Map Outlines

WorldAtlas is a website that offers map outlines, perfect for geography and map quizzes. is the coolest website.

As you might expect, it shows both sides of various controversial subjects, from vegetarianism (which is apparently a controversy) to the death penalty.

The good: information is unbiased, factual, and plentiful. There is a “teachers’ corner” link (top of page in orange bar) with great ideas for lesson plans and other ideas and resources for teachers. Teachers’ corner also offers reasons why teaching controversial issues is beneficial (uh, critical thinking).

The bad: information is only available for the 50+ topics provided, and there’s too much information for most students to use without teachers condensing the information first. It’s easy to get lost in all the links and information, so if students were visiting the website on their own, they would need a clear purpose.

Taking a Stand Activity

Bruce E. Larson wrote an article about the “taking a stand” activity in which students learn about a controversial issue and decide which “side” they take while discussing the arguments for the purpose of understanding the issue and coming to a possible consensus.

Here are the steps:

1. Present a non-biased, brief overview of the issue.

2. Explore 2 opposing viewpoints by gathering and distributing articles for students to read.

3. Have students “take a stand” by moving to one side of the room if they are one one side of the issue, to the opposite side of the room if they oppose the first group, or to the middle of the room if they are undecided.

4. Have students discuss by having one person from one side share his or her reasoning. Then a student from the other side responds to that comment, and so forth until all ideas have been shared.

5. Then have students respond, perhaps in an essay, describing both sides, why they took the side they did, and what might be done to solve the issue.

It would be useful to discuss expectations for this activity. It’s not meant to be a debate but more of a dialogue. Students should also be careful to disagree or criticize an idea rather than the person saying it.

Give One Get One Protocol

Here’s how it works: Students draw a line down the middle of their paper. One one side they write “give one” and the other side says “get one.” The teacher asks a question or makes a statement, and students respond by writing their answers/reflections in the “give one” column.

Then students are put into groups where, one by one, each students shares what he or she wrote in that column. Whenever a student hears an idea/question/response that he or she didn’t have in the “give one” column he/she adds it to the “get one” column.

The purpose is to share ideas or questions about a specific topic so students hear various voices and opinions while also sharing their own.

Magazine Pictures for Higher Order Thinking

Rather than asking students to memorize and recite definitions of vocabulary and other concepts, give each student a magazine such as National Geographic. Ask students to look through the magazines and find a picture or two that represents the word or concept being studied. Then rip out the picture that best describes that word.

If students work in groups, ask them to find a picture or two independently and then justify their choice to the rest of the group. The group then picks one picture to rip out. Then each picture it taped to the board or a large piece of paper that is clearly labeled with the word or concept being defined by the pictures.

Rather than just memorizing, students are analyzing, discussing, and evaluating while learning the content.

There are several ways to assess each student: exit slips, entrance slips the next day, asking each student to verbally explain their choice, free-write about their picture, etc. The point is that an assessment is needed because there is no way to know for sure if every student understood the concept/word in-depth or if he/she just played along and found a picture that fit with the others.

25 Websites for Educational Equity

Here is a link to an article from written by Paul Groski in which he lists and explains 25 websites related to educational equity. If the link is broken, search for the author’s name and “I don’t want to live without them: Twenty-five web sites for educational equity.”

The author gives sufficient explanations about how to best use each resource he lists, so I don’t do the same here. The article was written in 2005, so some resources may be outdated, but it’s a good starting place.

Federal Resources for Educational Excellence

This website, sponsored by the US Department of Education, contains a crazy amount of resources, sorted by subject and then by smaller topics within those subjects. Most of the links seem to lead to other websites, but the information seems pretty good, not to mention plentiful. Actually, I found it difficult to find actual  lesson plans. Instead, I was lead to whole websites with a ton of information, which is great but overwhelming. Maybe it will be easier to navigate when I’m teaching about a specific subject or topic so I know what to look for.

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