What’s New in Google Earth?

Back in April, Google announced they would be revamping their entire Google Earth experience. That’s great news if you are a Chromebook user as Google Earth can now be viewed right from your browser. But those aren’t the only changes to this amazing platform. About 10 years ago I started creating my own virtual field trips for students. It was a very time consuming process, and I didn’t have access to embeddable interactive content. Google now has a component full of interactive experiences from around the world called Voyager. These are curated journeys from all over the world that include Street View images and 360 degree videos. There are 6 categories for students to choose from:

One of my favorites was created by PBS Education called Explorers: Age of Encounter. Students are able to travel back in time to the late 15th and 16th centuries and follow the routes of 6 explorers that changed the way people viewed the Earth and interacted with each other from different countries and continents.

One way to turn this into a collaborative project would be place students into 6 groups using Alice Keeler’s Group Maker for Spreadsheets.  Each group can choose an explorer to research and document their findings in the spreadsheet. Once research is complete, the class can create one collaborative Google Presentation explaining how these encounters set the course for the modern, globally interdependent world. Increase the DOK level by asking them to describe an alternative history had these explorers not discovered new worlds and civilizations. There are many guided tours available, so I encourage you to check out this section by clicking on the ship’s wheel icon located on the navigation toolbar on the left.

Here are more resources about other new features in Google Earth and ideas for implementation:


I am the Help Desk

I was on a roll there for a while, meaning I got all the way to page 85 without stopping to write a post. And then page 85 happened.  

For 10 years I have been an Instructional Technology Specialist. INSTRUCTIONAL. A word I kept emphasising over and over to my campuses. I think every tech coach has this battle with curriculum vs. wires and pliers. You arrive on a campus with a specific agenda in mind and then you get hit with a multitude of technical issues. Next thing you know, 80% of your day has been spent unplugging and plugging SMARTboards, fixing Outlook issues and trying to figure out why an iPad is no longer connecting to the network. “What Did the Help Desk Say?” was actually our mantra one year. 

Empathy is a word you hear over and over again in The Innovator’s Mindset. I have to remember that technology is my specialty. It’s what I do every single day. Troubleshooting to me is very easy because that’s what my day is filled with. Teachers, on the other hand, juggle 10 things at one time. They don’t have the luxury of perfecting the art of troubleshooting like I do.  Once I read page 85 (and highlighted every sentence) a lightbulb went off in my head. Where has my empathy been?

” The educators we serve need the tools and resources to work if we truly want to create a culture of innovation. They also need to feel our support in creating an environment that we would truly want to be in as learners ourselves.” ~ George Couros

You’ll notice there is a new page in the main navigation menu on this blog. Tech Tips will be a new section dedicated to empowering teachers with the basic skills needed to navigate these treacherous technology waters in which we expect them to swim. I will provide quick tutorials and fixes for specific issues I observe in the classroom environment on a daily basis. My new mantra?

I am the help desk. 

Tech Tips

Technical issues can often impact instruction. Having a few troubleshooting tips and tricks in your back pocket will help the flow of your lessons move forward. The purpose of this page is to provide you with the skills needed to troubleshoot basic technical issues you may encounter with your classroom technology.  Not all solutions can be solved by the end user, so it still may be necessary to submit a helpdesk ticket.

Stop Stammering

It’s going to take me forever to finish reading The Innovator’s Mindset. George Couros continues to provide examples of innovation in education, which forces me to put down the book and look something up on the computer. In chapter 2, he refers to the television reality series, Educating Yorkshire, in which Musharaf Asghar overcomes a stammering disability with the help of his teacher. Mr. Burton tries a technique he saw in The King’s Speech, a film starring Colin Firth. Watch the video below to witness this incredible journey.

According to Merriam-Webster, stammer means: to make involuntary stops and repetitions in speaking. I think back to my first few…maybe 10, years of teaching. I found myself repeating the same techniques and strategies that didn’t work over and over again, just like a stammer. I was burying my students in ineffective worksheets and isolated activities on a daily basis. Now, in my defense, this was way before the era of technology integration. All we had were pencils and a Xerox machine. But, we did have our minds. Why wasn’t my mind working back then to be innovative when it came to delivering content and meeting the needs of all of my diverse learners? I have often said during trainings that I wish I could contact my first few classes and apologize for how terrible I was as their teacher.

Now, as a technology specialist, my job is to train teachers on how to use technology to support the curriculum. I’m realizing that technology can be just a fancy, pancy substitution for pencils and Xerox machines. It’s not about the tools you have at your disposal. It’s about your innovative mindset.

I get it. Do you?

