After an initial lesson just exploring the tools and features of Google Earth with Year 6, for the second lesson I do with them I like to give them the opportunity to use the program for some specific research purpose. In the past, this has included labelling a specific country using placemark pins (see here) and locating historical buildings in the local area (see here).
Following a discussion with my deputy head, we felt that this year it would be nice to give the children the chance to have a bit more independence and let them choose where they themselves wanted to research. Initially, the idea we had was letting them research any particular country that they wanted to and labelling its major towns and water bodies surrounding it using saved image files inserted into PowerPoint. Whilst having a stroll around the park yesterday afternoon though, I then had the idea of giving them a list of postcodes of places in the UK and challenging them to find out what famous building/natural feature can be found at each of them instead, before then labelling them using PowerPoint - this would give them a little bit more structure than just allowing them to label any country and they would hopefully enjoy the mysterious element of not knowing what they were going to find at each postcode.
To save on the precious battery life of our laptops and so that they were clear of my expectations, I spent a good time explaining the task to the children beforehand. I also created a template PowerPoint file for them to work in containing a pre-inserted satellite photograph of the UK ready for them to work around ( Download UK Poster Template). The process which they had to follow was:
- From the given list, search for a postcode's location in Google Earth.
- Use the pan and zoom tools to place the building/natural feature nice and big in the centre of the screen.
- Press the 'PRT SCR' button on the keyboard to take a screenshot.
- Paste this screenshot into PowerPoint. (We have the 2003 version at school which sadly doesn't contain a screenshot tool unlike the 2010 version, plus I felt that using the 'save as image' tool in Google Earth might be a bit too long-winded.)
- Use the resize and crop buttons to highlight just the main thing being focused on and place it alongside the UK. (I've struggled for years to describe what the crop icon looks like - I loved one boy's description of it today when he compared it to a 'sweet'!).
- Make a text box label next to it, possibly changing the: fill, outline or fill colour for effect.
- Draw an arrow from it to its location in the UK, possibly changing its colour or thickness for effect.
I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the posters the children managed create during the lesson:
They all seemed to enjoy discovering what was at each postcode and in the plenary could quite confidently discuss all the new ICT skills that they had learned to combine together to create a pleasing and informative piece of work (e.g. doing postcode searches in Google Earth, taking screenshots, cropping pictures to focus a viewer's attention etc.). The lesson was differentiated quite well in that the children were expected to find different numbers of postcodes but at the same time, they felt that they had control over their own learning as they had the freedom to choose which postcodes they looked up and how to combine various PowerPoint drawing tools to best present the aerial photographs of what could be found at them.
I'd love to read any experiences other classes have had using Google Earth to help them develop their geographical researching skills and would be keen to know if anybody has any other interesting postcodes of places that I could share with my children to get them to locate!