Exploring the World, One Google Map at a Time

By Naomi Fredman, Director of Educational Technology

Classic Elementary and Middle School history curriculum includes a study of the European explorers and their routes across the Atlantic Ocean to the New World.  At North Shore Hebrew Academy, students learn to track the routes of the great explorers Henry Hudson, Ponce de Leon, and Christopher Columbus, digitally, using Google Maps.
Working collaboratively in small groups of two or three and under the direction of 5th grade teachers Ms. Cesiro, Ms. Perlman and Ms. Stephens, students utilize Google Classroom to research facts about the voyages of European explorers. Utilizing the data they find, students create a Google map featuring the major voyages of an assigned explorer. One student per group creates the map and shares it with his or her partners.  Then each partner is able to access the map on their own device.  Students review data, label, and describe each location.  When maps are complete, each group presents their mapped voyage to classmates.
By viewing the globe in its entirety, students study visually and form a data-based perspective of the concepts of hemispheres, cardinal, and intermediate directions.  They must use mapping skills to determine with accuracy the exact location of each voyage.  Further, students are introduced to latitude, longitude and coordinates on a grid. This process illuminates for our students the resources that are available to them through Google features and how this data can assist them in formulating precise measurements.  Some students hope their maps will lead them to hidden treasures.  With Google, you never know!