In 2022, you’ll want your tech to work at its best. Here are a few teacher-tested tips to help you get more out of your everyday tech tools.
From tech cleanups to nudges, these five fun tips are sure to help you recharge, reconnect and work smarter. Enjoy! Tap or click below to get started.
1. Google Earth Voyager
Google Earth is a great tool to help students explore and learn about the world, and now it can be used as part of the classroom, as long as you have Chrome.
The online application is a virtual rendering of Earth, which combines satellite images with Street View photos to create a seamless image that can be navigated easily. It’s available through a web browser on any device.
Another great feature in Google Earth is Voyager, a new showcase of interactive guided tours, quizzes and layers that aim to help educate everyone about the world around them. These include places-based stories curated by partners like National Geographic and HHMI Biointeractive, as well as an interactive tour of the world’s first humans.
In addition to these, there are also a number of other features that can help educators engage their students in learning. For example, a project with NASA (opens in new tab) helps students learn about letter shapes as they see them from space.
A collection of curated “map-based stories” called Voyager is also available that includes interactive tours of India’s railways and volcanoes, as well as historical trips to the locations documented in Anne Frank’s diary. The tours are a great way to encourage students to think about the places they visit.
Educators can use Voyager to build their own tours that can be shared with others. They can then add text, photos and video and draw on the map to tell their story.
Google is also adding a Timelapse feature to Voyager that enables users to explore a place in an animated timelapse mode. This is a great way to show students how time can change a landscape over time.
2. Google Drive
Google Drive is one of the most popular cloud storage services available, allowing you to store files on the web or your PC. The service also has a mobile app that lets you upload, view and edit your files on the go.
The main way to access your files on Google Drive is through its website. But the service also offers a desktop client, called “Backup and Sync from Google.” It creates a folder on your computer that is synced to all devices. You can also download its mobile app to keep your photos updated and to backup your phone.
Another way to get started with Google Drive is by creating a free account. This account will give you 15GB of free space on Drive, which should be enough for most people.
But if you need to store more than that, it’s important to know how to use Google Drive properly. It’s a powerful tool that will help you organize your documents and make them more accessible to others.
While Google Drive doesn’t have all the features that other cloud services do, it does offer a number of other helpful features, many of which are designed to help you work more efficiently. It has a variety of search features, and it can even recognize images and text in scanned documents.
It’s also got a number of third-party apps that can preview and open many different file types. These apps include image editing tools like Pixlr, a 3D modeling program called SketchUp and an organizational tool called Asana.
Google Drive also has offline mode, which allows you to store files on your computer and then view them without an internet connection. All of your changes will synchronize when you reconnect to the internet.
3. Google Music Lab
Google Music Lab is a set of free online music creation tools that were designed with education in mind. It offers 13 different interactive musical “experiments” that are fun, easy to use, and allow you to explore music in ways you might not normally.
Each experiment has a different focus. Some of these experiments are designed for students to play with their voice, while others allow them to make rhythms, draw pictures that become sound, and even create songs with a song maker.
The Song Maker tool is the most robust of the Chrome Music Lab experiments, allowing you to choose melodic instruments and color in a grid that includes two octaves. You can also change the tempo and adjust the scale (major, chromatic, or pentatonic).
Another great experiment is Rhythm, where you can create your own percussion rhythm patterns by clicking on a grid with alternating gray and white sections that represent music measures. Cute creatures play along as you create.
Using these tools in the classroom is a lot of fun, and many teachers are using them for cross-curricular or STEAM purposes. For example, the Chords experiment is a great way to teach students about major and minor chords on the piano.
There are also several other music creation tools in the Chrome Music Lab. Some of these, such as Spectrogram and Voice Snipper, require you to record the sound yourself. These are useful for demonstrating how music is created and can be used to introduce students to spectrograms and other music concepts.
This is an excellent alternative to more technical, traditional music software and is a great way for students to get hands-on experience in the creative arts. It’s also a lot easier to use, with a gentle learning curve, and can be played across devices.
4. What’s Going on in This Graph?
What’s Going On in This Graph is a free, weekly online feature that helps students build “graph” literacy. It’s a partnership between the New York Times Learning Network and the American Statistical Association (ASA) that encourages students to think critically about data visualizations through activities and questions drawn from recent top news coverage.
Each week, the New York Times publishes a graph, map or chart that was included in an article from the previous week. Then, on Thursday afternoons and Wednesdays through the school year, students are invited to share their observations of the graph in an online forum. The live moderation is facilitated by statistics teachers who answer student comments in real time and encourage students to go deeper with the graph.
The live moderation continues until Friday morning, at which point a new release of the graph is revealed. It includes the graph, additional questions and Stat Nuggets— concise definitions of statistical terms seen in the graph.
Many teachers use WGOITG as a “bell-ringer” at the start of class each week or to teach an entire class period. Others use it as an extension of a unit on quantitative and categorical data or as a supplemental activity for math, science or humanities classes.
In the classroom, teachers ask students to respond to two basic questions: what do you notice and what do you wonder? They also ask students to write a catchy headline that captures what the graph is showing.
This strategy is based on the Notice and Wonder teaching strategy developed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. It is a powerful way to build mathematical knowledge and develop critical thinking skills.
5. Gmail Nudges
Gmail has a new feature called Nudge that is meant to help you remember emails you might have forgotten to respond to or emails you sent that might need a follow-up. It uses AI to scan your email to identify these emails and nudge them to the top of your inbox automatically.
Google is also making a bunch of other improvements to its email platform. These include a new confidential mode, high-priority notifications, and a new nudge feature that uses AI to suggest replies for emails that the machine deems important.
Nudges are a useful way to keep your inbox clean and get the most important things done. They’re also an easy way to save you time if you’re often forgetful or overwhelmed.
In Gmail, Nudges appear as emails that are moved to the top of your inbox, with a message indicating that you need to reply or follow up on the conversation. They’re based on machine learning, so they’re not perfect, but they’re a great way to avoid missing an important conversation that you might otherwise forget about.
If you’re not a fan of this feature, there are ways to disable it. In the desktop version of Gmail, you can click the gear icon and then Settings. From there, you can choose to turn off both inbox nudges and sent folder nudges.
You can even change which messages receive a nudge by tapping on the three-dot menu at the top of the screen and choosing which ones you want to disable. You can also disable a nudge on an individual conversation by marking or unmarking the checkbox next to Suggest emails to reply to as desired, and Suggest emails to follow up on as desired.