google maps learning logs

My Maps: a customizable way to use Google Maps in the classroom

While typically viewed as a navigation tool for mobile devices when traveling to a specific destination, or possibly as a research tool when attempting to learn more about a specific geographic region, there is a hidden gem inside of Google Maps that allows students to leverage the tool in the classroom. Within Google Maps, the “My Maps” section allows students to create, edit, share and collaborate on a custom created Google Map.

Within a map created in the “My Maps” section of Google Maps, students can add pins for locations and within each pin, text, images and video (from YouTube) can be added. Further, just like all Google Drive tools, My Maps can be shared and edited by collaborators.

Where does My Maps fit into the classroom?

Imagine a student in a history or social studies class tracking their learning geographically with My Maps. For each time period, location or event that is explored in the class, a student would add a pin to the map with detailed information, images and videos generated by the student, or even related Google Docs or Slides. In an English class, students reading a novel could track the progress of a character, or multiple characters, creating a visual representation of the story and their understanding of the text.

Google Maps and My Maps provides a viable visual alternative to the traditional approach of assessing student understanding through a writing assignment. The visual nature of the My Maps platform, potential for collaborative work and inclusion of multimedia makes My Maps a tool worth exploring in the classroom.

Ideas for Using My Maps / Google Maps in the Classroom:

  • In an English class, students can map Homer’s Odyssey and then add thoughts, evidence from the text, and justification for whether or not the places that they mark are accurate
  • Students studying a foreign language can create virtual tours of foreign countries and cities. They can add a description in the target language on each pinned location.
  • Younger students in elementary school could read a story such as Hottest, Coldest, Highest, Deepest and find each location. The pins on their map could include a summary about that pinned location based on their reading in the book.
  • Students in a History class can create a historical map that tracks the movements of nations during battles and wars such as the U.S. Civil War or World War II.
  • At all grade levels, students engaged in reading about current events can track their select new stories, pin them geographically, and provide a summary of their understanding of each story along with a link to the original article online.

Step by Step Guide to Google’s My Maps

Want the Google Drive version? That will help you out.

Want to learn more from Greg this Summer? He will be on both coasts!

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