TeachersFirst's Gifted in any Classroom: Project Tools for Interactive Books or Maps and Unusual Challenges

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Start • Helpful Background • Differentiating Academic Content • Respecting Creativity• Personalized Connections • Organization for a Sane Classroom

This collection of editors' favorites will challenge gifted students working on independent and creative projects to show what they know in all grade levels and subjects.

This collection focuses on tools to create online interactive books or interactive maps and unusual and "different" challenges particularly well-suited to gifted students' quirky interests. Bookemon and Mapskip are intended for educational use, so include teacher tools -- and no email for student accounts. Others do require full accounts with email, so you may want to set up a class or teacher account for your students to use under your supervision, especially with younger students. 

Before you start choosing tools, Check out the tips, permission slips, and rubrics for Injecting and Respecting Creativity, and be sure you encourage your gifted students to collect ideas in an idea bin as they begin their project.

The "In the Classroom" portion of these tool reviews will suggest some possible project types for your gifted students.

Can't find one you like? Find many more options in the TeachersFirst Edge.

 

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Tapestry - readtapestry.com

Grades
K to 12
2 Favorites 0  Comments
   
Tapestry is a new way of storytelling across any device. Create and view beautiful "tappable" stories -- slideshows telling a simple story where readers tap to move forward. Explore...more
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Tapestry is a new way of storytelling across any device. Create and view beautiful "tappable" stories -- slideshows telling a simple story where readers tap to move forward. Explore Tapestries created by others sorted into categories such as popular, fashion, inspiration and more. To make your own Tapestry, click "Write a Tapestry" to view options. Options in the original editor include adding images, text formatting and color options, including a share button to send your Tapestry to others via social networking and email. Additional formats include resources for creating animated gif's and short stories. You do need an account to make your own Tapestry. There are free app versions for iOS and Android.

tag(s): DAT device agnostic tool (199), slides (63)

In the Classroom

Tapestry is perfect for use when creating and sharing short stories or poems. Use Tapestry to create quick slideshows for any classroom use. Set up a whole class account so students do not need individual logins. Easily share slides with information or (online) images on your website or blog to remind students about a project or assignment. Have students create presentations to "introduce" themselves to the class during the first week of school. Create a slide show to introduce any unit and have students guess what they will be learning. Create a Tapestry easily "on the fly" as a review resource to embed on your class website or blog. This site is perfect for your BYOD (bring your own device) classroom, since it is a "DAT." Make quick "cue cards" for students to read their lines off a projector, interactive whiteboard, or tablet for a video or school news broadcast! Paste your school or class announcements into slides and embed them on the class or school website.

Use this simple tool for students to make book promos for the library/media center. Display them on tablets or iTouches! Even the youngest gifted students can create simple presentations to go beyond regular curriculum in your class. Be sure to show young ones how to copy/paste the url for their finished work to send it to you or mark it in Favorites on the classroom computer or iPad. Have them make slide shows telling a story, explaining about a famous person, and more. During a unit on plants, have students create a guide to plant care or a show about the world's strangest plants. Have them write and illustrate slides as book reviews for independent reading they have done. This tool is simple enough for any student who can read.

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Gone Google Story Builder - Google

Grades
2 to 12
8 Favorites 0  Comments
   
Enjoy creating original stories on Story Builder. Then watch them come to life. Enter character names and begin writing. Choose a character from the dropdown list, and enter some dialogue....more
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Enjoy creating original stories on Story Builder. Then watch them come to life. Enter character names and begin writing. Choose a character from the dropdown list, and enter some dialogue. Continue to choose different characters and dialogue until your story is complete. Not happy with what you wrote? No problem, edit stories at any time in the process. When finished, add music from the list of choices offered or continue without music. Preview your creation at any time using the preview link on each page. When the story is complete enter a title and your name to receive a unique url to share your story. Check out our example Story Builder) created in less than 5 minutes! Note that you cannot return to change your "story" once it is complete.

tag(s): creative writing (166), digital storytelling (144), expository writing (44), paragraph writing (17)

