I will begin this post with the disclaimer that I was addicted to Geoguessr from my very first attempt (and fail!). I have poor geography skills on a good day and this game would normally not be one that I would gravitate to.
The basic premise is simple. Geoguessr provides a Google Street View of a building or area. You have to figure out where in the world it is. You are able to move around using the same tools you do in StreetView. Once you think you know where it is you submit a guess. Geoguessr shows you a map of the actual location, your guessed location, and the distance between the two.
The beauty of Geoguessr is not in how it strengthens geography skills. It’s a great way to wake up the brain and begin using the problem solving skills necessary in any discipline. Strategies that worked for me were to look for language clues on buildings – for instance, WC on the bathrooms told me I wasn’t in the US. Other clues might include the side of the street that traffic flows on, what pedestrians were wearing, or flags that are flying in front of buildings.
Geoguessr allows you to “take what you get” or use their filters to narrow down the geographic area.
At our school we’re addressing not only curriculum but also the manner in which we ask students to think and attack obstacles. We’ve adopted the 16 Habits of Mind . For some students these are not innate skills and need to be discreetly taught. The use of Geoguesser as a learning warmup touches on a number of these habits and frankly is just plain fun.