Google World Wonders Project
What it is: Google has a way-cool new project called the World Wonders Project. Thanks to Google, you can now wander the Earth with your students virtually to discover some of the most famous sites on earth. The site makes a great addition to the history and geography classroom and opens your classroom to the wider world. Not only are wonders of the modern world available, students can also explore wonders of the ancient world. Using the street-view technology from Google maps, Google has made wonders of the world available to all of us at any time. Themes include archaeological sites, architecture, cities and towns, historic sites, monuments and memorials, palaces and castles, parks and gardens, places of worship, regions and landscapes, and wonders of nature. When you explore a site, you get Google’s street view of the site, information about the site, YouTube videos related to the site and Getty images of the site. The result is a truly rich experience that will make your students feel like they have jet-setted around the world.
How to integrate Google World Wonders Project into the classroom: Google World Wonders Project is a fantastic way to help make your students more globally aware. The World Wonders Project lets students really explore and discover the world from the comfort of their classroom. Aside from actually getting to visit these places in person with your students, this is the next best thing! Understanding the world and features of the world that we live in is the first step in becoming more globally minded. Seeing different architecture and landmarks from around the world helps students to better understand the cultures and people who call those places home.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, Google World Wonders Project is worth a hundred times more. Students can envision geography and history because they have a picture (that they can interact with), video, a story and a slideshow of Getty images. History comes to life when students can “put themselves” in the shoes of those who lived it. Geography is so much more tangible when it isn’t just a label on a map.
Building up global citizens is crucial. Below are three steps that can’t be skipped if students are truly to be globally minded:
Step 1: Encourage students to be global minded
Educational globe trotting is impossible without this important step. Students have to understand the overlaps in humanity. They have to be willing and open to learn not only about their own cultures, but also the perspectives, values, traditions and cultures of others.
Being global minded means that students know how to show empathy and compassion for others. It means that they know how to respect others ideas. Building global mindedness can feel like a chicken and egg scenario. Connecting your students with others globally is a great way to build global mindedness.Global mindedness truly begins in your classroom. Build a culture of caring, compassion, empathy and respect and it is easier to transfer to the wider world. Reflect often with students about feelings and attitudes. When students recognized the shared humanity in their own classroom, it is easier to understand that shared humanity in light of a larger world.
Step 2: Encourage students to be inquirers
Students who are inquirers are curious, they are willing and open to discover new learning. Kids are naturally curious, unfortunately in school we tend to “undo” this natural curiosity. We allow students only one line of inquiry (the one they have been given). We keep kids from asking additional questions (we don’t have time for that). We teach kids that there is one right answer (the one the teacher has). Without an inquisitive nature, being global minded becomes just another assignment to do. Deep connections with others aren’t made.
Step 3: Teach students to communicate effectively
It baffles me that this isn’t a larger focus in our schools. Communication makes everything else we do in life possible. Students have to learn how to represent their ideas and learning clearly with confidence. They must learn how to work with others, pausing long enough to hear the ideas of others.
There are two extremes that I often see in communication: 1. The student doesn’t believe that their ideas are worthy of words. They are shy or afraid of how they will be received. 2. The student finally gets the floor and doesn’t want to give it up. They want to talk and will go around and around with their ideas without letting anyone else get a word in edgewise. There is a balance here.
Google World Wonders is one way to help students understand other cultures, ideas and times. It can be explored by students individually on classroom or computer lab computers, or explored as a class using a projector-connected computer or interactive whiteboard. If you teach young students, make this an experience. Set up your classroom like an airplane. Take tickets, have students “pack”, serve an inflight meal, watch an inflight video about the place being visited, create a Flight Day. When you land in your destination, students can explore the Google World Wonder assigned.
Google has some great teacher guides and educational packages to use with the World Wonders project. Check them out on the Education page!
Tips: I am leading a session in Adams 12 tomorrow about Global education. You can see the website I created with links I am sharing here.
Please leave a comment and share how you are using Google World Wonders Project in your classroom!