09 September 2014

Map Madness (making map skills fun)

Well this year I have quite an interesting group of students.  Basically, everything my last year class was - they're the opposite.  Last year, I had focused, overachieving, listeners who took pride in their work.  That means.. this year I have quite the group of easily distracted talkers who are learning to take more pride in their work.

If there's anything that brings me displeasure as much as reading horrendous writing assignments filled with sloppy handwriting and distracting conventions errors, it's having to deal with sloppy coloring & illustrating alongside illegible writing.  

 To assess map skill concepts and the various types of maps outlined in our state Social Studies standards, our grade level has used an Imaginary Island project that allows students to use their creativity, and sense of neat quality work to get a feel for a day in the life of a cartographer.  Last year, I had quite an array of original and gorgeous islands grace the walls of my room including Booklandia, Ice Cream Island, and Mustache Island.

This year, only half of the assignments were turned in on time (after becoming homework assignments), and out of that group, only half of those were completed to the requirements outlined on the grading checklist.  I can't even believe the lack of quality work that was turned into me, especially after the heavy emphasis I had placed on making it look the BEST they possibly could.  Talk about a headache!  My solution - develop a step-by-step set of directions to go alongside a grid paper with a premade island shape to design.

 What an improvement in color awareness and legibility in producing quality 4th grade work!
 I knew my kids needed a quick mini-lesson on the art basics of shading in the same direction, how to outline, and then shade lightly inside.
After the mini-lesson, look at how much more enticing the new maps have become to look at!
Map madness (map skills & island projects)
This 30-page map skills unit will develop a love of learning for geography / social studies and allow your students to create their own maps containing the compass rose, a scale, climate map key, legend, two natural resources, four physical features, cities, capitals and a variety of roadways.  Find it here on TpT!

Luckily I'm now fully prepared to handle grading these map projects - phew! At least they were able to grant me some new inspiration & my map skills project arsenal is now fully prepared for years to come. 8)

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