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.
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.
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.
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 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:
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:
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!
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.
This guide is meant to help educators get started using these new Chromebooks that have both touchscreens and keyboards. Everything referenced in this post until the very end is web-based and immediately accessible upon signing in to a Chromebook. The very end of this guide suggests some tools that are great but will require district Google administrators to enable the Google Play Store.
Before you do anything, even before reading this – beg, borrow, steal, cheat, lie, simply ask, or do whatever is necessary to get your hands on a new Chromebook the second it arrives in a district warehouse. Reading about apps and educational uses is great but nothing matches the experience of actually using the device.
On to the guide. Let’s start with sketching, jotting, and drawing on touchscreen Chromebooks.
Isn’t that straight up substitution?
Of course it is! “Substitution” has become a loaded dirty word in education. Even the most innovative teacher uses substitution in every lesson. Effective technology integration incorporates constant motion through different levels of SAMR. Jaclyn B. Stevens‘s SAMR swimming pool clearly illustrates this:
As Stevens says in this video, “Just as educators work across the levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy, the levels of the SAMR model must also be flexible and align to what students are doing in a classroom.”
Annotating a website or PDF for a grade is rotten. However, getting messy annotating a website or adding content to a Google Jamboard Jam to process information, give feedback, or create a digital gallery walk is different. Use these tools to help kids get messy. Encourage it.
An example of this is sketchnoting. Sketchnoting is so beneficial for kids and adults. Sketchnotes are often created on iPads that are more expensive than Chromebooks with a paid app (Procreate). Why shouldn’t kids sketchnote on Chromebooks for free?
Google Keep is great for this purpose though it is not the most robust drawing tool. I lamented there was not another Google tool for drawing (don’t get me started about the misnamed Google Drawings) until I saw this tweet from Jessica Garrigan:
Sketching/Drawing/Jotting/Tool #2: Google AutoDraw
AutoDraw lacks the ability to save files. Create, download, and start with a blank slate next time. Let’s hope that changes soon. It also does not have an erase tool though it has an undo button and the ability to delete elements of a sketch by selecting and deleting. For more information about AutoDraw, read these two blog posts:
Google Keep and AutoDraw do not let students sketch or annotate on top of websites. Enter the Web Paint Google Chrome extension.
Sketching/Drawing/Jotting Tool #3: Chrome Canvas
Discovered by Chrome Unboxed in December 2018, Chrome Canvas is a great Google tool for drawing. It saves images and lets students download as PNG files. I like it better than Google Keep for jotting on top of images. Additionally, each drawing tool has size and opacity sliders which are absent in Keep and AutoDraw. Users of Adobe suite mobile apps are familiar with these sliders. Check out this sketch of Gritty created by The Verge:
Watch as I demonstrate this great tool:
Sketching/Drawing/Jotting/Tool #4: (Annotating Websites Edition): The Web Paint Google Chrome Extension
Take advantage of this by using Web Paint with Google Keep to search the text on saved clippings from the web:
One drawback of Web Paint is it only works with what is on screen. There is no ability to scroll down the page. Robby Payne at Chrome Unboxed figured out that using Web Paint in conjunction with the FireShot extension allows for marking up an entire page and then saving it as a PDF.
Formative, found at goformative.com, allows students to draw in an assignment. The applications for this, especially in Math, are innumerable. In this simple example, I draw in a formative (Formative’s name for assignments) I created asking students to explain the Schlieffen Plan.
Drag-and-Drop with Instant Feedback Tool – Quizlet
Dragging-and-dropping isn’t the highest level learning activity but at least Quizlet matching gives students instant feedback. Notice what happens when I choose the wrong answer and then the correct answer:
Writing by Hand on Touchscreen Convertible Chromebooks
This applies only to touchscreen Chromebooks that are convertible – meaning that can be used in stand, tent, and tablet form factors. Students can hand write in Google Docs, Slides, to enter a website URL, or basically anywhere they can input text. Please note this does not work if a mouse is connected to the device. Watch as I demonstrate.
The web version of Google Earth is perfect for touchscreen Chromebooks. It’s not just for exploring and storytelling – Google has added a lot of educational content to Google Earth Voyager. Watch as I demonstrate in this YouTube playlist of 7 short videos:
Bring Touchscreen Chromebooks to the Next Level – Android Apps!
Web apps are great but the magic of touchscreen Chromebooks is found in the Google Play Store. Great apps for education productivity, creativity, and collaboration live there including my beloved free Google Jamboard app! Here are two blog posts where I review great Android apps for education on Chromebooks:
More important than any tool is staying up-to-date on what’s happening with Chrome OS and education. To do this:
Follow the linked Twitter handles in this post. These educators share great resources for integrating technology in the classroom. Some of them are not Chromebook superfans like me. Great! Better to have a broader perspective.
Stay up-to-date about Chrome OS updates with the aforementioned Chrome Unboxed website. The site is constantly publishing valuable updates and 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Scroll down to see staff picks to find some very interesting maps. This can inspire creative use of My Maps.
Open a My Map in Google Earth
Export the data from a My Map as a KMZ file. Leave all boxes unchecked to download:
Then go to Google Earth and enable adding KML/KMZ files in settings:
Then import the KMZ file:
Most data from the My Map will successfully convert to Google Earth, including pictures and text descriptions.
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:
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.