Google has always been cool. They’ve got that whole search thing working for them but what I really like are their mapping / spatial tools.
I’ve been in love with Google Earth for years. It truly is a one stop shop for social studies teachers. Multiple layers of data, GoogleLitTrips, 3D buildings, historical imagery, Tour Guides, Google Earth Gallery – just about anything we need, I’m pretty Google Earth can do it.
And StreetView. Personally I think it’s magic. Especially when they use it to buzz down into interiors of buildings and onto famous landmarks.
I recently wrote about a very cool game called Pursued that takes advantage of the StreetView option in Google Earth. There are others.
One game that just came out is called GeoGuessr – same sort of idea as Pursued. You are given access to a StreetView somewhere in the world and using contextual clues, you have to guess where you are at. You are awarded points for how close your guess is to the actual spot.
Tons of geography stuff going on in these sorts of learning activities – absolute vs. relative location, regional differences, cultural differences . . . you get the idea.
Some of the games built into Google Earth or created by others using Google Earth are focused more on fun. Like the Flight Simulator you can find buried inside Google Earth. But all of them help create a sense of place, a mental map of the world, encourage kids to enjoy geography and the questions surrounding the discipline.
You might want to check out some of the other games: Read more
Teacher evaluation is one of the hot topics this spring here in the Sunflower state. How do we best measure whether a teacher is good or not? What questions do we ask? What data do we look at?
Teacher quality is important. But I personally have issues with politicians and others not directly involved on the front lines claiming to know best when it comes to measuring teacher quality. Common sense and research suggests that kids are successful or not for lots of reasons.
And while the political mess of teacher evaluation by schools and districts will continue, I still believe that as professionals we have an obligation to reflect on a personal level about our own best practice. Constant improvement is a good thing. And I also believe that there is a lot of value in asking our kids, our customers, to be a part of that evaluation process.
We’re not talking here about formal teacher evaluations here – this is personal professional development. Asking questions about what we do and how it impacts our students.
I never really thought much about having my students complete evaluations during my first couple of years teaching. It was obvious, even to a rookie teacher, what needed to change, right? Plus, it just wasn’t done. I mean, who asks for the opinions of school children?
I would always try to spend time reflecting at the end of the year: Read more
I love EDSITEment! If you haven’t been there, you really need to head over and check it out.
Joe Phelan, an educational liasion, describes EDSITEment as:
the K-12 digital outreach program from the National Endowment for the Humanities. We are especially strong in US History, government, American and British literature as well as art and culture. Our online lesson plans are built around guided reading of primary sources which are carefully contextualized and stress critical thinking and other 21st century skills.
There are tons of lesson plans and other handy resources. One of their sweet pages highlights a variety of tools for analyzing primary sources and close reading. These links direct you to other websites and references to resources available through government, nonprofit, and commercial entities.
Close Reading Guides
Close Reading Webinars
- Google Earth.
- Landsat images.
- Change over time.
- Cool tools for instruction.
What do they all have in common?
Psst. I’ll give you a hint. They were approved last month.
That’s right! The new Kansas social studies standards and even some of the Common Core literacy pieces are asking kids to analyze change over time and to evaluate relationships between people and place. And it’s a good thing.
But are there tools floating around that I can use to help kids do that? Read more