always thought looking at maps was one of the most boring things in school.
Surely they have improved the way they teach geography these days. How in the
world (!) do they teach it now?
Geography is one curricular area
that has really gained from computer technology. Sound, movement, color and
lots of ways to present the facts come alive with computers and make geography
instruction exciting and fulfilling.
One new product that deserves a
mention is the Rand McNally Classroom,
an online service that offers interactive games and activities for students
along with traditional reference information, and lesson plans and ready-made
assessments for teachers. It's available on a per-building basis for school
districts, private schools and home schools.
On top of the company's famous
atlases, globes, wall maps and books, the multimedia curriculum adds
technological wizardry to social studies, geography and history lessons for
grades K-12. Besides the maps, there's information on earth science,
populations, economies, languages, holidays and much more.
Pricing is $299 per building, which
is expensive for a homeschooler but doable for a homeschooling co-op or
The benefit of per-building pricing
is that all of the students and teachers in one high school, for example, can
access the curriculum. The curriculum is multidisciplinary. So science teachers
could add maps, photos and artists' renderings to their curriculum, the
business teacher could utilize world economics charts, the German teacher could
zero in on place names in Germany, and on and on.
Each week, there's a feature that
connects a given map with something that's going on in the world. Games include
place-the-state puzzle, build-your-own-map, continent quizzes, and animated
features on various topics, including how maps are put together, and geography
terms. Grade-level activities range from a travelogue for a teddy bear for the
early primary years, to college-level material suitable for Advanced Placement
Teachers can use it to project maps
onto a classroom whiteboard using an LCD projector, or students can have the
same maps on their individual computer screens. Each map is printable as a PDF
file. Students will be able to access the curriculum from home.
Homework: For a two-week free trial, go to www.randmcnallyclassroom.com