Bev's adventures in ICT

Posts tagged ‘Google Earth’

Let me take you on a Journey

By now, most of you should know that I’m a huge fan of Google Maps and Google Earth and I’ve had some fun using them over the last few weeks in a number of different ways. Most of my activities have been focussing on the use of Google Earth as a research tool and I’m finding that it doesn’t matter how old you pupils are – there is something for everyone.

What I particularly like about Google Earth is the way you can use the different layers within it to find information. There are lots of really interesting ideas that develop just from choosing the correct layers. For an animal topic linked to endangered species the Arkive layer is a fantastic way to find information and discover an animal’s natural habitat. There are lots of videos and pictures available for pupils to watch while still accessing Google Earth. Yes – they could just go directly to the Arkive website; but using it via Google Earth often seems to give it more of a wow factor, especially among younger pupils. You could also ask some pupils to use some of the other layers linked to animal welfare (like WWF) to then compare the information within your plenary.

Some of the layers just do one simple thing that leaves and instant impression. Try using the 3D Buildings layer when finding out about famous landmarks – it really does have  an impact and pupils are quite often astonished by how tall some things are! The ocean layer not only has a wealth of great pictures and information – it can help you track down shipwrecks: perfect for inspiring a bit of creative writing. There’s also the weather, historical imagery , space exploration (especially fun for the boys)  – the list goes on!

My favourite layer to use with pupils (if there is such a thing ) is the 360 cities layer. These allow you to ‘enter’ an image and have a look around. This might sound a bit simple but it’s amazing the reaction you can get from pupils when they realise they can ‘look around’ somewhere they have never been rather than watch a video or look at still photographic images. These ‘virtual tours’ can also give them a sense of scale. When looking at the Pyramids of Giza in 3d view you can appreciate how huge they are and how much smaller the Sphinx is by comparison. But when you can see ,via a 360 image, how small a person appears standing next to the Sphinx it hits you on a whole new level.

Of course, you need to make sure you don’t have the children using too many layers at a time: pick and choose the ones you need. It’s far better to be selective and have the ability to add more if necessary than be faced with a plethora of icons  that have nothing to do with whatever it is you’re trying to achieve. See what’s available, decide how you might best use it and then let the children loose – ou might be surprised how much they find out!

Where in the World?

You’ll all be pleased to hear that I’m slightly less stressed than the last time I posted. The time has come to get back to some serious blogging so I’m going to let you know about the fun you can have creating multimedia branching PowerPoint presentations that include hyperlinks, hot spots, triggers, movies, narration and all the usual things you’d like to see. Light on text but full of information – the PowerPoints are designed to be structured,  informative and interactive. I could go into more detail here but I’ve mentioned this sort of thing previously and Simon Haughton has posted some great info on branching PowerPoints on his blog if you need to find out more.

Now I fully realise that most of you are thinking ‘so what?’ as Microsoft PowerPoint is something we routinely cover and there are lots of other great presentation tools we can use.  The thing is that Prezi and Animoto are not used at many secondary schools and children are  expected to have a good understanding of PowerPoint when they get there. This means that, come transition time, a lot of the focus is on using ICT tools and applications that they’ll be using come Year 7. So, what can be done to make the sessions a little bit more exciting? Out of the options available to I think many topics, historical or geographical, work well combined with Google Earth.

When using Google Earth as a research tool it helps to use the ‘Global Awareness’ layer to investigate websites and organisations with links in this area. Pupils can click on various links and assess the information. They could choose to hyperlink to what they find, discard it or take a screen shot to include in their presentation. Some of the global awareness sites, links and pop ups are familiar to the most people and some might be totally new.  They important thing here is that the pupils can assess and choose the ones they think would be most useful to include.

This is a really enjoyable way to use Google Earth, but students can also use a range of internet databases and internet based ideas to enhance their work.  Tag Galaxy or Search Cube are great to find images or additional content. You could use a range on search engines and compared results before adding content. It’s just a great extension of internet research skills.

