jump to navigation

Continental Thrift April 25, 2009

Posted by alwaysjan in Art, Teaching.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,


I’m still working on my epic post about teaching Sex Ed, but wanted to put up a new post just to show off  share the cool map my students made. They cranked it out in a day for our school’s upcoming International Day, and in case you’re geographically challenged, it’s South America.

I gave my students a pile of what I thought were G-rated magazines (Really, how racy could Family Circle be?) While I individually tested students’ reading fluency, the rest of the class sat out in the hallway tearing out pictures to match the colors on a physical map of South America in the atlas. (The finished map is 3′ x 6′.)

One boy took me aside to let me know he saw something “nasty” in one of the magazines. I asked him if he could be a little more specific. (I’m big on asking kids to be specific – that’s probably why one kid thought it was called the “Specific Ocean.”) The boy mumbled something about a naked woman. I told him it was probably health related and hoped I was right. But, in third grade, kids are easily grossed out. I was more grossed out by all the pharmaceutical ads.

That red strip is the Andes. I thought about sharing the story of Survived! with my students (a want vs. a need), but didn’t want to broach the subject of plane crashes and cannibalism – at least not before lunch.

Speaking of continents, (How’s that for a whiplash-inducing segue?) I found a rhyme that helps students remember the names of the continents.

The 7 Continents

North America, South America, joined in the West
Europe meets with Asia, and on Africa they rest.
Australia stands alone, floating down below
And Antarctica is the loneliest, where no one wants to go.

The best part is acting it out.  Ask for seven volunteers and assign each one a continent.  Have the “continents” line up (left to right): North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia. Antarctica sits in front of the group.

When we say “North America,” the child who is South America drops to one knee and the continents join by locking arms.  When we say “Europe,” the child who is Africa drops to a cross-legged position. “Europe” and “Asia” shake hands above Africa, then lean over and place an elbow (gently!) on each of “Africa’s” shoulders.

“Australia” drifts off to the right and pretends they’re floating. (All teachers have a kid who’s a natural Australia.) Antarctica crosses their arms and shivers. The audience loves to get in on the shivering action too.

At the end of the year, I give students the rhyme, and they can fill in the names of the continents.  Of course, then there’s the issue of spelling. Cue shivering.

My World is Flat January 7, 2009

Posted by alwaysjan in Blogging.
Tags: , , , , , , ,


I’ve always loved geography, especially if it involves sticking map pins in foreign countries that are then tethered in place with colorful yarn.  (But, that’s the teacher in me.)  Being a sucker for maps, I added the ClustrMap in the sidebar of my blog on Dec. 28th to show where visitors to my blog are coming from (geographically speaking, that is).  The stats upgrade daily (or almost), but the 12,194 visitors who came before I activated the ClustrMap aren’t accounted for.  I refer to them as The Missing.

According to ClustrMaps, every so often, a new cycle starts and The Map is wiped clean.  So one day The Map looks like it has the measles and then the next, there’s not a spot in sight.  This has freaked some bloggers out, so now Clustrmaps (which is free), notifies users ahead of time so they can prepare for this Cyber-geddon.  Bloggers, evidently, are a sentimental bunch and like to hoard copies of every measly (and measled) map on their hard drives.

I hope to see crater-sized circles soon, all but obliterating the earth as I know it.  (Sorry, but given Americans’ dunce status when it comes to world geography, I couldn’t bring myself to write WE).  

In the first week that I had The Map, I couldn’t help but notice that there were no dots on Africa.  My husband, who just finished reading Malcom Gladwell’s brilliant book Outliers, thinks this is because much of that continent’s population is busy gathering mongongo nuts (Gladwell) and having recreational sex (my husband).   No hits in Iceland?  Easily explained. Richard said they obviously lost all of their computers when the banks went belly up. And what about Alaska?  The only person I knew of by name from Alaska didn’t seem to be much of a reader. But, Richard is inclined to believe it’s because all those Alaskans are busy catching and gutting the few remaining fish on the planet.  The strange thing is that my husband is starting to make sense, which is taking some getting used to.

When I saw I a dot smack in the middle of Australia, I actually got out my atlas, as I knew all of the major cities are on the coast.  Could some aboriginal person be sitting atop Ayers Rock cruising the internet?  My friend Cathy had a different theory.  She imagined some poor sot working at a sheep station in the interior and the only other person within miles just happens to be a narcissist. (See Top Posts)  Then I wondered if a sheep could be narcissistic, and we didn’t want to go THERE!

So, wherever you’re coming from (geographically speaking or otherwise), welcome!  Thanks for stopping by my planet.