In the Classroom

Use Story Builder to retell a moment in history or a social studies or science concept. Share some samples on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Have students or groups of students create their own Story Builder to retell a story or tell a story from a single character's point of view. Assign student groups to tell a story related to your curriculum. Create a Story Builder at the beginning of a unit with what I want to know questions, or use for the end of a unit as a review. Share student Story Builders with a link on your website or blog. In math class have students explain a procedure using Story Builder. Use Story Builder to create drama scripts or to demonstrate writing skills. Have "Annie Adjective" add colorful words to a draft while "Pete Punctuation" proofs for errors. Have students collaborate to create their own "live" edit sessions using an anonymous student draft you provide or from their OWN writing. By naming the character who is making changes, they can show what they are emphasizing, such as Sam Support adding supporting details when writing informational texts. Teachers of gifted could challenge students to create "epistolary" tales using this tool. Once they discover it, your gifted students will come up with new ways to share projects using this tool (and a little humor).

Engage student and parent attention about important announcements by giving a link to s Story Builder where you explain a project or plans for a special PTA event. Write it as a Q/A session, and they will watch the whole thing!

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Thought Questions - Marc and Angel Hack Life

Grades
5 to 12
8 Favorites 0  Comments
How do you know when you're happy? What's one bad habit that makes you miserable? Find open-ended questions on Thought Questions daily. A gorgeous photograph complements each...more
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How do you know when you're happy? What's one bad habit that makes you miserable? Find open-ended questions on Thought Questions daily. A gorgeous photograph complements each question. The site provides a space for you to answer these questions online or not. Maximize the benefits of self-reflection by taking the time to think! Visit this site daily, weekly, or monthly. There are over 900 questions and photos to contemplate, and they post a new one daily. There are advertisements between pictures, but their arrangement is such that they are not visible on the screen unless you are scrolling through the pictures. The public is able to answer the questions on the site, so you may want to only use this on an adult's computer.
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tag(s): critical thinking (108), writing prompts (92)

In the Classroom

This is the perfect site to start your students' day or end your day with them. Use these questions as writing prompts or quick writes. You may want to ask students to choose their favorite and form small groups to discuss their answers. Post some of the same questions on bulletin boards. Discussing or debating these questions would be a powerful community builder at the beginning of the year or when forming new small groups. To avoid the advertising, have your question on the screen before projecting it on your screen or whiteboard. IF your class includes gifted students, they may react well to such thought-provokers. Encourage them to collect favorite prompts and responses in a writing journal or "idea bin" to use at times when they are ahead of the class or need extra writing challenges.

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MyHistro Interactive Timelines - Jaanus Vihand

Grades
3 to 12
8 Favorites 1  Comments
 
Create interactive timelines of geographically-located events on Google Maps and share them on the web for free. Hover over events on the Google map (or use Google Earth) to enlarge...more
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Create interactive timelines of geographically-located events on Google Maps and share them on the web for free. Hover over events on the Google map (or use Google Earth) to enlarge and view a summary of relevant information. Click play to scroll through events in chronological order. Create your own or browse many of the timelines on the site. No registration is necessary to view timelines already created by others. Sign up with an email account to create or comment on timelines. Create a new timeline, including a title, select a category, and add as many stops on the timeline as you wish. Share using Facebook, Twitter or an RSS feed. Click "embed/share" to copy a url to share with others or an embed code to use in a blog, wiki, or other site. Choose from three privacy level settings to customize viewing options. Be aware: the comments are not moderated, so please preview.

tag(s): timelines (62)

In the Classroom

Consider creating a class account with a single login and password. Ask students to initial their timelines as well to indicate ownership. There are many ways to include this in class. Every topic in history, literature, sciences, and the arts has dates and recorded events. Use your interactive whiteboard or projector to learn about the history of the Olympics, famous people, events, literature, and more. Have students create timelines to share research projects. Use the timeline as a visual tool to discuss events in literary works or the life of a scientist, political figure, or pop artist. Create animal life cycles mapped to their habitat, author or presidential biographies, or even timelines of the events and causes leading to a war. Make a timeline using local, national, or international current events. Elementary students could even interview grandparents and create a class timeline about their grandparents' generation for Grandparents' Day. For collaboration, link up with another classroom in another town (or another country) to build a timeline that shares events in each local area so students can see what was happening at the same time in another location (maybe in the opposite hemisphere: compare weather and seasons!) Students can use the timeline as a visual aid during presentations. Student groups can work on different aspects of the same time period to share with the rest of the class. For example, in studying World War II, one student group can create a timeline of Japanese occupation, another of the German occupation, and so forth. The timelines are perfect to share on your interactive whiteboard or projector as well as on a class wiki.

