Google Earth: User Friendly in the Classroom

What an amazing program! I decided to devote a unit to it for my fifth grade technology classes. I gave them a list of locations which they had to locate on Google Earth using the Fly To bar or with Google Earth Community, placemark them (with their choice of creative placemarks), create their own tour file folder under ‘My Places’ and save each location to their tour folder with one interesting fact (which didn’t include Boy is this a great place!).

earthshine.gifSince it was my first year teaching this unit, we learned together. I found out it’s harder than expected to keep those placemarks in their file folders. They ended up all over, including other people’s folders, but we-all quickly learned how to copy-paste from wherever it ended up into their folder. They didn’t always get the location named or facted, so we learned to edit it under ‘Properties’. It didn’t always show up under ‘My Places’ from week-to-week (my lab has 26 seats which are used by 409 students, so things happen between uses) so we learned to back up to their network folders or onto their flash drives.

Along the way, I realized this was more complicated than expected, so I changed the grade to Pass-fail to allow leeway for those who worked hard but it just didn’t work. This didn’t faze anyone. I have never had so many students work so hard, during recesses and lunches and after school, on a project. Even when I told them they’d passed and could stop, they continued. Something about the Earth’s beauty and the way Google Earth puts it all together sucked them in to the passion of learning more than either of us planned.

Next year, I’ll add an investigation of lats and longs.

–reprinted with permission WordDreams ©

Author: Jacqui
Welcome to my virtual classroom. I've been a tech teacher for 15 years, but modern technology offers more to get my ideas across to students than at any time in my career. Drop in to my class wikis, classroom blog, our internet start pages. I'll answer your questions about how to teach tech, what to teach when, where the best virtual sites are. Need more--let's chat about issues of importance in tech ed. Want to see what I'm doing today? Click the gravatar and select the grade.

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