4 Inquiry-Driven Project Ideas Using Google’s Tour Builder

There are a lot of great tools out there that have more than one use. One of my favorite tools is Google’s Tour Builder, a Google Maps infused interface that allows the user to create tours. But did you know that you could also use Tour Builder to support inquiry-driven learning? Tour Builder gives students an interactive way to present their learning in a way that is a lot more engaging than a PowerPoint or Prezi presentation. Here are four of my favorite ways to use Tour Builder with students.

Click HERE to view my example Tour Builder

Multimedia Letter 

What would it be like to be a Private in the 4th Infantry Unit of the U.S. Army in 1944? In this Tour Builder example students research this question and create a multimedia letter experience around the event, or book that they are reading. In my example I use WWII and begin on June 6, D-Day, on Utah Beach as part of Operation Overlord. My letter takes place 3 days later, after the Allied forces had successfully taken the beaches of Normandy, France.

As students research the battles and events of WWII they add other locations that the 4th Infantry fought and continue to write letters to explain the events and what their “soldier” experienced throughout the many battles of the war. To add to the experience I have included a YouTube video that uses histrocial footage from D-Day. If you have more time you could have the students create their own multimedia and add that to the tour instead.

Variations: The multimedia letter could also be written around other historical events, or even books that the students are reading. Students can assume the role of a character from the book, or an actual historical figure and create an interactive tour that immerses the viewer into the world.

Trends

I love Google Trends for inquiry-driven projects. This project blends Trends and Tour Builder together. In my example I use Google Trends to see how popular the search term “pizza” is. Trends gives me data by country and state/provence but it doesn’t tell me why.

Currently the United States leads the world in searches for pizza and the state of Minnesota clearly loves searching for pizza. Canada comes in 2nd as a nation in pizza searches. In my tour I could continue to add more countries and inquire as to why they are searching for pizza. In a more scholarly project I may use Trends to see the search data of other words, like democracy and socialism, or racism and build a tour that looks where these terms are popular and not popular and why.

Getting to Know Us

I currently teach on a U.S. Navy base in Sasebo, Japan and next year I will be working in an International School in Frankfurt, Germany. Our kids have lived all over the world. In this tour example I showcase my favorite place that I have lived and why. If I were doing this with students I would have them add their favorite cities to the tour as well.

Once all of the students have added their cities I would have them interact with the tour and learn more about their classmates. I could add a Google Doc to this project and have the students write what they have in common with their classmates, or what they would like to learn more about them. This is an inquiry-driven lesson into getting to know each other. It could also be expanded later on to include historical/major events that have happened in the city.

Variation: If you teach in a location where the students either haven’t lived in other cities, or traveled to other locations you could have your students add their favorite park, or place to visit in their own city.

Lit Tour Journal

In this tour the students use the locations of a book to write journal entries on the major events of the book, or to write from the persective of one of the book’s characters. In my example I use the book The Hobbit to show how with a little imagination you can include fictional locations as well.

Non-Displayed Examples

Tour Builder is great for just about every subject. If students are learning about distance they could build a tour that takes us on a journey of a certain amount of miles. If the students are learning about biomes the tour can take us from one biome, like a rainforest, or another.

Because Tour Builder allows us to integrate other forms of media we could take our tours to new levels by including podcasts, Google Docs, videos and even links to websites or blogs. Tour Builder would also make for an amazing Choose Your Own Adventure that blends together different media and art forms to really make the experience unique.

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