Map Reading 101: Empower your students to make inferences

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February 15, 2016 by HCDE-Texas

Map Reading 101: Empower your students to make inferencesI thought I knew how to read a map. I mean, I went to college, twice. I’ve traveled across the United States and have been to Europe.  Sitting at our Harris County Department of Education Social Studies Leadership meeting this morning, I was enlightened beyond measure.  The advisors were given a map generously donated from the Texas General Land Office. We were asked to “read” the map for five minutes.

We used the map titled:  Significant Conflicts and Events from 1685-1916.  Dr. Jeffrey Lash of the University of Houston-Clear Lake led educators in the room through an investigation of where conflicts happened. Why did they happen there? What could be learned from those conflicts? All observations were to be based on just the map. Of course, we brought our own knowledge to the table.metapth298399_s_2006-196-A_01

We drew conclusions, made inferences and connected our knowledge to the locations on the map. We saw learning taking place.  We saw economic connections that were naked to the visible eye and drew on each other’s thoughts. In the process, we learned more than we ever thought we could about Texas and its many geographical features.

Reading takes place not only in the pages of books we have in our classrooms, but also on maps, periodic tables and art canvases.  Books aren’t the only things we read. Think about it the next time you look at a map.


About the Blogger: Kelly Tumy is curriculum director for English language arts and social studies in the Teaching and Learning Center at HCDE. During her 25-year career in education/administration, she has loyally served Harris County as an educator in Galena Park, Humble and most recently Crosby ISD. Tumy’s workshops focus on inquiry-based instruction in the ELA classroom. Her passion for cross-curricular connections helps students and teachers see the elasticity in education.

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