It is important to remember that utilizing an iPad in the classroom need not require every student to have an iPad with some expensive app and a complicated lesson plan that you spent hours developing that utilizes the app in unique and interesting ways. That is great to do, of course, but one of the more straightforward uses of an iPad is to take the ordinary elements of a classroom and make them extraordinary.
To replace the standard roll-down map at the front of the classroom, we have Google Earth instead. All you need is one iPad, the free app, and the ability to mirror your screen using an AppleTV or AirServer.
I use Google Earth in pretty much every subject with my fifth graders. Some examples:
- In Social Studies, when studying latitude, longitude, and time zones.
- During any History lessons, I can quickly and easily show them where a state or country is on Earth.
- For Geography, I can use Google Earth's incredible level of zoom to view examples of different geographical features, as long as I know where to find them on Earth.
- When talking about famous people in Social Studies or Religion class (I work at a private school), I can show the students which country the person is from.
- It can also be used to practice measurements or even do research.
Google Earth's ability to zoom in and then learn more about specific cities or landmarks is really the best feature. For example, when talking about St. Peter's Basilica, I can start by showing the students where Italy is on Earth like in the photo above (by just typing “Italy” into the search box).
I can then zoom in on Rome and The Vatican to show them just how small of a country it is. That can lead to a whole new lesson.
Clicking the button at the bottom brings up up a list of photos and virtual tours. I can show the kids all sorts of great stuff without having to scour the internet looking up and saving photos in advance.
So then I can start teaching them about St. Peter's Basilica and zoom in even further so they can see just how huge it is. Also, this could lead to a whole different discussion about satellites, cameras, and Science, but I'll try to keep them on-topic.
At any point I can zoom back out or jump to some other location on Earth by just typing it into the search bar. Student have a question about what country the current pope is from? I just type in Argentina and Google Earth will fluidly transition across the Atlantic. This sort of interaction was never possible with those boring, clunky, static, and even outdated maps hanging from the classroom wall.
Oh, and if this zoom isn't enough or if this angle isn't good enough, I can easily start pulling up high-res photos taken from the ground.
Once again, to me this app is a no-brainer and I almost worry that I am wasting my time with posts focusing on apps like this, but just in case you never heard of Google Earth or never thought to use it in the classroom, I hope I've given you some good ideas.
And the kids really love it.