I teach thirty curious and energetic fourth graders in San Jose who exemplify the idea that demography does not have to dictate one’s destiny. Despite the numerous challenges they have already encountered in their young lives, my students are determined to learn and succeed. Our ongoing classroom discussions, as well as the recent election, have sparked their interest in geography. They are fascinated with learning more about both their own community as well as places they plan to go in the future. In many ways, this interest is building their knowledge as well as their commitment to being citizens in a global community.
For many of my students, their voracious appetite for maps and atlases is rooted in the fact that right now, their world consists of a few square blocks in San Jose. At the beginning of this year, most were unable to distinguish the difference between a city, state, and country. Without knowledge of national and global geography, my students often do not understand their reading and struggle to grasp concepts and ideas that are tied to knowledge of specific places.
The carpet is a central gathering place in our room. By adding this large map, students can constantly engage with the geography they are learning in their text books. Groups will be able to meet in different “states” during their collaborative work time, providing an exciting connection to the world outside their neighborhood. This carpet map of the United States will be an engaging and exciting way to teach our class to use and understand maps. This promises not only to empower them as students, but also as citizens.
This is more than a carpet – for my students it is an interactive tool for learning, as well as one of their first tickets towards their futures, wherever that may be.
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