Google Maps and More

Posted on October 12, 2009

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I just discovered two awesome tools, and my mind is reeling with possibilities for my students.

Google Maps allows anyone to create a customized map with placemarkers that, when clicked, launch a pop-up box complete with text, links, images, even videos.  Think of all the novels or short stories where setting is prominent, especially novels that have multiple settings. Students could map the events in a novel. Last year my students researched texting: wouldn’t it have been awesome for them share their research by plotting texting incidences reported. What a way to share their research! Basically, Google Maps allows students to create Lit Trips, like many have created using Google Earth, in a quick and easy fashion, without having to download any software as you have to with Google Earth.

The other tool, UMapper, allows you to upload any image and add placemarkers just like you do in Google Maps. This is even better than annotating a Flickr image, because you can embed the interactive image on web pages, like students’ blogs and class wikis. This week, I’ll be having my students reflect on what they’ve learned the first nine weeks of school. They’ll first create an image–either by arranging items and snapping a photo or hand-drawing an illustration and snapping a photo. They’ll then upload the image and annotate it. The objects in the image will symbolize their learning. The placemarkers will allow them to add text to explain what they’ve learned and even include images and links to content they’ve created and published online. I’m thinking this strategy would make an awesome first page of a portfolio–a completely visual navigation throughout their portfolios. Very cool. I’m also considering having students share summaries or reviews of the books they’ve read independently. They could snap a photo of the images or create an image by gathering book jacket images from Amazon.  They can then annotate the book covers, sharing a summary or book review and embed the image in a blog post. I created the annotated image below just for fun. Click on the white placemarkers to see my annotations. If you can’t see it, you can see it here.

Both these tools are free and simple to use. To learn more, check out this blog post I’ve published on our Classrooms 21 District blog.

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