Time for Fairtrade

It’s Fairtrade Fornight again (22nd February – 7th March)  and for some of us that means finding activities and ideas to use in the classroom. So I thought I’d share a few ideas with you that might be useful as a starting point.  Some of them you might have come across before and some are ideas I’ve created to use in school but hopefully there’s something for all.

I’m sure many of you have come across the CAFOD website and it’s excellent resource section. Well there are some fantastic downloads and ideas to use during Fairtrade Fortnight included in both the primary and secondary sections. I particularly liked the look of the Banana split activity listed on the secondary resources page but also suitable for UKS2 too. And there are lots of other useful websites you might like to look at. The Fair Trade Resource Network also offers a range of teaching resources and if you want something more visual, or feel like creating some multimodal PowerPoints there are plenty of useful clips available online.

One activity I thought of was to create a Publisher cook book using a suitably themed template and this website. I have to say some people might be disgusted by some of the recipes but pupils can ones they liked, looking for suitable images to accompany them etc. If you don’t want to produce a cook book why not use this themed publisher paper to get you started on a poster or something similar?

You could create a survey about the use of Fairtrade products and use the data collected in Maths sessions to link into data handling.   Younger pupils can also have fun with Fairtrade: get them to produce posters or leaflets on Fairtrade produce using 2Publish+ or look at some of the nice activities on Oxfam’s Cool Planet and Dubble that could be used to tie in with Fairtrade. I’ve also put together a Healthy Eating Challenge Pack which has a number of PowerPoint Templates that may come in handy (one of the activities is also Fairtrade based and you could adapt the others if you wanted to) for pupils in KS2. Another idea would be to use Google Earth, to follow a banana’s journey, or to create some informative multimedia work with Prezi, PhotoStory, Animoto and PhotoPeach. I’m sure you can think of some other fun ideas too (please share them here if you’ve found or created anything fabulous!!!).

Animal Magic

There are some topics that just always crop up in one way or another and animal topics always seem to be popular. It’s a wonderful area of discovery  as there are so many things you can link in – jungle, minibeasts, woodland creatures, polar animals, dinosaurs…the list goes on. Luckily there are a huge number of free resources on the web to help support this topic – here’s a few you might find useful.

it’s worth investigating the fantastic Be Your Wild Self website . The website allows pupils to create and image of themselves and then add animal features. A pair of wings. a lion’s mane…there are a huge number of choices and you can even add a background to. When you’ve finished your creature the website provides a print out which gives your creature a name (made up of bits of all the chosen animals – see above) and the printout will also provide you with facts about each of the animals you’ve chosen. You could use this in  conjunction with work on ‘The Gruffalo’ –  simply get pupils creating their own monsters and printing them off for display. The website could be equally successfully with older pupils. Try linking it to ‘Not Now, Bernard’: pupils can capture screen shots of  finished creatures, paste them into a PowerPoint template and use descriptive language to describe them. I’m sure you can think of more uses for this amazing resource so go and check it out!

You’ll also find a number of ideas linked to animal topics on the wonderful free tes iboard site. In fact there are all sorts of animal ideas (minibeasts, farm animals etc.) that are sorted into subject categories (and colour coded suggested target age groups). Covering angles and distance? Also in the middle of an animal topic? The tes iboard has an activity for that (Catching Flies Chameleon). Covering Insects in class? Like to sort some using a branching database? Again tes iboard has an activity for that. In fact it’s a seemingly overflowing pot of ideas. And it’s going to add KS2 activities soon (although many existing activities would be suitable for Y3/4 and pupils with SEN). I can hardly wait!

Younger children, and those with SEN, also have access to a fabulous number of accessible and simple activities linked to this topic. HelpKidzLearn (shown above) contains a number of basic, clearly designed (and switch accessible) activities and the bugs section on Poisson Rouge has some nice easy activities that I have used successfully with playgroup age pupils and those with co-ordination difficulties (the activity where pupils click on the yellow bugs to make a picture is great for developing mouse control and encouraging pupils to scan the screen fully). And, when thinking of little ones. let’s not overlook the absolutely jam-packed CBeebies site ( I really like the Tinga Tinga section) as well as the well used (and for good reason) ICT Games (loads of great creature themed activities) and Kent ICT Games . I’ve had pupils using the BeeBot shell designer to create BeeBot shells of almost any creature you could mention (and there’s plenty of other good stuff too). And, before I forget, while we’re talking about the Kent ICT site check out their fantastic child friendly, themed search tools ! Fabulous stuff 🙂

