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Google apps in the classroom – Eric Janshego, Prairie Ridge High School | twitter @mrjanshego email@example.com
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ERIC JANSHEGO: Hi everybody. This is Eric Janshego. I am a science teacher over at Prairie Ridge High School in northern Illinois. This is your Assistive Technology Update.
WADE WINGLER: Hi, this is Wade Wingler with the INDATA Project at Easter Seals crossroads in Indiana with your Assistive Technology Update, a weekly dose of information that keeps you up-to-date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist people with disabilities and special needs. Welcome to episode number 337 of Assistive Technology Update. It’s scheduled to be released on November 10, 2017.
Today my main conversation is going to be with a gentleman named Mr. Eric Janshego who is a high school teacher at Prairie Ridge high school near Chicago. He was a student of mine not long ago and is doing some pretty amazing things in the world of Google apps in the classroom. We also have a story about Sunu, which is being called a Fitbit for the blind and visually impaired. We have another one that is a navigational product for people who are blind or visually impaired who want to be runners or more active. And information about what Microsoft is doing with discontinuing the free accessibility upgrade to Windows 10.
We hope you’ll check our website at www.eastersealstech.com; give us a call on our listener line at 317-721-7124; or hit us up on Twitter at INDATA Project.
If you like this show, you might also like you to videos about assistive and accessible technology. Did you know that the INDATA Project at Easter Seals crossroads has our own YouTube channel? You can find it over at www.eastersealstech.com/YouTube. Some of the things we’ve covered recently is the Door Dash food delivery service, the Tile Slim, the Ring video doorbell, talking about accessibility of apps after your iOS 11 update, the new Jordy by Enhanced Vision, the Seeing AI app, switch adapted water guns, fidget cubes, gesture control armband, Mercury 12 laptop tablet magnifier, and so much more. Our staff here spent a lot of time making sure that they keep up on the cutting edge of assistive technology, and you can check them out in our YouTube videos. Again, www.eastersealstech.com/YouTube.
Yes, that means one thing: our annual holiday shopping show is getting ready to come up. November 24, 2017, Black Friday here in the United States, we will have part one of a two-part show where we have a group of friends get together here in our studio and talk about what kinds of holiday gift ideas we might have for people who use assistive technology. It’s a break from our format, a lot of fun. In addition to holiday shopping ideas, we will also talk about some of our holiday experiences, traditions, and fun times people join me, Wade Wingler, and my friends Nikol Prieto, Elisabeth Farley, and Brian Norton, host of ATFAQ, for our two-part holiday shopping show, November 24 and December 1.
As I’ve been listening and navigating around the Internet related to assistive technology news, I’m constantly hearing about a thing called a Sunu band. It’s being called in one place a fit bit for the blind or visually impaired. Basically it seems to be a wristband that does a couple of things. It acts as a fitness tracker and an alarm clock or watch, it also has the ability to find items. You can pair it with tagged items to help you find them, but it also has an echolocation device. Basically as you are walking around with or without your white cane, it is going to let you know when things are in your way and vibrate accordingly the closer you get to them. I have lots of questions, and in fact I think we are going to reach out to the manufacturers to see if they will come on the show for an interview. It seems to be an interesting device that’s doing a lot. It recently won a design award from the Perkins school and seems to be catching a lot of attention in the blind community. If you haven’t found it yet, I’m going to pop a link in the show notes so you can learn more about the Sunu design and hopefully we’ll get them on the show in the near future and have a conversation about this.
Simon Wheatcroft is a runner, also somebody with low vision, and somebody who has been working on the Wayband app and have a navigation device for the blind and visually impaired. It’s a combination of a wearable wristband that looks like a fit bit or something like that. It pairs up with your app on the phone. Then it provide haptic or vibration feedback to somebody who is running to let them know whether they should go left or right. This came across my desk because it was recently featured on Inside Edition. They did a story about him. He was running the New York marathon. I haven’t heard whether or not he finished or how well he did, but I have to say, looking at the website, I’m pretty excited about the technology and what it might be able to do. When I review their website, it looks like they are in beta form right now, but they are taking some preorders. They have a price level at $299 and $499 for the product. It seems to include the Wayband wristband, a charging cable, and a battery life of up to three hours of continuous use. Interesting, encouraging, and fascinating stuff. I’m going to pop a link in the show notes over to Wearworks which is where you’re going to find information about the Wayband.
