7 Tips for Google Earth in the Classroom

Remember when Google Earth was a slow desktop program? Thank goodness it is now has a sleeker web version (earth.google.com/web) that is perfect for teaching geography. This is especially true for students using touchscreen Chromebooks. Additionally, the iTunes Store Google Earth app is great on iPads. Here are 7 tips for getting the most out of Google Earth in the classroom.

Tip # 1: Use Google Earth for Geology Concepts

Do you teach about volcanoes, plate tectonics, seafloor spreading, or other geology concepts? If so, click the ship steering wheel in Google Earth to access Voyager.

The steering wheel in the Google Earth toolbar opens Voyager: Interactive stories and maps.
Look for the steering wheel.

Then click “LAYERS” and enjoy some very useful content. Watch as I demonstrate:

Tip # 2: Use Google Earth for History

Google Earth Voyager has plenty of great content besides Geography. Click the steering wheel and click “HISTORY.” Each unit of content, called “stories,” leads students through an interactive map. PBS Learning Media authored five of the History stories. Watch as I demonstrate how to access Voyager History stories and the first two scenes of the Underground Railroad story:

Tip # 3: Find Voyager Stories

There are stories in each tab in Voyager. The tabs other than Layers and History are Editor’s Picks, Travel, Nature, Culture, Sports, and Education.

The tabs other than Layers and History are Editor's Picks, Travel, Nature, Culture, Sports, and Education. 

This content is very useful but challenging to find because there is no search function inside Voyager. Scrolling is the only option for finding stories in Voyager. The good news is the search in the Google Earth toolbar searches Voyager stories. At present, a search term has to match a term in the story title. Watch as I demonstrate:

Tip # 4: Learn More About Countries and Cities with Points of Interest

Search Google Earth for a country or city. The search will take you there on the map and add points of interest in the right part of the screen.

Points of interest in Google Earth.

Each point of interest comes with content. What a great way to introduce foreign places. Watch as I preview Tanzania’s points of interest:

Tip # 5: Use Google Earth to Measure, Distance, Area, and Perimeter

The ruler in the Google Earth toolbar is useful for showing students real-life applications for the geometry concepts they learn in math class.

The ruler tool in the Google Earth toolbar measures distance and area.

The ruler measures the distance between points on a line. It also creates shapes and displays their perimeter and area measurements.  On the iPad, there are buttons for copying that data:

Screen capture of a shape in Google Earth. There are buttons for copying the area and perimeter measurements.
Notice the “copy” icon to the right of the area and perimeter measurements.

One drawback of shapes in Google Earth is they cannot be saved. To level up using Google Geo Tools to teach geometry, have students create shapes in Google My Maps. This is a great way to teach scale and how maps can be distorted. For example, maps show Greenland to be about the size of Africa. Is that true? Make a copy of this Google My Map and have your students move the shape to find out.

  • Click the [    ] in the upper right corner to view this map fullscreen.
  • Click the three dots. Then click “Copy Map.”


Watch as I demonstrate using shapes in Google Earth and Google My Maps:

For more information on Google My Maps, please read my blog post, Google My Maps Tips and Tricks.

Tip # 6: Perfect Image Captures on the iPad

The camera icon in the Google Earth iPad app.
Notice the camera icon in the Google Earth iPad app.

Pressing the camera icon results in a screen capture of the Google Earth screen without toolbars:

A picture produced by the Google Earth iPad app.

This also works in the Google Earth Android app. Watch as I demonstrate the Android app.

Tip # 7, Your Anchor Activity: Use I’m Feeling Lucky for Anchor Activities

All done reading the first 6 tips? Great! The Google Earth toolbar has a dice icon. When clicked, it functions as “I’m Feeling Lucky” and takes students to a random location. What a great anchor activity!

The dice in the Google Earth toolbar Is
Roll the dice. Or to be more precise, click the dice.

When students say, “I’m done,” reply with “Great! Click I’m Feeling Lucky and share three things you learned about your random location with the class during the last five minutes.” Watch as I demonstrate using the “I’m Feeling Lucky” dice:

Thank you for reading this post! What Google Earth questions do you have? Please comment below or tweet me @TomEMullaney.

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Google My Maps Tips and Tricks

Google My Maps is a great tool for teachers and learners. Teachers can use it as an interactive platform to present lesson materials. Learners can use Google My Maps to document what they have learned.

For example, here is a Google My Map I created of Civil War battles in North Carolina for a Civil War digital breakout:

One of my favorite Google My Maps is this ingenious map someone made documenting every location in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia:

To access Google My Maps, type mymaps.google.com into the browser. Unfortunately, My Maps does not appear in the apps launcher (AKA the waffle in the upper right of the screen in Gmail, Drive, and Classroom) so it makes sense to bookmark it or pin it to a Chromebook shelf.

