Tech Tools

Tech Tool #12: Take Your Classroom Out Into the World with Google Arts and Culture

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When I heard that one of my favorite Choose Your Own Adventure projects was in jeopardy because Google Tour Builder is being phased out, I was heartbroken. Once I started exploring Google Arts & Culture, though, I had no doubts that this project would take a turn for the better.

Google Expeditions and Tour Builder will disappear June 30, 2021, but Google Expeditions will be absorbed into Google Arts and Culture. Google Earth is an excellent substitute for a travel project and allows students to customize a journey in the same way as with Tour Builder. The resources from Google Earth and Arts and Culture could be the perfect marriage.

Choose Your Interactive Experience

Whether you want to explore the Palace of Versailles in 3D or create a self-portrait like Frida Kahlo, the Google Arts and Culture homepage will guide you to almost any cultural adventure you can imagine. The immersive experiences encompass virtual museum tours, daily stories, as well as deep dives into works of art and locations all around the world. You have a couple options to peruse the vast Arts and Culture site: use the top left three-line (“hamburger”) menu or head on over to the “Explore” menu in the top right corner. Here, you will find neatly organized categories. (See video below for a one-minute tour.)

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The home page includes a vast introduction to all that Arts and Culture has to offer: virtual tours, a database of artworks, the ability to search for art by color, games and more. Art camera has beautiful guided lessons to explore details you might have missed in famous works of art. You can also see an overview of what activities are only available through a mobile application. The top left three-line (“hamburger”) menu invites you to visit museum collections, artists, mediums (paper, ink, water color, etc.), art movements, historical events and figures, and places. Discover daily stories and recommended articles that are automatically generated based on your search history. Save your favorites by clicking on the heart on the topic’s page. Students can participate in a number of “Experiments”, as well as the ability to explore exhibits in your area by using the “Nearby” menu and map.

Google Experiments

There is no lack of engagement possibilities but the Experiments section allows students to personalize their interaction even more. Try your hand at opera with Blob Opera. (The colorful creatures will be hard for students to resist!) Create street galleries by choosing a city and virtually insert a number of works curated by the United Nations. From coloring books to puzzles, the virtual Experiments are suitable for all ages.

Blob Opera
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Enhanced Mobile Experience

There are certain features of Google Arts and Culture that are only available through an application on a mobile device. This can literally put the learning into your students’ hands, allowing them to explore any number of topics.

Whether you want to hang Monet’s Water Lilies in your home or get lost in space, the Google Arts and Culture app is worth the download. See scenes from Day of the Dead celebrations and then have your students follow up with the Día de los Muertos lesson found on the Google Arts and Culture site. Have your students input themselves into art itself by transforming their photos with a Klein-inspired filter or matching their selfie with a historical work of art. They will, no doubt, have fun with these activities!

Not Just for Art Teachers

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Don’t let Arts and Culture lead you to believe that this site is only for certain curricula. The resources reach far beyond the art room. Here are a few highlights for the different areas:

  • Science: Be lost in space with augmented reality
  • History: Explore the first journey around the world
  • World Language: Culture-specific resources are endless
  • English: Discover The Early Forms of Khon and how storytelling evolved over time
  • Music: A simple music search will take your students from Beethoven to the rhythm of Portugal
  • Fashion design: We Wear Culture — Google Arts & Culture 
  • Virtual field trips reveal geography, artifacts, and promote analysis and comparison
  • Hidden stories help students make connections between historical places, figures, music, art…the hidden details not always found in a textbook.

Personalize the Learning Experience: Ideas for the Classroom

Arts and Culture lends itself nicely to a personalized student experience. Here are a few ideas to kick off your lessons:

