There are a lot of teachers out there who are successfully using technology to bring the curriculum to life for their students. Yesterday, Google recognized eight teachers for their creativity in using the 3D Google Earth application to create lessons about ancient Rome.
Google Earth takes users on a geographic and historic tour of the globe with maps and satellite images of land and sea. The winning teachers have taken their standards-based lessons and adapted them to interactive models of ancient and modern-day Rome. Here's a sample on YouTube:
At Acalanes Union High School District, for example, 6th and 7th graders create a multimedia "Roman Holiday" that takes them to sites throughout the ancient city. Cheryl Davis, who teaches World History at the school in Lafayette, Calif., uses the collaborative project to build students' knowledge, as well as their research and writing skills. As part of the lesson the students create blog entries, podcasts, and videos that describe the locale and its history.
Any time you can help students visualize a place and understand the physical context of an era, it is bound to have a greater impression on them than just the text.
I've seen demonstrations of this tool and it seems to be a practical and fairly easy way to bring interactive technology into the classroom. The presentations I've seen are also pretty engaging, making geography and history interesting.
What are the challenges of fitting these kinds of lessons in? How difficult are they to create or adopt? Are teachers in your district using this kind of tech application effectively?