Geo Teachers Institute 2016

#CAGTI16 Group Photo

On Monday & Tuesday (July 25-26), I had the opportunity to join 100 teachers at Google in Mountain View, CA for the Geo Teachers Institute (#CAGTI16). The purpose of this institute is to explore the different Geo Tools and how they can be used in classrooms at any level. I’m not sure when the next GTI will be, but once applications open, I highly recommend that you all apply. Huge shoutouts to John Bailey and Emily Henderson for making this happen! 

It’s incredible how much I learned in 2 days! I’m thrilled to share some of the things I learned. My brain is still processing a lot of the information. We’re lucky that we’re already back in school so I can share with my colleagues and implement some of this within my classroom. I’m sure there will be a part 2 post in a few months with things I’ve tried with students. 

CAGTI16 Badge

MyMaps, my favorite tool
One of my favorite geo tools is MyMaps, which is also the only one covered under Google Apps for Education. I’ve explored it myself and used it with our Breakout EDU Digital games, but haven’t yet had students create their own maps.

At GTI, many of the presenters shared photography and maps related to human impacts on our Earth. This ties in perfectly to what we learn in 7th grade science, and my brain was spinning with ways to have students create maps to show different regions in the world affected by deforestation, pollution, natural resources, etc. In fact, the Google Research Blog (The first detailed maps of global forest change) highlights how satellite data has been used to show deforestation; the blog also talks about the technology behind this, including the Landsat 7 satellite. Sidenote, I’m planning to use the blog post mentioned above as a text for my students to analyze in class later this year.

Photo scavenger hunt for country pins.
I didn’t find them all, but it was fun!
And, I’d love to do this with my students.

Additionally, MyMaps can be used as a portfolio for students to track their learning. 
Someone (sorry, I forgot who I was talking to! Remind me, and I’ll edit) was telling me how they’re using MyMaps in middle school history to have students track the civilizations they learn about from 6th grade through 8th grade. I’ve also suggested this to my history colleagues, and I’m hoping once I show them how, they’ll use it with students. We are also going to use MyMaps this year in our AVID classes to share students’ university projects: each layer will be a different teacher/class period, with an additional layer to show where all our teachers went to college! 

I also played a fair amount of PokemonGO
at CAGTI, and I mastered the #HeilShake

Tour Builder
I didn’t attend the Tour Builder session at CAGTI16 because I went to Leslie Fagin’s session at the GAFE Summit in Mountain View the day before. I had played with Tour Builder before, but really needed to find a set place and time to force myself to actually learn it. I love all the possibilities with Tour Builder, including having students tell their own personal story, plot the settings in literature, or explore natural resources around the world.

Here’s the tour of the UC Campuses I created in Leslie’s session.

Timelapse with Google Earth Engine
Ok, I’m obsessed. Google Earth Engine is an incredibly powerful set of data, easily accessible for everyone. Here’s the description from the website: “Google Earth Engine combines a multi-petabyte catalog of satellite imagery and geospatial datasets with planetary-scale analysis capabilities and makes it available for scientists, researchers, and developers to detect changes, map trends, and quantify differences on the Earth’s surface.” Click on the timelapse tab, and explore the different timelapses from 1986 – 2012. 

Made it to Google!

These are great hook activities to engage students on predicting and making observations. My favorites are “Amazon Deforestation, Brazil” and “Dubai Coastal Expansion.”

We also learned how to use the Google Earth Engine to make our own time machine tour, but at that point my brain was already too full, and I was content exploring the pre-identified time lapses that I can use in my classroom. 

Made friends with a giant Android! 

Photography, 360 images, & Expeditions
Last May, we were lucky to have Google Expeditions come to our school for the pilot program. Our students loved the experience, and are hoping for more opportunities in the future. I’m looking for funding options to get a class set of mobile devices and cardboards for our students (we’re 1:1 iPad, so as soon as the iOS version comes out, we’ll be good to go) so we can continue our explorations.

Using Maps and 360 images, I can have students explore different ecosystems around the world, make observations, and create their own collections. Within Google Maps, there’s an option to view collections of already curated images through Street View. These can be viewed on a computer, tablet, or within the Street View app. I’m looking for ways to add this into stations work, especially now that I have 3 iMacs in my classroom.

COL16 cohort friends at CAGTI16

Arts & Culture
I haven’t played with Google Cultural Institute nearly enough. I didn’t go to the session on it because there was just so much to learn, and I figured I can sit down and explore this on my own. This is next up on my learning adventures…however, 
I did just submit an app request to get the Google Arts & Culture app on our iPads. One big thing I learned in one of the general sessions is that there are 360 performances for music, dance, opera, and theater! You can look around within a performance, and even experience it from multiple views.

After all this learning and processing, I am super excited to share what I learned with my colleagues and PLN. We are in the process of scheduling a joint science & history PLC meeting so I can share MyMaps & Tour Builder with teachers at my school; I’ll also invite 

More scavenger hunt finds

our district-level curriculum specialists to join in the learning, and to share across the district. Informally, I’ve already sat down with one of our math teachers to show how students can create polygons in MyMaps to explore area and perimeter, and to measure distances on a map. I am also planning to teach my Viking Tech Crew students about MyMaps so they can teach some of our teachers the basics as well.

Here’s my notes Doc from CAGTI16 with links to resources and a few pictures and screenshots. Happy learning!

3 thoughts on “Geo Teachers Institute 2016”

  1. Congratulations for getting selected to attend GTE. Going to GTE is on my technology list of things to do. Even if I never get to cross it off the list, I am always happy to learn from teachers who do attend. I, too, am passionate about Google products and believe the possibilities for classroom integration are limitless. Thank you for sharing your reflection and takeaways.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s