Mad About My Maps

Over the past two weeks, I’ve been asked to work with teachers and students to help introduce Google My Maps. Now that it’s found in My Drive, it’s getting used more often. I’ve always been a fan of maps in general, and we’re starting to see more and more applications for using My Maps.

One teacher is using My Maps to help students see the historical timeline and locations of flight. Students are creating layers for different famous aviators, including the Wright Brothers, Amelia Earhart, and Charles Lindbergh. They’re dropping pins at various locations depicting where events happened in the history of flight for each aviator. then they add extra information in the placemark from text describing the event, to photos and videos.

Another teacher asked me to support students who were excited about their personal travels over the summer. The students had photos from their trip in Drive, so they were able to map out their trip. I’ve never seen fourth grade students so motivated and invested. I have a feeling that they’ll become experts and teach others.

This past week, I had the opportunity to work with faculty from another school for an in-service day. One activity we did revolved around integrating a variety of Google tools. Teachers responded to this form, then saw the data represented in a sheet.

We then imported the sheet into Google My Maps to see our data in a different, visual representation. Here’s the result.

This activity sparked enthusiasm around all of these tools.

Here’s a quick screencast to show how to import data from a sheet into My Maps.

I’m excited to continue using Google My Maps with a variety of students and teachers.

A Powerful Example of a Middle School Integrated Project

In recognition of Digital Citizenship Week, I’m sharing an example of an activity that one of our teachers implemented with her students, with her permission. The teacher, Joy Peterson (@petersonjoy) teaches fifth and sixth grade language arts. She has four classes with a total of 87 students.

Joy spent the first month of school focusing on this project. She later reflected that it was a great way to get students comfortable with their Chromebooks, and it also integrated quite a bit of language arts! I really like how this project incorporated collaboration, the use of Google Docs as graphic organizers, and integrated a variety of digital tools, including Digital Driver’s License.

Joy explains the process she used for this project in these slides:

After her students finished their work, they presented their own slides to third and fourth grade classes working in pairs. This was extremely motivating. Joy noted that only 2 out of 87 students were not ready to share on the presentation day, which is quite remarkable.

Student Project Example:

(My favorite part – the So What slides! Why does it matter? Why is this important? Why do we need to know this?)

I was able to observe these presentations and was struck by each student’s knowledge and comfort level with the whole topic of Digital Citizenship, as well as the third/fourth graders’ engagement level.


One of the teachers of a third/fourth grade class asked his students to reflect on their learning after the presentations. It was remarkable to see this list.


Thank you to Joy, her students,  as well as the third/fourth grade teachers and their students.

Crossing My Fingers

This week’s #ETCoaches blog challengeHow do you plan to keep blogging? Do you have a frequency in mind? Another challenge to share? Did you find an editorial calendar for planning?

This challenge has been great in that it helped me focus once again on my blog. I liked the frequency; blogging once a week was do-able. I participated in another challenge a few years ago that was a daily challenge and that proved to be, well, challenging. I also liked connecting with some of the other ETCoaches who participated.

1471150324_a52068a957_zSo you are all witnesses to my new commitment. I will blog once a week, at least. I have been using Google Keep more and will jot down my ideas for blog posts on a note there. Sometimes it’s obvious what I can blog about, but other times I need a push, reminder, or suggestion.

As I stated in my initial post for this challenge, I don’t want to blog just for the sake of blogging. I want to stay positive. With all of the many things that occur in the course of our work as educators, there’s always something we could gripe about, but that’s not the purpose of my blog. And timely as ever, Richard Byrne shared a post this weekend about the goals of blogs. From that post, I connect with the last two goals – Encouraging others to write, and Helping other teachers/educators.

I am not going to pursue another challenge right now. Focusing on what’s happening in the schools in which I work, and on work that I am doing seem more authentic and important for me at this juncture.

Thanks for reading. Please help me stick to it!


Image Credit: via Carmelo Fernando Creative Commons/Flickr https://flic.kr/p/3f12JL

Blogs I Follow

This week’s #ETCoaches blog challenge: How do the reading of blogs influence you as an educator? Which blogs do you follow/love? Do you use a RSS reader?”


I receive most of the resources and blogs that have an influence on me via Twitter and the Google+ Communities of which I’m a member. It’s my PLN to the rescue, once again. I used to use an RSS feed, back when Google Reader was an option. Then I realized that most of the blogs/people I follow share via Twitter. It felt redundant to have an RSS feed and Twitter, so I cut out the RSS.

Some of the blogs are thought-provoking, some share resources, and others share ideas about pedagogy. They all benefit me in different ways.

Here are some of the blogs/people I follow.

Thanks for reading; I always appreciate feedback.



This week’s #ETCoaches blog challengeWhat tools are you using that you are loving? What problems do they overcome? How can others replicate your success?


There are many tools I use, that I promote for others to use, but here are a few at the top of my list that assist me in my work as an EdTech Coach.

Hootsuite: I rely on Twitter to build my PLN, provide resources, make connections, and for the best professional development. I use Hootsuite, (others might use Tweetdeck,) to visually access different streams on Twitter at once. It helps to join and follow Twitter chats as well. You can integrate other social media accounts too. It’s a lifesaver.

