Presentation by Tom Barrett

Several months ago, I got in touch with Tom Barrett after we had both started blogging about Google Earth in the classroom. Tom is a Primary teacher in Grade 6 and he has a fantastic blog and his classes are using blogs as well.

I liked what Tom was doing in the classroom and I used his work in my presentation to the k12online conference last year. Then I asked Tom to do a presentation for our Primary teachers as part of the Australian Government Quality Teachers Program. It was 10 months in the making as we couldn’t find a date that we could get all our Primary teachers together. In the end, we thought we’d do one campus at a time.
Tom presented from London last week to semi-rural Melbourne. It was 7:30 am here and 10:30 pm there. Many thanks must go to our Primary staff for actually turning up (in their dressing gowns), but more importantly, Karen Griffiths who supported me throughout this activity.

Most importantly, Tom talked about how he uses Google Earth, blogs, wikis, PhotoStory and Turning Point in his class. It was enthralling to watch and listen to him as well as his captivated audience. I’ve had several comments from our staff, who were quite impressed with his presentation and several have already asked about how they can do some of the same things.

Thanks Tom.

k12onlineconference – Follow up

Last week, my presentation on “Around the World in 80 Minutes” was uploaded to a server somewhere and was made available to anyone interested. While no comments were left on the k12online confernece site, a few people sent me personal messages to tell me how things went, or I found references to it on other people’s blogs.

Thanks to those people who wrote to me.

Tom Barrett made a reference to the work on his blog and then Paul Harrington made a comment that people mentioned Tom’s work during the closing skypecast. Pity I missed it. I hope Tom gets many more visitors. Qlock

Janine Lim (she’s the master, I’m still an apprentice) Videoconferncing expert, made a reference to my presentation on her blog and stated she learnt about Qlock, a great utility for your desktop showing world times. A very handy feature when trying to work in various time zones.

I hope anyone who watched it learnt something. I certainly learnt heaps while reseraching the presenation and then actually producing and editing it.

Now, I just need to find time to watch/listen to some more presenations.

So, what has Jules Verne got to do with my blog?


Jules Verne wrote the book “Around the World in 80 Days” around 1872. Just a few years earlier, he and many others of his time were captivated by technological breakthroughs. These breakthroughs were related to transportation – the Suez Canal opening and the linking of train lines across the US and also in the sub-continent. And what did this technology breakthrough lead to? The rapid circumnavigation of the globe, hence his book.

So, what does this have to do with my blog I hear you ask. Well, in recent times, we too have had various technological breakthroughs that have led to people like me being captivated by the potential in our classrooms. What are these breakthroughs? The advancement of ISDN and now Broadband, the compression of audio and video files are just some. Coupled together, they allow us educators to take our class anywhere we like. I have written before about the possibility of Videoconferencing. And in the last few weeks, I have put together a presenation for the k12onlineconference and it is all about the uses of videoconferencing in the classroom. So, sometime today, my presentation “Around the World in 80 Minutes” will go live at the conference site with tips and where to find resources and the possibilites of videoconferencing, as well as tips on Google Earth. I must also note that I have referenced the work of: Tom Barrett; Janine Lim; ReefEd and National Space Center, UK
Thank you to these people for their blogs which I have been reading with interest for some time or for the services they have provided to me.

Maths in Google Earth

I just came across Tom Barrett‘s blog via Paul Harrington. He is a Primary teacher in the UK and his blog is all about using IT in his classroom. Looking through it, I discovered a great project he has developed for Maths.

It got me thinking about a project I’m planning for my Year 9 Maths classes. I have been nutting my brain out for the last few weeks, trying to put together a real life project for simultaneous equations. And the solution appeared as I looked at Tom’s site.

The project idea goes something like this – and any mathematicians out there, I know the earth is round and the soltuions won’t be exact, but they’ll be close enough for this task.

  • In our neighbourhood, there is a planned train line extension.
  • Assuming the extension will be a straight line, find its’ equation using latitude and longitude.
  • At some point it will intersect with a road. Find the equation of the road
  • Surveyors need to visit the site of the intersection. They need the latitude and longitude of the intersection to visit it.
  • Find the intersecting point of the train line and road by using their knowledge of simultaneous equations

Bingo, a real life problem solving activity using Simultaneous Equations and Google Earth at the same time. And who said Maths is boring??
I’ll post the actual assignment to this blog and other places for other teachers to use in the near future.

The Amazing Race

If you read my “About me” page, you would have noticed that I am interested in using Google Earth in my teaching. As a Mathematics teacher, so far it has been limited to where certain Mathematicians lived, worked etc. Lots of ideas for other people’s classes that I’ll share one day as I continue to create new blog entries.
But today, I read Jeff Utecht‘s blog and how his Grade 5 class has made a fun and exciting project based on “The Amazing Race”. As Jeff wrote:

Basically the 5th grade teachers wanted to do an Amazing Race theme and have the students plot on a map 7 different countries they wanted to visit. The students then had to research the different countries and find facts about them. Then they had to choose two cities within each country to have their ‘contestents’ visit within those countries.

Instead of using a map on paper we took the project to Google Earth and had the students each make their own Google Earth file with their country information.

Fascinating concept and the way to go! (excuse the pun). This concept obviously works at Primary school classes as demonstrated here, but can just as easily be used in:

  • Science classes to track where migratory animals move to and from (doesn’t have to be cities),
  • History classes to track how armies swept across a continent or where battles were fought
  • Literature classes where characters move from place to place (did you know someone in the Google Earth Community has plotted all of the places Shakespeare wrote about – I think a great resource for teachers and students)

A colleague recently asked me to assist the Year 7 students with mapping where they, their parents and grand-parents were born. All of the placemarks were saved in one folder with custom made icons used to represent paternal and maternal family members. These were then uploaded on one computer. While not quite finished, it looks to be an amazing collection of data that shows where our students and their families have come from before settling in Australia. Perhaps it will turn into an annual project for our Year 7 students. Who knows?

Any other suggestions out there for Google Earth projects?