Sunday, May 7, 2017

Create your own Lit Trips (and more) for Google Earth

Recently I shared a blog post on how to use Google Lit Trips in the new web-based Google Earth. Lit Trips are a great way to put students in a story, helping them see where the events took place, and bring the story to life.

In addition to just using Lit Trips, you (and your students) can also create your own tours for Google Earth. This can be a powerful learning tool, or a way for students to collect and share what they have read. Of course, beyond just Lit Trips, students can create Google Earth tours for any subject including documenting the key locations and details in a historical battle, visiting different biomes, a tour of geometric architecture, and more.

There are lots of tools that can be used to create a Lit Trip or other Google Earth tour. Whatever tool you use, the final product will need to be a .KML or .KMZ file that will then be opened in Google Earth. In my opinion, one of the best tools for creating Lit Trips (or other tours) is Google Tour Builder.

In this blog post we will take a look at how to use Google Tour Builder to create you own Lit Trip. See below for detailed directions on the process.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

My 2017 ITIP Google Summit Sessions

I am excited and honored to once again present at the 2017 ITIP Ohio Summit Featuring Google for Education in Sandusky this May 1st and 2nd.

I always look forward to this opportunity to see old friends, make new friends, share some ideas, and learn so many new things from others.

Below is a list of sessions I will be presenting at the ITIP Google Summit, along with any associated resources. Please feel free to join me for any of these sessions. I look forward to sharing, learning, and chatting with you!

What's New in Google - April 2017

Catch up on everything new in Google Apps over the last month, and see great ideas and resources!

Below is the recorded video from our April 2017 Google User Meeting, along with the meeting agenda and all the awesome resources and Google Apps updates from the last month. This includes 18 new Google updates and 29 Google resources for your class.

The monthly meetings are hosted by the Google Educator Group of Ohio, but are open to anyone from any location. The purpose of these meetings is to:
  • Connect Google-using educators
  • Share the latest Google Apps news and features
  • Provide tutorials, demonstrations, and how-to’s
  • Share best practices of how Google Apps is being used within schools
  • Ask questions and get answers
The video from the meeting is recorded and available for later viewing for those who cannot attend or connect live. See below to view the recorded video, agenda, and all the resources from the April 2017 meeting:

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Creative Google Slides Uses for Students

We all know Google Slides is an excellent multimedia presentation tool. But it can be so much more than that. There are many non-traditional ways students can use Google Slides for learning, creating, and expressing their understanding.

I recently had the privilege and pleasure of joining Thomas Rup and Eric Lawson for a YouTube Live event to discuss "Souped-Up Slides". Thomas is the Network Administrator and Eric is the Director of Technology & Libraries for the York School Department in York, Maine. Together they are "The Blended EdTech Guys" and they create and share educational technology videos that are just as funny as they are informative.

See below for the recorded video where we talk about loads of creative ways students can use Google Slides, as well as other tech topics that came up in the process. You will also find links to all of the resources discussed.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Lit Trips on Chromebooks with the New Google Earth

Google Lit Trips have been a popular learning activity for many years. With the new version of Google Earth, they are now available for Chromebooks!

If you are not familiar with them, a Lit Trip plots locations from a novel on Google Earth to create a 3D geographic tour of the story. At each location the Lit Trip can also include annotations, web links, images, videos, activities, and more, all related to that part of the story. This is a great way to put students in the story, helping them see where the events took place, and bring the story to life.

Lit Trips run in Google Earth, so unfortunately for years this has meant you could not run them on a Chromebook. Google Earth has always needed to be installed on a traditional computer, such as a Mac or PC.

However, Google has now released their new version of Earth which runs entirely inside of your Chrome web browser. This means Chromebooks can now run Google Earth, and take advantage of awesome activities such as Lit Trips.

See below for a brief video explaining how to do this, along with written directions and links.

Update: If you are interested in having you or your students create your own Lit Trips (or other tours), see my new blog post: Create your own Lit Trips (and more) for Google Earth

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Pattern Block Templates and Activities with Google Drawings

Pattern Blocks are popular math manipulatives that seem to have been around forever (at least they were around when I started teaching math 25 years ago.) The standard set includes:
  • Yellow hexagons
  • Red trapezoids
  • Blue thick rhombi
  • Tan thin rhombi
  • Green triangles
  • Orange squares

There are loads of fun learning activities that can be done with pattern blocks, including exploration of symmetry, fractions, tessellations, angles, and more. Pattern blocks can also be used outside of math for creativity, art, writing, and such.

As useful as pattern blocks are, the physical versions have a few drawbacks:
  • They cost money to buy.
  • You will always have a limited amount.
  • They can get lost.

One alternative is to use digital pattern blocks. Although there is nothing quite like handling the plastic blocks in real life, students can still do loads of activities with the virtual version.

To help with this, I have created a free Google Drawings template with virtual pattern blocks. In addition to the blank template, I have also made several sample activities to show some ideas for how these could be used. See below to get more details and to get your own copies of all these resources.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Using Google AutoDraw for Sketchnotes, Infographics, Drawings, and More

A while back, Google launched a fun tool called "Quick Draw" where you drew pictures on your computer or device, and Google's AI tried to guess what you were drawing.

Well it turns out that wasn't just a game, but was a way for Google to test out and improve the ability of its artificial intelligence to interpret doodles. One of the first applications of this has now been released in the form of AutoDraw.

AutoDraw is a very simple and easy to use drawing tool, with most of the normal features such as drawing, filling colors, resizing, adding text, and more. However, there is one big twist. AutoDraw includes Google's artificial intelligence to help you draw by taking your squiggles and doodles, and offering to replace them with professional images.

Can't draw a dog? If you can sort of doodle a poodle, AutoDraw will try to recognize what you drew and let you replace your questionable canine with a cute clipart version.

See below for more details about AutoDraw and how it works, as well as ideas for how teachers and students could use this tool for creating and learning.