When one thinks of incorporating Google Maps into their curriculum, the first thought is Social Studies. While that’s quite natural, I have incorporated Maps into most subjects. My latest brainstorm came when I was teaching adding and subtracting fractions. Yup, you read that right, I have students adding and subtracting fractions using Google Maps.
One simple option is to plot a point and place a real-world problem in the description box. Good start, but what if the students used distances to find the sum or difference?
I created this map of our town and included lines (using the draw line tool) to various locations in our town. This is where it got #eduawesome! The distance (which is displayed once the line is chosen) is shown in decimals! This means they have to convert the decimal to a fraction or mixed number, find the common denominator, and THEN add or subtract! And just to make life a bit more fun, I wasn’t too precise on all my lines. This means they also had to ROUND to the nearest hundredth and in some cases simplify!
Find the difference between Route A and Route B.
Route A – From school to a local Mobile Home Park (0.753 mi)
Route B – Keefer’s Inn to the high school (0.599 mi)
In this case, Route A was rounded to the nearest hundredth (0.75) while Route B was rounded to the nearest tenth (0.6). Then students had to convert this to a fraction and simplify. Route A = 75/100 = 3/4. Route B = 6/10 = 3/5.
Finally, the students were tasked with finding the difference. There were a lot of steps in there, but it was so much more fun than writing out and solving problems in the workbook. This was more in depth than any workbook I’ve seen, more fun, easy to create, and used a variety of acquired skills. I will be doing more things like this in the future.
A few years ago I was looking for something new to do with state reports so I had students do them using Google Maps. Part of my desire to do something different came from frustration. I had been doing state reports near the end of the year. And that means NO ONE really wants to do them and I don’t want to read them – for the sheer fact that the quality isn’t there (end of the year, in 5th grade, last grade in our elementary school…see my point).
However, when I changed the format to maps, the engagement and quality significantly improved. Students entered in the morning ASKING to do the ‘reports’. In the end, it was much more enjoyable for everyone! They still had to do the research and write a quality report.
State Report on Maps Directions.
Here’s a student example:
NOTE: While ‘Sate Reports’ are a tradition in 5th grade, it is not actually a standard. The standard, in California, states:
5.9 Students know the location of the current 50 states and the names of their capitals
This standard can be met by participating in Mystery Skypes/Hangouts and various other engaging activities. Just because we’ve always done something doesn’t mean we have to continue doing it.
Recently I was doing a project and wanted the 13 original colonies map, but didn’t want to outline each state. Instead, I downloaded the .KMZ file of all 50 states (Map found here) and deleted all but the original 13. I had to do some modifications, but that was so much easier than recreating it all from scratch. And it was so easy to export the file then import it into my map.
Want to know how your maps look when others open it? What other options do your viewers have?
Directions are one of those ‘nerdy’ features that make me happy. I haven’t used it in the classroom, yet. In the meantime, here’s how to use it. How can you incorporate this into the classroom?
I like the ability to customize the look of the map. My personal favorite is ‘satellite’. However, depending on your needs, a lighter or darker map is just the ticket!
Importing data into a Google My Map only takes a few clicks and a CSV, TSV, KML, KMZ, GPX, or XLSX file. This is especially handy in the classroom for research and tracking data.