Thing 11: Connecting Students to the World with Maps

Although I have used different mapping tools for personal use, I have only used Google Maps for the first time this year and I don’t really think it was too successful. After looking through all of the different links, I find myself wanting to work with classroom teachers on a few of these websites to help students connect themselves to the world around them.

Google Map

After helping to teach the Stories Module to 1st graders, I wish this topic had come up before since the stories take the students around the world. Although I created a Google Map that had the countries pinned and the story title, I think I could have made it better had I understood more about Google Maps. The module asks the teacher to use a map and point out the locations for each story but it doesn’t really have any connection to those countries beyond a pin on the map. It would be great to provide students with pictures from each location in ancient and modern times to connect to how different places are around the world.


I looked through HistoryPin and was fascinated by all the photographs of grandparents that have been uploaded. What a great way to honor someone while at the same time providing a snapshot of time across many generations and places. This site would be useful for teaching primary sources about historical and current events.


I was pleasantly surprised to see that someone had added photos for Oswego, NY on WhatWasThere. Last year, a 4th grade teacher had her student complete research on places of interest in Oswego. She went around to different landmarks and took pictures for students to use. A way to integrate students in this process would be for them to take a walking tour and take pictures themselves. Also, it would be fun for them to take pictures of the same places already uploaded and add their pictures from today. The town has changed extensively since the photos on the site and I think the students would be fascinated to see the changes. Student could also ask friends and families for pictures to be scanned and added to the website. This would be a good way to teach them to take pride in the place where they live.

Google Earth

Students love to use Google Earth to look for their homes and to see the homes of their friends. Since many of my students do a report on animals, I am intrigued by the National Geographic layer and how it can be used to learn more about the animal kingdom.


Lastly, I played around with GeoGuessr. In order to get the most out of this game, I think you have to either have a lot of knowledge about the world or no knowledge at all. Why? In the first, you can learn how well you know what areas around the world look like and how similar areas are along latitude lines. In the second, you can learn all about the different areas around the world and expand your world view. Many of my students have never been out of New York let alone out of the country. This would give them an easy introduction into how other people live in both cities and rural areas. You could have students play the game online but also have a written part where they had to explain why they chose the location and what clues they used from the pictures (road signs, type of tree, mountains, etc…). 


Only time will tell how useful these websites are in my teaching. With the use of the Modules in my district I believe I am going to have to fight an uphill battle to get teachers to step outside the Module box and work with me on something that isn’t specifically scripted from the state. As the world becomes more global, I think it is essential that we teach students a global and not just a local perspective and these mapping tools can definitely open up a whole new world to my students.



Presentation Tools – VoiceThread

Although I have seen how other people have used VoiceThread over the last few years, I have never used it with my classes. Not sure why other than the fact that there are so many options out there that I forget about this one.

I really liked how easy it was to get started and feel that even my lowest students would be able to use VoiceThread. The biggest obstacle would come adding in comments whether by voice or by typing. I have only a few microphones so it would take a long time for students to record their comments. On the other hand, my students are not very fast at typing so it could take them several class periods to type in only a few comments.

It took me about 10 minutes to create the VoiceThread below using pictures I had already saved onto my computer and then adding my comments. I chose to make this because each year, I have my Kindergarten students do beginning research on naked mole rats. Since they are so young, I teach them that research is something you do when you want to learn more about something that interests you (ex.: dogs, cats,   cars, etc…). We read a fiction and a nonfiction book and then compare them. Using these books, the students pull out facts about them. The VoiceThread below shows the information that is typically learned by the students.

Naked Mole Rats VoiceThread

Social Bookmarking – Pinterest

Ok, so I am still working on the second week and will soon get to the topic for the third week but in the meantime — Pinterest.

Thanks to one of my fellow co-workers, I received an invite to Pinterest. It would be interesting to know how long it takes to get an invite if someone doesn’t send it to you.

Although I haven’t spent a ton of time looking at other people’s boards, I think this is actually a bookmarking site that I would take the time to use and keep up. I started with a board called “Favorite Places & Spaces” but only because I didn’t really know where else to start. Since then, I have created a board on bulletin boards because I was searching for fresh, new ideas since parents will be visiting the school tomorrow night and I haven’t updated mine since before Christmas.  Since I am frequently searching for ideas, Pinterest provided the perfect forum to capture a thumbnail image for future use. In the past, I have copied the image into PowerPoint and saved it there. Of course, I frequently forgot to copy in the URL so I had no idea where the idea came from.

