25 February 2009

The Triumph of the RedHead

I win. Maps have been reinstated at school. I sent a few choice words to the principal, and she relented. And by a few I mean several.

It's long, and somewhat technical, and I don't really exect anyone to read it, but I'm proud of my letter. And so I present the winning argument:

[Professor Umbridge]

Maps, graphs and charts are an integral part of the Social Studies curriculum. Having the students create maps that demonstrate their understanding of historical and cultural information is an invaluable tool that is an essential part of an effective Social Studies classroom. Map assignments help the students master the TEKS, perform well on TAKS, and function at higher levels on Blooms Taxonomy.

The following TEKS require the use of map assignments:
WH.2A- identify elements in a contemporary situation that parallel a historical situation.
WH.11A - create thematic maps, graphs, charts, models, and databases representing various aspects of world history
WH.11B - pose and answer questions about geographic distributions and patterns in world history shown on maps, graphs, charts, models, and databases.
WH.12A - locate places and regions of historical significance
WH. 12B - analyze the effects of physical and human geographic factors on major events in world history
WH. 12C - interpret historical and contemporary maps to identify and explain geographic factors that have influenced people and events in the past.
WH. 26C - interpret and create databases, research outlines, bibliographies, and visuals including graphs, charts, timelines, and maps
WH. 26D - transfer information from one medium to another, including written to visual and statistical to written or visual
WG. 21C - construct and interpret maps to answer geographic questions, infer geographic relationships, and analyze geographic change

A significant majority of the questions on the Social Studies TAKS test are on maps, graphs, and charts. A student that does not have the ability to correctly interpret the information on a map cannot pass the TAKS test. In our department we have found that students are better able to decipher and analyze a map if they have had practice not only in seeing maps that other people have made, but also in being challenged to present information on a map themselves. Students who complete map assignments constantly throughout the year are better prepared to score well on TAKS

When a student is asked to create a map they are operating at a very high level on Blooms Taxonomy. They take information from a variety of sources (usually written and oral) and synthesize it into an organized visual collection of information that demonstrates a high level of understanding. In all of the map assignments our department gives the assignment takes that synthesis one step further into evaluation when the students are asked high level questions about the map they have created.

Maps are also a valuable form of differentiated instruction that can reach students who are visual and kinesthetic learners, and are a good way for ESL and LEP students to demonstrate their knowledge of the subject without the interference of a language barrier.

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