Darfur, Google Earth, Brilliant!

My experience with Googe Earth is somewhat limited. I’ve looked at my house, school, and various other cool places. All with the direction and attention span of my four year old.  I’d seen Google Earth Lit Trips and thought it was a pretty cool idea – for someone else to do.  I’ve shown the Great Wall and Forbidden City to my classes.  But, never did I really think about seriously applying it to my own classes.

Until now.  Seeing the new partnership between Google and the USHMM to illustrate the ongoing genocide in Darfur, has officially thrown the switch in my head.  I spent the last couple of days before spring break talking about Darfur to wrap up my Holocaust/Genocide unit.  I primarily used the information, images, and videos segments from the USHMM web site.  In the end, I had hoped for a greater response from the students.  When I said there were 200,000 dead, two million internal refugees, and hundreds of villages destroyed, I couldn’t quite illustrate it in a way that made an impact.  I spent about an hour yesterday moving throughout Darfur in Google Earth.  Reading first-hand testimonies, examining pictures of destroyed villages, and actually seeing the number of refugee camps in Sudan and neighboring Chad.  I’m pretty well read on the subject, but this truly opened my eyes to the conflict.  No doubt when I share this with my students on Monday, it will clarify their understanding as well.


Adding visuals like this will certainly enhance their understanding. (Image from Ogle Earth).

Now I can’t stop thinking about ways I could incorporate Google Earth into my classroom.  I envision students creating projects that trace the Mongol’s race across Asia, Alexander the Great’s army trek to India, the travels of Marco Polo and Ibn Battuta, and Mao’s Long March.  Don’t know if I can fit it in this school year, but definitely in the fall.

This is why I never sleep.