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Sunday, November 12, 2017

10 Good Resources for Geography Awareness Week

This week is Geography Awareness Week. As academically-themed weeks go, this ons is my favorite. For as long as I can remember I have enjoyed looking at maps and wondering about far-off places. I hope that I've be able to pass on that fascination to some of my students. If you're looking for some resources to use this week, take a look at my list below.

Geography Games
GameOn World is a multiplayer geography game developed by a high school teacher and his student in Portland, Maine. The game is similar in structure to that of Kahoot. In GameOn World the teacher selects a game category (cities, places, and timeline are three of the nine categories) and starts the game. The students join the game by going to GameOn.World and entering a game pin. In the location and timeline games, students answer the questions by moving a placemark on a map or selecting a date on a timeline. In some of the other games students answer by choosing a number on a sliding scale.



Spacehopper is a game based on Google Maps Street View imagery. Spacehopper shows you a Street View image and you have to guess where in the world the image was captured. You can click the clue button to have the country identified before making a guess. After three incorrect guesses the correct answer will be revealed to you. You can play Spacehopper on a global level or you can specify that you only want to see images from a particular continent.

Smarty Pins is a Google Maps game develop by Google. Smarty Pins presents players with a trivia question that they have to answer by placing a pin on a map. Players earn "miles" for correctly placing a pin on the map. Players can lose miles for answering incorrectly and or taking too long to answer. Games are available in five categories; arts & culture, science & geography, sports & games, entertainment, and history & current events.

Capital Toss is a free geography game from ABCya. The game has a state capitals mode and a country capitals mode. In both modes of the game works the same way. The name of a state or country appears at the bottom of the screen and three rows of capital names scroll across the top. When the correct capital name appears players virtually toss a ball at it. After ten correct answers players can choose a new ball. Three consecutive incorrect answers ends the game.

Where is...? is another good game geography game. This game uses a popular format for geography games; the name of a city is presented to the players and they have to click the map to guess where the city is located. Players are given immediate feedback on their accuracy in the form of a measurement, in kilometers, of the distance between their guesses and the correct answers.

Mission MapQuest is a great map game creation tool developed by friend Russel Tarr for his ClassTools.net website. The concept behind Mission Mapquest is rather straight-forward one. On Mission Mapquest you create a series of clues that your students need to follow to identify places around the world. You can add as few or as many clues to your MapQuest as you like. When you're ready to have students try your MapQuest just give them the web address assigned to it. Mission Mapquest games are created in HTML5 which means that they can be played on iPads and Android tablets as well as on laptops. Watch the video embedded below to learn how to create your own map-based quizzes on Mission MapQuest.


Instructional Resources
The USGS offers free topographic maps for most of the United States. The maps can be downloaded as PDFs through the USGS store. The maps can be used in the 27 suggested topographic maps lessons found in the USGS education site. All of the lessons are rated by grade level and time required for completing the activity. In the list of lesson ideas you will find suggestions for lessons about typical geography topics like coordinates, scale, and map projections as well as lesson suggestions for less common things like analysis of stereo aerial photographs and analysis of humans and hydrography.

Overlap Maps is a free service that can be used to quickly compare the size of countries, states, provinces, and some bodies of water. To create a visual comparison of two countries select one country from the "overlap this" menu and select one country from the "onto this" menu. The comparisons you make are displayed on a map. You can make comparisons from different categories. For example, you can overlap Lake Erie onto New Hampshire.

As you would expect National Geographic has a lot of resources for teaching geography lessons. Head to National Geographic's activity catalog to search through hundreds of activities and lesson plans covering a wide range of human and physical geography topics. The catalog search can be refined by grade level, but unfortunately cannot be refined by topic so you'll have to browse to find the topic you want to cover in your classroom.

Google's My Maps tool makes it relatively easy to create mapped displays of data. Watch my video below to learn how to do that.


Learn more about Google Earth and Google Maps in my upcoming course, To Geography & Beyond With Google Earth & Maps

Google Arts and Culture


Google Arts and Culture launched in 2011 as result of a 20% time project from Googler Amit Sood. The idea was to make important cultural materials more available and accessible to people from around the world and to digitally preserve these materials to educate and inspire future generations.

Google originally partnered with 17 museums in 9 countries. Within a year the project expanded to include 150 museums in 40 countries. That number has risen to over 1000 partners!

The original name was the Google Art Project and the idea was pretty simple. Google Streetview technology would be used to capture images inside of museums to create virtual tours where people could walk through different galleries in museums from around the world. Visitors could zoom in on paintings and view a variety of facts about the different works. During the years since its inception, the project has expanded and evolved to include much more than art. During the next week, we will take a look at different aspects of this fantastic project and I will share some ideas for using it with students across grade levels.

Tools and Tips to Help Students With the Writing Process

There are so many tools that will help students with the writing process. Some of these tools help organize research while others help students organize their thoughts or locate grammatical errors.

Resouces and Tools
Grammarly- Detect spelling, context, and grammatical errors.

EasyBib- Generate citations and see the credibility of sites you are using.

Diigo- Collect, organize and annotate resouces. Create an outline using the resources you have gathered.

Cite This for Me- Automatically create citations in the most popular citation styles.

Highlight Tool- This is an add-on for Google Docs that can be used to organize essays, categorize facts, and emphasize different sections of a document.

Tips and Ideas

If your students are writing in Google Docs, why not have them engage in some peer revision? Students can either leave comments or make suggestions using features that already exist in Google Docs.

The comments feature is a great place for teachers to leave feedback for students as well. Instead of waiting until a student is finished with a long project like a research paper, you can begin leaving comments right away so students can fix errors before they submit their final draft.

Create voice comments for using the Talk and Comment extension. This is a great way for students to provide feedback to their peers as well as teachers to provide feedback to students.

Read previous posts about Diigo and other citation tools.

Creating Folders and Subfolders to Organize Chrome Bookmark Bar

The Chrome bookmark bar can be an incredibly useful tool to help you get organized, but it can be your worst enemy if you don't take steps to tame it. Just a couple of weeks ago, I shared some ideas for how to use favicons to reclaim space on your bookmark bar. The video below walks you through how to create folders and subfolders on your bookmark bar to reclaim even more space. I have found that by taking control of my bookmark bar and using it to help me get organized has saved my sanity! I no longer waste time searching for digital resources and documents because I have a system for how to organize them. I hope these tips will inspire you to develop your own system of organization.