Sweet Searching with Google

There are so many search tools available in Google that this past August when I presented at the Google Teacher Academy in Boulder, Colorado, I named my presentation “Google Search: At A Mile A Minute”. I spoke as fast as I could and showed as much as I could in the 30 minutes I was allotted.

But, I have to tell you that it’s tough to stay on top of all the options that Google comes out with for Search. It is worth the effort though.

Today at the monthly NJECC meeting, Samantha Morra, Sarah Rolle, Liz Bagish and I will be presenting part 1 of a 2 part series on Google Apps to our organization. We are all Google Certified Teachers, so we divided up the topics we wanted to cover and I chose Google Search.

This is the list of Search features I’ll be demonstrating and why I chose these specifically. (Bear in mind that I only have about 25 minutes.)

Google Show Options – We’ll be talking about addressing all learners and looking in information in different formats.

Wonder Wheel

Timeline

Also along these lines we’ll look at Google Squared.

I’d also like the group to know that their schools can import their entire libraries into Google Books and what information they can see about each book there. I’ll focus on:

  1. Table of Contents
  2. Searching the Book
  3. Popular Passages
  4. Book Reviews
  5. References from other Books
  6. References from Scholarly Works

This will lead nicely into Scholar Search which we’ll touch on briefly. (Well, everything will be brief, right?)

We’ll cover that Google Scholar searches:

  • Reputable articles
  • Journals
  • Books

We’ll also make clear that Google Scholar does not search:

  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Blogs
  • Popular websites

I wanted to show the NEW Google Image Swirl and I will when I show everyone some advanced Image Search strategies including Similar Images, usage rights and searching by color, picture size and style.

We’ll look at Insights for Search and what the trending topics are for New Jersey for the last 30 days. We’ll talk about how students can compare this information to other parts of the U.S. and other countries.

Lastly, we’ll make sure that people know how to be alerted to any information that is important to them using Google Alerts. I will demonstrate to benefit of Google Alerts and suggest them for your school, district, people you know (like relatives), yourself and topics you are interested in.

I’m hoping everyone is able to learn a few new search techniques. Everyone has their own style, so not every tool I show them will necessarily meet their needs or the needs of the students in their classrooms. And I know I’m leaving so many great search tools out. But I only have 25 minutes. :)

7 Steps to a Twitter MakeOver

TwitterMakeover

If this visual looks familiar to you then you are
either in need of a Twitter Makeover or know someone who is.

There are ten items that people might look at when they check out your Twitter page to decide if they want to include you in their personal learning network (PLN).

1. Don’t go with the default Twitter background. I’m not saying you have to go and upload a background from Twitterbackgrounds.com, but at the very least, click on the Settings button at the top, right corner of your Twitter window. Once you are in Settings, click on the Design tab and then select from one of the preset Themes. Click “save changes” and you will have a nice new background for your Twitter home page.

2. We know the Twitter bird is cute and that it comes in several different colors, but nothing says you are a Twitter newbie more than the Twitter default avatar. All you need to do is have a picture saved somewhere. It can be on your hard drive, it can be on your shared drive or a thumb drive. It can even be on a photo CD. You just need a picture of SOMETHING. Then click on the Settings button at the top, right corner of your Twitter window. Once you are in Settings, click on the Picture tab and then click on the Browse button. Locate the picture that you want to use and then click the Open button. Click Save and you are all set with a personalized avatar.

3. What goes under your name in the top, right-hand corner on your Twitter page, is your location. You need to let folks know where you are. What country is a great start. The more specific you are, the better. To fill out your location, go back to the Settings page and look about half-way down for the Location slot. You will answer the question “Where in the world are you?”.

4. Underneath your location will be your “one line bio”. This is so important as this is going to be where you will indicate that you are an educator. If you do not fill this information out, most educators will not follow you. Actually, most educators are looking to see in what area of education you teach. Be as specific as you can. To fill out your “one line bio” go back to the Settings page and look about half-way down. Twitter allows you up to 160 characters for this.

5. Tweet something interesting. Are you looking to develop a reciprocal relationship or are you looking to lurk? If you are looking to lurk, you can actually just use Twitter Search and you don’t have to sign up for a Twitter account. But if you are looking to develop a PLN in the Twitterverse, then you have to start contributing. Tweeting that you are “sitting in a workshop” or “trying out Twitter” isn’t really a productive contribution. You might want to consider Tweeting something that you have recently bookmarked or seen someone else Tweet. Also, you can Tweet the URL to a website that you have used with your students or colleagues and say why you used it.

