Friday, June 17, 2016

Three Ways for Students to Compare the Sizes of Countries and States

My students here in Maine always think of our state as being a big place and it is relative to the rest of New England. Compared to our friends in the west, Maine is a small place. Similarly, they sometimes have trouble understanding the size of the lower 48 states compared to Canada. The following three tools can help students understand the size of their countries in relation to the size of other countries.

If It Were My Home is a neat site that provides comparisons of countries. If It Were My Home will show you a comparison of geographic size of your country with that of another of your choosing. Beyond the size comparison, If It Were My Home shows you comparisons of twelve health and economics statistics about life in different countries. To view the comparisons just select two countries from the lists and click compare.

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.

The True Size Of... is a free web tool that lets you quickly compare the size of two countries or two states within the United States. To compare two countries simply enter one into the search box then enter a second one into the search box. Both countries will be highlighted for you. You can then drag and drop one onto the other. The same can be done with states of the United States as is demonstrated in my screenshot below.

A Good Example of a Student & Teacher Blog - And How to Make Your Own

On Monday afternoon I had the pleasure of seeing Elisabeth Alkier give a presentation about the book review blog that she developed with her students and her school's librarian Dlo Duvall. The Bode Book Review is a blog authored by students in Elisabeth and Dlo's school. The purpose of the blog is to provide other students with short reviews to inspire them to read new books.

In Elisabeth's presentation she explained the ground rules that students had to follow in order to contribute to The Bode Book Review. Two ground rules that stood out to me were that students couldn't give spoilers in their reviews and that when it came to commenting students were not allowed to correct each other's grammar and spelling. Elisabeth also pointed out that she never corrects students grammar in comments. Instead she gives those corrections privately. Her explanation was that it can be discouraging for reluctant writers to see their work publicly corrected by the teacher. I thought that was an excellent point.

Take a look at The Bode Book Review as a good example of a student and teacher blog. If you want to learn to develop your own blog like it, grab a copy of my free guide to using Blogger in school (link opens a PDF).

This summer I am teaching a five week course all about using blogs and social media in school. There is an option for you to earn three graduate credits for completing the course. 

Qualities of an Epic Hero - A Visual Character Guide

Qualities of an Epic Hero is a free classroom poster available from Storyboard That. The poster outlines the seven traits that make a character in a story an epic hero. Those traits are being a cultural legend, being a vast traveler, battling supernatural foes, being of noble birth, showing humility, and having superhuman capabilities. The poster provides a bit more detail on each of those traits along with symbols or icons to represent the traits of an epic hero.

You can download a high resolution copy of the Epic Hero poster for free on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Disclosure: Storyboard That is an advertiser on