Technology Education Know-How

Helping Teachers Teach with Technology

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. 

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.