Do you teach about volcanoes, plate tectonics, seafloor spreading, or other geology concepts? If so, click the ship steering wheel in Google Earth to access Voyager.
Then click “LAYERS” and enjoy some very useful content. Watch as I demonstrate:
Tip # 2: Use Google Earth for History
Google Earth Voyager has plenty of great content besides Geography. Click the steering wheel and click “HISTORY.” Each unit of content, called “stories,” leads students through an interactive map. PBS Learning Media authored five of the History stories. Watch as I demonstrate how to access Voyager History stories and the first two scenes of the Underground Railroad story:
Tip # 3: Find Voyager Stories
There are stories in each tab in Voyager. The tabs other than Layers and History are Editor’s Picks, Travel, Nature, Culture, Sports, and Education.
This content is very useful but challenging to find because there is no search function inside Voyager. Scrolling is the only option for finding stories in Voyager. The good news is the search in the Google Earth toolbar searches Voyager stories. At present, a search term has to match a term in the story title. Watch as I demonstrate:
Tip # 4: Learn More About Countries and Cities with Points of Interest
Search Google Earth for a country or city. The search will take you there on the map and add points of interest in the right part of the screen.
Each point of interest comes with content. What a great way to introduce foreign places. Watch as I preview Tanzania’s points of interest:
Tip # 5: Use Google Earth to Measure, Distance, Area, and Perimeter
The ruler in the Google Earth toolbar is useful for showing students real-life applications for the geometry concepts they learn in math class.
The ruler measures the distance between points on a line. It also creates shapes and displays their perimeter and area measurements. On the iPad, there are buttons for copying that data:
One drawback of shapes in Google Earth is they cannot be saved. To level up using Google Geo Tools to teach geometry, have students create shapes in Google My Maps. This is a great way to teach scale and how maps can be distorted. For example, maps show Greenland to be about the size of Africa. Is that true? Make a copy of this Google My Map and have your students move the shape to find out.
Click the [ ] in the upper right corner to view this map fullscreen.
Click the three dots. Then click “Copy Map.”
Watch as I demonstrate using shapes in Google Earth and Google My Maps:
Tip # 7, Your Anchor Activity: Use I’m Feeling Lucky for Anchor Activities
All done reading the first 6 tips? Great! The Google Earth toolbar has a dice icon. When clicked, it functions as “I’m Feeling Lucky” and takes students to a random location. What a great anchor activity!
When students say, “I’m done,” reply with “Great! Click I’m Feeling Lucky and share three things you learned about your random location with the class during the last five minutes.” Watch as I demonstrate using the “I’m Feeling Lucky” dice:
Thank you for reading this post! What Google Earth questions do you have? Please comment below or tweet me @TomEMullaney.
Google My Maps is a great tool for teachers and learners. Teachers can use it as an interactive platform to present lesson materials. Learners can use Google My Maps to document what they have learned.
One of my favorite Google My Maps is this ingenious map someone made documenting every location in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia:
To access Google My Maps, type mymaps.google.com into the browser. Unfortunately, My Maps does not appear in the apps launcher (AKA the waffle in the upper right of the screen in Gmail, Drive, and Classroom) so it makes sense to bookmark it or pin it to a Chromebook shelf.
Here is a brief overview video of using My Maps in which I make a map of Amsterdam and reference The Fault in Our Stars:
Use these tips and tricks to get even more out of Google My Maps.
Create in Google Drive
As I did in the video, create My Maps in Google Drive folders so they stay organized with other content for a given instructional unit.
Change the base map
Scroll to the bottom of the legend to change the base map to one of nine different options. The default is “Map.” I am partial to “Simple Atlas” for historic maps.
Like a map? Copy it for yourself!
Click on the “NOT OWNED” tab in the My Maps home screen. You should see thumbnails of every Google My Map you have viewed and you don’t own, including the North Carolina battles and Always Sunny maps higher up in this post! Click on the three dots in the upper-right corner of the thumbnail to make a copy for yourself.
Explore the EXPLORE tab
Click on the EXPLORE tab to see Google My Maps other users have created. At the top is the top picks. I can’t lie – you will see a lot of Pokémon GO maps there.
Scroll down to see staff picks to find some very interesting maps. This can inspire creative use of My Maps.
Open a My Map in Google Earth
Export the data from a My Map as a KMZ file. Leave all boxes unchecked to download:
Then go to Google Earth and enable adding KML/KMZ files in settings:
Then import the KMZ file:
Most data from the My Map will successfully convert to Google Earth, including pictures and text descriptions.
The good news is that teachers can share maps so that students can view them and they can share a map so that all students can edit it. This is similar to settings for other Google Drive files in Google Classroom. The bad news is this is what happens when teachers try to make a copy of a My Map for each student in Google Classroom:
I hope Google addresses this issue in the near future. In the meantime, My Maps is still a great tool for teachers and learners alike. If you would like to share your ideas about the Google My Maps, please comment below or tweet me at @TomEMullaney. Thank you for reading.
Author’s Note: This post was originally published on 9/4/17. I have updated it and it is accurate as of 8/25/18.
