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Flash & Thunder- Part graphic novel, part game, all fun and learning

Posted by admin | Posted in 5Sigma, Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Apply, Evaluate, Geography, Government, History, Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, iPod, Language Arts, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Technology, Websites | Posted on 30-11-2015

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INVICTA-Challenge- graphic novel/game/maps

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What it is: INVICTA Challenge combines technology (in the form of an action-packed video game), a graphic novel, maps, an operation packet and an action figure that inspires kids to read and problem solve. Each INVICTA Challenge collection builds problem solving and leadership skills for students 8-14. Part story, part game, students are placed in historical situations where they get to make the decisions that will determine success or failure. The first challenge, Flash & Thunder lets students walk in the shoes of an American Hero.

How to Integrate INVICTA Challenge in your classroom: These challenges are a fun and new way to foster literacy, history, and leadership skills in your classrooms. Stories are highly visual and have enough action and adventure to keep even your reluctant readers engaged. The game component of the challenge almost takes on a choose your own adventure feel as it pairs with the graphic novel, maps, and missions. The first challenge, Flash & Thunder tells the true story of a Native American paratrooper’s D-Day leadership. The way that this combination puts students in the middle of the story is fantastic. Students aren’t passive readers…it is impossible! With Flash and Thunder, students are in the middle of the action, analyzing options, making decisions, evaluating the decisions and building comprehension and understanding of history all the way.

The INVICTA challenge is like a smart recombination of the things I enjoyed most from my own childhood: American Girl dolls/Books, Oregon Trail…only with a major upgrade.

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At Anastasis, we’ve been working on an inquiry unit about change makers and the power of one. The INVICTA challenge has been a fantastic launching off point for students as they consider what it means to be a change maker, and what characteristics make up a change maker. This interactive challenge/book/game put students in the middle of thinking like a change maker, building leadership traits like integrity, nobility, valor, initiative, curiosity, tenacity, and accountability.

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This challenge would be an excellent addition to your classroom library. You might want a few copies so that students can read together and work through the game and missions together in a book group. The video game component will be available on iOS, Android, and online here. Take a look!

Tips: The INVICTA Challenges can be purchased at Barnes and Noble for $34.99. For all that is included in this kit, it is truly a great value! I’m so excited for the other challenges to come out, some very exciting stories and characters are on their way!

Full disclosure: INVICTA sent me the Flash and Thunder challenge so that I could review it for you all here. But…

You can win your own Flash and Thunder challenge at the 5Sigma Education Conference in February! If you register for the conference today, you can save 20% using the code: CYBERMONDAY at check out. Not only will you get the opportunity to win one of these great challenge kits for your classroom, you also get a conference experience like no other!

Google World Wonders Project

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Evaluate, Geography, History, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Virtual Field Trips, Websites | Posted on 04-06-2012

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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!

TimeMaps- History of World 3500BC to 2005AD in interactive maps

Posted by admin | Posted in Evaluate, Geography, History, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 05-04-2012

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What it is:  TimeMaps is a fantastic site I learned about from an email I received today.  TimeMaps lets students look at every nation, empire and civilization as one story through maps. This is the history of the world from 3500BC to 2005AD!  There are pinpoints on the Atlas that let students drill down into specific areas, nations and civilizations.  Students get a story about what is happening in this portion of the world, as well as opportunities to explore even further.  Below the map, students can change the date on an interactive timeline.

I really like TimeMap as a way to explore history.  As I have mentioned in the past, history was not my subject in school.  I made good grades, but was never interested by it.  It wasn’t until I was adult, that I began to appreciate history.   In school, history was always just presented as a collection of facts.  I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around how they were all related or why I should take up valuable brain space memorizing them.  As an adult, I came to realize that history is really all about stories.  I love stories!  TimeMap’s brilliance is in the way it unfolds the stories in history with the visual of the map.  Not only are students getting a good understanding of how civilizations shaped the world, they are also learning geography.

How to integrate Time Maps into the classroom: The best way for students to interact with this site is to just give them the freedom to explore.  I know for most, this isn’t always an option.  There are certain time periods and portions of the world that you are responsible teaching in your grade level.  For those that fall into that category, let students go to those specific places within TimeMap. 
If you have an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer, you can explore as a whole class, reading the stories together.  The nice thing about this option, is that you can pull in other videos, music and resources for the whole class to experience.  How great would it be to combine this site with History for Music Lovers on YouTube?  TimeMap will give students context for other exploration.
TimeMap can be set up on classroom computers for students to visit as a supplement to the other work they are doing.  It can act as a research center for students to visit as they are working and learning.
If you teach World History, students could use TimeMap as a place to gather information.  Each student could select a different civilization from one time period or explore the same place and the change throughout time.  Students can create trading cards, videos, comics, non-fiction, a song, etc. to present their findings to the class.  It would be fun to have a movie premier night or a read-in comic day to view all of the students projects.
Tips: I’m really impressed by the comprehensiveness of this site.  The only thing that would make it better are images and video embedded with the map!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using TimeMap in  your classroom!

