20 ways Google MyMaps can enhance lessons in any class

Google MyMaps

Maps cross all content areas and grade levels. By creating custom MyMaps, students can see the content they’ve studied in a new light. (Public domain image via Pixabay)

Maps are a fundamental part of everyday life. Even if we don’t pull paper maps out of our car glove compartments anymore, we still rely on GPS and digital directions.

Without maps, we’re lost.

With maps, we can clearly see how widespread or concentrated our data and content is.

Maps touch practically every content area and grade level.

MyMaps, a somewhat unnoticed app in the Google Apps suite, lets students create their own highly customized maps to share with others and display. (Teachers and schools can create them, too!)

Below is an example — a MyMaps map I created with everywhere I’ve presented this year (as of the publication of this post) …

The connections to curriculum are innumerable. Students can create their own maps displaying all sorts of content. In this post, I’ll list 20 ways to engage students in content with MyMaps. But first, here are some of the app’s finer points:

  • Drop pins anywhere on a global map
  • Add pins from a search in the search box
  • Add information to pins (title, description, photos, etc.)
  • Choose the kind of pin you’d like (by color or different icons)
  • Draw lines or shapes over maps to help viewers interpret content easier
  • Adding pins to different layers let you organize and turn certain locations on and off
  • Create maps by importing data (Google support page with instructions)
  • Zoom to the view you prefer and set it as your default view
  • Share maps via link or embed them in a website


Want to see it in action? Check out this tutorial walk-through video I created on YouTube:

Wondering how you might use this in your class? Here are some ideas …

1. Important locations in a historical event — Have students plot locations on a MyMap, filling in additional details as well as historic or current photos and links to more information.

2. Setting of a novel, short story or other literary work — Where was the story set? Instead of dropping a single pin there, plot the different locations that show up throughout the story.

3. Calculate rate of travel — As students learn about calculating distance/rate/time, have them choose locations and calculate the travel time to get there. They can add pins to those locations and show their work in the description of the pin.

4. Create a map-based timeline with layers — Studying content over time? Have students plot events or locations of each decade (or year or century) in a different layer. When viewing, you can turn off all layers except one to see that time period … or see all of them together with all layers turned on.

5. Plot locations with certain environments — Seeing locations with different climates and vegetation can be clearer with a MyMap. Students can add pins of different locations with pictures and description of how they’re different.

6. Log important or historic locations in an area being studied — Studying a certain location? Before digging into your content, have students do some preliminary Internet research and create a MyMap with their findings. They’ll be better prepared for your unit of study!

7. Turn statistics into a visual aid — Looking at the top 50 cities for obesity or fitness? Studying population statistics? Add that data to the description. Then use the “individual styles” option on the layer you’re editing to make the pin’s color change based on the data.

8. Map where alumni are going to college (or have graduated) — Show how far from home students are studying, have studied or will be studying with a MyMap.

9. Provide parents with an interactive map for a field trip — Give parents clear, interactive information about your trip with a MyMap. Plus, they can click the “Directions to here” button right from your map!

10. Display locations with WiFi in a school district — If not every student has Internet at home, provide a map of locations with free WiFi in the district.

11. Make a pinboard of locations where your class has Skyped — Does your class do Mystery Skype games? Use Google Hangouts to provide virtual guest speakers or field trips? Create a MyMap of all the locations you’ve video called.

12. Log locations where political candidates have visited — Want to see who’s campaigning where? Create a layer for each candidate and pin the locations where they’ve stumped.

13. Identify locations where animal species live — Animal units get a whole different dimension when students can see where they live. Add details and photos to those pins, too.

14. Create map layers with different forms of government — Create a layer for each type of government, and add pins to those layers to see where the democracies, monarchies, oligarchies, etc. are.

15. Take standard mapping activities to the next level — Do you already do some form of mapping activity? Find ways that the MyMaps features listed above could take it to the next level.

16. Display where students’ families live — As you’re getting to know new students, pin their home locations on a map. It will give insight into the most-represented and least-represented areas of your district that you might miss otherwise.

17. Make a map of where authors you’ve studied are from — Pin their hometowns. Add biographical information, other books, etc. in the description as well as photos of the author and/or covers of their books.

