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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Google Earth

Where to begin...we are going to do a brief intro to Google Earth tomorrow at our faculty laptop meeting, and I am so excited to see what uses people find for it in their classrooms. I have been wanting to use Google Earth in my teaching, but I haven’t found just the right resource or topic to incorporate into a lesson.

Until now.

In the Lower School, I see students in each grade once a week for an hour. Though they have access to computers much more often than this, I am reticent to utilize my precious hour teaching from the front of the room, leaving the student laptops in the closet. Well, I finally did that for the first time last week, and I think it was totally worth it. The second graders are currently studying the continent of Asia, and while they have each chosen a very specific topic for their big research project, we’ve been wanting to give them a broader overview of the continent in general. In my quest for materials that will supplement their studies, I found an amazing site sponsored by National Geographic.


The site has seven activities, six of which use Google Earth, designed to “explore the food, art, wildlife, and geography of Asia--and more.” The activity for Day One  is an interactive quiz that pops up a series of 13 questions. When you answer correctly, you “fly” to that part of Asia and see what it looks like. Amazing.

What does the “earth’s largest continent” really look like? What kind of geographical diversity does it offer? How does one explain the concept of population density to 2nd graders? Looking at the satellite images over Tokyo, Japan, followed by sparsely populated regions in Mongolia, they couldn’t help but see the definition!

Next step: creating Google Earth tours of our own.

Some resources, put together by our Technology Director Jim Ferguson, that will be shared at the faculty laptop meeting:

The main link for Google Earth is http://earth.google.com/.  Google Earth needs to be downloaded and installed on your computer.  The Tech Department should do this for you so that you have a permanent copy of Google Earth in your Applications Folder, but Google Earth will run by downloading and placing it on your Desktop or Documents folder.

View Google Earth educational products at http://www.google.com/gadgets/directory?synd=earth&cat=education

Educators can get the $400 per year Google Earth Pro for free
http://www.google.com/gadgets/directory?synd=earth&cat=education

Go to Google Earth > Help for more user guides and tutorials.

Get some Google Earth lessons ideas here
http://www.gelessons.com/lessons/

http://www.shambles.net/pages/learning/GeogP/gearthplan/

http://www.uwstout.edu/soe/profdev/blog/2008/09/google-earth-lessons.html

http://www.earthquests.com/

Explore the Earth, Space, and now Oceans...and let us know what you discover.