Thursday, July 4, 2013

Mapping in the Middle

 The #CLMOOC I am participating in with the National Writing Project (NWP) has introduced different makes each week. This week’s make has been maps. Several wonderful ideas have evolved and could be used in multiple ways in the ELA Classroom. One such way maps can be used in any classroom- the Google+ Map where students can pin where they are from. I could see this as a precursor to the “Where I’m From” Poem originating with George Ella Lyon. It is simple to do- students can log into Google +, right click on the location where they are from, and insert a placemarker. A box opens for a subject line and some text- students might do as we did in the CLMOOC, we put our name in the subject line and a six word memoir. Take a look at how it might appear:
One could take this farther and map the progress of a character or characters as they journey within a book. One such book The Watsons Go to Birmingham involves the family’s travels from Michigan to Alabama. As the family travels and places are mentioned in the book, students can pin those places and a memorable event or quote from a character. Rules of the Road is another great book that could be mapped. I have a cheap Webquest for Rules of the Road on Teachers Pay Teachers that prompts students to map the main character’s journey. Of course there are other types of maps and most of us have heard of the life map- where students “map” out their lives and significant events in their lives. This type of life map could also be a great pre-write for a “Where I’m From” Poem or a personal narrative. Students might also create a future life map- like this one on Prezi- and they can create SMART goals to get to the future they want. Students might map a character- what he/she sees, feels, thinks, wants, etc. as a pre-write for a character analysis- You can see a sample here- One other type of map involves a sociogram, where students map character interactions- who interacts with whom within the story. You can see a simple example here using The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey. One might use circles for the main/Round characters, squares for secondary/flat characters, etc. Students can color code with a key that reveals the particular meaning behind each color, solid lines or dashed lines to connect the characters, etc. In The Monstrumologist example below, I could have put a dotted line from Dr. Warthrop to his father- since his father had no real relationship with his son but was the direct cause of the monsters coming into his son’s life.
Finally, many on the CLMOOC have experimented with a learning walk- inspired by Mary Ann Riley’s Blog post found here- . Some have created learning walks that show their surroundings- what they see globally, locally and even from the micro level. Some have gone on a “hearing” walk to record what they hear. This would be a great exercise in “noticings” in our school, outside our school, in the community, etc.- helping students to use their five senses to notice what is around them- to practice capturing what they see, hear or smell in words.

 There are so many places to go to experiment with some form of mapping- I was just introduced to . Here (for free) you can map out an entire story by dates- insert information, see the place on the map and create a timeline of your life. Here I wonder if students might use this when Interviewing Veterans for a Veteran’s Day project, to map out each person’s or several Veteran’s life story in relation to their lives and/or military service. Of course the life map could also be the focus for this type of app as well. You can take a look at my map using

As I developed my Life Map using MyHistro, I saw a theme develop- the number of times I moved in my life. This could develop into a memoir of my houses and the places I've lived and what I have gained through all these places. I might write a narrative help article on moving and how to cope, etc. The point is that a theme developed for me and may for students as well. If not, students always have individual events they've mapped that might spark an idea for writing.  

Other Mapping Tools- (you can only get 3 free maps and then you have to pay) – you can certainly create some mapping with several Prezi Templates offered for free.
 And finally maybe you might challenge students to read all the books on your state’s literary map-

This Article relates ways that students can create a mental map of where they learn- their "Learning Ecology"  Comes with directions and videos/examples-Mentally Mapping Where Students Learn

Mapping. Who would have thought that so many ideas might be incorporated using the age-old map?