Today’s guest blogger is Megan Smith, social studies teacher at Downingtown High School East. Do you have something you’d like to share? Contact us at email@example.com.
by Megan Smith
In June, I attended the Google Tools session at the ISTE conference in Philadelphia to learn a little bit more about how I could utilize Google in my classroom. I wasn’t sure what to expect at first and was worried it would be about things such as sharing documents, making forms, etc., which I already know how to do. I was pleasantly surprised with the different tools I learned about. Here are a few of my favorites:
Google Treks: Google Treks allows you to explore the world, without ever leaving your classroom! As a teacher of African/Asian Studies, I could easily use this website to show my students the places we are exploring.
You can explore places like the Grand Canyon, the Pyramids of Giza, the Taj Mahal, the Galapagos Islands, and many more! It’s a virtual field trip. Each place has different ways to explore such as a traditional map, images that move and have information attached, and 360 degree videos and images.
To go along with Google Treks, you can add locations to Google Maps using Photo Sphere. You can create your own Photo Spheres! A Photo Sphere is a 360 degree view of a location that you could add to Google Maps. So, I could go out onto the football field and it will direct me how to make a 360 degree view of the home to our football teams. This is a simple example, but you could, of course, do this wherever! Uploading the Photo Spheres to Google Maps makes them accessible to others. Maybe you have a travel type project you’d like to try this with?
Another way the presenter suggested to make use of Google Maps was with math. Now I’m not a math teacher, so this isn’t something I would have thought to do. But, he had some interesting suggestions. You can use the maps to track distances, make your own math equations (how long would it take you to travel from Philadelphia to Denver traveling an average of 60mph? etc.)
Google Cultural Institute: This was by far the thing I was most excited to find out about in this session. There are so many ways to use this website and it really is something that multiple grades and subject levels could make use of.
It is divided into three main themes:
- Art Project
- Historic Moments
- World Wonders
Many of the posts in each of the aforementioned three themes are associated with specific museums throughout the world. Once again, you could go on a virtual field trip with your students. You can explore moments in World War II, Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, and visit the Versailles Palace.
With each of these types, you can view online exhibits and images. You can add the images to your own collection, compare images to others, or share the images with someone else. Beyond accessing previously created content, you can upload your own content and share it with others.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by what I learned about in this session. I found tools that I can use to take my Social Studies students around the world without ever having to leave the classroom. But these tools are certainly not limited to Social Studies classes. World language teachers could have their students visit museums in France, Spain, Germany, etc. Math teachers can open a new world to their students using Google maps in a variety of ways. So take some time to explore the real world in a virtual setting!