Tag Archives: geography

USGS historical topo maps

map explorer

Maps are so cool. Historical maps are way more cooler. And online historical maps are even way more cooler. (I like saying way more cooler cause it makes me feel like a rebel.)

A couple of months ago on the helpful GoogleMapsMania site, I ran across a way cool tool created by the United States Geological Survey. This is the group that, among other things, is responsible for creating topographic maps.

The cool tool that the USGS has created is called USGS Historical Topographic Map Explorer.

Basically, you do a map search with a Google Maps-like interface, click on a specific place on the resulting map, and the Historical Topographic Map Explorer will provide a timeline with topo maps from the past.

You can then select maps from Continue reading USGS historical topo maps

100 map and visuals that jump-start discussion

It’s no secret. I love maps. I’m pretty sure maps love me. Big. Small. Old. New. digital divide


I love ’em all.

And the cool thing about the InterWebs is that someone is always making new maps that I can fall in love with. Recently it’s been the Washington Post.

We’re all visual people and the brain loves to look at stuff. So all of the maps and charts listed below would work great as writing prompts, hook activities to introduce units and lessons, resources for research, basic geography skills, part of PBL projects, or to simply act as a sweet way to jump-start a current events discussion.

But I’m also sure that you’ll come up with all sorts of things that I haven’t thought about. (Don’t forget to use the links associated with each map to help your kids explore deeper.)

Here we go: Continue reading 100 map and visuals that jump-start discussion

I’m GOing places….

This summer I have had the privilege of teaching 30 students from Ecuador in the GO program here at Kansas State University.  The students are teachers of English from Ecuador on behalf of the Ecuadorian government to improve their teaching skills for their English program back home.  They have been a pleasure to teach and have taught me tons about their culture, educational system, and their lives back home.  Continue reading I’m GOing places….

This Isn’t English Class (or computers for that matter)

Having just finished my first year of teaching I find myself looking back at all of this lessons I learned this year, and there were a lot, and how I can change my curriculum next year to incorporate what I have learned.  One of the most surprising things that I learned about 7th graders (at least mine) was that they have no clue how to write.

It all started with what I assumed would be an easy and straightforward assignment, write a paragraph comparing and contrasting the Aztec, Inca, and Maya civilizations.  The first response I got, “Mrs. Medley this isn’t English class.”  Of course I had to be smart and retort with “WHAT?!  They told me I was teaching English!”  After my lame joke received a few giggles I told the students that they would have to write in all of their classes eventually, so we might as well start now.  I got my first hint that they had no clue what they were doing when someone asked what compare and contrast meant, and I had to stop and think to myself “Do they really not know how to do this?”  Continue reading This Isn’t English Class (or computers for that matter)

I’d marry a map if it was legal

colliers mapI love maps.

Seriously love maps. My latest purchase is a 1941 Collier’s World Atlas and Gazetteer. Three hundred and thirty-five pages of maps, statistics, articles, and geographic data. Sweet.

And really, aren’t maps some of the coolest things that history teachers get to mess with? The answer is yup. But I think we sometimes forget how powerful and useful a map can be. Geography and place often is pushed to the side in our history and social studies instruction. Perhaps is because we just don’t have a strong geography background or we don’t think we have the time / resources to focus on it. But we really don’t have an excuse anymore.

The newly approved  Kansas state social studies standards are focused on five Big Ideas. The fifth one? Continue reading I’d marry a map if it was legal