strong believe that students can construct deep knowledge about a topic as they engage in building a multimedia project. If used efficiently, a well designed student-driven learning experience can take the place of traditional methods of teaching content.

My nervousness stems from the possibility that some teachers might simply add a multimedia enriched project to the end of their unit as a culminating activity and then spend large amounts of class time giving each student an opportunity to present to a passive audience of their peers. In this case, there will be loss of instructional time, loads of frustration, and most likely lack of enthusiasm from students as technology is used to make them do more. Effective instructional technology integration calls for using technology as a tool for learning, not as an add on.

To truly make a difference, there needs to be an adjustment in instructional practices. My suggestion is for teachers to abandon the role of “Content Deliverer” and take an approach in which they become a “Facilitator of Learning”. 

Tips for designing an efficient and effective technology powered multimedia project:

  • Start with an Essential Question to drive the learning. Make sure the answers to the questions are complex and can’t be answered with a copy and paste.
  • Provide students with multimedia platforms that allow them to take flexible learning paths to meet their unique learning styles.
  • Allow students to work in collaborative groups to prompt discussion and decision-making.
  • Serve as a Facilitator of Learning. Spend instructional time interacting with students as you informally assess, reteach and challenge them on the spot.
  • Provide students with built in tech support so you can focus on the content, not the technology.
  • Design sharing opportunities that are engaging and non-traditional. Return to the Essential Question and assign a related task for accountability. Provide students with access to a portable learning device and let them learn and explore instead of watch and daydream.
  • Most important tip: Start by creating your own sample to fully understand the task you are asking students to engage in.
Here is an example of what a student might create as the result of a learning experience driven by an Essential Question. This Common Core aligned student-driven multimedia powered project is one that requires students to construct knowledge and it was created with ThingLink.

Essential Question:

Why and how did people struggle for social justice during the Civil Rights Movement?
This image was created with ThingLink

A Playlist to Guide the Learning

http://www.mentormob.com//learn/widget/61812/580/99cc33/3-0

Create your own Playlist on MentorMob!

Explore the Great Barrier Reef: Google Wonders Project

The Google Wonders Project is an interactive website that allows visitors to discover many of the wonders of the world. Virtual visitors can get off the beaten path and explore wonders from 6 continents up close through Google’s amazing street view technology. Virtual visitors can find factual information, stunning images, 3-D models and YouTube videos right on the page, which makes the World Wonders Project an amazing teaching tool.


The newest addition to the collection takes visitors on an underwater tour of the Great Barrier Reef. Divers used the world’s first tablet-operated underwater camera to capture high-definition panoramic images of the reef to create stunning content.

The underwater expedition is part of a larger scientific study which aims to help bridge the gap between scientific awareness and public knowledge. Google has partnered with The Catlin Seaview Survey for a major  study of the world’s reefs and has made images from from coral reefs in Australia, the Philippines and Hawaii available through Google Maps. There will also be a dedicated YouTube channel for project-related videos. It’s probably only a matter of time until Google assembles more packages of teacher-friendly content from the underwater expeditions and makes them available through the Google Wonders project. 
Visit the Great Barrier Reef on the Google Wonders Project

Use Glogster & Screencasts to Maximize Student Presentations

If you’re a classroom teacher using technology to helps students uncover knowledge and create something original, you are certainly making good use of technology as a tool for learning. Unfortunately; however, you may be struggling with time management issues if you’re still engaging students in traditional methods of presenting what they’ve learned by standing in front of the class. I’d like to suggest an alternate, more efficient presentation method to maximize instructional time and take advantage of an additional opportunity for engaged student learning.


One way to efficiently share presentations is to have students use screencasting tools to record and narrate their presentations, then publish those presentations in one place, like a Glog. This allows students to use class time to interact with the presentations and  answer the Essential Questions that fuel the student-driven learning experience. 

Here is an example: 

  1. The Essential Questions for this Project Based Learning unit are listed at the top of the Glog. 
  2. Initially, small groups of students collaborate to construct knowledge about specific volcanoes in North America. This process is guided by a grading rubric and requires them to
    1. create presentations
    2. record narrated screencasts of their presentations for sharing. (A script is recommended)
  3. Completed group projects are published on a Glog for a culminating classroom activity.
    1. Class sharing time provides students with the opportunity to interact with individual presentations to uncover knowledge and find answers the Essential Questions.
    2. A learning task is assigned to the activity to provide a focus and accountability. In this case, students are required to create an annotated Google Map, to provide a big-picture overview that answers the Essential Questions. Other suggestions include a simple Exit Ticket or a written summary to draw conclusions.



Here is more information about the tools used in the example: Click on the links to jump to my wiki for more information.
Essential Questions: Deep questions that guide the learning and cannot be answered by copying and pasting.
Google Presentation: The GoogleDocs version of an online, collaborative presentation tool.
Screencast-O-Matic: Record narrated presentations
YouTube: Upload and publish screencasts, then copy the link displaying in a glog. 
Glogster: Create a glog of presentations and add video


Screencasts -Tech Support to Maximize Instructional Time

As educators in the 21st century, one of our goals should be  to design student driven experiences that offer flexible learning paths, using a variety of tools to meet the diverse needs of all students.  Fueled by essential questions, technology is certainly a fabulous tool for facilitating these types of experiences, but with limited instructional time, loads of content to uncover and varied comfort levels with the technology itself,  implementing these types of learning experiences can be overwhelming and can be an inefficient use of instructional time.  If educators are going to effectively use technology as a tool for learning, than the learning focus has to be on the content, not the technology.

How do we keep the focus of the learning experience on content and avoid being consumed by teaching students how to use the technology? A tool that I’ve found to be particularly effective is the use of screencasts to create quick tech tip tutorials to help teachers and students use the technology  to succeed.  A screencast is a narrated video that captures what takes place on a computer screen.  It can be used to provide demonstrations and tutorials to teach the “how to” of using the technology. The primary benefit of using this tool is the pause button. Users can pause the tutorial, and  replay it as often as needed to learn the “how to”, allowing the teacher to circulate around the room facilitating differentiated content based instruction through informal assessment, reteaching and enrichment.

There are plenty of screencasting tools available online. The free and user-friendly tool I have adopted is Screencast-O-Matic because of the simple push-button recording feature that allows users to easily create a screencast,  publish it on YouTube, and make it available for teachers and students right away.  A screencast created with this tool can be embedded into a blog, wiki, or website or linked to a Google Doc, so it is very versatile. Screencast-O-Matic has announced the addition of a new feature in February that will allow screencasts to be published right in a Google Doc.

Below I’ve embedded a snippet of an example from a lesson in which students used a Google Presentation template to construct knowledge. In this project, screencast tutorials were included right on the template to provide them with easy access to tech support.

Example: Using Screencasts to Support a Technology-Driven Lesson
Click on the images or links to access the tutorials.