Maps are a fundamental part of everyday life. Even if we don’t pull paper maps out of our car glove compartments anymore, we still rely on GPS and digital directions.
Without maps, we’re lost.
With maps, we can clearly see how widespread or concentrated our data and content is.
Maps touch practically every content area and grade level.
MyMaps, a somewhat unnoticed app in the Google Apps suite, lets students create their own highly customized maps to share with others and display. (Teachers and schools can create them, too!)
Below is an example — a MyMaps map I created with everywhere I’ve presented this year (as of the publication of this post) …
The connections to curriculum are innumerable. Students can create their own maps displaying all sorts of content. In this post, I’ll list 20 ways to engage students in content with MyMaps. But first, here are some of the app’s finer points:
- Drop pins anywhere on a global map
- Add pins from a search in the search box
- Add information to pins (title, description, photos, etc.)
- Choose the kind of pin you’d like (by color or different icons)
- Draw lines or shapes over maps to help viewers interpret content easier
- Adding pins to different layers let you organize and turn certain locations on and off
- Create maps by importing data (Google support page with instructions)
- Zoom to the view you prefer and set it as your default view
- Share maps via link or embed them in a website
Want to see it in action? Check out this tutorial walk-through video I created on YouTube:
Wondering how you might use this in your class? Here are some ideas …
1. Important locations in a historical event — Have students plot locations on a MyMap, filling in additional details as well as historic or current photos and links to more information.
2. Setting of a novel, short story or other literary work — Where was the story set? Instead of dropping a single pin there, plot the different locations that show up throughout the story.
3. Calculate rate of travel — As students learn about calculating distance/rate/time, have them choose locations and calculate the travel time to get there. They can add pins to those locations and show their work in the description of the pin.
4. Create a map-based timeline with layers — Studying content over time? Have students plot events or locations of each decade (or year or century) in a different layer. When viewing, you can turn off all layers except one to see that time period … or see all of them together with all layers turned on.
5. Plot locations with certain environments — Seeing locations with different climates and vegetation can be clearer with a MyMap. Students can add pins of different locations with pictures and description of how they’re different.
6. Log important or historic locations in an area being studied — Studying a certain location? Before digging into your content, have students do some preliminary Internet research and create a MyMap with their findings. They’ll be better prepared for your unit of study!
7. Turn statistics into a visual aid — Looking at the top 50 cities for obesity or fitness? Studying population statistics? Add that data to the description. Then use the “individual styles” option on the layer you’re editing to make the pin’s color change based on the data.
8. Map where alumni are going to college (or have graduated) — Show how far from home students are studying, have studied or will be studying with a MyMap.
9. Provide parents with an interactive map for a field trip — Give parents clear, interactive information about your trip with a MyMap. Plus, they can click the “Directions to here” button right from your map!
10. Display locations with WiFi in a school district — If not every student has Internet at home, provide a map of locations with free WiFi in the district.
11. Make a pinboard of locations where your class has Skyped — Does your class do Mystery Skype games? Use Google Hangouts to provide virtual guest speakers or field trips? Create a MyMap of all the locations you’ve video called.
12. Log locations where political candidates have visited — Want to see who’s campaigning where? Create a layer for each candidate and pin the locations where they’ve stumped.
13. Identify locations where animal species live — Animal units get a whole different dimension when students can see where they live. Add details and photos to those pins, too.
14. Create map layers with different forms of government — Create a layer for each type of government, and add pins to those layers to see where the democracies, monarchies, oligarchies, etc. are.
15. Take standard mapping activities to the next level — Do you already do some form of mapping activity? Find ways that the MyMaps features listed above could take it to the next level.
16. Display where students’ families live — As you’re getting to know new students, pin their home locations on a map. It will give insight into the most-represented and least-represented areas of your district that you might miss otherwise.
17. Make a map of where authors you’ve studied are from — Pin their hometowns. Add biographical information, other books, etc. in the description as well as photos of the author and/or covers of their books.
18. Map how words are different in different locations — Is it a lift or an elevator? An apartment or a flat? In Spanish, is the word for “peanut” cacahuate, cacahuete or maní? Create a word usage map.
19. Create a map with locations of school sports opponents — Athetics departments can provide a great service to parents with a map of other schools. Parents can get directions or contact information.
20. Map where former Olympians of the sport you’re studying are from — Studying a sport in physical education? See where Olympians of that sport are from or where that sport is popular by creating a MyMap.
[reminder]How else could MyMaps be used? Have you ever used MyMaps, and how have you used it? (And can you provide a link to an example MyMap?) Which of these are you most likely to use? [/reminder]
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