Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Kid's Tour of Latin Music through Google Maps

In preparation for Hispanic Heritage Month, I wanted to start with a basic geography lesson. Many of my students have limited exposure to Spanish-speaking cultures both within and outside their communities, and geography is something that is abstract because many of our students and their families do not have opportunities to travel. Therefore, I feel that is it my responsibility to expose my students to as many cultural experiences as possible. So what better way to do it than through music! I find that music is an engaging way to draw students’ attention to different places and possibly ignite a curiosity for learning about those places. Being an aficionada of Latin music, this approach was fairly easy to adapt in the teaching of cultures and geography. As a result, I created a Google Map with embedded videos that reflect both popular and folk music in the Spanish-speaking world. Each tag also shows the city where each artist or group is from. With folk music, I tagged the capital of that country. Feel free to view the link and add comments about any artists, groups, or types of music that are age-appropriate for elementary, middle, or high school students. This map is not intended to be an extensive overview but rather a glimpse of the variety of music across Spanish-speaking cultures.

Although this is a teacher-created map, you can modify my approach to be more hands on. One modification can be to have students research different styles or genres of music and then label the map with an accompanying video. This would work best with upper level classes or with upper elementary to high school students.

Finally, I want to acknowledge my Twitter experts @gret and @felissa2. I have had the wonderful experience of Skyping with these two educators and it was through our conversations that I learned about popular music in their countries.

View Tour of Latin Music in a larger map


  1. Great idea. I plan to use your tour with my elem. kids and hope to have my older kids create something similar.

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Srta. Davison,

    Thank you! I had to create my own due to time limits and large class sizes. I hope your students enjoy it!

  3. This has a lot of potential. Did you know that if you just change hl=en to hl=es in the URL you can get all of the Google language in Spanish also? Like,-60.974121&spn=58.763428,74.707031&z=3

  4. This is a fantastic application of Google Maps that weaves in authentic culture, geography and the target language, Elvira! You selected some great videos, esp. your inclusion of the Buena Vista Social Club : ).

    I love your additional suggestions for student-generated content. This is a great model for other languages and other target language content. I found this via @langwitches and @ckendall and re-tweeted it, too.

    Thanks so much for sharing and inviting us to add additional info. on your 'kid's tour of Latin music' map.

  5. TK,

    Thanks for the tip! That would be a great feature to use for advanced Spanish speakers.

  6. Barbara,

    Thank you! I love Google Maps because students get to see where the music comes from and where countries are in relation to us. It makes geography more concrete for my students. Thank you for your input and for retweeting!

  7. I loved this post Elle! What an amazing activity! You're a wonderful teacher. Your students are so lucky to have you! Thanks for the mention...I'm honored.
    Looking forward to continue learning with/from you! Besos!

  8. Gracias querida! I love having you as our cultural expert. Sharing your culture has inspired me to share it with my students. I look forward to continuing our collaboration! Un abrazo!