Friday, November 30, 2012

Online Mapping Tools for Literature and Beyond

ReadWriteThink, an outstanding website published by the National Council of Teachers of English and the International Reading Association, is packed with great tools of all kinds. Two of our favorite features, though, are free mapping tools that can help students make sense of a series of events in history or a story, or a process they might encounter in science or civics.


Timeline is a user-friendly tool that allows students to easily create functional, attractive timelines in no time. First, users type in the title and creator of the timeline. The next step is one that makes this a truly versatile tool: users must choose a unit of measure from options like Date, Time, and Event. After that, students simply enter each event by labeling it with a title, a time, and a brief description. The resulting timeline can be edited or printed. Before turning students loose with grade-level material, let them practice using this interface with a fairy tale like The Frog Prince or with short biographies from The Academy of Achievement.

Graphic Map

Graphic Map is a useful tool that allows users to easily create a concept map that charts highs and lows. Students can use it as a planning activity to help them visualize abstract ideas before writing a fictional piece, or as a post-reading tool to chart a character’s mood throughout a story or book. Creative teachers and parents can stretch its many uses beyond language arts by using it to chart spending over a given period of time, numbers of troops after key battles in a war, etc. The mapping tool is simple enough for students in fourth grade and up to use independently after a very brief tutorial.

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