23 More Google Apps

It seems like it has been a while since I have posted an update, but with the holiday, I’m not surprised.  One thing I found while on vacation was that Google has made 23 more apps available for Google Apps users.  This has been a long time coming and I’m excited that schools finally have the opportunity to begin using more of these tools in their classrooms.  Here are a couple of the apps that are new that I’m excited about:

Blogger: For those who don’t know, blogger is a Google’s blogging platform and is quite simple for teachers and students to begin blogging and sharing their ideas with the rest of the world.  I know many teachers that have been frustrated in the past with the lack of access to this app.  However, now teachers can begin having their students complete blogging activities in their courses and help students develop a reflective voice that is necessary for life long learning.

Reader: Central to my PLN is my Google Reader page.  I follow a number of blogs from educational techology, to politics, to design, to weird and wacky news.  I have found that through the use of Google Reader that I have become more informed with what is happening in my field as well as staying abreast of what’s happening in the rest of the world.  Living in a rural state it is easy to become isolated with the lack of different ideas coming at you everyday.  Through the use of Google Reader I have been able to have my beliefs challenged, which has made me a better educator and person.

Picasa Web Albums: Picasa has become one of the ways I share pictures with family, friends, and co-workers, not to mention it is the place that I use to upload images to use on Web sites as slideshows.  This may be a simple app, but it does open the doors for increased multimedia applications in the classroom, whether it be through an annotated slideshow that tells a story or simply a way to share pictures of a class field trip.

Having access to additional google apps has made teaching more flexible.  Teachers now have more resources in their arsenal that are now easier to use since students don’t need to have an additional email account to access certain apps.  Not to mention the fact that IT admins now have greater control over these sites, so if a student violates an AUP, they can now restrict access to the apps, as well as follow other compliance policies.  This is a very exciting time and I can’t wait to see how teachers in all areas integrate some of these apps into their instruction.

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Something for my Language Arts teachers

I was introduced to a new online resource many of my language arts teachers might be interested in using with their classes.  It is called 60 Second Recap.  This Web site is very similar to cliff note or spark notes, but instead of being in text form, the site provides information about the novel via a 60 second video.  I was somewhat skeptical when I first viewed the site, but now that I have watched a couple book, yes watched, weird, I feel this can actually be of some use for students.  The library isn’t very extensive, but you can sign up for a free account and request a recap.  There are a lot of big name books, like: Pride and Prejudice, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Hamlet, Animal Farm, etc.

The site is quite interesting and if you have some time, please take a minute to check it out: http://www.60secondrecap.com/

Pearson Sponsors K12 Ning Sites

Ning LogoOver the past couple school years, many of you have been using Ning in your classrooms.  However, recently Ning changed its pricing plans and will no longer be offerring its services for free.  There is a way you can still create a Ning site for free though.  What you need to do is apply for Pearson sponsorship and you will get a free Ning Mini site, which limits you to 150 users.  The only catch is that you have to add Pearson as a friend on your network.

For most networks, this won’t be a big deal since Pearson doesn’t interact with your class in any way.  Go to this Web site for more information and get started now!