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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Thing 34: Annual Reports

This is going to sound like an excuse but I haven’t been collecting data since the beginning of the year so a true annual report will not be possible. That said, I will begin to gather information that will be helpful starting today.

One of my busiest times for interactions with other teachers is before my day contractually starts so I would like to keep track of exactly how I am spending this time. Frequently, I am checking out equipment, providing book suggestions, troubleshooting technology, and quickly collaborating all before my day officially starts. But right now, I don’t keep track of any of this so I really need to start documenting. I know this isn’t information that is strictly directly related to student achievement but in the end, these “distractions” do take away from my time to prepare for students thus indirectly related to students.

One of the changes in annual reports over the last few years is that there are a lot of good options that allow you to include different types of media. I try to incorporate student quotes in my newsletters but the idea of a video clip stating this same information has so much more impact on the viewer.

I also wonder if the newsletters are even read or just thrown in a pile with everything else. Smore is a website that can be used to create newsletters which can then be shared via different platforms. The website it pretty easy to use and provides options to add different types of media including videos and links to outside websites. The biggest advantage to using Smore is that it captures analytics and therefore you know how many times it has been viewed. The only problem is that in order to have this feature, you need to either upgrade to a paid account or have over 30 people view your newsletter. If you only want to share with your principal, then you won’t be getting the views that you need and would need to upgrade. Now I know what some of you are thinking — why not share it with everyone? I agree that newsletters should be readily available to all stakeholders, not just the principal but this still doesn’t guarantee that 30 people will actually open it.

I decided to go to my standard platform — Canva. I like the ease with which I can create almost anything and have even used it to create pretty cool worksheets for my students. It is like PowerPoint on steroids. You can add links to other websites but you can’t include videos which is definitely a downgrade from Smore. Still, I find that I prefer this platform despite the lack of analytics. Below is what I have for April so far although it isn’t yet complete.

april-2016

For my report this year, I would like to include feedback from the 6th grade interviews that I will be doing in the next few weeks. I will also include information on the various projects completed with and without collaboration. I will highlight different projects with student quotes and standards that were addressed. Pictures will help break up the text and provide exemplary examples of the work that was completed. Of course, I will also provide the standard statistics on circulation, classes taught, professional development provided, and social media updates. One thing I do know is that I need to make it visually appealing first so that it actually gets read. Otherwise, it will be lost in the pile of ‘things to read when I have time’ and that would be a waste of a lot of hard work and time on my part. Additionally, the stakeholders would be clueless about all of the learning that is taking place in the library and that is something that I can’t afford to let happen!