Thursday, November 19, 2009

New York State Archives - Throughout the Ages

Last weekend, I attended and presented at the National Council for the Social Studies Annual Meeting in Atlanta, GA. I was more than impressed with the variety of sessions I attended and the generous vendors at the exhibition hall. (Those conference freebies are always great.) One of the true highlights of the conference was a session that introduced teachers to the resources available at the New York State Archive. The educational materials available at this site are amazing, and--as the presenter shared during the session--the result of the archives being part of the state's department of education (a rarity in the US). The point is that the site's resources are some of the more accessible ones I have seen for teachers.

A great resource on the New York State Archive site is Throughout the Ages. Here, the user can select sources (arranged by topic for US and New York history) from the document index and create a printable worksheet with contextual information, questions, and state standards, to name a few.

Many of the sources already have questions (indicated with an asterisks next to the title) and links to state standards provided; however, the user can adapt these in any way by simply clicking on the section (e.g., "Questions" or "Standards").

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Free GIS with Google Earth

Recently, I've been learning how to use GIS software, namely ArcGIS, to figure out more ways to include these tools in my methods courses. I agree with the literature that--in terms of pubic school curricula--this powerful tool takes Geography beyond the typical states and capitals ditty most of us experienced in grade school. ArcGIS is amazing (including its K-12 equivalent, My World GIS), and many people are doing great projects in schools with these projects. The GIS Storms Sewers Unit is a good example (see image below).

Yet, I wanted a free online tool that was more accessible to teachers and students. I was thrilled to come across gCensus today. It is powered by Google Earth (which I finally downloaded today, too) and it is exactly what I wanted.

Simply put, gCensus allows you to use 2000 Census data to construct maps. Google Maps allows you to include/overlay various features such as locations of schools, highways, businesses, and the like. To get started, just click (as indicated) on the "please click here" link on the gCensus homepage. Then select a state, county, and the data you want mapped. Below is a simple map that depicts the concentration of African Americans in Cook County, IL.

Map created in Google Earth with gCensus