Isle of Tune: Create a musical journey

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, Create, Geography, Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Music, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 31-05-2011

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What it is: Isle of Tune is a site that has just significantly impacted my productivity today- I can’t stop playing!  Thanks to @Matt_Arguello and @dancallahan for this share today on Twitter!  Isle of Tune lets students create musical journeys out of street layouts.  Roadside elements act as instruments and cars are the players.  Students can create whole islands of music by creating a street layout, adding objects that generate different sounds and adding cars to play the music.  Each object has an object panel where students can adjust the sound, volume or clone the object.  Students can determine when a sound will be played based on the ground lighting up when the car passes.  Junctions change the course of passing cars or can “loop” a sound.  It is easy for students to get started, they just click “Create a new island” and away they go.  Students can name their island anything and save to return to it later.  No need for registration, the Internet browser they are using just needs to have cookies enabled (this is a bit of a problem for shared classroom computers with a single account).

How to integrate Isle of Tune into the classroom: Isle of Tune is an enchanting place for creation.  The sky is the limit as students create music based on visual creation.  Aside from teaching some great music principles, Isle of Tune would be a fantastic way to teach students pattern.  Students can use Isle of Tune to construct patterns of objects and actually experience the connection between math and music as they “play” their pattern tune.

Isle of Tune would also be a fun place for students to learn about maps and ordinal directions and basic graphing.  Students can start with oral directions about where to lay their street “Four street squares North East, two street squares West”.  After directions are given, students can customize their islands with trees, houses, lamp posts, etc.  You can quickly tour the room for some formative assessment while students complete their island.  Let students take turns listening to each other’s Isle of Tune, noting similarities and differences based on the patterns made.

Use Isle of Tune as a creative writing prompt.  Students can create an island and tune and write an imaginative story about the island they created.  The saved island makes a nice visual-aid and soundtrack for their finished story.

Isle of Tune makes a great interactive whiteboard, or projector-connected computer activity.  Students can work together to create a giant island of tunes.  Use the annotate over the desktop feature to label directions, coordinates and patterns.

The shared songs are pretty incredible- many of the “top” shares are popular music that has been created using Isle of Tune.

Tips: Isle of Tune is currently available on the web, keep an eye out for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad versions coming soon!  If Isle of Tunes inspires your students to want to become architects or engineers, point them toward online CAD Drafting classes.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using  Isle of Tune in your classroom!

ArcGIS Explorer Online

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Blogs, collaboration, Create, Evaluate, Geography, History, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Websites | Posted on 16-08-2010

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What it is: ArcGIS Explorer Online is a neat mapping experience powered by BING that lets you use, create, and share ArcGIS (Global Information System) maps online.  The online software lets you read and write ArcGIS maps that can be used with the website, ArcGIS for the iPhone, and ArcGIS desktop version.  Mark up maps with notes that have photos, text, and links embedded directly in the map. Measure distances on the map and include them as a layer of the map.    Create a presentation in the map that guides viewers from one location on the map to another.

ArcGIS lets you create an interactive map experience.

1. choose a basemap to display your GIS data on top of.

2. Click on one of the map notes shapes to add a GIS note to your map.

3. Click "edit note" along the bottom of the note and add text, a picture, and a link.

Create a slideshow presentation of you map by clicking "Edit Presentation"

Click "Capture New Slide" to take a screen shot of your map to become a slide in the presentation.

Format the slide with the formatting tools above the map. View slides in the slide pane to the left of the map.

Click the home tab to return to the default tool bar. (You can switch back and forth between the two).

Click Measure to measure distances on the map. Click "add to map" if you want to add the measurement to the map.

How to integrate ArcGIS Explorer Online into your curriculum: ArcGIS Explorer is an impressive online mapping tool.  Use it to create guided tours for your students that can be played on classroom computers as an independent learning system or on the interactive whiteboard as a whole class map tour.  Embed links to informational websites, pictures relating to learning, and text to help guide your students through their journey.  Do one better by asking your students to create a map where they layer information, pictures, measurements, etc. on a map.  Students could create and swap tours of their home town with pen pals/blogging buddies around the world.  Create historical maps by adding notes with primary sources, pictures, links to additional learning (or blog posts that your students have written), and text that indicates the importance of the place.  Create literary maps by making note of key locations in literature that students are reading.  Students can add a note to the map with a quote from the book or a description of what happened there.  When they are finished reading, students can create a presentation/tour of the literature by creating a slide out of each place in the book.  An interactive literary tour of learning beats a traditional book report hands down!  ArcGIS would be a really neat way to plot a Flat Stanley project in the elementary classroom!

