Lesson Ideas for using Globetracker’s Mission

Sneak a peek at the new weekly episode each Sunday morning (just after midnight), U.S. Eastern time, except for the week of December 28, 2015. Episode changes will start October 5, 2015.

General Tips:

  1. All links open in a new window. You may need to adjust the size of that window, depending on your computer screen. The ideal way to view these maps is to position them so you can read the questions Geo and Meri ask below the map window. You can always read the questions and click to bring the map window to the front as you seek the answers.
  1. Make the episode available to absentees on your classroom computer or via a link from your teacher web page so they can stay in touch with the “mission.

  2. See the Parent Involvement ideas in the Teacher Information.

Some possible lesson formats:

Whole-class lesson on an LCD/multimedia projector: (a better choice for students whose reading levels do not allow them to read the episodes independently, especially in grade 2-3 where all the concepts will all be new):

  1. Preview the teacher edition of the episode, including vocabulary terms and linked maps, so you know what to expect.
  2. In class, preview vocabulary terms included in this episode on a board or display them from your computer before reading the episode. Since the definitions display from the episode page, you need not make sure students KNOW them perfectly. You are simply offering a preview and allowing them to share meanings and reveal prior knowledge. This also tells them what terms they should look for as they read.
  3. Before reading, discuss where Geo and Meri have been so far, recapping the continent they were on last and what we have learned on their mission. If you have Google Earth, a simple way to do this is to replay the Google Earth file from the previous episode, pausing at each location along the way and recapping questions, such as “what direction did they go to arrive in Juneau,” etc. to activate student knowledge of concepts already discussed.
  4. Before reading the new episode, discuss any predictions your students may have made last week.
  5. Stand by the screen to conduct the lesson and have a student demonstrator run the actual computer. Someone with good listening skills but who perhaps needs an extra task to keep him/her busy or who would benefit from the respect of the class would be a good choice. The first time you navigate separate windows for maps and images, make sure your demonstrator knows how to do this.
  6. Read through the current episode aloud, either reading yourself or asking students to read. At each think-aloud question, stop and discuss possible answers. Often, Geo and Meri reveal the answer later in the episode. Sometimes questions remain open-ended to keep students thinking.
  7. At the end of the episode (or as each map or image is mentioned in the text), be sure to use the images and maps to give students visual experience with the concepts. Have students come to the screen to point things out. Use random response methods (draw a name, pick a number, etc.) to be sure you rotate through all students and target struggling students or ESL/ELL students for questions they can answer successfully.
  8. Invite the class to vote on which choice Geo and Meri should take at the end of the episode and let your student-demonstrator enter the vote. If you want students to review the episode on their own, allow them to vote individually at that time, instead.

On an Interactive whiteboard

  1. Proceed as you would on a projector, but have students operate the site and use the tools of the whiteboard to circle key features on maps or pictures, draw cardinal direction, equator, and other “invisible lines” on the maps.
  2. If you have students who are kinesthetic learners, be sure to involve them in the whiteboard tasks. At the end of episodes, use the whiteboard to have students “draw” a map from scratch that features the concepts taught that day: a globe with lines of longitude and latitude or an equator, a compass rose, etc.
  3. When you open Google Maps links from an episode (these maps require no special software), be sure to have students practice dragging the map grab toolnorth, south, east, and west to show cardinal directions. The little "hand" grab tool shows when you are holding down the mouse button (or a finger on the board).
  4. If you have Google Earth software installed, take the “tour” of the mission on the whiteboard, pausing at various stops and asking students to draw key features only the satellite view: circle landforms, draw the equator, etc. The Tech Tips page tells more about using Google Earth.

Classroom computer cluster

  1. Create a shortcut to the Globetracker’s Mission current episode page on each computer (or mark it in Favorites). To do this: right-click in the middle of the page and choose "create shortcut."
  2. Partner better readers with weaker ones, then tell the better reader to be the read-aloud person but let the other student read any sentences with question marks. Another option: have them alternate, giving the weaker reader the shorter passages.
  3. For accountability and quick assessment, have students work with a partner to complete a record of what happened each week. Some options:
  4. Trip Tracker sheet (RIGHT-click here and Save Target As to download the Word document which you can customize, adding or deleting requirements). If students will be completing the Trip Tracker on paper, you will need to insert response spaces in the document before printing and copying. The document is designed so it can be completed on a computer and saved or printed.
  5. Have students keep an individual copy of a world map that they annotate or color to show the locations Geo and Meri visit. Have them create their own “map key” explaining each stop.
  6. Have students respond to all “think aloud” questions from the episode by writing responses on paper. You can prepare a simple “think aloud” sheet each week by simply copy/pasting the questions from the episode into a Word document.
  7. Have students use paper, or a blog or wiki to write a “blog” entry as Dewey for that week, telling what Geo and Meri have done from HIS point of view. Require them to include all vocabulary terms from that week as part of the entry.

Partner work at laptops or in a lab
Use the Computer cluster ideas, but also consider other methods for accountability and assessment:

  1. Have students respond to all “think aloud” questions from the episode by discussing them with their partners. Spot-check for understanding with a pop-quiz, of “high-stakes” questions to random students: “your answer will be the grade for the entire class,” or by asking “ticket out the door” questions.
  2. After about a month of getting used to the “mission” format, have each pair of students create their own ongoing simple “mission” on any school-appropriate topic, using the skills and terms Geo and Meri discuss. One possibility is to connect their mission to a curriculum topic being discussed in another subject, such as following the path of the characters in a literature selection or tracing volcanoes around the globe as part of science class. As each week proceeds, add to the list of “required” concepts and terms so students know what information MUST be included in their mission so far. A wiki is ideal for this, because students can work collaboratively, and you can tell who is doing the work. Give each “mission” pair its own page within the wiki.

As outside enrichment or homework

Although the concepts scaffolded into Globetracker’s Mission repeat and build, many students in grades 2-6 will not have the reading skills or self-discipline to “follow” the mission completely on their own. Teachers seeking ways to differentiate for gifted students should consider these more creative, open-ended options as a challenging way for students to learn the required geography skills but take their understanding further:

  1. If you use the mission as an “extra,” have students work or respond in small groups with a specific task, such as:
  • mapping out the mission on a world map
  • more capable technology users creating annotated Google Earth placemarker files of their own for the mission
  • creative students writing and recording a podcast “interview” with Geo and Meri about the mission.