As a teacher I have always loved Geography and having studied it at second level and in training college I am always on the lookout for ways of integrating it into classroom life for the pupils I teach. About 6 months ago I was introduced to the very addictive GeoGuessr (www.geoguessr.com) and have since realised how it is a fantastic opportunity for students to use technology, map skills, and their knowledge of regions, topography, language & other cultural elements to identify different world locations. GeoGuessr is a free, Web-based geography game that challenges players to identify real-life locations from around the world using Google Street View.
Each game includes five different Street View locations. One image at a time, you can explore the locations and the surrounding areas. When you think you know where you are, you place a red pin on the map .
Once you’ve submitted your guess, the true location will be revealed as well as how far away your guess was from it. You are awarded points based on the proximity of your guess. You can play individually, or you can create a challenge and invite others to identify the same locations by sending them a unique link. You can also create a time limit on the challenges, and the screen will go dark once the time is up.
Clues are provided in many ways, which requires the players to integrate knowledge from many different subject areas. It is also a wonderful way for players to connect prior knowledge and experiences. Here are some examples of the information that can be found in the images to help you identify where you are in the world:
- Natural resources
- Road signs and road markers
- Language on signs and buildings
- Conditions of the buildings, roadways, and bridges
- Types of vehicles
- Plant life
- Culture (For example: What side of the road are people driving on? What are the ethnic backgrounds of the people in view? How are people dressed?)
GeoGuessr lets your students explore the world in a fun way. It’s just like taking your class on a virtual field trip. It is a nice tool for group activities with your class and it will definitely make geography fun and engaging. The concept is simple, yet pretty addictive.
In this game, students will be given a chance to practice:
- Observation skills
- Inferrencing based on the context clues observed
- Use of previous knowledge
- Practice appropriate research skills searching for more information about clues found in the picture
- Map reading and identification
- Collaboration with others (if played with a partner)
Ways to use GeoGuessr in the Classroom: Scenario 1
Let your students form small groups and once they have been placed somewhere, let them make a list of all the different points of evidence they can find. This will help them make a guess as a group and come to consensus on the exact location.
As described above, when they make their final guess on the map, they will see their result and their score. The score can be a nice incentive to try hard and also to foster some friendly competitiveness. One game consists of five rounds which is nice if you want to spend a lesson on GeoGuessr. The team with the highest total score will be the overall class winner.
If your students are still relatively young you can also make it an open discussion with the entire class. Here, you as the teacher can be the guide for your students and help them see which are the helpful clues in each picture. You could let your students do some additional research on the Internet or of course use their atlases in order to get a better picture of the country and the region they just visited.
From a pedagogical standpoint, it will help your students to sharpen their eyes and become more aware of everything that is around them. It will help them to find indicators of where they are and discuss their ideas with their peers, arguing based on the street view evidence. They can also learn about geography, how places look different in terms of plants or architecture in different regions of the world without leaving the classroom. It’s like being on a virtual field trip.
GeoGuessr came online in May 2013. There is also a facility where teachers can now create their own GeoGuessr quizzes using GeoSettr. Go to http://geosettr.com and select 5 locations you want your students to visit (and guess.) After selecting 5 locations, you are given a unique URL that you share with your students.
This provides an ideal opportunity to select locations specific to a region your students are studying. Or maybe selecting important locations related to a theme being studied. For younger students, you could select 5 locations within your town or county. Anyone can arrange 5 locations into a customized quiz with a unique URL and present the challenge to their pupils.
Overall a worthwhile tool to share with your students. Be warned, it is highly addictive!!!