So, I returned from a honeymoon to Vancouver and Victoria, BC in time to do laundry, repack, and head back to the West Coast. I was nervous about this trip. I worried I wouldn't measure up to the other people who had been accepted to this institute. When I applied to the program I was a social studies teacher who was going to be teaching four sections of World Geography, now I was a library media specialist and had not yet met any of my colleagues. How was I going to bring to them all that Google would teach me?
MyMaps to Earth to the Cultural Institute to 3D images in Street View and more.
Day 1, Session 1 I chose to attend a session with Jeff Crews (@crewsertech) on using Google Street View with students. First we considered AMAZING ways that a tool like Maps has changed people lives. Meet Saroo Brierley. After some quick instruction to calibrate our use of Maps we were off and running around the Google campus with Ricoh Theta S cameras snapping 360 images and uploading them to maps. Then began the brainstorming of how to use this technology with students. I started to think about my lessons on art analysis and unpacking images, how paintings differ from photos, on the importance of considering the role of the photographer in staging, cropping, and editing a photo -- even in the days way before Photoshop! Those considerations of purpose and control are changed dramatically by a 360 degree image. Certainly maps have a purpose in geography instruction, and I had used StreetView in the past to help students develop setting when writing historical fiction, but the 3D element adds all new aspects of image analysis and historical record to the conversations!
Day 1, Session 2 I explored issues of graphicacy, teaching students to unpack, understand, and create graphical presentations of information, with Richard Treves (@trevesy). Richard packed the basics of a semester-long college course into a 2-hour session. This was a map-making course akin to a visual arts course where we examined use of color in all layers, types of symbols, and the impact of map-maker decisions on map reader literacy. Not only did this inform how I would ask students to make a map or other data display but also how I will go about select maps and other graphical resources for students to consume.
I hesitate to call the next experience the highlight of the institute because every session, talk, and experience had such value to different parts of teaching and professional learning, but Jamie Buchanan-Dunlop's (@jamie_bd) key note address the morning of day two resonated emotionally so intensely that it continues to linger with me even now, more than a month later. Developing student empathy for a global community empowers their sense of agency to effect meaningful change and invigorates their desire to learn the skills and content necessary to be a positive change-maker.
I returned to work with Richard Treves on Google Earth and while practicing the basics of building layers to create Google Earth Tours began discussing different contexts for such projects which ultimately we determined have purpose in most disciplines for documenting the movement of goods or people, for telling stories, for contextualizing data, and so on.
Phew. There was much more packed into my time in Mountain View. These are just some highlights that I am bringing to my new students and my new colleagues. Obviously geography literacy matters in all disciplines in that it can support the learning of so much interdisciplinary content and requires critical thinking and reading skills that are relevant in so many aspects of learning and functioning in the world. My new home is the library and from there these new skills and enhanced pedagogy can reach even more teachers and students.