I just love Google. There are just so many cool things to play with. One of my favorite things is iGoogle. I love all of the different gadgets that the program allows you to use to customize your homepage. There is a gadget for everyone. Some of my favorite gadgets are: The Google Reader, Totally Free Crap, Google Tip of the Day, Interesting Photos, the To-Do List, How To of the Day, YouTube gadget, and a Phrase of the Week. There are many more, and many that can be very educational. A to Z Kid Stuff is a good educational gadget that gives you educational ideas and websites for kids. Google Safe Search for Kids is another great gadget that filters out inappropriate material. The list of educational gadgets for math, science, language arts and research goes on and on.
I explored several other Google tools. I like the Google Books because on many of the titles it gives a preview of the book and even full text on some of them. The unique feature of this tool is that it lets you search text within the books. This could be a useful tool in the classroom when looking for specific information about a topic and finding the right printed resource. Google Books does give information about the book and links to purchase the book, but I kind of felt like this is an area where Google can definitely improve. They will need to expand the online library they have considerably because as of now it is lacking. They have just settled a lawsuit, and have plans to improve this feature and offer more books. In addition, they will begin to offer full digital text versions of the books for sale, and they will house the files on your digital bookshelf. It would be wonderful if many of the required reading novels were available online for students to access and read. This is one I will have to come back to when they have time for improvement.
Google Earth is a great tool as well. It is great for mapping and can have tons of applications in the classroom. I even have a cool watch that tracks where I run by satelite then when I get home it feeds the computer my run and maps it in Google Earth. I can go in and see exactly where I ran and get stats from any given point on the path. How cool is that?! One idea for using Google Earth is to have students travel through novels and stories along with the characters. Using Google Lit Trips teachers are ableto trace the journey of the characters in a book. The students are able to see the same buildings, rivers, landmarks, streets etc. that the
characters are discussing. This site contains many premade Lit Trips, but teachers can also
take the idea, and build their own in Google Earth! Teachers can also use Google Earth to create realworld technology applications for math. Use Real World Math to access math lessons using Google Earth. This is a fun and interactive way for students to learn math concepts, engage in collaborative math projects, calculate distances, and explore interesting math. For science, check out current sky conditions and astrological events.
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