For the last month or so, there has been a serious spring cleaning operation going on in my house. Serious. I’ve dug through boxes of stuff that I packed away almost 20 years ago and haven’t looked at since. Middle school lessons plans. Old laminated classroom posters. Folders of tests and handouts. Front pages from the Wichita newspaper documenting the first Gulf War.
And maps. Lots and lots of maps. Most of all the stuff I went through got recycled. Some of the books and resources will be given away as door prizes during future trainings. The maps? Nope. Kept most of the those. Cause you can never have too many maps. There’s just something about a good paper map.
But I also understand the power of digital. As much as I enjoy spreading out a 1939 world atlas, the ability of an online or tech-based map to blend and display huge amounts of data can’t be beat. Google Maps. Google Earth. ERSI. Rumsey Georeferencer. StoryMaps.
And now you’ve got the United States Geological Survey folks with even more goodies. The USGS has always been great about creating and sharing educational resources. But now they’ve created a new handy tool for finding and using historical topographic maps. Read more
I can not get enough of Flipboard. Seriously.
Flipboard inventor guy, I salute you.
The reason is simple. Find topics, follow topics, learn tons of new things. The unintended consequence, of course, is that you can often fall into a deep, dark, highly entertaining hole of time that you will never get back. I’m willing to pay that price because, like I said, tons of new learning.
Just in the last day, I ran across the incredible Guardian website on the First World War, I learned 60 news ways to use Google Classroom, and found what is apparently the ultimate strawberry shortcake recipe.
So . . . sidebar. Get Flipboard.
But while the WWI site, 60 Googley things, and shortcake were all interesting, what really caught my eye over the last few days has been a couple of articles focusing on geography. The first is about a book titled The Law of the Land: A Grand Tour of our Constitutional Republic and the impact of American geography on legal history in the United States.
And, yes, that sounds . . . mmm, not very interesting. But the interview with the author, Akhil Reed Amar, is not what you expect. You’re going to have to trust me on this. Head over Read more
It’s actually 149 maps. But I figured that was just a bit of overkill in the title. To be completely transparent, it’s really five different articles about five different topics that all focus on very cool and interesting maps to tell a story.
So you can pick and choose.
Middle school US history teacher? There’s a little bit of the Civil War in there. High school world history? Yup. We’ve got some WWI and WWII. Ancient? Rome and Middle East, covered.
But . . . I can hear a few of you now.
Glenn. I know you love a good map. But what can I, a classroom teacher, do with that many maps? How can these be incorporated into my instruction? And somehow make it about historical thinking?
Well . . . first of all, we’ve already decided that 149 is a big number so don’t use all of the maps. Pick and choose the ones that best fit your specific end in mind and content. And second, remember that one of the best ways to engage the brain and to hook students on content is to create an intriguing problem. Look for a map or two or three that creates a sense of “academic discomfort” – something that doesn’t seem to make sense. Or maybe combine a few maps together to create a narrative that can lead kids in a certain direction.
We’ve used Google aerial photos to hook world history kids before. We can use a similar strategy with middle school US.
So how about this? Read more
What does it look like when we combine inquiry learning with geography? What resources are available? Check out some ideas and materials below:
Inquiry lesson examples:
Geography: Read more
Every once in a while, while traveling around the country, I’ll get the chance to meet and chat with one of them. My daughter calls them fanboys. You might call them uberfans. A polite term might be avid followers. But we’ve all met someone like this. People who just can’t get enough of The Avengers or the Kansas Jayhawks or House of Cards or whatever they’ve decided is the thing around which their world rotates.
And whenever I run into this particular type of fanboy, I have to smile. Because they are so passionate and fun to be around.
I’m talking, of course, about the people who just can’t get enough of Rick Steves. And if you’ve never heard of Rick Steves, well . . . you just haven’t had the chance to spend time with one of his uberfans. Because if you had, you would have definitely heard all about him. They take their love of Rick to a whole new level.
I get it. Rick Steves is the ultimate in travel advice. He has books, TV shows, radio, podcasts, websites, articles, and blog posts – all talking about and sharing information about travel. Where to go. What to take with you. The best places to eat. To stay. The best museums. Suggestions for planes, trains, and automobiles. He does it all and he’s been doing it for a long time.
All of this to say that Rick Steves knows travel. And he has a ton of followers who know he knows travel. So when he shares his ideas about the whys and hows of travel, it’s probably a good idea to listen to what he has to say.
And while I’m not a Steves uberfan, there is one message he shares that I really like. Read more
In my perfect world as a map nerd, I would have grown up living my life as if I were David Rumsey. Make a ton of money and spend that money finding and archiving historical maps. Then figure out ways to share those maps with other people.
Because that sounds like a very sweet way to spend my time.
If you’re not familiar with the David Rumsey Historical Map Collection, you need to head over and check out his more than 55,000 maps digitized maps, the more than 150 Google Earth layers, and the nine different mapping tools. Be prepared to spend some serious time here. There is just so much cool stuff.
One of the easiest ways to find handy maps for use in your classroom is to use the