There are many ways I can see Google Maps Street View meeting learning objectives by adapting some typical classroom activities. If you are not familiar with Google Maps take a look at how the basic street view works.
Whether your class is about to read an article about the latest protest in a specific country or they are about to begin a folktale, you can take them to the setting. This can help activate schema and engage learners in a way that just showing them a map or photos may not. Using a projector, consider “driving down” a street with your class before introducing a reading or writing activity.
Giving and Receiving Directions
I am sure many of you who teach English Language learners have, at some point, used Google Maps while working with students on how to give and receive directions. Consider using Street View and pair up students where Student A is the “passenger” in a virtual car, giving directions from the school to his or her house (for example), while Student B is the “driver” and tries to navigate down the streets to Student A’s home.
I have not tried it but I can imagine it could be interesting to pose a problem about someone who is lost a few streets over from your program’s site. Have the class work together to help the lost person (you the teacher?) to first find out where they are by describing landmarks, then receive instructions on how to find the program.
Virtual Field Trips
Make sure to review some of the places Google can take you. Browse specific views. (It is also worth clicking the link to Go Behind the Scenes.) Now instead of going on a field trip to a location near you can have your class go the Metropolitan Museum of Art or travel to the class to the Taj Mahal!
Scavenger Hunt - You know those scavenger hunt activities you might develop for a museum visit? Imagine having your class try to find Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park or two historical buildings on the Freedom Trail!
The Greatest Race - For conversation practice, have teams start in one location and whichever team “drives” to the designated location wins. And if you want to make it more challenging add in the scavenger hunt type of “finds” that are needed to complete the race. For example, take a screen capture of the building across from the Prime Minister’s House on Downing Street in London.
Note: It can at times be tricky to move about in the Street View, so makes sure students have the expectation it might be a challenge at first. I suggest they use the arrow keys on the keyboard at first. You also probably won’t want to try to navigate long distances as it can be a slow process.
Have you used Google Maps or Google Street View in the Classroom? Share your experiences and ideas in the comments!