This week is Geography Awareness Week. This is a good time to remind you that digital mapping projects don’t have to be limited to the social studies department. That’s why this week I’m sharing ideas for digital mapping projects to cover seven subject areas.
Since 2009 when I saw him demonstrate it at the Google Teacher Academy in Washington, D.C. Jerome Burg’s Google Lit Trips has been one of my go-to examples of using Google Earth in a language arts setting. Lit Trips are Google Earth tours that are based on books that are commonly taught in K-12 settings. Use the model to have students create their own tours (basic directions available here) or just enjoy the tours that are freely available on Google Lit Trips.
Tom Barrett’s Maths Maps and Thomas Petra’s Real World Math are classic examples of using Google Maps and Google Earth to teach mathematics lessons. Barrett’s Maths Maps is intended for elementary school to middle school ages. Petra’s Real World Math was designed for middle school and high school ages.
The concept of Tom Barrett’s Maths Maps is one that I applied to create a Google Earth activity that combined math and science. In the activity students have to use the measuring tools in Google Earth plus information about irrigation needs to estimate potential crop yields for a section of farmland.
Google Earth Pro (the free desktop version) has many information layers that can be used as the basis for lessons in meteorology, geology, and marine science. The time-lapse imagery in Google Earth (in both the web and desktop version) is excellent for viewing the effects of erosion on shorelines. And one of my favorite uses of Google Earth in a science classroom came from a former colleague of mine who had his students create tours of interesting geological features and sites in our state.
Over the years I’ve featured some language and dialect maps on Free Technology for Teachers. As the name implies, these are maps that depict which languages are spoken around the world. Students can create similar ones about languages, dialects, or cultural idioms. Here’s a fun prompt, where is the geographic line between people who call sugary, carbonated drinks “soda” and those that call them “pop?”
Art & Music
Geo Artwork is a fun game from Google Arts & Culture. In the game students see a piece of art and then have to guess where in the world it was created. After making a guess students can see how close or far away they were from the correct answer. Additionally, students can click through the answers to learn more about each featured piece of art and artist. Watch this video to see how the game is played.
Years ago I made a playlist titled Geography Songs. It was a list of popular songs that made reference to geography and cities. The list includes songs like REM’s Stand, James Taylor’s Sweet Baby James, George Strait’s Amarillo By Morning, and Jimmy Buffett’s He Went to Paris. After making the playlist I then mapped all of the locations in Google’s My Maps and put the respective music videos in the placemarks. You could have students do a similar thing individually or make it a group activity done through Google Forms. Watch this video to see how to quickly map Google Sheets data collected through Google Forms.
For some people, one of the obstacles to participating in lifelong sports like running, bicycling, and hiking is knowing where to go. Google’s My Maps and a new mapping tool called Felt both enable you to create interactive maps of running, bicycling, and hiking routes. Have students use those tools to create routes around their communities (remember to have a discussion about privacy and not identifying their homes in the maps). By the way, Strava (follow me) also has a similar mapping tool, but it’s not available to people under age 18.
I left this subject area for last because it’s the most obvious fit for digital mapping projects. Students can use tools like Padlet Maps, Storymap JS, and Google Earth to create multimedia displays of things like locations of battles and locations of historic landmarks. One of my favorite uses of digital mapping in the context of history is to use StoryMap JS to tell the story of a historic journey. For example, I used StoryMap JS to recreate the story of Harry Truman’s Excellent Adventure. Watch this video for a demonstration of how to use StoryMap JS.
I took this picture in Banner County, Nebraska. My time there was the inspiration for the “Measuring & Mapping for Farmland” activity that is included in A Crash Course in Google Earth & Maps. Use the code GEOAWARENESS22 to get 50% off registration for that course this week!
50 Tech Tuesday Tips!
50 Tech Tuesday Tips is an eBook that I created with busy tech coaches, tech integrators, and media specialists in mind. In it you’ll find 50 ideas and tutorials that you can use as the basis of your own short PD sessions. Get a copy today!