Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Google Apps and the Brain Friendly Classroom

Drawing and Artwork

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Dr. Marcia Tate has made it her life’s work to show educators how to create a brain-friendly classroom through her Worksheets Don’t Grow Dendrites series. This post is second in a series linking what Dr. Tate has identified as brain-friendly strategies to various Google products. I will share what makes the strategy powerful and how to leverage the multiple Google tools to help in student learning.

This Week: Drawing & Artwork

Why are these important?

Dr. Tate sites several studies showing how drawing and artwork can help a student in their learning process.

  • When students add drawings to their notes, it aids in recall of that information making the abstract tangible.
  • It has been shown that drawing in math helps students to visualize the problem before solving it.
  • Success in STEM is linked to accurate observation, spatial reasoning, and kinesthetic perception, which are also art skills!
  • Different areas of the brain are activated during drawing and artwork activities thus increasing connections.
  • Patterns in the arts help the brain in finding meaning.

How can Google Apps help?


While the core Google Apps suite focuses more on productivity, there is a creative app included in Google Drawings. Google Drawings does allow for some basic artwork creation by adding and manipulating shapes and images and can be a great tool for students to use when trying to visualize math problems. The Drawing app is also embedded in Docs, Sheets, and Slides for ease of adding creativity to productivity.

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But you can get really creative if you get beyond the core apps and embrace Drive Apps and Chrome Apps! Drive apps are third-party sites that work with your Google account in that they allow you to use your Google login for access and your Drive for storage. Many of them are also collaborative! Chrome Apps can be added to the Chrome browser through the Chrome Web Store, and like Drive Apps, these third-party websites allow you to use your Google account for login and access and provide you with a wealth of creative tools!

Here is a list of Drive Apps and Chrome Apps to help you bring drawing and artistic creativity to your classroom.

Drive Apps
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“JSPixely is a graphics editor tailor made to create pixel art for game sprites, icons or just plain pixel art. All icons used in the JSPixely GUI (except the Google Drive™ icon) were created with JSPixely.”

“Online Vector Graphic Design by html5 and SVG effects! It’s like Illustrator but works on the cloud with Google Drive”

Moqups: Mockups, Wireframes, and Prototypes

“The best HTML5 app for creating crisp mockups, wireframes & interactive prototypes.
Achieve flow with our web app for creating mockups, wireframes and interactive prototypes that look great onscreen and on paper thanks to the Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) technology.”

Chrome Apps

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“Create awsome art using this cool painting app.”

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“MyPaint is a fast and easy graphics application for digital painters. MyPaint lets you focus on the art instead of the program. You work on your canvas with minimum distractions, bringing up the interface only when you need it.”

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“CanvasDraw is a HTML5 rich drawing application supported by the online drawing community at RateMyDrawings connects your artwork with one of the most active drawing communities online by showcasing your drawings to the community of members who provide you with feedback and help you grow as an artist.”

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“Remember those old cartoons where hand drawn lines appeared to vibrate because of slight variance between frames? This app lets you draw sketches like that right in your browser and share replays with friends!”

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“Procedural Drawing Tool. Simple drawing tool with a set of special brushes.”

InspirARTion - Sketch and Draw

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“Open your creativity with this easy to use painting application. Number of amazing brushes give you a way to create beautiful artworks just in few strokes. Try symmetry modes to create an interesting effects. Save your creations or share it you with your friends.”

Kenneth Wesson, an educational consultant specializing in neuroscience, agrees with Dr. Tate and has said that every discipline should have students draw. He says "...we have ignored much of the recent research on how the human mind develops when art is a consistent part of long-term instructional planning."
Get Drawing!

Next Week: Field Trips!

Aaron is a Google Certified Teacher and authorized Google Education Trainer and former instructional coach with 19 years of classroom teaching experience. He has presented at state, regional, and national EdTech conventions including Google Education Summits and the ISTE annual convention.

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