Category Archives: Google

iGoogle Fuss

I am working on part 4 of my Stealing Time story and it’s coming slooowly this time.

In the meantime I have been making some changes in the way I read blogs.  I have been using igoogle homepages for a couple of years because I liked the visuals but beginning last week I started having problems with it.  Suddenly, my pages wouldn’t load.  It wasn’t my computer or my bandwidth because I tried from several computers and several locations.  It just wouldn’t load.  I am assuming at this point that google has made some changes.

I began migrating my feeds to google reader.  It’s something I should have done to begin with.  I seem to enjoy making things difficult for myself by using things for purposes other than what they were intended for.  The process has been slow and I am still not finished but it has also been a good time to clean out.  There were a lot of feeds I didn’t bother reading anymore and as I migrate I have forced myself to pare it down to the things I read consistantly.  I have organized as I moved and marked everything read so that I can start fresh.

I am alternating on working on my story and googling so be patient.

Writing this story has been kind of like having a baby.  Repeatedly.  Doesn’t sound like fun does it?  I remember thinking in my ninth month that this was going on far too long and couldn’t this baby just GET HERE ALREADY?  Then I would go into labor and things would happen so fast that the pain seemed secondary just do the work breath through the pain oh here it comes don’t ask me anything, there – it’s a boy/girl/story. I was blessed with short labors for those of you that are reading this and going “what??”.  Writing the story seems like that for me.  Wait, wait, wait – boom!

I’m no good at the waiting part.  Never have been.  Never will be.

Using Google Earth to Drive Your Lessons to Victory Lane TCEA09 Notes

Susan Anderson and Jim Holland Arlington isd

the students would have two kmz files and a powerpoint
there would already be some basic prerequisite skills
lesson called Lost
geographic labeling of the earth
based on reinforcing that skill
a little on time zones

an alien has landed on earth and really doesn’t know where they are but will give you as the students, clues to help discover their location

this lesson probably targets 4th or 5th grade

TEKS come from grades 2,3 and 5

technical difficulties – they are trying to get to google earth

they have folded cards with abcd and yes, no, false, true for the “student” participants to hold up to answer questions (this would be great with writeon wipe off boards too

Asking geography questions as students hold up answer cards about hemisphere and latitude, longitude

Showing Australia – this country is not A continent, B Country, C island, D isthmus
Teacher asks why this place is not

What line of longitude is opposite of the international dateline a equator, b rime meridian, c tropic of cancer, and d tropic of capricorn

when it is summer in the western hemisphere, it is winter in the eastern hemisphere true/false

In order to navigate around the earth I can grab it with the hand or double click on the earth and it will turn. zoom in, push it around with the hand, use the rotaion
can turn off automatic tilt while zooming if you like

version 5 released Sunday

to add a placemark
click on pushpin choose add placemark
give it a name and type info into description
now if you click on the placemark the info in the description will be displayed
you can change the icon from the yellow placemark
right click on placemark to edit it choose properties
add custom icons – any jpg pr gif
right click and save place as
native extension is kmz so it will be whatever name you gave it.kmz
kmz files are very small so easy to share

all about me in the handout is a great way to intro google earth

a teaching tip with google earth – have students turn their mouse upside down (it’s hard to sneak quietly

around the world are placemarks – many with question marks

eliminate placemarks that do not have alien clues
rightclick and turn off
so now only placemarks you need to see will be displayed

Lost has a list of cities in one column and the other column is for students to write why that city was eliminated

eg if a clue said it’s a place where penguins live then you might want to eliminate Mexico city

first one done together for guided practice

first slide
students will double click on the Lost kmz file which will automatically launch google earth for you

Hi my name is Nan I’m from the planet ning I think I’m lost can you help. I’ve got a few clues to help – I am not on an island

you can password protect a ppt file
save, choose where and under tools on 07 and 03 – choose general options on 07 security options makes you enter a password
his would be useful for a ppt you want students to use so they couldn’t modify it
password can be needed to open or just to modify

can go to view menu and choose grid to see the gridlines

online tools available on their wiki
online stopwatch – you can give students specific amount of time for an activity
can be embedded into a blog or wiki

ctrl mouse properties
pointer options
show location of mouse pointer when I press the control key

also on the wiki is the random name picker (or random vocab word
random name/word picker

kml files – things like timezones can be contained in kml files
you can turn on and turn off some of these overlays if you only want it on long enough to do a task
some of the overlays make it hard to see anything else.

