Google My Maps and Comprehension

We all struggle to implement Professional Development learnings into our current practice. This year, I’ve been determined to integrate what I’ve loved from PD sessions as soon as possible… next-day possible… if that’s possible.

At a recent Google summit, I had the pleasure of being in a workshop in which we learnt about Google My Maps. In Google My Maps, you, as the teacher, is able to create a base map and share it with your class. At our school, we have embarked on using Google Classroom which makes our sharing pretty problem-free.

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‘What would one even use this for?’ I hear you ask.

We’ve been reading a text called The Christmas Mystery by Jostein Gaardner. It’s an amazingly deep and thoroughly researched narrative in which the characters travel back in time from Oslo to Bethlehem. This is a perfect example of how students can use their comprehension skills to plot out the movements of the characters via Google My Maps.

I started by reading the text aloud and having students notate the direct references to places and times. I then modelled how to plot these places on Google My Maps. Following this, I created a series of layers; one for each reading group for them to add their locations and information.

Map with Layers

Once groups were competent at plotting direct information, we were then able to use our inferencing skills to look deeper into the text. Notice this excerpt from the text:

As they ran, they looked down on a cluster of red timber houses that Epheriel explained was a town called Kungalv. “That means ‘Kings Rock’ and the town was given that name because the Scandinavian kings used to meet here to counsel together. One of them was Sigurd Jorsalfar,” said the angel. “Jorsalfar means the pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and Sigurd was given that name because he had been on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land where Jesus was born.”

To fully comprehend this piece of text, students must understand the following:

  • Kunglav is a cluster of red houses
  • Kunglav means ‘kings rock’
  • Jorsalfar means ‘pilgrimage’ and that’s how Sigurd Jorsalfar got his name
  • Sigurd was a Scandinavian king who met at Kunglav
  • This is significant because the group are making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land

Throughout the text, there are also examples of having to piece together separate sections of text in order to fully form the meaning.

In the next reading session, groups not only had to plot the places on the map, but they needed to use their comprehension to write information about the place from the text.

In this image, you can see that a description of the place and a couple of images have been added.
In this image, you can see that a description of the place and a couple of images have been added.

Next, I plan for students to conduct some pre-research about some of the history before reading their excerpt.

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