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Digital learning and technology has moved to the forefront of educational research and practice. Whether in the hands of tinkerers, hackers, makers, or online content producers, there is no question that computer technology has become essential when it comes to digital art and design. Fortunately, New Hartford Central School students have been getting some crucial hands-on practice in this digital landscape and in doing so, their teachers have been encouraging their students use new software that can easily cut across disciplines at the same time. For example, elementary students in Mrs. Christine Raynard’s computer classes (such as one of 5th graders seen in the photo below) are learning new ways to blend artistic skills with digital projects. In the project they are working on here, students design houses of their own creation in 2D using the simple toolset provided by Google Drawings. This cross-disciplinary approach of blending art and tech is one Raynard has practiced for many years by working in collaboration with art teacher, Miss Holly Parker, who teaches directly across the hall. Raynard goes on to explain that by working closely with Parker, they are able to integrate the terminology and concepts of art classes directly into the district's computer skills curriculum. “Fine motor skills such as learning how to use a mouse as well as learning to manipulating shapes and lines are the kinds of skills that my students are already learning in art class and in addition, they are a direct precursor to the type of skills students will need when advancing to our Project Lead the Way classes at the junior high and senior high school as well.” Raynard went on to explain. One of the first applications primary age students use while studying with Mrs. Raynard is KidPix Deluxe 3D. KidPix allows students to engage in introductory drawing and mouse skills and allows them to express their ideas and knowledge in a creative way. Raynard is also enthusiastic about the major advances in other web-based applications over the last couple of years that have helped her expand and grow her arts-driven approach to technology. “The app that I am most excited about this year is Google Drawings, because using it has been a fabulous tool for fifth and sixth grade students to create and express themselves so easily while learning pre-CAD (Computer Aided Design) drawing skills,” said Raynard. “These students will later have the opportunity to draw and create something that can be printed on a 3D printer, which gives them a tangible product of their imagination.” For teachers such as Raynard and Parker, the integration of arts and computer applications into an overall curriculum has proven to overall enhance a child’s learning experience. Today’s students live in a touch-screen, swipe and view world, but educators like Raynard and Parker are trying to inspire students to be producers as well as consumers of quality digital content. “The integration of Spartan Apps into our curriculum,” Raynard explained, “has continued to allow us to really broaden the exposure our students are getting to real world applications.” If you have ideas on how Google Drawings or other digital design tools like it might be useful for a project in your own classroom, contact the Tech Department to see how they can support you in making that come to fruition like it has for Raynard and Parker’s students already.

 

If you have done any work collecting data with a Google Form into a Google Sheet, you may have noticed times that the data might be longer in a cell than space allows to be displayed. For example, when you collect longer narrative responses that are a sentence or more in length, this is common problem as it make it difficult to read the data quickly and easily like it would appear in a document. In these kinds of scenarios, using the wrap text option in Sheets can be very useful, as it will set a cell to automatically change height and reveal all of the cell's contents.

Wrapping text in a Google Sheet is done with a few, very easy steps. First, select the cells you want to set to wrap. To select an entire
column, for example, click on the letter at the top of the column. Next, click the Format menu above the worksheet area follow by Text wrapping. Finally, change the type of wrapping from Overflow, which is the default choice, to Wrap, (see screenshot below.)


That’s all there is to successfully format cells to wrap in Google Sheets. One last benefit of wrapped text is that you don't need to change the horizontal size of a column, something you may not want to do such as if you've laid out your spreadsheet out to fit onto a specific number of pages to be displayed or printed.

Wrapping text is an essential tip when working with Sheets. Now that you know about it, hopefully you can put it to good use in the near future when working with longer text passages in your own spreadsheets!

 
   
Web 2.0 Tools for Teachers
 
iTunes Content for Your Classroom

Are you looking to exciting way to use maps, teach geography, or show exotic places from around the globe? If so, the new Google Earth for the web might be the perfect teaching and learning tool.
 
While Google Earth has been around for quite some time as a standalone desktop and mobile apps, Google recently released an updated version that runs within the Chrome browser itself and offers a wealth of new features that make it a compelling tool for students and educators alike. Using the latest in web technologies, you can orbit the world in 3D as well as tilt and rotate the map with Shift + drag. The new app also features Knowledge Cards that make it easier to discover and explore local landmarks at any geographic location. Finally and perhaps most compelling are the guided tours via the "Voyager" section, which serves as a jumping off point for YouTube videos, 360-degree content, Street View, and Google Earth landmarks. The tours are led by scientists and documentarians, with some content produced by well-known groups like the BBC's Planet Earth team. With so much great content that's applicable to many classroom environments, the new Google Earth is worth a closer look at K-12 students and educators alike!
Visit Google Earth
   
 
The 10-Minute Teacher Show
Vicki Davis

The daily production is a 5-day a week podcast hosted by respected educator and blogger Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher on Twitter). On each show, Vicki chats with a wide variety of educators, thought leaders, and classroom teachers as guests on timely topics in education ranging from educational technology tools, teaching pedagoies, and more. 10MT was created by teachers and for teachers and its a great series to tune into during your commute, break, or even as you’re doing a quick 10-minute classroom task. Broken in daily themes: Motivation Mondays, Tech Tool Tuesdays, Wildcard Wednesdays, Thought Leader Thursdays, and 5 Idea Fridays, there not only a wide variety of content but each show focuses on practical ideas you can use in your classroom right away. For some great ideas to try out in your classroom, give 10MT a listen today. You won’t be disappointed.
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The New Hartford Tech Spotlight is a monthly informational e-mail newsletter published for all faculty and staff of the New Hartford Central School District by Mike Amante & James Davis. If you wish to contribute to or inquire about the newsletter, please visit here.
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