Writing papers and research reports the Google way

The traditional research paper has been around a long time. We all likely have a memory of sweating over one at the last minute. They’re still a staple in K-12 schools and in universities. We don’t use formal academic papers and reports that much in real life. Often, they’re sources for more academic papers and […]

Exploring ‘Explore’: How Google works for you and your students

I can only imagine the hours of time spent tinkering on Google Apps. Slide design. Looking up citation information. Fumbling with creating charts from data. If we can eliminate some of the mindless procedural stuff, we can spend quality time on learning. Google’s got your back. Within the last year, they created the Explore tool. […]

Google’s Buried Treasure

Tricks and tools you’ve never seen!

Find this page: DitchThatTextbook.com/treasure

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Matt headshotMatt Miller is a teacher, blogger and presenter from West Central Indiana. He has infused technology and innovative teaching methods in his classes for more than 10 years. He is the author of the book Ditch That Textbook: Free Your Teaching and Revolutionize Your Classroom and writes at the Ditch That Textbook blog about using technology and creative ideas in teaching. He is a Google Certified Innovator, Bammy! Top to Watch in 2016, and winner of the WTHI-TV Golden Apple Award. Onalytica named him one of the top 10 influencers in educational technology and elearning worldwide.

Bring Matt to your school, district or event! Check out DitchThatTextbook.com/WorkWithMatt for more details or contact him at matt@DitchThatTextbook.com for information and availability.

Google Translate app: Use your camera to translate written text on signs. Click the camera icon and aim your camera at some text. Google Translate will translate it on the screen for you.

nGram Viewer: Google has scanned and indexed the words in thousands and thousands of books. Display a graph showing how often certain words show up over time.

Reverse Image Search: Using the standard Google Images search, upload a photo to see where it’s been used on the Internet. At Google Images, click the camera in the search bar. Upload your photo and see where it’s been.

Voice typing: Docs will let you type with your voice. In a Google Doc, go to Tools > Voice typing … and click the microphone. It will dictate what you say. (This also works for typing speaker notes in Google Slides.)

  • Voice typing: Click Tools > Voice typing … in Docs

Quick create new Google files: Instead of going to Google Drive and using the “New” button, try these links to create new files:

Quick Create extension: Instead of using the links above, install the Google Docs Quick Create extension. Click its icon in the top right of your Google Chrome browser and start a new file like that.

Extensity extension: Have too many extension icons in the top right of Chrome? Only run and display the ones you want with Extensity.

DriveSlides extension: Create a Google Slides presentation with images with a click of a button. Gather images in a folder in Google Drive. Open that folder in Drive and run the DriveSlides extension. DriveSlides creates a new presentation and drops each image on its own slide. Like magic. 🙂

SlideShot extension: Reflection is a good thing. Give students some visual evidence to help them reflect with SlideShot. SlideShot will take a screenshot of your screen every minute. When done, it will place each image on its own slide in a new Slides presentation. Students can flip back through and see what they did — and whether they spent their time wisely!

Quick, Draw!: Quick, Draw! tells you what to draw. Then, Google’s artificial intelligence tries to guess what you’re drawing. It’s a neat way to introduce students to artificial intelligence OR to look at how we convert words/ideas into images.

A.I. Duet: It’s a piano. You play some notes. A.I. Duet responds with its own notes. You make music together … with artificial intelligence.

YouTube Editor: You don’t have to shoot your own video to create a video on YouTube! Use clips from existing videos with YouTube Editor. Drag video clips in order. Decide how much of them you want to play. Add music or audio. When you’re done, your creation is uploaded to YouTube.

Google Keep: Google Keep is like virtual sticky notes that go wherever you do. Use the mobile app to take notes while on the go or type them into Keep in your web browser. Add images, create labels to organize and even color code. This will become your favorite organizational Google tool!

Incognito windows: Incognito isn’t a creepy tool to let you search for naughty things. When you use an Incognito window, it’s like all of the settings on your Google Chrome have been wiped. No account logged in. No location data. No cookies or anything. It’s useful to see things as if you’re not logged in (among others).

Set a timer: Want to give students a certain amount of time to complete a task? Do a Google search for “set a timer for two minutes” or any length of time. Google will create a timer for you and even start it automatically.

Searching instead of foldering: I used to be addicted to organizing my Drive by folders. Not anymore. I found that searching through folders is 2.5 times slower than doing a search to find a file.

  • Tip for finding files faster in Drive: Create a naming convention for your files. Example: For me, I included the class, the unit and the chapter in my naming code. A file from Spanish 2, unit 4, chapter 1 would always have this code in it: IIU4C1. If I searched for IIU4C1, it would pull everything up for that particular chapter.

Google Trends: Find out what’s hot in Google searches up to the moment. Filters let you see what’s popular in different countries over different time periods. You can even search preset categories.

Time Lapse in Google Earth Engine: Watch how the satellite images of the world have changed over the last 20+ years. Choose a location on the map and Time Lapse will show you how those images have changed in motion.

Customized email newsletters for every kid with Google Forms

Classroom newsletters are kind of hit and miss. If you’re sending photocopies of them home in students’ backpacks, I’ll bet your success rate is less than 50 percent. (And that’s being generous.) There’s a big reason I believe that these newsletters — which could be great parent/teacher communication tools — fall on deaf ears (or […]

10 add-ons to Google Classroom you MUST try

The basic functions of Google Drive and Google Classroom are only the starting point for the innovative and creative uses one can use in the classroom. Alice Keeler, my co-author in our upcoming book Ditch That Homework, proves that again and again. Alice is one of the only people I know personally who codes for […]

NEW Google Sites: 10 things teachers must know

I have a confession to make. I’m heavily invested in Google, being a Google Certified Innovator, using Google tools all the time and suggesting them to teachers. (No, that’s not the confession yet …) I’ve had great things to say about so many Google products over the years. Except one: Google Sites. I think “despise” […]

5 ideas for using Google Classroom’s new differentiation and grouping feature

One huge drawback of using Google Classroom has been the inflexibility of creating assignments. Everything you assigned had to go to every student. Deliver assignments to small groups? Ha! Differentiate to subsets of students? Nah. Until now. Google announced a few changes to Google Classroom, and this one was the bombshell: assign activities to small […]