Monday, November 16, 2015

Three Activities for Geography Awareness Week

This week is Geography Awareness Week. Yesterday, I posted a list of resources for teaching and learning about geography. Today, I have three activities that you can do with students to help them understand geography.

Create a map of art. 
Have your students create maps of art and artists around the world. Students can map the locations of where a piece of art is housed, where it was created, where the artist lived, and the places that inspired the artist. Each placemark on a student's map could include a picture of the artwork, a picture of the artist, and or a video about the art and artist. To provide a complete picture a student can include text and links to more information about the art and artist.

This project can be accomplished by using either Google's My Maps (formerly Maps Engine Lite), Google Earth Tour Builder, or Google Earth. My recommendation for teachers and students who are new to creating multimedia maps is to start out with either Google My Maps on a Chromebook or Google Earth Tour Builder on a Mac or PC. Click here for a tutorial on Google's My Maps service. Click here for a tutorial on Google Earth Tour Builder.

Learn about the geography of other places through Skype.
Use your online personal learning network to get in touch with a teacher in another part of the world and connect your classrooms. Have your students develop a list of questions that they have about the climate, plant life, and animals in the area around the other classroom.

Go Geocaching.
There is not a better way to learn about the geography around you than to go outside and explore. Geocaching is a fun way to learn about latitude and longitude while on the hunt for "hidden treasure." Jen Deyenberg wrote a great introduction to geocaching for teachers on this blog about four years ago. That post is still relevant. For a shorter overview of geocaching, watch the video below.

Plot Functions, Create Tables, & Animate Graphs using Desmos

This is a guest post from Jennifer Carey (@TeacherJenCarey) of EdTechTeacher, an advertiser on this site.

Desmos is a graphing calculator that allows you to plot functions, create tables, animate graphs, and more, all for free! In addition to creating static graphs and tables, users can integrate with sliders or animate them. For example, check out this graph that incorporates interactive sliders and rotation. You can see numerous examples of graphs that includes these features here.

Desmos is available for free online, as an iOS App, and as an Android App. If you are an educator, they curate a list of activities that integrate Desmos’s features, scaled for class and grade-level. For example, in the Hexagon Activity, students learn relevant vocabulary terms and features necessary in Geometry; they are presented with a variety of hexagonal shapes and then ask a series of questions to help them identify the shape that the computer has selected. To identify the correct shape, they will need to understand terms like acute, obtuse, or right angles. This is a great way to provide students a free, robust math tool as well as an outlet for their own creative energies.

Another great feature of Desmos is the ability to create different types of hands-on math labs for students to explore. Sign into Desmos with your Google account, and then use the + icon to start creating.

Activities can be shared to students via a link or embed code as shown below.


While traditional graphing calculators may offer more functionality, Desmos provides students with an opportunity to create dynamic math and explore concepts in a different way.

For more math ideas, EdTechTeacher has a page of math recommendations on their web site. You can also come get hands-on with Chrome apps such as Desmos at their upcoming Google Jamborees!