• Unit 1: Discovering and Presenting World Photos within Google Maps


Common Core State Standards Initiative: Grade 9

Speaking and Listening

Comprehension and Collaboration

1. Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9–10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

  • • Come to discussions prepared, having read and researched material under study; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence from texts and other research on the topic or issue to stimulate a thoughtful, well-reasoned exchange of ideas.

2. Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source.

Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas

4. Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task.

5. Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest.


Production and Distribution of Writing

4. Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

6. Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products, taking advantage of technology’s capacity to link to other information and to display information flexibly and dynamically.

Research to Build and Present Knowledge

8. Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the usefulness of each source in answering the research question; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.

History/Social Studies

Key Ideas and Details

1. Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.


Literacy research, visual literacy, photosharing, landmark, cultural symbolism and representation, Google Maps, VoiceThread, Jing


Students will:
  • • Research and find images on the Internet that relate to a continent chosen.
  • • Use a technology tool to critically examine photos chosen on the Internet.
  • • Develop a presentation and narrate it to provide information.
  • • Integrate media production tools into a meaningful presentation.
  • • Offer reflective and informative feedback for other group presentations.

Unit Description/Rationale

  • We decided to create a unit utilizing Google Maps because of the many educational benefits. By using
interactive photo programs, students are able to see multiple perspectives of a landmark, learn visual literacy skills, and interact with users who took and published photographs. Allowing students to pick any country’s landmarks provides the class with a richer knowledge of countries that may not have otherwise been covered during class time. In addition, it helps educators follow state standards and deepen students’ understanding and skills. Students will present their findings with the class as a whole, shifting their roles from students to teachers.

  • Particularly, this unit plan emphasizes and enhances important twenty-first century skills that are
needed for learning. As youth search for photos and organize them for presentation, they are learning communication skills. Also, by participating with other group members in creating a photo presentation, they are learning how to work and communicate with one another. Providing feedback to other groups offers them the opportunity to learn from and critically examine the work of their peers. In addition, this unit plan provides an authentic purpose for learning. Students are interacting with Web 2.0, its vast array of resources, and discovering community interests, as well as communicating their findings to their peers.

  • John Potter states that photosharing tools “open up the possibilities inherent in Web 2.0 applications for
participation, sharing, and discovery,” (Potter, 2010, p. 123). Photosharing has become an increasingly popular phenomenon as pictures are taken more frequently and are able to be posted immediately. Users can instantly upload photos to sites such as Facebook and Flickr for others to see and comment. Photsharing provides a wonderful means of allowing students to engage in participatory culture. In this curriculum unit, students are given the opportunity to work with one another to navigate and critically examine photos from a website. Students are able to explore a landmark within its natural context and surroundings. As they view photos, with the technological tool, Google Maps, they are “participating” in the picture itself. Google Maps gives the viewer the opportunity to “play around” with the viewing tools offered. For example, they can zoom in and out of an image, view a landmark from the “street view” mode, and look in different directions as if they are truly standing in front of it. They become participants, actively exploring the photo, rather than passive viewers of a photo with no interaction. Additional resources and tools are included that can be explored. One is Photosynth, a photosharing website where digital pictures can be viewed from different angles, much like Google Maps. However, in Photosynth, many user photos are viewed in succession from different angles. If numerous photos were taken, viewers can rotate completely to see surrounding scenery. This is an additional visual tool that will give students an understanding of the area the landmark is in which may contribute to its characteristics.

  • Guy Merchant believes students can learn many literacy skills through photosharing. Students build
visual literacy skills when examining an image. For example, the website, Flickr, is home to thousands of images and videos that are posted by community members. Students who are given the chance to examine these images and videos are afforded the opportunity of building upon their visual literacy skills. As students examine photos, they are taking part in social interactions through “…visual and verbal exchanges” (Merchant, 2010, p.99). Merchant discusses how photographs of graffiti posted on Flickr brought artists, fans, and intrigued viewers together. A social networking aspect developed and discussion around the photos included back stories and feedback about the artwork (Merchant, 2010). Within this unit, students are able to examine cultural landmarks and can view other members’ comments and experiences about the places in the photos. Merchant states, “Social networking around photographs illustrates some of the central features of Web 2.0, the attraction of user-generated content, and how new practices are emerging which present exciting opportunities for learners and teachers,” (Merchant, 2010, p. 81). Viewers can provide additional information, praise a photo, and discuss photos that involve shared interests.

