Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Essays & Research Papers Made Bearable

Lhs.loswego.k12.or.us. N. p., 2016. Web. 12 Apr. 2016.

Co-teaching with the talented teachers at James Clemens High School this year has been a big highlight of my 24 year career as an educator.  Yesterday I spent the day with Ms. McLaughlin's classes helping them out with their big research paper by showing them a few tips and tricks to making the research/essay writing process a little less tedious.  This co-teaching experience also gave me an opportunity to show Ms. McLaughlin a cool tool to make the grading processes less daunting.

Ms. McLaughlin's students are lucky to have her as their teacher. She is very organized and has really embraced using Google Classroom.  We started the lesson by having students access their Google Classroom and open the pre formatted MLA document provide by their teacher.  Google has a dizzying array of templates to make student and teacher lives a little easier.  Below are just a few templates that are available in Google Documents.

Although Ms. McLaughlin had already provided students with a pre-formatted MLA template I took time to show the students how to find the template on their own so they could use for other classes.

The next tidbit I shared was the relatively new Voice Typing feature in Google.  This is more of a "fun" feature that I like to show students but it actually really helped one student who had had quite a gruesome encounter with a chainsaw.  

Next, we moved on to the nitty gritty....research!  Google has a built in research feature right inside of Google Docs.  You can choose to search all of Google, Google, Scholar, Images, and more. Once you have put in your search term and websites have been pulled up you have three options: preview, insert, & cite.  Preview allows you to see a thumbnail of the website. Insert will insert the website link into your document wherever your cursor is located. Cite will add all related footnote features. The video below walks you through this great tool.

The one thing I wish this tool would do is add the Work Cited information. We circumvented this minor flaw with the Google Add On, EasyBib.  

From there we moved on to reviewing the best databases available through the Alabama Virtual Library (AVL).  Students and teachers are fortunate that our legislature has seen fit to fund the Alabama Virtual Library which is filled will a large number of databases for all age levels, including college and the general pubic.  Most of the databases inside the AVL also connect to Google Classroom, making the task of note taking, highlighting and accessing previously viewed resources later so easy!  Below is an AVL Tour Video. It is a bit dated so it does not show some of the awesome Google Classroom integration features.  AVL databases now also all have a "listening" button which is extremely helpful for students with dyslexia or other reading challenges.

The final tech tool, JoeZoo Express, will help make the grading process easier and more streamlined for Ms. McLaughlin.  JoeZoo Express analyses the student's paper and looks for the following errors: formatting, grammar, mechanics, punctuation, and structure.  Feedback included tips and hints that teach students how to correct their own mistakes. All of this is automated and teacher created. JoeZoo also contains a feature for seamless interactivity with Google Classroom.

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