Soon, teachers and students will be returning to their classrooms. And now that our quest for Google Certified Educator Level I series comes to its final installment, it’s time to cap off our journey through the key features with some bonus apps that can really add excitement and flare to your classroom this year. Our previous checkpoints have introduced us to the various uses of the major Google applications, but how can we carry our expedition further and push on further to broaden our experience? Let’s take a look.
The Google Classroom provides a digital space for teachers to post, collect, and grade assignments quickly and efficiently. Google Classroom integrates with other Google applications like Docs, Drive, and Gmail. Teachers can control how information is disseminated as well as the flow of communications. Instructors can initiate discussions, make announcements, and provide real-time feedback. The ability to link to Drive is a good way for absent students to catch up on missed work.
Here’s one we haven’t touched on yet. VoiceThread can be easily integrated into the one-to-one classroom. VoiceThread is a cloud-based application that allows teachers and students to annotate presentations with audio, video, and text. Previously created slide presentations and captured photos can be easily imported into VoiceThread. Mobile devices or computers with cameras and microphones can be used to record the annotations. Users can use the application’s built-in capability of an interactive whiteboard for marking the presentation. VoiceThreads can be easily shared with the class. Teacher may post a problem for students to solve and decide when others in the classroom can see each other’s responses. This sort of work enhances students’ skills for communicating and explaining their thought process – an aptitude addressed on many standardized tests. Subscribers to VoiceThread can have access to other teacher’s creations in the VoiceThread searchable library.
Classcraft is a cloud-based application for teachers that want to bring in an element of gaming and entertainment to their classrooms. Students can choose an avatar to represent themselves and teachers can assign students to groups so they can learn to work and score points for their team. Teachers must provide the content, but they can create multiple choice ‘boss battles’ and differentiate instruction with ‘maps’ in which students can choose their own leveled path to completion of tasks. There are also built-in classroom management features like classroom noise level monitoring and random student/team chooser to make sure every person gets a chance to respond. Classcraft’s Marketplace is a forum for teachers to post their ‘quests’ and share content with other users.
For those teachers who want to go beyond the traditional paper-based assessments, there exist a multitude of cloud-based tools that are designed to work with one-to-one devices. Flippity can be used to import a spreadsheet and convert it into a quiz show, flashcards, word search, and countless other interactive games. Quizlet allows users to create their own flashcards and serves as a powerful study guide. Teachers can post previously made Quizlets from the forum or create their own, which can be shared by others. Kahoot creates a fast-paced gameshow in which students can use their mobile devices to work as individuals or teams answering questions and scoring points. Teachers can use existing shows or create their own sharable gameshows. Flipgrid lets instructors import videos (YouTube or original creations) and turn them into quizzes. Students get to watch the video, which then automatically pauses at key points where they are then prompted to answer a question based on what they have just seen. It encourages students to stay focused on what they are watching and makes the assessment more engaging.
I hope that you will find these applications useful in your classroom! Good luck and best wishes for a successful school year!
- Chris Masullo, Ed.D.