Back-to-school time always reminds me of my first days teaching history. I used the curriculum from my textbook and supplemented it here-and-there. It did not make for engaging instruction.
Textbooks are static, dated, and give learners one perspective. I constantly searched for supplemental content in addition to making some of my own. Over time, I found some great resources. Here are digital content resources I used in my classroom or found in my practice as an edtech coach. Not all listed resources are exclusively for digital use though all are useful for 1:1 classrooms. Grade bands are based on Common Sense Media reviews or my personal judgment from using the resource.
Digital Breakouts are a great tool for adding game-based learning to Social Studies content. These websites use Google Forms to give students “locks” they have to crack. Have a look at the digital breakouts available for free:
If you use just one digital breakout with your US history classes, please make it my Unbought, Unbossed, & Unlocked breakout. It tells the story of Shirley Chisholm who became the first Black woman to run for president in 1972.
Speaking of game-based learning, have a look at Spent. Usually, gamification should be avoided when addressing serious topics. Spent addresses poverty in a way that builds empathy and understanding. Students can only benefit from playing it.
Khan Academy was one of the first in the digital educational content space. Their Arts and Humanities section includes content for US History, World History, AP World History, and AP US history. Khan Academy is Common Core aligned and includes videos and practice questions.
Free US History content from UVA’s Miller Center organized by president. The Miller Center is the go-to source for presidential speech transcripts often accompanied by audio and video. Thank you, Jessica Riley, for sharing the Miller Center with me.
This is a great site for adding much-needed context to current events discussions. From tax cuts and war to Medicare for All and publicly funded college, the question is often asked, “How can we pay for it?” Modern Money Basics explains how US currency works. This is very helpful context for discussion of current events especially the national debt and deficit.
Common Core aligned free resource that uses New York Times content in lessons that include writing prompts and quizzes. Social Studies content is broken out into sections for US History, global issues, Civics, and Social Studies skills. Additionally, there is a Current Events section.
Teaching Tolerance is a great asset for addressing diversity when presenting content. For example, when teaching slavery it is important not to whitewash it as a random occurrence of misbehavior by our otherwise valiant founding fathers. Teaching Tolerance’s Teaching Hard History resources help teachers address slavery and other uncomfortable topics. I have a special place in my heart for Teaching Tolerance because their site hosts one of the very best essays on education, Give the Kid a Pencil.
What’s the big deal about The New Deal? Who cares? The Living New Deal is the perfect resource for teaching high school students the why behind learning about it. The site meticulously documents how The New Deal affects our modern landscape. The site’s map currently has information about more than 15,000 New Deal sites. Users can browse by New Deal agency, state, or categories such as art, civic facilities, forestry and agriculture, and more.
So what did I miss? How long after September 2017 August 2018 will this list be woefully out-of-date? Please comment below or tweet me at @tomemullaney. Thank you for taking the time to read this.
The good news is that you can probably lead your students on a Google Expedition tomorrow. And you can do it for free with equipment your school owns if it has any functioning iPads. Google Expeditions runs on iPads in a “window mode” that gives students a 360 view. Having tried this with students, I can attest, they love it. Sure, the cardboard viewers are more encompassing, but no student has complained about not using a viewer.
A Brief Technical Note
To lead an expedition from one iPad to others, all devices need to be connected to the same WiFi network with peer-to-peer sharing enabled. Test this by using two iPads to lead and follow an expedition. If it does not work, ask your IT department about enabling peer-to-peer sharing.
I beta-tested Expeditions with my literacy block. I led them on an expedition of the Empire State Building.
The kids loved it. They were very excited. I could tell they were not listening as I read the narration provided by Google Expeditions. This was a low-stakes beta test but I would have to ensure students would listen when I led expeditions as part of classes.
Since then, I have pulled groups of seven students to lead them on Google Expeditions. Keep the group numbers low if possible. Thirty students in a Google Expedition could become chaotic. Before I hand students iPads, I lay out my expectations:
Treat the iPads like precious treasure. We cannot afford to have one broken.
Google Expeditions is awesome. You’re going to go banana and I need you to listen as I explain what you are seeing in each scene.
Making those expectations clear at the start has made our Google Expeditions successful. I have led sixth-grade students on expeditions of pyramids in Egypt, the National Museum of Iraq, the Great Wall of China, the Palace at Versailles, and the human auditory system. My colleague Cristie Watson and I have documented some of these moments with our students.
“Can we just learn like this from now on?” – something a kid just said to me during #GoogleExpeditions.
Leading expeditions is easy. Teachers need to sign in with a Google account and then simply search for and download expeditions they want to lead. Students open the app and join the expedition, no sign-in required. Students can move their iPad to change their view of the 360 image. They can also use their fingers to change their vantage point. Swivel chairs are ideal but not essential.
I am honored to announce my Imagine Easy blog posts about Social Studies and educational technology have been combined with work from Matthew Farber to form an e-book, A Technology Toolkit for Social Studies Teachers. This e-book can be downloaded for free. I hope it will be useful for your practice. Please comment below or tweet me at @edtechtom if you would discuss or share feedback. Thank you for reading.