GeoLiteracy: Conceptualizing Maps

PicCollage-1

When last month I worked with my 4th grade students on creating maps (an extension of a social studies lesson on map skills), we referred to it as our GeoLiteracy project. While we thought we had come up with the term, I have since learned that it was actually coined by National Geographic:

We have adopted the term geo-literacy to describe the level of geo-education that we believe all members of 21st-century society will need to live well and behave responsibly in our interconnected world. The following three components of geo-literacy are critical preparation for far-reaching decisions:

  • How our world works
  • How our world is connected
  • How to make well-reasoned decisions

In social studies class, the 4th graders began the school year by expanding their knowledge of geography and studying maps. In library class, they applied the new vocabulary and skills to creating a digital map of a chosen U.S. state.

Step 1: Researching Information

Students used the WorldBook Online encyclopedia and the Worldatlas.com website to complete a graphic organizer.

GeoLiteracyMapSkills4th

Step 2: Creating a Digital Map

We used Wixie, a cloud-based software published by Tech4Learning, to create our maps. They had to include all the researched information, including a title and a legend, as well as follow a specific format. For example, the state had to be represented by a green outline map. The relative location had to be represented by black outline maps of states, if applicable, and so forth. As a final step, students used a checklist to ensure quality work.

ChecklistGeoLiteracyMapSkills4th

Student Closure

Students uploaded the maps to their blogs and wrote a brief reflective piece (category: social studies) answering the following questions:

  • What did you do?
  • How did you do it?
  • What would you change next time?

Teacher Closure

While my students may have just scratched the surface of GeoLiteracy with this map skills project, it helped deepen their understanding of the tools of geography in a more basic sense. The use of creative digital tools in the classroom to foster engagement with content, to support learning, and to allow students to share their learning with an authentic audience worked well for this exercise.

 

 

TaliaZ

Talia Z.’s map of Montana

Advertisements

One thought on “GeoLiteracy: Conceptualizing Maps

  1. Pingback: » “GeoLiteracy: Conceptualizing Maps” by @KarinHalle… Langwitches Twitter Feed

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s