Monday, November 11, 2013

Tour Builder Makes It Easier Than Ever to Create Google Earth Tours

Google Earth is a great tool for students to use to explore the world. Building tours in Google Earth and Google Maps is one of my favorite activities for students to do to tell a story. It can take a while to understand all of the nuances of creating tours in Google Earth. Fortunately, Google recently introduced Tour Builder which makes it easier than ever to create tours in Google Earth.

To create a tour with Tour Builder you need to install the Google Earth Browser Plug-in and you need to have a Google Account. Once you have those two things and you're signed into Tour Builder just follow the clear Tour Builder directions to build your tour. The first step is naming your tour and adding a cover image. Next you will search for your first location then click "add to tour" to add the location to your tour. You'll then be prompted to add images, videos, and text to your placemark. Each placemark can have up to 25 images and videos. The images and videos will be displayed as a gallery rather than as a linear stack of images as is the case if you edit placemarks in Google Maps or Earth. Repeat the process of adding locations and placemarks until you finish telling your story.

Tours created through Tour Builder are private until you decide to share them. You can see my sample tour here.

Applications for Education
Tour Builder could prove to be a great tool for students to use to create geo-located book reviews, to tell stories from their own lives, or to develop geo-located research projects. One of the US History projects that I've done with Google Earth is to have students create a series of placemarks about battles of the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.

Search for Data Tables Within Google Documents and Slides

Earlier today on Google+ Google announced the addition of data tables to the research menu in Google Documents. You can search for data tables by selecting "research" from the Tools drop-down menu in Google Documents and in Google Slides. To put the data into your document or slides you will have to copy and paste it. Citing the data and inserting a link to the data requires just one click. The screenshots below show you how to access the new data tables search option.

Click the image to view full size. 
Click the image to view full size.

Applications for Education
This afternoon I had a short Google+ exchange with Peter Vogel about the new data tables option. I shared that I could use the data tables search option when teaching students about data interpretation and analysis in current events. Peter, who teaches physics, mentioned that he is developing an assignment for students in which they'll use the data tables search option too.

10 Online Activities and Resources for Geography Awareness Week

Next week is Geography Awareness Week. National Geographic Education has highlighted some of their activities for the week. I've put together a collection of other online activities to use during Geography Awareness Week. Those resources are summarized below.

Playing Geosense is a fun way to use and improve your knowledge of world geography. Players can play against the computer or challenge another player. Geosense can be played anonymously or you can register and have your scores recorded for you. There are four Geosense maps (US, World, Europe, or advanced) that players can select from. Geosense is also available as an iOS app.

Mission Map Quest, developed by Russel Tarr, is a map-based tool for creating virtual treasure hunts. The concept is simple, you create a series of clues that your students need to follow to identify places around the world. You can add as few or as many clues to your Map Quest as you like. When you're ready to have students try your Quest just give them the web address of the challenge or have them scan the QR code assigned to your Quest.

GeoGuessr is an addictive geography game that has become quite popular since its launch earlier this year. You can create your own GeoGuessr games by using GeoSettr. When you visit GeoSettr you'll see two screens. A map with a Pegman on your left and the Street View imagery for the Pegman's current location on your right. Move the Pegman around, zoom-in if you like, until you find the location that you want people to guess. When you've found the right location click "set round" to save the location. When you've set five rounds (locations) your game is assigned a URL that you can distribute. Just like any other GeoGuessr game when someone plays your GeoSettr game he or she will try to use the visual clues in the Street View imagery to guess the location. After making a guess GeoGuessr shows you the correct location and how far away from the correct location your guess was.

Overlap Maps is a free service that can be used to quickly compare the size of countries, states, provinces, and some bodies of water. To create a visual comparison of two countries select one country from the "overlap this" menu and select one country from the "onto this" menu. The comparisons you make are displayed on a map. You can make comparisons from different categories. For example, you can overlap Lake Erie onto New Hampshire.

Place Spotting is a website of geographic riddles. Place Spotting is based on the Google Earth platform. Place Spotting users can create their own geographic riddles or try to solve riddles created by others. The search feature on Place Spotting lets users search for riddles based on level of difficulty, language, region, or creation date.

Math Trail provides a nice blend of geography questions and math questions appropriate for 5th to 7th grade students. Math Trail from HeyMath! is a series of map based math trivia challenges. Math Trail offers six thematic games. Each game follows a trail of locations that students have to find by using the clues provided. If they get stumped they can click "show location" but they lose the point value for the question. When they arrive at the correction location students have to answer the multiple choice math question presented to them before moving on to the next question in the trail.

Fotopedia Reporter, available for use online and as an iPad app, lets you upload pictures and geo-locate them to create digital stories. When you use Fotopedia Reporter you create digital booklets of your images. When you upload an image you can add a description to it, center it on a map, and link to a Wikipedia entry about the place or thing featured in your picture. All stories must have at least six images plus a cover image. Fotopedia Reporter could be a fantastic tool to have your students use to create digital booklets about places that they study in a geography lesson.

Capital Toss is a free geography game from ABCya. The game has a state capitals mode and a country capitals mode. In both modes of the game works the same way. The name of a state or country appears at the bottom of the screen and three rows of capital names scroll across the top. When the correct capital name appears players virtually toss a ball at it. After ten correct answers players can choose a new ball. Three consecutive incorrect answers ends the game.

World Geography Games is a free site that features twenty-five geography games. The games are simple identification games in which students are shown the name of a country, state, city, or geographic feature and then have to click on the correct locations. Students earn points for each correct answer. World Geography Games tracks how many attempts students make at correctly answering each question.

The USGS offers free topographic maps for most of the United States. The maps can be downloaded as PDFs through the USGS store. The maps can be used in the 27 suggested topographic maps lessons found in the USGS education site. All of the lessons are rated by grade level and time required for completing the activity. In the list of lesson ideas you will find suggestions for lessons about typical geography topics like coordinates, scale, and map projections as well as lesson suggestions for less common things like analysis of stereo aerial photographs and analysis of humans and hydrography.