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Ideas for Preparing Student for a Places and Perspectives Learning Circle

Map Study

Begin by having students draw a world map from memory. This activity usually takes about 10 minutes. Assure them that you are not testing them, you only want to help them explore their knowledge of the world. Show students the world map commonly used in your country. Ask them to compare it to the map they tried to draw. Ask how many of the students were trying to draw this picture of the world. Now ask students to think about how people in different parts of the world draw maps. What part of the world are they likely to place in the center of the map? Ask students to find examples of maps from other countries. Have student collect different projections of the continents. How are these maps different and can we say that one is more correct or accurate than another. Discuss how different perspectives change the way we see the countries and continents, their size distortion, and their distance from other places. You might want to show them a map with north and south pole reversed. Use these examples to show that we all have different perspectives, even on something as concrete and measurable as the land on which we live.

Classroom Guest or Field Trip

Contact your city's Bureau of Information or Tourist Bureau. Explain to them that your students will be sharing information about your community with students in other locations. Invite them to tell your students how they decide which features or characteristics of the city to advertise. If it is not possible for them to send a speaker or sponsor a field trip, ask them to send you materials that you can share with the other sites.

Map Reading Skills

Your students will be working with students in other locations. Place a map large enough to show all of your partners' locations on a bulletin board. Have students identify the location of each of the sites with a brightly colored pin. Use the World Almanac and Book of Facts or an encyclopedia to gather information about each of the sites. Post this information and draw a line from the information to the map location. Help students to use the map to make predictions about their partners. Do they live in a city or rural area? Are they near rivers, lakes or oceans? How would these differences influence their lives? Have your students discuss what they know and would like to know about the other locations.

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Margaret Riel, Copyright © 1997, Revised 2002. All rights reserved.