Sunday, May 14, 2017

Have Students Create Content and Collaborate with Google My Maps

*This post has a video tutorial to get you started with My Maps. Not all features are in the video.

Google My Maps, in it’s basic sense, is about content creation and collaboration. See the attached video tutorial on how to set it up. In terms of pedagogy, how can this be used and what are some practical classroom applications? As I’m attending some Google geotools workshops, as well as planning to deliver some, I thought I’d add a post about some of the tools, one by one over time. Access Google My Maps directly here: and / or go to the support center here:

How might we use My Maps? Consider that you can add text, photos, videos, directions, measure distances, import numerical and text data, as well as create “regions” within the map. You can also use multiple layers to show changes over time through data. These features can be applied to many subjects and topics. Here are some ideas:

Natural Disasters Map. My school here in Japan collaborated with others in the US to create a map in which we researched and pinned their writing. Sample:

Historic Places. Take a photos or 360 video of historically significant places in a given location. Your students (or you) create the content. I intend to develop one for Tokyo. (I have four 360 videos researched and filmed but not ready for upload - yet!) 

History Timelines. Have students create a map of a war or period in history. 

English Lit Trips. Map the life of a person in a book students have read, or the events. 

Geography / Science Biome or Animal Habitat Map. Use the Polygon feature to create specific regions in which students differentiate with colour. When students finish research and synthesis, they upload to the map, including photos of each climate region / biome / habitat. 

Environmental Science / Geography CO2 Emissions Map. See changes over time with layers, or compare places with data uploaded to create a visual understanding of the problem.

Mathematics / Science. Import statistical data to learn stats visually.

Creative Writing Travelogue. Have students write a travelogue with images and video. See this "Japan & the World Travelogue Map" sample:

Physical & Outdoor Education. Have students do a nature walk and then create a map with photos and a writeup of each place. 

Religious Studies. How about a map of the local places of worship that includes images and a history of the place? A map of the travels of a prophet or saint? 

Empires in History. How about the expansion and decline of the Roman Empire? The campaigns of Alexander the great? Link to images of those places today. 

Mathematics. Calculate distances and travel time; area and perimeter. 

Science / Business. Create a map of a product’s environmental journey to see how globalization has led to products with a massive environmental footprint. 

Political Science. Forms of government map.

Social Studies. Have students from around the world collaborate on their local culture. (pin significant places with own photos and video)

Social Studies. Map a migration of people. 

Social Studies. Volcanic eruptions / earthquakes statistics map. Import the data to create a visual of the data and then analyze it. Here is a tectonic plates sample: *This is a basic map but could also include information in each "plate" on the map. 

School Trips. Create a map of a school trip. (great for parents) Have student create a map of a school trip using their photos and videos. 

New Faculty Info Map. Create a map for new teachers to your school with info on shopping, transportation, popular restaurants, entertainment, city hall, etc. See this fun sample of craft beer places in  the Tokyo area. (no student collaboration on this one!) Sample: 

Here are some of Google’s picks:

What’s my process? It depends on the topic or task. I am a social studies teacher, so loosely speaking here are the steps I follow (keeping things such as academic honesty / copyright in mind):
  • students determine questions for investigating their topic
  • conduct research: find reliable sources, take notes, find images / video needed
  • synthesize, create content (this may be simply writing, or perhaps also video creation)
  • peer review / edit 
  • publish and share with the world
The map itself doesn’t take a lot of time to produce, so the focus is still on the learning skills with the added bonus of collaborating and sharing what students have learned with the outside world. (embed to a website, share in a blog, QR code posters, etc) 

Look at the links in the Works Cited for more ideas. 

Works Cited
Ditch That Textbook. "20 ways Google MyMaps can enhance lessons in any class." Ditch That Textbook. 15 Mar. 
     2016. Web. 14 May 2017.<

Edutopia. "10 Reasons to Use Google My Maps in the Classroom." Edutopia. Web. 14 May 2017. 

"Google My Maps: Lesson Ideas - Teacher Tech." Teacher Tech. 20 Apr. 2016. Web. 14 May 2017. 

"How to Use Google's My Maps in Your Classroom." Web. 14 May 2017.