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Thursday, May 14, 2020

Create Random Story Starters With Google Sheets

There are lots of neat things that you can do with Google Sheets if you know how to get started. Getting started is often the hardest part. Fortunately, there are sites like Flippity that offer great Google Sheets templates that are easy to follow. The latest template added to Flippity is a random story starter. Simply called Randomizer, Flippity's latest template can be used for story starters and random name selections for groupings.

If you just looked at Flippity's sample of the Randomizer template you would think that you can only add words to it. But when you watch my new video that is embedded below you will see that you can include pictures in the Randomizer template.



Applications for Education
Flippity's Randomizer template could be great for randomly generating writing creative writing prompts. The template could also be used to randomly generating groupings of students.

On a related note, Flippity does offer a random name picker template. A demonstration of how to use that template is included below.

Two Great Sets of Historic Maps to Use and Reuse

The Library of Congress offers a collection of images that are free to use and reuse. The LOC blog recently featured a subset of that collection called Maps of Cities. Maps of Cities is one of two sets of historic maps available through the Free to Use and Reuse collection. The other set of maps is called Discovery and Exploration.

Both the Maps of Cities and the Discovery and Exploration collections contain about two dozen historic maps that you can download and reuse for free in any classroom project. All of the maps can be downloaded as JPEG files (three sizes available) and as GIFs.

Applications for Education
I have always loved looking at maps because they spark my imagination. Historic maps in particular make me wonder about what life was like in the places depicted in those maps. Those ideas can be used to spark research and writing projects. You could have students research life about the places depicted in the historic maps. You could also have students attempt to write some historical fiction based on the maps.

Another use for these historic maps is to overlay them on current imagery. That can be accomplished in Google Earth. In the following video I demonstrate how that works.