9 Google Resources to Support Reading



Google Read

The doubling of knowledge will happen every twelve hours, according to IBM, because of the “internet of things” and the ease in which we have the capacity to publish and share. With this dynamic pool of information available to students, it is essential to equip them with skills necessary to locate reliable and relevant information. Over the past two years, I have collected digital resources, apps, and extensions that will assist educators in this endeavor, as well as in the areas of inquiry, writing, and multimodal creations (all will be subsequent posts).

The following are 9 of my favorite Google resources to support reading (**Bonus 3 at the end):

  1. Google Cultural Institute – Google Cultural Institute makes the “world’s culture accessible anyone, anywhere.” Students can explore collections and exhibits from around the world.
  2. Google Trends – Google Trends helps users explore the world’s information through the data it generates. Search trends, YouTube views, to patterns found in correlating terms and topics are all available for analysis.
  3. Google Scholar – Google Scholar helps students find relevant and reliable scholarly literature. Search across disciplines, types, and research to access peer-reviewed sources. Add to your personal library and automatically cite information correctly.
  4. Google Books – Google Books works just like a search engine. Search by topic, grade level, and even author. Download and read books on any device. Google Books also allows users to upload their own documents, bookmark while reading and add to their personal library.
  5. Newsela – Newsela is a unique way to increase reading comprehension by providing student access to nonfiction news. Every article has 5 levels, allowing readers to access the same information at their independent reading level. Access to Common-Core aligned quizzes follow the articles, allowing comprehension learning targets to be met with confidence.
  6. Google Primary Sources – Google Primary Sources is a custom search engine which allows users to search thousands of primary sources. Search by topic, date, name, etc. to locate primary sources.
  7. Read & Write for Google – Read & Write for Google is a Chrome app which supports reading, writing, and research. Select text to be read aloud, define highlighted words, and translate text into other languages, and summarize text on web page.
  8. Google Similar Pages – Google Similar Pages is a Chrome app that helps students locate additional web pages similar to the ones the have found valuable. Accessing additional information and sources aligned with previous sources.
  9. Google News – Google News is a personalized news site aggregated with headlines from news from around the world. This comprehensive source customizes information according to reader’s preferences and offers diversity from around the globe.

3 Bonus Resources for our younger readers. Kid-friendly search engines, perfect for elementary students!

  1. Kidrex
  2. GoGooglians
  3. Kidz Search



Technology and Student-Centered Assessment

Formative and summative assessment are familiar terms to most students and educators. When used intentionally, both assessment types can be used to identify student needs and help educators design differentiated learning opportunities. Student-Centered Assessment, on the other hand, is a less familar term with many educators. Student-Centered Assessment can be used during the process of learning, at the end of units, or even extend across a student’s year. The three key components that all Student-Centered Assessments have in common are: identified standards and learning targets, they are best utilized during the learning process, but can be adapted to also serve a more summative need, and finally, they are designed to be used by the student! Below are three specific examples, along with technology tools that I find fit the desired intent.

