At the beginning of this month, I had the opportunity to attend Ohio’s Google Tech Summit. A little piece of advice: if you haven’t been to a non-language-teaching conference for a while, find one, and a tech conference is a great one! Don’t get me wrong, I love Central States and really hope to make it to ACTFL some day, but I had a great time at this conference. The atmosphere was so different – in order to talk to other teachers, I had to go beyond language teaching and talk about just teaching. It was great to get insights from people in other areas. Mostly, I stuck with general tech tips and sessions with ELA or social studies tips because it seems to me that those are the easiest to relate to world language teaching. I got some great tips on using tech to support reading and writing, and generally it was a great learning experience.
The thing that I’m most excited about from the conference is Google Tour Builder. I don’t know if you’ve heard of this yet, but if you haven’t, get ready. Basically, it is exactly what it says it is. You can create a tour that integrates with Google Maps. You can use Street View and lock in an angle that you want kids to look at, put them in a particular order for the “tour”. For each “stop” on the tour, you can add a description (which could include questions or writing or conversation prompts), photos (your own, or the ones Google has associated with that location, or pretty much any photo), captions on the photos you choose, videos, and lots of other cool things that I’m only just starting to figure out (it is May, after all!).
My first instinct was that this would be an excellent addition to introducing a novel or unit. The first novel I hope to read with my 2s in the fall is Noches misteriosas en Granada, so I started experimenting with that in mind. Here is what I have so far. There are so many possibilities with this! In a social studies class you could tour the history of democracy – start Greece, and travel to Britain and Philadelphia. The options for a science class are absolutely endless!
Sidenote: When I actually tried to do my tour, for some reason, it only shows aerial views as a default, even though I have selected specific Street Views that I want to be the “default” for each stop. According to the tutorial, I seem to have done it correctly, so I assume this is a bug because it’s still in Beta? Or some kind of user error. Luckily I have until August to figure it out.
Anyway, there you have it, Google Tour Builder. Enjoy!