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#NCSS14: Mapping the Social Studies


So. Very. Tired.

I love social studies but my feet hurt. My brain is full. The back of my head is buzzing from the last of more than several caffeinated drinks. And what seems like an endless series of apparently important meetings (instead of awesome sessions). It’s been a long two days. Too much learning, history nerdness, and Diet Pepsi.

Yeah, I know. Pretty much the ultimate in first world problems.

One more session today. Then the two hour session that I’m co-presenting with the awesome Deb Brown tomorrow morning. Finish up with Ken Burns at noon and two totally hassle-free flights back home.

But I am excited about this session. And you all know how much I love a good map so no matter how tired I am, it’s gonna be good. Joseph Kerski from ESRI is gonna demo some cool uses of maps in a variety of different content areas.

Joe starts by suggesting that we need to be using maps as tools for inquiry, not simply as a way to memorize the main bodies of water in the state of Kansas. He calls maps

doorways to discovery.

He continues by saying

I’m a map geek. I love paper maps. I own lots of paper maps because they’re so cool. But . . . they are very limited in what they can do. Geo-technology can help us do so much more.

So I know we’re going to get along just fine.

What are geo-technologies?

  • GPS
  • Multilayered maps
  • Live data

How can we use geo-technologies? Use the same tool to do lots of different things:

  • Teach current events
  • Learn local history
  • Study global human issues
  • Use as a presentation tool for teachers and students
  • Use of data

Joe is obviously working for ESRI, a company trying to make money but they do offer some pretty cool things that help teachers encourage problem solving and inquiry. He highlights some of the things you can do with this. A Titanic example. How about one on electoral votes over time?

electoral votes arcgis

How can you get this software? Free for teachers through the ConnectED Initiative. Go to the ESRI ConnectEd site, scroll to the bottom for resources and click on the link to getting the free stuff. There’s also a ton of useful lessons and training stuff.

He also demo-ed the StoryMap tool. This is very cool and it’s too late in the day to explain much. Basically, and easy to use tool that kids can mess with to create products. Another Titanic example. A great one that focuses on the abandonment of downtown Detroit.

Download Joe’s handout here. You’ll find a variety of sample lessons in history, economics, civics, and geography. But a few extra links:

I’ve written about StoryMaps, ArcGIS, and geo lessons before with some handy resources. Get that stuff here.

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