As a interdisciplinary coordinator, I enjoy working with teachers and parents to use Google Apps for student learning. Integrating technology into teaching and learning provides the opportunity to reach higher order thinking skills as students engage in challenging and creative tasks (King, Goodson, & Rohani, 2009).
Most American students are tasked with the challenge of memorizing the 50 states and their capitals. Currently this is a fifth grade standard, but I have known of students as early as 1st grade beginning to learn these facts. However, if you ask most 20 year old adults to name 15 states and their capitals, you might be surprised at the answers. Here is a fun way for students to learn these facts, while engaging higher order thinking skills as they generate their own map and produce travel itinerary to visit capitals across the nation.
Apps used – Google Maps, Google Sheets
Students will start by going to http://www.50states.com/tools/thelist.htm to see a list of states and capitals, then type them into a spreadsheet. Additionally, students should research other details such as the Admission Day for each state, or a famous author/artist who lives/lived in the state. This is a wonderful opportunity to personalize the activity to peak student interest. Maybe the student is interested in theme parks, gardens, or sports. This information will be entered into the spreadsheet. In fact, up to 50 columns of detailed information can be included. Here are step by step instructions for entering this information into a spreadsheet.
After they have created the spreadsheet they will open the My Maps app to import all the information into a customizable map. Once they have imported the details into their map, they can add images, customize the pins, etc. Use the following instructions for creating the map.
To make this activity extend into math, ask students to create a travel itinerary. They can choose to travel by plane, car, bike or other means of locomotion. The more the students interact with the states and capitals, seeing them on the map, talking about them and learning about them, the more likely they are to remember them after they have taken a test.
Consider having students listen to the states and capitals songs while they are working on the project. Or for the ultimate technology creation, have the students screen cast their map with the states. Use one of many free web based screencasting tools, such as the Snag it Chrome Extension or Screencastify. Remember that the YouTube editor allows for quick edits and background music.
Google drawings is a fun app for budding Google students. For students who have played with apps like Kids Doodle getting around in Google Drawings will be fairly simple. The most challenging aspect might be the use of layers. Teaching students how the images are layered will prepare them for digital success!
Images in most graphic programs are layered. I think of it like how we get dressed. The first thing you put on is under everything else. Sometimes, what is underneath can show a little or a lot. In order to move the items in a graphics program you don’t have to remove everything else, you just have to change the “order.” It is important to teach the words “layers, arrange, and order.” These are important digital graphic vocabulary words that will enhance their vocabulary and their understanding. In order to change the order of layers, there are usually several approaches and some are device specific:
Mac book pro Laptop: Two finger click to pull up the menu with the ability to order the layers
Chromebook: two finger click
Mouse: right click
Windows Laptop: right click the bottom corner
By teaching young students about right click, they will begin to look for this in every platform and app they use. This wonderful skill will open a world of potential for your students.
Get the most out of drawings
For younger students, it is best to create the organizer with instructions. Here is a sample of a simple Venn Diagram. If using Google Classrooms, assign one to each student. They fill it in. This will eliminate the crazy hand writing that students fill into a Venn Diagram. It also allows students to easily move one idea to another column if there is a mistake.
Think of all the graphic organizers printed and copied for students to help them organizing before they begin to write. Or think of the check lists that they must complete before an assignment can be turned in. If these are created in Google Drawings, students can actually check off the boxes, fill in any areas and it is all right there for their little fingers.
If using Google Classrooms or any other LMS like Schoology, place all necessary documents in the assignment area. Even if you use the same graphic organizer for every writing assignment, insert the information every time the assignment is given, just like a traditional piece of paper. The time it will take to do this is shorter than printing and coping.
Scan a document to your google drive using the google drive app on any mobile device. Go into drawings and add the image to the drawing. Go to images, select Google Drive. Provide instructions on the drawing file for students to drawing boxes, circles, etc around the text to identify the focus for the lesson.
Students create a map of for the beginning a story or an idea (see http://www.inspiration.com/visual-learning/mind-mapping). Here is a sample from a student when asked about food. From looking at the mind map, can you guess how the student was organizing the food? This lead to a discussion to an organizational structure for the paper they were writing about food. Instead of a simple report, the paper began with a fictitious character and became an engaging story.
Background for a Google Slide
Create an image to use as a back ground for a google presentation. To do this, first create the image in drawing and rename it. Next download it to your computer as a .png. This is one of many image file types. Then open Google Presentations and begin a blank project. Right click on the first slide and choose Background from pop up menu. Next, click choose from the box next to image and upload the image from your downloads folder.
Teach students to create an interactive image using Google drawings. For example, suppose you want your students to create an interactive concept map about California. First, find an image of California on the web. Next have the students identify the locations in California they want to highlight. They can find more images to represent these locations and place them on top of the California map. Next, they can link these images to websites or even to a Google doc where they have written information about California. Make your copy of the Interactive map of California. Keep in mind that when publishing Google drawings, you can send a link, but the drawing will download as a png, and the links will become inactive.
Follow me to receive the video showing how to create an interactive map.