18. Map how words are different in different locations — Is it a lift or an elevator? An apartment or a flat? In Spanish, is the word for “peanut” cacahuate, cacahuete or maní? Create a word usage map.

19. Create a map with locations of school sports opponents — Athetics departments can provide a great service to parents with a map of other schools. Parents can get directions or contact information.

20. Map where former Olympians of the sport you’re studying are from — Studying a sport in physical education? See where Olympians of that sport are from or where that sport is popular by creating a MyMap.

BONUS MATERIAL:

Question: How else could MyMaps be used? Have you ever used MyMaps, and how have you used it? (And can you provide a link to an example MyMap?) Which of these are you most likely to use? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

For notifications of new Ditch That Textbook content and helpful links:

Interested in having Matt present at your event or school? Contact him by e-mail!

Matt is scheduled to present at the following upcoming events:

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+ 01/19/2015
Western Wayne (Ind.) SchoolsPershing, IN
 Full-day Seminar:Ditch That Textbook: Why and How?Private Event
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9:00-12:00 p.m.
U. Indy's Power of Education ConferenceIndianapolis, IN
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Indianapolis, IN
+ 02/03/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
World Languages Workshop @ Lafayette Jeff HSLafayette, IN
 Venue:Jefferson High School
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Lafayette, IN 47905
765-772-4700
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+ 02/26/2015
9:00-4:05 p.m.
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Indianapolis, IN 46241
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08:00-04:00 p.m.
Fall Creek Intermediate School WorkshopFishers, IN
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+ 03/19/2015
7:30-3:00 p.m.
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506 N. Beadle St.
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08:00-03:00 p.m.
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08:00-04:00 p.m.
Connecting the 4 C's Conference @ Mt. Vernon (Ind.)Mount Vernon, IN
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09:00-03:00 p.m.
#ReadTL15 ConferenceReading, West Berkshire, UK
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ISTE Conference 2015Philadelphia, PA
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+ 07/08/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
USD 242 Weskan Schools Staff DevelopmentWeskan, KS
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219 Coyote Blvd.
Weskan, KS 67762
785-943-5222
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08:00-03:00 p.m.
Northeastern Middle School WorkshopFountain City, IN
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7295 U.S. 27 North
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+ 07/24/2015
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Greater Clark Connected ConferenceJeffersonville, IN
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+ 07/28/2015—07/29/2015
Catching the Wave of eLearningLafayette, IN
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+ 07/30/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Seymour Schools Tech WorkshopSeymour, IN
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Idabel Public Schools 
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08:00-03:00 p.m.
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 Workshop:Ditch That TextbookPrivate Event
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Ditch That Textbook workshop @ CIESCIndianapolis, IN
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08:00-03:00 p.m.
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+ 11/10/2015
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Cascade Middle SchoolClayton, IN
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6423 S. County Road 200 West
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+ 11/11/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Hamilton Southeastern Schools (Indiana)Fishers/Noblesville, Indiana
 Full-day Seminar:Ditch That TextbookPrivate Event
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+ 11/14/2015
09:00-02:30 p.m.
Northeast Literacy RetreatFort Wayne, IN
  Public Event
+ 11/17/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Ditch That Textbook workshop @ ECESCConnersville, IN
 Workshop:Ditch That TextbookPublic Event
Sponsor:East Central Educational Service Center