For a little while now, Microsoft has offered a free upgrade to Windows 10 if you are a user of assistive technology. They define that pretty widely in their FAQ. Really, a lot of folks are going to qualify as a user of assistive technology even if you are relying on a few keyboard shortcuts. However, it has recently been brought to my attention that that upgrade process is about to go away. On December 31, 2017, not too long from now, Microsoft is going to discontinue that offer. If you are a user of assistive technology, however you would like to define that, and you would like to do a free upgrade to Windows 10 before it expires, you’re going to want to head on over to the Windows 10 upgrade page. I’ll make that easy for you. I’ll pop a link to that page in the show notes so you can find it. Click the upgrade now button and go ahead and make your upgrade happen before December 31. Check our show notes.
I think I’ve mentioned on the show a couple of time that I do a little adjunct professor-ing. I do a class at Purdue University here in Indiana on assistive technology and focuses on universal design for learning and those kinds of things. Every once in a while a car you find one of those students who really is outstanding and makes you go, Hmm, that’s cool what you are doing there. I was so excited when Eric Janshego, who is a science teacher at Prairie Ridge high school in the Chicago area, who was one of my former students, agreed to come on the show and talk to us a little bit about what he is doing in his classroom with a whole bunch of Google stuff, Google apps and Google products and those kinds of things.
First and foremost, Mr. Janshego, welcome to the show.
ERIC JANSHEGO: Thank you for having me today.
WADE WINGLER: I’m excited to have you on the show today. Through our interaction with course work, I got to understand some of the things you’re doing with Google. I want to get into some of those nitty-gritty details today. Before we do that, I want to know a little bit about yourself, and let’s do a quick plug for the program at Purdue while we are here. Let’s talk about you and what you are doing with Purdue.
ERIC JANSHEGO: Currently I am working on my Masters program through Purdue. I am in my second year of the program, so I’ll be finishing here this summer so I’m very excited about that. I’m currently a general education teacher in the field of science. I focus mostly on biology as well as chemistry. This has really been my first interaction with the special education programs through the Purdue Masters program. I’ve been teaching for the last four years now. I started right out of school and came out this way in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. I’m originally from the Ann Arbor location of Michigan where I did most of my student teaching in downtown Detroit where I worked with a lot of the inner-city students.
WADE WINGLER: Cool. You are still in the Midwest working in a high school environment. Google in the classroom isn’t something I would have even thought of as a podcast topic a few years ago, but now I find that I am hearing all the time between chrome books and Google apps and Google docs and those kinds of things. I know you’re using the daylights out of that stuff in your classroom, right?
ERIC JANSHEGO: Yes. I use Google classroom, Google Chrome books. I’m using them every day. With the way technology is helping to advance my classroom, it’s amazing what I let my students learn just from the click of a button.
WADE WINGLER: Why? Why did you decide to start implementing Google technology?
ERIC JANSHEGO: The real reason I started to use Google technology is to help prepare my students for the growing technology world that they were going to be introduced into. They are constantly on their cell phones. They know that they can access technology at any time. They can get information at the drop of a hat. I wanted to make sure that I could help them streamline that information. I wanted to make it easier for them to access it and know how to use the Internet to further their own knowledge. Additionally, it also made it easy for me to distribute materials. As the teacher, I’m not worrying about handing out paper assignments every day. I sent out one set of electronic assignments, and the kids have it and can work on it. They can easily resubmit it back to me. It also has helped to increase my student engagement in class. They are more motivated during lessons and really like the use of the chrome books. I use iPads as well, different things like that, and it is very easy and useful, especially in the field of having students receive instantaneous feedback. By being able to use Google classroom in different technologies and things like that, I’m really able to work on getting my students the feedback they need right away which is something that you would typically not have always been able to do with just writing assignments for them.