Challenge your gifted students by having them create mapped timelines of contrasts: The life cycles (and locations) of two migrating species, the events leading to the end of World War II in Europe and the Pacific, the lives of two famous Americans from two different centuries. They could embed the results in a wiki page so other students can view and comment (or ask questions).

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david, TX, Grades: 9 - 12

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Fakebook - Class Tools

Grades
4 to 12
13 Favorites 0  Comments
   
Create a "fake" Facebook-style page for anyone or anything! No membership required! Give your page a title and add an image from your computer. (They insert an image for you ...more
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Create a "fake" Facebook-style page for anyone or anything! No membership required! Give your page a title and add an image from your computer. (They insert an image for you if you do not select one.) Of course you will need to use a Creative Commons or other copyright-safe image. You can also use autoselect from a websearch, edit the profile, and your page is almost ready. You must add at least one post and one friend to save work. Choose "save" from the options on top right side of the page, enter a password, and your unique url for your Fakebook page appears. Be sure to copy and save this link as it is the only time it is given in the setup process. Here is an example created in less than a minute. Page creation is quick and easy with a small learning curve. Flash is needed only to watch the introduction video, not use the site/tool. There is a downloadable Word doc "startup guide" for those who prefer written, illustrated directions.
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tag(s): book reports (35), creative writing (166), social networking (112)

In the Classroom

Engage and create interest in classroom learning with Fakebook. This site is wonderful for creating interest in many subjects. In social studies, instead of a typical biographical report have students create a Fakebook page about their famous person. Write about presidents, founding fathers, famous scientists or artist, a civil war soldier, and much more. Have students create a timeline of any historical event (the page should be named for the event). Use Fakebook to outline the plot of a book, play, or film, then share with students while studying the material. To use Fakebook to study literature, create a page for the central character, book's author, or the setting of the book or play. For a unique twist is science class, create a Fakebook page for a periodic element or another science topic. Use the page to describe "the life" of that atom or element. In world language classes, have students do this activity (about themselves) in the second language they are learning. Create a Fakebook page for the first day of school to introduce yourself to students or at Open House for parents. Challenge students to create and share a page about themselves during the first week of school. Share a Fakebook page with students to demonstrate proper netiquette and social sharing. Be sure to share a rubric with students for all expectations of what should be included on their page. Make Fakebook one of the options for your gifted students doing projects beyond the regular curriculum. With no membership required, this tool is simple enough for younger gifted students who have parent permission to post work to the web. We could pretend that they do not know what Facebook looks like, but we would be deluding ourselves!

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inklewriter - Joseph Humfrey and Jon Ingold

Grades
4 to 12
9 Favorites 0  Comments
   
Create interactive, choose your own adventure (branching) style stories with inklewriter. This site is ideal for anyone to create a story and then share with others via a unique URL....more
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Create interactive, choose your own adventure (branching) style stories with inklewriter. This site is ideal for anyone to create a story and then share with others via a unique URL. These stories allow for others to create their own path or choose an existing one. Begin by choosing to read stories or create your own. Type parts of the story including the title, author, beginning, introduction, and add sections as needed. After each paragraph is the option to create different outcomes of the story, offering choices the reader makes. The site contains excellent tutorials for getting started with stories. When finished, share the URL for your story using Twitter or Facebook or copy the URL to share and bookmark as you wish. Of course, your "story" need not be fiction! You could also write an opinion piece with branches for people to ask click on questions about facets of your argument! NOTE: When you click to begin writing, you should click SIGN IN and choose to make a new account. Do this before you start writing in order to be able to save. The tool will then save your work as you go along. Although you do not HAVE to sign in before you start, it is risky to sign up later! Here is a sample to show just ONE way to use Inklewriter besides the obvious use for storytelling. Inklewriter has also made it easier for teachers to sign up students WITHOUT student email addresses. Read the directions about how to do this on the landing page by scrolling down and finding "Sign-up and email addresses."
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tag(s): creative writing (166), digital storytelling (144), narrative (24), persuasive writing (55)

