Category Archives: Geography

Weekly Map

Leslie Fisher (@LeslieFisher) tweeted out this link to Weekly Map yesterday.  The concept is similar to the “What’s Going on in this Graph?” feature that appears in the New York Times the second Tuesday of every month – except, of course, that this a weekly challenge.  Each Monday brings a new map, and a hint is given each weekday including Friday.  A link is also provided on Friday to the answer.

So far, the site has archived 65 Weekly Maps, and they are labeled with difficulty ratings.  This is a great way for students to practice deductive reasoning and geography skills, as well as vocabulary. (I had no idea what a choropleth map was until I looked at this site.) The “Lessons” part of the site is under construction, so maybe if we give them lots of love that will happen faster!

Choropleth_Map.png
image of choropleth map from Wikipedia
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We Love Maps

“We Love Maps” was the most recent theme for the bi-annual Barbara Petchenik Children’s Map Competition. The contest is open to entries from children all over the world who are 15 years old or younger, and it really is amazing to see the creativity displayed in the wide range of winners chosen by judges at the International Cartographic Association’s annual meeting this month.  You really must click through the gallery of pictures to appreciate the artistry of these children, as well as the messages they chose to convey with their renderings.  Special shout-out to Champ Turner, from Austin, TX, for having his map chosen for the “Public Award” with the most votes.  With 34 different countries participating, it’s nice to see a winner from my home state!  To learn more about the competition (which only happens every 2 years, unfortunately!), click here.

map
image from Pixabay (since I don’t have permission to reproduce the actual contest entries)

Mind-Blowing Maps

For this week’s Phun Phriday, we have a collection of unusual maps that you probably won’t find in any atlas.  Don’t worry; these aren’t election maps (they are far more interesting, in my opinion).

First of all, head on over to this article on Thrillest to find out the favorite television shows in each of the United States.  Some are not so surprising, but others definitely seem a bit incongruous.

Maybe the t.v. shows have some connection to the most distinctive last name in each state?  Or maybe not.  Jensen seems poised to take over the country, so someone should definitely do some research on that particular trend.

I know this blog has readers all over the world, so I apologize that the first two maps are America-centric.  Rest assured that this last resource covers anyone as it speculates what would happen if we put the entire population of the world into one city.

Yes, you read that correctly.

People really think of the most interesting ways to visualize maps…

Lego Micro World Map
Lego Micro World Map

Pick the Real U.S. States

My 1st graders are learning a little geography at the moment as they program their Dash robot to hunt for treasure amongst the continents.  As I was looking for some supplemental resources, I ran across this brain-twisting quiz from Mental Floss.  It’s deceptively difficult.  The concept is simple: select all of the states from the list without making a mistake.  I was doing good until I accidentally tapped “North York.”

If you want your students to play this in class, you might want to use the Page Eraser Chrome extension to take care of the distracting ads.  If you play it at home all on your own, I would keep the ads so you can blame them every time you mess up 🙂

Pick the Real US States from Mental Floss
Pick the Real US States from Mental Floss

Quiver Education – Planet Earth

The Quiver 3D coloring app was formerly known as ColAR.  It’s available on both Google Play and the iTunes app store as a free app. However, there are some in-app purchases on the free app.  Another option is to purchase the Education version of the app, which includes all of the content.

I published a post about this augmented reality app at the end of last school year, lamenting the fact that I had discovered the free Planet Earth page too late for my 1st graders to experience it.  This year, I knew I wanted to include this page as they learned about the continents, so I made sure to add it to my lesson plans before I forgot.

Yesterday, the students were introduced to the continents with a cute SmartBoard lesson involving a traveling guinea pig.  We also used my handy floor map (best $22 ever spent!) and the huge wall map I made (longest hours of my life) to see the continents in many different ways.

Then I asked the students to label and color Quiver’s Planet Earth page.  With a little instruction on how to use the app, I set them free to explore.

As I predicted, they were completely amazed to see their own writing and drawing come to life in 3D.  The other features (seeing the world at night or during the day, etc…) also fascinated them.

The one challenge of the app is getting the iPad the exact height above the paper to correctly “read” the page.  This meant the page could not be on the table, but needed to be on a chair or the floor for my vertically challenged 1st graders.  They adjusted to this quickly, but it also became a new activity when one of the students (accidentally?) waved her foot over the page.

“Look!  It’s showing my foot!!!!!!”  This, of course, led to a mass migration over to the iPad that suddenly had a shoe-shaped continent.

“What else can we try?”

“Let’s try a pencil!”  I found this suggestion intriguing as it actually appeared that the pencil was pointing at a particular continent. This seemed like it might have educational uses.  Granted, 3D-ness would not be necessary for that image, but it does make it more fun.

The pencil suddenly became less exciting when I found a Lego zombie that had been left behind in my classroom. This, of course, inspired more enthusiastic experimentation.  Because. You know. ZOMBIES. That makes geography so much more fun.

As usual, this lesson did not go the way I expected.  But, if it makes it easier to remember that South America and Africa are two rather large continents separated by an ocean zombie, then I’m not too worried as to whether or not learning took place.

Plus, they rocked the assessment at the end of the lesson.

Want more ideas for augmented reality in the classroom?  Check out this page of resources.

Quiver App - Planet Earth

 

Zombie-Based Learning

Yep.  You read that correctly.

How have I not heard of this before?!!!  Problem-based, standards-based, project-based…. All familiar to me.  Zombie-based?  Not so much.

image from Pixabay.com

The only reason I know about it now is because of another of Edutopia’s fabulous 5-Minute Film Festivals.  This one, posted on 7/17/15, is about inspirational teachers.  I scanned the list and, well, the word, “zombie” kind of jumps out at you.

David Hunter invented Zombie-based learning as a way to engage students as they learn about geography.  It’s aimed at 4th-8th graders, and he created his own graphic novel to supplement the lessons.  Curriculum standards are covered; you just happen to be evading zombies as you learn them.

I don’t know about you, but geography was such a yawn subject when I was in school back in the day.  With Zombie-based learning, I might have actually been interested in the location of Siberia and whether or not its climate was conducive to zombies.

I have not tried the curriculum,  You can check it out over here, and look at examples.  To use the curriculum you will need to fork over some cash.  You might find it worth it.  After all, you’re really getting two things for the price of one – an engaging curriculum for your students and a survival guide for the Zombie Apocalypse.

Let’s face it.  It’s coming.  It’s only a matter of time…

The Many Colors of the World’s Flags

A couple of years ago, I posted about an interesting infographic included in a presentation by Kathy Schrock.  The image showed each world flag as a pie chart of color.

Nicholas Rougeux has a different take on the colors of the world’s flags.  He chose to categorize them by color scheme.  Check out his poster that illustrates the flags of the world like flowers in a garden, with the height of the “flowers” indicating the number of flags sharing that color scheme.

image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:WikiProject_Flag-map
image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:WikiProject_Flag-map