Tips: ArcGIS requires the Microsoft Silverlight plugin to work.  You can download Silverlight for free directly from the ArcGIS website.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using ArcGIS in your classroom!

National Geographic Maps: Tools for Adventure

Posted by admin | Posted in Fun & Games, Geography, Interactive Whiteboard, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 26-05-2010

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What it is: National Geographic Maps: Tools for Adventure is the best everything-map site I have seen.  The site was created by the Children’s museum of Indianapolis.  Maps are presented as the keys to adventure.  Students learn to use maps to find their way, share information, look at patterns, and solve problems.  There are six excellent interactive games for students to practice putting their math skills to use.  Students can explore a pyramid by guiding a robot to hieroglyphs, find sunken treasure, explore Mars, go on an adventure, see GIS in action, and visit Adventure Island.  I love the realistic feel of these games, as students explore and guide robots, they get a “live” video feed of where they are navigating.  On the National Geographic Maps: Tools for Adventures site, you will find information about the Indianapolis exhibit, how to use maps, related map links, and lesson plans.  This is one of those websites that my description just won’t do justice to, be sure to check it out!

How to integrate National Geographic Maps: Tools for Adventure into the classroom: This website is packed full of fantastic resources, games, and activities involving maps.  This is THE website to use when you are teaching students map reading skills.  As students navigate through the games, they will learn how to read a legend, practice following written directions, learn about different types of maps, practice giving directions, and problem solving.  The games provide an authentic way for students to learn how to use maps. Lessons in the “For Educators” section are wonderful and incorporate the online games.  National Geographic Maps: Tools for Adventure is ideal as a center on classroom computers or as an individual activity for the lab setting.  It could also be used as a whole class activity with an interactive whiteboard or projector, allow each student to take part in the navigation process at the board.

Tips: Be sure to check out the Related Links for more map adventures, games, and activities, you will find fun extras to build map skills.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using National Geographic Maps: Tools for Adventure in your classroom.

Captain Coordinate

Posted by admin | Posted in Geography, Interactive Whiteboard, Math, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Websites | Posted on 19-05-2010

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What it is: Captain Coordinate is a fun, fully narrated, interactive game that teaches students about geography and scale.  The game is one of the “Freebes” from Sherston.  Students can choose from three difficulty levels to help Captain Coordinate put up wanted posters in several locations.  They are given the scale of the map and can see the coordinates of the map.  Students determine how far East, West, North, or South they must go based on the scale to put up the posters.

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How to integrate Captain Coordinate into the classroom: Captain Coordinate is a fun way for your students to practice geography, map, and math skills all in one activity.  The entire game is narrated making it nice for a center activity or independent computer activity.  This is a great little practice site that responds to student input and has built in progress monitoring and immediate feedback for students.

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Tips: Sherston has a variety of software for the classroom for purchase, but there are also a lot of free activities to take advantage of online.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Captain Coordinate in your classroom.

Map a List

Posted by admin | Posted in Geography, History, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, web tools, Websites | Posted on 06-05-2010

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What it is: Map A List is a neat tool that combines the power of Google Spreadsheets and Google Maps or Google Earth.  Using Map A List, students can create and customize Google Maps of addresses or locations.  In a few easy steps, students can visualize geographic data on a Google Map or in Google Earth.  First, students enter a list of addresses or places in a Google Spreadsheet, as addresses are updated or modified in the list, the map is automatically updated.  Maps can be saved to be private or public. The maps can be exported as KLM files for viewing in Google Earth.

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How to integrate Map a List into the classroom: Map a List would be a great tool for keeping track and mapping a Flat Stanley project.  As Flat Stanley visits locations, students can keep track in a Google Spreadsheet and view the results on the map.  Map a List would be useful for tracking locations as student read any literature.  Track history events and battles using Map a List, helping your students to visualize the learning. Have students note their ancestry in a Google Spreadsheet and turn it into a map.  It is so easy to update the spreadsheet and see the results immediately on the map.

Tips: Thanks to @dgrice who noted a drawback to Map a List, even if you have multiple spreadsheet entries for the same location, only one representation will show up on the map.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Map a List in your classroom.

