All posts by judygriffinaea

About judygriffinaea

Digital Learning Consultant for Green Hills AEA in Southwest Iowa

Google Earth Online – Made for Chrome

Finally, Google Earth is available for Chromebooks (or in the Chrome browser on a Mac or PD) and is totally online! Go to, click “Launch Google Earth” and off you go! Obviously, this is a great move by Google to support all our students with Chromebooks. Students can now see and experience their neighborhood, state, country and the world from their desk or home. There are also some new features of Google Earth that you and your students will want to explore:

  1. Post Cards – By “sharing”, you can now send a ‘postcard’ just like you were really there! You can also share an image right to your Google Classroom!
  2. Voyager – Visit places with a guided tour from experts –  info cards that take you between locations as you click through. Click and drag “Peg Man” to go to Street View down to ground level. Awesome!
  3. I’m Feeling Lucky – The “random” button, which looks like a dice, takes you… anywhere – randomly to places you may never have thought to visit otherwise. What fun!

Here’s a nice tutorial to share with your students!

AR vs VR

Augmented Reality – Virtual Reality? How can I use these to enhance and extend student learning?

Virtual Reality (VR) is a technology that is “immersive” – in other words, it requires your complete focus on content that is most often found using a headset of some type (Google Cardboard, Samsung’s GearVR, and View-Master VR are some of the most popular ones.) VR changes the way we watch and interact with content. YouTube now has a Virtual Reality Channel with more content being added every day – not all of it “school appropriate”, however. Simply pull up one of the videos on your SmartPhone, insert it into your VR headset of choice, and enjoy! Luke Symonds, CAM High School social studies teacher from Iowa, had his students experience the Revolutionary War using Google Cardboard viewers and students’ phones and earbuds. Thanks to Google Expeditions, many students have been able to go on Virtual Field Trips to places they never could visit otherwise!

Augmented Reality (AR) enhances reality and the “real world” rather than taking us out of it. AR adds a layer of information (text, images, video, 3D) to something that is tangible and real. This tangible thing is usually called a target and could be a photo in a magazine or a photo that you’ve taken, student artwork or other creations, a world landmark, the sky or even a package of Oreos!!

There are many AR apps available in the education realm: Aurasma, StarWalk 2, Anatomy 4D, Start Chart, Google Translate, Google SkyMap, AR Flashcards, Spacecraft 3D, Osmo (play beyond the screen of an iPad), and more! Here is a chart with links to many educational AR apps available – most are free.

I see the future of AR and VR for enhancing educational experiences for students growing exponentially! You and your students don’t have to wait – the future is now!!

Adobe Spark Post, Page and Video!

Adobe – long known for their excellent digital creativity products like Creative Cloud, has created and offered FREE Adobe Spark Post, Page, and Video to make blogs, websites, and videos that are easy and eye-catching! You can either create them online (yes, for Chromebooks too) or using the iOS mobile apps.  These three tools are easy enough for elementary students to use but are so “professional” looking that many businesses are using them!

Go to Adobe Spark in the Classroom to see student examples, lesson plans, and teacher work.



Many think that a PDF is static… you can’t do anything but read it. But here are two Google Chrome Apps/Extensions that allow you to copy text from a PDF, annotate, draw on, comment, “white out”, underline, and more: Kami and DocHub.

To start, open a PDF from your Google Drive. Above the PDF, click on “Open with…”, choose “Connect More Apps” and search for Kami and/or DocHub. (You may have to ask your GAFE administrator to ok these extensions in your domain.) Allow it to connect to your Google Drive. Now, click open with… and choose either Kami or DocHub. They both allow you to do basic annotations but they also each have tools that the other does not. For example, DocHub will allow you to insert blank fields (text, checkboxes, signatures, initials, etc) and Kami does not. DocHub’s free version allows you to legally digitally sign up to 3 documents a month and you can have others digitally sign the same document as well. Of course, there are Pro (paid) versions of both Kami and DocHub for anyone who wants more than the basics.

