Ed Tech Tips with E. Mosier

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Using Google Maps in the Classroom


Since we've reached the point of the year where Spring Break has either come and gone or coming up, travel seems to be on everyone's mind. That could be for a Spring Break getaway or just a dream of a brief change of scenery. Regardless of our choice, we have to have a map of some sort to get us where we are headed. We all remember the days of going to Mapquest, printing out a road map with directions, and setting off on our way. However, technology has advanced greatly, and we can bring that same excitement of geography into the classroom, in a wide array of subject areas.

My Maps and Google Earth

There are some amazing tools out there to use for this kind of project. My Maps allows you to customize a map, add pins, document a trip, and even add information to each location relative to the unit of study. Additionally, Google Earth gives you that "real" feel without even having to travel to that location. However, these tips are more focused on Google Maps, as that's what is currently available in our district; My Maps and Earth are not supported.

Mapping a Distance

The simplest use of Google maps is to measure the distance between two places. Whether it is out of curiosity to determine how long of a car ride an upcoming vacation is, or how far a character traveled, this feature can be used. Another benefit of Google Maps is the ability to change from map view to satellite view, giving a unique perspective of an area.

Recreate a Route

This is an awesome visual to show your students! Imagine being able to trace the trek of a character in a novel, or see where a famous explorer traveled, the ability to add destinations is beneficial. In Maps, as you're determining distances between two points, additional points can be added which will then allow you to determine a distance traveled. This has the potential to provide your students with just enough perspective to truly determine how long a trip was.

Study Important Locations

A neat option within Google Maps is to allow students to explore different landmarks and places of importance in a selected city. If a generic city is typed, the view is broad enough for students to zoom in and explore a little more in-depth regarding tourist hot spots in that city. Then, with the satellite view, students can take a virtual trip and see a "real life" picture of a landmark directly from their desk.

Have Fun With Latitude and Longitude

Exploring locations more specifically can be a lot of fun. An idea for a project would be to give several locations using latitude and longitude and allow students to visit those places. Or, provide them with a list of these data points and ask them how each of them is related. Along with that, students could work with that data to determine exact distances or how far from the Equator or Prime Meridian a location is.

Games to Play Using Maps


This is a neat website that embeds a trivia aspect into the game. You are asked a question with a location being the answer. Then, the correct region is zoomed in on. Then, it is your job to place the pin correctly on the map without running out of miles. However many miles you are off from the correct destination is a deduction from the "bank" of miles you're given to start the game.


Similar to SmartyPins, this is a cool map game that makes students dig into specific locations a little closer. Students (or players) are dropped in a random location and it is their job to maneuver around, gather information, and then attempt to guess using a map where they have been placed. More points are awarded to proximity of the location. This is a beneficial for students, as they are able to explore terrain, signs, landmarks, and surrounding areas from where they're placed.

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