Monday, July 9, 2012

Using Google+ Hangouts in the Gifted Ed Classroom

Summer is my time to relax, recharge, and reflect. Lately, though I've been doing a lot of learning informally and with the help of my PLN on Twitter. I have come across several of my Tweeps, who also happen to be fantastic Tweechers (teachers that tweet), mention Google+ Hangouts and their applications in the elementary classroom. Two posts that stood out to me and actually inspired this post were written by @ncarroll24. She begins by mentioning her first experiences with Hangouts and then offers 10 ways to use them in the elementary classroom. I recommend you check out these posts if you plan on using Google+ Hangouts. What followed after reading her posts was some experimenting of my own (with the help of @amusone & @mrbadura) and lots of ideas.

Here are some ways I plan to use Google Hangouts:

  1. Nancy mentioned some collaborative writing activities in her post and I really like this approach. One app worth mentioning for the pre-writing stages is Scoot & Doodle. Students can use this tool to draw their own webs, characters, or illustrations for stories or poems. Another variation would be to have classes draw Rebus Puzzles and solve each other's puzzles.
  2. Another excellent app for visual learners is Cacoo. This would work well for illustrating an array of concepts because it provides several templates for mind maps and flowcharts. These would work well for collaborative research projects.
  3. Google Docs is also integrated into the Hangouts, which would make it easier for smaller groups of students to take notes or collect information during a Hangout. I am wondering though if it would be possible and perhaps easier to have a couple students take notes live on other computers on that shared Google Doc in real-time so those in front of the hot seat (or webcam) are talking instead of typing.
  1. I plan to continue our Novel Study Units and hope to utilize Google+ Hangouts to talk with all our participating classes at the same time and play Vocabulary and Character Trait Games. We also plan on incorporating Readers' Theater using Google Effects. This should be fun!
  2. I also stumbled on A Story Before Bed. Although I did not get a chance to fully explore book title options, it looks like great app to use with younger learners, especially those who are learning English or to read. Wouldn't it be great for my students to start a virtual Buddy Reading Program with a younger class? We'll see what the future holds for this app.

One awesome app that @amusone and I played with was Panoramio. With this app, the person who starts the game selects from a group of pictures. A timer then starts while other players pin point the exact location of the picture on a Google Map. Once the timer stops, each player gets an estimate of how far their guess was to the actual location in kilometers. This game is a great way to expose students to different landmarks and use conversion in measurement of distances. After each turn, there is a new game master (and this is indicated by a top hat or some kind of effect), and that game master gets a red pin that indicates the exact location, which means they can give real-time clues to the players if he/she chooses to. I think this game would be a great introduction and/or variation to Mystery Calls.

Extra Bonus

Finally, my favorite feature is the fact that I can record our Google+ Hangouts! This recording is very easy to do and automatically uploads and streams on your YouTube Channel. It is important to note that the person starting the hangout must enable live recording by going to the YouTube App once others join.

So here are my plans for this nifty tool. What ways have/would you integrate them in your gifted curriculum or class? Please feel free to leave a comment or let me know if you would like to join us in this journey!


  1. Hi Elle,
    I love this post and will link it to mine (if that's okay with you). Specifically, you mention several of the Apps that work so well with the Hangouts (Cacoo, Google Docs, Google Effects..will be trying the Recording (a true bonus!) and Panoramio). Also, I like that you have found/created some learning games that you will use via this venue. Kids, games and learning - what could be better than that?

    Something that I think that would help others to get started is to find a friend, colleague, or Twitter Pal that you feel comfortable with to try it out. It really is a very easy tool to work with, but as with anything, you need to explore and discover. So glad you connected with @amusone & @mrbadura. Love the idea that more people are going to be connecting this year!

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful ideas!


  2. Hi Nancy,

    Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment! I appreciate all that you and my PLN have offered me. You inspire me to think outside the box when it comes to creating learning experiences for my students. It sure helps that I have a PLN that is willing to learn alongside with me, too. Feel free to link anything from my blog.



  3. I'm quite interested in using G+ with my grade five students. I am the school Google Apps administrator, and G+ has recently been "turned on" for apps for education k-12 users.

    Unfortunately, Google says that users who are under 13 and who try to create G+ profiles will be locked out of their accounts. This means that we need to instruct students to lie about their age. On one hand, the end probably justifies the means, and we encourage our students to be conscious of sharing too much personal data. On the other hand, as educators, it is hard for us to justify instructing students to lie in order to gain a reward (ie. access to service).

    I'm struggling with introducing my students to this.

    How do you reconcile this? Or do you work with grade 8 students, most of which are 13 by now anyways?


    1. Hi Chris,

      First of all, I would never advocate teaching or having students lie about their age for the purposes of gaining access to a tech tool. This is not a good practice, especially if we are to model good digital citizenship. For this reason, I only have my students sign up for technology tools that are appropriate for their age level and for the most part are closed systems or educational in nature (such as Edmodo and Glogster EDU). I also only do this after obtaining parental permission.

      With tools like Google +, I would use as a whole class (and only with my school account) much like I have been using Skype. I do have a few students who have signed up for their own Skype or Facebook account, but it has been done from home and under their parent supervision. That is why I always stress to my students the importance of cybersafety and not sharing too much of their personal information. Of course, I cannot control these types of situations, but I feel that at least I am having that conversation with them and hopefully preparing them to be responsible digital citizens. So in your situation, I would encourage your teachers to use their Google+ accounts for whole class activities as opposed to having your students sign up individually.

      Best of luck to you,