  1. Self-Assessment – When used while the learning is taking place, self-assessment is an effective tool which places ownership in assessing and learning back into the hands of the student. Self-assessment promotes learning by having students reflect upon their strengths and weakness in their own work. When used during the process of learning instead of at the end of the learning, self-assessments generate areas that are personal to the students, a time to revise and rework their product, and the ability to measure their work to the learning targets, standards, and personal skills. Self-assessment can be in the form of rubrics, checklists, or evidenced in written or oral responses.                 Google Keep would be an excellent digital tool to support the use of checklists in self-assessment. Google Keep is simple to use, easy to share, and is customizable for use. Google Keep Options
  2. Peer-Assessment – Similar to Self-Assessment, Peer-Assessment is best done during the learning process. In fact, it makes no sense to have students use this tool after the product is completed. Peer-Assessment employs students giving feedback to each other that is specific and evidenced by specific examples that are aligned to the learning target. Many educators find this tool great in theory, but students struggle when applying. Scaffolding, modeling, and clear expectations are needed to not only help students find areas of focus in another peer’s work; but also, explicit instruction and practice of soft skills that address collaboration and communication? How does one effectively work with a peer in a collaborative setting. What type of feedback is most valuable? With these objectives in mind, along with the professional understanding that the student doing the fixing is the one doing the learning; utilizing something like the “Suggesting” setting in Google Docs provides a digital tool to support Self-Assessment. “Suggest Edits” instead of directly writing on the work, editing, or even commenting, shifts revision and reflection back to the author of the piece.                          Adding Suggestions to Google Doc
  3. Portfolios – Two types of Portfolios are commonly used in the educational setting. First, a portfolio can be used as a “Process Portfolio”. A process portfolio would be documentation of a students growth, from novice to master, typically based within a unit and have an identified group of standards or learning target. When used throughout the learning, process portfolios can act as a documentation of a student’s journey in learning. It can help them set goals, and serve as a visual to remind students where they began and how their understanding transformed during the unit. A second type of portfolio found in educational settings is that of a summative collection of their best work. While examples of student’s learning could be placed throughout the learning process, a summative portfolio demands the student to reflect on their work throughout the year, evaluate it against the determined standards or learning targets, and then justify the pieces they place within the portfolio as the ones demonstrating their best work. Summative portfoliosare best used organically, and travel and change with the student as they progress through grades.                                                                      Google Sites would be a versatile, digital tool for either type of portfolio. From embedding images, documents, and videos; to uploading mp3s of vocal solos or embedding multimodal creations, Google Sites have always been a perferred choice with my former students.                                       Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 12.18.47 AM

Resource Used: Students at the Center



5 Chrome Apps/Extensions Literacy Teachers Need to Add Now!

Untitled drawing (11)

A common question I receive from literacy teachers is what apps and extensions I have added to my Chrome browser. While my list is extensive, I have chosen 5 apps and extensions that I feel literacy teachers should consider adding to their own browser. First, let me simplify the difference between an app and extension.

Extension – Extends your web browser improving functionality. The icon for your extensions on located on the top, right side of the web browser.

App – An app, added to your chrome browser, acts as a portal to transport you to a different interface than you are currently on.

  1. Nearpod -Nearpod is a classroom tool that allows interations and assessment options. Nearpod is a Chrome App that engages students and is device-friendly. I also like the multiple question/response options provided. From an open-ended response option to a drawing one, using your trackpad or touch-screen, Nearpod is an essential to explore!
  2. Snagit – Snagit is a Chrome extension by TechSmith. Use Snagit to caputre your screen. Grab an image from your screen, record a video of your screen and share seemlessly, or create a GIF from a short video. Snagit would be great for annotations, demonstrations, and can easily be shared with others, making it perfect for collaboration.
  3. Padlet – Padlet extension allows you to post the link to any  webpage to a previously created “wall”. This extension would be a quick way to share resouces with students, or could be used collaboratively to support small group work.
  4. Newsela – Newsela is a Chrome app.
    Newsela publishes daily new articles that are leveled to support readers needing the same content but are at different reading levels. Newsela also provides core alignment and a set of comprehension questions for students utilize.
  5. Easybib – The world’s largest citation machine. Click the extension to cite the webpage, apply specific formatting, recieve information on the credibility of the website. The amount of digital information available online magnifies the need to model to our students the reliability, relevance, and citation information of online sources.

These 5 apps and extensions are useful additions for any educator to add to their browser. Each, when applied and aligned to specific learning targets, support readers and writers. What favorites would you add to this list?

