This past summer I had the chance to attend a Google Teacher Institute on Maps. It was a chock-full day of learning. And one of the highlights was Google Maps Engine Lite, a useful mix of Maps and Earth.
As a result of this rich day of learning, my colleague, Emily (@egdunnagan), asked me to help out with one of her Tech Lunch Mondays. It’s a creative use of time at Emily’s junior high–you come to the lab for PD, she buys you lunch. It’s a whopping 35 minutes long so you better be firing on all cylinders.
My Maps day was today. I was initially struggling with which Maps to use, but it really came down to the useful, hybrid nature of Google Maps Engine Lite. Earlier in the summer, I was able to log on during the testing stages (I think) before the tool was open to all users. But after checking with Kim Randall (@scubagirl812) and testing it with a colleague, I was good to go!
35 minutes… unknown folks, unfamiliar environment, lots to learn and practice and apply to students.
Rule #1 of PD: ALWAYS start with a Google Form. You never know when you’ll need the groups’ emails or need to use data as a example. In this case, I was hoping to use the data to apply to our map at the end of our PD session. That didn’t turn out as planned but I did end up needing the groups’ emails TWICE.
So with the Form filled out, we moved to the actual tool: Google Maps Engine Lite. I had already started a map with their school and my school. Simple examples–label, pic and text. Very straightforward. Then I shared the map with them. Unbeknownst to me, the map didn’t immediately begin to populate and get ugly–you needed to refresh the page for that to occur. I did that about mid-way through on mine to test it, and it helped to keep things tidy for the group until I thought of the refresh button.
Task 1: Search your address, place a marker, pause. Meanwhile, we clarified right click vs. left click, Save and how to return to Edit mode…. tech pd never follows a straight line. That’s the fun. Another pause for clarification about collaborating on a map (or doc) among teachers and students. We can make a mess of it or work together to ensure it’s useful and representative of the group. And while this map is just for fun today, collaboration is powerful–for good or evil (sounds like a superhero). At any rate, they got the message.
Once all addresses were marked, we paused to talk application with students. Lots of great ideas. Then we went to adding an image. “Think of an image that represents your house. For me, it’s dirty tennis shoes, sports equipment and a generally cluttered yard that screams ‘Boys live here.'” I walked through opening a new tab and finding Google Image Search. Pause. “You know that all these images are not available for you to use, right? Would it be helpful for me to pause here and show you how to find usable images, legally usable images?” YES–they practically shouted at me. Awesome. So we bird-walked to Advanced Search (a bird-walk worth a full day, but we kept it to about 30 seconds). With image urls copied (one woman worried, “But nothing happened.” “Nothing that you can see,” I replied.).
Back to our map. Right click, paste, add. Ooooohhhh, aaahhhhhh. Music to my ears. They each completed the marker with a few words to tie the image to their home.
More conversation about student use, and before I knew it our time was up. Emily came in and asked if the session was helpful–I think I might be returning for an encore Tech Lunch Monday.
I left them with some reassurances–Use OUR map as your sandbox. You can’t break it. And it WILL get messy. That’s what a sandbox is for.
At GTI I learned how to import a Form as a .csv file to a Google Maps Engine Lite map. How cool to instantly populate a map with data from a Form. I originally asked the session participants to pick a place they like to visit or wish to visit. I couldn’t get it work! I kept messing with it the night before, through the morning, and just blamed the map. Couldn’t be me.
So tonight I went back to the map. I just knew it WAS me… not the map. I figured it out… 1 extra step that I was forgetting and actually saying the entire time. <forehead slap> .csv, Catina! You dope! Make the spreadsheet a .csv then chose that file as your data to import. Done!
Cue the second time I used the Form data to email the session participants (the 1st time was sharing the map), “Ta-da! Take a look at our map now. I’ve placed markers at your national and international destinations. It worked. And I’ll be happy to show you how next time.” And I reminded them about the sandbox. It’s a place to play and try things out.
Moral of the story–The Fastest PD EVER was AWESOME! I love folks who love to learn and this group was exactly that. Thanks Emily for the opportunity to share what I learned. I had a great time!