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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Q & A: Do you have any maps of world governments?

I often get questions about where to find maps on various topics.  This week a colleague, who teaches elementary students-third grade, asked about incorporating maps of world government types with their study of democracy and the three branches of US government while comparing it to Ancient Greece.

Here's what I found:

A nice lesson plan ( ) with a great role playing activity...very practical.

A types of government worksheet (Also great for AP Human Geography or Government class)

And an interactive map (This site is full of great data!  The types of government is just one data set.)

Happy mapping!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Telling Your Story with Confidence

How many people feel like they aren't good writers? 
"English isn't MY subject!"  
"Do I have to write it in a sentence?"  "Couldn't I just tell you about it!"  
"I hate writing!"  
It's quite common for people to struggle with communicating their stories, opinions and research in written words and then translate that frustration into a crippling lack of confidence.

A dear friend's young son has that impression, but a wise teacher had him dictate his story, showed it to him in print to begin to build his confidence as a great story teller.  Now, don't worry, he won't be dictating all his stories.  Certainly, he will be doing plenty of writing in his academic life, but what a great start.  His mom shared this site:  It's a nice resource for have to start somewhere!   

I was talking with one of my high school students that I tutor.  Her assignment was simple really.   Describe what the author was fancy analysis needed, just write a summary.  She had such a challenge starting.  My least favorite words came from her mouth, "I can't."  Like my friend's son, she could tell me everything that should have been on the paper, but thought she needed lofty vocabulary and perfection on the first try.  I told her to just get it out. The first one's a pressure.

Step 1:  understand the assignment
Step 2: make a list of thoughts, cool words, ideas...anything related to the assignment/topic
Step 3: make some sentences with those thoughts without concern over spelling and how great they sound.
Step 4: put the sentences in order and begin to edit them...dress them up a little.
Step 5: make a more final product...dressed up sentences in the proper order and check the picky stuff like spelling and punctuation.

After a bit of practice, you may not need all the steps, but if you're stuck in "I CAN'T" then you have to start the steps.  This technique can be helpful for students with disabilities who need assignments in smaller bits, not just the reluctant writers.

There are more writing & curriculum ideas on my website too: you have ideas or sites worth a look, please share!  Don't be afraid of's just telling your version of the story.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Teachable, Mappable Moments: Weather

Although weather can pose some challenging moments, I'm struck with the idea that we have not only a mappable moment but a teachable one as well.  In our recent past, the US dealt with Irene and a substantial earthquake in Virginia.  The weather keeps coming!  I live in southeast Louisiana where we're watching now TS Lee get ready to pound us with rain, rain, rain.  While the folks here make preparations for possible flooding conditions, particularly on lakes, canals and rivers, the rest of you out of harms way can look at the maps of it all. I created a map from a myriad of weather related data that's shared within

Take the map below (at ArcGIS online: We can see real time warnings, wind direction, etc.
Check out many teachable, mappable data sets in the online library and make a map!

View Larger Map