Language Arts, Social Studies
One to two class periods and some homework
Investigation, letter writing, public speaking, research, map interpretation
Charting the Course
The region called Down Jersey is rich in numerous natural, cultural and historical resources. Maps are a wonderful way to learn about a region and to identify with a sense of place. Maps come in a variety of formats and learning to read and interpret maps is a valuable learning experience. Having many maps of the region, the county and the town on display can provide a significant classroom resource.
Map, scale, topographic, GIS, census, and others as determined by the maps obtained
Correlation to NJ Core Curriculum Content Standards
Language Arts: 3.1 (2,7,8), 3.5 (4)
Social Studies: 6.7 (1,5,6, 10), 6.8 (1,2,3,5), 6.9 (1,2,5,8)
In cooperative groups, students will research, find, and collect resources for the classroom. (Out-of-school assignment: 25 days.)
Local telephone directory
Note: If the students are too young to write letters, teachers could simply send a letter from the class on their own. It may also be more appropriate to use the telephone as a mechanism for connecting the agencies and offices listed.
- Tell the students that they are going to investigate the maps that are available that tell about the Down Jersey region. Have the students define map and describe different kinds of maps. If possible, show them examples. Ask the students how they would find out about where they can get different kinds of maps.
- As a class, draft a letter to inquire from various agencies and offices (see listed sources on student handout pages) in order to solicit maps for the classroom. This will be written generically and specified with names and addresses individually.
- Divide the class into teams of five to six students. Distribute the student handout pages to each team. Tell them that their assignment is to write letters to all of the places listed and ask for specific maps. The teams may divide up the list and have each student responsible for one section.
- Students should then utilize the phone book to find out the addresses of the agencies and offices listed. Be sure to have them use the blue pages of the phone book, where all governmental agencies are listed.
- As a homework assignment, students should write their letters and address their envelopes for mailing. The teacher may want to check the letters before they are mailed and collectively mail them from school.
- Send out the requests and wait for a response. Soon, the classroom will be full of local map resources!
How can we best utilize these resources? Make a display. Students may each be given a different map and asked to interpret it. A series of teacher-developed questions could be asked for each map. Students should prepare an oral report for the class.
Set up map stations around the classroom and have students rotate through them in small groups to answer a series of questions and problem-solving inquiries.
Please download the PDF for the complete lesson plan.