Texas in February for TCEA 2016

Texas in February for TCEA 2016

i'm presenting at tcea 2016

UPDATE: My handout from the session, click here.

If you’re looking for cool things related to geospatial technology, digital maps, interactive online mapping….and need it to be free for your school. (Yes, FREE! No catch…really!)

Join the TCEA GEOSIG at one of these presentation during the annual conference in February!

geo sig logo outlines


Elementary Social Studies: Thinking Spatially

12:00-1 pm in Room 17A

Tom Baker & Anita Palmer

Connect with Your Community Using 21st Century Tools

3:30pm-5pm  in Room 6B

Carolyn Mitchell & Roger Palmer


Enhancing Social Studies with Digital Maps

1:30-3pm in Room 4A

Tom Baker, Anita Palmer & Chris Bunin

Dead Authors, Dusty Books and Mapping Their Connections

1:30-3pm  in Room 6B

Barbaree Duke


GEO-SIG Luncheon: Dining with Drones

11:30-1:30 in Hilton Room 415AB

Get Inspired! at TCEA 2014

Get Inspired! at TCEA 2014


Thanks to everyone who is joining me today at the first ever TCEA ELA/SS Academy!

Resources from Earth Wind and Fire_TCEA 2014

Resources from Teaching English Language Arts with GIS

More cool geospatial stuff at www.gisetc.com!


Updates…part of the cloudy process

Updates…part of the cloudy process

In the 21st Century we must embrace the notion of cloud-computing and all that comes with it.  (Not that we really had a choice.) My iPhone has a fresh new face, my Gmail is always changing…and so is my favorite online mapping application, ArcGIS Online.  Realize that updates are just part of the process when we’re using “the cloud” to compute.  This week I took a good hard look at all my maps in my collection online and decided it was time for an “update.” Perhaps it’s not a bad way to keep ourselves in check…if Apple is updating, then it’s a good reminder to ask, “What maps, lessons or parts of lessons could use a little enhancement or fresh face?” Often it doesn’t take long to freshen up a tried-and-true lesson.

So don’t panic!  If you have some favorite maps of mine, I’m sure they’ll be there.  The top 30 maps have been given the once over to be sure they’re working well in the latest iteration of ArcGIS Online. (I used the number of views as the ranking factor.)  Feel free to ask, if you don’t see something.  Feel free to request new material (as long as you don’t mind me blogging about it).

All the lessons and resources are still available on the resources page of my website.

Here are the links to the Top 30 (or so) maps from my collection:

  1. Great Chocolate Caper Puzzle Map
  2. Watsons Go to Birmingham Exploration
  3. Using GIS for Common Core Reading StoryMap
  4. 20 Minute GIS Series (12 maps)
  5. Shakespeare’s Hamlet (look for more maps related to Willie’s works this school year)
  6. Great Pumpkin Harvest
  7. Earth, Wind and Fire
  8. John Snow’s Cholera Maps
  9. Plessy v. Ferguson
  10. Around the World in 80 Days
  11. English Teacher’s Guide to Mapping: Authors, Content & Setting, Journeys, Writing (4 maps)
  12. The Adventures of T.S. Spivet
  13. Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County
  14. Dickens and Child Labor
  15. Their Eyes Were Watching God
  16. Twain’s Travels (my first GIS project that I made for students in English Class circa 2000)
  17. Great Watermelon Conundrum of 1978


What Do GIS and Short Stories Have in Common?

What Do GIS and Short Stories Have in Common?

These two concepts might not be considered close cousins at first glance but surprisingly they have quite a bit in common, making GIS an excellent tool for telling and analyzing stories.  A few years ago I shared this concept at the Esri Education International Users Conference.  Given the improvements in online mapping and the uptake of story maps, I thought a reprise of this concept was in order.

So…most US literature classes do a nice job of presenting the short story and its anatomy, pictured here. Some of my favorites from William Faulkner, O. Henry, W. W. Jacobs or Edgar Allen Poe are staples of the classroom and give easy ways to teach the anatomy and begin to understand problems and how we might craft and retell our own stories more efficiently and elegantly.










Many students have difficulty relating to these stories and cannot fathom creating their own.  Tools like GIS give those students ideas and wings to be creative and still present compelling facts. Visualizing this concept (see below) is powerful for student uptake.

GIS problem solving graphic










I believe that this notion of connecting ideas that we already teach with 21st Century tools will give our students skills, experiences and simply…give them something to talk about when they are stuck.

This also gives some great opportunities to integrate Common Core Reading Standards with GIS. (I’m presenting about this in July at the Esri Conference.)

Also check out what Sugata Mitra has to say about school and learning in TED talks.  My favorite quote from his talk…“It’s not about making learning happen.  It’s about letting it happen.”

Here’s hoping that you spend your summer letting learning ideas happen as you prepare for the next year’s adventure!

Feel free to share your cool thoughts and ideas too!

Oh Canada!

Happy Victoria Day to our northern neighbours! (That’s a day celebrating Queen Victoria’s birthday with merriment and festivities!)

I have the honor of hearing many great geographers and scholars in my job as the Webinar Coordinator for the National Council for Geographic Education.  This past Wednesday, our topic was Canada with Dave McDowell.  He did a beautiful job sharing how we share so many aspects of climate, geography and population.    In addition, he highlighted some amazing differences that present excellent examples to discuss in your classroom when comparing countries. He shared some excellent resources that I’m sure can benefit many folks out there!

Dave’s Resources: