Google Earth and Google Maps in the Classroom

Sunday, April 8, 2018 2 comments

Hello all!  I have been using Google Earth and Google Maps in my classroom for over three years now and it is a game changer!
Not only does Google earth act like a digital globe, students can use Google Maps and Google earth to enter 360° photo spheres to experience locations in all directions.  This is awesome to use with any location in social studies (i.e. Colosseum, Pyramids of Giza, Tigris and Euphrates, etc.) but also is wonderful to add another layer to novel studies.  You can have your students deep dive into the setting f a book by "traveling" there and experiencing what the characters might have seen!

It is easier to show you how to use it so check out this video!

If you want to see how it can work in your classroom go ahead and download this FREE Ancient Rome Google Earth Task Cards and Activities.

If you really like these activities, head on over and check out more activities like this in my store!

5 Tips for Teaching the Winter Games!!!!!!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018 1 comment
It is Olympic time!  I am a sucker for a special world wide event and the Olympics are no exception!  My daughter and I are already getting excited for figure skating and my boy and I. for some weird reason, love cheering on Canada in curling.  I have put together some fun activities that can be integrated into any classroom from kinders to middle schoolers.

#1 Collections on Epic! Books

I know I'm on the Epic! Books bandwagon but it really is an amazing tool!  I'm able to make collections of books and share them with teachers all over ny district.  It's like sharing a book bin for free and their collection is immense!    Click above and view texts on the Olympics and winter sports for kindergarten through middle school!

#2 Google Earth

I am a sucker for Google Maps and Google Earth.  I certainly would never be able to take my fabulous students all over the world, but I can give them a peek all over our planet!  Although we aren't able to take a google peek into the stadium at Pyeongchang, I've created a My Map that gives you 360° views insode the stadiums in Rio, Soschi, and more!!! Click on the picture above!

#3 360° Views of Sports

I would love to take all my kiddos on a luge ride but alas, I have never ecen been on one myself. Show your kids what winter sports are like but also give them a view into what it feels like to partake in these ports.  Click above to take a look at 360° videos of luge, skiing, bobsledding, and more!

#4 Science of the Olympics

Although athletes can look like magicians, there is science behind their performances. The national Science Foundation has cretaed a ton of videos on the science of sports with focuses on speed, velocity, friction and more.

#5 Green Screen

After the kiddos have read about the sports and researched them through video, it would be awesome to use an app like Green Screen by DoInk or software like Open Broadcaster Software to make green screen videos of them immersed in their sports. (Sorry, I don't have any winter sports green screen.... enjoy this beach theme!)
If you are looking for some prepared classroom activities, I have created one for the lower elementary grades and one for upper elementary and middle school.

The PyeongChang Winter Sports activity is great for kindergarten through second grade.  It comes with a five day presentation on the winter games, PyeongChang, figure skating, bobsledding, and skiing.  The presentation uses engaging pictures, 360° YouTube videos, and Google Earth to give students background knowledge.  Each day has a paper activity. Watch this video to take a good luck at the item.

If you teach older grades, I have created an activity that compares the ancient Olympics to the modern Olympics.  This would be great as a stand alone activity or one that integrates into your ancient Greece unit.  It includes two readings at 2 reading levels, I Have, Who Has? cards, Fake or Real? cards, interactive notebook foldable, and infographic project.

Have fun teaching the Olympics!!!!!!

Tech You Can Use Tomorrow: Epic! Books

Tuesday, December 19, 2017 2 comments

Hello all!  I hope the holiday season is finding you all festive and well!  Things are going fabulously over here in EngagingLand and we are counting down the day till break!!!

So, do you want some tech you can use in your class and implement tomorrow?  If you haven't yet, you MUST use Epic! Books!!!!  Epic!  is an online library that is totally free for teachers.  Teachers can have students read casually off of a guest account or can quickly and easily create an account for each student.

So .... why is it amazing?

The teachers in my district love Epic! and are using it with students who are K - 8.  My favorite thing is the amazing and quality informational text.  Their nonfiction books are amazing (I can't get enough of their National Geographic titles!) and teachers are using these to introduce kids as young as second grade to the concept of research.

A couple of weeks ago, like many urban districts, we started to enroll students from Puerto Rico.  These students all came with different backgrounds and access to education.  I was personally working with a couple of students who spoke no English at all.  The principal and I set these students up on Epic! and selected "Spanish Books" as their preference and voila!!! We had an instant Spanish language library and these students got to spend at least a part of their day exploring and in their home language!!!