In the Classroom

View stories on the site together to understand the components of the site and discuss how different choices in characters and settings lead to different story outcomes. (Be sure to preview stories before sharing, since there is "public"' content.) Watch the tutorials together on your interactive whiteboard (or projector) before students begin to write stories. Use a graphic organizer to "map out" the story before writing. Create a short story together as a class to become familiar using the site. Assign a group of students to create an interactive story each week to share on your classroom website or blog. Have students create a story map before beginning a story on inklewriter; use a tool such as 25 Language Arts Graphic Organizers, reviewed here. Create class stories to teach about literature, geography, reading comprehension, history, science concepts, and more. As a more "serious" approach, use Inklewriter to present opinion pieces where you take a position and allow readers to click on questions about it. They could also click on statements expressing opposing views so you can write counterarguments to their points. This could end up being a powerful way to present an argument and evidence as required by Common Core writing standards. A graphic organizer for planning and organizing evidence is a must! Teachers of gifted could use this for students to develop elaborate fictional or informational pieces. If you work with students who struggle, scaffold with a template for them to organize their thoughts.

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Bookemon - Bookemon, Inc.

Grades
K to 12
42 Favorites 1  Comments
 
Write your own original books, add images and artwork as illustrations, and read your published books in interactive, online form. There is no fee for the online publication and sharing....more
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Write your own original books, add images and artwork as illustrations, and read your published books in interactive, online form. There is no fee for the online publication and sharing. This is the ultimate in "digital storytelling." Click "Explore" to browse many "public" examples on the templates page of books created by others. Take advantage of the free apps that make Bookemon even easier to use with any device! Use Bookemon Reader to READ books you created in Bookemon or Bookemon edCenter (available for both iOS and Android). BookPress for iOS devices only allows you to CREATE books from scratch, including using photos from your iPad/iPhone. InstaPress (for iOS only) offers options to make books from documents, pdfs, etc. to be shared on mobile devices as eBooks. Here is an example of a book created by the TeachersFirst Edge editors. Once you set up free membership in this site, students (or teachers) can select to create from a blank start or using templates provided. You can also create a book starter of your own as an example so students can follow the prompts you have created. The book creator allows you to upload your own images and to create books from a Word document or PowerPoint file you have already made. EdCenter users can collaborate on books.

After you save and publish the work, share the URL so people can read the entire thing online, either among an audience of "just my friends" or publicly. They also offer the embed code to place your books in a class or school web page, wiki, or blog. The easiest option is to copy the address of the new window displaying the interactive book. There is an option to have the book printed for a fee, but this is not required. You can also read books created by others (if they make them public). Use the fully-public option to create learning materials for classes to access year to year for at-home review or reading practice.

This site requires a simple registration. Teachers can set up an edCenter for their school or class in accordance with school policies. See more detailed suggestions "In the Classroom" below and in our sample book! Newer mobile device options include players to view your books on iPads and more.
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tag(s): creative writing (166), digital storytelling (144), writing (359)

In the Classroom

SKIP the profile and friends areas to get to the book creator to play with the tools a bit. Before you get too involved, create an edCenter to minimize advertising and create books in your own teacher-friendly class environment. Use the edCenter to register students and establish privacy settings for your class. No student emails are required.

On the Create Books page, choose from using a blank book, starting from a file, or using a template. Choose "school" to see projects from other classes or a sample created by you or a student team working in advance along with you. Explore ready-made themes (seasonal, topical, etc.) or use "open theme." Choose book dimensions (match layout shape to any uploaded files, such as PowerPoint slides). Enter settings and description of your book (editable later), including who is allowed to "see" it: everyone, just friends, or private. Again choose a "theme" - more of a category where Bookemon will list your completed book. A logical option is "school." Experiment with tools to upload files (within file limits), add images, add text, etc. Written help is offered as you go, but there is no video demo. SAVE often. Turn margins on to avoid chopping content. To share the book, you must "publish" it (i.e. finalize).

