Tag Archives: google apps for education

Explore Tool in G Suite for Education

explore tool

The Explore Tool is in the lower right corner of any Docs, Slides, or Sheets document.

Google Apps for Education recently announced that it will now be known as G Suite for Education. Along with the rebranding, some other updates were made. Most notable for teachers, the Research Tool has been eliminated and replaced by the Explore Tool, which has some benefits and but also a significant shortcoming.

First, the bad news. Gone is the ability to add citations and footnotes directly into a document using the Research Tool. For teachers and students, this is an unfortunate setback. Being able to easily and quickly identify sources is an essential research skill. What used to be an onerous task, was made simple by the Research Tool. One click on Cite automatically inserted a citation and footnote. We hope that Google will reinstate this function soon. In the meantime, in my next post, I’ll include some online citation makers that create a citation with the click of a button!

The good news is that you can still search without leaving the document. Spending less time switching between apps allows students to focus on the assignment and its content.

In Docs, clicking on the Explore Tool offers three options: WEB, IMAGES, and DRIVE.

Enter a topic into the search box. WEB results include a title, URL, and short snippet summarizing the website. Clicking on a link opens a new browser tab.
explore search results

Clicking on IMAGES offers a gallery of pictures related to the search term. To insert an image into the document, simply drag it where it is to be placed. It will, by default, be in line but text wrap can be changed by selecting the image and choosing Wrap text.
explore tool images

Selecting DRIVE looks in your Google Drive for files that include the search term.

If the Explore Tool is opened when there is already text in the document, instant search suggestions are given based on the contents. Google calls this ‘insight’ and it does seem to work quite well.

The Explore Tool is consistent in Sheets and Slides. In Sheets, use the Explore Tool to ask questions about data using words if you do not know how to construct a formula. Formula and formatting suggestions are offered based on the content of the spreadsheet. In Slides, the Explore Tool also offers design suggestions as well as search results.

The research recommendations, design tools, and insight capability of this new tool make it an effective and productive update to G Suite for Education.

Reflection Questions for Biography Projects

biography reflection questions

Biographies do more than inform readers about a remarkable life. These true life stories explain the contributions of a notable person. A study of a hero or famous figure provides advice and insight for life lessons. Biographies can offer motivation and inspiration as the reader makes connections to their own experiences. Reflection after reading or writing a biography provides further learning. History becomes more meaningful and relevant. As students consider the positive contributions of a successful life as well as the struggles, mistakes, failures and character flaws, they can find things in common with their own lives.

Biographies and You: Reflection Questions

After a biography study, students pick a question, discuss their insights with their peers, and write a short response.
reflection questions for biographies

  1. How does the person inspire you to act?
  2. How does the life of this person make you believe your dreams can come true?
  3. What hope for the future does this person give to you?
  4. What character trait does the person possess that you wished you had? Why?
  5. What was the person’s secret to success? How can you apply this secret to your own life?
  6. What can you do today as a direct result of the person’s contributions?
  7. What emotions does this person make you feel?
  8. How does their life story help you to understand a different viewpoint?
  9. What change has happened in the way you think as a result of reading the biography?
  10. What experiences did the person have that are similar to your own life?
  11. What character traits do you share with the person?
  12. What fact did you find most interesting about the person? Why?
  13. Who do you know that is similar to the person? How are they the same?
  14. What do you think would be different today if the person had not lived?
  15. What celebrity should play the person in a movie? Why?
  16. What does this person’s life tell you about the time in which they lived?
  17. Why would you recommend this biography to another reader?
  18. If you could talk to the person, what question would you ask?
  19. Would you like to be the person? Why or why not?
  20. Would you like to be the son or daughter of the person? Why or why not?

TechnoBiography is a project-based technology project reflection questionsin which students are guided through online research about a notable figure, write a personal history organized with headings, list contributions with a graphic organizer, and create a table showcasing artifacts. The completed Ebook is shared in Google Apps or Office 365 Online.

Research Sources – Know the Difference

research sourcesResearch projects are an integral component of curriculum. Students select an area of inquiry and then they explore to investigate the topic. As educators, we focus on helping students to develop competent research strategies and prepare them for success. Students should recognize authentic, trustworthy sources. They should also be aware of the different types of resources: primary, secondary, and tertiary sources of information. And, searching these sources in a logical order promotes a systematic, proficient, and comprehensive understanding.

In TechnoBiography, students are guided through the research process. They begin by looking at sample biographies, then brainstorm, complete a planning organizer, and finally investigate all three different types of sources of online data – primary, secondary, and tertiary – in a structured order.

Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Sources

Primary Sources
Primary sources of information are original artifacts, documents, research sourcesrecordings, or other sources of information about a topic. They offer first hand, original evidence. For students studying a biography, here are some examples of primary sources:

What did the person say or write?

  • speech or transcript
  • journal article
  • diary entry
  • letter or email
  • notebook
  • postcard
  • interview
  • personal blog
  • telegram
  • autobiography
  • social media post by person
  • video testimonial
What documents relate to life events?

  • birth certificate
  • marriage license
  • school report card or diploma
  • contract or agreement
  • membership card
  • act or treaty
  • warrant
  • passport or citizenship certificate
  • driver’s license
  • property deed
  • baptism certificate
  • will
What did the person make?

