Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Geography Lessons Minus the Boring Text Books!

Recently I had an idea to make geography more interesting by using Google Tour Builder. With this tour builder the children are able to plot places on the map, zoom in close to see the street view or zoom out for a global perspective. They can add photos and videos to each location along with their own written description. It's easy to add links to relevant websites to each place. You can use your own photographs and videos or those found on the web.

I can see this being used in many different ways in geography and the beauty of it is that the children can share their work with their friends or even their home-school inspectors. There's no boring text books to read, the children can easily type in their text avoiding the dreaded pen and paper and it's all presented on the computer in a medium they enjoy.

This term we are going to be studying World news and events.We will add news items to our map each week after watching "Behind the News" on ABC. We have started with the austerity measures in Greece. The children located Athens and pinned photos and videos of the riots to the location. They added some images of Euro coins and notes and wrote in their own words what is happening in the country. Next they "flew" to Mt Raung in Java where the volcano is currently spewing ash into the sky. They enjoyed looking around the crater at ground level and adding images and videos of the eruption. Flying on once more we came to the Lords Cricket Ground in England for the Ashes match. We'll add more items to our tour as the weeks go by before sharing it.

If you wanted to study a particular country you could pin items to the map from your research, photographs, your own drawings, graphs, films and websites. If your topic was local studies it would be fun to add photographs that you yourself had taken to the map, perhaps with images from local news papers. If you really really wanted to you could put in some information from your boring old textbook!

You could scan in postcards and letters you receive from around the world and add them to their departure points. You could look at food labels and plot the locations where items were grown or manufactured, perhaps even following a raw material on its journey from harvesting or mining through to the end product in your local shop. You could add photographs of family and friends places of birth or plot the route for a family trip. I'm sure there is much more you could do that I haven't even thought of.

You'll need to have the Google Earth plug-in to get the full experience of zooming from place to place. Get it here.

You'll also need a Google account so you can save your tours

Beware, Chrome does not work properly with the tour builder site, you'll have to go back to rubbishy Internet Explorer. It will ask you if you want to allow the plug in to run. Say yes!

To get an idea of the things you can do in the tour builder check out the gallery on the Google Tour Builder website for some professional tours that have already been made. Don't forget use Internet Explorer for the "fly around" experience.

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