Once published, locate the book under "My Books" and use options to share (by email--and see the URL to copy from there), "Make a new edition" to create a new version--also useful for treating the original as a template for later books), Post to Other Sites offers embed codes. The BEST option is to click the book COVER which opens a new window without ads or "stuff," and copy the ADDRESS of that window to paste into email, etc. You can also mark that clean window view as a Favorite on a classroom computer!

Use your edCenter settings to manage social networking features. This will avoid the "public" Bookemon features such as opportunities to share address books, use social tools such as Facebook to share your books, etc. Teacher-controlled edCenter accounts are probably the easiest option for managing within school policies.

With younger students, have them begin their work in PowerPoint then upload for whole-class books. See an example, created by the TeachersFirst Edge editors . The example is full of ideas for classroom use from Kindergarten to high school, including science concept tales, poetry books, general writing, math problem solve-its, and more. ANY grade can use this tool, depending on the amount of direction by the teacher. (By the way, the correct answer to the problem in the sample book is c. 27.) Another idea: have students create personalized books for their parents or grandparents for special occasions (Mother's Day, Father's Day, or Grandparent's Day).

Use the mobile device features offered in your BYOD classroom to make and share books, PDF's, and more. Tip: Use this site for a guided introduction to social networking as a class, an excellent teaching opportunity for digital citizenship in the context of a project.

This is one of the best creative tools for gifted students to go above and beyond regular curriculum. Don't let the "juvenile" appearance fool you. Even older students can write and include images to create and share books of any length. Any independent research or writing project can become an interactive book. Even advanced science experiments and lab reports can be shared online using this tool. Once you have one book, you can use that as a template for others. Inspire your gifted students to create literary magazine or even a personal online "portfolio" of writing, artwork, or photography presented in interactive book form.

Comments

This is one of my all time favorite creative tools. Very versatile. Great for making "buddy books" or for teacher-created learning "books." Make one as a whole class to summarize a science unit in primary grades. I even use it personally to make fee online "gifts" for children I know. I did purchase one print version, and it looked great. Thinking, PA, Grades: 5 - 10

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ScribbleMaps - Scribble Maps

Grades
2 to 12
9 Favorites 0  Comments
 
Use this tool to "draw" on and label any map available through Google Maps, including maps of the night sky! No registration or email required! Create a colorful, personalized map ...more
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Use this tool to "draw" on and label any map available through Google Maps, including maps of the night sky! No registration or email required! Create a colorful, personalized map with added scribbles and labels. Add your choice of placemarker labels for geology locations, people, etc. There are even little icons available to use. Your drawing or "Scribble Map" is then available to share by URL, email, or print. Slightly more savvy users can download, save as a kml file (readable in Google Maps or Google Earth), or embed the map in another site. The tools include sharing the map on Facebook and Twitter, as well. Add images by pasting in their urls. Drawing tools include lines, circles, place pointers, text labels, and color/size/transparency controls for all tools. Place pointers can be edited by selecting them (arrow tool), then clicking the small pencil. This site does include Google Ads and all the normal controls of Google maps, including satellite, map, terrain, hybrid views and Night Sky. See a sample Scribble Map created by the TeachersFirst editors (drag the map with your mouse!). Explore the tools and MENU options at the top left when you start out. Try the different Maps views (lower right) and zoom controls. Search for a starter location using the search at the top left, just below the tools. There is no help available, but it is easy to do basic maps. Share, save, etc. by clicking Menu (top left). When you first save a map, it will ask you to create a password for that map to use to edit it later. Note that if you SAVE a map and share it by URL, those accessing it will be able to use the tools and change the map. If you want them to see it without changing it, you will need to embed it in a blog, wiki, or other web site. The map ID can be changed and customized by simply typing in your own choice of ID when you are saving the map.
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tag(s): directions (20), geology (81), landforms (45), landmarks (26), map skills (79), maps (287), space (205)

