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Open Weekend GE Course Reflections

User Chart

The Google Earth: Educator Perspectives course went very well. It seemed appropriate having participants from across the globe join in this open weekend at KnowSchool. I have posted a chart with the country representations of the participants. It was great seeing educators from K12 and Higher Education educators sharing their ideas, exploring, and learning together. I hope to get involved a little more in facilitating events like this one. I found that I gained a more global perspective and new ideas through the discussion boards, and collaborative sharing.

It really is too bad that the content that has been created in KnowSchool open weekend course does not become CC licensed and available to all, instead of just the participants. There were so many great lesson ideas, lesson plans and new directions that would benefit all of us.

PD courses in school districts can be a very closed time/space sphere for educators to work in, it would be nice to see organizations open up those courses for those who miss the course and break some of the typical boundaries that we see reflected in out educational institutions. Perhaps we just need to agree when we participate in a course like this that we can share what we co-create.

I opened up the open weekend with this presentation that I remixed from Alan Parkinson SAGT presentation opening. Perhaps a little teaser for you to look at Google Earth again if you haven’t done so already (Be sure to look to look at the often missed new Featured Content layer – the Rumsey Historical Maps, as well as the other content is awesome).

Remember – The Google Earth Education Program offers schools and districts a free subscription to Google Earth Pro ($400 annually). Prospective schools and districts are encouraged to contact Dennis Reinhardt, Google Earth Education Director, at

Google Earth: Educator Perspectives

The Google Earth for Educators course I am facilitating at KnowSchools is starting today and ends on Sunday evening. I hope that you will come by and join in the global conversation.

In the “Course Agenda” I included a Flash presentation that I created online using Toufee. It was a little tedious to work in the online environment rather than Flash, but I could really see how easy it would be for those who don’t own any Flash tools to create nifty presentations and widgets in Flash. I have included the Toufee presentation below:

Curriculum Ideas: Google Earth (3)

Latitude and Longitude Game (Ontario – Grade 6)

Ontario Curriculum Expectations:
Social Studies: 6z46

Google Earth
Computer Projector

Students are given latitude and longitude of a major city and are asked to find it using Google Earth, in order to gain a better perspective of latitude and longitude.

1. Teacher pre-selects a diverse range of cities from across the globe and collects latitude and longitude information through placemarks. (You might try this set of network links to get you started)

2. Students are grouped in teams and asked to go into full screen mode in Google Earth by selecting F11 and turn on the Lat/Lon grid by selecting Ctrl+L.

3. Teacher displays the placemark of a major city at approximately 60 mi eye altitude in full screen mode, without giving away the city name.

4. The groups always start in the default view of Google Earth and race to find the location of the city by using the latitude and longitude measurements, and then zoom out to try and identify the name of the city.

Reflective discussion should occur around what directions they moved the globe in Google Earth in order to find a particular latitude and longitude. Through discussions and synthesis you should be able to come up with a few rules with your students regarding the hemispheres relationship to latitude and longitude.


This game could be used as an introductory activity.

Similar Examples:

Latitude with Attitude Game

Curriculum Ideas: Google Earth (2)

Three-Dimensional Structures (Ontario – Grade 6)

Ontario Curriculum Expectations:

Mathematics: 6m44, 6m50, 6m51


  1. Google Earth
  2. Google SketchUp
  3. Google SketchUp 3D Warehouse


Students build three-dimensional models of famous buildings using different views of that building (i.e., top, side, front).


1. Teacher pre-selects a diverse variety of famous 3-d structures from the Google SketchUp 3D Warehouse, based on simplistic designs and makes a list available to students.

2. Students work in groups on their favourite or most interesting structure to gather visual research on what the building looks like. They might examine different images that they have found online or in books, and the views available in Google Earth. Students try to identify different faces of the buildings and perspectives.

3. Students then break done the pictures into the basic three-dimensional shapes of the images and do a rough sketch of what the building might look like.

