Friday, February 3, 2017

Creating and Telling Stories With Maps

For as long as I can remember I have loved to look at maps. I distinctly remember looking at the maps in my third grade social studies book and wondering what people in the middle of the Soviet Union were like. And as I got older I would look at maps of northern Canada and dream about fishing on the massive lakes and rivers whose names I often had difficulty pronouncing. The point is that looking at the maps sparked my imagination. I crafted stories around what I saw on the maps and in my imagination.

Today, students have access to digital maps that will provide them with more information than I ever had in paper map. Similarly, students today have access to digital mapping tools on which they can tell their own stories. Here are some of the stories that students can tell with digital maps.

A map is a great backdrop for telling the life story of a famous person living or dead. Students can create map placemarks for the important events in a person's life. For example, they could map the life of Theodore Roosevelt and include in their placemarks the places he visited before, during, and after his presidency. Ask students to include explanations of why the events they mapped were important.

Changes in landscapes/ cityscapes
Google's My Maps and Google Earth allow users to create maps containing multiple layers. Have students create one layer using imagery of a place captured 30-100 years ago. Then ask them to create a layer using current imagery. This is a great way for students to see the effects of erosion on a landscape. It's also a great way to see how a cityscape has changed over time.

"I spy"
Google Maps allows you to quickly switch between road maps, satellite maps, and Street View. Have your students use all three of these views to record observations about places that are interesting to them or that you assign to them. Ask them to write a short story based on their observations. They could write their stories in a document or within placemarkers in Google's My Maps tool.

Join To Geography and Beyond With Google Maps to learn more about how to use Google Maps in your classroom.