At this point I had to move on to the next session but most of what you would need is on their wiki

Google Docs Has Templates

If you are following Google you know that several days ago a new link appeared on the top right side of the page for New Features.  Google Docs has added templates.  There are over a hundred for each application and address multiple needs.

I threw together some screenshots on a newsletter template and saved it as a PDF file for you to see, but I say just go there and play around.  You can save a template under a new name and customize it with your company logo.  You have multiple choices for how to save your new document.  At this point you have to click on the new features link to get to the templates but I am confident that the Google folks will incorporate the templates into the document tools menus soon.

Addendum – I spoke too soon (or too late LOL) If you sign in to Google Docs and click new you can now choose document, spreadsheet, presentation, folder, or FROM TEMPLATE!! Yay Google!

Getting Things Done and Organized With Google Spreadsheets and Forms

Example of a Google Docs spreadsheet PDA

  • Create a new spreadsheet
  • Create headers across the top – you can format the text and background color if you like.
  • I used Subject, Date, Notes, Details
  • At the bottom of the screen you will see a tab for the sheet you are working on..  If you click it you have several editing choices, including delete, duplicate, rename, and move right or left.  For now you might want to rename it work.
  • Now click again and duplicate it (I did this twice) You now have three sheets with the same headers and you can now click on and rename the other two sheets.  I have named my sheets Work, Home, Ideas.
  • Now here is where it gets fun
  • You could just enter information directly into the spreadsheet but with Google Docs you can create a form that will make it easier to quickly enter data and have it automatically update in the spreadsheet.
  • We will create a separate form for each sheet and show you how you can use those links to populate your spreadsheet PDA
  • Click on the tab for one of the sheets so you will have that sheet open.
  • You should see a row of light blue tabs across the top of the document – click the tab for Form
  • Click create a form
  • A new page will open with your form already created according to the column headers you used in your spreadsheet.
  • As you move your mouse cursor over each field in your form you will see that you can edit that individual field, you can move it, you can even add or delete questions.  Just remember that what you do on the form will be reflected on the spreadsheet.  If you delete a field it will no longer exist on the spreadsheet either.  A good rule of thumb is that the form is “the boss” of the spreadsheet.
  • Now choose “next choose recipients”  You can put in your own email address and if you look on the right you will see a note saying that if you have trouble viewing or submitting this form, you can fill it out online and there will be a link.  This is the link you want to save as a shortcut on your desktop.  You can change the name of the link to make it easier to find.  On a PC you will right click on the shortcut and choose rename.  If you use something like @Home the @ sign will cause it to be near the top if you arrange you icons in alphabetical order.  On a Mac you will control-click the shortcut and choose info. There will be a field where you can change the name.

This would work for a student organizer – just change the column headings to something like assignment, due date, teacher/professor, class period, notes/resources. 

A couple of modifications and you can share and collaborate so now you have an online project management system.

You can also click publish – this gives you an embeddable link and an RSS feed so you can subscribe to your own list.
Choose more publishing options and click in the drop down box and choose HTML to embed in a webpage.  You can also choose which sheets and even which cells to show.  The will generate some HTML that you can paste into your blog.  Pay attention to the sizes shown in the HTML.  If you paste it and find it is bigger than the space provided in the webpage you can usually adjust those numbers to make it fit.

I hope this is useful to you!

I have only included a form that adds information to one sheet.

Addendum: I cannot get the embedded form to work.  I can use the form I created from my desktop or via my email so for the time being look at the above images as screenshots and don’t be afraid to follow the steps to create one to play with yourself.

Sifting Your RSS Feeds

I am subscribed to so many more rss feeds that I have time to read and often I will subscribe to a blog written by someone with multiple interests because they occasionally write about something I am interested in.  This means that I will see a lot of article titles that are not what I want to read.  I discovered a new tool today that will help me shrink some of that reader “bloat”

It is called Feedsifter and can be found here

You just put in the URL of the site and then type in the keywords you are interested in and Feedsifter creates a second feed that you can subscribe to.  Now you have a feed tailored to your interest!

If you have a google account the easiest thing in the world is to sign in.  Go to igoogle and click add stuff .  Looking down on the left sidebar you will find a choice for entering a url – paste the feed URL that feedsifter created there and you will now have this feed show up directly on your igoogle homepage.

