5 Activities With Google My Maps

Social studies classes often provide practice with worksheets. Many of the worksheets are productive, so I'm not saying that they are a waste of time. But, honestly, find an engineer, banker, doctor, carpenter, or anyone, for that matter, who gets a paycheck for completing a worksheet. If there wasn't an alternative to the textbook approach, I wouldn't mention it.

Instead of making copies of worksheets, take your students to the computer lab and have them research a topic, make a table to organize the information, and map the findings with Google My Maps. The map can be shared via link or embedded into a website. Then, it becomes a study guide that your students, and the world, can use.

The map can be used for sorting and other analysis activities. Perhaps students could use it to categorize the data into three or four categories and write a summary analyzing for similarities and differences.

Here's what I did with our Civil War Battle study.

1. Collect information with a Google Form.

Make a Google Form (first image below) to collect the research results from students. The response submissions will be collected in a Google Sheet (second image) that is automatically connected to the Form when you make it. Include at least location and title columns so Maps can plot and label the points. You'll be prompted to choose he columns when you upload the data to My Maps.

2. Upload the data with Google Sheets.

This can be done in many layers or just one. I use a layer for each class. If the students are studying regional geography, you can make different forms for different geography themes and import them as separate layers. The map's use as a resource for future activities expands when you write assessment items that require the students to choose the appropriate layer to access the data needed to respond to the problem. Rigorous instruction does not need to be a lot of work to be effective.

3. Add images to their points.

Once the points are plotted, let the students explore while adding images to the info points. Guide them to choose an image or photo that tells the story or a critical piece of it.

4. Include links to resources for a more in-depth read.

Evaluating sources can be fun and productive when students add urls to their info point. Add a new column to the data table by selecting the "open data table" link under the layer (see image above). This is a good opportunity to teach students how to evaluate sources. Try using a strategy like CRAAP to practice evaluating Internet sources.


Other Activity Ideas 

1. World War II Battles
2. Physical Features 
3. Civil Rights Events 
4. Standard of living 
5. Rule of Law