Google Suite Sharing and Collaboration

In the July 15, 2018 issue of Digital Maestro Magazine, I cover the various options for sharing and collaborating on Google documents. This includes Docs for word processing. The word processor is quite capable of handling many of the common writing tasks. Some features are not as robust as those from Microsoft Word. Docs really shine when it comes to sharing and collaboration. 

Google has a presentation tool called Slides. It has a lot of great features. It easily handles most presentation duties. Animations and transitions are not as robust as those from Microsoft PowerPoint. It is easy to use and build content. It’s easy to insert images and video from the Internet. Sharing and distributing presentations is simple and convenient. 

A spreadsheet application is available through Google. It has a rich set of features. Most of the features are similar to those in Excel. There is a lot of flexibility when sharing and collaborating on Sheets. Publishing sheets have a variety of options. Sheets is useful as a dashboard for delivering graphic representations of data.

I will explore ways to share documents for collaboration. This includes giving other users edit access. Edit access allows others to freely add and modify content. 

Another way to collaborate is to provide accounts view and comment permission. Account users are free to leave comments on areas of the document. This includes words, sentences, and paragraphs. Users may replace or append text in their view. Editors see these recommendations and decide to accept or reject them.

There are plenty of ways to share documents. The most common way is to share with view-only access. View access allows anyone to see the contents of a document only. This is useful when distributing content digitally. A special link for sharing with view access for everyone is available. This link is useful when there is a need to share with lots of people. 

Sharing isn’t limited to online viewing or editing. There is a way to generate links that allow accounts to make their own copy of a document. This copy is sent to their Google Drive account. There are ways to generate special links that download a copy of documents. The copy is downloadable in a variety of formats. Download formats include Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and PDF.

Shared documents with view access open with the menu options for that document format. There is a way to generate a view of documents without displaying the menu. We provide a preview or published version that removes the menu.

I use all these options at one time or another during presentations, training, and professional development. My audience isn’t aware of how the documents are formatted. They just appreciate that it works.

Geometric Shapes and Scratch

In the July 1, 2018 issue of Digital Maestro Magazine, I explore the use of Scratch for teaching basic geometry skills. The first lessons begin with the basics. We draw squares and rectangles. Within each project, we learn to use the power of coding to calculate the perimeter and area. 

We take the lesson on squares and rectangles one step further. Students learn to create and reference variables in code. They code scratch to provide visual feedback on solutions for the area and perimeter.

The next set of lessons take us to right triangles. Right triangles take a little more coding and math to draw. We learn to use the Pythagorean theorem in our code to determine the hypotenuse. To draw the hypotenuse we need to introduce some trigonometry. We solve for the tangent and arc-tangent. The arc-tangent provides the angle to draw the hypotenuse. The angle is critical to orient the line. 

The final set of lessons takes us to circles. We have to option to use simple instructions to draw a circle. These instructions are best for younger students. A second option uses trigonometry to draw the circle. We use sine and cosine in our draw equation. 

This option provides greater flexibility. We can adjust the radius. We use the radius option to solve for the area and circumference of a circle. This skill extended with code to solve for the area and circumference of a circle. 

The projects will extend their skills with variables by creating sliders. Sliders work with variables and create a visual interface for values. Sliders are a good way for students to update the values in the equation.

The projects include events to trigger a program. You will learn how to create many event triggers. Different events triggers are used to run different portions of a program. There are triggers that use clicks on objects or keyboard presses. Keyboard presses include letters, numbers, and other keys like the spacebar.

Scratch uses a coordinate system like the coordinate system used in math. We learn how this system is different. Welearn to accommodate for the difference when drawing shapes. In the final step, we insert a backdrop that provides a visual for the coordinate system.

Scratch is a coding environment designed to help young children learn to code. It is part of an MIT project for education and young children. In the February 14th issue of Digital Maestro Magazine, I published a set of instructions. The instructions show how to set up an educator account and create accounts for students. 

With an educator account, we create accounts for students. An educator account includes options for creating classrooms. Students join these classrooms with a code. Classrooms are a way for students to submit their projects for review. Teachers create studios within classrooms to organize and curate student projects.

STEM with mBot LEDs

The mBot from Makeblock is a robot ideal for learning STEAM concepts. STEAM refers to Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math. STEAM is an extension of STEM with the inclusion of Arts. I like to include Research to form STREAM. Research incorporates reading and writing. It also includes vocabulary and academic language.

Google Classroom with Google Sites

A Google classroom must be created every year and assignments must be re-created every year. As teachers, we don’t teach the same way each year but the materials and resources remain fairly consistent. It would be nice if we could refer to these resources without the need to re-create the classroom and assignments.

Electricity and Coding with Tinkercad

Tinkercad is a free online service with applications for designing 3D models and electronic circuits. The circuit simulator has basic electronic components for assembling a variety of circuits. The simulator provides a way for us to integrate lessons on electricity. Students assemble circuits in a structured environment. The simulator is easy to use and appropriate for students of all ages.