Title: Mental Maps 214

Key Words: mental maps

National Standard: 2 (How to use mental maps to organize information)

State Standard: 10 (How to use mental maps to organize information)

Teaching Level: Middle School

Introduction: Mental maps are used whenever a person wants to recall the route from one place to another, near or far. What you know and feel about a place is indicated by what you include, exclude, or emphasize; this changes with life experience and education. Mental maps can help you understand the way you see the world around you or the world at large. The more mental maps you have, the better you can appreciate the news or fictional and actual settings in literature. This lesson will allow students to access, share, an improve some of their mental maps.

Objective: Students will analyze, evaluate, and improve their mental maps
( as represented by sketch maps ) of neighborhood, state, country, and world.

Materials: Maps of New Hampshire.
World atlases and USA atlases.
Plain white paper to fold into fourths for the initial activity.
Journal to record progress or a portfolio to keep all evaluation statements and mental map sketches.
Handout: Evaluation Checklist Mental Maps.
Optional: colored pencils

Procedure: Visualization exercise - Have students close their eyes and think about going from the classroom to the soccer field. Tell them the route they just pictured is one of the hundreds of maps they have in their minds.

Pose the question: "When is a mental map useful?" Elicit responses. Sample responses might be: "Helpful when giving directions orally or in map form. Helpful in describing where something is located. Helpful in picturing what someone else is talking about."

Have students make sketches of four of their mental maps. Fold a sheet of paper into fourths.
Label each quadrant: My Neighborhood, My State, My Country, The World.
Use about five minutes for each sketch. Include as much detail as possible within the time limit.

Ask students which mental map was easiest to sketch and why, and which was the most difficult and why. Invite students to talk to each other about their sketches.

Hand out the Evaluation Checklist Mental Maps to be used in taking a critical look at the mental map sketches they made. Start with a simple evaluation of each sketch. Pair students up and distribute atlases and New Hampshire maps for use in comparing their sketches to actual maps. Each student writes an evaluation statement including some of the features that were correctly portrayed or "close enough" for a first attempt. Another statement will include setting a personal goal to improve their sketch with at least three changes or additions. These evaluation statements could be kept in a journal and dated every time the student accesses his/her mental map to make an improved sketch. The improvement exercises can be repeated as often as the teacher and student agree there is still room for improvement.

Draw conclusions. Some examples are: Mental maps can be improved.
Every person has many mental maps that could be useful in a variety of situations in daily life or in academic pursuits.

Evaluation/Assessment: Journal entries showing dates, evaluation statements, and goals will show progress made from the first to final attempt.
Students will write a paragraph explaining why mental maps are useful.

Extension/Enrichment: Challenge students to sketch mental maps of their favorite countries including as many details as possible. Save their first attempt, evaluate it, and set a goal to improve it. Keep repeating the sketch until they are satisfied it represents exactly what they want it to represent. Make a before/after poster of their first and final attempt so their classmates can see what they deemed important and necessary features of a map of their favorite country.

Reflection: How successful was this lesson? Did all students benefit? Were there any surprises? What might you do differently another time? Please note any changes that will make this lesson more effective and useful in the future and pass them along to the NHGA. We appreciate your comments.
Thank you,
The authors

Evaluation Checklist: Mental Maps

My Neighborhood
_____Did I include a direction finder that shows north at least?
_____Did I include a landmark or reference point that someone might recognize?
_____Did I show physical features (hill, stream, field, etc.)?
_____Did I show boundaries or markers?
_____Did I note an approximate distance from one point to another?

Goal for myself to improve the quality of my mental map:

_________________________________________________

Today's date________

My State
_____Did I include a direction finder that shows north at least?
_____Did I show lines of latitude and longitude?
_____Is the outline approximately correct?
_____Is the location of the state capital approximately correct?
_____Did I include major physical features (mountain ranges, lakes, rivers)?
_____Did I label the bordering states?
_____Did I show any personal connection with the state (vacation spots, favorite shopping area, location of a relative's home)?

Goal for myself to improve the quality of my mental map:

Today's date________

My Country
_____Did I include a direction finder that shows north at least?
_____Did I show lines of latitude and longitude?
_____Is the outline approximately correct?
_____Is the location of the national capital approximately correct?
_____Did I include major physical features (mountain ranges, lakes, rivers)?
_____Did I label the bordering countries and bodies of water?
_____Did I show any personal connection or feeling with any particular spot?

Goal for myself to improve the quality of my mental map:

__________________________________________________

Today's date________

The World
_____Did I show the equator and prime meridian?
_____Did I show all the continents? Were they proportionally correct?
_____Were the relative locations of the continents approximately correct?
_____Did I show island nations?
_____Did I label major oceans and seas?
_____Did I include major rivers?
_____Did I include any place mentioned in current events?
_____Did I show any personal connection or feeling with any particular spot?

Goal for myself to improve the quality of my mental map:

__________________________________________________


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