Google Earth Lessons Blog

An Educational Resource for Teachers

Playing Catch up…

Filed under: General — GELessons Blog Admin at 12:37 pm on Saturday, November 3, 2007

What a busy couple of weeks!

First of all, my apologies to M. D. Harrison who uploaded a great lesson plan called ‘Boom Town’ this past week. The lesson is now available to all! Sorry for the delay. I really like this one for several reasons. First is the catchy title, a good title makes for a great anticipatory set up for our ‘too much TV’ kids. Secondly, is the lesson’s focus. To quote: “This lesson has students go through a simulation to learn about value, abundance, and scarcity and asks them to consider the things that they would be willing to work very hard for.” All as they study geography, natural resources and history! The third thing I like about it is that it uses Google Earth in a way that I think most teachers are likely to use it, as a supplement and display/presentation tool. Curricular demands are so stringent today that taking content/class time to teach advanced concepts on how to use software tools such as Google Earth is not feasible for most classrooms. So, a BIG thanks to Ms. Harrison for the great lesson!

In other news, I spent way too much time on creating a far too complicated Nifty Tricks tutorial about the new PhotoOverlay Creator software which was released a couple weeks ago, only to find out that a critical aspect of the tutorial didn’t work. I managed to solve the problem, but with limitations. The software itself is great, free, runs on all platforms and is VERY easy to use ! It is when I went to create .kmz files to contain the PhotoOverlays that things got messed up. You can read the tutorial if you want, but you are probably better off just playing with it yourself.

If you don’t know what a PhotoOverlay is, in the latest version of Google Earth you can insert pictures that are ‘zoomable’. It is really cool and kids eat it up! If you look under Layers for the Gigapan and GigaPixl you can get an idea of how far you can go with the technology. From a lesson standpoint, there are a hundred ways to integrate the new capability into lessons. Some ideas include:

  • Compare and Contrast – What is different about the people, architecture, landscape in the picture compared to here, another picture of a different place.
  • Prediction – What do you think is about to happen to the man in the red hat? Where is the lady with the bags going?
  • Identify – Find three signs of past glaciation. Where would you most likely see a frog? Identify two places where the city has worked to control traffic flow. How many habitats can you find?
  • Story Starters – Imagine you are a cat sitting in the window of the white house. What could you tell about the people passing by? What changes might you have seen if the picture was taken 10 years ago?
  • Analysis – How might the rocks have gotten positioned in that manner? Why are the saplings under the tree instead of in the field?
  • Student Created Content – Place the overlay in the appropriate geographic location. Place the landforms in an area where you would most likely find them.
  • Use GIMP/PhotoShop/Graphics program to annotate an image for student use with arrows and captions, and such.

The thing is, if you just have nice pictures, you don’t need to use special software, you can just go under the ‘Add’ menu in Google Earth to ‘Photo’ and boom you have a great PhotoOverlay. The part I messed up in recognizing is that most teachers would need instructions on creating immersive panoramas, not on how to use them. Duh! To that end I can suggest a program called AutoPano Pro which, unfortunately, runs about $100, but is amazing in its capabilities.

Want to see something cool I thought of this morning (Windows Only, unfortunately!)? How about putting documents in balloon windows? Here is a placemark sample. Pretty neat, eh? This was accomplished thanks to ‘Flash Paper’ ($79) from Adobe. It used to be that the Flash Paper software was included with Camtasia Studio which is how I got it. Anyway, just an idea.

More as time permits!

David

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