Our teachers have been working with students on their expository writing lately and have been perplexed about the spelling checker in Google Docs. For some students, it works, for others, not so much. I did notice many of our students had never selected their language choice in the Drive Settings. I would encourage everyone to do that. To complete this task:
  • Go to Drive and click on the Gear.
  • Select Settings.
  • Select Change Language Settings.
  • Select English, United States.
The next thing I noticed was many of the students didn't have their Spelling Suggestions turned on. To do that:
  • Go to the View Menu in Docs.
  • Check Show Spelling Suggestions.
Now having said all of that, I honestly don't give much praise for the spell checker in Docs. It needs a serious upgrade...or better yet, allow Grammarly for Chrome to do its thing! However, there is a really cool Docs Add-on called GradeProof. This add-on is pretty great, it's free and easy to use. The hardest part was creating an account! That would have been easier if they provided a Google Button to create the account with! Anyways, to get started, you simply go to the Add-on menu and start GradeProof. It analyzes what's been written in the areas of:
  • Spelling
  • Grammar
  • Phrasing
  • Eloquence

When you click on the See Suggestions button (that's when you create your account), it takes you through all of their suggestions. You have the choice to make the changes or not. When I suggested the teacher check it out, a couple of her students said they were already using it and really liked it. So there you go...from the mouths of students. It must be good!

Additionally, a new feature in Google Docs is the Explore button found in the bottom right corner of the doc. It instantly makes suggestions based on the content of your writing. This tool replaces the Research tool and does many of the same things except create citations. For that, using a Chrome extension like Cite This For Me is a great option.  


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Money for your classroom...who doesn't love that? Right now the window is open to apply for a $1000 teacher grant from Directv! Simply submit a 400-500 word essay on how the technology could impact your classroom. The top three teachers who submit the most innovative ideas will win these grants! Click here to find out more and then prepare to amaze the judges with your innovative use of technology!
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This year I had a 5th-grade math teacher, Judy Jaisle, who wanted to get her students blogging about their math learning journey. I was so excited at this opportunity to give students an outlet for reflection and teaching. After all...isn't that the highest form of learning? 

We used Blogger and set up their blogs in the computer lab, but they are actually using iPads to do their blogging. I've been amazed at the ease with which these students took to blogging!

Since getting the 5th-graders up and running, a 4th-grade ELAR teacher, Lucy Morales and, 3rd-grade Bilingual teacher, Martha Lackey have also gotten their students blogging. Student comments and excitement for this have been fun to witness. Yes...learning CAN be fun!

I love using Blogger because there are several measures that can be taken to ensure students are safe. Currently, their blogs are unlisted, all comments are closed to their classmates only and are all moderated. What a great opportunity these students have to reflect on their learning in a real-world context. Who knows, we may be cultivating skills for the next Earnest Hemmingway or Harper Lee.




  

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I ran across this great post on using Socratic Questioning in the math class that identified the six types of Socratic Questions and then proceeded to provide specific examples of what these look like when learning math. Click here to check it out. 

When paired with the Padlet iOS or Android app, you could really leverage the ability to get students having math conversations. Just pose a question and have pairs of students use the video option to make a "Selfie Video" responding to a Socratic prompt. Boom...instant math conversation.

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