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WebMentors Teacher Helpline: NYC Helpline: How To: Incorporate Technology in the Classroom

Using Google Maps to Publish Student Poetry
Deirdre Faughey Davison

Google Maps is a wonderful, user-friendly application that allows you to bring maps into the classroom in an exciting new way. It allows you to create personal maps; identify important locations; upload notes, links, photos and video; and see the world from above, by map, by satellite, or by terrain. Each map you create is linked to your Google account, so it can be private or published as you see fit. Teachers can use this application in many exciting ways.

I used a Google Map in my ninth grade English classroom, to publish the poetry of my incoming students who did not yet know each other. Since my students travelled from all over Queens, NY to come to our school, I was looking for an activity that would allow them to get to know each other, and prepare them to use technology in the classroom. This assignment accomplished both.

After a review of sensory details, I asked the students to write short poems that incorporated at least three details using sight, sound, touch, smell, or taste. The students then typed these on the classroom laptops and I saved the poems all onto my hard drive. I posted each poem on the Google Map near the location that the student wrote about (no exact addresses or full names were used, in order to keep the map a safe, private environment). The result was a beautiful satellite image of the NYC area peppered with blue dots, each of which indicated a student’s poem. Viewers could easily scroll the mouse over the dot to read the poem.

I followed up this online publishing experience by having each student leave a comment on my classroom blog about one of the poems they read on the map. By doing this, the students were encouraged to participate further in the publishing experience. They were active readers and fully participating members of the class, although in an alternative way (which for the quieter students was a welcome change).

An inspired teacher might use this application elsewhere in the English classroom, to track the movements of a character in a book (I considered this for a project on The Odyssey), to identify significant locations in literary history, or in the Social Studies classroom in the study of geography, politics, or history. A science teacher might even be able to use this application for the study of biology, botany, or earth science. I hope to use this application again and in new ways in the future.

Do you have a question about this article? E-mail Deirdre Faughey Davison

 

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