Google, Friend of The SLP, Part 10 – Google Maps!
I am a big fan of using Google Earth in language interventions, and more on that later, but I really think that Google Maps, its web-based tool, has less of a learning curve when one would like to create and save activities. Google Maps is, like Google Earth, an interactive map that allows you to visualize any geographic content. This means that its usefulness is not limited to working with the language of the social studies curriculum, but also includes applications for exploring the setting of literary works (of any kind), descriptive language skills in relation to places, and even math concepts around measurement.
For a great example, check out this Google Map created by one of the graduate students working with Karen Janowski, an assistive technology specialist here in Massachusetts: the map shows the journey of Chris Van Allsburg's Polar Express! How is this type of thing created? Watch this great (and short!) video from Google explaining how you can use the My Maps feature of Google Maps.
The other great thing about Google Maps is that you don't have to do all the work by yourself. To extend this idea, I started a Google Map that retells the story of the geographically-based and extremely fun picture book The Scrambled States of America by Laurie Keller (check out a preview of this book from Google Books here). This book is a staple in many school libraries and tells the tale of poor, bored Kansas, who decides he doesn't want to live in the middle of the country any more! After the states all have a meet-and-greet, someone hatches a grand plan to have everyone switch places.
At first, everyone enjoys themselves, but the problems associated with their new locations (e.g. California's earthquakes) make them long for home. The book is always a huge hit with kids (along with a great game targeting many language skills), and it puts the abstract and fast-moving curriculum of USA Geography into story form for our struggling learners. See the Google Map I started about this book here, and if you are signed in, add to it (I set the collaboration mode so that all can click on Edit after watching the video linked above to learn how to extend this map). I'd love to check back to find that you guys have continued the story!
Enjoy using Google Maps! What ideas do you have about integrating this resource into your speech and language interventions?
Next time: Google Earth (Yes, I am going to at least Part 11 on Google, Friend of the SLP- I was thinking 13, but that is bad luck, so let's say 14) Google has so much to offer us!
For more of Sean Sweeney, check out his blog, www.SpeechTechie.com.