Educator Tama Nunnelley wrote this post.
If you could take your students on a field trip anywhere, where would you go? What kinds of things would you like them to see or learn on this mission? Perhaps you could take them to a specific historical period or event so they can see it for themselves. Perhaps you would take them to a series of places where they would interact with historical or current events. Well, you can do it without leaving the classroom. As? With digital maps!
I often take my students to places in their own communities, around the world, or back in time, combining geographic skills with historical study. Geography is not just for geographers or geography courses. It plays an important role in every social studies classroom. Studying geography teaches young people a wide range of skills useful for the job market, including critical thinking and problem solving. Some of the fastest growing careers involve the use of geographic skills, including fluency.geographic information systems (GIS).
One way to take my students to different places so they can use their own analytical skills is with National Geographic.Cartographer. (Note: this project usesClassic map maker, which is free for educators and young people.updated cartographer.) MapMaker is designed for students to practice with GIS. It does not require a lot of mapping skills to use and is a perfect tool for interdisciplinary activities and sharing maps as primary source material.
To develop the attitudes, skills, and knowledge of a geographer while exploring their own world, each year my students undertake a six-month project to create a journey to a selected part of the world based on their qualification. The project combines math, English arts, science, and social studies. Geography and Community Studies students are tasked with traveling within our state. US History students may travel within the borders of the United States. World History students have the whole world at their disposal. I did this project in several high school classrooms and adapted it for high school and college freshmen. I think it could be easily adapted to all ages.
The first step in this process is to ask students to choose three places to travel to and explore in MapMaker. After choosing their locations, students draw each one on their digital maps. This includes selecting the pin they want to use for their location and placing it on the map. They can navigate to your specific location by finding out its latitude and longitude (click the bottom icon in the menu on the left side of the screen for these settings) or by zooming in or out using the "+" and "-" icons in the top corner. left of the screen. They then select their preferred pin from the menu. They can choose numbered bookmarks or scroll through the menu for something more fun. They can then click on the correct place to add their pin.
Students then use the mileage tool to see the distance between locations and create a budget for the trip. They are given a certain amount of money based on current prices and they plan their trip around that total. They need to know how many people they will take with them and the usual travel expenses, such as airfare, gas, hotels, and meals. They may also have to pay a fee to see the historic site on your itinerary. They choose the means of transport and keep an expense calculation sheet. We use MapMaker to see where these locations are and use the kilometers tool to determine the distance. Students can adjust locations to best fit their budget after doing the math.
Students are also expected to tell us about their trip through a travel journal. This is placed on your maps. Notice the edit tool below the text tool on the left side. Students can click on it, then on one of its placemarks, and then open the Link tab to enter location information. They can also use the text tool to name this location by clicking on it and dragging the box to the desired location on the label.
Being an interdisciplinary task, students are asked to include physical and climatic characteristics of each stop on the trip. They provide a weather forecast for each stop based on research of the average seasonal weather at that location. Students have an easy way to visualize this on their maps thanks to GIS. Students select Add Level and use the Weather category and Weather Level to select the appropriate views. Typically, students will add "Rain and Precipitation," "Climate Zones," and "Surface Air Temperature" for winter or summer, depending on the dates of their trip.
All of these are now visible layers on the map that can be edited at different levels of visibility. When students share these maps with their classmates, they can manipulate the level of transparency to show each required element.
Students now also have data in their notes that they can use in their presentations or in a more advanced project later.
If they wish, students can also change the basemap by selecting the Basemaps tab and selecting the images to display.
Students should also identify one significant or historical geographic feature of each location to include in their journal. They enter all the information in the description box below the editing/formatting tool and in the 'Link' tab. Students can complete everything below the link to reflect the pinned placement information. I ask students to share here their general description of the natural and human features of the place, their weather forecast, and information about places of historical or geographical importance. My favorite part is that students can also add photos and videos to their travel journal. Remember to click "Save" next to the editor so MapMaker can finish the job.
The final part of the project consists of the students presenting their conclusions to the class or a small group of classmates, while other students carry out small investigations in these places. The final product is better than a typical slide show because it is interactive and gives students the opportunity to engage in analysis using GIS and survey data.
I also used MapMaker to keep track of historical events. Students draw battle sites, connections to American history in our state, the building of the transcontinental railroad, and the extensive conquests of Alexander the Great. We then added layers while studying GIS principles. Students add physical and cultural characteristics to better understand the event or person they are studying.
I also took this down to the community level and asked students to map the growth of our community from the past to the present. They track historical events and create a roadmap for possible future development based on land use. We can also go back and reuse the data already collected on these maps to look at the climate and weather of a location while studying a different event that occurred there.
The good news is that it was MapMakerrecently updatedand it has some amazing new tools that students can use to explore. Using MapMaker in the classroom is an easy way to allow students to see the tools of a geographer and start using them themselves. Teachers do not need to be proficient in map making or technology to use MapMaker. Additionally, using MapMaker provides an opportunity to discuss the role of cartographers and potential careers involving these skills.
Explore MapMaker Getting Started Guidehere, miVisitVisit the National Geographic Resource Library for more resources to help you get the most out of the tool.
By creating or editing maps online, students practice real-world skills that they will use in the future. They don't need to know all the dates in my history book, but they do need the skills they can acquire by combining history and geography. I feel like I am making a difference when I do these activities and introduce project-based learning in my classroom. A map, consisting of colors, lines, and labels, is one of the most effective means of representing spatial relationships. If studied carefully, they can be used to interpret the past, define the present, predict the future, and take your students around the world.
National Geographic Education celebrates Geographic Awareness Week throughout the weekeducation blog, aboutOf theUEtter, and continuesFacebook. Check back regularly to hear from educators about their innovative and inspiring approaches to teaching geography, and learn how National Geographic tools and resources can help you empower your students to think geographically.
Tama Nunnelley is a social studies teacher in Alabama. She is a National Geographic Certified Educator and Educator, she was a 2018 Grosvenor Fellow Teacher and was recognized in 2015 by the National Council for Geographic Education as a Distinguished Teacher. She serves as chair of the National Social Studies Council Geography Community and is an assistant professor of geography at the University of North Alabama. She is always willing to talk to her fellow teachers and help them develop new ideas. You can contact her firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image submitted by Rebecca Hale