This week I've been on a Staycation Spring Break. It has been wonderful and restful, but I've found myself wondering if any of my students have managed to venture out of town by car, plane, or book this week. I came across a great blog entry today at Bronx Classroom Tales written by a high school teacher whose school has been able to send students abroad for short learning trips to expand their worldview. What can I say? That school has it going on!
In case this week has been your spring break, and you haven't been able to travel, I'd like to introduce you to a tool that I use in my classroom to show my students the real locations of our reading assignments. This tool that can solve your travel woes is called Google Earth.
Google Earth has been around for several years; however, the appeal has not worn off. In fact, every time I log on, I find a new feature they've added that I tinker with for hours. As the developers say, [it's a way to] get the world's geographic information at your fingertips." In other words, you can see the world without having to leave your living room.
At first the satellite images only gave you the overhead view of a location, but Google has worked to make street views available on all seven continents by driving around the world with cars equipped with cameras. Now they've taken to the narrower trails by trike and snowmobile to capture even more for web-travelers to see.
What I've found exciting is that Google Earth has been working with local women in Kenya to map their African villages. Since there are many dirt-road villages in Kenya that are tucked far away from the big city life, it would be easy to never see what daily life is really like, but they are working with locals to solve this.
Check out Google Earth's blog Google Lat Long Blog for new features and weekly posts on interesting places to travel to with the program.
While Spring Break is winding down, I'm going to make myself a cup of comforting tea and take a little jaunt around Europe. Log on and tell me where you're traveling to with Google Earth. Here is a screen shot of my first stop in honor of St. Patrick's Day.