6. Find people to follow. The people that you follow tells a lot about what you are interested in. Your potential Followers may scan the list to get an idea of what you are interested in. Consider using the following sites to help you find other educators to follow:

7. Don’t protect your updates. If you do this, potential followers can’t see who you are.  This is what you look like to them and as someone new to Twitter it says you are not looking to be a part of a reciprocal relationship.

protectedWell, I was going to write up a list of 10 steps, but it turns out it only takes 7. I met with most of the teachers from the Center‘s 21st Century Learning Initiative for a second time this past week after having them use Twitter and Diigo for about a month and decided that we would do “Twitter Makeovers” on many of them. What a great group of educators willing to try new tools to learn and share!!

Do You Have a Handout for That?

I recently spoke at a conference where the anticipated attendance was 16,000. There were 30 laptops set up with 60 seats and then overflow seating for another 40 people. I gave 5 presentations over 2 days. I didn’t know before I got there how many people I was going to see and now that I’m home, I still don’t know. But I can tell you that at least 10 people asked me if I had a handout I could give them. There were also many attendees that commented about it. I was grateful to see this Tweet from NJ educator Brian McLaughlin.

brian

I think sometimes as educators, we are accustomed to getting everything on paper. But what really happens to it? We stick it in a folder, we throw it away, or it gets lost in a an ever-growing pile of papers collecting on our desk.

Here are some tools that I’ve been using and have seem some other educators use to share information and resources during presentations and professional development sessions:

Google Docs
Click on Share — Publish as Webpage and Google Docs will assign you a unique public URL (link) for your document. You still will be the only one that has rights to edit your Google Doc, unless you invite Collaborators, but you can use this feature to share a digital agenda, list of links, or anything that you would have printed out in the past. Here’s a sample… http://docs.google.com/View?id=ddn2z86w_3dn2hs4fj

http://www.scribd.com/
On Scribd, you can upload a Word or PDF file and they will convert it into a web document. This way your attendees have access to it on their computers. All you have to do is share the URL  with them. Here’s a sample…http://www.scribd.com/doc/17245218/Discovery-Education-Whats-New-2009

Wikis
http://www.wikispaces.com/
http://sites.google.com
http://pbworks.com/
Wikis will allow you to embed more than one type of content on them. Like I did for my presentations at the NJEA Convention, I included links to websites, embedded videos and gadgets to PollEverywhere and Slideshare. These are pieces of information you really can’t print out. Here’s a sample… http://njea-tis-09.wikispaces.com/shoestring-did-you-say-that-was-free

Glogster
Glogster advertises itself as “a creative, dynamic, and innovative digital outlet that captures learner’s excitement for online creations, keeps learners engaged in course content, and makes teaching and learning more fun.” This is great, but to summarize, it allows us to provide our attendees (whether they are students or educators) with a digital resource rather than a printed one. Here’s a sample… http://udltechtoolkit.wikispaces.com/

Wallwisher
Wallwisher defines itself as a “web page where people actually post messages.” The great part about this is that you don’t need an account with Wallwisher in order to post a note on a Wall. So you can have the folks in your session contribute ideas or links to the wall and then save the URL to refer back to. There’s no need to print out anything during the workshop and run and go make copies as they’ll always have access to the information. Here’s a sample… http://wallwisher.com/wall/techforum09

Do you have any tools you are using with your students or in professional development to eliminate unnecessary handouts and to increase productivity? Please share them!

Final Preparations for #NJEA09

I was honored when the folks that ran the NJEA Technology Institutes this past July invited me to run some sessions at the NJEA Convention this fall. I had remembered reading the blog posts and Tweets from fellow NJ educators while they were in the High Tech Hall last November and felt a bit envious that there was such a large gathering of local teachers interested in using technology to improve teaching and learning in the classroom that I couldn’t be a part of. But this year, I’ll be there in Classroom 2.

My good friend and colleague, Kevin Jarrett, has been sharing resources with me and the others involved in the showcase. Here’s a map to the High Tech Hall as well as the two Classrooms that will be in the Convention Center dedicated to the technology integration. I was also able to (finally) find a link to the online program guide on the NJEA website.

program

I’m presenting five one-hour sessions with the theme: Stretching Your Technology Dollar –  Shoestring Innovations

Thursday, November 5

9:00am Thinking Inside the Box

11:30am Did You Say That Was Free?

1:00pm Are We Teaching Standard Students?

Friday, November 6

9:00am This Is Not Your Grandmother’s Google

11:30am Don’t Be Late-That’s So 2008

Each session will be hands-on in Classroom 2 which is loaded with computers. The way I understand it, you can’t sign up for a seat, so you’ll need to come down to the High Tech Hall a little on the early side should you see a session that peaks piques your interest. While you are there, there are tons of mini sessions going on and there are other one-hour workshops in Classroom 2 as well.

I’m looking forward to networking with and learning from many folks I don’t get to see face-to-face too frequently. I hope to see you there too!!