I love to travel. I enjoy the experience of being in a new place. It opens my eyes to understandings I would never be able to get closer to home. Unfortunately for many of my students, travel opportunities for them are very limited. Fortunately, using Google Earth in the classroom can give my urban learners glimpses of faraway places.
My sixth-graders recently used Google Earth to learn about a country of their choice. They explored the country using the navigation controls. My job was to model the use of the application, such as adding/labeling placemarks and organizing their places into a folder.
The project gave me opportunities to introduce concepts such as urban/rural, landmarks and various landforms. Students enjoyed finding sites worth showing to their audience: Big Ben, a Moroccan tannery and fabulous beaches. They learned how to use various layers (such as 3D buildings), street view and embedded photographs to give their peers an understanding of the landscape of the country.
Their project culminated in a tour, which they shared with their peers during class and their parents at conferences. Next year I plan to revise this project to include the recorded tour feature so that students can narrate their tours, giving them practice in presenting.