Friday, February 13, 2015

Expanding Horizons Through Chromebooks and Google Maps, Juan Fernandez-Saines, Pickard

To work with Google Maps, I wanted several weeks to pass by before I had my students explore the app.  In learning how to use the Chromebooks we took the process in small steps.  We previewed two short videos to introduce how the devices would function such as this video . After watching the videos a Gmail account was created for all of our 4th through 8th grade students and the basic components of Google Suite Apps were learned.  Once I determined that the students had sufficient practice  I wrote two lesson plans that would give all of our students the opportunity to use Google Maps.

During the course of the first lesson, I was amazed how students took to using the program.  The first lesson encouraged my students to explore the neighborhood around them.  They were very eager to learn how Google Maps functioned.  My students could not wait to locate their address and see a photostream of their home.  I was also surprised to see how amazed they were reacting because I had taken for granted their access to this technology.  Our students are well aware of Playstation and XBox games, but when I asked them if they knew about Google Maps they revealed to me that it was their first time ever using the program.

After the initial lesson, the second lesson required for them to find the location of two points.  One of those points had to be our school and the second would need to be a Chicago landmark.  I gave them a list of landmarks and they were required to input the addresses.  One of the fascinating aspects of Google Maps besides being a remarkable technology is that it is a great conversation starter.  To capitalize on this I asked the students to create a narrative or story about the two locations.  I asked them to be creative and described how to get to their destinations.  I also asked them to use any of the Google Apps available through Google Drive.  The two of the most popular apps chosen  for their task were Google Slides and Google Docs.

Upon the completion of their assignment I asked them to Email me their work and share their document with me.  I have created folders for every classroom and as the students send me their work I save it in these folders for easy access.  This is a better way to track the submission of work and it is timestamped. It has been very fascinating to work with the Chromebooks.  Students tend to prefer them over other devices.  We have only begun to touch the “tip of the iceberg” and we can’t wait what other projects we will be able to work on in the coming months.

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