Sunday, January 4, 2015

Timelines made easy!

I love timelines and maps, it's the history teacher in me, but they lack an interactive piece that my mind craves, it's the Ed Tech in me.  As a teacher, I used timelines all of the time and had my students create a timeline for the American Revolution and Civil War. Students can read a textbook but all of the dates will get lost (In our textbook there are 52 dates or years in the paragraphs from the French and Indian War to the signing of the Declaration), but the visuality of a timeline helps show cause and effect over time and increases comprehension of the topic.  No matter how great the timeline, I always wished it was interactive.  A timeline with large pictures, links, videos that added depth, and embeddable.

Thanks to my PLN on Twitter I found a great tool for making timelines, Timeline JS.  Timeline JS makes building visual and interactive timelines easy and its free.  It can pull media from twitter, Flickr, Google Maps, Youtube, vimeo, and soundcloud to name a few.

There are only four steps to making your timelines interactive (listed below).  The website does a nice job walking you through the steps.  If you would like help with step 4, embedding the timeline into a Canvas or a classroom website contact your Ed Tech.
    1)  Download a Google Spreadsheet template and fill out the spreadsheet.
    2)  Publish the Google Spreadsheet to the web.
    3)  Paste the "publish to the web" url on Timeline JS's website.
    4) Copy the embed code and add it to your site.

Whether you are creating a timeline for your students to interact with, having your students create their own timeline, or having your students collaborating on a Google Sheet to make a class timeline, Timeline JS makes it easy and fun.

My Sample:

Other tools that can be used for timeline creation:
Facebook (Article), Infographics (Sample), and (A vertical timeline)

Timelines are not only for history class:
1)  Have students plot a story your reading in class
2)  Have students create a timeline of their family or their future
3)  Have students create timelines about famous people in your subject area.

What are some other ways you can use timelines in your class?  Tell me in the comments below.


  1. What a cool tool for classroom and even personal use! I think this could be an interesting way for students to map family history as well. Thanks for the ideas.

  2. Wow! This is a great resource for one of my 5th grade teachers. I think I will use it this week with her class. Thanks, Dustin!

  3. This is a great tool to incorporate CSDDocs in the classroom. I love how you can use a template, this will be easy enough to use in elementary as well!