  • The examination of complex images, that include different modalities, provide students with the
opportunity of connecting the communicative tools that are included in the image. John Potter explains that “…visual images rarely function on their own…” (Potter, 2010, p. 99). The types of sites that our students are participating on employ them to communicate with one another in more than one mode. When youth explore a photosharing site, such as Flickr or Google Maps: Photos, they are required to explore the underlying meaning of either a single picture or multiple pictures that require them to cross examine meaning through verbal and visual expression and interpretation. Developing and enhancing these multimodal skills is essential to participating in these communities and eventually in creating pictures that represent one’s identity. The creation of one’s own multimodal image allows one to become an “expert” in this community as well, supporting and commenting on other’s works as well.

  • Digital photos are excellent resources for all students, including visual learners and students with
disabilities. Researchers Labbo, Eakle, and Montero (2002) explain the importance of visuals stating, “digital photos serve as a memory link for students’ experiences as well as tangible prompts for descriptive language,” (Labbo, Eakle, & Montero, 2002, p. 680). Pictures allow students to use their senses and have a more engaging experience than simply reading text. Educator and researcher, Suzanne Stokes notes, “Because pictures or illustrations are analogs of experience and are only one step removed from actual events, these visual representations may be able to capture and communicate the concrete experience in various ways,” (Stokes, 2002, p.14). When working with students with disabilities, it is important for them to learn through tangible material and authentic photos provide an ample opportunity. It is helpful for students with exceptionalities to use their visual and auditory senses and this unit presents both. To accommodate other students, tools used such as Flickr and Google Maps are available in other languages aside from English. This enables students who are English Language Learners to feel confident exploring the capabilities of the programs.

  • By students presenting the landmarks and interesting information found, they are working together for a
common goal. Presentation and group collaboration skills are stressed. By partaking in a participatory culture and by receiving and providing feedback, they are providing “support systems” (Jenkins, 2006) for each other, while improving their literacy skills. They must develop these skills in order to fully participate. Potter realizes, “Learning to see images as arrange-able and repurpose-able asserts in different contexts means that students can use an image in a presentation, a piece of writing, a journal, a blog, a photo album – every destination is possible…Being able to use, read, and re(present) images…is an important life skill, one that is applicable across all contexts of media production, consumption, and curatorship.” (Potter, 2010, p. 131). In this unit, students are learning how to use photos, as well as create a narrative around it by using technology. By using these web tools and programs, learners are expanding their technical abilities, as well as discovering additional skills that will prepare them for the future.

  • Google Maps is an open forum for photos where others’ photos can be viewed and utilized. Depending on
the photo hosting website, there can be restrictions for the way a photo is used. John Potter acknowledges, “The principle of ”fair dealing” is often invoked for education, in the sense that the owner of the image will grant a “not for profit” use of their images. Attribution and credit are usually all that is required in return and should always be given,” (Potter, 2010, p.126). A photo website that contains work for unprofitable reasons, is Creative Commons. We have included this as a resource for students to explore. They should still provide the user’s name and photo information when applying a member's photo. As a class, discussions prior to this unit and during the first day include copyright practices and implications.


  • • Google Maps
  • • Photosynth
  • • Flickr
  • • Jing
  • • VoiceThread
  • • Apple Mac Computers

Supplementary Resources for Students and Teachers


Day 1

As a class, discussions prior to this unit included copyright practices, research skills, and finding and analyzing information.

Explain to students that they will be working in groups of three (for a total of seven groups) for this unit activity.

Show students a sample of what a narrated slideshow of images consists of. Use the introductory video of Jing: http://www.jingproject.com/.

