- Grade level: Upper Elementary
- Subject Area: Math, Social Studies
Students will develop a better understanding of maps and how to read them. First, they will consider the representation of their own neighborhoods on a map. Then, they will plan a car trip from their neighborhoods to a destination of their choice (within the 48 contiguous states), using Web resources that identify routes, distances, and traveling times. Students will calculate the time, money, and amount of gas that they will need to complete the trip. Students will "stop" in at least one city or town of interest on their trip. Using Web resources on sights to see in various cities, students will plan what to do during a day they spend in this city or town. Students will create maps of at least one of the places they visit, identifying features they liked so they can return at a later date.
- Practice math skills by calculating travel times and distances to their destination of choice.
- Practice reading and creating maps.
- Learn about the historical and cultural sights in one or more cities.
Materials and Resources
In developing our lessons and activities, we made some assumptions about the hardware and software that would be available in the classroom for teachers who visit the LETSNet Website. We assume that teachers using our Internet-based lessons or activities have a computer with the necessary hardware components (mouse, keyboard, and monitor) as well as a World Wide Web browser. In the section below, we specify any "special" hardware or software requirements for a lesson or activity (in addition to those described above) and the level of Internet access required to do the activity.
- Special hardware requirements: None.
- Special software requirements: None.
- Classroom materials: Current United States road maps and atlases; paper and colored pencils, markers, or crayons.
- Internet access: A medium-speed or higher connection.
Unit Lesson Plans
- Lesson One: Mapping Your Neighborhood. Students use atlases, maps, and Web resources to generate and examine maps of their own neighborhoods. This activity will serve as background for the map-reading tasks in the next lessons.
- Lesson Two: Selecting a Destination. Students use atlases, maps, and Web resources to select a destination and a place to stop along the way for a day trip. Students think about the reasons they want to visit this particular place.
- Lesson Three: Charting the Course. Students use atlases, maps, and Web resources to determine the distance, driving time, and amount of money they will need to make the trip (estimates should include hotel/motel stays, meals, and souvenirs).
- Lesson Four: Stopping Along the Way. Students use atlases, maps, and Web resources to plan a day trip to at least one city or point of interest that is on the way to their final destination.
- Lesson Five: Creating a Map for Future Reference. Students use atlases, maps, and Web resources to create maps of either the site of their day trip, their final destination, the entire trip, or some combination of these.
Relation to Standards
We have drawn upon the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics standards project and the Mid-continent Regional Educational Laboratories (McREL) Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education geography standards project in developing the Destination: Anywhere unit. These standards may help teachers to focus math and geography learning in their classrooms.
One Computer versus Many
The plans for this unit are tailored to fit teaching situations where students have access to several computers with an Internet connection. To accommodate classrooms that do not have access to a computer lab with full Internet connections, students can work in research groups to explore Internet sites and conduct their research.
If you have only one computer with Internet access, you may choose to do one of the following:
- If you have the technology, you may hook up the computer to a TV monitor or LCD projector. This will allow the whole class to see sites in the preliminary stages when students are exploring sites created by other children.
- You may choose to have students take turns working in groups using the computer with Internet access.
- You may also download files from the Internet and save them on a disk. Now you can transfer the files you saved on a disk to the other non-Internet computers. Installing copies of your Web browser on all non-Internet computers will allow you to view the pages you saved to a disk. This will not allow students to explore hyper-links, but they will be able to access and view the information by opening each file with the Web browser.