Monday, February 23, 2015

My First Map with BatchGEO

I'm trying desperately to use as many of the fantastic ideas I learned at TCEA as possible, before I forget! ; ) One of the best presenters at TCEA to me was Tammy Worcester. She has tons of tips and ideas on how to use technology in the classroom. LOVE! One thing she showed us was how to use BatchGEO. It is super easy - as it must be, in order for me to use it. ; )

BatchGEO takes a spreadsheet and marks the locations you list. (Tammy suggests creating a Google Form to collect the data from students then using the Google Spreadsheet to transfer the information to BatchGEO). 

I started daydreaming of ways we could use it while she was speaking:
*track all the locations Flat Stanley has visited
*mark locations students have traveled
*learn about students by pinning their birthplaces
*locate the schools that communicated with us in the Holiday Card Exchange

Once I focused on Tammy again, I heard more wonderful ideas:
*locations of famous battles
*timeline of a famous person/inventor
*locations and sequence of important historical events
*many, many others

Upon returning to school, I set to work. I decided to clean up our map in the hallway. Our map was originally designated for Flat Stanley and his travels, but it soon became the map for our connections made in the Holiday Card Exchange as well. It was messy and unclear what each pin was for:

I removed the cards from our Holiday Card Exchange and entered the school names, states and zip codes on a Google Spreadsheet. *Make sure you have column headers. Once I completed the spreadsheet, I copied the spreadsheet information and opened in another tab. I pasted the information in the area where it tells you to paste then pressed 'Map Now':

Here is our completed map:

Now THIS map is on display in our hallway so others can see who we connected with in our Holiday Card Exchange. The original map is now dedicated to only locations Flat Stanley has traveled. The information is now clear and neat. : )

My plan is to share it with my students. They are about to research Famous Americans, and I think they may be able to use BatchGEO to show the path or important locations associated with the person they research. Perhaps they can use the map to then create a ThingLink to tell about each location.

Try BatchGeo and let me know if you have questions. What are some ways you or your students can use it?

Saturday, February 7, 2015


This week I attended TCEA15 in Austin, Texas for the first time. I have been looking forward to this week for months and it was well worth the wait! I'm thankful to my husband, my principal and our GCISD Education Foundation for providing me the opportunity to attend. While it was tough being away from my family (thank goodness for texting and Skype) and my students (thank goodness for my student intern, my team, Google Classroom, Kidblog, Padlet and Skype)....
I feel recharged as a mom and educator. Plus, I met new people and learned SO much - I'm not sure how to sort through it all! : ) In an effort to remember some key ideas, I thought I'd reflect on my week and share a few of my favorites. Here are a few of my favorite things about TCEA (but not limited to the only favorite can I choose?)

Learning - The amount of information I took in this week is incredible. I have my notes, notes from peers, links shared from Twitter posts, the handouts from the conference app, and more. As I scan through my notes, here are a few things on my To Do List:
*Try out the apps Hyperlapse, PhotoMath, Number Frames, Minecraft in our classroom. Try TalkTyper (student speaks, site writes) with students.
*Use thinglink in the classroom (I've used it for a teaching tool but haven't taught my students... yet)
*Use iPad app dice - you can find a variety of these on Pinterest. (I think I will use this one. While I prefer my students make a product of choice, I've noticed they get comfortable using the same app all the time. This way, I think they will be pushed out of their happy place in order to try something new.)
*Use for tons of math resources, especially the word problem generator
*Use Google Form plus BatchGeo to make a map to show our classroom connections (Flat Stanley, Holiday Card Exchange, Mystery Skype).
*Find out how to display students' products in our community. Wonderful way to show our learning than to display it for all to see, plus it provides an authentic audience for our children.
*Have students share their products at Faculty Meetings to inspire others.
I have a TON more on my iPad and Google Folder but these are just a few.

Connecting - What an incredible feeling to be surrounded by hundreds (thousands?? felt like it) of like-minded people!! Standing in the lllooonnnggg line at Starbucks each morning, I met some educators and connected with them. Standing in the lloonngg lines for sessions, I met a few more. Following #TCEA15 on Twitter allowed me to add to my PLN (Professional Learning Network) and connect with others. I was able to meet up with a few fellow GCISD people to discuss what we were learning during lunch and dinner. It was nice to bump in to a few presenters I am familiar with and hear their ideas. It was also nice to add to my list some presenters that I will follow and attend a session again. Check out and follow these presenters:
Meghan Zigmond @ZigZagsTech
Joan Gore @joangore
Janet Corder @corderj
Leslie Fisher @lesliefisher
Tammy Worcester @tammyworcester
Plus, I met Moby!! (if your class uses BrainPop or BrainPopJr, you KNOW Moby)

Collaborating - There are also opportunities to just sit and sort through all the information coming IN. You can walk through the Vendor Exhibit to check out new things. You can attend meetings to meet locals, Karaoke, After Dinner Social, and other events posted on Twitter (at Starbucks, etc) but my favorite was the Digital Square. It was a nice place to sit and recharge (mentally and also to plug in your devices) while soaking it all in. A friend suggested we volunteer and it was FUN! I was thrilled when we arrived that it was Makey Makey time!! Nothing like learning along side someone who wants to try it out, too. I met some people, showed my students and got to play, as well!

Attending a conference is an amazing opportunity to reach out beyond your classroom, campus and district bubble. While summer is often an educator's best season for professional development, I am excited that I can implement these new ideas in a few DAYS, instead of weeks or months. I hope I can take a few buddies with me next year. Interested in attending? Check out TCEA16! If 5 days doesn't work for you (I registered for the Premium sessions) go for just a few days. If traveling doesn't work for you, try local opportunities. TCEA has several throughout the year. You can learn of more conferences from your Region or searching for EdCamps. What better example for your children of being a life-long learner than attending meaningful meetings with amazing people. Whatever works for you, get out there and continue on your journey! #learnanywhere