There are also plenty of ‘creature feature’ websites that could be useful in KS2. The ever excellent BBC Science and Nature section is great and I recently saw a group of pupils using the WWF Climate Trackers website to research endangered species quite successfully. To my mind, however, a truly excellent selection of resources and information can be found on ARKive. Stunning images and videos are all part of this fabulous resource and it’s even got an area where pupils can use it in tandem with Google Earth. You might also like to check out the education section as I’m fairly sure you’ll find something of interest there.

So there you have it. A selection of creature themed resources across a number of age groups. If you still cannot find what you need and you’re handy with ICT why not create some resources of your own? Be inventive with triggers in PowerPoint or create some cool multimodals. If you’ve got 2Do it Yourself you could create some activities (Like the one pictured above ) using the wonderful selection of available templates (lots to choose from –  pairs or labelling are useful for creating IWB resources that could be used in big group time). Spending a little time to get a big wow is always time well spent.

BETTcha by golly wow 2010!

Like many other technologically minded people I made the (in my case long) trek to Olympia last week to spend a bit of quality time at the BETT2010. My main objective was to get to the Teachmeet and pick up some useful and interesting tips from other like minded professionals but, I have to admit, the whole time I was there (and that wasn’t very long compared to some!) I felt on a natural high. The excitement of meeting (and trying to recognise!) people I had previously only spoken to via twitter, or educational forums, combined with the whole learning new things and seeing new products was unbelievably uplifting.

I arrived on Friday night just about in time for the Teachmeet (I did miss a little bit of the action but not much). The atmosphere was fantastic and there was a real community spirit in the room. As well as meeting, chatting and mingling with a fantastic group of people I’d never before met in person , one of the things that immediately struck me was the totally supportive nature of all that were in the room. And there were some great presentations too: some heartfelt and passionate (take a bow Mr Drew Buddie) others fun and informative (yes, Miles Berry, I mean you). If you weren’t there, you were really missing out on something special. Here’s the main things I took away from the Teachmeet…

1. If you’re in ICT (or just in education in any capacity) and not on Twitter, sign up now  : I’m not kidding, it will change the way you teach and, by following the right people, ideas will flood in thick and fast.

2. Someone else can give an old favourite a new twist and get you inspired: I was not particularly enthusiastic about Scratch (although I did use it) until Miles Berry made it look more accessible and fun filled – many thanks 🙂

3. There is so much out there, so investigate and ask others: Hadn’t tried Glogster (despite knowing about it) until Drew inspired me at Teachmeet Takeover on Saturday, and there were lots of similar presentations that showed the possibilities of things I had looked at in passing about but hadn’t tried.

4. We can achieve much more by working together: the number of collaborative projects that have sprung up in the short time I’ve been using Twitter have really changed the way I use certain resources (like Google Maps and Google Earth) with children (Tom Barrett’s Google Maps maths idea is one that instantly springs to mind).

In fact, the whole Teachmeet vibe is what got me through giving my own takeover presentation about the use of Dabbleboard in the classroom(thanks to Mark Warner for the above photo) on Saturday:  cannot believe I did it and that people stayed and listened. You can even see a video of my efforts (I’m not saying you have to here) and the other contributors to the takeover sessions.

On a personal level I had a great time hanging out with new friends and just generally discussing how we use ICT. It was great to put faces to names and realised that we are all singing from the same hymn sheet. Everyone is aiming for the same goal – how to get better at doing what they do and the atmosphere was certainly conducive to such an ideal. It was also amazing to discover that some of my pupils had won a 2Simple competition (a total surprise!!) and it was a pleasure to just hang out with the enthusiastic team that work at 2Simple, who are producing such wonderful stuff at the moment You only have to read the blog regularly to see how keen I am on their products!

So there you have it: my BETT 2010 experience. See you all next time (looking forward to it already).