Google Earth: Exploring History in 3 Dimensions

5 Nov
Google Earth

This week in IST 611, we’re talking about digital  mapping in education.  We’ve taken a lot of time to explore Google Earth this week, and we’ve explored online resources for lesson ideas, most notably Google Lit Trips.  Now the challenge is: can we generate ideas for unique Google Earth activities that fulfill AASL 21st Century Learning Standards?

Mapping the Underground Railroad
Grade 5
Related Subject areas: Social Studies, ELA

Activity description:

  1. Each student (individually or in pairs) will select a different landmark along the Underground Railroad.  (Depending on class size and time constraints, the class can study sites along the entire route, or focus on sites within your home state.)
  2. Each student will prepare a plot point on a collaborative classroom map of the Underground Railroad based on their site.  Students should include a written description up to 2 paragraphs long of their site, fair use images of the site, and where possible additional media (links to related websites, videos, historical artifacts, or audio recordings) to bring the trail to life. Library and/or computer lab time may be provided to help students produce new multi-media products for inclusion.
  3. The class will review the Underground Railroad map together and trace the journey from slavery to freedom.
  4. The classroom Underground Railroad map will be available on the library’s homepage and/or a classroom-created wiki to share with other members of the school community for educational use.  (Perhaps other classes could create different maps around themes that could also be shared school-wide – civil rights events during Black History Month, civil war sites, or sites related to the life and achievements of President Abraham Lincoln.)

AASL Standards Addressed:
1.1.8: Demonstrate mastery of technology tools for accessing information and pursuing inquiry.
1.1.9: Collaborate with others to broaden and deepen understanding.
2.1.6 Use the writing process, media and visual literacy, and technology skills to create products that express new understandings.

Other ideas for Google Earth in the curriculum from my classmates:

  • Check out this idea at School Library at Large for using Google Earth to learn about New York State geography and its impact on Westward Expansion.
  • Joy Edition has some interesting ideas about learning about environmental impacts related to consumer goods. 
What are some other learning activities you have seen or can think of using Google Earth or other digital mapping/geotagging applications?
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2 Responses to “Google Earth: Exploring History in 3 Dimensions”

  1. Marilyn Arnone November 6, 2011 at 12:50 am #

    Thanks for these ideas, Mary. I love the individual and collaborative components, the multimedia, and the flexibility you have built into this activity with different states focusing on their part of the route, if they choose not to do the entire route. Very creative and 5th graders will get into this!

  2. joyedition November 6, 2011 at 8:32 pm #

    I love this activity! Excellent topic. Also, Google Earth is so much better than Google Maps for getting a sense of distance, and working on it collaboratively will give students time to research and add multimedia to their pieces and still be able to learn from others in the class.

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