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Archive for the ‘Maps’ Category

Geocaching for the Classroom

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Over the past few weeks I’ve become acquainted and interested in Geocaching.  As always, I’m looking for ways to use Technology, Life Experience and Fun in the classroom.  The more I get involved with Geocaching I see tons of ways it can be used in Math, LA/Writing, Social Studies, Science. This weekend for me was one of PE (Physical Education).  WOW, my legs hurt from the climbing!  I would like us to take a look a few of the ways that Geocaching can be used in each of these subject areas.

Math – With Geocaching students will be using GPS waypoints to find locations. Students can solve a math problem to get the waypoints. Then plug the waypoints into the GPS and find the cache.

Math – Students can use their GPS to calculate speed, distance and plot on a graph. They can answer questions about time, distance, area and speed.  They can then use their information to solve other scenarios without even leaving the classroom.

LA – I’m sure you’ve heard of picture prompts.  What about location prompts!?  Enough said…

LA – Students could create progressive stories.  If you have 4 or 5 groups with a GPS, each group could Geocache to different locations with each group crossing to each Geocache.  Each group will write a new paragraph to the progressive story at each Geocache.  At the end every story should be complete with a beginning,middle, and end.  Each group has written all 3 parts but in different stories.

SS – As a 4th grade teacher I’m a little partial to studying the Indians so my example will for that but can be used for other areas.   You can create waypoints of study.  In studying the Native Americans we would study their shelter, food, tools and regions.  I would create a Geocashe for each one of those topics.  At each stop the students would have to study, read or observe information about those topics and answer questions about each.  I would include pictures, essays, etc so the students could get a good idea of the concepts.  After completing the Shelter Geocashe they would move to the Food cash learning more information.

SS – Students are required to study maps in Social Studies so this is a great way to tie in maps.  They are learning Latitude & Longitude, Coordinates, Cardinal directions.

Science – Each Geocache can contain instructions on completing a Science activity such a building a lever, surveying what object has the most buoyancy, categorizing and then they can create a podcast explaining their findings, experience and results.

Science – You can also have learning stations setup at different Caching locations where the students participate in a learning activity. I remember at certain times of the year we would have our students rotate classes going to each teacher’s room where they would teach a specific related concept like Crust, Core, Mantel, Volcanoes, Landforms, Platelets, etc.   (plants, oxygen, photosynthesis, light, etc.) At the end of the Geocaching experience every student has rotated through each concept either learning new information or review former knowledge.

The ideas of how to use Geocaching are endless.  If your school campus is not big enough to Geocache then a nearby park would be a good location for these experiences.  If you have one of the new cell phones with GPS such as the Palm Pre, Blackberry or iPhone give this a try yourself.  After you’ve done it 2 or 3 times you will find all kinds of ways to use this with your students.  If you would like a listing of the Geocachings around your local area go to put in your zip code and you’ll find lots of them around you.  Each one will have a GPS co-ordinance for you to plug in and then you track it down.  We visited Inks Lake in Central Texas this weekend and did some Geocaching and my 3rd grader and Kindergartner loved it.  Not only that. I was able to give them a real world experience that they can use for prior knowledge in their Writing, Science, Social Studies and Math.

Please leave a comment telling all the ways you have used or are thinking of using Geocaching with your students.

Tying in Current Events, Week of 5/7/09

Friday, May 8th, 2009

The Swine Flu or N1H1 virus has been the biggest news outside of our Presidential Election. There is no doubt that our students have heard about it from the news, friends, parents, or even their teachers.
Every kid gets excited about the idea of getting out of school, but do they know the ramifications behind it? – make up days, learning, food purchased for lunches, economy This is the perfect way to tie in Calendar, money and other math concepts depending on your grade level.

This is obviously a prime opportunity to tie in health content as well. 4th and 5th grade need good hygiene lessons this time of the year anyway, so why not use this as the tie in. lol My wife tells me of her elementary years in New Zealand and how they had time in the schedule to brush their teeth after their lunch meals. Her teeth are a lot better than mine now. I wonder if we took the time to take health issues more serious if we’d be a healthier America now. What are your student’s thoughts about this?

Another way to tie this into your curriculum is by writing about it. Over the last few weeks I’ve heard a lot of opinions about how to solve the problem or what should be done. What are your student’s opinions? Have them take the time to research the issue, think out a resolve, and have them write about how they would solve the issue if they were in charge. Other students have fears about it because it has become such a big deal. If we give our students the opportunity to write about that we may be surprised at their concerns.

As a 4th grade teacher I once gave an assignment similar to this and it changed my perspective forever. Without any details, I gave one student a voice to be able to get some things out that she had obviously been dying to tell someone. She always had a smile so before that essay I had no idea that she had been going through such sad things. It totally changed the way I was able to teach my students.

Anyway, back on track. Maps, you can teach maps, geography, continents, etc. by plotting the course of the N1H1 Virus. Using Google Maps or other tools you can plot the growth and spread of the virus. Students can really start to realize we live in a small world after all. 😉

Again, reach into your bank of ideas and see where you can use this current event and leave a post telling us about it. Economics teachers, Journalism teachers and Science teachers should have a hay day with this current event.

Timelines in the Classroom

Friday, October 24th, 2008

Timelines can be used for a lot of subjects in education. They can be used for things like studying US History and Scientific Experiments to tracking the stats of your favorite (Longhorns) football team.

An online collaborative tool that you can use is Your students can collaborate in the classroom or from home. They can post images, maps, links and videos that they find to their timelines.

Check out this US Civil War timeline that a student created. Use the green dot at the bottom to navigate the timeline.

Do you have a student that you have a hard time getting to buckle down and do his research? What if you gave him a topic that he likes and a computer to create a timeline of that topic? He can find articles to link to, videos to post and images to demonstrate. Check out this timeline about the life of Michael Jordan. What kid wouldn’t research their favorite athlete?

For your kindergarten students you can even timeline your daily events together. This can help them get an idea of sequencing, time and scheduling.

This tool can be used in hundreds of ways. Leave a comment about how you plan to use it or how you have used it.

Start the School Year With a Bubbl(e)!!

Monday, August 18th, 2008

WOW! What a busy start to a new year! I’m excited to be back in the groove again. I’ve kinda missed my blog over the summer, but I’m back and full of ideas for this year.

One of the first things that every teacher does when they kick off the year with their students is brainstorm ideas for classroom procedures and expectations. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to add this brain storm to your class web page, blog or wiki. Now you can by using . Bubbl will allow you to create a mind map (similar to Inspiration) using the web. Yes, that’s right! You create your brainstorm (mindmap) online. You are provided html code from Bubbl to place your mind map on your web page, blog or wiki. What a great way to take your students back for reviews, updates and changes as they are needed. You can make changes to your Bubbl at any time to add or delete information as needed. Check it out to see how easy this is. It’s free so it won’t hurt you to try it. 😉

Extra idea – You can even break your students into groups and have them create their own Bubbl to present to the class. Then take all the bubbls and collaborate with the whole class to create a finalized bubbl.

Of course can be used for lots of other brainstorming needs, but what a great way to introduce it to your students. I’m sure they will enjoy using it and later come up with ideas of their own ways to use it. Is brainstorming not the epidemey of student centered learning?

Other ideas for start of the year brainstorming are: Procedures, Rules, Expectations, Classroom Character Traits, Proper Ways to Read a Book, Classroom Student Interests, and etc. The list can go on and on, but I’ll stop here and let your imagination roll for a bit.

I’ll share more ideas for brainstorming “mind mapping” in future blogs entries. Enjoy your Bubbl(e)ing at .

Free WiFi at a Place Near You!

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

As you are getting ready for taking those summer trips you may be like me asking, “Can I check my email, twitter, blog posts, etc.?”  Some of you may even plan your entire vacation around checking your email.  (You may need to get some professional help for that!  😉 )  I’ve gathered a couple of resources for you to take a look at.  You can find locations in your areas with a broadband WiFi connection.  You can look up zip codes or click the maps to find a spot near you. 

Do you travel in an RV or with a camper trailer?  Search for RV parks with free WiFi using .

What to know what’s in your local area.  Click the maps at  to get a visual on where the WiFi Hotspots are at.  It takes a few seconds for the map to refresh with WiFi Locations so be patient.  I found out that my local McDonald’s has Free WiFi.  Now I know where to go when I need a connection. 

Another good resource is .

Enjoy your summer trips and post those pictures on your Flickr to share!

If you must have this meet some kind of educational purposes here you go:  You should use your free WiFi  HotSpot to blog, Flickr, or post your pictures on Google Earth for kicking off the new year with your students.  (Don’t forget to Tag)  You know, we all start the year by talking about what we did over the summer.  It’s a good ice breaker.  There’s your educational purpose! 😉 

Plan a Vacation to Teach Math Skills

Monday, May 5th, 2008

This week I was talking to a friend about going on their vacation this summer.  As a teacher I had two things going in my head.  One was, “I need a vacation.”  The other thought was, “How can I turn this into a real world learning experience for our students?”

Of course, came to my mind, but there are other sites as well that can be used. 

Have your students create a dream vacation.  They will need to plan for travel to and from the departing location, the plane fair, cruise, activities, hotel or condo, transportation while on location, food etc.  You can make this activity as extensive as you’d like.  This activity will help them review the math skills that you have already given them while applying them to real world situations. 

To expand the learning experience I would have my students:

1.       Budget  (money, charts and graphs)

2.       Plan an Itinerary Schedule (time line development, elapsed time, scheduling, and critical thinking)

3.       Map out events (maps)

4.       Use checklists to make sure they have thought of everything for their trip. (Google, travel checklist and you’ll get tons of them.)

5.       Have them write about their trip planning learning experience.

To extend their learning experiences have them break into travel groups and plan their entire vacation on a wiki! 

Enjoy and leave a comment letting me know how you plan to use this in your classroom. 

3 Classroom Lessons for Using Gas Prices to Teach Math, Writing, Social Studies, and Technology

Monday, April 28th, 2008

This morning on Yahoo! News another headline reads “Gas.”   Later this morning as the headlines rotated out another one read “Gas.”  Yes, we are facing “Gas” issues like never before.  So, why not turn this into a learning activity for our students.  Our children will face things that we have never faced before, and our job is to prepare them.  So, this Tech Tip will incorporate Math, Writing, Current Events, Maps and Technology.    

The goal here is that we tap into the higher order thinking skills of every student and allow them an opportunity to problem solve a real world event. 

Note: Teachers should not use this to promote any political agenda; you can find yourself in hot water over that.  This is just an exercise for learning.

Note: If you are reading this and are in another city, state or country there are alternative sites that you can use to gather the same data for your location. 

Exercise 1:

This web site  produces a Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet with a price history of gas prices by region, state, or even some cities.  From these spreadsheets you can create charts and graphs showing changes, have students calculate differences between time periods and even calculate percentages in change over time. 

You can have your students present his/her findings to the class in a power point, video, printed graphs and a written report. 

            The teacher can discuss issues as they come up.  (No Political Agendas!)

Exercise 2:

Now that students can know the importance of and can physically see from the above presentations that the price of Gas is a real issue, have them do a little problem solving.  Have the students go to  to make an automobile selection based on their newly found information.  Encourage your students to select cars that would be suitable or comparable for their current families.  (ie. If their mom drives a van now have the select a type of van.  If they drive a truck have them select a type of truck.) 

Their goal is to select a vehicle that would save them money as well as suit their needs.  Have them research the different car types, gas mileage, and feasibility.  They can sort the cars by all, compact, convertibles, luxury, passenger, pickups, sport utility, sports, vans and wagons.  (I think I want the Honda Civic, does it have enough room for my kids?)

Have the students report back with their selection.  They should make a presentation of their top 3 choices with a conclusion as to why they selected their top choice.  How will this car impact gas prices?  How much money will they save by getting this car?  Does the price of the car off set the price of gas?

If you want to make this an extra challenge  give them a car price budget and a weekly gas budget.  They should have a select number of miles that they have to calculate to get to and from work(school).

ie: Less than $20,000 for a car.  Weekly gas allotment is $40.  They must drive 20miles one way to work.  You’ll need to give them a list of web sites from local dealers to get the prices on the cars.


Exercise 3:  The Big Challenge

 Using Google Maps or Yahoo! Maps along with  or for those not in the Austin area, to calculate mileage to determine if it would be worth it to drive out of your way to the cheapest gas prices locations. 

Students will need to know:

1.      gas mileage of car (from exercise 2)

2.      price of gas (exercise 3 links)

3.      mileage to lowest priced gas station (Google Maps or Yahoo! Maps)

4.      price of gas at the gas station near your school (you’ll need to provide this)

5.      location (mileage and map) of home and school (work) (Google Maps or Yahoo! Maps)

Have the students report as to whether or not it’s worth the extra drive.  Will they save money or not?


As always, these activities can be extended, shortened or changed.  You are only limited by your imagination as to how this can be used in your classroom.  For higher grade levels you can turn them loose with the idea and see what they come up with.  I think we would all be shocked! 

My generation kinda grew up not being very concerned with the environment or economy at all, but today’s generation seems to be more involved with trying to solve issues than we ever where. 

If you use these ideas leave a comment and let me know how it went, or if you have other ideas please share!



Tracking of the Torch for Education

Monday, April 14th, 2008

One of the things that makes Google Earth so fantastic for Education is it’s popularity.  People are always putting new features into Google Earth that help teaching more fun and authentic for our students.

The newest feature I want to mention is the Map Tracking the Olympic Torch.  You’ll be able to see pictures of prominent places around the world as you track the torch.  I’m sure your students would find this interesting. 

