Saturday, January 21, 2012

Geography: An Impromptu Kid Visualization

Source: Sarah, 5th Grade, 2012
Promoting visual thinking and using it in our classrooms has kids drawing and inventing their own ways to help themselves become better geographers. It was a sheer delight to see a fifth-grade student create the images you see in this post to help visualize the countries on the continent of South America. The student found multiple versions of the same map with arrows pointing to individual countries. They were sized and printed small enough to make a study guide on letter-size paper with tiny, flip cards over each country name. This clever visualization would be a good way to make simple infographics with students as a classroom activity.

For more than eight years, we have made a concerted effort to promote geography and global awareness throughout our school. We have not only done this with the promotion of a school-wide National Geographic Bee competition, but also by using maps of all kinds, both static and interactive, in our classrooms. To make a point of why it is important to be good geographers, we show our students the FedEx video “Where’s China?", emphasizing how it's not enough to know just the names of countries. We want them also to know where they are. Anyone can memorize a list of countries and capitals.
Source: Sarah, 5th Grade, 2012
This year, we are also making an effort to have students create visualizations to help them learn about places in the world and their relationship to other areas or regions. This enables them to make connections between geographic locations and current events. We are hopeful that our middle-school students will know every country's location in the world by the end of the year. While this may be a lofty task, many of them are excited by the challenge and have taken it on with a vengeance. We could not ask for more as teachers.

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