Jan. 13, 2022 -- Teachers are always trying to find a way to connect the skills and concepts they have to teach with their students’ experiences in the real world. Monticello’s 6th grade social studies team has managed to do just that with a cartography lesson that hit very close to home.
As part of their mastery of how to use and read maps, Monticello students in Genevieve McDougal and Robert Gambatese’s classes designed their own maps detailing the location of their homes in relation to their school. Using GoogleEarth, they created a bird’s eye view of their small segment of the community, including important landmarks and creating a legend, lines of longitude and latitude, cardinal directions, compass rose, and scale.
Students had to use both relational directions (“I’m down the street from …”) and absolute directions (“go one block north and then turn to the east …”) to locate their home in relation to the school. They also had to learn the exact coordinates of latitude and longitude for various locations along the way.
The project, which was mostly done at home with poster board provided by the school and other found materials, tied in to the school’s International Baccalaureate unit on Geography. Students first drafted their maps on graph paper and then translated that onto their posters for a visual display of their community. Ms. McDougal and Mr. Gambatese were very impressed with the final results. As Mr. Gambatese said, “This gave them a real-life application of being a cartographer. They became map-makers.”
Ms. McDougal added that it gave the students a new perspective on their community and their place in it. “We wanted to broaden their horizons in regards to their community.”