4. Students work independently to create the outline of the 3-dimensional building by replicating the different views of the building. They might even create other buildings based on the visual research done by other groups of students.

5. The resulting three-dimensional building is placed into Google Earth where the actual building exists.

6. A teacher guided discussion on the faces and the actual three-dimensional buildings would complete the main part of the activity.

7. Students could then take a look at the same three-dimensional buildings that other people have created in the Google SketchUp Warehouse to enhance the closing discussion.


This activity could be used as assessment activity or a final project for the Geometry and Spatial Sense strand.

Similar Examples:

Maths in Las Vegas (Asks students to identify 3-d shapes from buildings)

Curriculum Ideas: Google Earth

A quick idea around Using Google Earth:

North American Explorers (Ontario – Grade 6)

Ontario Curriculum Expectations:
6z7, 6z16, 6z17


  1. Google Earth
  2. Online Research and Information Literacy Skills
  3. Wiki or Collaborative Document(optional)

Students create presentations of the routes that Viking, French and English explorers had taken to North America and explain the reason for their journeys.


1. Divide the class into groups around one of either a Viking, French or English explorer that has been selected.

2. Students collaborate bringing together the online research that they gather using a wiki. This includes information, images, videos or files that support the students' point-of-view. Teacher looks at appropriateness of the data, ensures correct referencing and information acuity before moving on to next stage.

3. Students synthesize the information into specific locations in order to include them into placemarks.

4. Students transfer the data into location placemarks, which develop tours within Google Earth. Placemark locations should relate specifically to the information that is contained in the placemark.

5. Groups present their tours to the class or record in order to share with a wider audience for feedback.


This activity could be used as an introductory knowledge building activity or something assessed through a rubric.


Explorer Movies in Google Earth

Interesting Spot In Northern Canada Found Through Google Earth

Tim has kept me busy with all the awesome breadcrumbs he has been leaving around Google Earth and Google Maps. I used the multi-placemark batch encoder to create placemarks for all the schools in the TCDSB, and that was easy

On another note, I was curious about an area that in Northern Canada on Google Earth that I thought was odd located at lat=66.4160464337, lon=-73.2254883091. It is an area of the Foxe Basin where the water is a light blue color and there are what looks like perfect circles in the land mass nearby. (and they are not alien crop circles)

With Google Earth a student could ask me such a question, what does an educator do? To find out the answer I went to the Natural Resources Canada web site where they have an Ask-A-Geologist section. I submitted the question with a few screen captures of what I was seeing. I was really impressed with the detail and quality of the responses I received from Natural Resources Canada.

If you are interested in the responses you are going to have to download and open this Google Earth file to read the placemarks.

Google Earth Addiction

I had some fun looking at the K-8 Ontario Curriculum and mapping the expectations back to ideas around using Google Earth. I realized that Google Earth is to Social Studies/Geography what calculators are to Mathematics. It helps students to gain insight and delve deeper into physical geography. There is so much potential across the curriculum subjects as well.

I wonder if there is Google Earth anonymous group for teachers that I can join because it is so addictive. I have been taking tours and siteseeing from the Nile to the Antarctic and back again. I have been adding awesome overlays that I have found in the Google Earth Community including weather, cloud cover, and even other planets.  Google Earth is like a pocketknife for the classroom teacher.

A couple of good starting points for educators:

Digital Geography


Google Maps – Now Google Earth

If you have enjoyed using Google Maps in your classroom, take a look at Google Earth. You might have seen Google Earth in some of CNN’s coverage of hurricane Katrina, after there Blog Report.

Google Earth “Google Earth puts a planet’s worth of imagery and other geographic information right on your desktop. View exotic locales like Maui and Paris as well as points of interest such as local restaurants, hospitals, schools, and more.� There are also some optional upgrades to the software available at a cost.

Download the free version at:

A Few Classroom Ideas and Resources for Google Earth:

The Killer App For Geography Teachers
Layers That Add To Classroom Discussions
Google Sightseeing

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