Friday, March 14, 2008

Takin' it back to the old school

'cause I'm an old fool who's so cool.

When I taught sixth grade before becoming a mother I realized that my students didn't know JACK-SQUAT about geography. They could possibly name and locate half of the states, but a small percentage of them would be able to find the U.S. on a world map.

Because our area of study was world history I took geography to heart and had a goal to have my students label on a map EVERY country of the world. Lofty goal eh? I had parents tell me, "Really, you think they can do that? Memorize EVERY country of the world and be able to label them on a map?" I would say back to them, "At different points in the year, they will have experienced labeling the entire world. I do not expect them to remember it all at the end of the year but they will at least have been exposed to every continent and every country so that when they hear War in Iraq on the news they have a vague idea, if not know exactly, where Iraq and the Middle East are."

At the beginning of the school year I gave them a large blank world map and asked them to fill out as many countries as they could. I think the most countries correctly labeled averaged between 3-5 or so.
If that.
The US, Canada, Mexico, and then a sampling of China, Great Britain, Brazil, France, Japan. Hardly any variation from those.

It was sad.

By the end of the year when we did the same exercise again they labeled dozens upon dozens - some nearing 100. They were floored at their own knowledge and they felt empowered.

We would do monthly quizzes on different regions. I owe much of their success to this website.

Warning - the site is addictive. After I made that goal for my class I decided that I couldn't have a goal for my class that I hadn't conquered myself. I spent a good solid week on that site a couple weeks before school started and I felt like I had a good handle on the world.

Because of school mandated curriculum and testing, many very worthwhile subjects have been thrown out the window. If your child's teacher is not keen on teaching geography, take matters into your own hands and get your family a little more world-savvy. Buy a world map and display it prominently somewhere in your home. Use that site with your older ones. World map place mats or US states place mats? Puzzles? games?

3 comments:

Little Monkey Mama said...

Thank you so much. This is one thing that we love to do. Lenny and I are both nuts about states and their capitals. (It really helps that when we drive through the state on our way to CA we name it and look and see what the state flower, population and what not is on our handy dandy Rand McNally...) It also helps that Daddy has traveled so much lately that the kids are learning about all the different countries too. Now if only I could get my world map from the old house down to the new house, we would be set! :)

Likely said...

If you got your little boy monkey on that site, knowing him, he'd have the world memorized in a half hour.

We are map nerds too on road trips.

Bobbie said...

that site is addictive!!!!! i got 124 for european countries!!