Google Maps has just unveiled a “My Maps” feature that makes it very easy for people to create their own maps with placemarks. If you’re unclear what that means, you can see an example (not done with Google, though) of what I’m talking about by going to Student Maps on my Examples of Student Work page.
Google’s “My Maps” feature, though, makes it a whole lot easier to create these kinds of maps. Their url’s can then be shared and posted. There are many ways this kind of tool can be used with English Language Learners and others, including writing about field trips, their native countries, places they’re learning about and places they want to visit.
The Google Maps tool is the last map tool listed in the Student Maps section (“Make another map here.”). The Google Blogoscoped blog also has an excellent guide to the new feature. You will have to create a Google account to have your students use it, but that can be done in seconds.
I know there are a ton of creative things you can do with Google Earth, and I have many of them listed on my Teacher’s Page under Geography Teacher Resources. However, I just haven’t taken the time to figure out how to use Google Earth effectively. Using online map tools, like My Maps, though, is easy for my English Language Learner students and for me.
I appreciate the example of your student’s map project. This is a great activity that even beginning ESL students can do, and builds on their sense of the world and the distance many have come to be here in the states. Thanks for all the links to mapping sites, too. Wewb 2.0 is going crazy these days, isn’t it?