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Peer Review

Historic Maps in the K-12 Classroom



Overall Numeric Rating:

5 stars
Content Quality: 5 stars
Effectiveness: 5 stars
Ease of Use: 5 stars
Reviewed: May 16, 2010 by Teacher Education
Overview: This collection provides high quality images of historic map documents that illustrate the geographical dimensions of American history. Each map is accompanied by lesson plans written for each of four grade levels and they are designed to support a variety of social studies, history, and geography curricula. There are links to instructions for teachers on how to use the site, including technical requirements, standards and permissions, and a link to an index of numbered and labeled map images with descriptions, lesson plans, Curator’s notes and resources including supplemental images.
Type of Material: This site is a theme-based collection of historical maps, accompanied by comprehensive lesson plans for K-12 classrooms.
Recommended Uses: The site is designed to be used to help teachers at all grade levels make effective use of historic map documents in their classrooms, to help students with their map reading skills, and to foster a greater appreciation of the geographical dimensions of American history. In higher education, the site is useful in teacher education social studies, history, and geography methods classes.
Technical Requirements: • Worked in Internet Explorer 7 browser to access this online material, Flash plug-in required. • Monitor resolution of 800 x 600 or greater for optimal image viewing • High speed (ISDN, DSL, cable modem or faster) internet connectivity for faster download times. • Pop-up blockers may need to be turned off.
Identify Major Learning Goals: After completing all 18 lessons, students will have: • explored the processes, technologies, and socio-cultural circumstances of the meeting of worlds and cultures in the United States • traced the movement of peoples to and within the territory of the United States and the imprint of the resulting regional and local cultures on the landscape. • Examined the processes of human use and modification of the American environment and the social and economic consequences of environmental change. • examined the geographical context of major military conflicts in American history, with particular emphasis on the influence of geography on the political issues that led to these conflicts • explored the geographical fabric of American urban and rural communities and daily life, with a particular emphasis on the processes that constantly modify the character and of these communities. Learning goals will vary by teacher, course and grade level. Sample lesson plans at four different age/grade levels are provided for each module. All lesson plans are aligned to the National Education Standards adopted by the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) and the National Council for Geographic Education (NCGE).
Target Student Population: Teacher Education methods classes Social studies classes in elementary grades History and geography classes in middle and high schools
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Pre-requisites will vary depending on age, grade level and subject matter.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: All maps of high quality digital copies of historical maps. Each map has a link to curator notes on the historical background and significance of the map. Maps were selected for their support of specific themes in various areas of social studies. All materials and sample lesson plans are carefully aligned to national educational standards. Sample lesson plans focus on student interaction, student analysis and interpretation of maps and all the information they can supply.
Concerns: No concerns.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: All materials of this site can be easily integrated into K-12 curricula related to history, geography and social studies. All materials and suggested uses are aligned to national content standards. Learning activities in the sample lessson plans challenge students to read, interpret, analyze and transfer information from history to present. Each module also includes a glossary of key terms. Students can explore history visually on their own or be guided by the instructor.
Concerns: No concerns.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: The site creators have anticipated problems of getting lost as many windows open to show supporting information, and they have provided instructions and suggestions for avoiding such confusion. All navigation buttons and links work well. Site designers also note that users with slow connection speeds may experience frustration in long download times, and they offer a free CD-ROM of all maps upon request from an instructor.
Concerns: While there are some areas of potential concern, the designers have anticipated them and provided tips, instructions or alternative resources to insure that these areas are not a problem to the user.

Other Issues and Comments: This is an excellent tool for integrating primary documents in the study of social studies through historical maps. Every user can magnify, zoom in or zoom out of every map without fear of damaging it. What better way to encourage exploration?