Monday, August 31, 2009

Maps and Bloom's Taxonomy

Do you remember those big, heavy, roll-up maps that perched on the top of what used to be the blackboard? They were gorgeous, but, alas, very infrequently used.

One of my best memories from school involves those maps and a fearless, forward-thinking teacher. One day in sixth grade, Ms. Rigney pulled down every big map in the room, divided us up into groups, told us to come up to a map, look closely at each, discuss, and be prepared to report on it fully to the class. (She gave us a Bloom's Taxonomy-inspired list of questions as a guide.)

We grabbed our notebooks and gathered in front of our group's appointed map. When the principal looked in, she was appalled. (Imagine students in groups! Moving around! Talking to classmates!) Fortunately, the principal stayed for our reports. When it was over, even she had to admit that Ms. Rigney's crazy maps and groups idea produced great results. Score one for active learning.

The old, roll-up maps are gone now, and even good wall maps are hard to come by. But online sources provide good maps for online study and downloading and printing.

For this year's map activities, go to National Geographic MapMachine. Bookmark and print all you need for student projects (you can use Ms. Rigney's Bloom's Taxonomy idea). Take a look through National Geographic's great Xpeditions lesson plans for ideas about including map study in your classroom.

And don't forget to print wall maps of the regions you'll be studying. They're all free!

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