September 15, 2004
Here's an excellent idea found in Ron Clark's book, The Excellent 11: Qualities Teachers and Parents Use to Motivate, Inspire, and Educate Children. At the beginning of the school year distribute a world map that is free of all labels. Have each student fill in all they know. Collect and store them until the end of the year. Now throughout the entire school term, whenever a story or event mentions a particular place, make a habit of identifying where it is on the classroom map. Periodically make it a game to get your students to recall the names of countries, states, capitals, bodies of water, etc. At the end of the year, pass out a blank copy of the world map and let the students label it again. Then allow them to compare this with their first attempt. Providing this opportunity for reflection of their growth can teach the students a lot about themselves as learners and build their confidence.