WADE WINGLER: I’m going to guess that most people in our audience are within arm’s reach of some sort of a mobile technology device. You are meeting this is where they are, right?
ERIC JANSHEGO: Exactly. You have to be able to use – they want to use it. They have it, it’s right next to them all the time, and now just being able to help them understand how to use it efficiently is what I feel like the modern teachers idea and role is.
WADE WINGLER: That’s excellent. I’m so proud that I am hearing echoes of UDL language in your conversation here. Multiple means of representation, multiple means of engagement, right?
ERIC JANSHEGO: Yes. Every time he can use those UDL principles right there.
WADE WINGLER: Excellent. What did you start with? When you think back on your first implementation of Google products, what did you start with and what has not grown to include?
ERIC JANSHEGO: My original implementation didn’t even start with specifically Google products. I started with something called Edmodo, which is an online platform that teachers can use to distribute materials. From there I made the change over to Google classroom just because of the fact that Google has made it so easy for me as the educator to distribute materials, make digital copies of materials, and then the kids can have it all in one location, which we will talk about with the Google Drive and things like that. It made it a very simple working platform that the kids are able to access on a daily basis in my classroom, as well as they receive notifications on their phones.
After moving from Google classroom, I moved into using more Drive, Google sheets, different kinds of Google applications as well. Now I’ve moved on to using student portfolios. What I’ve had my students do now is create a Google site, and everything we do throughout the day and week they end up posting on to their own Google site. That’s where they keep their information. I’ve done completely paperless at this point, and they keep everything that they have learned from our class, every take away, up on their own websites.
WADE WINGLER: That’s remarkable. That’s a big change. Some of the folks in my audience are going to say, “Yeah, I do a lot of that or some of that.” I’m going to have some folks in my audience who are saying, “Wait, Google is a search engine,” and may have a Gmail account and have that level of familiarity. What I’m going to ask us to do is spend some time running down some of your favorite tools that are Google based, but let’s talk about them from the perspective of somebody who might not be familiar with what they are and maybe a little extra stuff thrown in as you go. I’m going to let you pick the order that we go through here. Why don’t we run down some of your favorites?
ERIC JANSHEGO: One of the things I use in my classroom is the Google Chrome book which is a computer at this point, a small laptop that the students all have access to. We recently just had cards around the school that the students could access throughout the day. Now we’ve gone one-to-one at this point which is been great because each of the kids have their own chrome books. Google classroom is that digital platform. Similar to how the Purdue program uses Engage, or you may have used blackboard, something similar to that, Google classroom is that online area where I distribute activities; have students submit assignments; organize classroom materials into sections; and create classroom calendars, which has been very beneficial for most of my students, especially ones that have the inability to keep track of when certain due dates are. So that’s been a very nice piece.
WADE WINGLER: It’s a learning management system basically?
ERIC JANSHEGO: Exactly. You can distribute grades to it now which is been very nice. Google Docs – if you have ever worked with Word on your computer before or Pages if you are a Mac user, it’s an online version where the students can receive an assignment and can work on it themselves. It’s as if you were typing up any document or paper. What I do with it myself is, through Google classroom, I will have it submit or send out a copy of their own to each of the students in my classroom, and they go through an answer on that sheet and can have it send it back to me. This has been very nice but it allows me to create skeleton notes for students, especially some of my students that have IEP’s that require those skeleton notes. They are able to see it half filled out. If I need to, I have it more so that for certain individuals versus others. And then they have that one location and don’t have to worry about finding it in their backpack.
Google Drive has been very useful. That is an on my storage location. How you would have on your own computer folders and places like that to store your information, my students all have their own Google Drive set up where there are able to receive documents. Whenever the documents are made available through Google classroom for me, it ends up placing it into that drive so that the matter where they are at, on their cell phone or on their computer, or iPad, their tablet, they can always access every piece of information I’ve given them.