  • book or poem
  • artwork
  • song sheet
  • play
  • manuscript
  • invention
  • architecture
What did the person do?

  • photograph
  • video footage of live event
  • audio recording of live event
  • newspaper article of live event
  • eyewitness account of live event
  • medieval tapestry
  • experiment results
What awards of recognition were given?

  • trophy or plaque
  • medal or prize
  • certificate of recognition
What items did the person own?

  • vehicle
  • clothing or jewelry
  • instrument

Primary Source Tips:

  1. Timing Matters: A primary source is created at the time of the event or shortly after.
  2. No Judgement: A primary source is raw data and has not been interpreted by someone else.
  3. Verify Authenticity: Check the source of the artifact. It should be posted by a reliable source such as a museum, reputable organization, or official fan club.
  4. Copy of Original: A primary source is often one-of-a-kind or rare. Since there is a limited number, the artifact can be the actual item, digital copy, or exact replica.

Secondary Sources
Secondary sources of information research sourcesare created after an event has occurred or by someone who did not experience or participate in the event first-hand. In the case of a biography, the information was written or recorded by someone else about the person. Secondary sources often include opinions about the event or person so they have value in analyzing its importance or significance.

  • biography
  • newspaper editorial
  • magazine story
  • movie of historical event
  • documentary
  • review
  • non-fiction book
  • expert commentary
  • social media post by others
  • fan website
Secondary Source Tips:

  1. Find Trustworthy Sources: Use secondary sources from universities, government agencies, historical societies, organizations, museums, biography TV networks, or official fan pages. Avoid sources where the author or creator is unknown.
  2. Consider the Perspective: The creator has a purpose for making the secondary source. These reasons may cause them to hide facts, distort events, or draw false conclusions. Look for sources that are objective and unbiased.
  3. Check References: A secondary source will often list books, websites, or other sources of information. Use them to research.

Tertiary Sources
Tertiary sources of information offer broad research sourcesintroductory overviews of a topic gathered from a variety of sources. They have usually been contributed to by a number of authors and reviewed to ensure accuracy. Examples are encyclopedias or dictionaries. Like secondary sources, they may contain an interpretation or evaluation in addition to facts.

Order is Important in Research

When conducting a research project, knowing the different types of sources of information is essential. But the resources should be used in a logical order too. Start with a basic outline, then move on to find out the importance of the topic, and finally explore the original evidence:

  1. Begin with tertiary sources to get a general summary from a variety of sources.
  2. Search secondary sources to gain a deeper understanding and discover other viewpoints and perspectives on the topic.
  3. Then examine primary sources to view first-hand, original artifacts or evidence. Study the raw data to draw your own conclusions.

Top 3 Reasons to Read and Write a Biography

TechnoBiography

In TechnoBiography, the newest technology project introduced by TechnoKids Inc., students select a notable person and learn how to write a biography. They are guided through the research process, learn how to write a personal history using headings, create a graphic organizer highlighting contributions, and showcase online artifacts related to the person.

But why is reading or writing about a famous or remarkable figure valuable?

biography technology project

In TechnoBiography, select a remarkable person, learn how to research, then write a biography.

1. A Biography Integrates Curriculum and Technology

An indepth investigation into a remarkable person can fit into almost all curriculum areas: language arts, history, social studies, science, art, or computer studies. Here are some ideas:

  • Write a Life Story: Practice expository writing. Write an engaging life story that offers insight into a person. Captivate reader’s attention.
  • Celebrate a Historical Figure: Develop a deeper understanding of a historical period. Research the contributions of a historical figure. Explain their importance to the past and influence on future events.
  • Acknowledge a Hero: Inspire others with the accomplishments of personal hero, role model, mentor, or newsmaker. Detail their successes and challenges. Outline reasons their efforts are admirable.
  • Investigate Scientific Contributions: Appreciate amazing research findings and inventions. Outline the path to discovery of a scientist. Explain how their work has improved the lives of others.
  • Appreciate the Arts: Learn about an art period or artistic style by studying a famous artist. Examine their artwork. Describe its meaning and how it influenced other artists.
  • Develop Word Processing Skills: Introduce advanced word processing skills in a computer studies course. Learn to customize styles, insert a table of contents, draw a graphic organizer, organize data using tables, adjust page layout, and add bookmarks.

2. A Biography Provides Inspiration

Reading about the real life story of a successful or remarkable person often influences, motivates, or provides encouragement. As students learn about the challenges that others have overcome, they can make connections to their own lives. They may recognize the hardships that a historical or contemporary figure has faced and relate them to their own struggles. The insight gained in studying a biography can include an affective, emotional component beyond curriculum objectives.

3. A Biography Teaches Life Lessons

Even though the practical skills learned in school – how to solve complex math problems, how to write an essay, or maybe even how to program a computer – are important skills for career, there are other critical lessons students need. Learning about the life story of a successful person can teach essential life skills, such as:

  • persevere to achieve goals
  • maintain a fair perspective and recognize other viewpoints
  • listen to learn from others
  • learn to be independent without relying on the opinion of peers
  • take personal responsibility and accountability for your choices and actions
  • develop a love of learning
  • deal with failure
  • be kind, helpful, and considerate of others

Learning from the real experience of others is a great tool to help young people grow into successful, contributing members of society.