Google Trends as the First Step in Research

A student is looking at an essay prompt, he or she is overwhelmed and intimidated. They’re torn because they can’t decide what they want to write about, but the teacher was so insistent on leaving the prompt more open to the students.

A student has chosen what to write on, but doesn’t know what angle to take with it.

Maybe they’re looking for a fast and analytical way to compare and contrast two or more concepts.

Fix all of this by putting Google Trends in front of students. Teachers can use Google Trends as a measure of popularity over time within the last decade or so, giving students a statistical understanding of cultural relevancy that they can then analyze to understand what pulls people toward certain things. For example, if you search the names of some Shakespeare plays, you can see that people search Shakespeare way more during conventional school seasons, dipping in winters and summers. It’s a whole new source of information that gives statistical data accurate to what is relevant in the world today.

Check it out!

Create the Wheel of Your Desire!

The intent of this mathematical activity is to have the students apply the Pythagorean Theorem and to show off their creative sides.  By this time, students would have discovered the Pythagorean Theorem (a^2 + b^2 = c^2) and that the theorem only works for right triangles.

The students will be using this knowledge to draw and label a nautilus-looking wheel titled the Wheel of Theodorus.  Explanation is in the link to the activity below.  While students are drawing their right triangles and thinking of what they want to draw using their wheel, they are applying the Pythagorean Theorem by labeling the sides of the triangles (legs and hypotenuse ← they have to use the theorem to find this guy) and labeling the right angles in each triangle.

That’s about it.  Short and Simple. Why not give it a try? Click on the link below to see the instructions to start making a Wheel of Theodorus of your own.  Have fun!!

The Wheel of Theodorus Activity

Featured Image: Jeremy’s Own Wheel (taken from camera)

Mapping Literary Adventures

For this project, I chose to use the My Maps feature of Google Maps to chart Odysseus’ journey home after the Trojan War. With this tool, I was able to place points at important locations, and in another layer, I included the pathways in the order that Odysseus visited them. This tool allows students not only to visualize the distance he traveled, but also to actually add up the approximate distance with the tool’s included distance measurements.

This tool also allows you to add images  and descriptions to the location points, further enriching the experience. I have added an image and description to the first point on the map as an example. If there was a way to have students editing this, it might be a good group or individual activity to have the students create descriptions, or identify important information to create a more complete representation of Odysseus’ (or any literary or historical) journey.

[googlemaps https://www.google.com/maps/d/embed?mid=1Jow5aTbmFS3px03RS9NBYHtb4sY&w=640&h=480]

Featured Image Source: “The illustration for the humorous book The General History Edited by Satyricon” by Alexander Yevgenievich Yakovlev accessed from Wikimedia Commons

 

I want to know why you find Science intimidating!

Students are always going to have a favorite subject or a classroom that they look forward to going into everyday.  When you are a teacher you have to learn to not take things personally and often your classroom will not be that safe haven for every single student. However I still want to know every single know of my students feelings about science and school in general. You cannot truly teach your students well until you understand them as a person. Because of this I explored using the google tool Google Forms. I created a survey that I would have my students take within the first couple days of a new school year.

I created a brief version of what I wanted, outlining the different topics I would want to cover. If they like science, if they think they are “good” at science, do they feel like they are a smart as they are ever going to be and what do they want to learn this year. These are the different topics that I would want to learn about from my students.

Understanding where your students frame of minds are when entering a science classroom can be key to running a successful classroom. If students are not interested in science I need to plan super engaging lesson initially to make sure to grab their attention. If students have specific requests about what they want to learn and I can incorporate them great! If I can’t maybe I can point them in the right direction to learn more about it. I need to know whether my students have growth mindset or whether that is something I need to incorporate into my teaching. These are all important elements that I can gain from a survey and Google Forms makes it even easier to manage!

 

Google Form

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1Mk4sjrsnNmnHe5WP09vR9Q-bEFgGSvrw7JIMfBKe3gg/edit

 

 

Featured Image:

Attribution : US Coast Guard Academy

130305-007 Chemistry

Follow the Path of a Medieval Spanish Guy

¡Bienvenidos a la clase de español!

Today we’re going to follow the path of a medieval Spanish guy who was known as El Cid, or the Lord.  You can think of El Cid as the Odysseus of Spain: legendary, super-heroic, courageous, indispensable.   This was a real man, an admired military commander and nobleman of medieval Spain who went on to become a mythical giant through the renowned Spanish epic poem entitled El Cantar del Mio Cid.  What lingers and continues to inspire about this man was his unstoppable resolve, his ability to act fearlessly in the face of obstacles, and his ability to gain the support of even some of his enemies.

Our activity revolves around the Cid’s journey throughout his military campaigns.  Using Google My Maps, we can create a map charting Cid’s stops along what has become the modern Camino del Cid, a trail that draws tourists to traverse the path of Cid and see many historic sights along the way.  After reading some of the epic poem in class, we can go on to visualize the journey by creating this map, which allows us to add pictures and notes at different points along the way.  Maybe some will be inspired to one day hike the route as well!

¡Que os vaya bien, viajadores!

Go well, travellers!

Featured Image: mallol

The Place’s Alexander Supertramp Ventured

I made a customized map showing all the places that Alexander Supertramp went as he ventured across the USA. I would use this as an actual lesson in the class I am hypothetically teaching. I think this program would be extremely useful for students that learn more through visuals, rather than me just talking directly to them. The benefits of using “My Maps” is that there can be a wide range of media included into each map: a picture, description, or even a video. This application has many uses– it can teach kids about the March to Washington, or where in the West settlers migrated to, or outline wars from a specific ancient dynasty. There are an endless amount of uses for “My Maps”.

