January Newsletter

January 2011

Originally published at http://www.gecdsb.on.ca/student/tie/nl01_11

Welcome to the January ‘Technology in the Classroom’ newsletter. I hope you enjoyed a wonderful holiday season and return to work refreshed and rejuvenated. This is a monthly newsletter aimed at providing some ideas and inspiration to support teaching and learning in the classroom and some practical tips on using technology in our everyday lives. The newsletter is also a great place to showcase the work you are doing in your school or classroom to integrate the use of technology. If you have anything you would like to share, please send it on for inclusion in future months.

Exploring Google

The newsletter this month is dedicated to highlighting some of the tools available from Google and looking at how they can be used in the classroom.

Google currently holds an 85.35% share of the search engine market and processes 3 billion searches per day. It is easy to think of it as just a search tool. What fewer people realise is that these searches can be manipulated and displayed in a variety of formats.

Advanced Search

Google uses over 200 different factors in their algorithm to determine the order of links it provides to a search query. This does not always assure you of the most relevant information for your search appearing at the top. Many people do not look past the first two or three responses to a search query, which in turn solidifies the algorithm and causes that information to continue appearing at the top of a list. When you think logically about this, a search term can return in excess of a million links. What are the chances that the few at the top are the best or most relevant? The answer to this is the advanced search. It can be accessed by clicking the ‘advanced search’ link next to the Google box.

You can then fill out the search form to further define what it is that you are looking for.

Wonder Wheel

Wonder Wheel is a Google tool that gives a graphic representation of the results of a search term. Type in your search term as usual, and then select ‘more search tools’ from the left-hand column of the page.

A list of options will now appear. Click on ‘Wonder Wheel’ to select this tool.

You will now see your search presented with a list of common terms and links associated with your query. This is a great tool for students when performing research or generating ideas for written works.


Accessed in much the same way as the ‘Wonder Wheel’, the Timeline will represent your search term on a timeline showing the progression of that subject over time and presenting links in chronological order.

Clicking on any decade within the timeline will bring up a secondary line, showing more specifically the time covered. Subsequently clicking a year will further streamline the results, as will clicking on a specific month.


Google also acts very simply as a calculator. Just type in your equation and Google will give you an answer. One note of caution with this – as with Excel and other computer-based calculators, the divide function is signified by a ‘/’ and multiplication by ‘*’.

Unit Conversions

Google will perform unit conversions. Type in the unit you have and what you would like to see the conversion.


Google offers a really powerful translation tool. There are multiple uses for this, exacerbated by living in a bi-lingual country. It may also offer the chance to communicate with non-English speakers in the classroom.

Simply type or copy and paste the word, phrase, paragraph or article you would like to translate into the search box. Select ‘more’ and ‘translate’ from the top of the screen. You can now decide which language you would like to translate from and to from the pull-down menu and hit translate.

Google Scholar

Accessed by clicking ‘more’ and ‘even more’ on the main Google homepage, Google Scholar is a valuable tool for both teachers and students.“Google Scholar provides a simple way to broadly search for scholarly literature. From one place, you can search across many disciplines and sources: articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites. Google Scholar helps you find relevant work across the world of scholarly research.”

Not only does this tool help students research and cite relevant sources, it also acts as a tool for teachers to run anti-plagiarism checks.


Picasa is a free download from Google that allows users to organize, edit and share digital images.

RSS Feeds and Google Reader

These features were previously covered in the October newsletter.

Google Books

The Google books feature is one that has changed and evolved considerably over the life of Google, and is set to transform even further in the future.

In August 2010, Google announced its intention to scan and digitize all of the 129 million books it estimates are in existence. On December 6th, Google Editions was launched in the US only. Google Editions is the Google answer to ebooks and ereaders. Not yet launched in Canada, Google Editions will allow users to download and read any of the books in its digitized library. An estimated 20% of these books are public domain, meaning we are close to an enormous amount of free, digitized text being available to anyone with an internet connection.

As it currently works, Google Books allows the user to preview sections of books in Google’s digital library. Although not every page is available, it is certainly a good way to decide if a book is worthy of purchase. Many popular books for educators can be previewed here including:

Web 2.0 – New Tools, New Schools

Literature Circles

What Great Teacher do Differently

Still Learning to Read

The Socially Networked Classroom

Differentiating Instruction and Universal Design for Learning

Digital Citizenship

Education Nation

The Daily FiveThe Daily Cafe

Boy Writers

Posted on March 7, 2011, in GECDSB Newsletter. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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