Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Seven More Helpful Resources for Teaching Geography

One of my most-viewed posts to date is titled "Eight Helpful Resources for Teaching Geography." I'm glad this was--apparently--such a valuable collection of teaching ideas, because I think we (American educators) need to do a better job of teaching geographic awareness, frankly. So it's in that spirit that I've collected another seven resources that might prove beneficial for teaching geography...

Image by Kenneth Lu [CC BY 2.0]

1. Maps that Prove You Don't Really Know Earth - This video is a great way to illustrate some of the problems with showing a three-dimensional Earth on a two-dimensional surface (like a map.) Ah,'ve misled us all so badly...

2. Amazing Maps - Follow this Tumblr for...amazing maps! You can also follow them on Twitter, if that's your thing. There are some really fantastic maps available here that might stir some interesting conversations about why things are the way they are in the world.

3. 10 Contestants for "Earth's Next Superpower" - I love mental_floss (check them out on Twitter or subscribe to the magazine) and the good folks working there dig up all kinds of great trivia, which they often share in list form. This list is an interesting look at some of the physical and social geography that might be behind potential rising stars on the world stage.

4. 12 Proposed U.S. States that Didn't Make the Cut - Another list from mental_floss. This one gets at some of the history embedded in geography. Students often don't realize how fluid the lines on a map are, and how historical events have influenced the way human beings have drawn those lines. This list includes some interesting stories that might help open students eyes to these realities.

5. DistanceFromTo - The name of this site really describes what it does! Enter in two places (like the default London to Paris) and the site calculates the distance in kilometers, miles, and nautical miles, and even maps it for you, showing the great circle distance, the rhumb line distance, and the driving distance (should that apply...) Quick and easy to use!

6. Map Puzzles - A nice, easy-to-use map quiz practice site. All major world regions are included, and there are different levels of difficulty to play: placing countries on the map with or without border lines indicated, and placing capitals on the map with or without border lines indicated. This could be a helpful way for students to learn or review where nations, states, and capitals are located. I'm envisioning kids keeping track of the time it takes them to complete a given puzzle so they can see their learning progress over time!

7. SmartyPins - I think I saved the best for last on this list! SmartyPins is a mapping game brought to us by the good people at Google. I guess I would call this is a geography trivia game, but it's more than that! In the game, you are asked questions that have a geographic answer. You then drag and drop the pin in the correct location to answer the question. The questions get progressively harder as you play--and fussier for where you place the pins--so the challenge increases appropriately. But there are also hints available if you're stumped, and you get fun facts and affirmation of a job well done when you answer questions correctly. This could be a great way to increase your students' geographic awareness...and yours too!

Hopefully you'll find these useful for your students, or even for your own edification! A little more geographic awareness is never a bad thing.

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