Saturday, September 6, 2014

A Very Spatial Opportunity

Well, one unit down and eight to go.  The first "official" NGSS unit is loaded into our learning management system.   The unit is based on the kindergarten "Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems" performance expectations.  As you saw from the previous post, students learn about the Baltimore Checkerspot and its dependence on the White Turtlehead.  As part of the performance assessment, students have to locate a place on their schoolyard or community where they could plant the White Turtlhead.  To do this, the teacher gives students a printed copy of map generated by a simple mapping application I created using ArcGIS Online.

Shown below, the teacher can choose to use the aerial view or an abstracted view depending on the level of detail available.  All they need do is slide the bar in the middle back and forth to see what they want.

Developing maps and apps like this are available to every school across the U.S. because of the ConnectED initiative launched by the Whitehouse last year.  These are powerful tools.  In years past, these tools were confined to complex desktop applications, but the cloud movement has pushed a lot of their capacity to the online world.  Everyday, new maps and applications are created by users all over the world.  These can be brought into your classroom and used by your students to explore BIG DATA in unimaginable ways.  What is really amazing is that students can be the creators of these maps and applications as well.  

To get started, go to the ConnectED website and sign up for an account.  I would also recommend visiting the Esri EdCommunity page.  You will quickly find out that you are not alone.  If you need help, you should find the closest GeoMentor to you.  These are GIS zealots who love working with GIS and with kids (I have a dot on the map myself).  

Good mapping!