I love Google Earth! I have since the time I first discovered it. Google Earth has change a lot of the past years. More clearer images, 3D views of cities, putting photos on certain spots, etc.
I have used this program for four years now. I first used GE in the classroom 4 years ago when I taught 3rd grade. We used it to learn about mountains, continents, and the world. We even looked at our houses when learning about neighborhoods (don’t recommend this because I found may out of zone). We used it for the basics.
Over the years, teaching 6th grade I have upped the way it is used. When taught math we zoomed in to Fenway and used scales. I could go on forever the ways I have used it to teach my Earth Science course.
But last week I used Google Earth for exactly what is is, satellite pictures. My class was learning about the floor of the ocean. I put up on the projector the Google Earth zoomed in on the Caribbean, Bahamas, and some of Atlantic Ocean. We looked at trenches, the continental shelf, mountains, etc. I zoomed out just a little and a few started asking where Haiti was on the map. I showed them and the discussion turned in to THEM pointing out places on ocean floor that could have caused earthquake. I just stepped aside and let them share their theories. It was so cool watching them take charge of this lesson and use their past knowledge.
I think so many times I (and other educators) want to use technologies to teach with, to show, not to let the kids discover. This goes back to the whole new pedagogy teachers have with technology. Technology is not here just to get kids knowledge of 21st century skills, it here to take learning to a new level. A level that could not have been accomplished with me lecturing or the text book drawings.