Here is a brief overview video of using My Maps in which I make a map of Amsterdam and reference The Fault in Our Stars:

Use these tips and tricks to get even more out of Google My Maps.

Create in Google Drive

As I did in the video, create My Maps in Google Drive folders so they stay organized with other content for a given instructional unit.

Creating a My Map in a Google Drive folder.
Creating a My Map in a Google Drive folder

Change the base map

Scroll to the bottom of the legend to change the base map to one of nine different options. The default is “Map.” I am partial to “Simple Atlas” for historic maps.

Animated GIF demonstrating how to change the base map
Changing the Base map

Like a map? Copy it for yourself!

Click on the “NOT OWNED” tab in the My Maps home screen. You should see thumbnails of every Google My Map you have viewed and you don’t own, including the North Carolina battles and Always Sunny maps higher up in this post! Click on the three dots in the upper-right corner of the thumbnail to make a copy for yourself.

Animated GIF showing how to make a copy of a map
Make a copy of a map you like.

Explore the EXPLORE tab

Click on the EXPLORE tab to see Google My Maps other users have created. At the top is the top picks. I can’t lie – you will see a lot of Pokémon GO maps there.

Animated GIF of toggling between top maps in the Explore tab.
Click the arrows to toggle between Pokémon GO maps and more!

Scroll down to see staff picks to find some very interesting maps. This can inspire creative use of My Maps.

Animated GIF of scrolling to see more staff picks in the explore tab.
Scroll down to see more staff picks.

Open a My Map in Google Earth

Export the data from a My Map as a KMZ file. Leave all boxes unchecked to download:

Animated GIF depicting exporting a My Map as a KMZ file.
Export a My Map as a KMZ file. Leave all boxes unchecked.

Then go to Google Earth and enable adding KML/KMZ files in settings:

Enabling KML and KMZ files in Google Earth.
Click “My Places.” Then enable KML and KMZ files.

Then import the KMZ file:

Animated GIF depicting importing a KMZ file into Google Earth.
Click on “My Places” to import the KMZ from a hard drive or Google Drive.

Most data from the My Map will successfully convert to Google Earth, including pictures and text descriptions.

An image an description from Google My Maps in Google Earth.
An image an description from Google My Maps in Google Earth.

One caveat: According to Google, “Some custom icons and overlay images hosted on other websites won’t work.” The two maps in this post do not have custom icons, so their KMZ files import into Google Earth nicely. If the custom icon does not work in Google Earth, it will render like a red “X” similar to the one that appears for a wrong answer on Family Feud. Some custom icons do work though. The custom icons on this My Map of some San Francisco New Deal sites render correctly. That may be because the custom icons were created using image URLs.

Animated GIF of Google My Map data in Google Earth.
The custom icons render correctly. Notice the images and text from the My Map made it to Google Earth as well.

For more information on Google Earth, please read my blog post, 7 Tips for Google Earth in the Classroom.

Google Classroom integration…almost but not quite

The good news is that teachers can share maps so that students can view them and they can share a map so that all students can edit it. This is similar to settings for other Google Drive files in Google Classroom. The bad news is this is what happens when teachers try to make a copy of a My Map for each student in Google Classroom:

Animated GIF demonstrating that "Make a copy for each student" with My Maps does not work in Google Classroom.
Make a copy for each student does not yet work in Google Classroom.

I hope Google addresses this issue in the near future. In the meantime, My Maps is still a great tool for teachers and learners alike. If you would like to share your ideas about the Google My Maps, please comment below or tweet me at @TomEMullaney. Thank you for reading.

This is the Google My Maps icon image I used in the image for this post.

 

Collaboration in G Suite – An Overview

G Suite for Education is a great platform for giving students feedback on their work. The apps in G Suite are also great for facilitating student collaboration.  Let’s look at how teachers can use G Suite for student collaboration.

A Quick Note

This post is meant for teachers who are almost proficient with or just learning G Suite. Additionally, this post contains nothing about add-ons, extensions, coding, or anything extra. Strictly G Suite.

Sharing (Works in Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Drawings)

G Suite allows sharing in which collaborators can receive edit access.

Give a collaborator edit access
Give a collaborator edit access

Collaborators can also receive “Can comment” access that allows for commenting in a doc, spreadsheet, presentation, or drawing.

Give a collaborator comment access
Give a collaborator comment access

Email Collaborators (Works in Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Drawings)

Email collaborators is a great way for collaborators to communicate about a file they are working on. The person initiating the conversation need not open Gmail. They also get to choose the exact collaborators they want to send a message to. Click File>>>Email collaborators… to use this function.

