Sketchnotes of all 9 DTT Digital Summit presentations

The first Ditch That Textbook Digital Summit reached educators all over the world with innovative teaching ideas. Thousands of teachers from dozens of countries signed up. The nine video presentations were viewed more than 15,000 times during the 16 days of the summit. The #DitchSummit Twitter hashtag was a flurry of activity, with hundreds of […]

Sketchnotes: Tools and tactics for visual notetaking


About the presenter:

Matt Miller has taught for more than a decade, integrating technology to engage students and create unique learning experiences. He created the Ditch That Textbook blog, is a Google Certified Teacher and co-hosts a podcast on the BAM Radio Network.

dtt front coverMatt’s book, Ditch That Textbook, was recently published. It’s all about upgrading your classroom with powerful technology and innovative mindsets to meet students in the 21st-century world where they live.

Buy a copy of Ditch That Textbook on Amazon, or don’t wait — get a copy from Matt for $20, cheaper than the Amazon price. He’ll sign it and throw in a Ditch That Textbook laptop sticker for free!

Matt travels around Indiana and the United States to present at schools, workshops, conferences or any other professional development event. Ask him about it in person or email him at

Great sketchnoting resources:

Matt’s posts on sketchnoting and sketchnote-related ideas:

Carrie Baughcum’s sketchnoting for beginners video:

Other visual notetaking resources:

Updates abound: New features for Flipgrid, Google Classroom, Formative and Kahoot!

This year is no exception. In fact, just yesterday (the day before I publish this post), Flipgrid threw a HUGE bash at their Minneapolis headquarters to release the all new Flipgrid and a slew of new features. It’s a good time to be in education, folks. Technology makes all sorts of meaningful, engaging education accessible […]

How to create media-rich, interactive maps for deeper learning

If we want to use technology in the classroom, we can’t just do the same kind of learning we did before it. Technology should improve the learning. Kick the lesson up a notch. Otherwise, our technology isn’t any better than our paper and pencil lessons, right? If your students are studying anything that connects to […]

50 people and hashtags you MUST check out on Twitter

Getting connected professionally on Twitter was the single most important, most powerful thing I ever did as an educator. The most important. I’m not overstating that. And I can remember exactly when it happened. I was at the Indiana Conference on Learning in Indianapolis, and our state Superintendent of Public Instruction was giving the keynote […]

Ditch That Textbook workshop (Midland, TX)

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Matt headshotMatt Miller is a teacher, blogger and presenter from West Central Indiana. He has infused technology and innovative teaching methods in his classes for more than 10 years. He is the author of the book Ditch That Textbook: Free Your Teaching and Revolutionize Your Classroom and writes at the Ditch That Textbook blog about using technology and creative ideas in teaching. He is a Google Certified Innovator, Bammy! Top to Watch in 2016, and winner of the WTHI-TV Golden Apple Award.Onalytica named him one of the top 10 influencers in educational technology and elearning worldwide.


Practical Google activities for class tomorrow

Looking for some new ideas for using Google Apps (G Suite) in the classroom? These go beyond the typical “write essays” and “create slide presentations” options. Find something new in this session!


We can connect to virtually anyone in the world with video calls through Skype, Google Hangouts, FaceTime and more. How can we leverage these in the classroom to create unforgettable experiences that will get kids engaged?


Sketchnoting has great brain benefits. It can help us summarize effectively. It can help us remember and recall information more easily. How can we do it — and how can our students do it — even if we don’t feel artistically gifted?


teach like a pirateWhen you combine the engagement hooks in the book “Teach Like a PIRATE” with free tech tools, you get memorable learning experiences! See some concrete ideas you can start using immediately.


google-classroom-logo1Google Classroom helps teachers spend more time teaching and less time “teching.” It simplifies the assigning, collecting and grading of digital work with feedback for teacher and student all throughout. By knowing the basics and some tips and tricks, you can become a Google Classroom master!


Finding a million new ideas

Using social media as an educator/professionally was the single most important thing I ever did to improve my teaching and my classroom. (And that’s not overstating.) Social media like Twitter can give you access to resources, connect you with similar teachers and expose you to new ideas in education. Find out what to do and where to go.




Join us on Thursdays for discussion on a variety of topics related to “Ditch That Textbook!”