Here is a quick overview of Kami:

Here is a screencast for DocHub to get you started:

Literacy and Tech Webcast

Green Hills AEA (Southwest Iowa) Digital Learning Consultants, Maryann and Judy, met with Lynn Hockenberry, one of our expert Literacy Consultants creating a combination webinar/podcast. (See recorded video at end of this article.) We discussed the K-5 Iowa Core Literacy Standards and the technology embedded within those standards. Some of the vocabulary that definitely alludes to using technology to meet the standards includes: digital text, electronic menu, multimedia, icons, sidebars, hyperlinks, digital tools, dictate, research, digital sources, keyboarding, create engaging audio recordings, publish…

Here is a Google Slide presentation listing each kind of standard (Writing, Speaking and Listening, Reading, and Language) and some more suggested tools for teachers and students to meet those standards.

The tools that Lynn shared included:

  • Newsela – Free leveled news, primary sources, and more, with standards-aligned formative assessments.
  • Glogster – create multimedia posters
  • Blabberize – fun way to combine writing and fluency
  • ComicLife – get kids writing with this comic maker!

Check out Lynn’s Blog, Lynn’s Literacy LINCS!

Maryann summarized an article entitled: Strategies to Help Students ‘Go Deep’ When Reading Digitally and even better, showed an example of how to do it using Google Docs – according to suggestions in the article.

Hope you find this short webinar/podcast helpful!

OpenEd – Assessment, Videos, Homework, Lesson Plans


OpenEd offers over a million assessments, homework assignments, videos, games, and lesson plans aligned to standards including Next Generation Science, Common Core Math and English Language Arts, TEKS, and more. Teachers will find any online resources their students need at this one stop shop! The formative assessments and “homework” are graded automatically. If a student misses a question, OpenEd connects them with a video or game to help them master that skill.

OpenEd resources can be shared via Google Classroom, Edmodo, Schoology, and many other LMS’s. There is also an app from OpenEd called Common Core Quest that is available from Chrome Web Store, iOS app store, or Google Play. This is a resource perfect for your Blended or Flipped Classroom!

Awesome Tables are… Awesome!

Awesome Tables is a web application that allows you to turn Google spreadsheet data into easy to filter tables, maps, cards, and more. The Awesome Table documentation will help you create your first table step by step. You might want to look at the example templates on their site first to get an idea of what this application can do!

Once you’ve created your Awesome Table, you can either let people view it on the Awesome Table site or embed it into your Google Site with Insert>Gadget – then search the public gadgets for Awesome Table.

Here is an example table view made by copying the spreadsheet of all the Google Expeditions available to teachers and students.

Here is an example of the Geocode template which creates a Google Map from Spreadsheet Data – this one is on some Famous Iowans.

Here is an example of the Cards template – the Google sheet pulled in all the tweets with our #ghaea hashtag, then Awesome Tables makes it not only sortable and clickable but easy on the eyes!

Make YouTube Work for You!

YouTube Extensions can help you enjoy and have more control over how you use YouTube in your classroom or at home. Here are some I learned about from Daniel Sharpe @get_sharpe at ISTE in Denver this summer (plus a couple others that I use.) (Thanks, Daniel!)

Google Cast for Education

“Teach and learn from everywhere!”  – “Make every student a presenter.”

New from Google this summer, Google Cast for Education gives students the ability to share their Chrome screen and sound wirelessly through the teacher’s computer connected to the projector and speakers. The teacher then can accept or deny their request to project. The beauty of this is that when students are doing presentations or showing a video they created or even if they just want to share a photo or some resecastarch they found with the class, it’s as simple as clicking the extension! No more moving from their seats, unplugging the teacher device and speakers, and plugging in to the student’s device.

To get started, teachers need to install the Google Cast for Education app
and set it up – name it. Students need the Google Cast extension in their Chrome browser. Chrome management admins can install the new Cast for Education app for all teachers, and the Google Cast extension for their entire domain. Important… make sure Chrome is updated to the newest version for this to work!

Zaption Is Closing

For a couple years, I’ve been promoting Zaption to make interactive videos for flipped or blended classroom learning. However, as of this summer, Zaption is moving on to bigger and better endeavors. (If it’s technology, it’s going to change.) So… for those of you Zaption fans, you can still use all the videos you’ve made interactive simply by exporting them to EdPuzzle. Start by going to and follow the directions in the video below.