On this memorial day weekend the History Channel is kicking off a week of Civil War themed shows. While watching I thought I’d see if there were any interesting maps available on the intertubes. What did I find? Some wonderful animated maps from the Civil War Trust ! The maps are flash based and progress through some key battles of the war. The site also provides users historical maps and new digital maps that are static.
Additionally, the site has available BattleApps. The BattleApps are virtual Civil War tour guides for the war or specific battles for the iPhone or iPad. The apps are location aware and throughout the tour one could view video clips from the national park service and see locations of troops of both the North and South. Another great example of giving old paper maps a new lease on life with digital innovation!
Geocaching isn’t just for science class or the serious geography geek! A cache is simply a hiding place, and caching is hiding something like a treasure. Nature is full of treasures waiting to be explored. A popular movement called “geocaching” gets folks outside with their GPS units to find treasures hidden by other geocachers. If you haven’t tried it yet, it’s great fun! (www.geocaching.com) Folks are geocaching all over the world!
Many educators are taking that idea to the classroom to do campus investigations. Now you might expect that it’s the science teacher out looking at nature, but surprise your students in English Language Arts class with an outdoors writing assignment! Realizing that not all classrooms are created equally, here are some low-tech options as well as the spiffy high-tech ones. Either have students locate specific cached items or let them explore the landscape for surprises. Anyway you do it, get creative and allow the students to explore their creativity.
1. Create a map of your site with destinations. Use a hand-drawn map with destinations or use a tool like Sketch-A-Map (http://edgis.org/sketch) to create your map for students.
2. Students can create a poem or story based on the destinations on the map. Nature is an excellent way to pull more adjectives out of a student. I used a similar activity with my students in my book, Reading, Writing and Thinking around the Globe: Geospatial Technologies for English Language Arts Classroom and Beyond (www.barbareeduke.com) where students create topographic and geographic definitions for words. Visualizing vocabulary can help cement those words into a student’s personal dictionary.