Thursday, September 10, 2015

And Six More Helpful Resources for Teaching Geography

Image by Enrique Flouret [CC BY 2.0]
I have shared my love of geography here before, and though I'm not a geography teacher in an official sense, I think that every teacher should help foster a little geographic awareness in their students--in very much the same way we say things like "every teacher is a reading teacher" or "every teacher teaches writing."

Previously I've shared a few collections of fun resources you might be able to use to help your students develop a greater sense of geographic awareness; you can check out Eight Helpful Resources for Teaching Geography and Seven More Helpful Resources for Teaching Geography to help you get started.

It's in this same spirit that I offer this collection of six more resources. Enjoy!

1. World Geography Games - The name is very descriptive. :-) Dozens and dozens of map quizzes here, including nations, capitals, flags, and a wide variety of geographic features like mountain ranges, islands, rivers, and even major geographic regions. High quality design on this site!

2. The Foodnited States of America - A fun series by Foodiggity (check 'em out on Instagram) with a food pun for each state of the USA. Of course it's "Kalefornia," right? Or "New Spamshire?" Or who could forget "Loueasycheesiana?" (Okay, now that your interested is piqued, go check 'em out...) What might this spark for your students? What kinds of fun wordplay can they have with the names of places? How could they creatively demonstrate their geographic learning?

3. NatGeo (Instagram) - While we're talking about Instagram, you should think about following NatGeo, the official Instagram account of the National Geographic Society. (You know...the magazine with the familiar yellow border?) Amazing photos shared here daily, usually along with stories to foster curiosity and amazement about the world and its inhabitants.

4. GeoBee Daily Challenge - And...while we're talking about National Geographic, why not check out their daily geography challenge? You can choose from "Apprentice" and "Expert" mode (caution: cookies remember your choice for the future!) and then run through the ten questions for the day. Good practice for your students actually participating in the National Geographic Bee, if that sounds like your kind of thing! (You might look into registering your school to participate in the National Geographic Bee.)

5. Map Race - Your goal: figure out what city you are looking at! You are given a satellite photo (zoomed in a good bit) of a major city--you can play "North America" or "The World"--and try to guess where you are. One really nice feature of this game: there are three levels of play. On Easy, you have to choose which city it is among four options. On Medium, you get ten choices. And on Hard...well, it's hard, have to type in your answer (though they do give you one clue so you aren't just hurting yourself trying to figure it out.) There is a time penalty for wrong guesses, but the goal is to figure it out as quickly as possible. This could be a fun game for the whole class to play together. Perhaps play five rounds a day, keep track of your total time, and challenge yourselves to beat your own (collective) time. This could be a good way to boost geographic awareness and research skills--have a couple kids ready to google for information about the city options!

6. - Ah,'ve misled countless school children. The Mercator projection is one of the most common maps used in schools...and it also distorts the sizes of things so badly that it probably does more harm than good! (The good news: it represents the shapes of things very accurately. Such trouble showing a three-dimensional Earth on a two-dimensional piece of paper...) But wait! There is a solution! Check out to find out...the true size of items on the map. Click a country or territory to select it, and then you can drag it around on the Mercator map, and it will automatically resize to show the actual size of these different land masses in comparison. For example, Greenland looks about the same size as South America on a Mercator map, but if you select Greenland and drag it onto South America, you may be surprised at the actual size difference between these!

I hope you'll share your favorite techniques and resources for teaching geography too! How do you help develop geographic awareness in your students? Do you have other favorite sites? Please share them by commenting below!

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