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Each fifth grader in Andrea Ketcham’s class in Eminence, Kentucky, has been charged with creating a world and asking someone else to navigate it. In this interdisciplinary project, students use a range of skills—from spatial awareness and mapmaking to communication skills and coding. To touch on English language arts standards, students use descriptive language to write about their imaginary land. Next, to align with social studies standards, they’re tasked with drawing a map depicting it, complete with key features like grid points and a compass rose. When their maps are complete, the students come up with questions that challenge a classmate to identify characteristics of their land and program a Sphero BOLT robot to follow directions and get to a specific destination. By the end, students have mastered content from multiple subject areas—and stayed engaged and excited through the whole process.
To learn more about the research behind the practices seen in the video, check out the resources below.
- Judith M. Harackiewicz, Jessi L. Smith, and Stacy J. Priniski’s article advocating for the importance of interest in educational motivation (2016)
- Sally P. W. Wu and Martina A. Rau’s review of research on how students learn science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) content through drawing activities (2019)
- Logan Fiorella and Shelbi Kuhlmann’s study on how creating drawings enhances learning (2020)
- Myra A. Fernandes, Jeffrey D. Wammes, and Melissa E. Meade’s research on the connection between drawing and memory (2018)
- Maja Umek’s comparison of the effectiveness of two teaching methods in beginning cartographic description: drawing maps and reading maps (2010)