Google Maps and the Oregon Trail

One of my favorite aspects of being a library media teacher is supporting classroom teachers.  Elementary teachers work very hard and I enjoy having the opportunity to come alongside to encourage, brainstorm, and problem solve with them as they implement technology and navigate the information highway.

Mrs. Martin’s fourth grade class studied the Oregon Trail and as a part of their unit they created a map of the route pioneers traveled to Oregon.  While Mrs. Martin provided her class with the sites along the Oregon Trail, I taught the class how to create a Google Map.  We decided to teach students to plot the important historical sites along the trail and insert images of the sites with a short blurb, if time allowed, about the site’s significance.

Students were more than eager to learn about Google Maps and I…well let’s just say, I learned quite a bit from teaching this tool to fourth grade.  My biggest obstacle was not explaining and showing the steps for creating a map and adding place-markers; students were attentive and seemed to understand my instructions when I checked for understanding.  The problem came after I was finished and students began to work on their own.  It seemed like everything I said and demonstrated was lost to the majority of the students as two-thirds of the class had their hands up asking questions.  Sound familiar?  I realized that my great demonstration and instructions only reached the auditory learners and the rest of the class was fumbling to remember the very first step.

Do you ever have those teaching moments where you wonder how you were ever allowed to become a teacher?  I cannot believe my oversite!  I am a kinesthetic learner; I learn by doing.  Most of what I listen to goes in one ear and out the other unless I write it down or have something to which I can refer.  Information is solidified, especially instructions, when I practice right away and keep doing the task until I can do it with ease.  After this realization (I am a little slow sometimes) I sat down to figure out how I could reach the rest of the learning styles in this class.

I already attempted to have students follow along with me while on their computers. That didn’t work, as we have some old computers that work a bit slower than our newer computers and students work at different paces which means students wait while others finish a task.  What I needed was something students could refer to when they got stuck.  A video could work, though students would have to fast forward to find the instructions they needed or watch the entire video which could be a time waster.  I decided to create a Google presentation that would illustrate the steps to create this map.  My hope was that students would watch my demonstration, get the overall idea, and when they attempted it on their own they would have a resource to which they could refer when needed.  Below is one of the presentations I created to show how to add an image to a map.

Have you had similar problems when introducing new technology tools?  What has worked for you?

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