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Interactive Mapping

by Lori Gracey

Carolyn Mitchell shares more of what she’s learned at the TCEA 2016 Convention. Carolyn is a Digital Learning Specialist at Lewisville ISD and can be found on Twitter @cbmitche.

Want to engage your students? Want to tell stories and share content in a new and different way? Interactive maps can be used to tell stories, solve problems, and connect students with their community and the world. In a 90-minute BYOD session facilitated by a Lewisville ISD Digital Learning Specialist and the Science Department chair from Bishop Dunne High School in Dallas, attendees were treated to the power of the map and how leveraging free ArcGIS Online resources and software can open up the world and allow students to make connections between content and the issues that concern us today.

Map-making has evolved from the flat Mercator projections of our childhood to web-based, interactive maps that can be layered with data and used to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills. The power of GIS (Geographic Information Systems) comes from the integration of digital data, satellite data, tabular information, and aerial photographs to create new information in the form of a map. In a nutshell, GIS works by using computer software to read and cross-reference geographic information that are created as layers; the information contained in these layers is represented by points, lines, polygons, and images. These layers are placed on a coordinate base map, and the layers can be manipulated to draw conclusions based on the viewable data.

While the science behind GIS may sound technical, creating a map can be both creative and rewarding. Even better, there are pre-made maps and classroom resources provided by Esri. And they’re free! Attendees at today’s workshop were able to explore the gallery of maps available at ArcGIS.com and glean ideas of how they can incorporate these maps into classroom instruction. Additionally, attendees examined the geoinquiries (15-minute, standards-based, inquiry activities) to teach map concepts. The one-page geoinquiries use ArcGIS Online to support the content and contain learning objectives, technical “how-to’s,” textbook references, and whole class formative assessment items. The geoinquiries for science and social studies are great ways to introduce content or reinforce content learning.

Additionally, workshop participants explored the world of story maps and saw how they could create their own maps using a template. With Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” as their theme, participants created a map using a layer of landforms found in ArcGIS Online. This simple map was then turned into a story map by using a story map template and adding text and images that highlighted the lyrics from the song. This was an engaging and creative way to tell a story.

Finally, workshop attendees received information on how to apply for ArcGIS Online organizational accounts so that students can create and share maps with each other and with students across the organization. These ArcGIS Online organizational accounts are free accounts distributed by Esri as part of the ConnectEd educational initiative.

So get busy, have fun, and explore the world of interactive maps!

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