I have often used to create a feed of bookmarks on a specific subject.  Today I created one for googledocs and using Feedsifter I had it make a new feed that would show me only googledoc bookmarks that contain spreadsheet and/or form.  Now I have an area that helps me keep up with new blog posts on Google spreadsheets. This won’t be a perfect solution but it helps me narrow down some of what shows up in my reader now.

This tip came from The Simple Dollar – thanks for a great hint!

Google Docs Spreadsheet With Embedded Map

Let’s make a quick guide for someone planning to visit Paris. There is more that could be included but this will be enough to get you started! The instructions came from the Google Docs Blog which is a wonderful resource!

First, determine the sites you will use and open a Google docs spreadsheet

In the first column put the addresses

In the second column put the names and a short description (you can include a link)

Click and drag to highlight both columns

Click Insert on the toolbar and choose gadget

Select Google Maps

You can add a title but you now have a list of sites with their addresses and links and a map to boot! Cool and simple.

Save it, click publish and check the box – republish changes and you can continue to add to it and you can email a link to it to your friends and family!

Here is a link to mine:

Here is a screenshot:


A Few Online Things To Play With

A couple of things I played with tonight – Google maps has added Wikipedia and evidently had already added photos. The photos are hosted by Panoramio and you can get to them or Wikipedia articles when in Google maps by clicking more and checking the appropriate box. I spent some time moving around just looking at pictures around the country and clicking to read Wikipedia articles – Google is opening up it’s geo search application and allowing other websites to use geographically linked information.

Another “toy” I played with tonight is Powerset which is a start-up that is trying to come up with a better way to search.  You type in your criteria using “natural language” and so far it is only searching Wikipedia but I typed in several searches in the form of questions and it seemed to respond in a pretty accurate range for what I was searching for.

JotSpot Has Been Relaunched As Google Sites

I will go play this evening and post about it tomorrow!


We’re contacting everyone who’s expressed interest in learning of
JotSpot registration re-openings on the JotSpot website. And
today, we’re excited to announce that JotSpot is working on Google
infrastructure and has been re-launched as Google Sites.

Google Sites is the latest offering from Google Apps, a suite of
products designed to improve communication and collaboration
amongst employees, students, and groups. Google Sites makes
creating a team web site as easy as editing a document. You can
quickly gather a variety of information in one place — including
videos, calendars, presentations, attachments, and gadgets — and
easily share it for viewing or editing with a small group, their
entire organization, or the world.

To get started with Google Sites, you’ll first need to sign up for
the Google Apps edition that’s right for you (if you’re not
already a Google Apps user). Start the sign-up process at:


The Google Apps Team
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, CA 94043

Below is an example of a classroom page created in Google sites. You can customize, use their templates, upload up to 10 mb files with 10 gb of storage. Since Google sites is integrated with other google products you can embed slideshows, video, spreadsheets and calendars into you page. One more piece of the Google World Dominance plan!

Keeping Up with the Googlebots: What’s New at Google (Patrick Crispen) 8940

If you go to TCEA 2008 and click on Sessions and Workshops, list free sessions you will see the entire list and the session I attend will have the session number in the post as well.  You will be able to look for handouts there in a few weeks.

I like Patrick Crispen’s presenting style.  He starts on time, tells you what he will cover, moves through the presentation like an east Texas wind.  Before you know it he is saying we have to hurry because there are only three minutes left, ties is all up and sends you out as the next group comes in.  He must have an incredible amount of energy or sleep for a week after a conference like this.

His website is NetSquirrel and if you go there and click on PowerPoint Presentations on the side you will have access to all his handouts.  They are licensed under Creative Commons (he was the first person I heard even mention Creative Commons yesterday) so you are free to download his material. The presentation for this session will be udated in a few days.
Some new things I learned yesterday:

  • Google free business directory assistance 1 – 800 – 466 – 4411
    • Voice, directions, maps on your cell phone.  Google wants to do voice search – this is there start at getting voices saying words
  • Google Notebook now datestamps your entries
  • has added discovery videos

This morning I found a new little snippet in my reader about Google docs – they have added a new little tool. When you share a spreadsheet you now have three choices – collaborator, viewer, and now “to fill out a form”. You can create a form in Google spreadsheets, share it with people and as they respond to the form, the data is automatically added to your spreadsheet.

