Create Interactives w/Google Drawings

Google Drawings, an app found inside of Google Drive, has become more and more my go-to resource for creating artifacts and activities that are interactive. You can customize the workspace to any size you need using the File -> Page Setup, access multiple line and shape tools, and insert objects from the same sources as you can from a Google Doc or Slides file. The possibilities for this tool are only limited by our own imaginations.

Case and point, I recently read a how-to article from edtechteacher by Ben Sondgeroth where he outlines the true power of Google Drawings to create interactive artifacts. Ben walks you through how to create an interactive Google Drawing using Parts of a Cell as an example, among several others. My favorite example is the interactive States of the U.S. map, where each state has been linked to a video about that state from the History Channel. You can watch his video as he goes about this step-by-step below.


  • Using interactive Google Drawings fits in quite nicely if you are using a flipped classroom setup or use Hyperdocs in your lessons.
  • Share this technique with your students and see what interactive Drawings products they can build. I decided to add this to the list of options for my students to use when creating their Upstander Superhero as part of our unit of study on Cyberbullying.

Natural History – Google Arts & Culture

Natural History – The beautiful, the dangerous, the endangered. Up close.

Welcome to the Natural History exhibit from Google’s Arts & Culture project. Here you will gain access to a wealth of information presented in multiple, interactive ways. The various exhibits that you can tour virtually come from museums all over the world (54 at my last count) including the Seodaemun Museum in Seoul, South Korea, the State Darwin Museum in Moscow, Russia, and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., USA.

Screen Shot 2016-11-01 at 8.09.16 AM.png

Some exhibits work like Google Street View, allowing you to move through and around the exhibits. Others take advantage of 360° technology to take you on a virtual reality video tour, such as the Jurassic giant Giraffatitan in Berlin, Germany or the prehistoric sea dragon Rhomaleosaurus in London, England.

Screen Shot 2016-11-01 at 8.10.27 AM.png

And there is still more to be discovered! Take an interactive tour on a Brief History of Discovery, or read about animals that exist on our planet right now that are considered to have super powers! Then there is the library of over 260 curated YouTube videos on Natural History. These videos play within the Natural History website and are free of ads and suggested videos.

For more information check out this entry from the Google Keyword Blog, then let your imagination and curiosity run wild!

Google Spotlight Stories

Google Spotlight Stories – 360° interactive storytelling

Spotlight Stories uses the power of 360-degree camera technology to take storytelling to a whole new level. Here the user controls where to direct their attention, just as if they were actually there and experiencing the story themselves. Because you don’t necessarily know where in this 360-degree world the next scene in the story is going to take place, these stories have a much larger replay value over fixed-perspective storytelling.

There are several ways that you can experience Spotlight Stories:

1. YouTube on the web: Navigate to the Google Spotlight Stories channel and access a handful of 360-degree stories, story trailers, and behind-the-scenes clips. Look for the directional compass icon in the top-left corner of the YouTube player window to identify that the video supports the 360-degree technology, then use your mouse to drag on the video pane and change your perspective.

Spotlight Stories YouTube_web

360 Google Spotlight Story: HELP

2. YouTube mobile app: In order to fully take advantage of the 360-degree technology experience, use a mobile device and the YouTube app to immerse yourself in these virtual environments. Note that there is the additional option to enable Google Cardboard and add 3D to the storytelling experience. [YouTube for iOS | Android]

Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 1.41.35 PM

360 Google Spotlight Story: Pearl

3. Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 2.13.38 PMSpotlight Stories mobile app: Download the free Spotlight Stories app and experience where storytelling and mobile VR meet. Here you will find their complete library of interactive storytelling videos, with more to be released soon.

So, let the storytelling and exploring begin!





Oh, did I mention that a new Simpsons-themed Spotlight Story, Planet of the Couches, was just released? “Doh! – Syncronized Notes w/Videos is a powerful note-taking tool designed specifically for streaming media. In a nutshell, as you watch a video in the left-hand panel jot down notes in the right-hand panel. As you type the site links the text to the timestamp in the video that correlates to your note. Because the site supports logging in with your Google Apps account, your notes are stored in the cloud via Google Drive automatically. And, because they are stored in Google Drive you can share them with others. The site works with several streaming services including Khan Academy, Vimeo, and YouTube.

A couple of additional features to take note of:

  • Screen_Shot_2016-10-24_at_11_28_04_AM.pngOnce you authorize to access your Google Apps account, it will create a folder under your Drive directory called “” where all of your note files will be saved to.
  • If you choose to share a file, you will see the same Google Drive sharing widow as you would for a Google Doc. The site will recognize both the ‘edit’ and ‘view only’ share options.
  • When opening a file from Drive, you may receive a No preview available error. If so, then look for the link to under the ‘Connected apps’ heading.

For more information please watch this video from BetterCloud MONITOR and/or read their article on this handy note-taking tool.

