Google My Maps – Learning for the Year

I wish I had started this early in the year, but now I have something to try and get teachers to use next year!

Google My Maps (Introduction here) allows you to create your own maps and add content like placemarks, draw lines and shapes, organize with layers, and style the content.

One of our state social studies standards that goes through almost every grade level is constructing maps and charts to display geographic data. My Maps allows students to that easily.

It would be great if students created map that had geographic data for the entire year. They could put placemarks in for each subject and add it to the map to see connections between subjects. Below is a “6th Grade” map that has placemarks from some of our first quarter curriculum maps!


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What I’m Watching

I was looking through my YouTube history and thought I’d share some of the things I’ve been watching recently!

I know Brody, and this video doesn’t surprise me at all. 2 million views does surprise me though!

I think there is some dust in the air…

Worth 11 minutes of your time. “Have fun. We could be accountants for a living.”

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AzMERIT Writing Rubrics in Doctopus – Goobric

Using Goobric to grade writing with the AzMERIT rubrics

  1. Use the Chrome browser and have an assignment in Google Classroom or Google Drive that can be graded with the AzMERIT (or any writing/project) rubric. Students need to have at least opened the assignment for you to be able to grade it.
  2. Save the appropriate rubric to your own drive. You should only have to do this step one time. The rubrics can be found here: – There is also a document with these directions in this shared folder.
  3. Create a new Spreadsheet in your Google Drive – I would name it the same as the assignment in Google Classroom.
  4. Install and run the Doctopus Add On. You should only have to install the add on one time. It will show up in your add ons after the initial installation.
  5. Launch the Doctopus Add On.
  6. On the dropdowns on the right side select “Ingest Google CR assignment”, then select your class, then select your assignment and click the Ingest Assignment button.
  7. Click Attach Goobric button on the right side.
  8. If this is your first time using Doctopus and Goobric, install the Goobric Extension and Authorize the Web App. Click the Select your Rubric button.
  9. Search for the appropriate rubric and click Attach Goobric to this Assignment.
  10. Click on the link to the students writing in column H. Once it is open, click on the Goobric icon in the omnibar.
  11. This opens the student document in a new window. The AzMERIT rubric is in the top frame. Put rubric scores across the top and a comment can be added to the right.
  12. When the grading is completed, hit the submit button under comments. This will attach the rubric to the students document with the correct sections highlighted. It also updates the spreadsheet with the score.
  13. To only see the rubric scores, click on the rubricScores sheet in the spreadsheet.

A video that shows most of these steps for a different rubric can be watched here:


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Things I Tracked in 2014

I have been using a few different apps or devices to track a few things this year. I wear a FitBit Plus to track my steps and I use Runkeeper to track hikes while disc golfing and running, and I also use the Nike Running App to track runs.

Yes, I use both RunKeeper and the Nike app at the same time. I know this is probably more of a drain on my iPhone battery than it needs to be, but Runkeeper shows information on my watch. The Nike app looks better and more of my friends use it.


Steps – FitBit

year-fitbit This was the first full year that I wore a FitBit. I started the year with a FitBit Zip and ended the year with a FitBit Plus. Other than for some time in August, I wore it almost every day. I don’t really have anything to compare this with, but I thought that walking over 1,000 miles and more than 2.7 million steps was pretty decent for the year!


Walking / Hiking – Runkeeper



During the summer, and more frequently now in Phoenix, I play quite a bit of disc golf. While playing I try to remember to track my distance using the Runkeeper app on my phone. I tracked 20 walks during 2014. During 2015 I plan to do a better job of tracking the scores of those disc golf rounds.


Running – Nike Running App & Runkeeper



During 2014 I tracked 27 runs, 59.9 miles, and an average pace of 9:44 per mile. After taking a 10 year break from running, I started again in the spring, stopped in the summer while at camp, then decided to hit it up again during the end of December. I have continued through January and have some goals set for this year.


The Nike running app also gives me a breakdown of which days I ran the most on (Saturday with 5 runs tracked) and what time of the day I ran the most.




The Runkeeper app also does a nice job of giving some personal record breakdowns from those 27 runs. I didn’t run very far, or very fast, but I’m glad that I did start running again.



