Instructional Media

Developing Respectful and Ethical Minds Using Google Earth
August 10, 2011, 10:50 am
Filed under: EDIM 508

As educators, we hope that children begin to develop respectful and ethical minds at home during their earliest levels of development.  In Kindergarten, we begin to foster their respectful and ethical minds through formal instruction of social skills and academics.  My Google Earth virtual field trip of North America has many instructional goals.  Pennsylvania Academic Standards require that Kindergarteners learn about American symbols, such as the American Flag, and that students begin using geographic tools such as maps and globes (PA Standards 5.1.5 and 7.1.1).  The School District of Philadelphia also wants our students to locate the continent of North America on a map, find the United States, and identify the countries that border the U.S.  I integrated all of these concepts into my Google Earth project while also including some Discovery videos and images to reinforce this information.  In order to become respectful and ethical thinkers, we must first understand where and how we live so we can compare and contrast our lives to those of people in other countries.

 I included points in my virtual field trip and in the final activity to encourage discussion as a class about similarities and differences that exist between the three North American countries.  Kindergarteners often see new information at face value and need to be guided towards making connections between their lives and the lifestyles, thoughts, and feelings of other people both in the classroom and as a world focus.  This guidance enables our students to think more respectfully of other people.  My final activity also breaks students into small groups and then pulls the thoughts of the groups into a class discussion.  Working together in groups is another way in which we can teach our students to develop their respectful minds.  There are always contrary opinions on topics and even how to work in a group.  Learning to respect others in a small group setting is a step towards learning to respect others globally.

The ethical mind can take more work with these young students.  Parents and teachers teach children right from wrong and good citizenship.  When trying to understand people of different cultures and backgrounds we need to encourage students to discuss what they are learning and help them reflect.  My virtual field trip provides my Kindergarteners with an introductory sense of where they live in this world and teaches them a little about our country’s neighbors.  This will allow them to further build upon this knowledge on their path towards developing ethical minds as issues arise at home or at school which require a sense of their responsibilities as members of our country’s and our world’s communities.

 Google Earth is a tool that can help our students experience their place and roll as citizens of our planet in order to begin their journeys towards respectful and ethical minds.


Gardner, H. (2007). Five minds for the future. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

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