Last spring at the Midwest Educational Technology Conference, I attended a session in which Hall Davidson, of Discovery Educators Network, spoke about using Google Earth in the classroom. At that time I was unable to use this tool because my former district blocked Google Earth in the district. (I guess they weren’t really interested in engaging students with technology.) Because I was unable to use it, I kind of filed it away in the depths of my brain. Last week this memory was brought back to the forefront by a podcast entitled The Savvy Technologist. I don’t remember what the context was, but I seem to remember something about how the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum had created a layers file for Google Earth entitled “The Crisis in Darfur.” In one of my schools there was a student movement to assist the people in Darfur and raise awareness to the community and student population.
I remembered Hall Davidson’s session and approached one of the social studies teachers to see about an application of this kind for his class. Long story short-er, we’re going to create a layers file that he will use with his students as they study the Spanish-American War. This is new ground for me being a former English teacher, but I look forward to the challenges that present themselves as we work through the creation of this file.
In a related incident…
As I was exploring the Google Earth possibilities for Social Studies, I ran across Google Lit Trips. There are a collection of Google Earth layers files on this site that can be used as supplementary materials for English classes. Part of the English curriculum in my new district is the book Night by Elie Wiesel and on this site there just happened to be a file that traces his route as described in the book from deportation to liberation. It was a fascinating journey that was particularly meaningful to me after hearing Wiesel speak at the National Council of Teachers of English annual conference last year. After showing a few of the English teachers, Google Earth has been “discovered” by the school and is being considered for a variety of different applications. Teachers are excited about the possibilities that this program offers. I just wish I could have used it when I was in the classroom.