The Best Google App For Education No One Is Talking About

*** So slide2I just found out my contact form was broken. I missed 300+ emails… I’m answering the ones from this month, but if you emailed me via the contact form, I didn’t mean to ignore you. Sorry! Please feel free to email me again if you didn’t hear from me!***

First, thank you all for the amazing feedback on The Gamification Guide. It’s been downloaded almost 500 times in the last couple weeks. I’m hard at work on Stage 2 of the guide, and can’t wait to share it with you! Check it out if you haven’t already!

I wanted to jump on for a quick post about an update to Google Apps for Education that seems to have flown under the radar thanks to all the other amazing updates Google has rolled out this summer.

In May, Google bought Synergyse. Synergyse makes interactive training experiences for tech products. Well, quietly, Google has rolled out the reason they bought the company: the Training for Google Apps extension and Market Place app!

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Year in Review: Lessons from the Innovation Lab

techedupteacherI came up with the Innovation Lab, our take on the makerspace, when I first got to Fair Haven eighteen months ago. The goal was to make an engaging technology “special” to replace our more traditional computer class which we pushed down toward the elementary school. I spent the bulk of this year’s afternoons working in the Innovation Lab with Ms. Smith and her 5th and 6th grade students. In the Innovation Lab, students learned about Design & Engineering, Computer Science, the Digital Arts, and, for a few months, Entrepreneurship. After our first full year in the Lab, I wanted to share the lessons I’ve learned.

Lesson Learned: Blended Learning is best, but not without a learning curve. I blended my high school English class for the last five years I was there. My sophomores received little direct instruction. Instead when they came into class, student work and the resources they needed to be successful were already online in our Learning Management System waiting for them. This worked incredibly well for my Sophomores, so I decided to bring blending to the Innovation Lab.


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My Backchannel (R)evolution

BCCWebSiteBackchanneling is when an audience has an online conversation about a presentation or lecture as they are watching it live. This is meant to turn listening to a speaker into an active process. Backchanneling allows audience members to chime in with their opinion on a topic or speaker, share resources, and is said to increase participation and grow community. Using a specific #hashtag to Tweet your opinion on a presenter while watching The Oscars or talking to your friend via Facebook chat about The Walking Dead episode your both watching are forms of backchanneling. So, clearly, backchanneling in the real world is popular, but what about the classroom?

Some teachers have been brave enough to allow students to backchannel while they are lecturing. This is usually done with a backchanneling program displayed via projector alongside the teacher so both teacher and student can see their comments as the lecture goes on. The teacher may answer the questions as they appear or comment on the students’ thoughts as they see fit. Backchanneling is said to improve classroom community, attention span, and make lecture more interactive. I’ve never tried allowing students to backchannel while I lectured, and I don’t know if I ever will; I’m not sold on the idea. Thus, backchanneling has never had a place in my classroom… until now!

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