Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Drawing a Blank!

This weekend I participated in the CUE Learning Revolution Online Summit Featuring Google for Education.  Just like at all great conferences, I learned many things.  One of my favorites, and also one of the simplest, involved Google Drawing and was showcased by Chris Aviles.

In my experience, Google Drawing is the most underused of the main Google Apps.  Teachers love Google Docs for word processing and collaborating, Google Forms for quizzes and surveys, and Google Slides for presentations.  Even Google Sheets, perhaps the most technical of the apps, are well-known because of the spreadsheets generated when Forms are used.  But what do you do with Google Drawing?  Maybe draw something that you insert in a Doc or Slide?  At least that's what I had done with it.  Until now.

Of course, Google Drawings are shareable and collaborative.  I knew that I could create a drawing and share it or create a drawing with other people.  What I didn't know was that I could create a drawing with words in the grey space surrounding the Drawing and those words would share too.  I thought the shared part was limited to the canvas itself.  This feature allows a student or teacher to create an interactive drawing activity where words can be moved to places in the drawing.

My district is focusing on helping students examine similarities and differences this year.  Along comes my interactive drawing.  Last year my principal introduced a Top Hat Strategy that I like for comparing and contrasting.  The brim of the hat houses the similarities; the body of the hat is divided into rectangles where the contrasting happens.  The Top Hat is sometimes preferred over the Venn Diagram, the compare/contrast standard, because it has more space for writing and is easier to organize text to directly contrast specific qualities.  

I used Drawing to draw a Top Hat of sorts that I could share with my students and included some words that could be used to examine similarities and differences:

I share it with students with the words in the grey space.  Then they can drag the words around and drop them in the correct place in the Top Hat.  Quick formative assessment that is also a powerful thinking strategy.  If I create a Top Hat template, then I can use it many times by just changing the headings.

Then I started thinking about other things I could use this for.  Insert images and labels so students can label a diagram.  KWL.  Plot diagram.  Timeline.  Cause and Effect.  Match the diagram with a sequence of events.  Concept map.  Writing planning.  Maps.  Vocabulary pictures.  Any graphic organizer.  Endless possibilities.

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