ISTE Standards for Educators


I enabled a new plugin and wanted to try it out. That is the actual purpose of this blog post. It’s called Live Shortcodes and has probably been in my dashboard for a while; I just didn’t notice. Last week I saw that ISTE published this really cool accordion style interactive page describing the new ISTE Standards for Educators. I was trying to figure out how to embed this in my blog post and stumbled upon several new plugins that I hadn’t yet activated. Needless to say, my morning has been filled with pure joy and giddiness. It’s not as cool as ITSE’s, but I’m pretty happy. Click on each standard to reveal the indicators.

Educators continually improve their practice by learning from and with others and exploring proven and promising practices that leverage technology to improve student learning. Educators:

1a Set professional learning goals to explore and apply pedagogical approaches made possible by technology and reflect on their effectiveness.

1b Pursue professional interests by creating and actively participating in local and global learning networks.

1c Stay current with research that supports improved student learning outcomes, including findings from the learning sciences.

Educators seek out opportunities for leadership to support student empowerment and success and to improve teaching and learning. Educators:

2a Shape, advance and accelerate a shared vision for empowered learning with technology by engaging with education stakeholders.

2b Advocate for equitable access to educational technology, digital content and learning opportunities to meet the diverse needs of all students.

2c Model for colleagues the identification, exploration, evaluation, curation and adoption of new digital resources and tools for learning.

Educators inspire students to positively contribute to and responsibly participate in the digital world. Educators:

3a Create experiences for learners to make positive, socially responsible contributions and exhibit empathetic behavior online that build relationships and community.

3b Establish a learning culture that promotes curiosity and critical examination of online resources and fosters digital literacy and media fluency.

3c Mentor students in safe, legal and ethical practices with digital tools and the protection of intellectual rights and property. 3d Model and promote management of personal data and digital identity and protect student data privacy.

Educators dedicate time to collaborate with both colleagues and students to improve practice, discover and share resources and ideas, and solve problems. Educators:

4a Dedicate planning time to collaborate with colleagues to create authentic learning experiences that leverage technology.

4b Collaborate and co-learn with students to discover and use new digital resources and diagnose and troubleshoot technology issues.

4c Use collaborative tools to expand students' authentic, real-world learning experiences by engaging virtually with experts, teams and students, locally and globally.

4d Demonstrate cultural competency when communicating with students, parents and colleagues and interact with them as co-collaborators in student learning.

Educators design authentic, learner-driven activities and environments that recognize and accommodate learner variability. Educators:

5a Use technology to create, adapt and personalize learning experiences that foster independent learning and accommodate learner differences and needs.
5b Design authentic learning activities that align with content area standards and use digital tools and resources to maximize active, deep learning.
5c Explore and apply instructional design principles to create innovative digital learning environments that engage and support learning.

Educators facilitate learning with technology to support student achievement of the ISTE Standards for Students. Educators:

6a Foster a culture where students take ownership of their learning goals and outcomes in both independent and group settings.

6b Manage the use of technology and student learning strategies in digital platforms, virtual environments, hands-on makerspaces or in the field.
6c Create learning opportunities that challenge students to use a design process and computational thinking to innovate and solve problems.
6d Model and nurture creativity and creative expression to communicate ideas, knowledge or connections.

Educators understand and use data to drive their instruction and support students in achieving their learning goals. Educators:

7a Provide alternative ways for students to demonstrate competency and reflect on their learning using technology.
7b Use technology to design and implement a variety of formative and summative assessments that accommodate learner needs, provide timely feedback to students and inform instruction.
7c Use assessment data to guide progress and communicate with students, parents and education stakeholders to build student self-direction.



About the Standards

A roadmap for transforming education, the ISTE Standards help innovative educators like you re-engineer and reimagine their classrooms and schools for digital age learning. They are a guide for amplifying and empowering learning, no matter where you are on the journey to the effective and meaningful integration of ed tech. Source

Cool, huh?

App Flows Aren’t Just for iPads Anymore

Graphite App Flows (Now called Lesson Flows from Common Sense Media) were something I discovered a couple of years ago. A Lesson Flow is a lesson planning framework that helps you integrate digital tools with pedagogical insight. They helped teachers in my district move away from unstructured “skill and drill” use of the iPad to a purposeful lesson that made students accountable for their time spent on the device. 

Since then, app developers have realized that districts purchase multiple types devices, not just iPads. Many popular productivity iPad apps now have an online alternative. This allows for more flexibility when teachers are planning and checking out iPad, Chromebook, laptop carts or scheduling time in the computer labs. Here is a list of some of my favorite apps that now have a web based counterpart.