I will definitely keep using this app. Out of all the things I’ve learned in this class, this is what I’ll take home the most. I think “My Maps” is essential to use when going on road trips or any big trip abroad. As for teaching, I think “My Maps” is a perfect way to show students the history of movement. It simply shows the entire world, which encompasses all that we ever learned from. However, this app will not help Astronomers. That is the only downside…Maybe in a couple hundred years Google will have a “My Maps” that is compatible with the universe? Just a thought.

Featured Image by: Christiano Mere, entitled “Alexander Supertramp

Using Google Forms as a Self-Evaluation Tool

I used Google Forms to create the following self-assessment for students in a pre-calculus class.

Students would complete this form at the end of a semester/quarter.  The intent of this activity is twofold:

  1. In order to receive some feedback about my teaching performance, I ask students to tell me one thing that they thought I did well and one thing they thought I could do better to help them be successful in class.  I can use the student feedback to help myself improve as a teacher.  Initially, I had a field for students to enter their names, but I chose to delete this question so students could answer more candidly.  I also devoted one question to finding out whether or not students think the material they learned will be useful in their lives.  I always try to make math lessons applicable to the real world, and this question tells me how well I did this.
  2. Students are given an opportunity to reflect on their own performance throughout the semester.  They might consider if they need to stay more organized, put forth more effort, or ask more questions.  The intent is that students reflect on their performance and then improve in following semesters.

Google is taking over the world.

Since I am already pretty familiar with many of Google’s most used features, I thought I would try and create something that I have wanted to set up for my class in the future – a blog! Unfortunately, Google hasn’t progressed that far yet, and they don’t have an option for a class blog that can be built into Google Classroom.  I decided to play around with Google Sites, and I created a relatively simple class website that I could share with parents and students to give them access to what is going on in school, and to get easier access to a calendar where students can see what is going to be due soon.  I also envision having a place where students can download copies of homework assignments so that if they lose them, they can print them at home or submit them to me online.  I feel that this website could contain many features, such as a place for students to post or to comment on things, but I did not see anywhere that that could be an option.

The other thing that I found that I want my students to install on their Chromebooks is this app called “Google Cast for Education” which allows students to cast whatever is on their screen to my computer so that I can display it on the Smartboard which is connected to my computer through a wireless AppleTV connection.  Often students will be researching something, or will want to display something on their screen to the class, and rather than sharing it with me or having me find it on my computer, it would be useful for students to have this installed on their Chromebooks.

I see a future where there are no more desks or pens and paper in a classroom, and all there is are places for students to sit and work on their Chromebooks, and all the learning and assessment is done on their computers.  I see furniture that is flexible and easy to move to make space for collaboration between students and the teacher, and I think Google is the leader in getting us towards this future.

The other thing that I found super cool while exploring some of the “Hipster Google” apps was the Google Trends app.  It allows you to see in real-time what people all over the world are googling, and what popular Google searches are happening in countries all over the world.  I’m not sure how it would be beneficial in an Educational context, I just thought it was a cool feature, and a cool way to see what people are interested in in this specific moment in time.  I also set it as my screensaver.

How Shook Are You?

How much did that title trigger you? I’m not a shill, I swear!

If you understood any of those words, good on you! If you didn’t, chances are you stopped reading and went to Google to look up the definition to try and understand what I was trying to say.

These slang words are everywhere. Even the word “slang” is slang for shortened language. You hear it all the time: on the radio, in your home, from your friends, if you’re a teacher definitely in your classrooms.

Let me tell you a thing, man. If you want to do a rad math lesson that not only introduces trends but gets your kids engaged because it’ll relate to them in the best way possible: they speak that language. Not only will they be super excited to be speaking their hipster tongue, you’ll also (hopefully) get them super excited about speaking your language: math.

Here’s a really cool site that you can use for the lesson:

 

Photo credits to Google Trends

It’s a card on Google Trends and it is amazing. This particular card shows you the top rising definitions of last year (2016) and how it is ranked based on how often they were searched in Google.

Click on the image to go straight to the card. You can scroll down to see different representations of the same data Google has been collecting over the past couple of years; even the top rising definitions of words from previous years.

But how would I use this in a lesson? And why would I ever encourage my students to use language that I don’t understand in the classroom?

Let’s face it. Students are more and more distracted every day by the various forms of technology they are exposed to; I am not an exception to this because just now I checked my phone to see if I had a message from anyone….

Why not use this distracting quality of technology, and the students’ overuse of slang,  and at least attempt to make it educational? They’re going to do it on their own at home anyway; might as well make it relevant to the subject matter you’re teaching.

With this Google Trends card, you can prompt students to think critically about:

  1. How these words got popular
  2. Why some words might have died out
  3. Predictions about how much longer they’ll stay popular based on their own personal experiences/uses of the words as well as the data on the site.

Plus, the site is really interactive, so even kids that aren’t usually engaged will want to play with the cool colorful things they see on the site, or explore any of the other Google Trends cards that are available.

Photo Credits to Google Trends

Trending word definitions are not the only things you can look up on Google Trends. There are sections about everything and anything that somebody has put in their search bar and pressed enter.

Here’s what their card on Global Warming/Climate Change looks like (click on the picture to go to the website):

Photo Credits to Google Trends

You can see how each major city/country ranks regarding the frequency of searching those words on that list on the left. It’s incredible. Google Trends is one of many leaps Google has taken to visualize data to make it easier for educators to present and analyze information they have been collecting. You would also be doing your part as a citizen by spreading awareness and making sure your students, or anyone who would listen to your lesson, are able to make well-informed decisions.

They will also avoid sounding like know-it-alls who have no concrete information to back their claims up. They could just pull out the notes from your lesson and the activity they did and present the same information, thus increasing the number of people who are aware and are able to make informed decisions.

 

 

Featured Image Credit: geralt on pixabay