Monday, July 25, 2016

Finding Your Way - Using Google Maps in the Classroom

By Arambar (Own work (sculpture and photo)) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Last month I had the privilege of presenting at the Best Practices in Social Studies Institute. I really enjoyed this opportunity to work with social studies educators from all over the state of Iowa and to learn from presenters and participants. Although I'm no longer in the classroom, I still view myself as a social studies teacher at heart, so its always nice when I get the chance to work within this subject area.

The institute offers two days of free professional development for K-12 social studies teachers. More than 220 Iowa teachers took advantage of this opportunity to further their learning around best practices in social studies instruction. I attended sessions on Teaching 21st Century Skills in Social Studies Classrooms, Student Relevance & Engagement with IPTV Digital Resources, Geography and Literacy Connections, National History Day and Primary Sources, and Population Connection: Hands-On Activities for the People and the Planet. Additionally, there was a review of the state of social studies in Iowa, including a Call to Action and a review of the process and progress of writing new social studies state standards. Closing remarks were delivered by the Iowa Secretary of State, Paul Pate.

I planned to present a session related to technology and mapping in social studies classrooms. After considering that attending teachers may fall anywhere within the K-12 range, may or may not have background with mapping technologies, and that I had a limited amount of time to present, I chose to focus on tools related to Google Maps rather than more in-depth tools like those available through Esri or their ArcGIS platform.

I feel that many educators are aware of Google Maps, but they may not recognize its educational potential. For this reason, I wanted to share some of the tools within and/or powered by Google Maps and ways to effectively integrate these tools into instruction. I spent much of my presentation demonstrating the capabilities and uses of these mapping tools, but I also created the slides below partly to guide my presentation, but also as a reference for teachers to refer to later.


I had to adjust some of my plans and ended up doing more demonstration and less participant use of tools due to spotty Wifi access, but I still felt that my session went very well. Participants were engaged in the content and most seemed to learn something they could apply to their instructional practices.

I was impressed with my experience at the Best Practices in Social Studies Institute. There were a number of valuable sessions and it is always good to get a chance to collaborate with other teachers. I hope to attend this event again in the future and I would encourage social studies educators in the state of Iowa to take advantage of this free learning opportunity.


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