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A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words: Google Drawing

If you have already made the switch to Google Apps, you have probably been experimenting with the Big 3: Docs, Spreadsheets, and Presentations. These are all great tools that support creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration, but have you ever taken a look at Google Drawing? It’s one of the best tools you probably never knew you had. Hidden away from view, it is easily accessed with one click of the Create button in your Google Drive.

Google Drive create button

Working with Google Drawing is easy. You can add shapes (hold down the shift key for perfect circles or squares), arrows, lines, text boxes, and tables. Images can be uploaded from your computer, added via snapshot, or linked from the web. If you need to search for an image, Google Drawing has you covered. Just click Insert > Image, choose Search and you can select from copyright-friendly image results from Google Search, the LIFE Photo Archive, or stock images (these have some restrictions when used outside of Google Drive, so proceed with caution).

Once you have created your drawing, there are many ways you can use it in your classroom. For example, you can make seating charts or create content to use with students, such as KWL charts, math drawings, or virtual manipulatives. Even better, have your students use it to make any number of products, such as word webs, timelines, comic strips, or graphic organizers. In fact, there are so many ways to use Google Drawing, we have added a new page to the LVUSD Teaching with Google Apps website. Want to learn more? Visit the Google Drawing page.

This entry was cross-posted on the LVUSD Ed Tech Blog.

ThingLink Interactive Images

ThingLink image

A number of people mentioned to me during last night’s #CAedChat that they would like to see a blog post about ThingLink interactive images and their use in the classroom, so here goes.

ThingLink allows you to add tags to an image which viewers can click on to access text you have added or online material such as websites, images, sounds, videos, and more. This tool can be accessed on the web at, and there is also an iOS app. It is free to create an account and teachers can request an educator upgrade which lets you store an unlimited number of images on the ThingLink site. Your tagged images can be shared and embedded wherever you wish.

I have found ThingLink to be very versatile and easy to use. You start by uploading an image from your computer (e.g., a photo you have taken, an image created with drawing software, or a scanned file) or by linking to an image on the web. Then you add tags to the online content you want to appear on your image. When the viewer moves the cursor over the image, the links appear and are clickable.

Teachers can use it to present content in an engaging, interactive way. Students can create images that support learning at all levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Whether they are labeling the parts of a flower, creating a graphic comparing and contrasting two types of sculpture, adding content to a map or timeline, or creating their digital selves, students will be on task and learning (although I can’t promise they will be quiet; the enthusiasm is definitely audible).

ThingLink can also be a starting point for a discussion on digital citizenship. Many students want to dive headfirst into Google Images when they start a project like this, but we can take this opportunity to teach them about Creative Commons licensing and all the excellent resources that are available to them to use, such as Pixabay.comWikimedia Commons, and the Creative Commons section on

ThingLink supports many of the Common Core State Standards, in particular CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others and CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism. However, depending on what students add to their ThingLink image, it can also support several of the other standards.

Here are some images on the California missions and the 1849 Gold Rush my 4th grade students created using ThingLink. This was the first time I had used ThingLink with students, and I should have had them all send me a link to their images so I could embed them, but I didn’t realize that until too late. In order to get them on the page in a timely fashion, I touched the images (similar to “liking” on Facebook) and they appeared in my stream. One feature I would love to see in the Educator account would be the ability to manage student accounts and publish their images as a class, but I am sure they are working on that. Until then, I will use a Google form to collect the image link from each student for future projects.

ThingLink Toolkit for Educators

Richard Byrne’s 26+ Ways to Use ThingLink in the Classroom

Resources I provided for my students


If you have creative ideas on how to use ThingLink, please share them in the comments below.