Google Maps and Skype

My work with the RRR grant has a real learning experience.  One such learning was creating a Google Map.  I remember my awe when primary investigator, Dr. Mark Tebeau, showed us the Euclid Corridor map that he and his colleagues had created using Google Map.  A visitor could click on various spots and up popped an image and text.  It was amazing.

Dr. Tebeau presented the Euclid Corridor map at the May 15 & 16 workshop.  He challenged the participants to create their own Google maps of their neighborhoods or their school districts.  I was not present at that workshop, as I wanted to witness my son’s graduation from Penn State with his Masters of Engineering Degree.  He was chosen to deliver the commencement address…and even though he spoke for only five minutes…I didn’t want to miss it.

My role in the leadership of the grant experience is to communicate with the teachers.  And so I sent an e-mail reminding them of the assignment and encouraging them to meet the deadline.  Oh!  What a barrage of e-mail I received asking for directions and help and on and on.

I tried to create a map on my own.  I failed.  I e-mailed Andreas Johannson who immediately replied, "Anything I could offer, you can find for yourself." Just put "google maps" in your browser and follow the directions.  His encouragement gave me courage to try again.  I followed the directions and here is the map that I created: 


I was so happy!  I called my husband Tony to the computer and I demonstrated my map.  When my son Timothy stopped by on his way home from teaching at Wooster High School, I took him to the computer and I showed him my map.  Immediately, Timothy began thinking of ways he could use the map in his classroom.  Tony said, "Jann!  You could create a Google map with a stop for every single participant in the RRR grant!"

The e-mail I wrote to the participants next said: "I did it!  If this old dog can do it, YOU CAN!  Put Google Maps in your browser.  Follow the directions.  E-mail me your map when you’re done."

Tony Nigro’s map was so personal.  His Google map was located in Florida.  I glimpsed Tony’s life as I explored his map.


John Bennett used different icons to mark the spots in his map:

Dawn Cancellerie incorporated images in her Google Map:


I kept checking e-mail to see who had send me a map and what they had included in it.  Perhaps one of the most exciting conversations I had was with Jed McKnight.  He said, "I am thinking that students could make a Google map of Sherman’s march to the sea."

That’s what I enjoy most about our RRR group.  They are able to learn new information, strategies and techniques AND they are able to transfer them to their classroom to make learning history more active and more effective.

Hooray for all who completed the assignment!

I had still not recovered from all this exciting learning, when John Bennett and I skyped!  Oh, my!  I was able to see and hear John.  Through the computer, John introduced me to his wife and his dog.  What fun.  While we talked through the computer, John looked up websites for me that sold web cameras.  With a web camera hooked up to my USB port and mounted on my computer, I could be visible to John while we skyped.  Just think, I could also talk…and see my grandchildren who live in Colorado and Pennsylvania.

John was not the first person to tell me how much he was enjoying the DOAN BROOK HANDBOOK, the book we’d sent out for preparation for the Summer Institute.  He was the first one, however, who told me about completing the assignment to compare fresh and flowing water in your neighborhood to the Doan Brook.  "I have learned so much!  I can not wait to share it," he said. 

I, too, have been reading the book and working on the assignment.  I, too, am excited about what I have learned about a small creek that served as a playground for my four children.  How I took that unassuming creek for granted!

The first day for the Summer Institute is June 16.  We will share fresh and flowing water in our neighborhoods and we will visit the Doan Brook.  More about that later.