We've created a student approved "World Domination Geography" game complete with a fun, interactive class video! This game is right up goofy late-Elementary to Middle School alley, complete with a flying cat superhero and a laser shooting villain. Students acquire points by answering geography questions correctly and it's low-risk since a map is provided. We will be developing a series of videos over the summer, so please be sure and check our TpT storefront and Facebook page for updates!
Google Earth in The Classroom
I was hooked the first time I spun the world on its axis. Fascinated, I quickly zoomed into my house in Encinitas, California. I could see my kids trampoline in the backyard! Then, I flew the the Colosseum in Rome, Italy. I was able to actually view the gladiatorial battleground in the center! I flew to the the Arabian Desert, the Euphrates River, the Amazon and Mt. Fuji. By the end of my 3 minute travel romp I concluded that Google Earth was far more exciting and relevant than the map in the back of our textbook. I love maps, I mean I really love maps, but a colorful topographical map can’t come close to the real thing!
I immediately started working on a completely Google Geography lesson. I knew I wanted to use Google Earth and Google Maps combined with snapshots from satellite pictures that I have been using for years. As a transition from World History-ending with the Exploration unit, I decided to give my students a preview of US history with a completely Google classroom friendly US Physical Geography Exploration and Scavenger Hunt. I worked on it for about 3 nights and nervously pushed it down to my Google classroom the next to last day of school. I knew it would be a gamble since the students typically clock out those last days, but they too were hooked. They did exactly what I did! They zoomed into their houses first, of course! But then, they started to explore America. Students dragged labeled features, placed titles, read about the first colonies and flew to key features in Google Earth. They were excited, talking to each other about what they were seeing, using words like “cool” and “sick”. In the end, the average score on the US Physical Geography Google Forms test was 92 percent! A sweet student-centered activity success!
Of course there were a few bumps that needed to be smoothed over, explanations needed to be clearer and more prominently displayed with graphics, the order of operations was tweaked and a few items were completely omitted. But, in the end I knew I had something worthwhile, engaging and proven effective. In an instant my summer plans were carved out for me. I had created 13 Google Earth Geography Scavenger Hunts with Instruction and Quizzes and they have become some of our best-selling products! Introduce your students to these fun, interactive and informative lesson plans!
From the first $2.00 purchase on our TpT storefront and the consequent positive feedback we were hooked on the Teachers Pay Teachers website! I remember frantically posting everything I've ever made and mistakenly not charging for any of it! When feedback started pouring in I was both very pleased and shocked that people gave their honest, sometimes brutal opinion about something that was free. I quickly learned that the quality of products we offer had to match the pride that teachers take in their classrooms.
Now we have been posting history and science products on TpT for the past 6 years! This summer I found myself still scouring through files editing and revising improving and re-mastering. Even now from time to time I open a file in gasp because it just doesn't reflect the growth in my curriculum design ability.
So what's the best thing about TpT? (well, it’s actually difficult to narrow down the benefits down to just ONE element), but all those customers that bought things for the past 6 years were sent brand-new and improved files for which to start their new year. They received new common core resources, updated current content files and more activities from which to choose. Some of my same followers that bought 6 resources for just $10 were sent up to 36 resources at no extra charge. This is something that no publishing company or textbook manufacturer could even imagine. The difference is that as a fellow teacher I know you deserve better, higher quality resources.
Be sure to browse our newest products!
A few summers ago, I read Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. I learned about the power of the subconscious and how simple, suggestive words can greatly influence attitude and behavior. I immediately made about 40 signs that constantly reinforce behaviors I want in the classroom. They were all positive, in fact, one of them was the word positive. Others that still hang on my classroom walls are:
Hardworking, Focused, Attentive, I Can, Respect, Successful, Achieve, Responsible, Organized, and Appreciative.
The signs were a constant reminder for me to reinforce my students but also I learned that by merely putting these sings on the wall, the students would perceive my expectations before I even said them. As Malcolm's research suggested, I noticed subtle changes in my classroom almost immediately. Like most teachers, I have learned that positive and encouraging words are far more effective than negative ones even if the outcome was not successfully achieved. Still, I make mistakes…
Last year I had this great idea...since there is such an obvious connection between homework completion and test scores, I decided I was going to write down the test scores and homework completion percentages by class. I thought “what could be better than data driven results?” I mean after all, shouldn't students learn from other students what works? Of course, the higher achieving classes felt validated and continued to work hard on homework and thus to better on tests. With that said, I'm sure you already know what happened to the lower achieving class. While it wasn't intended, the message was clear to them. They said where the “dumb class” and I heard a student say that I just didn't like them.
Really? How could such a fact based piece of information so wasn't such an emotional response? Needless to say, I stopped writing homework and test statistics on the board. Now, I've verbally celebrate progress, improvements and hard work are reinforced by saying things like “oh my gosh this class is so awesome, we almost had 100% completion of the homework last night. I love how hard-working as class is!" Or, if that's simply not true, I say something directly to an individual group within earshot of the rest the class. I’d say, “this group always does such a great job turning in homework. Thanks so much for your hard work!” The thing about it is, while it's emotional and not data driven, students feel better hearing it and I feel better saying it. It's so easy to get bogged down and what students aren't doing and get sucked into the vortex of negative discipline, but positive reinforcement is proven time and time again to get better results. It's even true with colleagues. I've had so many principals over the years. The best ones make teachers feel good about what they're doing right now, not what they are doing wrong.
Positive energy inspires! Thanks for the reminder Malcom.
Technology in the Classroom: How Google Classroom Can Enhance Student Learning
If you’re still largely using paper for materials and assignments, then Google Classroom offers an easy-to-use, entry-level step into making your class more digital. Like many of its products, Google makes every attempt to provide a self-intuitive and user-friendly experience. If you already employ paperless methods for your students, then Classroom will streamline your workflow with its peerless integration with its apps.
It’s been proven time and time again that students are engaged by technology. Google Classroom can help students become and stay engaged in the learning process. For example, last week my students were using Google Maps to zoom into the Himalayas after labeling the physical features of China on a satellite digital topographical map. This activity replaced the less engaging all too familiar use the textbook atlas to label-the-feature-on-the-blank-map assignment. Also, if you have students answer questions in Classroom, for example, other students can comment on these answers and deepen thought for both students.
Not only does it help with student organization by putting all assignments and work in one safe place, but it also helps teachers too. Creating, copying, assigning, supervising, collecting, grading, recording, and returning work to students is a process requiring a great deal of time and steps. Google Classroom simplifies these tasks by combining, eliminating, or organizing them. Google Classroom undoubtedly saves time and trouble for teachers grading student work. On a personal note, I love the fact that I virtually never hear that students have lost an assignment in disorganized binders.
Google Classroom is additionally designed for teachers and students to share ideas and resources with one another. Teachers and students can participate in online Classroom discussions, and everyone can post links to informative resources within discussions or other sharing mechanisms. While Classroom exists on a website platform, students can seamlessly pull in their work from other Google apps such as Google Slides, Forms and Docs. Students that don’t have computers can even use their phones!
Instructomania has a vast selection Google-ready lessons plans including a US history unit with a fun, student-centered, inquiry-based Google Geography Exploration and Scavenger Hunt! This comprehensive Google United States Geography lesson has been both student and teacher approved with an overwhelming thumbs-up! It embodies all of the cool geography capabilities of Google Maps and Google Earth in a digital US geography interactive notebook format complete with a Google forms physical geography assessment at the end. We also have lesson plan complete Ancient History Google Classroom Units such as Google Classroom Ancient Egypt, Google Classroom Ancient Mesopotamia, Google Classroom Ancient India, Google Classroom Ancient China, Google Classroom Rome and Google Classroom Ancient Greece. Our Medieval History complete less plan units are for Feudal Europe, Japan, China, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, Africa, Islam and the Scientific Revolution. All units are complete with informational texts in PDF and digital reading formats, games, Google Forms quizzes and tests and fun, engaging activities.
This quick video demonstrates how simple it is to set up!
Statistics on the age of social media users are incredulous. As of July 2014, 78% of 12 to 17-year-olds (6th to 11th graders) that are active online used Facebook at least once monthly, and 52% used Instagram as often. Our world really is starting to become more about posting than relationship building. The instant gratification of online interaction and visual displays on sites such as Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram has forced educators to connect with their students in new ways.