Making interactive maps and timelines: Tools for history and geography fun!

I recently came across two great tools that you can use in any class to engage students in chronological or spatial analysis...aka history and geography.

The first is, a very intuitive and engaging timeline creator. With a free account, you can create an interactive timeline (or use one from their Gallery) to introduce students to a historical era. You can include interactive questions, videos, images, links, and other features to make learning active.

Then your students can create their own timelines and share them with the class, all in your free classroom account. This would be a fun way to engage students in your final unit of the year...divide up the main concepts and have students teach each other by creating interactive timelines with at least one question, video, image, and link. Then have them learn from each others' timelines prior to a summative assessment.

Here's an example of a timeline created on this site:

The second tool is ArcGIS Online, a web-based interactive map engine that you and your students can use to create maps of anything. GIS stands for Geographic Information System, and it is the industry standard for digital mapping, with career options in almost every industry. Learning GIS has traditionally been very involved, but the web-based version is relatively easy and can be used in classrooms. Here's an example of a 9 year-old who used it to map his neighbors' popcorn orders for Cub Scouts.

ArcGIS Online would be great in high school science or geography courses, when you want students to analyze the spatial patterns of data or phenomena. Taking water quality samples for River Watch and want to see trends on a map? ArcGIS would be a great way to do that. Want students to analyze the overlapping boundaries of language, religion, resources, ethnicity, and nation-states in the Middle East? Have them create a map in ArcGIS and explore it layer by layer.

There is a free workshop in Castle Rock for interested teachers this summer, which would be a great way to get started with this tool.

And here's a map created in ArcGIS online this week:


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