Thursday, October 1, 2015

5 Easy Steps to Design the Google MyMaps Lesson of Your Dreams

Earlier in the school year I introduced the idea of using Google MyMaps in the classroom.  Over the last week and a half, I began using it in a couple of my classes.  The result of the students using MyMaps was stunning.  While these maps are imperfect (missing details periodically due to student error), they demonstrate so many possibilities for student creation.




So how do you start designing your My Maps Lesson?


First, determine what your goal/objective is for the lesson.


For both World Geography and European History, it was an easy and natural fit to use MyMaps.  In European History, I have always had students do some type of presentation (Powerpoint, Keynote, Slides) to detail the trips and explorations of various explorers. But as I prepared for that annual lesson, I decided to give MyMaps a go around in order to have a completely student created product.
For World Geography, I have always wanted them to get a greater understand of the world's natural resources and the disparity of their use/production throughout the world.

Second, provide the guiding questions and objectives for students to quickly access and research. 


New this year, I have been using Google Classroom for my classes.  To get students the questions and topics, I posted an "assignment" on Google Classroom with the following:
  • Topics/Questions
  • Types of resources to use
  • How to cite sources
  • Link to MyMap (Created by me, but will explain how later)
  • Initial Due Date (To help critique student work)
Pro Tip:  When creating the MyMap link as a teacher, go to mymaps.google.com.  Then click share and change access to "Anyone at *School Domain* with the link" and "Can Edit."  Next, copy the URL and post it on the Classroom Assignment.

Third, students begin researching and posting their information to the linked MyMap.


I had each student (or in my case pairs) create a "layer" on their MyMap for a couple different reasons.  First, I wanted to be able to easily assess the students without having to search throughout the map for each students work.  Second, it prevented students from accidentally deleting or changing other students work.

Pro Tip:  There is a limit to the number of layers (10 Total) you can create, so be cognizant of the amount.

Fourth, review student work and provide immediate feedback on their design and information.


As students begin posting their information to the map, give them insight on how best to improve their layer.  For example, having students use different colors/symbols in order to differentiate their work from other students (Ex. Christopher Columbus being the yellow line and markers).  Some other ways to improve their map would be to include the following:  Pictures/videos on markers, journal writings or data information for each marker, proper structure/organization on the side information bar.

Pro Tip:  Unlike the other Google Apps tools, Google MyMaps does not automatically update as students work on it.  However, if you reload the map, all the other work will be updated to your map.

Fifth, share the student work with the rest of the world!


After students have completed the assignment, change the share settings to "On - Public Web" and "Can View."  Then copy the URL and share it out to the rest of the world! What other ideas do you have for student created maps?  Ways to make the process even better?"

Austin Houp is a graduate of Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. He has been a teacher for 9 years and currently teaches and coaches at Ash Grove High School in the Ozarks and is the Instructional Technology Director for Ash Grove School District. He is married to his wife Amanda Houp and is the proud father of son Eli with another on the way.


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