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Tech Tip: How to create interactive timelines from Google Sheets

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Credit: Pixabay

Timelines are useful tools for helping students conceptualize how individual events fit into a given time period. My favorite timeline app is TimelineJS, an open-source tool from Northwestern University’s Knight Lab that lets you build timelines from Google Sheets.

Here is one I built about the Japanese-American internment.

There are only four steps to creating a timeline. The app’s page outlines them, and includes links to templates, but here’s a quick overview:

  1. Open the Google Sheet template, remove the sample items and add your own content (dates, photos, Tweets, Google Maps, text and media links). The spreadsheet template includes a column for providing media credits. You can leave columns blank, but do not delete or change the column headers. Each row is for a new date and headline on your timeline.
  2. When you have finished adding your content, head to File > Publish to the web. Remember to click on the “Automatically republish when changes are made” option.
  3. Grab the link or embed code and you’re ready to share your timeline with your students — and the world.

And that’s it! Have fun creating your own timelines.

Gail Desler is a technology integration specialist for the Elk Grove Unified School District in California. She is a Google Certified Innovator, a Microsoft Innovative Educator, a National Writing Project Teacher Consultant and a Library of Congress American Memory Project Fellow. Gail co-directs the Time of Remembrance Oral Histories Project and co-curates the Digital ID Project. Follow her on Twitter.

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