How I Use It
I've used Google Earth for a number of collaborative projects (one had students measuring distances from their home, to several world landmarks) as well as examining locations of story settings, and diffusing stereotypes about other locations.
My favorite feature though is the Historical Imagery feature, in which you can view various locations at various points in history. We were able to look at our school over time and determine how it had changed and been added to throughout the years (and debate where the school ghost originally came from!)
Another cool thing you can do is use the Google Lit Trips website (http://bit.ly/12GiAzo) to download .kmz files into Google Earth. These place key pinpoints of a story onto the globe. For example, Number the Stars has pin points all throughout Europe as the main character tries to stay safe during the Holocaust. Many pinpoints include story information and questions about the location and story. Generally speaking, there are many great .kmz files that you can load into Google Earth to expand the available information.
Overall, it's a great tool that can be adapted for use in many settings, with any student.
This is an excellent tool to help kids realize that there are real people in the rest of the world living their daily lives. Google Earth has many great features that can help history and geography come alive. It is a very full-featured program, so there may components of the program that you never get to, but that's ok. Just helping kids understand where a story is taking place can make all the difference.