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Tip of the Week: History GeoInquiries and Other Cool Mapping Goodies

Last summer, I spent a quick few minutes with Tom Barker from ESRI at the ISTE 2015 conference. ESRI is the group responsible for creating the ArcGIS mapping software that helps connect people with maps, data, and apps.

But the cool thing about ESRI is that they also provide some pretty nifty tools for K-12 teachers. And I wanted to find out a bit more about what ESRI might be able to offer social studies educators. Turns out, quite a bit.

First things first.

StoryMaps. Amazing free tools to help you and your students create very cool stories that use geography as the centerpiece to the narrative. This tool by itself should be enough to get you off the couch and onto the ESRI bandwagon.

But wait. There’s more. One of the things Tom shared with me last summer was something they were callingGeoInquiries. Unlike StoryMaps, which are more involved and in-depth, GeoInquiries are quick and easy to use activities that take 15-25 minutes.

The problem?

Last summer, they had only one history / social studies Inquiry finished. Great idea. Just not fleshed out yet.

Fast forward to February 2016. Now we’ve got multiple history options as well as specific activities that focus on Human Geography. They’ve also created a series of longer, one hour activities that highlight geography and mapping basics for both elementary and middle school kids.


For each Inquiry, you get links to the online map and specific lesson ideas and resources. Take a quick look at the Dust Bowl lesson and its map to get a sense of the kinds of things available.

What to like? Quick, easy to use activities with decent compelling questions aligned to C3 NCSS standards. Adaptable for both individual and groups. Cross platform and device agnostic. Free access.

Not to like? Because these are web-based activities, you’re going to need access to a decent number of devices. I suppose that you could walk students through these whole group but it loses the powerful hands on experience when you or one of your kiddos is doing the driving.

Still . . . GeoInquiries is a great way to blend historical content, geography, and some critical thinking. And there’s nothing stopping any of you from adding more depth to the questions and maps embedded in the default activity.

But wait. Seriously. There’s more.

At the top of the GeoInquiries page, you can find a link to get updates directly from ESRI. Sign up to get the latest lessons. At the bottom of the page, you’ll find free access to ESRI’s ArcGIS software for educators.

Have fun!

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jennifer #

    Hi Glenn,

    Thanks for sharing this site! I found a GeoInquiry (Sacred Spaces) that will fit perfectly into an upcoming unit I am teaching about World Religions. I shared this information with my department, as I think they would find this a useful source as well. I sent our English teacher a link to the Dust Bowl inquiry, as her classes are reading Of Mice and Men pretty soon. She loves connecting to SS when she can 🙂

    Thanks again,

    February 20, 2016
    • glennw #


      Awesome! It does seem like a perfect tool for a lot of integration across content areas. Thanks for passing it on to others!


      February 20, 2016

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Tip of the Week: History GeoInquiries and Other Cool Mapping Goodies – Otago History Teachers' Association
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