Tag: Google Earth (page 1 of 2)

Google Earth for #GTAUK

I’m at Google Teacher Academy today as one of the Lead Learners. The words ‘wow’ and ‘awesome’ are pretty much all I can muster at the moment. My brain is being fried!

I’m leading the Google Earth session. 🙂

One week until #GTAUK

This time next week the first-ever Google Teacher Academy in the UK (#GTAUK) will be drawing to a close. I’m honoured to be one of the UK-based Lead Learners (along with Tom Barrett and Zoe Ross).

I’ll be running the session on Google Earth, one of my favourite tools for learning and teaching. I’ve set up a wiki in an attempt to not only provide resources for delegates, but for the wider community. You can access and contribute to it at:

http://sites.google.com/site/gtaukge

(short URL: http://bit.ly/gtaukge)

#GTAUK: Google Earth wiki & ebook

I’m delighted to have been chosen as a ‘Lead Learner’ for the first-ever UK Google Teacher Academy on 29-30 July 2010. I’ve been asked to run the sessions on Google Earth and am very aware that whilst I’m certainly an enthusiast with some advanced knowledge, I’m certainly not an ‘expert’.
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Interesting ways to use Twitter in the classroom

After a suggestion received, quite fittingly, from another Twitter user, Tom Barrett is weaving his magic again. This time, after getting educators to collaborate on ways in which Interactive Whiteboards, Google Earth, Google Docs, and Pocket Video Cameras can be used in education he’s turned his (and his network’s) sights on Twitter:

I got involved straight away – in fact mine’s the first tip on there! Get involved by contacting Tom (@tombarrett) 🙂

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SEN Department E-Learning Session

My school’s Special Educational Needs department asked me to do an E-Learning Session just for them, as many within the department couldn’t make my lunchtime sessions for one reason or another:

One of the tools I recommended I haven’t yet done an E-Learning Staff Session on. That’s Voki – here’s a sample of what you can do:

AC_Voki_Embed(200,267,”b126b5eefa90b88f4a38352938ec60e3″,1058458, 1, “”, 0);
Get a Voki now!

I’ve run a session – and therefore created guides to – the other four web applications I recommend for SEN practitioners:

My Twitter network, as ever, were extremely helpful – although unfortunately I received some of the ideas after I’d finalised the resources:

Interesting Ways to use Netbooks in the Classroom

I’ve been inspired by Tom Barrett‘s excellent use of Google Presentations to get educators collaborating on ways to use Google Earth and Interactive Whiteboards. Having recently purchased six Asus Eee 1000 Netbooks for my school, I thought I’d try something similar:

Whilst there have been many blog posts and wiki pages dedicated to the ways in which laptops and Netbooks can be used in a 1-to-1 environment, it’s less obvious what you can do when you only have a few in your classroom. This presentation, as an ongoing project, should hopefully remedy that!

If you’d like to collaborate, here’s what to do:

  1. Look at the presentation above to see what tips have already been added.
  2. Send a message on Twitter to @dajbelshaw, or use the contact form on this site in order to request to be added as a collaborator.
  3. Add a slide in a similar fashion to the ones already there, making sure you credit any Creative Commons-license images used.
  4. Change the number of tips now included in the presentation on the first slide, and add your name as being a collaborator.

I’m looking forward to your contributions! 😀

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How to use Google Earth more effectively.

Google Earth is a fantastic, FREE, tool for teaching and learning. There are many, many different ways of using it. It’s almost as if the whole world is a canvas!

As befits Google Earth, the following are some ideas from educators around the world as to how to use the program effectively.

Tom Barrett has created a Google Presentation to which other educators have contributed. Check it out here:

 

Further Links:

Know any other useful links not in the guide or above? Please share them! 🙂

10 ways to use your interactive whiteboard more effectively

Following on from this previous blog post detailing over 30, here are what I think are 10 really effective ways you can start to use your interactive whiteboard (IWB) like a pro. I shall be demonstrating these during the Tuesday and Thursday luncthime sessions in H14. 🙂

1. Shade your screen!

Using the Screen Shade tool you can hide part of the screen on your IWB. You can use this for starter activities where students have to guess what is in the rest of the screen or to prevent students ‘jumping ahead’ with a lesson’s learning sequence.