Creating A StoryMap Lesson

I love maps. I love pretty colored maps, antique world maps, globes that light up, all of them are just cool eye candy to me. Here is a great project idea for using google maps. “Find a Story… Map a Story… Tell a Story…”

You will find an example of a story map, a rubric, and step by step instructions.

Notice the little markers. You can hover on them and get a title or click them and get more information:


There are links to tutorials for CommunityWalk , GoogleMaps and Wayfaring

“In the description area of the marker, write your memory of that location. Hint: It would be helpful to write your memory on a Word document first so that you can check for spelling. Remember- this is a story so your description should be more than “This is the park in my neighborhood“. Tell your readers what happened at the park- this step is the most important part of the project. Without interesting vignettes, the project will just be a about pictures and markers.”

You will want to have pictures of real places on the map to upload for your markers. This could be the actual neighborhood your students live in. You could make maps with markers for the travels of a character in a story or any historically significant area. Students could use a database to map the spread of a disease or they could map their family tree.

More Reasons to Love Google and Firefox

I recently added some plugins to FireFox that I love. One is Googlepedia which includes a relevant Wikipedia article with Google and Yahoo search results. Another plugin that plays well with Googlepedia is Google Preview. It adds a thumbnail of the website to the search results.

Another tool I have been using a lot is Gmail This. You can get it by following htis link or clicking on the gmail this link on my sidebar. You just drag the link to your browser bar and when you want to send the link to the website you are visiting you just click gmail this and a new window opens up allowing you to compose and send the email from your gmail account.

Here is a screenshot of Googlepedia and Google preview:


Links For Education

As I write this post I am listening to a podcast found at There are sections on biographies, great speeches in history, Literary summaries, founding documents in audio form, free audio book of the month, art history, all categorized and subscribeable.

There is a section on test taking. You can wander through a very large online catalog of subjects to integrated podcasts into your classroom.

Here is a great article with an interesting way to talk about internet safety with students. Instead of giving them a list of “don’ts” here you can find a list of questions to open up a discussion with them. One of my favorite questions was:

If people were to Google you, what conclusions would they make?

Students can take online quizzes that look more like games but are tagged according to quiz subject matter at PurposeGames. Creating an account is optional but if you do you can see your score history. You can also create quizzes if there are none that fit your needs.

Another link for today is VoiceThread. You can upload pictures, record audio and create a multimedia show and tell online presentation. There are plenty of examples and instructions to make the process pretty painless. Even if you are not planning on creating one of your own it is very interesting to play some of the examples!

I finish with another podcast link – I’m listening to Thomas Friedman lecturing at the Sydney Institute after dinner on The Flat World. This podcast is nearly an hour long so I would plan on listening to it on a car trip or load it on your mp3 player and exercise your brain while you are at the walking track exercising your body!

I had to add one more link. Thanks to Dan Meyer for this one – the site is called Mango and you can sign up for free to learn languages. I spent a short time today learn a little Japanese. It was fun and painless! The site includes Chinese, Japanese, Russian, German, Englich for Spanish speakers and more! Arigatou (Thank you!)

TaDa! Google Presentation – Finally!

Google has finally rolled out their presentation piece. Here is a screenshot of the main page when you click new presentation. It’s big so click on the thumbnail and you can see it full size in Flickr.


I tried to embed but so far I see no way to do that so here is the link: BrandNew

Interesting – I tried this and while you are at the document you must click Preview before the link will work to send you back to the presentation.

The presentation describes the application for the most part. It is easy to use and if you are looking for a tool to share a basic presentation online without a lot of bells and whistles but also without a huge expense then Google presentation will work fine. I have linked to a text document created in Google to see how the two could be used together.

The links worked for me in practice and I am going to assume you can do the same with the spreadsheet piece so it is possible to integrate the applications. That could be a great tool and an answer for students who need the basics.
I hope that Google will add some more features later and will be watching to see.

Wikimapia – Let’s Describe The Whole World!

Wikimapia is a fun site that lets you easily annotate google maps by marking off a specific site, adding a title, some facts, and even a picture. According to their FAQ:

“WikiMapia is a Web 2.0 project to describe the whole planet Earth. It was created by Alexandre Koriakine and Evgeniy Saveliev, inspired by Google maps and Wikipedia.”

The actual process is pretty straightforward.