Thursdays 10pm Eastern // 9pm Central // 8pm Mountain // 7pm Pacific

Previous topics:

July 20, 2017: #Ditchbook’s 3rd Annual Book Study: Chapters 28- (Transcript)

July 13, 2017: #Ditchbook’s 3rd Annual Book Study: Chapters 23-27 (Transcript)

July 6, 2017: #Ditchbooktakeover (Transcript)

June 29, 2017: #Ditchbook’s 3rd Annual Book Study: Chapters 15-22 (Transcript)

June 22, 2017: #Ditchbook’s 3rd Annual Book Study: Chapters 8-14 (Transcript)

June 15, 2017: #Ditchbook’s 3rd Annual Book Study: Chapters 1-7 (Transcript)

June 8, 2017: “Stranger Things” (Transcript)

June 1, 2017: What are you going to DITCH? (Transcript)

May 25, 2017:  Crusin’ into Summer (Transcript)

May 18, 2017:  Hyperdocs (Transcript)

May 11, 2017: College Methods Class Flashback (Transcript)

May 4, 2017: Ferris Bueller Fun (Transcript)

April 27, 2017: Making a Positive CHANGE (Transcript)

April 20, 2017: Being a Feedback Superhero (Transcript)

April 13, 2017: The 4 Cs (Transcript)

April 6, 2017: HANDS-ON (Transcript)

March 30, 2017:  CREATIVE (Transcript)

March 23, 2017: Talking T = Tech laden! (Transcript)

March 16, 2017:  INNOVATION (Transcript)

March 9, 2017: Make Things DIFFERENT (Transcript)

March 2, 2017: Flipgrid: Flipgrid Ditchbook Chat (Transcript)

February 23 2017: Gamifying DITCHBOOK (Transcript)

February 16 2017:  DIFFERENTIATED #ConverseChat (Transcript)

February 9 2017:  D.I.T.C.H (Transcript)

February 2 2017: MATH (Transcript)

January 26 2017:  Exploring Google Cardboard (Transcript)

January 19 2017:  Future (Transcript)

January 12 2017:  Let’s get Googley! (Transcript)

January 5 2017:  Sharing (Transcript)

December 29, 2016:  #DitchSummit After party!!! (Transcript)

December 22, 2016:  #DitchSummit (Transcript)

December 15, 2016:  Teacher, Leaders, & Ditchers (Transcript)

December 8, 2016:   #Booksnaps #Ditchbook @bitmojo (Transcript)

December 1, 2016: Guiding your class with a Mission Statement (Transcript)

November 17, 2016:  Student Centered (Transcript)

November 10 , 2016:  Coaching Teachers Towards a DITCH Mindset (Transcript)

November 3, 2016: DITCH the Classroom (Transcript)

October 27, 2016: Sketchnotes (Transcript)

October 20, 2016:  #ditchbook and #tlap safari hook smash (Transcript)

October 13, 2016: Blogging (Transcript)

October 6, 2016: Superheros (Transcript)

September 29, 2016: #ditchbook and #moedchat (Transcript)

September 22, 2016: Learning “Old School” (Transcript)

September 16, 2016: Voodoo Doughnuts: How to create a buzzworthy class (Transcript)

September 8, 2016: Student Interview: Textbooks (Transcript)

September 1, 2016: Global Connections with Tech (Transcript)

August 25, 2016: GAFE Help (Transcript)

August 18, 2016: Relationships (Transcript)

August 11, 2016: #GeniusHour and You (Transcript)

August 4, 2016: How can Disney inspire your Classroom? (Transcript)

July 28, 2016: Summer #Ditchbook Study: Ch 34-Conclusion (Transcript)

July 21, 2016: Summer #Ditchbook Study: Ch 28-33 (Transcript)

July 14, 2016: Summer #Ditchbook Study: Ch 23- 27(Transcript)

July 7, 2016: Summer #Ditchbook Study: Ch 15-22 (Transcript)

June 30, 2016: Summer #Ditchbook Study: Ch 8-14(Transcript)

June 23, 2016: Summer #Ditchbook Study: Intro-Ch 7 (Transcript)

June 16, 2016: D.I.T.C.H GIFfy style (Transcript)

June 9, 2016: Week 2 #Ditchbook EdCamp (Transcript)

June 2, 2016: #Ditchbook EdCamp (Transcript)

May 26, 2016: End of the Year Luau (Transcript)

May 19, 2016 : Reflecting on our Ditching (Transcript)

May 12, 2016: Art Integration (Transcript)

May 5, 2016: “Despicable end of the year #Ditchbook chat” (Transcript)

April 28, 2016: BreakoutEDU (Transcript)

April 21, 2016: #NoWorksheetWeek (Transcript)

April 14, 2016: Homework (or lack thereof!) (Transcript)

April 7, 2016: Ditch like a Pirate (Transcript)

March 31, 2016: DITCHing Vocabulary (Transcript)

March 24, 1016: Student Created Videos (Transcript)

March 17, 2016: Google Classrom (Transcript)

March 10, 2016: Consumer vs Creator (Transcript)

March 3, 2016: Self Assessment and SBL (Transcript)

Pulaski County Special School District (Ditch That Textbook workshop)

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(Click here to jump to Day 2: Google University Workshop)

Getting started

The world is innovating with technology quickly. How quickly? Let’s find out in this Kahoot! Head to

The Voice of the Active Learner: Education from a Digital Native’s Perspective (YouTube link)

voice active learner

Click here to see Matt’s slides from this workshop.