If you are already using Epic! in your classroom, I would love to hear the ways you have implemented it!!! Feel free to comment below, head on over to my Facebook page ( ) or email me at

5 Ways To Teach Thanksgiving, Engage Students, and Not Lose Your Mind!

Sunday, November 5, 2017 No comments
Don't forget to sign up to get ideas, tips and tricks, and freebies to engage your students!

I love Thanksgiving!  Mostly I love Thanksgiving because it means I get to put up my Christmas tree the next day, but I do really love having my whole family over to just spend time together.  Thanksgiving also is a great opportunity to sneak in some learning no matter what age you teach.  So, what are some awesome, low prep activities?

friends thanksgiving GIF

If you teach middle school, Thanksgiving is a great opportunity to talk about myths and legends vs. facts.  On of my favorite activities to do before the holiday was from Beyond the Bubble.  Beyond the Bubble is operated by the Stanford History Education Group and focuses on students being critical readers of history.  Beyond the Bubble has a great activity comparing the facts of the first Thanksgiving and the picture that was painted in 1932. Click here for the activity!
2) A teacher can never have enough books and little ones can not read enough!  In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, think about joining Epic! Books !  I’m going to blog more about Epic! Later this week but just know that your students can access high quality, digital books about Thanksgiving!  Students can read both fiction and informational text on the site and can find books that are read aloud.  Epic! Books are also great for young students to start their journey into researching!

3)  Have you taken a virtual field trip yet?  If not, one of my favorite simple and easy virtual experiences is taking a trip to Plymouth Plantation the week before Thanksgiving.  Head on over to Learn Around the World and let Brandon Hall show your kids around Plymouth Plantation and teach them about life among the Pilgrims and Wampanoag.

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4) Introduce your kiddos to podcasts!  Podcasts are a super hit in my house and they help students create critical listening skills.  Stories Podcasts is one of my favorites. Students write stories and the lovely peopl at The Stories Podcasts act them out and add music.  They have a cute and short podcast about two sibling fighting about a Thanksgiving Pie Off.  I suggest it for 3rd grade and above:)

5) Lastly, I love to get the kiddos ready by playing my The History of Thanksgiving Digital Simulation.
The game is performed whole class but students compete in a group of 3 or 4.  I launch the activity by having students turn and talk and discuss the following essential questions:
What obstacles and what successes did the Pilgrims encounter as they attempted to survive at Plymouth?
Once students are in groups I give each student a point sheet and each group gets a spinner.  To use the spinner, the students need a pencil and a paperclip.

Once the students have all their paper resources, I begin the presentation.  The presentation has students spinning through the game to assign them their actions on how they would have acted in the months leading up to the first Thanksgiving. Every option in the game is taken straight from history.  If students “choose” the same path as the Pilgrims, they will be successful all the way up through the first Thanksgiving.  Students will also experience the difficulties the Pilgrims had on the way to success.

Last year when I played this game with a group of 3rd graders, they didn’t know that I had created it.  While we were playing, one of the kids turned to me and whispered, “Don’t tell my teacher but this is really fun!”  Engagement for the win!
Once the game is complete, I have my students go back through the presentation and analyze the information by completing The History of Thanksgiving: Questions for Understanding.  As a summary activity, I have the students create an advertisement that extolls the magnificence of the lives of the Pilgrims and and Warning sign that gets settlers to stay away because of the hardships.

If you are interested in The History of Thanksgiving Digital Simulation click here and head on over to my Teachers Pay Teachers page.  I promise this will not disappoint!

Tech You Can Use Tomorrow: Live Webcams

Saturday, November 4, 2017 No comments

Hey all!  In my new job as an integration technology specialist, I go into a ton of classes!  As I travel across the district my goal is to inspire kids and teachers to just add something small to their days to create engagement.  For me, engagement means that students want to be in a classroom and if they want to be there they will be open to learning. 

I'm going to start a regular series where I give you a simple little tech tip that you can easily roll out in your classes on Monday and they will get you and your kiddos excited!

Week 1: Live Webcams
The other day I showed teacher the power of live webcam and they couldn't believe they had never thought of it.  A live feed is a 24/7 video feed of anything but I have teachers focusing on live feeds of animals and places.

Imagine launching a unit on the solar system and the students walked into the class to this on the projector:

Or imagine doing an informational text unit on penguins and while the students were doing their research this was playing on the projector:

Adding a webcam to any lesson or unit makes the content come alive and is so simple to incorporate.  I have come up with a list of some of my favorite webcams so click here to see how you can add these to your classroom!

To be honest, sometimes I just put the live webcam on to make me happy so right now I'm going to leave you with some fun brown bears..... because, well.... they are adorable.

Join Me On My Journey to Engagement!

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