Thursday, March 22, 2012

Google Earth in Grade 1

As part of the grade 1 Social curriculum we learn about our community. We started with our home, our school,  our community and moved out to our city and our province. Google Earth was the tool I chose to help the students understand how they fit at each level of community. Their first experience with Google Earth was viewing it on the SMART Board as I searched for my house and then our school. My students were amazed by the picture of the planet Earth. As we zoomed in they saw North America, Canada, Alberta, Edmonton, our community and then our school. They were so excited! Then the questions started. "Can I look for my house?" "When can I try it?" "Can we go to the lab and go on Google Earth?". I started thinking of ways they could use Google Earth to search for places that were meaningful for them and to their learning.

First they needed the skills to navigate their way around Google Earth such as how to search, zoom in and out and street view. As part of our calendar time we opened up Google Earth and searched for a place the star student was interested in, by this time we were approaching Christmas so the North Pole was a popular choice. We then looked at the symbols and clicked on them to learn what they meant, which was another connection to mapping in Social Studies. We also went into Santa Tracker where one of the activities was connected to Google Maps and the students were engaged in zooming in and out of the different countries and looking at the buildings and people. The last day of school before Christmas in the computer lab my grade 1's were having conversations about how what they saw was different than their own community. Wow!

Once I saw most students were able to navigate around Google Earth independently I placed pins for two communities, Lac Labiche and Beaumont, which are both discussed as part of our Social curriculum. Their task was to look at each community and compare similarities and differences to complete a Venn diagram using pictures or words to demonstrate what they noticed.

This tool was so engaging for all the students I will be trying to integrate it into other units and subjects.