WADE WINGLER: Sort of the any device, anywhere, anytime philosophy?
ERIC JANSHEGO: Exactly. Google Forms is another one that is really popular, especially if you’re looking for something to do as a quick formative assessment. In my class, I use them sometimes as my warm-up. It helps guide that instruction using Google Forms. You can do it as a quiz, as a poll, different things like that. It allows you to embed both pictures and different types of videos, questions. You can have kids respond back in multiple ways from drop downs to written responses. I also use different programs such as Google Sheets which is an online version of Excel where students go on and it helps them, especially in my class because I am more science-based. I allow my students to use Google Sheets for the purpose of being able to complete any type of mathematical problem.
I currently teach and earth and space course, and it is set at a lower level to help students that are struggling with their math skills. This is nice because I go ahead and type up the actual equations and everything into the program so that all they have to do is implement their data and it will do some of the more complex math for them.
Google Slides is probably one of my favorites because everybody like a PowerPoint and has used PowerPoint before. What I’ve been able to do is use Google Slides in a different way with an extension known as the Screencastify. What I will have my students to do is go to the process of creating their presentation. Then with Screencastify, it allows me to video record them down in the lower corner so they can actually give the full presentation to the class without actually having to get up in front of them. This has been very useful, especially for a lot of my kids that have anxiety disorders, that they don’t want to get up in front of their peers. But by giving them the time to go through it, record, redo their recordings as needed before I actually post in front of the class.
WADE WINGLER: That’s fascinating. A lot of these tools are going to be familiar. You are talking about word processors and spreadsheets and slides. Are these the free version that a everybody has access to? Or the some sort of special version of Google tools?
ERIC JANSHEGO: All of the things I am using our free. At my school, we do have a security system set with it. My students are able to receive and send emails and things like that within the district itself, only really two other district emails. If we try to send something out, it send them a warning that this is not a protected email address. Though we do add this extra layer of security, everything we are using can be used under the free applications portion.
WADE WINGLER: So you are addressing some of those security privacy issues but are still taking advantage of the free tools?
ERIC JANSHEGO: Exactly.
WADE WINGLER: Awesome. I know that there is other stuff you are excited about as well outside of the Google tools. What are some of those?
ERIC JANSHEGO: One of my favorites is the use of either Nearpod or Pair Deck. I’ve used both of them and use them all the time. Nearpod is probably one of my favorite application to be able to use. What it is is very similar – you go ahead and start by creating the typical PowerPoint that a teacher may have used before. But the difference between a PowerPoint and a Nearpod is that Nearpod allows for multiple points of student interaction. Throughout the activities, I incorporate a virtual field trip. Just the other day I took my students on a virtual field trip all the way to the Amazon rain forests. Using their computers, they were able to tour. I had them on iPads. They can look up and see the canopy levels. It allows them to take their learning from just sitting in front of me on the desk to a world. It gives in that worldview.
Additionally, you have other applications inside of it that allow you to do things like memory games. I input a video. My favorite is having students to draw. I use Apple Pencils as well, and my students are able to draw, circle, highlight, create, underline different pieces. They can highlight things they may have known about, like a water molecule. At the very beginning, I show them a picture. They are able to circle what they think are the hydrogens and the oxygens are and make their guesses. It allows my students to feel more comfortable with not always been correct. Too often in the high school, they always feel they have to be a writer when they raise their hand, but by using these other applications, my students are a little more willing to give out an incorrect answer.
The other nice thing about this is it requires and makes it so that I have 100 percent participation. During a PowerPoint, most kids might start to fall asleep or might not be paying attention, doing what they’re supposed to. But with Nearpod, I have them all submit that drawing or response, and it comes to me. I look through them and blast it out to all of their own chrome books or iPads or phones, whichever device they are working through, and they can actually see other students’ work. It’s nice because it helps students feel that they are doing what they are supposed to in class and that their other peers are learning from their own mistakes or their correct answers.
WADE WINGLER: I think that knocks down a lot of errors in the classroom as well.
