Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tracking life with Scribblemaps

I find a lot of the time when working with students we simply look at the information they are learning or studying in text form, ignoring all the other myriad ways there exists for presenting facts.  That is partly because people don't know about other ways to represent their work, and partly because most of us are slaves to the ways we have always done things.

One site I knew was good for something, but really haven't have a chance to use, was Scribblemaps.  It lets you annotate a map with scribbles, lines, images, text and a large variety of icons.  Students in Grade 6 do research on a historical figure from Canada's history and I hoped that in conjunction with their work, either as a section of it, or as an extension, they could map the important locations in their historical figures life.  For example, here is a quick version of my life: (all locations are approximate)

So you can see each part of my life was noted with a numerical pushpin, so you can follow it on the map, instead of just using text.

Sadly, due to scheduling restraints, I did not get to do this with a class.  Instead I managed to squeeze one Grade 6 class into use it.  It was so late after the research was finished that it was unfair to ask them to try and remember all of their historical figures data.  Instead we mapped their own lives with important locations.  You would think that in a 11-12 year old's life they wouldn't come up with much, but most students managed to mark at least 4-6 points, including vacations, places they had been around the city, and locations where family members lived.  I can't really share them here though because they often started from their home mailing address, and just shared the finished product with their teacher.

The other neat thing about the site is that once the information and points are created in Scribblemaps it can be exported as a KML file.  If you are familiar with that, it is the format used in Google Earth.  So you can take your Scribblemap, stick it in Google Earth to look at, and even make a tour using some of Google Earth's features.  It could be quite the lesson.