Review with students what a presentation might look like and the elements included. Tell students that they will be creating a similar slideshow and explain to them they will narrate it with VoiceThread, Jing, or any other voice narration of their choosing. Hand out Handout 1: Guidelines to Creating an Effective Presentation to each student. Discuss what else can be included and add to the list as a class, if needed.

Start the unit with an introduction to Google Maps using the following created tutorial: http://www.screencast.com/t/NTI1YmQ4. After viewing the tutorial video, students will explore the Google Maps site. Specifically, they will be looking at the Photos feature and navigating it with the enhanced tools. For example, they can click on a photo and zoom in or out, view in “Street View” mode, etc. Students will be introduced to the activities that they will complete for the lesson plan: examining photos from seven continents using Google Maps, and then present the images in the form of a presentation, complete with Jing, VoiceThread or any other photo narration tool of their choosing.

Days 2-3

Divide students into groups of three. There will be a total of seven groups. Have each group pick a continent that they would like to examine for image purposes. Take note of which continent each group is researching and presenting on.

Open up the VoiceThread and Jing websites, and show students what these media production tools are. Explain to them that they can use either of these two tools to narrate their presentation. Have students get into their groups and explore the media production tools just presented to them. Students can decide which tool they like best, based on tutorials and working within the tool.

Hand out Handout 2: Student Guide for Unit Plan, which will outline what areas are required for completion of this activity.

Before students begin to research the photos on Google Maps, distribute the assessment rubric and checklist (found in the Assessment section of this curriculum unit plan) to make students aware of what is clearly expected for this activity.

Days 4-7

With their groups, students will explore the photos on Google Maps, specific to the continent that they chose. As each group explores the images, they will utilize the enhanced tools for viewing and critically examining the image. Students will choose ten landmark photos to be included in their presentation.

Once the students have finalized the ten photos that they wish to use, they will receive Handout 3: Presentation Storyboard, which is a graphic organizer that they can use as a guideline to organize their images and the narration that will accompany them.

Students will conduct their own research by using websites, academic articles, museum websites, country travel websites, and even using country tourism websites or webpages hosted by historical sites.

Days 8-10

During this time, students will create a photo capturing narration using the programs or tools shown and discussed. They will determine the order of the landmark photos and when and what group members will say while presenting.

Days 11-12

Students will have the opportunity to work with their groups to rehearse. After rehearsals, students will provide feedback on their overall presentation and narration, assessing what their strengths were and areas in need of improvement. During this time, students will work with their group members to edit and reevaluate their narration choices, based on the feedback from the peers in their group.

Days 13-15
Presentations will occur and peer feedback will be provided. Students will fill out Handout 4: Peer Feedback for each group presentation given. These feedback forms will be shared with each member in the group after their presentation has been viewed.


Two types of assessments, a checklist and a rubric, serve as the basis of a whole group grade.

This is the assessment checklist for teacher purposes upon examination of the presentations. This assessment checklist will be used for each group’s presentation.

Did the group include:
Teacher Notes
10 photos from their continent?

A photo of the landmark?

Name of the landmark and its location?

Whether it was natural or made by people?

Features of the landmark?

Landmark’s significance or purpose? (If this applies)

Interesting fact(s) about the landmark?

The following assessment rubric provides feedback for each group’s presentation, assessing whether relevant standards and objectives were met. This assessment rubric provides additional feedback from the teacher.

Relevant Standards
Teacher Comments
Presented images and information clearly

Speaking and Listening- Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas: 4

Used media production tools

Speaking and Listening- Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas: 5

Made strategic use of digital media to enhance findings and presentation

Speaking and Listening- Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas: 5

Produced clear and coherent voice narration for each photo

Writing- Production and Distribution of Writing: 4

Integrated multiple sources of information presented in diverse media or formats

Speaking and Listening- Comprehension and Collaboration: 2

Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources

History/Social Studies- Key Ideas and Details: 1


Handout 1: Guidelines to Creating an Effective Presentation

          • Guidelines to Creating an Effective Presentation

Each group will give a short presentation on the landmark photos chosen for their continent. Read over each bullet point carefully, keeping each point in mind as you create your presentation and add voice narration to it.