Reflection questions. We will answer each question individually.

Moonshot thinking (YouTube link):

margaret mead


When you combine the engagement hooks in the book “Teach Like a PIRATE” with free tech tools, you get memorable learning experiences! Learn more here:


The smartest person in the room is … THE ROOM! Let’s harness that power by collecting some of our best teaching ideas. (Click here if you can’t see the form below.)

Look at all of our ideas in the spreadsheet below! (If you can’t see them, click here to view the spreadsheet.)

Or … see innovative ideas from teachers at the ISTE 2015 Conference in July (click here). There are more than 100 of them!


Take your classroom beyond the four walls of the classroom!


Want to make content you deliver stickier in students’ brains? Looking for ways to help students take better notes? The strategies in this session will help with both!

Click here to see the resources for “Sketchnotes: Tools and Tactics for Visual Notetaking.”


A paperless classroom shouldn’t be created for the lack of paper or the love of technology. It should create effectiveness or efficiency that didn’t exist before! Here are some tricks and tools I used to make my class more paperless (in a meaningful way!).

Click here to see the resources for “A Day in My Paperless Classroom.”


mg draw it

formative logo*** Formative ( — Formative lets teachers ask a question (or questions) to students through the students’ devices. When students answer, their answers immediately appear in the teacher dashboard. Teachers can then assign a grade or (coming soon!) add a comment that students see immediately. Question types include fill in the blank, multiple choice or (my favorite!) “show your work” where students draw the answer.

paper logoPaper by FiftyThree ( (iTunes: free) — Paper is a sketching app. It gives you (or a student) a blank piece of paper and plenty of tools to turn it into a work of art (or a place to jot down ideas). Tools include a fountain pen, watercolor paintbrush, fine point/wide point Sharpie pen and pencil. Create flowcharts or organize with “smart shapes” you can move around. Available for iPad and iPhone.

icon_11_drawing_xl128Google Drawings ( (Not available for iOS) — Google Drawings lets students add elements to a blank canvas, including text, images, shapes and lines. It’s a very simple Google App, but the options for its use are endless. Some ideas include interactive posters (see how in this blog post) or graphic organizers (see 15+ free graphic organizers here).

mg choose it

Kahoot logo6Kahoot! ( — Kahoot! turns your classroom into a game show. Create your own questions or choose from millions of publicly available Kahoot! games. Students see questions on the screen and select the correct answer on their own devices. Track who has the most points with a leaderboard after each question. Fun music and flashy graphics make this one a crowd pleaser!

quizizz logo*** Quizizz ( — lets you turn your multiple-choice questions into a class game show. Students join the game and progress through questions at their own pace. They see the questions and answers on their own screens. The faster they get the correct answer, the more points they receive. Plus, the memes that appear after a correct or incorrect answer are a lot of fun!

plickersPlickers ( — Don’t have devices for every student? No problem. Get instant info on what your students know with Plickers. Students hold up cards that represent the answer they choose (A, B, C or D). The teacher scans the room with his/her phone/tablet camera in the Plickers app. Plickers summarizes student answers and provides quick results.

quizletQuizlet ( (iTunes: free) — Quizlet is online flashcards with a twist. Teachers (or students!) can create their own cards by typing terms and definitions. From there, students can take simple quizzes, flip through their flashcards and even play games. Space Race and Scatter are student favorites! Plus, their flashcards can be accessed on their phones. With your terms in a device that’s constantly attached to their hip, how can you lose?

formative tools

mg write it

Apps-Google-Drive-Slides-icon*** Quick blog with Google Slides ( — Make writing assignments more collaborative with this quick blog. Students don’t have Google accounts? No problem! Create a Slides presentation and set sharing to “everyone with the link can edit”. Create a slide for every student … this will be their writing space. Students write and then write comments on each other’s writing, much like a blog (or — gasp! — social media!).

todaysmeet-logo*** TodaysMeet ( — Brevity is a virtuous quality in writing. TodaysMeet is a messaging site (think of a chat room that’s created only for your class). Students can write answers, questions, sentences — even links to other sites — in your TodaysMeet room. They’ll have to keep their answers short, though — there’s a 140-character limit! (If they don’t keep it short, they can always submit multiple messages to make one longer message.)

