Google Earth Map Comparison Lesson Plan
NETS-S 3.b. Locate, organize, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and ethically use information from a variety
of sources and media.
NETS-S 3.d. Process data and report results.
Teacher Resources Student Resources
Google Earth, whiteboard, markers, Google Earth, pencil, paper, ruler
II. Learner Objectives: Students will draw a map of the area surrounding the school or
other landmarks in town. Afterwards, the student will check Google Earth for
accuracy of their own map. The student will study their own map and point out five
(or more) inaccuracies in their map (scale problems, missing streets, streets going
wrong direction, etc.)
III. Instructional Methods
A. Engagement/Anticipatory Set: Students will be engaged by an activity as they
enter the room. There will be a blank outline of the United States mainland and
the students will be told to draw in a certain landlocked state. The students will
enjoy seeing how far off or how close they were to actually hitting the target.
They will also be informed that Reno, NV lies farther west than Los Angeles. In
seeing how their understanding of geography is flawed they will be curious and
B. Exploration: The students will first draw a map (as closely to scale as possible) of
a predetermined area, possibly a map of the area within a mile radius of the
school. They will then compare their map with a map of the same area on
Google Earth. They will print out the actual map and show 5 inaccuracies in their
C. Explanation: In seeing the differences in both maps, the students will become
aware that their environment is not always set up the way they think it is. I will
explain that it is important to keep in mind all the little turns of a road before
D. Elaboration: The students will be reminded that their mental representation of a
certain area is not necessarily an accurate one, and will learn that maps are an
essential tool if you want to know your bearings at all times.
IV. Assesment and Evaluation: While students are drawing their initial maps, I will not
guide them in any way, since the part of the project that will be assessed will be the
comparison of the two maps. I will explain what inaccuracies I would like to see
pointed out and I will evaluate student performance on the observations students
make concerning the difference between their map and the real map.
V. Closure: The students will be asked why they did the activity. Once someone says
that our perception of certain areas is not always accurate, I will go on to explain
that many explorers of the 15th and 16th century had more primitive maps and for
that reason, they sometimes got lost and ended up where they did.
VI. Differentiated Instruction: Some students may have difficulty drawing a map or
drawing with straight lines or to scale. For those students, there will be an option of
creating a map on MS Paint instead of drawing one. MS Paint has different colors,
line thicknesses, and the option to draw straight lines. This activity is already very
accessible to all sorts of learners because the evaluation is not based on drawing
ability, but rather ability to spot errors or inaccuracies.
VII. Reflection: The lesson could be tweaked to make more use of Google Earth’s many
options, but the only option being used is the map option. Perhaps, besides creating
a map, the students could draw a route from school to their home, or to another
landmark. Then, on Google Earth, they can draw that same route and compare it in
length and shape. That way, students would make use of some drawing tools, and
they could use the traffic layer to determine which route would be the most efficient