I’m in Denver at the 2016 version of the madhouse that is the #ISTE2016 conference. Helping to spread the Best Keynote goodness and doing a session on Google tools later on. And it’s always fun. I see old friends and make new ones. I learn new things. But it can get to be a bit of nerd overload. After a while, the conversation about server loads, bit rates, digital learning environments, edtech synergy, companies that spell their names with a Z instead of an S, and the next technology revolution gets to be a little much.
So it’s kind of nice to slow down a bit with other social studies folks to talk about maps and historical thinking skills. Yes. It is a session with the word digital in the title but it’s digital maps from the Library of Congress. I’m okay with that.
Presented by Sherrie Calloway and Cappi Castro, the session focused on ways to support historical thinking and problem solving while using maps. Sherri and Cappi are part of the very cool Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) program maintained by the TPS Western Region people at Metro State here in the Denver area.
And just so you know, the TPS program is awesome, if for no other reason than Read more
We may be a nation divided by politics, religion, sports teams, and BBQ type. But we can all agree on one thing.
Maps are awesome.
And free maps are more awesomer.
So when I found out about the map site maintained by National Park Ranger Matt Holly, it was a very good day. Matt, already famous for the cutest stick story ever, is now becoming even more famous for uploading over 1000 National Park Service maps in PDF format for easy online access.
Seriously. How cool is that?
Simply titled Read more
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