G-Suite                              Thinking Blocks         
Thinglink Haiku Deck
SeeSaw Virtual Manipulatives
Book Creator Learnzillion
Google Earth Math Learning Center
Google Maps BrainPop
Canva Educreations
Nearpod Padlet
Edublogs Popplet
Google Classroom Snapguide
Quizlet Animoto

In my district, elementary teachers usually have about 3-4 iPads per classroom. That’s all fine and dandy if your lesson is designed to be in a workstation or center. It’s also difficult to manage multiple users logging into different accounts on 1 device. That may be a simple task for secondary, but try that with a kindergartener. Turning your App Flow into a Web/App Flow may be your solution. It’s the same lesson using the same resources, but now you have a choice of which device you would like your students to use. I just finished this one to support 4th grade Equivalent Fractions. Here is the link if you would like to use or modify it to fit your needs: https://goo.gl/t5devp


Be More Dog

For the past 5 summers I’ve been the tech troubleshooter for my district’s summer school campuses. This year I decided to take a break from everything, including blogging, Twitter and Facebook. I picked up several books (real honest to goodness books made from paper) that I had been meaning to read for a while and got busy. The first was The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros. I didn’t even get past chapter 1 without reactivating my Twitter account to reengage in my PLN. It was that inspiring. Then on page 6, George recommends viewing a commercial from O2 titled “Be More Dog”. Let me save you the trouble of looking it up. 

This video resonated with me in so many ways. It made me think about the reaction of other cats had they been in this video as well. What would they have been thinking, saying, or doing in response to this one particular cat who wants to “be more dog”? Then I thought about the metaphor it represents. When you have one teacher on a campus that is looking at educating students from an entirely different perspective, how do the other teachers on that campus react? Do they embrace this change of mindset and try to emulate the behavior, or do they snub their noses at the thought and “remain a cat”? (Don’t get me wrong, I love cats)

This is where I find the whole educational system so frustrating. On page 5, George writes,

“Compliance does not foster innovation. In fact, demanding conformity does quite the opposite.” ~ The Innovator’s Mindset, George Couros

This quote, I think, was aimed toward students. However, I’m looking at it from the perspective of the district/teacher relationship. I see districts demanding conformity from educators and almost punishing those that strive to grow and try new tools, strategies, or techniques that don’t come from central office. Now, I must confess that I have not finished the book because I felt so compelled to get back on the Internet to begin this discussion. I’m sure he goes into great detail about how to accomplish this paradigm shift, but I still want to ask these questions: How does a school or district move towards an innovator’s mindset when faced with opposition? What has worked for you in your school or district? I would love to get honest feedback in the comments section because I honestly don’t know the answer.  

Thank you, George. You got me blogging again.

Thinglink Teacher Summer Challenge

Thinglink just announced they will once again facilitate a self-paced online summer teacher challenge. Every year that I participate, I learn new and innovative ways to utilize one of my favorite tools. This summer will focus on the use of their premium 360/VR feature. This is the perfect opportunity to try out this amazing platform for only $25.00 (normally $125.00). Below is an example of an interactive 360 image focusing on Science vocabulary.

Check out this post on their blog for more information about upgrading your account and signing up for the challenge. Hover over the tags in the image below to access task cards for each challenge.

Using HyperDoc Format for Unit Reviews

It’s that time of year again in Texas (Insert sigh). Reviewing for the STAAR exam does not need to be a painful process. Instead of the traditional STAAR formatted worksheet, try a HyperDoc full of engaging multimedia content. I’ve created a template, examples, and even a list of multimedia resources to help make the creation process less time consuming. 

For the past 6 weeks, I have been tutoring a group of 5th grade math students. They handed me a binder that is literally 3 1/4 inches thick. Yes, I measured. The tree hugger in me had a little tiny stroke. That’s what inspired me to turn this binder full of worksheets into engaging HyperDocs using a template created by Nadine Gilkison (@nadinegilkison). The content in these HyperDocs is not my intellectual property. It belongs to my district, so the privacy settings require end users to be logged into their district NEISD Google account.

I created another Science Review HyperDoc that supports all of the 5th grade Life Sciences TEKS. This one is open to the public, so please feel free to make a copy and modify to fit your needs. It is filled with multimedia content to support over 8 TEKS. It also includes a reflection component (Google Drawing) where students answer essential questions.

I really liked the flow of the format and the fact that teachers can choose which sections students need to focus on based on assessment results and benchmark data. It’s also great for differentiation. You may have some students that need to focus on Interactions in Ecosystems, while others need to focus on Life Cycles. HyperDocs, by nature, are designed to be self-paced to accommodate the different needs of individual learners. 

