Google My Maps: 13 Colonies

Social Studies is a natural place for My Maps to appear. This year I created a HyperMap. This is based on the HyperDoc method. The students are given a map with information they are to know. This information will also be used to create a final product. Sometimes I have them creating a video on Animoto, other times it might be flyers/pamphlets, or some other creative way the students show what they’ve learned.

For the 13 colonies, I created a HyperMap with a few different layers: 13 Colonies, Current 50 States, and Colonial Regions. The students were to take notes and create a final product: a ‘billboard’ for their state. You can view their final products here. (NOTE: The billboard idea came from Los Virgenes School District via a teacher Nancy Minicozzi@coffeenancy – works with).


I did NOT create all the outlines. A Google Mapper created a site with some great resources. I downloaded the KML File and then uploaded it to my map (see video).

Using My Maps in this way allowed my students to become more familiar with the territory and they had ownership over their learning. I’m clearly a fan of HyperMaps!

Google Classroom: Guardians

One of the biggest pitfalls of Google Classroom, in the beginning, was that parents and/or guardians didn’t have access. This meant they didn’t know what about missing work, class activity, or upcoming work. That all changed this school year when Google announced the option to sign Guardians up in Google Classroom. Now, once Guardians are signed up, they will receive a weekly email summary. Read for more information for Guardians.

Teachers, take advantage of this and add another way to connect with your families.

Go to your Classroom and select the middle tab option marked ‘Students’. Then select the ‘Invite Guardian’ option next to each student.


To invite the guardian(s), type their email address to invite them. If there is more than 1 guardian needing the information, no problem, simply choose the ‘Add Another’ choice before selecting ‘Invite’.


Guardians will receive an email inviting them to receive weekly emails. They will have 120 days to accept the invitation. Guardians can read more about it here.

After ‘experimenting’ with one parent, the student commented in class that his mom saw his work and liked what he had written. As a guardian, the parent couldn’t access the student account so the student signed in to show the parent his work. However, this was a great opportunity to have a meaningful conversation about what he did in school that week!

Google Docs: Emojis

Last week, my students were writing an essay in their Google Docs. In the middle of writing, one student asked, “Hey, Ms. N., did you know you can insert emojis in docs?”

I was surprised and answered, “Wait, what? No? Really? Cool. Show me how.” So I went over to her table and she showed me. Pretty cool!emoji-1

So how’d she do it?

Start by going to ‘Insert’ in the menu options





Choose the desired emoji and viola! You have an emoji in your doc. Now, what if we had students summarizing stories with just emojis?!

Thank you to my student, Johanna, for spreading her knowledge!


Ninja Selfies

screen-shot-2016-10-16-at-6-31-33-pmLate last week we had CELDT testing for some students. This meant that I had several students who were NOT being tested. This meant that I really couldn’t start something new as too many students would be out. Okay, so what to do? Well, make Ninja Selfies of course!

Taking a page out of Tracy Walker‘s book, I had my students create Ninjas. My partner in crime, – in podcast crime – Nancy Minicozzi, created a tutorial on how we created our Ninjas as our logo for T.L.C. – Tech. Learn. Coffee podcast. It was a BIG hit.

It was not only fun, but they learned a trick or two. Check out their creations. I had 2 classes do this. And with their permission here are their Ninjas: