The Reflective Educator

Education ∪ Math ∪ Technology

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Day: May 18, 2011

Google Maps!

I have to admit, I’m a huge fan of Google’s education products. In particular, I use Google maps all the time. First, as a map to find my way around, but also as an interactive mapping tool with students. Here’s an example from our 8th grade social studies unit.

View A Region in Turmoil in a larger map

The purpose of this project was to take news stories about the protests happening in the Middle East, and map them to a location in the world, so that the students could tie media, news, and other information to actual locations. This map has now been viewed over 6000 times and was recently included in the NY Times Learning blog.

Tom Barrett, has also curated a presentation on Google Maps in the classroom, which is worth sharing here. 

Here, the tool is important, since you can do things with it that you really can’t do with a traditional paper map. When we examine educational technologies with our students, the best tools to use are the ones which give us pedagogical affordances we wouldn’t otherwise have, and which allow for our students to collaborate easily, and share their work authentically.

The greatest thing you’ll ever learn

"The greatest thing, you’ll ever learn, is just to love, and be loved in return." ~ eben ahbez

I want to challenge the notion that the best things we learn in schools are the academic and job preparation skills, but instead the "soft" skills, all of those skills we supposedly learned in kindergarten.

There are areas where our society is in turmoil because these lessons have not been learned by everyone. Love each other is a very important concept, and one where we, as a society, need a lot of work. From Tea Partiers who believe that we should not fund education for everyone, to Internet trolls who post cruel and disgusting things on a 13 year old’s work, we see a lot of evidence of a lack of love in the world. We see it in how we distribute our "wealth" amongst our citizens, and how we prioritize funding for different programs, both in the Western world, and for aid programs abroad. If we lived in a world where "love thy neighbour" was actually followed by everyone, would we even need aid programs for the "under-developed" world?

While I am grateful for all of the scientific knowledge that we have, it seems that our ability to solve scientific (requiring academic skills) is vastly superior to our ability to solve even the simplest of social problems. Perhaps it is time for our society to focus on solving the social problems for a while? Maybe one of the roles of school should be to develop "good" citizens?