Monday, January 4, 2016

Using Google Maps in Your Classroom

When I taught 6th grade science, we had an introduction to Geology in which we studied the rockcycle, tectonic plates, and volcanoes, among other things.  One project that students always did was to log onto the USGS website and look at the location of various earthquakes around the world in a certain period of time.  Typically we had students break up into groups and have them plot the longitude and latitude on maps and see if they noticed any trends.  Once we gathered all of the data (each group had a small set of the entire data), we looked for overall trends which inevitably led to a discussion about the Ring of Fire, an area around the Pacific Plate where much of the world's earthquake and volcanic activity take place.
Google Maps

One thing that I always wanted to do with this project was to use Google Earth.  Students would still use the set of information that they had, but the would be able to interact with the output in ways that they couldn't on a black and white copy of the map of the world.  The only issue that I had was that there was no way for students to share their maps with the class, or with me, unless I gave each group my Google Earth password.

By the time that our school started it's 1-to-1 program, using Chromebooks, I had moved on to 7th grade science, and no longer taught that content, but I still think about it.  Another issue was that with Chromebooks, we would not be able to download Google Earth, but we did have access to Google Maps.  I know that you can currently share maps with other people, much like other Google Apps for Education products, but I can't remember if that was an option back then;   Whatever the case, I can see using Google Maps for all types of projects, whether the Ring of Fire in science, or creating an interactive map of Lewis & Clark's voyage, sites of ancient cultures, etc. rich with pictures, movies, and text.

Today, when I was reading Richard Byrne's blog Free Technology for Teachers, I learned about the ability to import data from a Google Sheet, or Excel spreadsheet, into Google Maps.  This could be a lot less time consuming than individually placing pins on a Google map.  You could always go back and add more details later.  Take a moment to check out Richard's post below.

Free Technology for Teachers: 5 Great Things You Can Do With Google Sheets: Spreadsheets can be intimidating to a lot of teachers and students. I have to admit that at one time working with spreadsheets was a daunt...
Show Comments: OR