Middle School Teacher in Rural Alaska

Geography & Technology

on March 2, 2012

At ASTE I learned some great things about using technology to incorporate geography in my class. Although I was a geography major, I readily admit that I don’t incorporate enough geographical thinking in my classroom, especially in my reading and writing classes. So, I’m pretty excited about working to incorporate some of the following things into my classroom.

  • GoogleLitTrips Have you ever wanted to connect students with the real world places mentioned in the books? Sometimes I open up Google Earth and will quickly point out, “Oh, this is where Birmingham is.” GoogleLitTrips takes it a step further. They trace the journeys that characters take in books using GoogleEarth. Each stop along the character’s journey is way pointed with a description of the place. The site has maps made for tons and tons of books. If you are an English/Reading teacher who wants to incorporate a little bit of Geography they are awesome!
  • GoogleMaps I use GoogleMaps all the time, but just for mapping driving directions. I didn’t know that you can create your own maps by going to My Places on the left sidebar in GoogleMaps. Students can pin places and then write their own descriptions of these places. I think I will use this at the end of the year with my Ancient History class. I will have students pinpoint the different places they have studied and write descriptions explaining the key contributions of these different civilizations.
  • GIS Lessons GIS stands for Geographical Information Systems. It’s basically a way of creating maps to analyze spatial data. GIS is a hugely growing career field, so I feel like it’s important to expose students to it. The easiest way to start is to use a pre-made lesson and walk students through it. Great pre-made lessons are available at ArcLessons.
  • GIS I’m pretty excited that ESRI now has tools that are easier to use than their desktop edition. The tool that is easiest to use is ArcGis Map Viewer. You can create maps and analyze spatial data with this. ArcGIS Explorer is a step above the MapViewer and offers more layers and a great presentation tool. The best way to learn about these is simply to play around on them. Finally, I’m really excited that opportunities exist within the state to get the full desktop software. I won’t be using that level with my students at the moment, but if I get back to teaching high school that is definitely something I will take advantage of.

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