Monday Reflections…Google Earth Project pt.2

Mar 5, 2007 by

That's All FolksToday was one of those days where I processed so much new information, browsed so many websites, and helped so many students figure out how to use Google Earth’s local search that my brain keeps playing the Looney Tunes theme in an endless loop with Porky telling everyone “That’s all folks!“.

The third graders were wonderful today, and were eager to talk about online safety. I had them gather into groups, and using what they already knew and what they picked up at Disney’s Surf Swell Island last week, they generated some decent lists of tips for staying safe while online. They were even more excited when I told them they would be using all of their tips to create posters using KidPix, which we would then post all over the school as an Internet Safety campaign. they’re loving it, and I’m eager to have them working on such a relatively easy project while I’m gone at MACUL next week.

The fourth graders were equally pumped when I took them to the Jag Mag, Mr. Mayo’s middle school student written online magazine. Each student has a “beat’ that they cover, and then blog about it using Mr. Mayo’s typepad site. When I also pointed them towards the two podcasts his kids have done they were giggling as they listened to the middle school students trying to “sound cool” in the broadcast, and yet almost every hand shot up when I asked them if they wanted to do their own podcast. Which means I need to figure out how to record 25 different podcasts using just 9 headset mics in a computer lab with 30 machines all whirring and beeping. I’m excited for the challenge.

And lastly, the first round of fifth graders made the slow transition from Kidspiration to Google Earth today. It always takes a couple of weeks (when I only see them one day each week that is) to move from thinking maps and brainstorming to actually getting started on a project for me. As the fifth graders are trying to plan a dream vacation, there are always more and more questions they can add to their thinking map. After all, the more they have, the better prepared they will be to start seeking information about their travel destination, which is a good thing in the long run, but can feel very slow right now. Most groups are now using Google Earth to pull up their location (Disney World, Cancun, London, etc.) and then use the local search to find hotels, restaurants, museums, and other points of interests. Once they’ve find the hotel or other establishment they’re looking for (which is fun because they can actually see it in Google Earth), they can usually use the link provided in the placemark to check out the location’s website. Basically it’s like using a map marked with pins for each hotel or eatery, with a brochure or menu for the businesses attached to the map. Many of the students have become quite adept at finding websites for hotels this way, and then finding out what room rates are, but many students are still struggling with actually clicking on the “local search” button at the top or remembering to see if the places have websites they can visit. Just one of those things about using a new tool; they need time. Hopefully we’ll have their information and placemarks written up about their dream vacations by the end of March so I can compile them and then post them as Google Earth files over Spring Break.

Wow, Spring Break is only 4 weeks away? On that note, I need to go get a LOT more work done.

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3 Comments

  1. Tom

    Ben,

    Sounds like lots of work, but lots of fun. I know the two tend to go hand in hand. You’re doing great stuff and with younger kids who are going to demand that experience as they grow. It’ll be interesting to see how your students start creating change as they go through the school system thanks to what you’re doing now.

    Awesome!

    Tom

  2. Ben

    Thanks for the kinds words Tom. It’s Mondays like this past one that really make me question just what I’m doing and whether I’m doing the right thing (I left out a copious amount about the struggles I faced with the third graders and saving files). I’m really excited to see what happens with these students too.

    I finished up the Word Wall Wiki project with the 4th graders, and encouraged them to go to their teachers and ask if they could work on it in their classrooms. My hope is that at least a few teachers will start using it in small ways and it will catch on. So far two of them have logged on and experimented, which is better than nothing.

  3. Tom

    I’ve had the same issues with 6th graders but I bet if they had you early on we’d have been golden.

    It’s easy in this type of position to be too hard on yourself and miss seeing the progress because it’s so easy to focus on where you feel we should be (at least this always happens to me) rather than where you’ve come from.

    I get frustrated all the time. Really. I have faith you’re doing great things and the change while not always big in the scheme of the world is often huge for the individual.

    My semi-philisophical attempt is now over,

    Tom

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