  • * Keep in mind good public speaking skills. You will want to introduce the audience to your presentation before you start it.

  • * Make sure your voice narration is clear and does not include “fancy” language that the audience may not understand.

  • * Make you presentation simple. Make it clear.

  • * Justify the reasons of why you are including these specific photos in your presentation.

  • * Try not to include too many animations in the presentation.

  • * Give the audience ample time to view each picture and listen intently to the narration as the slideshow plays.

  • * Don’t boggle down your presentation with too much talking.

  • * Keep in mind the audience. What are they interested in hearing and how familiar are they with your topic?

Handout 2: Student Guide for Unit Plan

          • Student Guide for Curriculum Plan

Step 1
Select 10 country landmarks using Google Maps

Working as a team of three, select a country. Research that country's landmarks that interest your group. Find 10 landmarks. Be sure to include different kinds of landmarks, including ones that are:

  • o Natural.
  • o Historical.
  • o Symbolic. (Does it represent the country in a special way, as the White House symbolizes the United States, for example?)
  • o Uniquely constructed.
  • o Distinctively functional. (Is it a significant bridge, for example?)

For each landmark selected, your team should include:

  • o A photo of the landmark. (Take the time to find a photo that is visually clear and attractive and that will give other students the best view of this landmark.)
  • o Name of the country.
  • o Name of the landmark and its location.
  • o Whether it is natural or was made by people.
  • o What feature(s) make it a national landmark: remarkable natural features; historical significance; symbolic of the country; unique construction; distinctive function; distinctive color, shape, or size.
  • o Its significance or purpose.
  • o History of the landmark
  • o Little-known or interesting fact about the landmark.
  • o Does it relate to anything we learned this year? If so, how?

Step 2
Research the landmarks

You can search for online information in these ways (as well as others that we will discuss):

  • * On the Internet, go to the World Landmarks Web site (http://www.harcourtschool.com/activity/wrldlmarks/landmarks.html)
  • * For a three-dimensional, interactive view of your landmark, try finding a photosynth of the landmark. You can find lots of photosynths of world sites at Photosynth™ (http://photosynth.net). Type the name of your landmark in the Search box, and then click the synths that appear. Many synths are geotagged, which means that you can click the tag to display the location of the landmark on a world map.

Handout 3: Presentation Storyboard

          • Presentation Storyboard

Please feel free to use or modify this organizer to suit the needs of your group’s presentation. If you choose, you can use this storyboard to choose and organize your photos. Also, you can use the space next to the photo box to narrate your photo based on the questions asked in the student handout.

You can draw
the image that will be
displayed on the screen
in this box

You can draw
the image that will be
displayed on the screen
in this box

Handout 4: Peer Feedback

          • Peer Feedback Form

Your name:

Group Presenters’ Names:

Was the presentation informative?

What new information did you learn about?

What picture captivated your interest the most?

What was your overall impression about the layout of the pictures in the presentation?

Do you think that the voice narration flowed well with each picture?

            • References

English Language Arts Standards. In Common Core State Standards Initiative. Retrieved June 5, 2010, from

Jenkins, H. with R. Purushotma, K. Clinton, M. Weigel, & A. Robison (2006). Confronting the Challenges of
  • Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century. Boston: The MacArthur Foundation.

Knobel, M. & Lankshear, C. (eds.) (2010). DIY Media: Creating, Sharing and Learning with New Technologies.
  • New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc.

Labbo, L.D., Eakle, A.J., & Montero, M.K. (2002). Digital language experience approach: Using digital

Microsoft Education. Research world landmarks to create a global calendar. Retrieved June 1, 2010, from

Shamburg, C. (2008). English Language Arts: Units for Grades -12. Washington, D.C.: International Society for
  • Technology in Education.

Stokes, S. (2002). Visual literacy in teaching and learning: a literature perspective. Electronic Journal for the
  • Integration of Technology in Education, 1(1), 10-19.