  • click view and choose maps, satellite, or hybrid
  • Click in the search box on the right side of the page and type the name of the place
  • You will see a list of possible matching sites – click the one that best fits your search
  • When you find a place that you want to add a description to click “add place”
  • You will see a transparent resizeable, box with squares at the corners – move it and resize it to cover your site then click save
  • This brings up a box that allows you to type in a title, a short description, choose tags, and add a Wikipedia link if one exists.
  • When you are finished click save
  • You can now click menu and if you have a photograph of the site that you would like to share click edit and choose add/manage photos
  • You can click browse and navigate to the location of your photo and click upload. You will get a message telling you if you were successful. Click on the X to exit from this menu.

Now if you hover your cursor over the site a small box appears with the title you added. If you click that box it will show your description and the photo you added!

Our tech director told us about a class project where the students were formed into groups. They had iPods with clues to lead them to geographic places, GPS to help them get there, and digital cameras to take pictures at the destination. They also had the Tunetalk piece that would allow the students to record voice as they searched for their site. I think that you could take this a step farther and have them go online and put their information on the map using Wikimapia. You might want to add a collaboration piece by working with a class in another part of the world and letting the students exchange data on their respective sites.
If you have Google Earth installed you can click on the link in the FAQ for the Wikimapia data layer and you will be able to download the file to allow you to see the Wikimapia data in Google Earth.

Google Presentations are Unofficially Officially On Their Way

According to the Official Google Blog they are going to be releasing their presentation piece soon. I haven’t seen a date yet but knowing Google if the word is out then it really shouldn’t be long. According to a blog on ZDnet by Garret Rogers there will now be more compatibility between Google Docs and Microsoft products due to a new company Google has acquired called Tonic.

While Google claims to not be in competition with Microsoft these pieces together make a nice substitute for students who don’t have access to pricey office suites and make it much easier to collaborate.

Google has also acquired JotSpot – a wiki application, though as far as I can find, it is not out to use yet.  It would be great if it would integrate easily with Google Notebook.  Sounds like some interesting new tools this summer!

Weekend Tips and Links

Vicki Davis has a new look to her blog and a new video site – Teachertube! There isn’t a lot there yet but a few good things can be found so I will keep checking. Here is a video tutorial for creating a poster using Excel.

Excel Poster Video
I tried to embed it even though WordPress was not on the list of sites it stated it works on but no luck. Hopefully they will get it working soon.

Google has a new option out for Picasa for Mac users – Picasa Web Albums. You can upload from your computer or export directly from iPhoto. You get 1GB storage and you can designate whether the albums are public or private.

I learned another tip for Macs tonight. Veteran Mac users may already know this but I’m still relatively new to macs and still find some great surprises! I do a lot of cutting and pasting, sending or saving bits and pieces of web stuff and now I can highlight some text and drag it to Mail App and it will open with the text already in the body of the message ready for me to add an address and click send.

This also works for TextEdit, Stickies, and you can even drag the text onto the Safari icon in the dock and Safari will open with the google search results.

Google Does Some New and Not So New Tricks

I went to my personalized Google homepage this morning just like every morning. My “must-reads” are there as well as a quick peek at my Gmail inbox, and the day’s weather report. There was a new present from Google this morning! Themes for my page. I confess to liking pretty wallpaper, screensavers, and themes so this was a fun new toy. The themes seem to be customized for your zipcode – they get darker at night or with bad weather.

Google advanced search also does something that was new at least to me – you can specify usage rights! The choices are – not filtered by usage, free to use or share, free to use or share – even commercially, free to use – share – or modify, free to use – share – modify – even commercially. This is a great thing to share with your students, I would advise that they still check for license issues but it will certainly narrow down the possiblities of accidently violating copyright.

A lot of the options that are available from the main searchbox if you know the syntax are also available here. If you don’t know the syntax or don’t want to be bothered with looking it up you can still narrow down your search results by making use of the advanced search page and just selecting the options you want from the drop down and check boxes.

Another nice tool is available if you click More at the right side of the main searchbox and then click Still More you get a list of other Google places you can go to. Click on Alerts to create a search that sends you updates on the topic of your choice. This is a great research tool. You type in your search terms and then specify news, blogs, web, groups, or comprehensive. Then tell Google how often you want to be updated, enter your email address and you will get everything you always wanted to know about your topic right in your inbox, You can edit the alert if you find your results need a bit of tweaking, and you can even place a module on your Google homepage so you can see your information anytime.