In the Classroom

Students and teachers will want to keep a written record or map URLS and passwords for future reference. Model this for students so they do not lose hours of work! Teachers can prepare partially-made maps or maps for students to make corrections and changes by giving the students the URL, then having them SAVE the map with a NEW ID. To SAVE the map with a new name and URL, click "Save map" in the menu, then enter your OWN map ID. Students could use a code including their initials, such as SJ12-3-09 for a map made by Sally Jones on Dec 3, 2009. Teachers should PASSWORD protect their originals so changes can only be saved under a new name. Similarly, if a student saves the map with a map password, they don't have to worry about other students vandalizing their work. But they DO need to remember the password! Wise teachers will keep a class list of maps and passwords for forgetful students! In primary grades, make maps of your local community together on your interactive whiteboard as you teach basic map skills. Create your own "key" with symbols you choose for playgrounds, etc. Have students help map locations of favorite playgrounds, grandparents' houses, stores, etc. as they gain basic understanding of map skills. Make sure you allow students to operate the tools! Save the map and share it as a link from your class web site (or embed it there). Keep names generic so it is "safe." Other ideas to challenge gifted student beyond the curriculum or elevate challenge for small groups include: natural resource maps, immigration maps, maps of civil war battles day by day, maps of key sites in the life of a famous person, artist, or author, maps of the settings in a novel, landform maps of a continent or state, "My life" maps of places important to an elementary student's family, annotated watershed maps of pollution sources, maps of the water cycle, maps of constellations in the night sky created by students to demonstrate understanding, maps of a dream community to be built in a vacant area (desert), including the water sources, etc. that will be needed, maps of a redesigned city/town on top of its current map. Teachers can provide map challenges or templates to be completed or corrected, including maps where students must label distances and cardinal directions between points (using map scale and skills). Or provide a teacher-created map with labels in the wrong places for students to correct the landforms, resources, etc. What will YOU do with Scribble Maps?
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Google Maps - Google

Grades
1 to 12
3 Favorites 0  Comments
 
Google Maps gives you live visuals of any location, ideal for planning a trip, picturing the relationship between places, and viewing physical characteristics of almost anywhere in...more
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Google Maps gives you live visuals of any location, ideal for planning a trip, picturing the relationship between places, and viewing physical characteristics of almost anywhere in the world. Type or paste in an address and click "search maps." If you click Satellite or hybrid versions of the map, you will see actual satellite images of the terrain. Zoom in and out, use the street view "orange man" to walk among the buildings and trees, or plan and share a route easily with Google Maps. Using your (free) Google membership allows you to save favorite places and more. Find businesses and other features near a specific map location: hotels, restaurants, schools, parks, and more. Google Maps has become more and more sophisticated, now offering many features previously only available in Google Earth, such as opening and/or saving placemarker files. Unlike Google Earth, Google Maps does not require software installation and does not use as much bandwidth for constant reloading. You can even play a tour of places you mark in Google Maps. They just keep adding more features! Google Maps is available as a free app for Android and iOS, too. The handy embed codes let you put any Google Map in a web page, blog, or wiki. Of course you do not need a membership or any special skills to simply SEE, share, or navigate a map. Membership gives you more ways to save.

tag(s): DAT device agnostic tool (199), directions (20), maps (287)

In the Classroom

If you teach geography, this one's a must. It is also helpful for showing students WHERE a story or news event takes place. In lower grades, use it to show students basics of their community. Teach map skills by showing students their own community. Zoom in on their street or on the school. This site and its more sophisticated cousin, Google Earth, are great on an interactive whiteboard. Set up a class Google account (or use student accounts if permitted). Have students create their own custom route plans to tour historic sites. Challenge math students to plan the most economical route to visit several vacation destinations, including gas mileage and gas prices. Have students create placemarker files of the important places in the life of a famous person or the route traveled by a particular unit during the Civil War. Have student groups create placemarker files to show environmental sites, habitats, landforms, or anything you can place on a map. Embed projects in a class wiki using the handy embed code offered as a sharing option.

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