  • Choice Boards: Have each student contribute a topic or activity they find to their collective class choice board.
    • Activity idea: Have students guide their own virtual tours based on a museum and exhibit of their choice.
  • Create a Choose Your Own Adventure! Have your students travel to different parts of the world or times in history to explore artists, historical movements, etc.
  • Appsmash: Combine Arts and Culture with any other reflective EdTech tool. A few ideas:
    • Flipgrid: Reflect, compare and/or analyze different arts or cultures.
    • Book Creator: Are students feeling inspired by the amazing works they research? Whether it is more fact or fiction, have your students write, illustrate, narrate and publish their inspiration about an artist or movement of their choice.
    • QR Code Museum: This has been one of my favorite projects for the past ten years. (QR Code Generator is just one of many free options.) You can take this in many directions but these are my two favorite QR code projects:
      • Students choose a work of art and write a fictional story inspired by that work of art. Once completed, the class goes on a gallery walk, scanning each other’s QR codes to listen to the recorded narration of their story.
      • La Manie Musicale: Think March Madness but with French music. Students from all classes scan QR codes and vote on their favorite songs to advance to the finals. Let your Arts and Culture conversations spur on your own bracket of choice! (Great speaking activity: They must defend their choices!)
  • Scavenger hunt/escape room: Students create a scavenger hunt (think: escape room) that takes you around the world using information found only within Google Arts and Culture. (Check out How to Create Digital Escape Room (Ditch That Textbook) for some helpful hints.) Who knows what else they will discover when looking for the answers?
  • Student portfolios: Encourage students to create their own Favorites list and revisit it over the course of the year. This could include their favorite artists or works or art from each time period studied, coupled with a reflection.
    • If your students record on Flipgrid, create a Mixtape at the end of the year with all of their reflections.

You cannot go wrong here…

Don’t let Arts and Culture lead you to believe that this site is only for certain curricula. The generous amount of resources beautifully transfer to any class subject and can help diversify all classrooms. Most importantly, the lessons inspired by Google Arts and Culture can speak to students’ individual interests, personalizing their learning experience. The site reaches all subjects and lends itself well to cross-curricular lessons. So, I must ask…

Anybody up for some collaboration?

Marker Mic Drop, Marker Mic Drop Moments, Tech Tools

Marker Mic Drop #6: Matt Miller, author to Tech Like a Pirate (and much more)

Author. Blogger. Podcaster. Educational speaker. Former Spanish teacher. There are many titles that Matt Miller holds, all impressively executed.

In one of the most recent Google Teacher Podcasts, Using Google to Tech Like a Pirate, Kasey Bell (Shake Up Learning author) interviews her co-host, Matt Miller, about his most recent book, Tech Like a Pirate. Inspired by Dave Burgess’s Teach Like a PIRATE, Miller sets out practical ways to use tech in the classroom while, most importantly, creating an experience.

“Don’t just teach a lesson. Create an experience!” -Dave Burgess, author to Teach Like a Pirate

If you are not already a follower of Miller’s Ditch That Textbook site, one click on the Tech Like a Pirate Resources will have you hooked. Click on any of the pictures and you will be taken to a wealth of resources. Miller has always selflessly offered a number of materials to teachers that they can use to create a memorable learning experience. He embraces an attitude that it is more important to try and fail than to not try at all. Try, learn, adjust, repeat. That’s my kind of teacher.

“When they’re having so much fun they don’t even know that they’re learning. That’s the best, right?” -Kasey Bell

The book and website break down memorable learning experiences via the following eight categories:

  • Social Media and Apps
  • Video
  • Games
  • Collaboration
  • Images
  • Exploration
  • Global Communication
  • Storytelling (Bonus chapter on the website!)
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The idea behind the book is to rethink your teaching to create activities that students will enjoy while using technology. In fact, Miller says in the podcast that his message to teachers is to see their assignment through a different lens. For example, could you recreate that writing activity into a social media post? Framing an activity in an appealing way to students will engage them and engrain your lesson that much more. Intentional, meaningful collaboration among you and your students, or from peer to peer, will add an even richer level of engagement. We know, for example, that social media is a huge part of our students’ world. Why not use that to our advantage and meet them at their interests?

In this remote learning era, this book could not have been more timely. In a time when resources are in overdrive to help out during remote learning, it is sometimes difficult to discern which will be the most valuable. I was already a follower of the Ditch That Textbook site. After seeing the book’s accompanying resources, as well as listening to Miller walk through his why for writing the book, I am completely sold. Not only will these ideas help finish the year strong but will also refresh us in the fall. I cannot wait to start flipping through the chapters to start brainstorming how to restructure my lessons. Imagine the storytelling that could come from this spring when we reunite with our students in person?