It ranks right up there with the Holiday season, KC Chiefs football, and the first weekend of the college basketball tournament. It’s National Council for the Social Studies conference week. I’m lucky enough to get front row seats and am trying to live blog my way through it.
Dr. Phil Gersmehl is rocking the room with brain science and maps. His basic point:
“Kids like pretty maps. But they usually don’t learn from them.”
He’s using brain research to show how our brains unconsciously encode maps differently. What we remember depends on how we encode it. He highlighted some ways that this works and my mind is officially blown. I’ve always been a huge map fan. And I’ve always known that maps can lie. They can be used incorrectly and be confusing.
But I’ve never really thought about the reasons why. This is why he says:
Kids don’t just learn stuff from maps on their own.
Need an example?
We all know that I spent a significant amount of my formative years digging through old National Geographic maps. You know the ones I’m talking about. They got slipped into the middle of the magazine and unfolded into poster size after you discovered them. I still have an old shoebox full of them. Cause they’re just so cool.
So it shouldn’t surprise any of you that an online article about maps, especially one from National Geographic, is going to catch my attention. But before we head over to take a look, a quick geography mental map quiz.
First step, create a mental map of the world. (If you’ve got a few extra minutes and some paper and pencil, feel free to draw it out.)
Based on your mental (or actual) map of the world, answer a few simple questions:
- How much of South America is east of Miami, Florida?
- How much of Africa is north of the equator?
- Which city is further north – Paris, France or Montreal, Canada?
- Venice, Italy is located at the same latitude of what major American city?
- Which is bigger? The lower 48 United States or Brazil?
We’re always looking for ways to help kids see the big picture. To compare and contrast. Find differences and similarities. To break down stereotypes. Dollar Street and Gapminder can help.
Gapminder is a Swedish foundation that describes itself as a fact tank, not a think tank. It uses data to tell stories. Stories that can help us better understand the world we all live in. By using data visualization tools and photos, Gapminder can help your students explore vast amounts of global statistics.
They’ve got handy downloads and teacher resources. Check those out. But then head over to their new interactive tool called Dollar Street.
Imagine the world as a street. All the houses are lined up by income, the poor living to the left and the rich to the right. Everybody else somewhere in between. Where on the street do you live? How is your life the same and different than your neighbors from other parts of the world who share the same income level? With different income levels?
Dollar Street highlights 240 homes from around the world in a easy to use, searchable, visual database that gives you the tools to take students around the world. If you’ve ever used the excellent books – Material World: A Global Family Portrait or Hungry Planet: What the World Eats you’ve got a mental image of what Dollar Street looks like.
Tons of photos. Information about families. The ability to see how others around the world live and survive.
You start with a broad view – all the families, all the countries: Read more
It’s no secret that History Tech loves the maps. I still get a bit giddy whenever a new National Geographic mag shows up with a historical map insert. Cause . . . maps are cool.
So it’s not a surprise that I’m also in love with all things Google map related. There’s the basic Google Maps and Maps app. You’ve got both the original, downloadable – and by far the best – version of Google Earth and the new version of Google Earth they created so it would play nice with Chromebooks. You’ve got the relatively new Google My Maps. You’ve got the Street View and Expeditions apps. And there’s hundreds of third party tools using Google Map API code that do all sorts of fun things.
And then there’s the often forgotten little brother of the Google Map world – Google Tour Builder. Tour Builder came out about Read more
If you haven’t bookmarked Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day page yet, well . . . I’ll wait. Head over and take care of that.
Larry teaches ELL and mainstream kids in California while maintaining Websites of the Day, writing for the New York Times and Washington Post, teaching undergrad ed classes, and hosts a weekly podcast. And it’s all awesome.
I share this because I’m always finding something new and cool on Larry’s site. Yesterday was no different. Read more
Yes. I know. The 2017 NCSS conference is over. We’ve had turkey and pumpkin pie since then.
But events on the last NCSS day started to run together and I got seriously sidetracked a couple of times chatting with people that I ran into. So today you get the official final History Nerdfest 2017 post. And thanks to National Geographic, one of my favorites.
You know I love maps, right? National Geographic is all about maps. So anything NatGeo does is automatically awesome.
And their new Geo-Inquiry Process is awesome. Geo-Inquries are designed to help students understand how the complex and dynamic human and natural systems interact in order to help them make smart decisions. Using both “a geographic perspective and the Geo-Inquiry Process students begin to connect complex components, see patterns, and make connections that change their communities.”
It’s a five step process:
The goal is to create students with an explorer mindset:
- attitudes of an explorer – curiosity, responsibility, and empowerment
- skills necessary for exploration – observation, communication, collaboration, and problem solving
- knowledge areas – Our Changing Planet, The Human Journey, Wildlife, and Wild Places
Think PBL with a geographic perspective and an emphasis on action. The idea aligns well with the NCSS Inquiry Arc and our state standards – focusing on process rather than just content. This seems like the perfect tool for Read more