Five Ideas for Using Google Earth and Maps More Than Social Studies Lessons

This weekend I’m hosting an online professional development workshop on Google Earth and Maps. One of my goals for the workshop is to help participants come up with ideas for using Google Earth and Google Maps for more than just geography and history lessons. To that end, I’ve compiled a short list of ideas and resources for using Google Earth and Google Maps in a variety of topic areas.

Arts and languages
Google Lite Trips is probably the most famous example of using Google Earth in the context of language arts. Google Late Trips is a Google Earth Tour based on books and authors. In Google Earth and Google’s MyMaps services, your students can visit important places in the book or highlight important places in the author’s life.

science
Google Earth offers students a great way to discover interesting geological landmarks in 3D. Using the time slider in the desktop version of Google Earth can show students landscape changes due to cuts and other natural and man-made forces.

There is no shortage of tutorials on Google Earth available online. One pair I would like to see are the Reach Trevus flood and volcano lessons and the watershed at Carlton College’s Science Education Resource Center.

Mathematics
There is probably no better place for K-5 classrooms to start than at Tom Barrett’s math map site. There you’ll find short, Google Maps-based activities that require students to use math to measure and answer questions. Activities represent a great combination of math and geography.

If you have middle school or high school students, you’ll want to explore real world math. You will find lesson plans on real world mathematics that use Google Earth to teach concepts based on solid, time zones and rocker volume.

Physical education
Perhaps my favorite use of Google Maps is for planning safe walking, hiking and biking routes. You can also use Google Earth to help students understand how altitude changes the speed at which routes are completed.

Art
Using Google’s MyMaps tools or the desktop version of Google Earth, students can map the places where a piece of local art has been placed, where it was created, and the places that influenced the artist. The markings everywhere on the student’s map may include a picture of the artwork, a picture of the artist, or a video about the art and the artist. To provide a complete picture, a student can add text and links to more information about art and the artist.

Take a look at Monet Was Here on Google Arts & Culture for some inspiration on this topic.

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