The Missouri Reader Vol. 41, Issue 1 - Page 38

Using Google Hangout to Learn about Missouri

By: Brooke Hult




Welcome to a world where technology steals the show! Google Hangout has become a very popular form of communication in the recent years. In fact, a lot of businesses use this form of technology to hold interviews when the interviewee cannot travel for the occasion. In the education world, “technology allows teachers to plan higher levels of differentiation and to meet the academic needs of a greater number of students during instruction” (Vacca, Vacca, & Mraz, 2017, p. 48). I wondered how might I incorporate this type of technology into my fourth grade classroom. During a planning session with my team, we were working to come up with some type of activity to teach our students about Missouri: the four regions, major lakes and rivers, types of soil, cities, climate and tourist attractions around our state. As we put our brains together, we realized how many other fourth grade classrooms across Missouri were teaching the same standards. It was at that moment that we decided to introduce Google Hangout into the classroom. We figured that once we had studied, researched, analyzed, and compared information about Missouri, we would be ready to hold a mystery Google Hangout session with another class.

We had many questions to answer since we were each doing it in our own classrooms:

● How would we plan this?

● What would the students say?

● Would every child be able to participate?

● How long would it last?

● What technical difficulties would we encounter?

You can only imagine the amount of planning and preparation that went into this. But let me tell you, it was all worth it!

I sought out another fourth grade teacher in Nixa, Missouri, who was interested in giving this a shot. Once she agreed, I kept it a secret from my students. I introduced this idea to my students, hiding my fear of failure by asking them how they wanted to showcase what they have learned. They came up with creating a project, giving a presentation, or describing Missouri on a poster. When I told them my idea about incorporating technology in the final project and I had all of their attention! They were motivated and ready to get to work for the next couple of weeks.

After a few weeks of studying Missouri’s geography, we were ready for our Google Hangout. I decided to give every student a job so that the entire class was involved. We came up with these jobs together so they could take ownership. My students came up with jobs such as greeters, online researchers, book researchers, speakers, map leaders, question leaders, answer leaders, googlers, managers, videographers. I created a chart with these jobs listed on them and the students’ names beside their jobs. Next we generated a list of yes/no questions.