Creative Outcomes: Student-Generated Maps Annotate History


Robert Marzano explains in The Art and Science of Teaching that to maximize learning students should actively process content as they are learning it. So how does geography fit in this Active Learning Continuum?

Clearly, geography skills encompass more than the obvious “Where” questions. Students can expand their geographic reach to explain “How” and “Why” by making annotated maps that illustrate complex understanding.

Social Studies standards like these in North Carolina promote precisely this level of student-centered pedagogy.

Objective 1.01 Create maps, charts, graphs… as tools to illustrate information about different people, places, and regions… Objective 1.02 Generate, interpret, and manipulate information from tools such as maps, globes, charts… to pose and answer questions about space and place, environment and society.

Imagine students using a geographic context to display, for example, the pros and cons of three potential routes to the 1890s Gold Rush in California.


Curriculum Pathways Interactive Atlas student-created map of routes to the California Gold Rush of 1849.

Or imagine students conducting online research to assess data and create an annotated map with triangles connecting countries where one or more languages are spoken across three contiguous countries.


Curriculum Pathways Interactive Atlas: student-created map of language connections across South America.

Here students create annotated maps that highlight inquiry-based learning. Such activities exhibit the synergy of technology and creativity that NCSS Curriculum Standards demand. Students produce outcomes that display learning in a geographic context.


About Author

Molly Farrow

Molly Farrow taught high school history for 11 years in Wake County and Durham County. She also taught at the Taipei American School in Taiwan. She received a M.A.T. degree from the University of North Carolina and a B.S. degree in Political Science from Wake Forest University. Outside work, she enjoys traveling and spending time with her family and their dog, Dante.

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