Asking around, people had so many takeaways that it was impossible to pick a single favourite. So I’m going to share my Top Three “do-it-this-week” tools that I’ve already applied in classrooms, and you can too!
#1 Google Choropleth Maps
I actually presented on this one, but so many of our teachers have adopted it so I thought I’d share it here. Did you know you can create choropleth maps (those fancy ones where data is shaded in different colours) using Google Sheets?
- Add your data to a sheet.
- Highlight the data you want to graph.
- Click the ‘Insert’ menu and select ‘Chart’.
- In the ‘Chart Type’ drop-down, select ‘Geo Chart’.
It’s as easy as that! Have a look here at a sample version. Such a great way for students to visualise data, and more effective than bar graphs for helping students understand the big issues of population density, mortality rates, and more!
#2 A-Z of Lesser Known Googley Goodness
Quick, Draw is an experiment in machine learning and is a great way to demonstrate how computers ‘learn’. You are challenged to draw a specified object in a short time period and the machine tries to identify what you’re drawing. The input from millions of other users helps to teach the computer what lines make up standard shapes. You could use this to teach psychology, perspectives, and fine motor skills, or you could just do it yourself because it’s so much fun and a very good use of a spare period!
GeoGuessr provides you with images of a specific location and you have to try and get as close as possible to that location with your guess on a map. Think of it as an amped-up version of “pin the tail on the donkey”. I have it on reliable authority that some very clever Year Six students started trying to use reverse image searches to try and get closer to the right spot! This is a great opener for geography lessons, or an excellent time-waster when you really should be marking!
#3 360 Photos
We’ve all loved Google Streetview for some time, but the very talented Jim Sill gave a presentation on 360 photos and how to create your own! This one is so exciting. Grab your phone, and download the Streetview app. Click the camera icon and ‘follow the dots’ to complete your 360 photo. You can either share your finished image with the world or just keep it for yourself.
I wandered up to our local mountain and took some shots to share with my kids on Google Cardboard when we got home. So many possibilities for school tours, geography excursions, and more.
I took my phone and a Google Cardboard into a Year Three class and allowed the kids to explore the Palace of Versailles during a History unit; Tokyo, China and Bali during a Geography unit; and then all over the world during a wet weather lunch. I loaded Streetview on the touch TV for the bulk of the class while the Cardboard was passed around. The kids loved it and it really brought the concepts to life.
My favourite thing about Google is that all the ideas are so easy to apply in the classroom. Bite the bullet today and just pick one! You’ll be amazed at how your students respond.
Daena Scheuber is a Google Certified Trainer and currently works as eLearning Facilitator at Emmaus College, Rockhampton while also running her own arts and technology training business.
Send her a tweet @dscheuber
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