+ 11/18/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Ditch That Textbook @ WCIESCGreencastle, Indiana
 Workshop:Ditch That TextbookPublic Event
Sponsor:West Central Indiana Educational Service Center
+ 11/19/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Elgin Local Schools (Ohio)Elgin, OH
 Sponsor:Elgin Local SchoolsPrivate Event
+ 01/13/2016
8:00am-3:00pm
Madison eLearningMadison, IN
  Private Event
+ 01/18/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Hudson ISD (Texas)Lufkin, TX
 Venue:Hudson Indpendent School District
6735 Ted Trout Drive
Lufkin, TX 75904
936-875-3351
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+ 01/26/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
South PutnamGreencastle, IN
 Sponsor:South Putnam SchoolsPrivate Event
+ 02/03/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Sheridan MS/HSSheridan, IN
 Sponsor:Sheridan Community SchoolsPrivate Event
+ 02/09/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Southern Indiana Education CenterJasper, IN
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+ 02/15/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Educational Service Unit #13Scottsbluff, NE
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+ 02/16/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Rockford Public SchoolsRockford, MI
 Keynote:Ditch That Textbook!Private Event
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+ 02/24/2016—02/25/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
ICE ConferenceSt. Charles, IL
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+ 02/25/2016—02/26/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
ICE Conference (Illinois)St. Charles, IL
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+ 03/07/2016
01:15-03:30 p.m.
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+ 03/09/2016—03/11/2016
MACUL ConferenceGrand Rapids, MI
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+ 03/14/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Concordia Lutheran HSFort Wayne, IN
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+ 03/23/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Westwood Community School DistrictSloan, IA
 Sponsor:Westwood Community School DistrictPrivate Event
+ 04/13/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Wabash Valley Education CenterWest Lafayette, IN
 Workshop:Ditch That Textbook!Public Event
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Venue:Wabash Valley Education Center
3061 Benton Street
West Lafayette, IN 47906
(765) 463-1589
+ 04/18/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Monroe #1 BOCES (New York)Fairport, N.Y.
 Full-day Seminar:The Digital PIRATEPublic Event
Sponsor:Monroe #1 BOCES
+ 04/26/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Caesar Rodney School DistrictCamden, DE
 Keynote:Ditch That TextbookPrivate Event
Venue:Caesar Rodney High School
239 Old North Road
Camden, DE 19934
+ 05/03/2016
Paoli Community School CorporationPaoli, IN
 Venue:To be determined
Paoli, IN
Private Event
+ 05/25/2016
09:00-09:45 a.m.
Pacific Northwest Apprenticeship Education ConferencePortland, OR
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Venue:DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel and Conference Center
1000 NE Multnomah Street
Portland, OR
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+ 05/31/2016
10:30-12:00pm
West Central Career CooperativeCrawfordsville, IN
 Venue:Crawfordsville Country Club
Crawfordsville, IN
Private Event
+ 06/06/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
PowerED Up ConferenceLeopold, IN
 Venue:Perry Central Schools
18677 Old State Road 37
Leopold, IN 47551
(812) 843-5576
Public Event
+ 06/07/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Making a Splash with Digital Learning ConferenceBatesville, IN
 Venue:Batesville Community School Corporation
626 N. Huntersville Road
Batesville, IN 47006
(812) 934-2194
Public Event
+ 06/08/2016—06/09/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Ignite Your SuperpowerLafayette, IN
 Venue:Sunnyside Intermediate School
530 N 26th St
Lafayette, IN 47904
(765) 771-6100
Public Event
+ 06/13/2016—06/14/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Summer Spark (Wisconsin)Milwaukee, WI
 Sponsor:University School of MilwaukeePublic Event
+ 06/15/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
REMAST Conference (South Dakota)Brookings, S.D.
 Sponsor:South Dakota State Noyce Scholarship ProgramPublic Event
+ 06/20/2016
Indianapolis Sister Cities Int'l ConferenceIndianapolis, IN
 Keynote:Connecting Your Classroom to the WorldPublic Event
Sponsor:Indianapolis Sister Cities InternationalRegister to attend
Venue:Covenant Christian High School
7525 W. 21st St.
