I love maps.
Especially fun and cool maps. So any session that is titled
Maps That Startle, Perplex, and Engage
has got my name written all over it.
We’re learning about a site called Patchwork Nation. It is legen . . . wait for it . . . dary. Legendary. How have I not heard of this place before?
Patchwork Nation basically says that generalizations such as red vs. blue, South vs. North, blue collar vs. white collar is too simplistic. These stereotypes are inadequate and misleading.
Patchwork Nation is a demographic / geographic breakdown of the nation into 12 different kinds of communities. Using counties as building blocks, they have identified different kinds of places – everything from rural agricultural areas to the wealthy suburban places, which they use to examine how various kinds of communities experience culture, the economy and politics.
Patchwork Nation makes open data easy. It delivers national data with local context while remaining visually intuitive for the reader. The interactive map helps break down national data to analyze how it impacts communities. We put data in the hands of the user, allowing him or her to compare different data sets and explore national data county-by-county.
Using the data gives you the chance to develop some very interesting questions: Read more
I love the Smithsonian magazine. Both the print and online versions. The articles are incredibly cool and range all over the place, from why we incorrectly believe that carrots help us see better to what people snacked on during the 1963 March on Washington.
During a recent run through their online history articles, I ran across a very cool interactive activity that lets you look at past and present maps of six major US cities. The magazine recently dipped into David Rumsey‘s collection of over 150,000 maps to find some of the best representations of American cities over the past couple hundred years. With some simple programming, they were able to overlay images of vintage maps of some major cities onto satellite images from today. Read more
Okay. It’s more than 2000. It’s way more than 2000. I’m just not sure how many it is and 2000 seemed like a safe, round number. You can find the more than 2000 historical maps using two very cool map finding tools.
Over the last couple of years the British Library has been busy geo-referencing its collection of historical maps. So far 2,236 historical maps around the world have been added to the British Library Map Finder. Need a map of the German defenses faced by Allied troops on D-day? How about a map used by British General Burgoyne at the 1777 siege at Saratoga, New York? Read more
Geography can be difficult to teach – sometimes it can seem like it’s mostly just facts and places. Regions. Types of mining in different places. Weather patterns. Vegetation. Lots of, well . . . boring stuff. It becomes easy to simply present the facts and ask kids to memorize things.
But we can do better. One way to do better is to ask better questions. Let kids discover things on their own. Let them solve problems. One way to do this is ask questions about maps. But not just regular, turn to page 47 in your geography textbook kind of maps. But, you know, cool maps.
I missed it.
The 150th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg? I missed it. I suppose it would have been too crowded anyway. But I do have the latest Gettysburg book by Allen Guelzo and am working my way through the Tom Berenger, Jeff Daniels, Martin Sheen movie version of the battle.
And now thanks to Patrick’s suggestion, I’ve got some absolutely awesome maps. Two of my favorite things – Civil War battles and maps.
Some quick context. There has been a lot of discussion over the years concerning the different decisions made by leaders on both sides during the battle. Particularly the decisions made by Confederate general Lee on both the second and third day. Did Lee’s orders to attack the Union left flank on the second day and the frontal attack on the Union center on the third day make sense?
We know how the battle turns out. Confederate defeat. And often, because Lee is seen by many Confederate supporters to be infallible, Lee’s subordinates – especially Longstreet – get most of the blame for that. But the question remains. Why did Lee order attacks that with hindsight seem so wrong?
The Smithsonian might have the answer. Read more
Google has always been cool. They’ve got that whole search thing working for them but what I really like are their mapping / spatial tools.
I’ve been in love with Google Earth for years. It truly is a one stop shop for social studies teachers. Multiple layers of data, GoogleLitTrips, 3D buildings, historical imagery, Tour Guides, Google Earth Gallery – just about anything we need, I’m pretty Google Earth can do it.
And StreetView. Personally I think it’s magic. Especially when they use it to buzz down into interiors of buildings and onto famous landmarks.
I recently wrote about a very cool game called Pursued that takes advantage of the StreetView option in Google Earth. There are others.
One game that just came out is called GeoGuessr – same sort of idea as Pursued. You are given access to a StreetView somewhere in the world and using contextual clues, you have to guess where you are at. You are awarded points for how close your guess is to the actual spot.
Tons of geography stuff going on in these sorts of learning activities – absolute vs. relative location, regional differences, cultural differences . . . you get the idea.
Some of the games built into Google Earth or created by others using Google Earth are focused more on fun. Like the Flight Simulator you can find buried inside Google Earth. But all of them help create a sense of place, a mental map of the world, encourage kids to enjoy geography and the questions surrounding the discipline.
You might want to check out some of the other games: Read more