"WW2" Google Expedition

Google Expeditions offers nearly limitless opportunities for students to experience, visually, places they might not otherwise see using virtual reality technology. Even if your school can not afford the Googles or complete Expedition kit, your students can still use the FREE Google Expedition app found on both iOS and Android devices. 

One such Google Expedition for your consideration is the "WW2 -  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt" Expedition. This expedition takes students on tours related to some of the following places: Pearl Harbor, the Home Front, and D-Day at Normandy. 

Addition scenes are included, but not referenced in this experience: The Tuskegee Airmen, Hangar 2, the War Room, The War in the Pacific, & the End of the War. 

This resource outlines how you can have students track their thinking as they experience each tour. 

This lesson works best if the students have some foundational knowledge about the related topics. If that's not the case, each scene provides a good springboard for further learning. This lesson, however, assumes that students already possess some background information on Pearl Harbor, the Home Front, and D-Day at Normandy.

Tracking Your Thinking Document


As students proceed through a Google Expedition, it's easy for them to get caught up in the moment and not necessarily track their thinking as they engage with the technology. 

This document serves two purposes. 1.) Academic Vocabulary Aquisition. There a few words in the Expedition that depending on the grade, your students might not understand. In order to provide them a more immersive experience, it would be important for students to have a decent grasp of the academic vocabulary. 2.) Tracking Thinking. As students proceed through the expedition, it is important for them to note observations. The backside of this document gives the user a way to accomplish this objective.


The educator can use this as non-graded, formative assessment to look for patterns in student learning. Perhaps it will become evident that students did not see details as expected, or they have misunderstandings. 


The teacher should explain and support teachers through the vocabulary page prior to the Expedition. This ensures that when the words are used in context, the students can process and apply the meaning.

On the day of the Google Expedition, teachers need to do the following:

  • Set up the Expedition Kit. Each district has unique technology quirks, so directions are not quite universal. It's recommended to set aside at least five minutes to set up the kit. 
  • Cue up the Google slideshow. The slideshow only serves as a support for note-taking.
  • Explain procedural expectations.
  • Deploy the Thinking Guide and Expedition goggles.
  • Provide an overview of each scene before beginning the tour. Allow for 4-5 minutes to pass and be sure to remind students to write down observations and questions.
  • At the conclusion of the expedition, ask students to summarize thoughts with the following types of non-recall questions: 

Differentiation Strategies

CONTENT: Teachers can differentiate the content by only covering the scenes they feel are appropriate for the students. 

PROCESS: Teachers can differentiate the process by tweaking the "Tracking Your Thinking" space on the back. Originally, the task on back is low-level with only asking children to observe. One differentiation strategy would be to ask them to employ higher-level thinking strategies, according to Bloom's Taxonomy. For example, rather than noting just observations, students could consider activities that fall under the analysis, synthesis, or evaluation layers of Bloom's. Any of the language functions, actions, or outcomes would all ask students to do more than just observe. 

PRODUCT: Teachers can differentiate the product by asking students to produce different products of understanding. For example, some students can write their observations. Others can create a quick audio recording. Click here for a helpful document to guide your decisions.

Useful Files

WWII Google Expedition "Tracking Your Thinking"

WWII Notetaking Visual Support Google Presentation

Bloom's Taxonomy Guide (as adapted from Vanderbilt University - Center for Teaching)

Return to top