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Google Grab Bag


Cool Google Tools!


by NEA Today Staff


  • Google Book Search: Search for and inside books of all kinds with this application. Provides links for places to purchase the books, an option to look up the title in your local library, reviews of the book and related book searches.
     
  • Google Lit Trips: This tool allows students and teachers to follow stories visually alongside the characters of their books by “traveling” from place to place using images from Google Earth. The website allows you to download already-made “lit trips” (as long as you have already downloaded Google Earth); downloads are available for grades K-12 and for higher education, and the site is updated fairly regularly.
     
  • Google News Timeline: This app puts major news events of the past week in a timeline format, with links to the original stories. It looks like a page out of your weekly planner, complete with the time the story was posted online and a little picture that goes with the story.
     
  • Google Maps and Google Earth: Maps is an app very similar to Mapquest.com. Plug in an address and it’ll show you a map; from there, you can get directions to another address or search for nearby businesses.Earth takes you anywhere on the planet with “satellite imagery, maps, terrain [and] 3D buildings.” It also features historical images from around the world, so you can travel the earth in the present or the past. This is a program you have to download onto your computer (it’s not just available online, like Maps is).
     
  • Google for Educators website: This compilation of information and tools for teachers is Google’s way of supporting teachers “in their efforts to empower students and expand the frontiers of human knowledge.” The homepage offers recent updates and news from Google Apps for Educators. Also available are links to different applications (i.e. Google Maps, Book Search, etc), as well as downloadable lesson plans and wall posters. The website features a forum for discussion with other teachers and the creators of Google Apps for Educators.
     
  • Doodle 4 Google: This popular application allows teachers to boost their student’s creativity and competitiveness. Google asks students in grades K-12 to reinvent the Google logo based on a broad theme (2009’s was “What I Wish for the World”), and the winner’s design is used for an entire day on the web.
     
  • Google Finance: This app is a good tool for economics teachers because it allows you to create your own stock portfolio that follows the daily changes in the market. A word of warning, though: Google doesn’t offer any advice on how to create a portfolio, what stocks are available in the market, or how to manage your portfolio after it is created. It does offer news stories, summaries and charts about the stock market, however, which can be useful if you understand them.
     
  • Google Transit: Google Transit lets teachers plan field trips using public transportation. It is a subsection of Google Maps and is just as user-friendly.
     
  • Google SketchUp: SketchUp is downloadable software that allows you to design practically anything in 3D form, from your couch to your bedroom to the city you live in. With the latest edition, you can even build models of places you’ve been to and add your designs to Google Earth.
     
  • iGoogle: iGoogle basically allows you to create a homepage for your classroom. With this application, you can collect information from various places online (i.e. current events, local weather, class and school calendars, etc) and throw it all together on one website. Students can even personalize their own webpages with “gadgets” like To-Do Lists, maps and links to blogs and other informational sites.
     
  • Google Scholar: What looks exactly like a regular Google search is actually a search engine specifically made for scholarly literature. Whether you know the exact title of what you need or only the general genre, Google Scholar allows you to search for any kind of scholarly work.
     
  • Google Alerts: Google Alerts sends you e-mails about specific news items. Just enter a “keyword” to follow a specific subject, and Google will e-mail you alerts daily, weekly or as the news happens. It’s an easy way to do research on a topic since you only have to read e-mails and you don’t really have to do any research.