makebeliefscomixMakeBeliefsComix ( (iTunes: free) — Comic strips can make writing fun even for the most reluctant writer. MakeBeliefsComix lets students create comic strips with original artwork. Each character has multiple poses so you can pick the perfect one for the situation in the strip. Add speech and thought bubbles, props, backgrounds and more. Then email or print the strips!

mg say it

audioboomAudioBoom ( (iTunes: free) — AudioBoom gives students a voice in class — and a way to share that voice. Students can record audio directly from the site (or using the iOS or Android app). Once uploaded to the site, each recording is saved in student accounts and is given a unique URL. Students can share that URL with the teacher, on a class website, in an e-portfolio or with friends or family. It’s a perfect option for audio podcasts, song parodies or more!

Download-Free-GarageBand-5-0-2-Software-Update-2*** Garage Band (on the iOS App Store) — Go farther than recording audio. Add some music! Garage Band lets students play a multitude of different virtual instruments and record them all together in a digital jam session! Save student creations and host a student-produced symphony during class!


Hold on, because they’re going to come fast and furious! 60 useful digital tools in 60 minutes. Go to: for the entire list!



Shared notes. Students often have lots of information to share with each other when they work together as a group. By sharing a document with group members, they can all add ideas and resources — and see everyone’s changes in real time. Teachers can use this in committee work and at staff meetings.

Rethinking rough drafts. With the comments feature in Documents (and other Google Apps), rough drafts aren’t a paper students submit to a teacher. They’re a process. Teachers can guide students throughout the entire writing assignment so there are no surprises when it’s time to turn work in.



Shared presentations. Create a presentation with one slide per student and give students permission to edit it. Then assign an activity — some quick Internet research, a writing prompt, an image search to find an example, etc. When they’re done, show the presentation on a projector. It’s student work instantly on display.

Practice with the shared presentation below:

Animation. This is a great hack (i.e. non-traditional use) of Google Slides that could take some time to complete but yield amazing results. Check out this video, where the creators made an impressive animation with 450 slides in a Google Slides presentation just by clicking through the slides quickly.

Create a PDF ebook: PDF files are about as universal as it gets. You can open them on almost any Internet-ready device. They’re read-only, so publishing a PDF is a good way to distribute information to be consumed by reading. Google Slides is a great, simple PDF ebook creation tool. Create a slide presentation, change it to the dimensions you prefer, add content and finalize by going to File > Download as … > PDF Document.

Create a “slide deck book”: This idea is inspired by Matt Macfarlane, a middle school history teacher from California. In true “Ditch That Textbook” fashion, he has turned from traditional textbooks to creating his own. He finds engaging content on the web and collects it in his “slide deck books.” His students access them online and can click links to get more information. He gives students a “everyone with the link can view” link so they’re read only. Some examples:

Play a “Jeopardy!” game: Jeopardy on a PowerPoint presentation has been a staple in many classes. It’s also possible to create via Google Slides.Eric Curts, a Google Certified Innovator, created this template that you can copy into your own Google Drive to customize with your own questions and answers. Keep track of score on a whiteboard/chalkboard, on paper or through some other means. (Note: When a question is answered, it doesn’t disappear from the board. You might want to display the game on a whiteboard instead of a projector screen. When a question is selected, draw an X through it with a dry erase marker.)

Choose Your Own Adventure story/activity: As a child, I loved these books, where your decisions affected the outcome for the character in the story. Google Slides lets you create similar experiences. They can be stories where the student can choose the path for the character. Students can create them, or teachers can create them for students. They can even be tied to any kind of class content. Tie the choices to answers for a question. (i.e. The character goes left if the student thinks the answer is 4.4 and goes right if the student thinks the answer is 7.2.)

I created a quick example of an impromptu, decide-on-a-whim vacation trip story where you decide for the main character. Click here to see that file (and feel free to make a copy and change the text for yourself!)

Assess with self-grading quizzes. Self-grading quizzes give students immediate feedback. They also let students practice as much as they’d like without depending on the teacher. You can create self-paced assessments that provide answer feedback with Google Slides. For each standard four-question multiple choice question, you’ll need five slides:

  • A question slide
  • A feedback slide for answer A
  • A feedback slide for answer B
  • A feedback slide for answer C
  • A feedback slide for answer D

On the question slide, for each possible answer, create a link to the feedback slide. Then, on each feedback slide, create a link to go on to the next question.

Want to see an example? Click here to see my quick one-question self-grading quiz.