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Scribble Maps

Posted by admin | Posted in Geography, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, web tools, Websites | Posted on 15-03-2010

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What it is: Sometimes I use a website and recommend a website so often in my own corner of the world, that I forget to share it with all of you.  Scribble Maps is one of those websites.  Jonathan Wylie posted about Scribble Maps on his blog, Educational Technology Blog, last week and it made me wonder if I had ever posted here about it.  A quick search revealed I had not.  That sent me on a search through my blog of websites that I use most often with my students, and many of them have been overlooked here.  I guess I assume everyone knows about them because I use them so much.  You know what they say about people assuming things…  So, I will sprinkle in blog posts of some well known tools (in my classroom) as I realize they are absent!   Scribble Maps is a website that lets you scribble, draw, and annotate over Google maps.  Scribble Maps even lets you print your maps, save them, embed them on your website, blog, or wiki or save them as jpeg images to your computer.  Sweet, huh?!  In addition to annotating over maps, you can also add place markers with titles and descriptions, and add images to the map.  Maps can be viewed as regular maps, terrain maps, hybrid maps, or satellite maps making it pretty ideal for every classroom need.

How to integrate Scribble Maps into the classroom: The days of bulky pull down maps taking up space in your classroom are over.  If you have an interactive whiteboard or computer with projector, Scribble Maps is all you need.  (You couldn’t write on those expensive maps anyway!)  Scribble Maps is perfect for your every map need.  Whether it is a quick reference or an in depth geography lesson, Scribble Maps is easy to use, save, and print.  Use Scribble Maps in literature or history and drop place markers with descriptions on a map as students read.  Students will have a better idea of what is happening in story when they can visually see places mentioned marked out on a map.  Scribble Maps would be a great tool for those Flat Stanley projects that elementary classrooms across the country do each school year.  Create a map and plot all of the places that Stanley traveled, attach pictures of Stanley, with those he visited, on the map.  Play map games calling out geographical places and having students find them on the map and tag them with the information they know.

Scribble Maps lets you share maps via Facebook, in the high school classroom create a class page that students can become fans of and post homework help, links to educational websites, etc.

My Technology Tuesday tip of the week is for Scribble Maps.  Check out Quick Tip 14 here.

Tips: As a side note, if you are not reading Jonathan’s blog, it is one to add to your RSS reader!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Scribble Maps in your classroom.

Google Street View Gallery

Posted by admin | Posted in Art, Fun & Games, Geography, inspiration, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Virtual Field Trips, Websites | Posted on 03-03-2010

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What it is: Google Street Gallery is a must add bookmark for any classroom.  This is a collection of Google Street views of famous landmarks, buildings, and art, sport, and entertainment venues from around the world.  Landmarks includes places such as Big Ben, Tower Bridge, Golden Gate Bridge, Space Needle, Gateway Arch, CN Tower, Tokyo Tower, Plaza de Cibeles, Eiffel Tower, Arthur’s Seat, The Colosseum, Arc de Triomphe, and Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.  In Famous Buildings students can see the street view of Westminster Abbey, City Hall, St. George’s Hall, Coventry Cathedral, Sydney Opera House, Sagrada Familia, Chateau de Chillon, Belem Tower, St. Peter’s Basilica, and Taipei 101.  In Art, sport and entertainment students can tour Angel of the North, Coronation Street, Trafalgar Square Fourth Plinth, Tate Britain, Wales Millennium Centre, Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art, Guggenheim Museum, and The Louvre Museum.  Not only can students explore the street view of all these places, they can also see users pictures embedded right in the street view.  Each place can be viewed on Google Maps with the click of a button.   Students can also quickly find more information about any of the landmarks by clicking “more information”.  Students are taken to a Google Search that shows the location on a Google map, gives details, photos, videos, reviews, tells about nearby places, and gives more information about the place.  

How to integrate Google Street View Gallery into the classroom: Google Street View Gallery makes it easy to whisk your students away on virtual adventures around the world.  Bring your geography, history, and social studies lessons to life by letting students take a virtual field trip with Google Street Views.  Using an interactive whiteboard or projector, your students will feel like they have visited landmarks around the world during class.  Allow students to be the “tour guides” and navigate the street view and pictures associated. Make sure to view the Google Maps so that students can get a sense of where each landmark is located and practice their map skills. Google Street views can be used during math to study architecture shapes, angles, etc. in real world settings.

Display a Google Street View on your projector or interactive whiteboard and ask students to imagine they have just visited this landmark or building and write a story about what happened there.  The street views make excellent writing prompts.

Tips: I love using Google Street Views with an interactive whiteboard.  Students really get the sense of what it is like to stand on the street in the middle of Prague or London and take a look around.  It is fun to imagine the stories that take place every day on those streets.

Google Street View Gallery is not a comprehensive collection of available Google Street Views, it is a great collection of famous landmarks and buildings, grouped together for easy access.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Google Street View Gallery in your classroom.