Diigo: I use Diigo to save and organize resources. In my role as an EdTech Coach, I have resources coming at me all day long via email, feeds, blogs, and Twitter. I need a way to save them so that I can easily access later. For example, I share a Tech News every other week (or so- being sensitive to other things going on in school). I collect items over time that will be of interest to our faculty and staff. I tag those TechNews and then, when it’s time to put the news together, I search for resources with that tag. Easy-peasy.

Canva: I use Canva to create visuals for the Tech News, blog posts, posters, flyers, and more. It makes me feel creative! See graphic above.

Smore: Those who are reading this might be wondering what tools I use for the TechNews I mentioned above. For years I did that using a Google Site, adding a new page with columns for each edition. I discovered Smore a few years ago and found that it was more visually appealing. Now I share the link to the Smore, and I embed it on the original Google Site in a new page, so that the archived editions are available too. Our school newsletter goes out to families once a week using Smore as well and it’s been well received. I’m curious to see how this might change when the new Google Sites are officially available.

PhotosForClass: I don’t use this other than to model, but I highly recommend that our students use this site. Search for an image, download it (even on a Chromebook) and insert it into projects, sites, or blog posts. It automatically includes the proper citation on the image itself. Great for teaching about WHY we need to cite our sources!

Google+ Communities: In addition to Twitter, I use various Google+ communities to ask questions, get ideas, and share. Some of the communities I visit most often include: Instructional Technology Integrators, Google Classroom, Chromebook EDU, and Bringing the World Into the Classroom.

Google Hangouts: I’m a member of a 5-person team in our school district. We’re all spread out with considerable distance between our schools. We meet once a week via Hangout to keep the team together, share what’s happening in our schools, work on district-level projects so that there’s consistency, and basically, collaborate. Hangouts make this possible without us having to factor in travel time to get together.

Common Sense Education:  Most EdTech Coaches know of this resource, but just in case… it’s an amazing site for Digital Citizenship resources as well as EdTech reviews. This is a must for your list.

There are many more, but these tools help me create, collaborate, share, connect, and stay productive.


Here’s this week task for the #ETCoaches Blog Challenge:

“What are your strengths, areas for improvement, challenges, successes in your current role?” screen-shot-2016-09-18-at-4-26-05-pm

I’ll break down the individual areas with some thoughts below.

Strengths: I’m a good communicator. I respond quickly to inquiries or requests. I share new tools, ideas, and resources via a Tech News often, but not too often. As a former classroom teacher, I know how much teachers are juggling and adding another email isn’t helpful every week, so I spread them out. I stay positive and try to remain neutral.

Areas for Improvement: I know that I need to continue to build relationships, even though I’ve worked in these schools for 22 years! I’d like to work more closely with our special educators and increase my awareness of their needs in their work with students. After research and a long approval process, we’ve just purchased Read & Write for Google for all of our district’s students, grades 3-12. I’m very excited to share and support folks with this incredible resource with all of our faculty and staff.

Challenges: Like many, I’d say that time is always a factor. Determining how I best budget my time and prioritize is always a challenge. I hope to model best practices and demonstrate that student needs drive our work. We’ve embarked on some new things this year that require shifts for all of us.(We’re dropping traditional grades and gradebooks, moving to standards-based learning and reporting; middle school students now all have ePortfolios that also function as a personal learning plan, to name a few!) My challenge is to provide the support and encouragement necessary to help make this a smooth process.

Successes: I’m extremely fortunate to have opportunities to offer professional development to our faculty and supporting staff members as well. I feel that those are well-planned and facilitated, offering support, encouragement, and ideas that can be implemented right away. It is not my intention to share cool techie tools. I hope that I communicate that curriculum and pedagogy come first, followed by a discussion of how digital tools might best support the learning.

Those are initial thoughts. I’m noticing how often I used the word ‘support’. I guess that’s a big factor of who I am and what I do. As always, I welcome feedback!

Recharging My Blog


As I’ve said in the past, sometimes I need structure to keep me on track. I have had so many ideas for blog posts during the summer and already at the beginning of this school year, but alas, the time has slipped away. I’m embarrassed that it’s been so long since I posted.

Then, on Twitter recently, I came across the #ETCoaches Blog Challenge. Just what I needed to get back in the swing of things. Thank you to whomever is behind that!

My first post for the challenge – share the purpose of my blog. That’s a fabulous prompt as it truly causes me to reflect on why I have this blog.

Reasons for my blog and why I blog: 

  • Obviously, to reflect on my practice, which always help me learn and grow
  • To share great things happening in the schools in which I work
  • To help make connections with others
  • To stay positive (I don’t use my blog to rant and neither should you)
  • To help tell my story and that of our schools
  • To encourage others to blog, share, and get connected

I plan to continue with this Challenge, but will also get my readers caught up on what I’ve been up to since I last posted. Stay tuned and as always, feel free to comment and connect!

image credit: CreativeCommons flickr, kev-shine https://flic.kr/p/b3jjdD