In one of my favorite map books, How to Lie With Maps, Mark Monmonier suggests that Americans are taught from an early age to analyze and understand the meaning and manipulation of words in areas such as advertising, political campaigns, and the news. He calls it being “cautious consumers of words.” I’m not entirely convinced that we actually do a very good job of this (though I think we are getting better at having kids close read text and recognize bias.)
But I do agree with his statement that we rarely teach the same skills about maps. Many social studies teachers seem unsure of what and how to teach geography thinking skills and so kids often leave our classrooms without the tools they need to be successful.
A recent article by Andrew Wiseman titled When Maps Lie: Tips from a Geographer on How to Avoid Being Fooled can help. Read more
Most of you know I’m a sucker for maps.
As a ten year old, I ordered a $75 historical atlas of the United States to be delivered to my house – without any way to pay for it. There were maps on the walls in my childhood room. I read, and continue to read, books about maps. I grew up poring over the map inserts in the monthly National Geographic magazine.
So you can understand why I’m pumped about All Over the Map, National Geographic’s new geography focused blog. It’s so new that there are only two posts so far. But the potential is huge. How do I know? Read more
Gapminder is an organization promoting sustainable global development by encouraging the use and understanding of statistics and other information about social, economic and environmental development at local, national and global levels.
Basically it’s a tool you and kids can use to compare and contrast countries around the world. So . . . teaching geography, world history, economics, comparative government? GapMinder is a tool you and your kids need to be using.
At GapMinder, you can access a variety of tools, lesson plans, and videos that help students understand the world and can help you generate a wide range of problems for your kids to solve.
One example of a lesson plan that uses GapMinder data can help your kids to think about the gaps in the world today and challenge their preconceived ideas about how the contemporary world looks. The exercise can also be used to stimulate an interest in using statistics to understand the world.
How to use the activity: Read more
We know that we need to incorporate more literacy into our instruction. And embedding geography is a no brainer. And we’re told that our kids need to be using a variety of media tools. But we often struggle to find ways to integrate all of this stuff into lessons and units.
I ran across a new tool this morning that I think might be able to help. Called StoryMap JS, the tool provides a quick and easy way for you and students to develop visually appealing geo-based narratives. StoryMap JS was developed by the Knight Lab at Northwestern University. And while I haven’t had a ton of time to play it, it looks like a powerful addition to your teaching tool kit. Read more
Working at ESSDACK is a mix of good days and great days. Today is a great day. I get the chance to spend time with a ton of other social studies nerds at the Missouri Council for the Social Studies conference in Columbia.
So far I’ve had a great breakfast, met some folks who spent time at Mt. Vernon wearing the most awesome political campaign t-shirt ever, and picked up some sweet vendor goodies.
The first session focuses on helping students make sense of place. Ladawndra Robbs and Erin Townsend shared some great ideas and strategies. And they are on fire. So incredibly passionate! Read more
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? Read more