Simplicity & Power of Authentic Learning…


This week I stumbled upon Wanda’s Terrel’s Tweet about Day 2 of #SketchCue &  at first thought, “what an opportunity for me to further explore using Google Drawings”. The focus of #SketchCue supports the tenets of learning to create Sketchnotes. A sketchnote is exactly how it sounds. One uses the creative power of drawing and design to capture notes from lectures, research, and etc…  Sketchnoting supports an individual with expressing their content knowledge in a visual format. I found this opportunity to share my Google Drawings Sketchnotes to be engaging and motivating. It was then when I realized a simple activity such as this has the ability to develop into a  “Powerful Authentic Learning Tool” supporting student engagement.

I found myself exploring clipart designs along with examining the meanings for the #SketchCue word topics. After sharing my first sketchnote and receiving a “Like” it dawned on me how this simple use of social media could engage students with further developing vocabulary skills. It always amazes me how a simple activity shared in an authentic manner has the power to motivate the creator. I found myself wanting to contribute new creations every day as well as enjoying reading the creative shares of educators from around the world. It became evident to me authentic learning opportunities are engaging and leads to furthering one’s content knowledge base.

My #SketchCue Day 1 Entry

Word: Arrows

#SketchCue Arrows (1)

My #SketchCue Day 2 Entry

Word: Banners

#SketchCue Banners (1).jpg

Learning Vocabulary w/Google Drawings

How do you get students to internalize learning vocabulary words? This was a discussion I had with a colleague. Sometimes the simplest activity with a “techno twist” can be the one which engages students with active learning. My colleague came up with the idea of having students create a crossword puzzle and sharing this with their friends as a vocabulary study tool. This idea inspired the use of a Google Drawing  in conjunction with  the Discover Education Criss Cross Puzzlemaker.

Using a crossword generator makes this project easier for the students to learn how to design a crossword puzzle. The students simply input the vocabulary words and the definitions into the crossword generator. Once the crossword puzzle is created a screenshot of the puzzle is captured and inserted into a Google Drawing. This provides the skeleton for creating an interactive crossword classmates can try solving. The crossword project supports critical thinking skills, using creativity, and basic technology skills.

Steps for Creating the Crossword Puzzle

  1. Click for Discover Education Criss Cross Puzzlemaker
  2. Enter a Title for the Crossword puzzle
  3. Enter the Words and Definitions
  4. Click Create Puzzle


 Insert Crossword into Google Drawings

  1. Open Google Drawings
  2. Click Insert Image
  3. Choose image to Upload
  4. Click Select
  5. Crop & resize image
  6. Insert Table

insert Crossword 3.gif

Creating Flashcards Using Google Sheet Template

Today during an Ed Tech Professional Development workshop I created a flashcard. You wouldn’t believe how simple this was to do using a Google Sheet Template supplied by the Flippity Website. This is what the flashcards looked like once published to the internet.

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I like how provides several different tools once the vocabulary list is published to the internet.


This view provides a listing of the vocabulary words along with the definition

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Print quiz option creates assessments from the vocabulary information entered into a Google Spreadsheet

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flippy copy template

  • Edit the Flippity Google Spreadsheet

flippy edit

  • Publish Spreadsheet to the web ~ copy the link
  • Paste the link into the second sheet of the spreadsheet

Flippity step 1 2

  • A link for the Flippity Flashcards will be generated for sharing

Flippity link

Students Create Animated Vocabulary Cards with Google Slides

Okay I admit to being a wee bit “Over the Hill” and growing up using those boring rote memorization flash cards. These days there are so many other avenues one can take to support the learning of vocabulary. I like having fun and know the kids do too! Google Slides presents an opportunity for the students to play and be creative while making a vocabulary study tool. Here is a simple animation idea which supports both the students critical thinking skills along with having “Good Old Fashion Fun Creating!”



  • The students are provided with a vocabulary word and definition
  • They need to find an image to represent the meaning of the vocabulary word
  • The student creates a slide presentation
    • Must include stop animation motion
    • No more than one slide animation action
  • Limit the amount of slides used
    • Not less than 5
    • No more than 7
  • Students can work on one big slide presentation with slides assigned to them
    • Work in smaller groups
    • Small group slides can be combined into one big presentation
    • This will provide a shared study resource for all the students


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Discovered Visual On-line Dictionary which Verbally Pronounces Words

It is amazing how excited I get when discovering new website links. Today I stumbled upon Merriam Webster’s Visual Dictionary On-line. This dictionary shares pictorial definitions along with a selection of vocabulary words for the content area in which the  vocabulary word is used. The other feature I really like is the student can click on a speaker to hear how to pronounce the words. This is a really great support and resource to share with the students. One thing I like most about this dictionary website is the way it differentiates the definitions to support all users! Websites like this are great resources to use because it supports the students with becoming an independent learner!

Here is a sample view for part of a page in the geology section of the Merrian Webster’s Visual Dictionary On-line. You can check out this site here: Merriam Webster Visual Dictionary On-line.

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