Tool of the Month: Google Tour Builder

Inspired by Williams Sonoma Pork of the Month Club (who doesn’t love a new pork product every month?), I bring you Tool of the Month Club. The idea behind these posts is to showcase new online tools or apps with ways to support the curriculum. I’ve decided to start with December because I have no patience and can’t wait until January to share the new Google Tour Builder. For years, Google Earth has been my favorite lab activity and now the Tour Builder is even easier to use. The beauty of any great tool is the ability to be cross-curricular and support multiple grade levels. The following resource was created to support the 4th grade Social Studies TEK: (3)  History. The student understands the importance of the Texas Revolution, the Republic of Texas, and the annexation of Texas to the United States. Click here for a printable version of the Texas Revolution project which also includes links to video tutorials. Since 4th grade also focuses on writing, Google Tour Builder is perfect for place-based storytelling. Students can design a story/path around a pigeon or crow that flies to different locations around the world bringing messages to different characters. For math, multi-step word problems can be written and solved based on distances between area schools or cities.  Check out the video below for a great overview.

December Themed Lessons

Google Doodles of 2013

I’ve been a busy little elf compiling my list of December Themed Lessons. But, before you begin exploring, take a gander at all of the Google Doodles for 2013. The Los Angeles Times created a nifty slideshow with descriptions for each Doodle. Make sure you check the following list often, as I am still adding to the collection.

Geo Greeting for Spelling Practice

Geo Greeting is a neat little tool that allows you to create a message that contains up to 40 characters. It uses satellite images of buildings from all over the world that look like letters. The link it creates can be posted on your blog or emailed. It doesn’t generate an html code for embedding, but you can create a screen recording like the one below (AC/DC background music not included). This would be a fun way for students to practice spelling words. All the links can be submitted using a Google Form. It would also be a great way for primary students to chant word wall words.

November Themed Lessons

(If you are viewing this post from within NEISD, make sure to override Lightspeed so you can see the above video from YouTube)

It’s a new month, which means a new holiday, which means new themed technology lessons. Of course, I have to begin by sharing a Thanksgiving Google Doodle from last year. (Remember that you have to override Lightspeed to view the video from within the district.) The following list contains free sites and apps that you can use in the classroom or computer lab. My favorite lesson you should try is the Thanksgiving Timeline virtual field trip using Google Earth. I taught this a few times last year and it will take at least 2 lab visits to complete.  It’s well worth the time investment!

GaGa 4 Google

google certificate

 

I just completed the free Mapping with Google online course. I thought I knew everything about Google Earth, but there were a couple of features unfamiliar to me. My final product for the Google Earth portion was a Thanksgiving Timeline virtual field trip for K-8 students. One of the advanced required features was to embed the tour on a blog, so here is the updated tour:

The embed gadget that I’m using can be a little wonky, so click here if you would like to download the tour and view it within Google Earth. See my previous blog posts to see my Google Maps Engine Lite project and the Haunting Shipwrecks with AC/DC tour.

Create a Custom Google Search Engine

This is an example of how insomnia can be your friend.  While I was blog hopping, I stumbled upon one with a customized Search Engine for finding resources related to a specific topic. I can’t tell you how many times I have gone from one website to another searching for that perfect SMART Notebook lesson. By typing in a specific curriculum topic (for example, water cycle) I can now search all my favorite SMART websites at once. Oh, the extra time I shall now have on my hands…



To create your own search engine:

  1. On the Google Custom Search home page, click New search engine. In the Sites to search section, add the pages you want to include in your search engine. You can include any sites you want, not just sites you own. You can include site URLs or page URLs, and you can also get fancy and use URL patterns. The name of your search engine will be automatically generated based on the URLs you select. You can change this name at any time.
  2. Select the language of your search engine. This defines the language of the buttons and other design elements of your search engine, but doesn’t affect the actual search results.
  3. Click Create.
  4. To add your search engine to your site, click Get Code on the next page. Copy the code and paste it into your site wherever you want your Custom Search Engine to appear.