To use in your Google earth follow the link above and thin click the blue link below the map that says, “Track the Torch in Google Earth.”


Extend the Learning Ideas:

Social Studies:

* If you are teaching maps, Google earth provides the coordinances that you can use to teach latitude and longitude.  

* Students can learn about other cultures.  Do you have any students that are from the cities that the torch will be visiting?  Today the torch is in the city of Muscat.  According the information found in Google Earth Muscat is the capital and largest city of the Sultanate of Oman.  The pictures of the other cultures are phenomenal that you’ll find as you track the torch.


* You can use the maps and calculate the distance that the torch has traveled and will travel. 


* You could have your students write about their favorite Olympic events, countries that will be participating in the Olympics, or even differences that they find between cultures. 


The integration possibilities are endless as you open your minds to this great tool!  Leave a comment letting me and others know how you used the Tracking of the Torch for Education! 

FlashEarth = Googe + Yahoo! + Microsoft VE Maps

Sunday, April 13th, 2008

This week I’m introducing to my teachers.  FlashEarth is a tool that combines Google Maps, Yahoo Maps, and Microsoft VE along with a wide view of NASA satellite images.  Before when teaching Maps you were limited to working with one map view or having the hassle of going between the different mapping services.  Now you have access to one page that has all 4 services on it (limited). 


You will find that each service offers a different view and even a different seasonal view of the same location.  I’ve searched all over Texas in the last few days using the FlashEarth web page and I have grown to like Microsoft’s VE view.  For my area it provides the clearest and closest pictures.  As a mater of fact, it was kind of concerning as to how clear some things were. 


In the bottom right hand of the page you’ll find your search box.  Just simply type in the address or general location and you are on your way.  Switch back and forth between the mapping services to find the preferred map of your searched area.  It’s that easy!


There are some features missing that you would normally find on the service providers real page, so I would use this to get quick details and image quality to determine which service I wanted to use in my classroom.

Here’s what I found:


Google Maps: The pictures in my area were old and out of date.  You could get fairly close and get reasonable details and resolution.  Google needs to update their images for the areas of the country that are under rapid change such as Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio.  In FlashEarth (Google) you will be missing the map view because it only provides the satellite view.  From what I can tell about my area is that the images are about 5years old.


Yahoo Maps: The pictures in my area were newer than Google’s but still a bit out of date because of our rapid growth.  They are about 3 years old.  The details are not as good as the Google details and the distance is a little farther away.  Again only the satellite view was available.  I like the Yahoo Map service on the Yahoo page because they often have location details that the other two don’t, but the satellite view has much to be desired for me.


Microsoft VE: The pictures were the most detailed of all for my area.  The quality of imagery was even good for non-populated areas.  Microsoft services (on FlashEarth) was the only one that provided street details.  It labeled streets and cities making it easy for you to find where you were.  You could get closer with great visibility  to most locations.


NASA View: This was a nice cool feature to have with all the other maps.  It is updated daily showing you the flow of clouds over earth.  It is spliced together making the view flat.  There is no close details using this service.  This can only be used at a great distance away, but it is one of my favorite features of FlashEarth. 


You may find each service image quality different in your area, and remember many of the features that each individual service (outside of FlashEarth) offers are great tools for education.  So, be sure and check those features out on their web pages.  I think you will find some great tools for your classroom!  Check them out and leave a post telling the rest of us what you think. 



Free Resources

Tuesday, April 17th, 2007

As a teacher I’ve always loved free resources. I have found several resources for you to use in your classroom. Some of these resources will actually send you products to use (free) and others are online (free). Check out each one to see how you can utilize and adapt it for your classroom.

I have used several of the items below in my own classroom, so they can be useful.


They provide Free Videos and printable resources for teaching. It is sponsored by major corporations. Look and see!

Early Grades K-3

Provides lessons, printable, and even some video lessons. This page is worth exploring!


This is a nice site for when you are dong lessons on farms, plants and environment. It provides everything from videos to lessons.

You can use this site for resources on food cycle, health, science and plants. Lots of games, printables and just good ol information.

Older Grades 3-5



This is a must see for our 5th grade teachers. Order your free CD for your class!!! It incorporates Math, Science, Social Studies, English  


I ordered this CD. It is awesome!

A wonderful place for science resources for all grade levels. GO GO GO!!!



On of the best yet!!! FREE educational comics for your students. Most of them offer up to 35 complementary copies. You can get other books as well. Some of the books only offer one complementary copy, and some are available only by download. It’s wonderful for those of you who will be studying money, history and/or government. 


I have ordered from this as well. Yes, it’s free.

I hope you find something that is useful for you!