If you are interested in creating a HyperDoc Unit Review for your class, you can use this template to help get you started. I’ve also curated some of my favorite resources that can be embedded within the activity.


Take a Tour of the New Teleport 360° App

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know I obsess over certain tools I love. Thinglink is probably number 1 on my list and it just got even better! Last year, I participated in the Thinglink Summer VR Challenge and was introduced to their new 360° tag editor for making 360° images and VR content interactive. This particular feature of the platform is only available if you have a Premium Educator account. When I provide professional development opportunities for my teachers, I usually do not recommend purchasing individual subscriptions because I know that the money comes out of their pockets. This is one exception.

Thinglink is not just a tool. It is a supportive community designed to provide teachers with rich, interactive experiences that engage learners and immerses them into worlds they may not possibly be able to experience otherwise. When I see teachers and students using Thinglink to annotate content that demonstrates understanding of concepts, they are giddy. Seriously. Giddy. One of my favorite bloggers, Richard Wells (@EduWells), recently published a post about the impact of virtual reality in the classroom and how it can encourage empathy.

Below are the Thinglink current pricing options.


I recommend starting with the free 14 day trial so you can see for yourself how easy it is to navigate the interface. If the out of pocket cost is not an option, try approaching your campus administration or PTA/PTO for funding. Many campuses have even used allocated grade level or department funds.

One thing I struggled with as a new user of this feature was learning about 360° images, specifically where to get them and how to make your own. I’ve tried several apps and continue to go back to the same one: Google Street View on my iPhone. Here are the simple directions:

Create photos with an iPhone (Won’t work with an iPad because it won’t save to camera roll)

  1. Open the Street View app .
  2. Tap Create +.
  3. In the bottom right, tap Camera Take photo.
  4. Take a series of photos.
  5. At the bottom, tap Done Done.
  6. Your 360 photo is stitched together and saved in the “Private” tab on your phone. The photo is also saved on your phone (unless you turned this setting off).
  7. Publish your 360 photo on Google Street View (you can blur faces or identifying information if needed)

Upload Image to Teleport 360° app on your iPad

  1. Open Google Street View on your iPad.
  2. Navigate to your public image and save to your camera roll.
  3. Open Teleport 360 and tap on Upload Media
  4. Tap Photo Library and tap on your 360 image
  5. Tap edit and start tagging using text, images, audio, video, embed html, or transitions

 Here’s a quick video to show how easy it is to use:


If you would like to take your class on an immersive learning adventure to a specific destination, check out the photo pool from the Flickr 360 Equirectangular Group. Many photographers have given permission for their images to be used. Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) also has a wealth of information and resources on the subject of virtual reality. Also, within the app itself is a growing collection of their own 360° image library.

Check out the Spotlight Speakers 17 Channel created by Susan Oxnevad (@soxnevad) to see examples of how educators are using this tool to support instruction.

Happy Tagging!



Windows 10 Upgrade and iPad DEP Process

The Technology Services Department has been working diligently over the past several months to put systems and process in place to allow us to make a final push through the District with our Windows 10 migration and iPad update initiatives.

Windows 10

  • Most student desktops and laptops have already been upgraded, with the exception of VDI (currently being tested).
  • There will be an in-place upgrade that is designed to maintain the integrity of the individual user files and data. We will not need to collect laptops in order to conduct the upgrade as teachers are able to initiate the process on the designated deployment day while in the classroom. 
  • Although the in-place upgrade is designed to maintain user data, we will recommend that users backup their data as a best practice prior to the upgrade taking place.
  • Video tutorials and resources have been posted to help guide you through this transition.
  • The following day, Technology Services will be on campus starting at 6:30 to ensure the upgrade process is successful. We will remain on campus all day to troubleshoot any problems. If you do encounter a problem, please fill out this form and a technician will come to your room.


iPad DEP Process

  • Apple released a new process known as DEP that provides us with the ability to enroll and manage District iPads from our centralized management console more effectively. While we are on campus conducting the Windows 10 migration, we will wipe, update, and enroll student iPads in order to bring them up to a consistent operational level for improved instructional use.


Featured Lessons Now on Rock the Lab


There is a new “Featured Lesson” section on Rock the Lab home page that will change every month. I’ll provide 2 different lessons that have a monthly or seasonal theme. This month we celebrate Black History with different types of multimedia content appropriate for all levels. K-2 students can explore videos, text with audio, and books from Capstone to learn about various African-American Leaders. 3-5 students will engage in the HyperDoc Learning Cycle process by researching 3 different African-American heroes of their choice. I would love to feature lessons created by other NEISD educators, so please email me (lmoore4@neisd.net) if you would like to submit a lesson.