Mapping Our Worlds: Creating Interdisciplinary Lessons Using Online Mapping Tools


Online mapping tools build on the popularity of sites such as MapQuest to allow users to create personalized, customizable online maps that connect real-world topography with the history, culture, economy and literature of specific locales. Through the addition of easily-created annotated target language text, pictures, videos or tours attached to specific geographic locations, teachers can not only provide students an engaging venue for language learning as well as new perspectives on their place in the world, but also reinforce and expand their knowledge of other disciplines. Additionally, teachers can expand these activities to include student-created content and teacher-created assessments.


  1. Provide a rationale for the use of online maps in the teaching and learning of world languages
  2. Explore Google Maps and create a personalized Google Map
  3. Explore and evaluate examples of ready-made online map activities, rubrics and assessments
  4. Understand copyright and cybersafety issues and how they apply to online work
  5. Create an interdisciplinary activity using Google Maps and Creative Commons resources
  6. Wrap Up: Google Earth examples and action plans


To provide our students with additional opportunities to learn about their world and to reinforce the connections between language, culture and a global studies curriculum.

According to the National Geographic-Roper Public Affairs 2006 Geographic Literacy Study of young American adults aged 18-24 they found that:

  • 6 in 10 young Americans don't speak a foreign language fluently
  • 1 in 10 correspond with someone in another country; most do not have regular contact with people in other countries
  • 78% of young Americans do not hold a passport
  • 30% of young Americans report they have traveled outside the U.S. at least once within the past three years
  • Half of young Americans cannot find New York on a map
  • Half think it is important but not absolutely necessary to either know where countries in the news are located or to be able to speak a foreign language

John Medina's Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home and School

Of particular interest for our work today is research showing that
  • we need consistent, timed exposure to information in order for us to remember
  • we are hard-wired to explore our world
  • stimulating more of our senses leads to better learning