Using Google’s Smarty Pins in the Classroom

“The beautiful thing about learning is that nobody can take it away from you.”By  B.B. King

Smarty Pins is a Google Maps based geography and trivia game. It is very user-friendly like most Google products are. The purpose is to answer as many questions as you can before you run out of miles.  Miles are lost when you answer incorrectly based on how ‘far off’ your answer is. You can decide if you want random questions, or if you want a specific category and there are six categories to choose from such as arts and culture, science and geography and sports and games.

Once you start, your first question will appear on the left-hand side of the screen. To answer you have to drag the map pin to the correct location. (I have found the map will start near the area you need to go) You can zoom in and out as well based on the level of detail you want.

Once you find the correct location you drop the pin and the name of the location will appear, for example Charlotte, NC. You can then submit your answer or get a hint if you would like. The hint show up on the left hand side under the question. If you chose to use the hint, you do not get to earn bonus miles. Bonus miles are given for answering a question correctly within 15 seconds. There are funny captions after you answer each question no matter if you get it right or wrong. When you answer a certain number of questions correctly you earn awards: bronze, silver or gold.

Smarty Pins

How Could You Use This in the Classroom?

1. Each day as a class, (or one day a week) you can use Smarty Pins as a class team building activity (ex. during morning meeting). Together the class can see how many questions they get right before they run out of miles. Each day or week they could track their progress and then graph it for each month. This allows team building, critical thinking, collaboration and problem solving along with learning geography.

2.  Use Smarty Pins as a base for students genius hour or passion based learning ideas. As the students plays the game, they will learn facts and geography of places that they might find interesting and want to learn more about. For example when I played, I found myself interested in more about the ‘Leaning Tower of Pisa’ as I had a question about the bell tower.

3. This game could be used for when a student finishes an activity early as a fun extension or during when you find you have a few minutes before a transition.

As always, I would love to hear how you would use it in the classroom! Please share in the comments section.

 

Google Tools

“One of the greatest and simplest tools for learning more and growing is doing more.” By Washington Irving

Google_Through_the_Years

Google has many great free tools that you can use in the classroom. Below are a few of my favorites:

Flippity: You can make flashcards in google spreadsheets with step by step directions.  You can even add YouTube videos on the flashcards!

StoryBuilder: Have students create stories or explanation and watch the animated video of their writing experience also an other way to present information!

Google Connected Classrooms:  Take students on virtual field trips using Google+ Hangouts, students have the opportunity to ask questions of the museum and zoo experts that are leading the virtual field trips. You can find schedules of  the virtual field trips and links to the past recordings.

Google a Day: Have your students work on a challenge problem based on ‘Google a day’ when they finish work early or as a class during transitions. (Secret: I like just doing them myself)

Google Scholar: Have your students use this free accessible web search engine that indexes the full text of scholarly literature across many different publishing formats and disciplines.

 Google Translate:  Translate your document into any language, great way to help parent communication.

I also wanted to share this document again of all the ways you can use Google Doc’s in the classroom. I would love to know your favorite Google tools as well.

Google App Scripts for Educators

“The rise of Google, the rise of Facebook, the rise of Apple, I think are proof that there is a place for computer science as something that solves problems that people face every day.” By Eric Schmidt

Google

Recently I went to an ‘Advance Google Session’ at a conference that was conducted by John Warf.  The session was mostly about Google Apps Script (GAS). GAS is a JavaScript cloud scripting language that provides easy ways to automate tasks across Google products and third party services and build web applications.*  GAS lets you do more with Google Apps for Education (GAFE) such as drive and calendars. There a tons of already created scripts that help educators but you can also create your own by opening a Google Doc, spreadsheet etc and clicking on tools, script editor. Below is a complied list of the most helpful scripts for educators and links to how-to’s for each one:

– GClass Folders: Create folders teachers need for class

– GClass Hub: Pre-configured app-script that works with GClass folders for spreadsheets etc

– Doctopus: Easily share documents with students

– Flubaroo: Grading solution for Google forms

FormEmailer: Automate emails on form data

Formlimiter: Stop accepting additional forms

Autocrat: Form data to Google documents in folder structure

– FormRanger: Automatically populates the options in any multiple-choice, checkbox, or listbox style question in a Google form from any column in the attached spreadsheet.

Other Resources/Sites:

List of Google Apps Script by Programmer’s Library

Top 10 Google Apps Scripts for Education

Google + App Script Community

* Work Cited:

“Apps Script – Google Apps Script.” 2012. 23 Feb. 2014 <http://www.google.com/script/start/>

Using Google Templates in your Classroom

“The teacher is the one who gets the most out of the lessons, and the true teacher is the learner.” By Elbert Hubbard

google

Google has over 300 templates available for Google Drive which includes documents, spreadsheets, forms, presentations and drawings. Templates consist of newspapers, brochures, assessments, lesson plans etc. Below I give step by step directions of how to use templates in Google and Google Apps for Education (GAFE) along with submitting your own.

Previewing and Using Templates:

Step 1:  Go to https://docs.google.com/templates (if you are in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools http://bit.ly/cmsgtemplates) and log into your Google Account. You can also add a Google template extension on your chrome browser.

Step 2:  At the top of the page you will see different types of templates. If you have a Google Apps for Education (GAFE) account you will see an extra section for your school at the top.

Step 3: Search for the template you are looking for in the search box or view based on categories on the left-hand side.

Step 4: Once you find a template you can click on the preview button to view. If you like the template chose ‘use this template’ and a copy of it will be made and placed in your Google drive. If you don’t like it, you can click the button to ‘browse template gallery’ and continue to look.

Teachers and students can also be creative  and submit their own templates as well. I love this feature because you can customize  your templates to fit your classroom needs. Making templates also gives your students a starting point but still allows the students to use higher order thinking skills and create. One of my favorite templates is using the Historical Facebook page template. I have also used the template for book studies. The students choose a character from  their books and have to synthesize information from the character’s perspective. You can also make templates for balanced literacy such as running records, reading levels and word study.

Submitting a Template:

From drive:

Step 1:  In your Google Drive, check the box on the document that you would like to make a template.  Click on ‘More’ and then submit to template gallery.

Step 2: Fill in the information such as short description, categories etc

Step 3: Click on submit template

From templates main page:

Step 1: Click on submit a template

Step 2: Select your document from your drive that you want to submit

Step 3: Fill in the information such as short description, categories etc

Step 4: Click on submit template

More Template Resources:

Kern Kelly’s Google Form Templates

Template Support