Tuesday, April 8, 2014

G: Google Map It and Track It #AtoZChallenge

As a child I learned to read road maps when we took trips from our home in Webb City, Missouri to Lyons, Colorado to visit my great grandmother Estelle Cowen. The Rand McNally road atlas entertained me during the drive across the Kansas plains. I was not allowed to read books, but my father deemed locating our position on the map acceptable in a utilitarian way. So I traced our route and learned the symbols, mile chart, etc.

Now we use a GPS when traveling, and on our trip to Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago, I used the Yelp map to find restaurants and the best parking garages, the ones that kept us off Las Vegas Boulevard (the Strip) because the traffic often delays ones arrival.

Map reading represents a skill students often lack, so when my student teacher suggested we "map" Victor Frankenstein's and Walton's journey as part of our Frankenstein unit, I said, "let's do it!"

Drue created the assignment. Google Map It, which I'm sharing here via Google Drive.

In class, we showed students how to use Google Maps, how to copy the map into a Word doc by taking a screen shot, and gave them instructions for tracking the two journeys. The image below shows a map I modified in Word using features in Word. I like the old, yellowed look of the map, which makes it appear more appropriate to the Romantic period.

Students spent time working on their maps with one of our new mobile laptop labs:

Drue and I are exploring how to incorporate "Google My Maps" into the project, perhaps for a tour of a specific place in Frankenstein. For sure I'll be using "Google My Maps" when I take my next vacation. The video below shows a "My Map" for a San Francisco walking tour:

For me technology will never completely replace the pleasure of reading maps and thinking about them as works of fiction as well as representations of place and perceived reality.

These historic maps, which I viewed in New Orleans over the holidays, won't help me find the way to San Jose, but they do give me a sense of historical place by reminding me where we as a people have been, where we are, and where we're going.

It is, after all, a sense of purposeful direction I want most for my students and for myself. May, you also find your way.


  1. Hi Glenda, I'm an English teacher too, but I've not been teaching as long as you have! Those are some fabulous maps, I love everything geography.

    Teaching English with Mr. Duncan
    A-Z of hotels

  2. Antique maps are so interesting..lovely post! This A-Z is fun visiting others! http://bonnieupnorth.xanga.com/