Embed YouTube w/o Related Videos

The YouTube coin:coin_thumbs_down_T

  • On one side you have a ginormous reservoir of digital media that many educators have gone to support and enhance their lessons.
  • On the other you have the those suggested/related videos that display at the end of the video, and some use the term “related” very loosely.

But, thanks to a recent posting on Google+ from Tony Vincent over at Learning in Hand, I learned that there is a way to disable the related videos from showing at the end when you go to embed a YouTube video:

  1. Scroll down beneath the YouTube video and click on the ‘Share’ button.
  2. Click on the ‘Embed’ option to reveal the embed code for the video.
  3. Click on the SHOW MORE link located just below the embed code box.
  4. The window will expand to show a preview of the video an additional customization options such as video size and player controls. The first checkbox is the one you want which is enabled by default: “Show suggested videos when the video finishes.” Uncheck this box to disable the suggested/related videos panels from being displayed at the end of the YouTube video.
  5. Copy-&-paste the revised embed code and add it to your project.

If you’d like to share a YouTube video without any of the distractions found on their site, then you should check out the site


Google Slides Q&A

One of the challenges of public speaking is staying connected to your audience and ensuring that your presentation remains relevant to their needs and interests. One strategy presenters use is setting up a back channel, where audience members can ask questions and discuss the the various points introduced during the event and the presenter can then access later. Now Google has jumped on the back channel bandwagon with the introduction of Google Slides Q&A.

To access the new Q&A option:

1. Open a Google Slides presentation and then enter presentation mode.

2. Locate the ‘Presenter view’ option from the menu bar located in the bottom-left corner of the window. You can also press the ‘s’ key on the keyboard to bring up the SPEAKER NOTES tool, then switch to the AUDIENCE TOOLS tab.

Screen Shot 2016-05-30 at 3.42.43 PM

3. Here you will see the custom URL that audiences can use to submit questions during the presentation. When active, the URL will be displayed at the top of every slide in your presentation and participants can then access the Q&A tool from any device.


Additional Options:

  • Use the slide bar to the right to turn the Q&A feature on/off.
  • If you’re using a Google Apps for Education or Work account, you have the option to restrict access to the Q&A tool to just your domain users. Otherwise, you can set the access to ‘Anyone.’


Google Slides Q&A is available for any and all presenters, so students can take advantage of this tool as well. Although, I have to report that many of my students find the laser pointer tool to have a much higher “coolness” factor. For more information, please check out the post on the Google Docs Blog, and to see Slides Q&A in action check out this video on Shree Bose, winner of the first ever Google Science Fair.



  • Use Slides Q&A to prevent interruptions from students during a presentation while still placing value on those same questions.
  • Allow students who struggle to speak up in class to have a voice and contribute to the conversation.
  • Use this tool to help students practice crafting thoughtful questions, provide constructive criticism, and model academic commenting criteria.


TubeChop – Clip the beginning AND end points on a YouTube video

When sharing a video, YouTube has long Screen_Shot_2016-04-06_at_2_30_57_PMprovided the option to set a specific starting point for the video to a time of your choosing. While this does come in handy, the benefit fades away when the video segment you want to share does not include the video’s original ending.

Enter TubeChop, a free web service that allows you to truly isolate a video segment by giving you the ability to crop both the beginning AND ending of a YouTube video, and then share it. To see TubeChop in action, check out this video tutorial by Richard Byrne from


My Digital Life – Traditional Media 2.0

Upon reflection of my discussions with my students about the role that media plays in our lives, I realized that my treatment of traditional media was perhaps too harsh. I mean, as digital media began to grow in popularity it wasn’t like television, newspapers, and radio simply rolled over and waited for the end to come. In fact, they have put forth a lot of effort to compete and even embrace the power of digital media and I wanted to see if my students were aware of this.

Some of their efforts students were very much aware of, especially when it comes to reality TV shows where audiences can affect the outcome of the show by sending in their votes via text message.  They also weren’t surprised that newspapers and magazines have published their content on the web as well as in print (although many were surprised when I pointed out then even their local town paper published online). Others such as social media #hashtags in the bottom corners of TV shows and bonus material on their websites students did not readily think of. But enough of all that. The real question was how to illustrate this transformation of traditional media into the digital world?

The answer: Adults React to The View-Master 2.0

My Digital Life – Digital Media

Last week I talked about the role that media plays in our daily lives and specifically about illustrating how traditional types of media (e.g. television, newspapers, radio) were one-way conduits of information. Continuing that discussion, I then talked with my students about digital media, which they were of course A LOT more familiar with. Our discussions focused on the many ways that digital media allows us to contribute to the conversation; that information can flow in more than just one direction.

I know, I know, how did I illustrate the concept of digital media in an way that was comparable to the “Kids React to Technology” videos. Can you say, “Parents React to Technology?”

Enter The Selfie Stick, stage right.