Quick blog: Blogging is a useful reflective activity that can generate a lot of online conversation among students. A quick, simple version of blogging can be created in a Google presentation. Create a shared presentation (see No. 1 above), and have students write a short “blog post” in their slides. They can even add images (see No. 5 above). When complete, students can read each other’s writing and write comments on them using the comment button in the toolbar. Conversations stay grouped together when students reply to each other using the “reply” button. This creates meaningful conversation with very little prep time.



Graphic organizers. Drawings gives users a blank canvas where they can add text, shapes, lines, etc. When done, they can save their work as image files or PDF files and can add those images to documents, slides and spreadsheets. It’s a perfect medium for creating graphic organizers. I’ve created 15 of them that can be copied, saved, changed, tweaked or completely redone to fit your needs and your students’ needs.

Interactive whiteboard. Create a Google Drawing and share it with students, giving them permission to edit. Display the drawing on a projector screen. Students can add text and shapes, draw arrows to important ideas and connect concepts with lines. Everyone can make changes, and anyone can watch — in class or away.

Real life comic strips. Take photos of students using a webcam and add them to a Google Drawing. Add speech bubbles to the photos. Then save those images and add each one to a different slide in a Google Slides presentation. Here’s a Google Site about Comics with Google Tools and Creativity Games for examples and more details.

Timelines. Students can work together in a Google Drawing to add text and pictures to mark events on a timeline. When they’re finished, the image can be saved as an image file (JPEG or PNG) or a PDF file. It can also be embedded in a site to share with others.

Annotate images. A picture is, of course, worth a thousand words, but it can also teach important lessons. Let students manipulate that picture, and they can create meaning and own those lessons. Add an image to a Google Drawing and let students add text boxes and arrows, pointing out various parts of the photo that are of interest to the class.

Interactive posters. Google Drawings are great for bringing images, text and shapes together. Those elements combine for a great digital poster. But these digital posters are way better than a regular one made of poster board. Various elements in the poster can be clicked, delivering webpages and other online content to viewers. Click here to see Matt’s recent blog post on how to create Google Drawings interactive posters.

>>> 10 engaging Google Drawings activities for classes


Mapping Tools

Google Maps Street ViewStreet View makes it possible to drop your classroom virtually onto almost any street in the world and walk around. It uses panoramic imagesthat let you turn around, zoom in and walk down roads to check out the scenery. Just grab the little yellow “peg man” and drop him where you’d like to go. (See animation above.) For practice, try dropping yourself at your doorstep of your school if you’ve never used it before.

Street View Treks Once you’ve seen your school from the curb on Google Maps Street View, take it to the next level with Street View Treks. These custom-produced exploration experiences are awesome for students. They provide information about the location and videos that pair nicely with the panoramic views. Locations include Nepal, Gombe National Park, the Pyramids of Giza, the Great Barrier Reef (a Street View Trek underwater!) and more.

Google Cardboard — It’s a VR experience starting with a simple viewer anyone can build or buy. Once you have it, you can explore a variety of apps that unfold all around you.

Google Earth Tour Builder — Tour Builder is a new way to show people the places you’ve visited and the experiences you had along the way using Google Earth. It lets you pick the locations right on the map, add in photos, text, and video, and then share your creation.

Google Cultural Institute These virtual tours don’t have to be confined to what you can see from the street. Google Cultural Institute gives you access to top-notch art collections from around the world (Art Project) and modern/ancient world heritage sites (World Wonders). Witness significant moments in history with Historic Moments, giving students a version of a field trip to the past.

MyMaps – Creating or viewing an interactive map with images and information can be the next-best thing to visiting a location, and students can create their own. Kurt Wismer’s great resource site for using Google Maps and Google Earth shows you how. Have students create a map using MyMaps. Select locations, use custom icons, add photos and share.

Geoguessr This game is like asurprise virtual field trip every time you play. Geoguessr uses Google Maps Street View and places participants in a random location somewhere in the world. By panning around, zooming or “walking” down the street, participants place a pin on a map to guess where they are. The closer they guess, the more points they win. It’s great for critical thinking and using context clues.

Smarty Pins Smarty Pins is like Geoguessr’s cousin. Granted, it’s a little less like a virtual field trip, but it does use geography-based questions to play. Participants answer questions bydropping a pin where they think the answer is.


Wow and Engage with YouTube Creator Studio

YouTube is for more than looking up videos for your classes! It makes video creation quick and easy. Plus, the Creator Studio lets you edit videos, add music and link them to each other. Learn some techniques you can implement instantly to give your videos and lessons some extra flash!

Click here to view resources for “Wow and Engage with YouTube Creator Studio”.


Auto-grading quiz feature in Google Forms: