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Posts tagged ‘maps’

Nerdfest 2015 Day One: Thinking like a geographer

There’s been a big push in the last few years to train kids to think historically, to ask better questions, to analyze evidence, to solve problems ala Sam Wineburg.

But what does it look like when kids think like a geographer? The last session of the day yesterday at the NSSSA conference focused at interpreting primary sources with a geographic lens. What sorts of questions can we train kids to ask that helps them think about connections between events and place?

And I love the idea of thinking geographically. I would be the first to admit that I am very US History-centric. Thinking historically – ala Sam Wineburg – has been my life for the last few years as I helped write state standards and train teachers.

So having a conversation about a different lens to think about the past is a great way to end the day. I’ve pasted a few resources below that you really need to go check out but the basics of thinking geographically look like this: Read more

The True Size of . . .

One of my favorite map books is called How to Lie With Maps by Mark Monmonier. How to Lie highlights the use and abuse of maps and teaches us how to critically evaluate these “easy-to-manipulate models of reality.” Monmonier claims that, despite their immense value, maps must lie.

Back of the book jacket , Monmonier introduces basic principles of mapmaking, gives entertaining examples of the misuse of maps in situations from zoning disputes to census reports, and covers all  sorts of distortions from deliberate oversimplifications to the misleading use of color.

How can maps “lie?” Read more

Literature, geography, and epic road trips

We’re putting the finishing touches on this year’s Kansas state social studies conference. Titled A Capitol Idea: Integrating History and ELA, the conference will focus on ways to support both social studies and language arts folks. We know that this sort of integration is critical to developing the skills our kids need to be successful.

(So . . . shameless propaganda. If you’re anywhere near the Kansas capitol building on November 2, you need to plan on being part of the conversation. And by near, I’m talking five or six hour driving distance. Seriously. It’s gonna be awesome.)

But our planning and discussion about combining literacy skills and historical thinking jogged my memory. I knew Pocketed an article about a month or so ago that highlighted American road trips using some sort of map. A quick search of my Pocket later and yup, there it was.

The Obsessively Detailed Map of American Literature’s Most Epic Road TripsRead more

Where Are the Jobs & Racial Dot Maps. What could you do with this?

I’ve been to the Fast Company network of sites in the past but I need to learn to spend more time over there, uh . . . researching possible post topics. Yeah. That’s it. Not wasting time reading interesting articles about how Batman videos have evolved over time. I’m over there investing valuable minutes tracking down very appropriate articles directly tied to education related subjects.


Okay. A few articles may be tough to defend education-wise but you’ve got four channels – Exist, Design, Create, Video – to choose from and you can find a ton of interesting reads here. If nothing else, you’ve got some great writing prompts.

A recent research trip to the Exist channel uncovered two of my favorite things: a map and another map.

The most recent map claims to highlight every single job in America with a variety of different colors. The map plots out each job with an actual dot in four simplified categories. Factory and trade jobs are red, professional jobs are blue, health care, education, and government jobs are green, and service jobs like retail are yellow.” It is interactive, allowing you to zoom and scroll from one place to another, providing a chance to see patterns both small and large. Read more

Hacking #iste2015: Free ConnectEd & ESRI account and free geography / history lessons

Just dipped my toe in the #iste2015 Expo Hall, talked to a few folks, and got out. You want to be careful about spending too much time in there. It’s too easy getting sucked in to the vendor web.

But I headed in on purpose with a mission to stop by the ESRI booth for a quick chat. Met Tom Barker who had spent some time at the University of Kansas and learned a ton in just a few minutes. So I quick update before I scoot off to browse some poster sessions. Read more

USGS Historical Topo Maps

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


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