2. Erase lots of stuff without ‘scrubbing’

If you’ve quite a bit of writing to erase from your IWB, simply use the eraser to draw around it, then use it to press in the middle of the writing. It should then disappear! (see video)

3. Tap and drag for a more accurate IWB

It’s sometimes difficult to click exactly in the middle of the crosshairs when orienting your IWB. Instead, take one of the IWB pens, press it on the IWB near the crosshair, drag it into the middle of the crosshair, and then release. This makes the tracking on your IWB spot-on!

4. Use the SMART Lesson Activity Toolkit

In addition to the SMARTboard software, the Lesson Activity Toolkit gives you more options and flexibility with your IWB. See it in action with this four-part video: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

5. Use keyboard shortcuts

Learning these keyboard shortcuts could make using your IWB more productive and less frustrating:

  • Ctrl+G – Group objects
  • Ctrl+R – Ungroup objects
  • Ctrl+K – Lock an object
  • Ctrl+J – Unlock an object
  • Ctrl+D – Clone an object
  • Ctrl+M – Insert blank page
  • Ctrl+PgDn – Send object backward
  • Ctrl+PgUp – Bring object forward
  • Ctrl+Shift+PgDn – Send object to back
  • Ctrl+Shift+PgUp – Bring object to front

6. Record a sequence of events on your IWB

If you’re doing something procedural, it’s a good idea to record the steps you go through. Use the SMART Recorder to record what appears on your IWB. This is useful to then play on repeat whilst students are completing a task, to put on your website, or on your school’s virtual learning environment.

7. Create puzzle-image starter activities

Befuddlr takes any picture from Flickr (an image-sharing website) and makes it into a puzzle. This is great for IWB’s as students can come up and re-arrange the puzzle to make meaning. Creating your own Flickr account is easy and free, so there’s unlimited potential for all different types of puzzle. Check out Tom Barrett’s suggestions for how to use Befuddlr in various ways here.

8. Rub and Reveal

Using a pen the same colour as the background covers-up words, images – anything you choose on your IWB. If you then use the eraser it will ‘reveal’ what you have covered up!

9. Google Earth

If there’s one application that comes into its own on an IWB, it’s Google Earth! You can zoom, pan and scroll as well as discover ‘layers’ to add value to your lessons. Google themselves have put together a useful guide, and there’s a Google Earth Education Community that breaks down resources by subject. You definitely need this installed and be using it in whatever lesson you teach!

10. Get involved in the Whiteboard Challenge!

The best way to learn is with other people, either face-to-face or in an online group. That’s why the Whiteboard Challenge is such a great idea. It’s a 14-week course that began on 15 August 2008. Have a look at what’s available and get involved here: http://whiteboardchallenge.wikispaces.com

*BONUS* 11. Do the double-tap!

Don’t click-and-drag, instead put the finger of one hand on the object, then the finger of your other hand where you want to move it. The object will move half-way inbetween. Remove the first finger you put on the IWB and the object will ‘fly’ across! (see video)

I couldn’t get this one to work, which is why I didn’t include it in the original 10… 😮

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90% digital, or 12 ways my teaching ecosystem is evolving.

I’m looking forward to the new academic year. Having said that, I’m not hugely excited about the Web 2.0 tools I’ll be using next year – and I believe that’s a good thing. It shows that such tools have become part of my teaching ecosystem. As I read recently, “The music is not in the piano.” (i.e. it is but a tool, just like technology)

The only reason my teaching ecosystem isn’t 100% digital is because of outside influences: documents from colleagues and marking student books. It’s part of my aim for my E-Learning Staff Tutor position to put more digital tools in the hands of colleagues. I’ll be using the new elearnr site to help with that. 🙂

This week I came across Top 100 Tools for Learning 2008. It’s made up of a large number of educators’ top 10 lists of elearning tools. I haven’t tried to stick to 10 in what follows – it’s just a list of what I’m going to be using (in order of what I’ll be using most!) 😀

1. Google Calendar

I’ve been using Google Calendar for a couple of years now for my day-to-day planning (see here and here). Although it takes around half an hour to enter your timetable initially, you can then set this to repeat until a certain date (i.e. the end of the academic year).

