My third grade classes are learning about maps. I told the teacher I would get them on Google Maps and we would label the maps she wanted done during classroom time. Once we got into Google Maps, I found I was suddenly getting a lesson from my students. Sure, I can put in a destination and get directions to and from a place. But my students were asking me to put the little human in the map. When I tried to do it the first time, nothing happened because I didn’t put it in the right place. A student came up and gave me better directions. It was a great lesson for me but I’m not sure how much my students progressed that day.
So when I saw Thing 40: Mapping and Geography Tools, I realized, this is a great place for me to spend a few hours exploring and learning. I started in Google Maps with the little human exploring our summer destination in Thailand. Because I had read the Instructional Overview for CoolTools I knew there had to be more to Google Maps, but I couldn’t easily find how to make my own map.
I realized, I needed to click away from the directional setting, which is my default tool in Google Maps and go deeper into the menu. The menu only pops up when the directional tool is out of the way. Then you have to click on Your Places and under that menu is an option for Maps. This is where I figured out how to create a map that could be saved and shared with pictures, directions, sequential locations, etc.
I was confused initially about how to upload a file with coordinates or locations. It turns out, it’s super easy! I watched this video suggested by Cool Tools: How to Map a Spreadsheet. Then I mapped all of the places I’ve been. It couldn’t have been easier. This could easily be done in a class with a shared spreadsheet. As in the example in the video, students could get onto the shared spreadsheet, enter their location (perhaps places they’ve been, or places they’re learning about) and then the spreadsheet can be loaded into the map. Map can read a column in the spreadsheet and find all the locations as long as they’ve been spelled correctly and inputted in the correct manner.
Here is a map for our summer trip: Thailand and Vietnam. I think it would be great to use a feature like this as we travel. It would be so fun to have the map shared with family members and add photos to each location as we visit them. I can also see the benefits in the classroom as we Skype with or email people from around the world. If they mention certain places in their country, we could locate those places and if our international friends are familiar with google maps we could share a map and add locations and images to the map.
This Thing 32 was a great way for me to brush up on my Google Map skills. I wasn’t even aware of what I was missing! I have used sites like HistoryPin before. I find for myself, it is better to stick to one website that I understand and works well. Otherwise I get overwhelmed. We are a google school so Google Maps will work great. Eventually I would like to explore Google Earth and perhaps consider using GoogleLitTrips with some of my classes. Google Lit Trips seems like a more controlled way to ensure students are getting a specific type of experience while exploring maps. I’m excited to start using Google Maps in a more in-depth way with my students!