ERIC JANSHEGO: Yeah, it makes it so much easier to be able to interact with other students and – like I said earlier, the students that have some anxiety of being able to raise their hand or don’t really know if they fully want to participate. It makes it so that people can’t just hide in the classroom. A lot of times they might want to touch down, not do an assignment, just follow along on a note sheet, some like that. But this really changes that dynamic and makes it so that everybody is participating, everybody is making guesses. There are other pieces where you have group collaboration where they can start posting on message boards, and with that they get to highlight and “like” each other’s collaboration pieces, which also helps to increase that student motivation towards the lesson.
WADE WINGLER: We are going to run out of time before we get a chance to get to everything we want to talk about today. We still have time to talk about one or two of your favorite tools.
ERIC JANSHEGO: Another one that I really enjoy working with is an app as well. It’s Notability. This is a notetaking application on the iPad as well as tablets where students can draw and record teacher lectures. I use it when I’m going over activities and record all of my responses. Usually what I will do is post these online. So as we’re going through an activity during the day, I will write on it, explain, talk. Other kids will answer and ask questions. My iPad will actually pick up on that, and when I’m done with the lesson, I save it and post it on to our Google classroom so that students who are absent or need that extra refresher to go over the materials a second time are able to re-access it.
Other than that, I use a lot of fun, interactive games like Quizzes which is an online quiz game. I use Quizlet which is mostly used for vocabulary. We also play Cahoot, which is probably one of my students’ favorite games where they answer multiple-choice type questions, and the person that interested the fastest gets the most points.
WADE WINGLER: Your energy is contagious and your enthusiasm is remarkable. Where do you learn about all this stuff? People are going to listen to this and say, “I want to do what he is doing in his classroom.” Where you go to learn about these tools? What are some of your favorite sources?
ERIC JANSHEGO: My favorite source is a simple as a Google search. Typing in some fun activity to complete in an honors bio class. You can find things very quickly. Otherwise, I will spend a lot of time on YouTube just going through and looking at other videos. And then Pinterest. I think everybody has some type of Pinterest board these days. There are teachers that are more than willing to post little pieces of fun information. Additionally, you can find information at different conferences. I’ve met some people and talk about different apps and technology pieces with them.
WADE WINGLER: If you could have one wish granted for these kinds of tools to make something better or create a tool that you have been dying for, what is your greatest wish for these kinds of tools?
ERIC JANSHEGO: Of my greatest wish and goal is to help students get to use the activities on their own as they progressed through their educational careers. Getting them to use these pieces of technology on their own without my having to cut always say, “Hey, maybe tonight for practice or homework you should go ahead and play a Quizlet.” Being able to have them go on and physically make them themselves would be the best thing I ever take away from being able to implement this technology.
WADE WINGLER: After people are inspired and want to reach out to you, is there any contact information you would like to provide for listeners who might want to continue the conversation with you?
ERIC JANSHEGO: I am more than willing. Anybody can follow me on twitter at @MrJanshego. Otherwise you can feel free to email me at email@example.com. There is no “O” on that portion. I would love to respond to anybody on email, twitter. Feel free to send me a message. You can also find me on LinkedIn as William Janshego.
WADE WINGLER: Eric Janshego is doing some amazing things with Google and other kinds of apps at Prairie Ridge high school and has been our guest today. Thank you so much for being on the show.
ERIC JANSHEGO: Thank you so much for having me. It’s been a great afternoon.
WADE WINGLER: Do you have a question about assistive technology? Do you have a suggestion for someone we should interview on Assistive Technology Update? Call our listener line at 317-721-7124, shoot us a note on Twitter @INDATAProject, or check us out on Facebook. Looking for a transcript or show notes from today’s show? Head on over to www.EasterSealstech.com. Assistive Technology Update is a proud member of the Accessibility Channel. Find more shows like this plus much more over at AccessibilityChannel.com. That was your Assistance Technology Update. I’m Wade Wingler with the INDATA Project at Easter Seals Crossroads in Indiana.
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