I use a ‘double-star system’ (see screenshot below). Before a lesson has been planned it has two asterisk after it. Removing one star means that I’ve entered the title and lesson objective (and homework, if applicable). Removing the second star means that the lesson is fully planned.

After the lesson, if there’s anything I need to remember for the next lesson with the class, I just add it to the comments section.

Obviously things like meetings, parents evenings can be entered ad-hoc. As you can access Google Calendar via mobile phone as well, it means I’ve got my day-to-day planning everywhere. 🙂

2. Attendance/Homework checkers

I run a two-laptop classroom. I’ve got my school-provided laptop at the front of my classroom running the interactive whiteboard (a SMARTboard) and my netbook (an MSI Wind-like Advent 4211 now running Mac OSX) is for everything else.

Whilst I could use Google Spreadsheets for my attendance registers, there’s two reasons I don’t. First of all it just doesn’t update very quickly, being web-based. Second, I’ve got to have a register – even if Internet access goes down at school. So I use Microsoft Excel with some conditional formatting goodness that I blogged about ages ago.

3. Google Docs

I’d be the first to hold my hand up and say that I’m a last-minute planner. What I do in the next lesson with a class depends very much upon what happened in the previous. Students have different questions and things can go off at a tangent. That’s not to say I don’t medium-term plan, however!

For my medium-term planning I use Google Docs. Nothing fancy, just a table with columns for lesson title, objective and possible content. The great thing about this is that I don’t have to remember to back it up and I can drop in links to any online resources quickly and easily. I do about a half-term at a time, having worked out before how much I need to cover to get everything done within the year. :-p

4. Evernote

You’re not going to believe this but my school still doesn’t use email as the primary method of contact between members of staff. Hard to believe, I know! Consequently, I’m overwhelmed by a deluge of paper. To counteract this, I started taking a photograph of the documents using the camera in my Nokia N95. The trouble was that organizing these images was difficult and time-consuming. In the end, I just gave up.

Then I was invited to take part in the private beta for Evernote. This program is available cross-platform and is now out of beta, so it’s available to everyone. It takes the image you’ve taken and transferred to your laptop (e.g. via Bluetooth) and recognises the words – even when they’re hand-written! You can add tags to the photos and they’re automatically (securely) synced with your account on their server. That means they’re available wherever you’ve got an Internet connection.

Evernote’s a great system no matter what phone/digital camera/laptop combo you’ve got, but if you’ve got an iPhone, you really do need to download it from the App Store!

5. Google Presentations

Sometimes I feel a bit guilty for still using Powerpoint. After all, I’m training colleagues to use software such as SMART Notebook when I rarely use it myself. The truth is, Powerpoint is compatible, flexible, and has great clipart.

The problem comes when you want to get a Powerpoint online. Say that you’ve drawn on top of a diagram and want to make it accessible for students outside the classroom. In the past I’ve had to use OpenOffice to convert it into Flash, upload it to my website, and then create an HTML page in which to embed it.

Not any more. Now I just upload it to Google Docs and it’s transformed into a Google Presentation. This can then be easily embedded into a blog, wiki or website. Marvellous! 🙂

6. Google Sites

I used a self-hosted installation of WordPress for a couple of years successfully at learning.mrbelshaw.co.uk. That’s the place I direct students to in order to access homework activities and resources to aid their learning. At the end of last academic year, however, I switched over to Google Sites. My version actually comes as part of Google Apps Education Edition, but there’s no advantage in this other than the ability to customise the domain name.

I’ve found it really useful and reliable. Because it’s hosted by Google, I’ve never experienced any downtime and, of course, it’s not blocked by the school network’s proxy. You can edit things in a straightforward, easy-to-use manner. The built-in navigation features make it simple for students to navigate. Embedding objects is easy – I could ask for any more! 😀

7. Twitter

I’m disappointed that Twitter, the micro social-networking service, has made the decision to stop the ability to receive SMS updates when you receive direct messages or replies. It means that I’m unlikely to use it with my GCSE students this time around.

To neglect to add it to my list, however, would be misleading. I’ll still be using it both in and out of school in a professional development capacity. I can’t imagine being connected only via blogs now (as in the early days of the edublogosphere). Twitter and other real-time tools make professional development fun!

