50 States Google Map project

the_50_states_projectAs a interdisciplinary coordinator, I enjoy working with teachers and parents to use Google Apps for student learning. Integrating technology into teaching and learning provides the opportunity to reach higher order thinking skills as students engage in challenging and creative tasks (King, Goodson, & Rohani, 2009).

Most American students are tasked with the challenge of memorizing the 50 states and their capitals. Currently this is a fifth grade standard, but I have known of students as early as 1st grade beginning to learn these facts. However, if you ask most 20 year old adults to name 15 states and their capitals, you might be surprised at the answers. Here is a fun way for students to learn these facts, while engaging higher order thinking skills as they generate their own map and produce travel itinerary to visit capitals across the nation.

Resources:

  • Computer
  • Google Account
  • Apps used – Google Maps, Google Sheets

 

Students will start by going to http://www.50states.com/tools/thelist.htm to see a list of states and capitals, then type them into a spreadsheet.  Additionally, students should research other details such as the Admission Day for each state, or a famous author/artist who lives/lived in the state. This is a wonderful opportunity to personalize the activity to peak student interest. Maybe the student is interested in theme parks, gardens, or sports. This information will be entered into the spreadsheet. In fact, up to 50 columns of detailed information can be included. Here are step by step instructions for entering this information into a spreadsheet.

After they have created the spreadsheet they will open the My Maps app to import all the information into a customizable map.  Once they have imported the details into their map, they can add images, customize the pins, etc.  Use the following instructions for creating the map.

To make this activity extend into math, ask students to create a travel itinerary. They can choose to travel by plane, car, bike or other means of locomotion. The more the students interact with the states and capitals, seeing them on the map, talking about them and learning about them, the more likely they are to remember them after they have taken a test.

Consider having students listen to the states and capitals songs while they are working on the project. Or for the ultimate technology creation, have the students screen cast their map with the states. Use one of many free web based screencasting tools, such as the Snag it Chrome Extension or Screencastify. Remember that the YouTube editor allows for quick edits and background music.

 

“Higher Order Thinking Skills – Center for Advancement of …” 2009. <http://www.cala.fsu.edu/files/higher_order_thinking_skills.pdf>