The Geographer’s Toolbox: Google Earth
This lesson came towards the end of our geography unit. After exploring various methods geographers describe and interpret the world, we applied these skills and concepts to several real-world map reading activities. This final integrated map-reading activity asked students to learn how geographers use Google Earth. We watched several tutorials. Students were tasked to explore the tools and layers for themselves. Each student reported back to whole group, and we crowd-sourced an understanding of these functions and their potential usefulness.
We then turned our focus to the Global Awareness layer. Various groups have used the Google Earth platform to spread awareness about a global issue. We viewed a model from a Cambodian NGO. This group sourced malaria infection data from SMS messages, and created a map representing malarial infection data patterns. Students explored Global Awareness layer, and reported on various maps. Finally, students envisioned a global issue that could use a map representation to help efforts.
Summative Assessment: Geography Petcha Kutcha
Our team has struggled to find a summative assessment for our Geography unit. This unit places heavy emphasis on skills, and traditionally has be assessed solely through map-reading quizzes. While these assessments showed clear demonstration of a student’s skill base, I wanted to add a critical thinking component to examine all the applied thinking progress students had made. I decided to turn the essential question of the unit (How do geographers describe and interpret the world?) over to the students, and have them work in teams of five to answer the question. The twist was that students would use a presentation medium called Petcha-Kutcha. Students have exactly twenty slides, and twenty seconds per slide, to express their thinking.
I worked with the students on strategies for collaboration (done through Google Presentation), and went through a lesson on attributing images. I also weaved in a brief lesson on the Zen Presentation style.
Overall, I was impressed by their ability to answer the question. Next time, I would give more explicit modeling in synthesis of ideas. While the students had excellent specifics, they had a difficult time tying diffuse information into one conclusion.
Student Work: Group 2 and Group 3