Indianapolis, IN 46214
+ 06/22/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Western North Dakota ESADickinson, ND
 Workshop:The Digital PIRATEPublic Event
+ 06/26/2016—06/29/2016
ISTE ConferenceDenver, CO
 Venue:Colorado Convention Center
700 14th St.
Denver, CO 80202
Public Event
+ 07/12/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
MSD of MartinsvilleMartinsville, IN
 Sponsor:MSD of MartinsvillePrivate Event
+ 07/13/2016—07/14/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Pulaski County Special School DistrictLittle Rock, AR
 Sponsor:Pulaski County Special School DistrictPrivate Event
+ 07/18/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Sheridan/Hamilton HeightsSheridan, IN
  Public Event
+ 07/19/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Launching INquiryFishers, IN
 Venue:Fishers High School College & Career Academy
13000 Promise Rd
Fishers, IN 46038
Public Event
+ 07/20/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Blended Learning SummitSalina, KS
 Sponsor:Smoky Hill Education Service CenterPublic Event
Venue:Smoky Hill Education Service Center
605 E. Crawford
Salina, KS 67401
785-825-9185
+ 07/21/2016
08:30-04:00 p.m.
iPadpaloozaEastTXLongview, TX
 Keynote:Ditch That Textbook!Public Event
Sponsor:Region 7 Education Service CenterRegister to attend
Venue:Pine Tree High School
900 Northwest Drive
Longview, TX 75604
(903) 295-5031
Get more information
+ 07/22/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Tyler ISDTyler, TX
 Sponsor:Tyler ISD 
+ 07/25/2016—07/26/2016
E3 Technology ConferenceWarsaw, IN
 Venue:Warsaw High School
1 Tiger Lane
Warsaw, IN 46580
(574) 371-5098
Public Event
+ 08/01/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Catholic High SchoolNew Iberia, LA
 Sponsor:Catholic High SchoolPrivate Event
Venue:Catholic High School
1301 de La Salle Drive
New Iberia, LA 70560
+ 08/05/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Fort Wayne Lutheran Schools PartnershipFort Wayne, IN
 Sponsor:Fort Wayne Lutheran Schools PartnershipPrivate Event
+ 08/09/2016
Southwest School CorporationSullivan, IN
 Venue:Southwest School Corporation
110 North Main Street
Sullivan, IN 47882
(812) 268-6311
Private Event
+ 08/11/2016
Groesbeck ISD Tech ConferenceGroesbeck, TX
 Keynote:Ditch That Textbook!Private Event
Venue:Groesbeck Independent School District
1202 N. Ellis
Groesbeck, TX 76642
(254) 729-4100
+ 08/15/2016
Beggs Public SchoolsBeggs, OK
 Venue:Beggs Public Schools
1201 West 9th
Beggs, OK 74421
(918) 267-3628
Private Event
+ 08/16/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Etoile ISDEtoile, TX
 Sponsor:Etoile ISDPrivate Event
+ 08/17/2016
8:00-3:00 pm
Tech Academy 
  Private Event
+ 08/22/2016—08/23/2016
West Central School DistrictHartford, SD
 Venue:West Central School District
705 E. 2nd St.
Hartford, SD 57033
(605) 528-3217
Private Event
+ 08/24/2016
8:00am-3:00pm
Walled Lake Consolidated School District 
  Public Event
+ 08/25/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Hillsboro School DistrictHillsboro, OR
 Sponsor:Hillsboro School DistrictPrivate Event
+ 08/29/2016
8:00am-3:00pm
Service Learning School DistrictDetroit, MI
 Sponsor:Service Learning School District 
+ 09/16/2016
New Prairie High SchoolNew Carlisle, IN
 Venue:New Praire High School
New Carlisle, IN
Private Event
+ 09/19/2016
Big Walnut Local SchoolsSunbury, OH
 Workshop:The Digital PIRATE: Tech Like a PIRATEPrivate Event
Venue:Big Walnut Local Schools
36 Harrison St
Sunbury, OH 43074
(740) 965-3205
+ 09/20/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
NH Best Practices in Curriculum, Assessment and Assessment ConferenceConcord, NH
 Sponsor:New Hampshire School Administrators AssociationPublic Event
Venue:Grappone Conference Center
Concord, NH
+ 10/12/2016—10/13/2016
Mississippi Bend Area Education AgencyBetterdorf, IA
 Sponsor:Mississippi Area Bend Education AgencyPrivate Event

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9 thoughts on “20 ways Google MyMaps can enhance lessons in any class

  1. I teach 8th grade science and in my Weather Unit, I assign cities around the world to students. One of the tasks they have to complete is to find the city, pin it on the map, and then create a profile of that city. The city can have a video or link to an article about the culture, weather or climate. I’ve even had students put in information about local current events in their profiles! When others click on the pin, they learn all sorts of interesting things about that city/region. Sorry I don’t have the map available right now; I just deleted the one from last year and we will be starting this project after Spring Break.

  2. Pingback: Google My Maps |