Saturday, July 13, 2013

Google Geo Teachers Institute

Wow! What a day I had yesterday...

A few months ago I heard about the Google Geo Teachers Institute. I was completely overwhelmed with other things, but I made the time to apply. Am I ever glad I did!

The Google Geo Teachers Institute was held at the Google West Campus in Mountain View, and it was a total treat from start to finish!

First of all, food is a big thing at Google. All the employees eat free in the many cafeterias... breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There were some "Google 15" jokes about the weight that new employees gain! And true to that, the day began with an amazing breakfast buffet. Why didn't I take pictures of it?!

Google Earth Outreach team members Tina Ornduff and Christiaan Adams started the day with presentations on mapping and all the interesting things you can see and do with Google Maps and Google Earth. Technology has made the world a much smaller place. Did you know that you can use Google Earth to go inside museums, view the surface of the moon and even go to Mars?! The more they spoke, the more ideas I had for applications in primary classrooms. I was typing notes from the presentation and notes from my head as fast as I could.

Next, we heard from Diane Main, who is a Google Certified Teacher. She got everyone's attention with her introduction, a rock song about Google and maps and teaching. Why didn't I record that?!

Diane had some fabulous ideas, and inspired many more in me. Two things I loved: One, the idea of creating timelines in Google Earth. Yep, I'll be spending some time exploring that idea this week. And two, she talked about creating a Google Tour from Flat Stanley activities, which got me thinking about some other books I own and use at school.

And my favorite quote from Diane: "We should totally make kids do that." This year, I will have four computers in my room, and I'm excited about getting my first graders involved with meaningful technology activities!

Next we heard from John Bailey (a real, live volcanologist!), Jerome Berg, Josh Williams, and  Cindy Lane. Even though most of the presentations were geared for teachers of students older than mine, I got something great from every single one. After more food, it was time to choose breakout sessions/tutorials/discussion groups. Allie Lieber, from Google Earth Outreach, taught her first session ever, and it was great. She is a born teacher! Her session was all about creating folders in Google Earth and inserting photos, video and text to create a story. So many options! LOVED it!

Mid-afternoon sometime, my laptop stopped working. I closed everything and restarted. And restarted again. And again. I couldn't run Google Earth (the whole point of my day!!) and eventually I couldn't even access Google Docs to continue taking notes. Thank goodness for the notebook and pen party favors! At the beginning of the day, when I saw the notebooks laid out on tables, I thought, "How archaic!" and I never imagined I'd really need one! Sad. A trip to the Apple Store is in my future.

Many thanks to Google and to the many teachers who presented, discussed, and shared ideas! What a wonderful day of learning! I'm exhausted, but inspired!



  1. Thank you for sharing! I love to learn!

  2. Suzanne LilliedollJuly 17, 2013 at 12:49 PM

    What a fascinating day you must have had! It's just the type of summer activity teachers need to refresh and regroup before returning to the classroom. Thanks for sharing your experience, Melissa.