"Use

Assign Action Items (Works in Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Drawings)

Use the comment function and type a “+” or “@” with a collaborator’s email address to assign them an action item. That pushes an email to their inbox telling them they have been assigned an action item.

Assign an Action Item using Comments.
Assign an Action Item using Comments.

Suggesting Mode (Works in Docs)

In the Google Docs editor, notice the pencil in the upper-right corner. Click it and choose “Suggesting” in the drop-down menu.

Suggesting Mode in the Google Docs editor.
Suggesting Mode in the Google Docs editor.

Make edits. They appear as suggestions.

Suggesting Mode in Action
Suggesting Mode in Action

Collaborators can approve or reject suggestions by checking “✔️” or “✖️.”

Collaborators can accept or reject suggestions.
Collaborators can accept or reject suggestions.

Version History (Works in Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Drawings)

Version history is a great way for teachers and collaborating students to keep track of ongoing collaborations. Ever wonder which member of a group made a contribution to a G Suite file? Version history reveals all. Click File>>>Version history to access a detailed history of all edits to a G Suite file. Version history allows editors to restore a version. This is a great way to save the day if one collaborator has made many incorrect edits to a G Suite file/

Accessing Version History in Google Docs.
Accessing Version History in Google Docs.

Differentiation in Google Classroom

Let’s conclude with an easy way for teachers to turbo-charge collaboration in Google Classroom. Any post (announcement, question, or assignment) can be shared only with specific students even though the default is set to all students in a class. Have a look at how it works from Google’s The Keyword blog:

Google Classroom Differentiation
Google Classroom Differentiation

Teachers can use this to facilitate collaboration in two ways:

  1. Create a post that shares files only with group captains. Each group captain can then share their files with their group members.
  2. Create posts only for groups. This is not that difficult because of the reuse post feature. Use it to use the same post for each group with slight adjustments for each group.

For more information on differentiation in Google Classroom, please watch this video.

The Future of Collaboration in G Suite – Google Jamboard

If your district uses iPads or Play Store enabled Chromebooks, your students can use the Google Jamboard app right now. This online collaborative whiteboard is the new frontier in G Suite collaboration.  Have a look at me demonstrating it on my Chromebook. As you watch, please note – I now know what the lasso tool does. It selects elements on the screen, resizes, and moves them. It’s actually very useful.

Thank you for reading. If you would like to share your thoughts about collaboration in G Suite with me, please comment below or tweet me at @TomEMullaney.

The G Suite logo I used in the image for this blog post.

Feedback for Students in G Suite – An Overview

Teachers and students in districts that use Google for Education have access to a free suite of apps, G Suite, to create and publish. But why use G Suite? Why not Microsoft, pen-and-paper, or go full tactile and have students use typewriters? The reason to use G Suite is feedback – collaboration too, but that is a separate blog post!

A Quick Note

This post is meant for teachers who are almost proficient with or just learning G Suite. Additionally, this post contains nothing about add-ons, extensions, coding, or anything extra. Strictly G Suite.

What is so special about feedback?

One of the most valuable interventions teachers can use with students is feedback. According to Hattie and Timperley (2007) feedback is vital:

…Feedback is one of the most powerful influences on learning and achievement…The feedback that students receive from their teachers is also vital. It enables students to progress towards challenging learning intentions and goals.

– Visible Learning

Marianne Stenger shared research tips for providing students meaningful feedback in Edutopia. Number 2 on the list? The sooner the better. That’s where G Suite comes in. Here is a quick-and-dirty look at using G Suite to give students immediate feedback.

Comments (Works in Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Drawings)

Comments are a great way to give students immediate feedback as they work in G Suite. Select text or an image. There are three ways to insert a comment:

Demonstration of 3 Ways to Insert a Comment in the Google Docs Editor

Use either of these methods and type a comment:

Animated GIF of a comment inserted into a Google Doc

Comments are even better when an editor is tagged in them. This sends an email to their Gmail. Tag an editor by typing “+” or “@” followed by their email address.

Animated GIF of an editor tagged in a comment

Comment boxes serve as spaces where teachers and students can converse. Here teachers and peers can give feedback about work.

Screen capture of a discussion in a Google Docs comment

Comments “disappear” when they are resolved. The good news is they never truly disappear. The “Comments” button in the upper right of the editor keeps a record of them. This is great for keep track of all feedback students receive, whether it is from teachers or peers.

