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Posts from the ‘google’ Category

Revisit Google Tour Builder: The forgotten little brother of all the map tools

It’s no secret that History Tech loves the maps. I still get a bit giddy whenever a new National Geographic mag shows up with a historical map insert. Cause . . . maps are cool.

So it’s not a surprise that I’m also in love with all things Google map related. There’s the basic Google Maps and Maps app. You’ve got both the original, downloadable – and by far the best – version of Google Earth and the new version of Google Earth they created so it would play nice with Chromebooks. You’ve got the relatively new Google My Maps. You’ve got the Street View and Expeditions apps. And there’s hundreds of third party tools using Google Map API code that do all sorts of fun things.

And then there’s the often forgotten little brother of the Google Map world – Google Tour Builder. Tour Builder came out about  Read more

Best posts 2017: Tips and Tricks for using Google Expeditions

I’m sure most of you are doing the same thing I’m doing right now. Spending time with family and friends, watching football, catching up on that book you’ve been dying to read, eating too much Chex Mix, and enjoying the occasional nap.

But if you need a break from all of the holiday cheer, we’ve got you covered. Between now and the first week in January, you’ll get a chance to re-read seven of the most popular History Tech posts from 2017. Enjoy the reruns. See you in a couple of weeks!


I will be the first to admit that I love new and shiny gadgets quickly catch my attention. I love finding new tools and ideas that can help teachers and kids do their jobs better and more effectively. And here at ESSDACK, it’s actually part of my job. I get the chance to play with and learn about all sorts of shiny toys.

My latest gadget? Virtual and augmented reality tools. The potential for engaging students and using this sort of technology to gather, organize, and create information is pretty mind blowing. I especially love the work that Google is doing to make the tech more accessible for schools. The Google Cardboard virtual reality viewer is especially affordable and easy to use. Plus it’s designed to be used with a wide variety of third party tools. And the Google has also developed its own apps that work with their Cardboard viewer. Read more

History Nerdfest 2017 Day Three: Google Maps + Newsela = glorious mashup

This morning, I feel old.

As in, that old guy who gets up at 5:30 am, eats a hard boiled egg with black coffee, and wanders around the neighborhood mumbling something about early to bed, early to rise.

Saturday morning at #ncss17 is always a bit slow. And I probably actually am that old grumpy guy but this morning seems especially sparse. It’s ten minutes before the first session and there are four of us here. And no presenter. I need more coffee.

And of course, a couple of Newsela folks show up and it’s an awesome session. Cause . . . it’s maps and Newela.

I love Google My Maps and Newsela. Combining them together just makes sense.

JJ, the Newsela guy in charge this morning, kicked off our conversation by talking about what he called the “edtech ecosystem” that exists in our classrooms. I like that. There are healthy ecosystems and ones that aren’t as healthy. I love this idea.

So . . . Read more

5 push / pull digital storytelling tools that work on Chromebooks (and Macs and PCs)

I grew up out in Western Kansas. As in, west of Dodge City. West of Jetmore. West of Kalvesta. As in, far enough west to get incredible views and horizons that are miles away. Old barns and windmills. So it was a great day yesterday when I got the chance to drive out that direction to work with middle and high school teachers at @NessCityEagles.

The goal was to share ideas and work with technology integration tools that can be used on their student Chromebooks. Much of our conversation and work time centered around a few of my favorite story telling push / pull digital storytelling tools and what they can look like in the classroom.

What’s a push / pull tool? These are tools that you as the teacher can use to push your instructional content out to kids. But kids can use the same tool to create their own content which you pull back from them. One teacher yesterday used the phrase:

“kids can use this to both consume and create content.”

And the cool thing is that because these tools are designed to work on the Chromebook’s Chrome browser, they work just as well on your Mac or PC Chrome browser. So in no particular order, five awesome digital storytelling tools: Read more

Quick and easy way to find the perfect Google Expeditions tour

Even after a couple of years working with Google Cardboard apps and tools, I am still fascinated with the possibilities of virtual reality as part of the instruction and learning process.

And, yes, there are other VR viewers and apps out there. But the price (free) and ease of use (super duper easy) of the Cardboard viewer and associated Google VR apps makes it a quick and simple entry into integrating virtual reality into the classroom. I especially like the power of Google Expeditions.

You can catch up with a longer description of the Expeditions app here but the quick overview is that the app allows you and your students to experience virtual reality together – each on your own device.

As the Expedition Guide, you have some control of what students experience while using the app and allows you to direct the learning that happens. I also like that students can switch roles in the app, moving from Explorer to Guide. This makes Expeditions not just a consumption tool but a creation tool as well.

(Want to extend the learning? While it’s not yet possible to upload Tours to the app’s database, you can still ask students create their own “Tours” – researching a specific place or event, finding or producing their own 2D or 3D images, and writing contextual information for each of their scenes. Share their “Tours” with with a Google Sites or Doc.)

It’s a great way to create emotion as part of the learning process and build empathy.

One of the shortcomings in the app has always been actually finding just the right tour to use with your students. There is a search function and several categories that you can browse through. But as new Tours are added, these simple search features become a more cumbersome to use.

The solution? Read more

Google Street View, art, and quality social studies instruction

I never really thought much about using art as a social studies instructional tool. It was never something mentioned during my methods classes. We never studied it during my history content courses. And I never had much experience actualy creating art.

I mean . . . sure, I finger painted with the best of them. But it just didn’t occur to me to find ways to integrate art as part of my social studies instruction.

Then my kids came along. They loved creating all sorts of art. (The whale to the left is from my son’s primitive stage.) So I learned more about past and present art, I began thinking about the context of the artists, and I started seeing how art in all of its forms are great examples of primary sources.

The Smithsonian and the National Portrait Gallery strategies and lessons helped. I also fell in love with Google’s Arts and Culture site. So much goodness.

And now Google is making it even easier to find and view artwork for your lessons and units. Read more