Even “Littles” Can Use Google Tools

As the end of the school year approaches, I find myself feeling as if there was so much more I could have and should have done. The kids have been so inspiring this year. My student Tech Team was awesome. My Morning Show news crew have become completely self-sufficient. Oh, what even the youngest students can do!

Slide with cat eyes

I use Google Classroom for all of my students (children and adults). My 2nd graders created e-books using Google Slides. Included in that project was masking and cropping images, using capital letters, punctuation and spelling. I’m always amazed at their creativity and how they use their research in a meaningful way. Many of them used Audacity to do an audio version of their “books” so that it could be published for non-readers. Teaching UDL (Universal Design for Learning) to 7 and 8-year-olds. Easy!

Never underestimate what Elementary students can do. They are used to finding ways to be creative if they’re given the tools to create with. Need more ideas about how to use Google Suite of tools with “Littles”? Drop me a line or join one of my summer online classes!

New England Institute for Teacher Education | Technology for Educators Course
Barbara Vinal is a Google for Education Certified Trainer


The HP Chromebook x2 First Impressions

As some of you might have already seen, the HP Chromebook x2 has been spotted at a handful of Best Buys around the country and those who have pre-ordered the device are finding they have been prompted to head over to their local store and pick up the latest Chromebook on offer from HP. Quickly…

via The HP Chromebook x2 First Impressions — Chrome Unboxed – The Latest Chrome OS News

Developing Your PLN (Professional Learning Network)

The school year is coming to a close for most of us. As I look over what I planned to do this year and what I did this year, I see that mostly I was on track. I do see that I didn’t write enough blog posts, attend enough Twitter Chats or go to enough off site professional development. While my goals are always lofty, that’s exactly what they are: goals.

I did, however, still spend a significant amount of time both giving and receiving professional development (PD). When I begin to sum up all that I’ve accomplished in a year, I’m still amazed that there was enough time to sleep a little. (Not on the job, however!)

While many teachers feel like they don’t have time for PD outside of the school day, I contend that using social media works well, if not better, for this purpose. Twitter has become the go-to place for getting information live time from anywhere in the world. There are so many Twitter Chats that you can take part in. If you don’t know how to take part in a Twitter chat, come on over and see me this summer in my Professional Learning Course: Technology for Educators with The New England Institute for Teacher Education.

Come join me this summer!

Google Home Now Plays Movies

In what can only be considered a glaringly obvious omission, Google Home has not been able to spin up content from your Google Play Movies up to this point. Announced over 2 years ago, Google Home has somehow been incapable of one of the features you most definitely would have expected it to be equipped…

via Google Home Can Finally Cast Content From Google Play Movies — Chrome Unboxed – The Latest Chrome OS News

Detachable Chromebooks – Your Thoughts?

We’ve told you they were coming. We’ve told you there were multiple detachable Chromebooks in the works. We just didn’t know when exactly they would break cover or who would be the first to market. Those questions have now been answered, and we couldn’t be more delighted to share with you all the fantastic details!…

via HP Unveils The World’s First Detachable Chromebook — Chrome Unboxed – The Latest Chrome OS News

Do You Have The Chrome OS Bug?

At the end of 2017, an odd bug showed up in Chrome OS that caused some issue with users’ ability to control the size of elements on the screen in Android apps. For many of us, until the bug began being pointed out, we didn’t even think about resizing the display for Android apps. After…

via Bug Fix: Android App Display Size Fixed In Chrome OS 65 — Chrome Unboxed – The Latest Chrome OS News

Developing an Online Course Is Like A Box of Chocolates

Chocolates would be good right about now. Every time I sit down to work on the next piece of one of my online courses, I start searching for the one with the gooey caramel center. I mean, that’s what it’s like. I look for the nuggets of wisdom. The centers of rich and creamy perfection that I can share with my online students.

box of chocolates

Gee! Now I’m hungry – again!

Teaching online is a bit different than just taking your seated course and moving it to the cloud. Some universities and professors find that an acceptable way to educate adults online. Frankly, I haven’t seen it work yet. You have to find the richness that is found in your topic and make it relevant to the classroom.

The online platform requires a different set of skills for the learner. If I don’t find out what kind of learner they are, I can’t assist them in any way. Asynchronous courses – those that can be accessed and worked on at any time by teacher or student – are tough for those that aren’t used to self-directed learning and being in the proverbial closet when doing their work.

While I’ve tried to set up synchronous meetings in past online classes, the availability of busy teachers (including me) just hasn’t been helpful. My summer courses seem to have a bit more flexibility, but even then my students are often working other jobs to make ends meet.

So back to the development of these courses…

My courses are project based. They have to be. Writing papers for an online technology course is like asking a cat if he wants a bath. It just isn’t pretty. Besides, it doesn’t show me what my students know and are able to do.

I create tutorial videos and screencasts which help a lot. But, if my content changes every 10 weeks or so, it’s hard to keep up that recording schedule. My dog isn’t much help. He barks every time I need a quiet moment. Or the 3D printers start printing a remote job. Or someone comes to the door. Or, well, I could think of a million excuses.

Who did we ask before Google

The fact remains, that I keep searching. Searching for just the right chocolate. Searching for just the right center. And then Google changes the way they do something. Or links go stale. Or the LMS (Learning Management System) gets changed. Or I’m just not satisfied that I did my best work. Or I’m in a hurry because I also work a full-time job and have a family.

Do I love it? Yes! Do I need to keep reinventing my courses? Yes! Maybe you are a teacher reading this and you think you might like to learn more about learning online. Or you need CEUs and want to learn more. Come shake up one of my classes. Come try out your Growth Mindset because you just don’t have it all done YET. Oh, and bring chocolate. Because everything is better with chocolate!

Barbara Vinal is a full-time Instructional Technology Facilitator and Magnet School Coordinator. She teaches online for the New England Institute for Teacher Education. She also teaches piano and plays keyboard/sings in a contemporary Christian music band.