8. Edublogs

With my last cohort of GCSE History students I installed WordPress Multi-User (WPMU) edition at mrbelshaw.co.uk. Whilst it worked fine and the students took to it well, the system took some configuring and was a bit of a nightmare when I transferred web hosting companies.

This year, I’m going to be using Edublogs. It, after all, is a giant installation of WPMU, but they host it for you, make hundreds of themes available and there’s added values with wiki and forum integration (to name but two). It should cut down on hassle. I track what students are up to via the RSS feed for the blog entries and comments. 🙂

9. Google Earth

It’s fair to say that I use Google Earth a lot. In fact, when I had to teach Geography to a Year 8 Set 4 class last academic year, I think I used it every lesson! It’s also of great use in history as it’s so much more than a mapping application; the ‘layers’ and ability to create tours add huge amounts of value.

I’ll be using it next academic year, as I have in previous years, to plot the route of Hannibal’s march with elephants on Rome, doing a flyover tour of Engladn in 1066, building up the tension of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and a lot more. I’ve shared some of the resources I’ve created for Google Earth over at the historyshareforum.

10. Simple English Wikipedia

Although I’ve threatened to do it a couple of times before, this academic year is going to be the time when I carry through my plan. I want students to be creators and contribute to the Internet. In Years 10 and 11 whilst they’re doing their GCSEs, I get them to blog. But what about in Key Stage 3?

I’m going to get them to add to the Simple English Wikipedia. This lesser-known sibling of Wikipedia is for children and foreign language students. Every page on the main Wikipedia site (potentially) has a similar page on the Simple version. The trouble is that the Simple version doesn’t have as much content – I want to rectify that by getting my students to edit that.

The main problem with this is that they can’t do it at school. I’m sure it the same with most educational institutions: our IP address is banned from editing do to ‘vandalism’ of Wikipedia by a minority of immature students. So, I’ll get them to do it at home and look at the revision history of the page for proof! I’ll let you know how it goes… :-p

11. bubbl.us

I’m a big fan of mindmaps. Although I’m not convinced that bubbl.us creates mindmaps in the true sense of the term they are, at least, very useful brainstorms. If you haven’t given online, collaborative mindmapping/brainstorming a try with your students, I’d suggest you try.

Due to a re-organization of the core subjects at our school, students only get to choose two options for GCSE. This has the knock-on effect of meaning they have 4 lessons to cover content that previously was covered easily in 3. I’m going to spend that fourth lesson with them in the library or an ICT suite blogging, brainstorming/mindmapping, and more…

12. Posterous

I came across Posterous during the summer holiday (see this post). You couldn’t really ask for a blogging service to be made much simpler. All you do is email post@nullposterous.com and it intelligently sorts out what you’ve sent (including attachments) and displays them appropriately. At last I can say to staff that if they know how to email they can set up their own class blog!

If you read my previous post on Posterous, you’ll see that I feel the killer feature will be themes. They’re adding features all the time, it being a new service, and if they add this ability before the start of the academic year (1st September for me) then I’ll seriously consider using them with students too. It might seem shallow, but I’ve found that teenagers like to create an identity online, and the ability to make their site different from their friend’s is important to them.

Finally, I’ll be charting my progress and adding resources to help colleagues as part of my E-Learning Staff Tutor role over at elearnr. Do visit there often and/or subscribe to the RSS feed. 😀

(Image credit: Personal Ecosystem by activeside @ Flickr)

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5 ways to make ‘textbook lessons’ more interesting

The Teacher's Toolkit

Update: I’m no longer in the classroom but would highly recommend Paul Ginnis’ Teacher’s Toolkit: Raise Classroom Achievement with Strategies for Every Learner. I’ve found it extremely helpful to my own practice and when mentoring student teachers!


Textbook

When I started my teaching career I worked myself into the ground. Determined not to just use textbooks as a prop, I did ‘proper’ lesson plans for every single lesson and didn’t use more than a single page of a textbook (tops!) per lesson. I’ve come to realise that textbooks can be your friend. Here’s some suggestions to make lessons based around them more interesting…

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