I thought I would re-post my first effort, revolving around Google Earth, because I realize I still really believe in this tool. Nothing created for the iPad yet reaches its potential for using geography as a teaching and language visualization context. I may do a Google Earth and Sketchup month sometime and elaborate on this, but for now here's the post, and if you are interested, check out my guide to Google Earth, a document I compiled for a few workshops I have taught on the tool.
For my inaugural post, I want to highlight Google Earth as a great technology resource for students with language impairments. Google Earth provides a very visual and interactive interface for students to explore regions they are learning about in the classroom. Not only for social studies and geography, Google Earth can be used to illuminate integral literary settings such as Copenhagen in Number the Stars. A Google Earth tour consists of a series of "placemarks," pre-marked geographic viewpoints seen from a particular point of view. Placemarks can also contain descriptions of the location and their significance. In my experience, Google Earth is hugely motivating for students and can provide a great visual review of abstract concepts and language-based curriculum they are at risk to miss in the classroom setting. They especially love the zooming and 3D-Buildings aspects of Google Earth, which can be emphasized in a tour. I created United States regional tours based on my students' social studies series. Social Studies Alive: Regions of our Country. Each tour gives a visual representation of the landmarks highlighted in the text. I was really excited to have it be adopted district-wide; you can download them and view them in Google Earth (after you install the program). Don't miss the many "blue square" photos of the locations that provide further visual review, located in the "Panoramio" moderated layer under Geographic Web. Link to download GE regional tours
- Using the GE tours would provide students with a visual context to review and describe curriculum content.
- Landmarks are categorized by region and would lend themselves to being reviewed in conjunction with listing or describing graphic organizers (such as those contained in MindWing's Thememaker).
- Review of placemark text can provide a context for listening and comprehension strategies (visualization, connection, questioning, etc) and response to wh-questions.