This week while talking to a different co-worker, she mentioned that she saw all the buzz about Pinterest but didn’t really understand why someone would use it. I found myself trying to convince her how wonderful it is and all the uses for it (planning a vacation, redecorating a room, recipes, etc…).

I can see many uses for Pinterest in the classroom but it is currently blocked in my district. I would love to have students create a board for their biography projects with pictures of the person, where they lived, objects that are attributed to them, and so much more. Or an animal board with pictures of the habitat, prey, food they eat, where they live, etc.. Plus, since Pinterest is so easy to use, students would be able to complete it in a class or two which would be a huge bonus!

Until the next new thing comes along, Pinterest will definitely be something I will use in the future.

Bulletin Boards

Social Bookmarking – Evernote

I understand social bookmarking and agree that it can be quite useful but I have never been able to get into it. I currently have accounts with Delicious, Diigo, LiveBinders and now Evernote. But other than using bookmarking sites the day I first created an account, I have never gone back to them. I don’t know why because I am frequently doing a search on Google looking for something that I found months ago but forgot to add it to my favorites.

Evernote was easy to create an account and I especially liked that there was a clipper available for Google Chrome, which is often overlooked. I have even downloaded the app for the iPad. I am not really a list maker and I think that is the part of Evernote that is the most appealing to me. I can see how it would be useful to clip pictures of bulletin boards or greeting cards that I would like to use in the future.

I consider myself to be an internet lurker — I tend to read a lot but very rarely post or add to the discussion. I find that I do this on Facebook and the different blogs that I frequently read. I find the social aspect to be “worrisome” (not sure that is the right word). Not sure why. Maybe it is from bad experiences or shyness. This is definitely something I will need to work on in the future.

I’ll have to wait and see if I actually stick with Evernote or neglect it as I have the others. In case you are interested, here is the “to-do” list I created on Evernote:


Blogging attempt two

While in grad school, I had to maintain a blog for a semester talking about clickers and Second Life. Once the class was over, I never wrote another post. My hope is that this time it will stick and I can pass on what I learn to my students and other interested people.

Setting up the blog was pretty painless although I had a difficult time choosing the blog address. In one sense, I believe the Internet is trending toward the use of real names but on the other hand, I want to maintain my privacy. So, I used my initials along with part of my last name in the address and gave the blog a totally different name. Not sure if I will keep it the way it is but for now and the purpose of the class it will stay as is.

I follow many blogs about different topics: silly, creative, books, serious, sports, and many others. I don’t read them as much as I would like but I find them useful. Hopefully someone in this world will see my blog and find something useful too someday.

Expanding my world through blogging

My name is Debbie and I am currently in my 3rd year as a librarian at a K-6 school in upstate New York. Just in case anyone is thinking, wow, cool she lives in New York City, it takes over 4 hours to get to NYC from where I live. Upstate NY is snowy, mountainous, and far different from the city everyone thinks of when they hear NY.

I grew up in Lemont, PA a mile from the home of Penn State University where I would eventually go to college. Thanks to my first college roommate during my freshman year, I got my first job in the math library. I continued to work there my entire time at PSU and somewhere in Pattee Library there is a book honoring my 1000 hours of service. Over the 3+ years that I worked there, I learned many different aspects of librarianship but never seriously considered it as a career option.

I have moved many times since I graduated from PSU and have earned a MPA from South Alabama University and a MLIS from Syracuse University. I have lived in California, Mississippi, Alabama, Japan, Hawaii, New Jersey, and New York since getting married in 1989. I would move back to Japan if I ever get the opportunity and I loved my entire time there.

As well as a librarian, I am a Stampin’ Up demonstrator. I enjoy making my own cards to give to friends and family on special occasions. To get inspiration, I follow many blogs but my favorites are:

Jill’s Card Creations

Chic’ n Scratch

Some of my other favorites blogs include:

Cake Wrecks

Free Technology for Teachers

iLearn Technology


I look forward to learning all about the tools this class is offering and my goal is to keep this blog going once the class is finished.