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Posts from the ‘geography’ Category

Clark Griswold would have loved Google My Maps. So will your kids

I spent the morning at Slate Creek Elementary in Newton, observing just a few of the cool things going on there. Lots of PBL. Lots of inquiry. Lots of great student questions.

And one of my favorite hook activities ever.

Tenae Alfaro, Slate Creek principal, is planning a summer trip and so she asked fourth grade kids to do some in-depth research and plan a trip for her. Now . . . I’m not sure she’s actually going go take the trip kids come up with. But what a cool essential and authentic question to ask nine year olds.:

Where should I go on my summer vacation?

So there’s a crowd of fourth grade kids over in Newton doing research on states and monuments and museums and all the kinds of things you might typically do on a cross-country family trip. And one of the tools that would be ideal as part of that final product is Google My Maps.

I’m still surprised by the number of teachers who aren’t aware of this piece of Google’s G Suite. If you’re still not sure what it is, think Google Docs in map form. My Maps supports collaborative editing and sharing, it’s easy to use, and it integrates with all the other G Suite apps. It’s a great tool for helping kids see connections between events, people, and place.

And for the kids over at Slate Creek (or your students,) it’s a perfect way to create rich, deep, and multi-layered visual representations of trips. So use it for planning a principal’s summer trip, as a Google Lit Trip that highlights events and travel in fictional stories, or to chronicle actual trips and events such as Lewis & Clarks Corps of Discovery.

What are some other reasons why I love My Maps so much?

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History Nerdfest 2018: Spatial Analogies and Learning Geography

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.

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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?

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7 geography tools that mess with your head. Cause that’s a good thing

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.

Ready?

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.)

Got it?

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?

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240 examples of how other families live. I’m looking at you World Geo teachers.

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

Revisit Google Tour Builder: The forgotten little brother of all the map tools

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