A Google Refresh Just In Time For School: 3 New Updates to Your Favorites

By now, I am sure you have noticed the change in the Google Logo.  According to the Salesforce.com blog, the evolution sparked by the fact that Google is no longer just a search engine people use on a desktop computer, instead, ” we’ve taken the Google logo and branding, which were originally built for a single desktop browser page, and updated them for a world of seamless computing across an endless number of devices and different kinds of inputs (such as tap, type and talk).”

largeNewGoogleLogoFinalFlat-a                                             newgoogleicons

But there are three other Google updates educators should be aware of:

  1. New Templates in Google DocsScreenshot 2015-09-03 at 9.42.47 PM – Find templates for many things, including resumes, essays with MLA format, lesson plan, brochures, and even flyers.  Access the templates by clicking on the “Docs Home” while in an opened Google Document.

Screenshot 2015-09-03 at 10.09.56 PM

Screenshot 2015-09-03 at 9.46.30 PM2.  Google Forms also has a fresh, new look. New colors and options in images and question types, plus a sleek interface, will allow users to customize forms in a unique way.     ****(If you want to create a form using the new Google Forms, opt in to the new version. When editing a form created using the old Forms, you may also see a link at the top to try out the new version.)

Screenshot 2015-09-03 at 9.51.12 PM3. Voice Typing allows inputting your ideas into a document vocally a snap. A great alternative to typing for students. Access this feature under the “Tools” tab in a Google Document. Upon initial test, the voice recognition was accurate to what I spoke!

Happy Googling!

Cross Discipline Literacy: Technology Infused Anticipatory Activities

Literacy- Content Strategies That Work (1)

Currently, I am digging deeper into cross-discipline literacy strategies to support the educators I serve. Many non-ELA educators find teaching and modeling literacy skills to students a daunting task. It is my goal to break-down common barriers that teachers face, and to equip them with research-backed strategies to implement into their own classroom.

Currently, I am reading, Improving Adolescent Literacy: Content Area Strategies at Work (Fisher and Frey), which I would recommend as an excellent resource with practical strategies, including supporting struggling readers and ELL students.

In the chapter entitled, “Attention Getters: Anticipatory Activities to Inspire Learning,” Fisher and Frey state that anticipatory activities should not be focused on behavior, for example, bell ringers, time-bound, but instead should be tied to the introduction of a new concept. Anticipatory activities should elicit curiosity, provoke questions, and evoke recall and activate background knowledge. These activities are not intended to provide entertainment, but instead, to scaffold learning so that the responsibility shifts to the student. In fact, they suggest to ground new learning in meaning-based inquiry.

Literacy- Content Strategies That Work

1. Demonstration

  • Display a theory, concept, or phenomenon
  • An interesting demonstration does not replace the need for deep exploration of a concept
  • Also important to tell students the “Why”
  • Technology Tip: Connect with Experts via Social Media and connect with experts for demonstrations, guest speakers, or other classrooms. Check out G+ for “hangouts” and communities (my students connected with poets to learn from and share with the poems they wrote)

2. Discrepant Events

  • Surprising or startling to command students’ attention
  • Staged performance
  • Powerful to aid in memory – emotional connection
  • Include music, art, dramatic play
  • Technology Tip: Students are passionate about censorship, bullying, etc. Use iphoneFakeText to create a fictitious conversation between two students or you and the principal to evoke an emotional connection and introduce a concept.

3. Visual Displays

  • Visual tools to construct knowledge
  • Active participation by the learner because of the interactive nature of “technoliteracies”
  • Construct, share, and interact with information
  • Technology Tip: Use Google Maps to view pictures pre and post a natural disaster, such as a tornado, tsunami, or fire. Let students experience the devastation, visually.

4. Thought-Provoking Questions

  • This helps to assist students in organizing information
  • Meant to appeal to emotional channels of learning
  • May be general (KWLSH)  or more specific to the unit and encourage interdisciplinary examination “What is a hero?”
  • Driving or essential questions
  • Technology Tip: Use Popplet to have students mind-map and organize components to a specific concept.

Each of these instructional strategies can be used to introduce a new concept and provide meaningful work for students! And although these strategies may not be considered new, they provide a specific reason of what, why and possibly why. The best part… they are not content-specific and can be applied across grade levels and content area.