Interactive Whiteboards in Australia

News, ideas and discussion about interactive whiteboards in education

Getting more out of Google Earth

Posted by rosiemacalpine on December 3, 2008

Admit it. When you first got your new IWB, was Google Earth one of the things you explored?

There’s nothing quite like spinning a massive globe on your whiteboard. I used Google Earth to look at satellite images of my city, explore maps, and take my class on a 3D tour of the Grand Canyon. But after that, I wasn’t sure what else I could do with Google Earth and eventually forgot about it.

My interest in using it in the classroom has been re-ignited by the following blogs: Google Earth Blog (not surprisingly, Digital Geography, and Ollie Bray, a Scottish geography teacher.

Google Earth has some amazing functions to explore on your IWB. To be honest, some of the content on these blogs is over my head (due to my lack of geography knowledge). But I’ve been picking up on interesting ideas which I’ll share here.

Firstly, it’s worth updating your copy of Google Earth as there have been lots of improvements. To do this, go to the Help menu> Check for updates online.


Here’s three quick easy things to do with the top menu bar of Google Earth in your classroom:


1. Sunlight view. Click this button to see what part of the world is in darkness at the moment. Then spin the globe or drag the time bar in the right hand corner to watch it change.


2. Sky mode. Click on this button to see constellations in Google.


3. Google Ruler. Find the part of the world you want to measure then click on the ruler. Choose the path option. Click on the start of your path, then click the globe every time you want to change direction. Google ruler displays the length of your path on the screen. Ideas for measuring in the primary classroom include:

  • My walk to school
  • Driving into the city
  • Popular local walks
  • Perimeter of the school

I would always use prediction first if doing these as a whole class activity. Children could write their predictions, or put their hand up to separate the class into groups [“Who thinks the perimeter of the football field is less than 400m? More than 400m?”]



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