Maps, Maps and More Maps

Here comes a reason to actually use that fancy projector the tech staff had installed in your classroom. Go to the library if you don’t yet have one.


The David Rumsey Map Collection is online, ready for you to use freely. This link goes to an article about the release of the collection, but go on from there to the actual Map Site which in association with Stanford University, shares out all these 27,000 marvellous maps. Yes that’s right.

27,000 maps

Not just 27 or 270 or even a mere 2700. At a map a day, you will retire long before you have reached the last available one. There’s no time for delay. Get started tomorrow. Better yet, start today so you can be 24 hours ahead of the eager learners in your classroom and can then proudly let them catch up quickly so you can learn along side one another for the rest of the school year.

Crank up your computer’s browser. Point it to a map. Zoom in and out. Click and drag the image left, right, up and down. Point to some map feature with that rubber tipped stick you have used for 27 years or even point with your fancy “presenter mouse” laser pointer if you have one of those. Have your students do it, too.

Discuss the heck out of how our world changes. Compare how their ancestors saw the world with how they understand it today.

Go further. Download one or even a hundred of these digital map images. Share them with your students. Coach them about how to remix these images, perhaps overlaying the outlines of the countries of Europe in the 1500s on a map of today. Encourage them to explore the impact of mountain ranges or rivers on political boundaries. Ask why languages spread only so far before something blocks the words and an entirely different set of words takes over.

With collections like these becoming widely available because of the Internet and someone spending the money to scan and digitize them, you could say “The world is your oyster.” or some other sappy saying that today’s kids don’t begin to understand.

Close that textbook. Put the open internet to work for your students. Lead them on a march across the continents. Let these maps be your guide.

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