Thing 43: Google Drawings

I first learned about Google Drawings at NYSCATE in 2016 as a way to make Google Docs more interactive in a manner similar to a SmartBoard. I used it for an assignment where students had to match objects with their definition. I also had students create a short cartoon using the drawing tools in three separate boxes within a Google Doc.

During a recent project on Westward Expansion, some of my seventh grade students used it to create a newspaper. One of the limitations they discovered was that there was only one canvas and since they needed multiple pages, it didn’t seem to work. If only I had read these links sooner, I would have discovered that they could import their Google Drawing into any of the other Google Apps suite and embedded it there with multiple canvases (or pages) at their fingertips. Oh well, at least I know better for next year.

AutoDraw

Since I don’t take the time to practice and don’t have a natural talent for drawing, I decided to check out this tool to see how it worked. Taking inspiration from my art teacher who is currently having her students use a pair of sunglasses and various shades of the primary and secondary colors, I decided to try my hand at drawing a pair of sunglasses. The one on the left is my drawing and the one of the right is the closest picture to what I drew. Not an exact match but a good facsimile nevertheless.

I could see this being useful when you are having a difficult time finding a specific line drawn picture that you need or if you want/need specific coloring that is often difficult to find unrestricted on the internet.

Google Drawings

Continuing with the theme of “shades of summer,” I created this Google Drawing using the tools that were available. It was easy enough to use for this purpose although it would have been nice to be able to add layers to the drawing. Untitled drawing (1)

Teachers in my building have discovered Google Drawings and students have used it to create posters on an element from the periodic table and posters about the water cycle. For some reason, students find it easier to use to manipulate pictures and text within Google Drawings versus Google Slides.

Conclusions

As a longtime user of PowerPoint, I see the versatility of Drawings and will continue to encourage my students to use it whenever appropriate. I’m also tired of seeing them use Google Slides to present their information and this might be a good alternative to get them to put only the necessary information on one page instead of using multiple pages with too much information. I was going to encourage my students to use Canva if they really wanted to create a poster but Google Drawings is a suitable alternative and something they are already familiar with using.

My first research project of the year was using biographies and last year most of the students created a Google Slideshow or a large poster to present their work. Although these tools are useful for the students to understand how to create them, I also think they are often used by the students as the easy way out of an assignment and quite frankly they are overused and boring. Using Google Drawings to have the students create an interactive poster similar to a ThingLink would be a more interesting way for the students to showcase their learning. Although this requires more upfront teaching on my part, I think the end result would be worth the effort and will try it in the fall with next year’s fifth grade students.

As a standalone tool, I think it is similar to many other programs available. Where I think it excels is in the ability to embed it within other Google Apps. Also, since it is a Google product, it will probably continue to be free and not disappear one day due to the owner discontinuing its availability as has happened with many excellent tools over the last ten years.

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Presentation Tools – VoiceThread

Although I have seen how other people have used VoiceThread over the last few years, I have never used it with my classes. Not sure why other than the fact that there are so many options out there that I forget about this one.

I really liked how easy it was to get started and feel that even my lowest students would be able to use VoiceThread. The biggest obstacle would come adding in comments whether by voice or by typing. I have only a few microphones so it would take a long time for students to record their comments. On the other hand, my students are not very fast at typing so it could take them several class periods to type in only a few comments.

It took me about 10 minutes to create the VoiceThread below using pictures I had already saved onto my computer and then adding my comments. I chose to make this because each year, I have my Kindergarten students do beginning research on naked mole rats. Since they are so young, I teach them that research is something you do when you want to learn more about something that interests you (ex.: dogs, cats,   cars, etc…). We read a fiction and a nonfiction book and then compare them. Using these books, the students pull out facts about them. The VoiceThread below shows the information that is typically learned by the students.

Naked Mole Rats VoiceThread