Demonstration of Comments history in Google Docs

Feedback in Google Classroom

Teachers can add a private comment to any assignment in Google Classroom. This is what it looks like as a student:

Private comment feedback from a teacher in Google Classroom

Teachers can also give feedback for students’ answers when they reply to questions in Google Classroom:

Feedback on a student's reply to a question in Google Classroom

A nice aspect of feedback in Google Classroom is that it keeps track of the number of private feedback comments exchanged between student and teacher. What a great way to document the amount of feedback provided to a student.

Google Classroom keeps track of the feedback comments exchanged between teacher and student

Google Keep (Works in Docs, Drawings and Slides)

Google Keep integration is a great way to give feedback in Docs, Drawings, and Slides. One way to do this is to have comments ready to go in a Google Keep note, then copy-and-paste them into comments.

Additionally, Google Keep can be used to give students longer-form narrative feedback in Docs, Drawings, and Slides. To make the most of this strategy, create a label for each student and each assignment in Google Keep. That way, feedback can be organized by assignment and by student.

In Docs:

In Drawings:

In Slides:

Google Forms (Response Validation and Quiz Mode)

Response validation is a great way to give students a question they work on until they get correct. I love using Response Validation for digital breakouts. Simply use short-answer questions in Google Forms, click the three dots, and choose Response Validation.

Screen capture of Response validation in Google Forms

This is a great strategy for a math problem – students receive an error message until they type the correct answer. They know immediately if they are correct or wrong – instant feedback!

Animated GIF of response validation in Google Forms

Error messages (the red text above) are a great way to scaffold for students as they work on finding an answer.

Here I demonstrate to use Response Validation:

Quiz Mode is another good way to give students feedback in Google Forms.  Quiz mode allows teachers to give different feedback for correct and incorrect answers. It also allows for links to be added to answer feedback, meaning students can be directed to a resource to re-learn questions they answered incorrectly. Watch as I demonstrate:

Two G Suite Apps That Are Not Great for Student Feedback – (Forms?! and Sites)

Didn’t I just discuss ways to use Google Forms to give students feedback? Yes, I did. Forms is great for giving feedback when they answer forms their teachers create. However, when students create Google Forms, there is no good way for teachers to give feedback inside of Google Forms. The same holds true for the Google Sites (still called New Sites). As much as I love Google Sites, I wish there was a way teachers and students could exchange feedback inside its editor.

If you would like to share your thoughts with me, please comment below or tweet me at @TomEMullaney. Thank you for reading.

The G Suite logo I used in the image for this blog post.

Why This Teacher Loves ThingLink

ThingLink, a tool that allows for adding content that appears on top of images, is a great tool for both blended learning and student creation. Here are three reasons this teacher loves it:

Google Forms, YouTube Videos, and Google Slides

Scroll over this French Revolution ThinkLink to reveal that students can answer Google Forms and watch YouTube videos without ever leaving a ThingLink. No new tabs to open! Imagine how this can impact blended and self-paced learning!

The “Publish to the web” version of a Google Slides presentation renders nicely on a ThingLink. For an example, have a look at the ThingLink on my Sell World War I to the American Public digital breakout.

Add Sound and Images to Text

ThingLink is a great took for adding audio reading to text. Below is a screen capture of an old research paper of mine. I have added audio and imagery using ThingLink. This can open doors for students who benefit from an audio version of a text or need more than just text to learn.

Adding sound to images is especially easy with the iTunes Store version of ThingLink on iPads. It kills me to admit the iTunes app is superior to the ThingLink Android app.

Vocabulary

Check out how ThingLink can help students with vocabulary!

 

How do you use ThingLink with your students? Comment below or tweet me @TomEMullaney. Thanks for reading.

Author’s note: I originally published this is February 2016. I subsequently updated this post in April 2017 and September 2018.

Going Deeper with Google Classroom

Updated Going Deeper with Google Classroom

Google Classroom is awesome. Teachers can take it beyond substitution to redefine teaching and learning in their classroom. I have posted ten strategies to help teachers do so on the BAMNetwork Radio blog.

Going Deeper with Google Classroom – Part 1

  • Anchor Activities in the About Tab
  • Create a Question for Class Discussions
  • Easily Find All Google Classroom Files by Student
  • Google Classroom as Backchannel for Students to Help Each Other
  • Make it All Accessible to Absent Students and/or Convert to Blended Learning

Going Deeper with Google Classroom – Part 2

  • Google Forms for Do Nows and Assessment
  • Hyperdocs
  • Choosing a Theme Image
  • Make a New Google Classroom for Each Class Unit
  • A Strategy for Differentiation

Thank you for reading these suggestions. I hope they help you go deeper with Google Classroom. Please comment below or tweet me at @edtechtom if you would like to chat more about going deeper with Google Classroom.