Google Earth: Connecting to the World

I like to teach my students how to use Google Earth early on in the school year. Once they get over the fun of looking up their homes and their friends' homes, I use it in a multitude of ways: comparing different landforms, distinguishing between the different oceans and which land masses they border, naming the attributes of urban vs. rural environments, etc. If Google Earth existed back when I was in school, I would have been much more interested in the geography lessons instead of being lost in my daydreams. There was something about one-dimensional maps that didn't excite me, but the visual and three-dimensional aspects of Google Earth keep me (and my students!) engaged for hours. 

I thought I came up with pretty cool lessons using Google Earth until I came across this site. Here you can learn how to lay pictures over the ground, use placemarks, and understand how network links function. They include tons of exciting lesson plans. Bring your students on an adventure through different time zones around the world with, "Exploring Time Zones, A Travel Experience." You can tour Russia, Spain, or learn about endangered species around the world, all from your classroom. 

ePals: Connecting to other classroom

Remember back when you had a pen-pal in school? You'd write a letter, wait a month or two, then get a letter in return. Connecting to other kids around the country or world has become much easier and faster since then. With ePals you can find a classroom in over 200 countries. Teachers and parents list projects, such as, "Class in Virginia, USA Seeks Intercambio Cultural with Spanish Speakers." Each project is accompanied by activities and lesson plans. What an awesome way to make your classroom part of a larger global community!