Saturday, 1 December 2007

Emoting with maps!

I’ve just completed my fourth and final session of the Autumn Term with Year 5 at Methodist J & I. This week we learnt how to add text to their Local Studies map and how to add the hotspots which display text and pictures.

One of my aims for this project has been to try and tap into the children’s `geographical imaginations’ by providing them with an opportunity to express how they feel about different parts of the school and grounds.

Well worth reading is an article entitled `Emoting with maps!’, which was written by Diane Swift for Issue 27 of the Ordnance Survey Mapping News. Diane argues convincingly that we should be using mapping as means of exploring the personal geographies inside children’s heads.

“If this geography remains in the head of the learner, it is an educational opportunity lost. If pupils’ geographical imaginations do not find a forum within which they can be shared, developed, refined, critiqued and reviewed, misconceptions may go unchallenged and pupils’ learning become restricted in certain ways. ... Using maps and cartography is one medium into which emotions can be poured. Annotating conventional maps or creating the pupils’ own maps are purposeful activities. Through these activities the geography in our heads, our emotional geography, is revealed. Once revealed it can be used, analysed, and reviewed.” Diane Swift, (2004) p.12, Mapping News Issue 27 Winter 2004, Ordnance Survey

The majority of children have now completed their Local Studies maps. Use of the Local Studies programme has enabled the children to represent their school grounds and the immediate local area creatively and imaginatively. Not only are their maps a real pleasure to look at they are also highly informative about what it `feels’ like to be in certain places. As I write this I’m left wondering about the extent to which some of these messages will prove to be a revelation to the staff of the school.

“… exploring a representation, constructing an argument using cartography is challenging and yet accessible to all. My own children in their reception and pre-reception classes are well used to the happy and sad face in their classroom. Their names are places on the face that best shares the teacher’s view of their behaviour. They can then transfer these familiar symbols, with relative ease, to a simple map or photograph to explain their geographical imagination of a place. Happy is, of course, used to symbolise the treasured places. This map is then used as a resource to support an informed conversation as to why they hold that view of that place, and to see if that view is shared. From there we explore if that view is reasonable, and if not gently challenge the perspective with reasoned alternatives, using geographical information. Through conversation geographical thinking is being refined and the quality of this thinking is raised.” Diane Swift, (2004) p. 14

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