I plan to continue tracking 2015. The running has already increased (6 runs so far and over 20 total miles), which has also made the average day on my Fitbit increase somewhat. There is a small group of us that have been trying out the Nike Running app challenges, and after a learning curve of a start because of poor semantics in how their instructions are worded, I think it may be something that I continue to use to motivate myself to run more frequently this year!



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Capitol Building

Social Media and Field Trips

group photo - supreme court This month we took thirty-seven eighth graders and five adults to Washington, DC for 5 days. We left our school in Phoenix at 3 AM on a Wednesday morning and returned at 11:30 PM on a Sunday night. I couldn’t even put all of the sites and memorials we visited in order without using the agenda. It was a very hectic, but very well organized trip.

I wanted to use social media to connect with parents and to let them know where we were and what we were doing during the trip. Below are my tips for anyone that is going on a field trip for an extended period of time.

1. Choose Your Purpose

What are you going to try and tweet or post out to parents or the community during your trip? With such a large group, getting a photo of most of our students at each stop along our trip wasn’t a feasible option. I wanted to make sure that parents knew where we were at and that we were safe. I posted a photo and the location of where we were at as soon as we arrived at a monument. Parents told me that this helped them feel better about the trip because they knew where their kids were at any given time. If time allowed, I took photos of students and posted them as well.

If it was a smaller group, I would have tried to take more photos of the students. Parents want to see photos of their own children smiling and having a good time. If you decide on trying to get photos of every student on the trip, you run the risk of missing someone and worrying parents.

2. Who will post?

Who will have access to the accounts that you are going to publish content? Is it one person on the trip or an entire group? With our group, I was the only one that had access to the accounts. I wanted to make sure that the posts were put up in a timely fashion and that the information wasn’t being repeated or told in more than one “voice”. I was also the person on the trip that was the most comfortable with the technology that we were using.  It may have been better to have more than one person posting so that I could have enjoyed the monuments, but it really wasn’t that much time to take a photo and post it quickly at each place. I was taking photos already, so it wasn’t much more time to post them online from my phone.


 3. Which service will you use?


Hopefully your school already has some social media accounts in place that you can use during your field trip. We have a Facebook Page and a Twitter account that we started using this school year. I wanted to use Facebook because most parents have a personal account and you can check in to places. Unfortunately, as a page you are not able to check in to specific places. Twitter does have the ability to geo-locate your tweets, so I used that instead. It would not put the monument name with the post, but it would put a marker on a map.

I also connected our Twitter account with our Facebook page (instructions here). This allowed any post on Twitter to be automatically put on the Facebook page. This made it easy for one person to post, and also gave access to all of the analytics and insights that Facebook offers for the amount of people that saw the post.

4. How will you share it with the people that should see it?

Making sure that you share the field trip posts with parents and community members before, during, and after the trip are important. We sent out an email to all of the parents with students going on the trip with links to both the Twitter and Facebook accounts. We also made sure to tell them that they do not need an account to be able to view the posts.

I also used a hashtag during the trip. This allowed me to easily find all of the Tweets that pertained to the trip. I also made a Storify of all of the Tweets and put them in chronological order so that parents, teachers, and community members could go back and look at the posts from the trip. Next year I may give the hashtag to students to use, but we did not do that this year.


Overall, the trip was great! Students acted appropriately and were able to see many monuments and museums in the Washington, DC area. The only time we had a problem was during our bus ride from the airport to dinner. A car that was parked on the street pulled out of their parking spot and grazed the side of our bus. There was quite a bit of damage to the other car, but our students didn’t even notice that it had happened until we stopped. I told students that if they were going to text or call their parents to lead off with telling them that no one was hurt or injured and to use the word “grazed” when describing the “accident”. Some decided to not even tell their parents at all because they didn’t want them to worry.

If you would like to see the Storify from our trip, check out this link:

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What I’ve Been Watching

Here are some of the things I have been watching this week (other than College Basketball):

Sir Ken Robinson – TED Education – 2013


Learning and Creating with iPad’s in Kindergarten:


Kids React to Rotary Phones – The Fine Brothers


Android Wear – Information that Moves With You


Jamie Casap – Address to educators at NAF Next


QR Book Project – The Giver

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