POSTED ON BEHALF OF EMILY FLEITZ
Where is Iraq on the map? This question haunted me as a middle and high school student. Post September 11, Iraq and Afghanistan were all over the media, yet most Americans could not point them out on a map. Seventh grade US History was spent memorizing the countries of the world and their capitals so that we would at least be able to point out the general vicinity of where US soldiers were stationed. I did a good job on these tests, but without any context for my knowledge I quickly forgot the capital of Hungary and the location of Taiwan.
ProjectExplorer.org works to solve America’s geographical incompetence. It is a nonprofit organization developed by Jenny M. Buccos in 2003 that produces free, online global travel series. Designed for family and classroom, ProjectExplorer.org provides students with access to peoples and places they may never have seen or knew existed.
The website include suggested materials for Upper Elementary, Middle School and High School students, as well as ideas for family use. Students can explore the website at their own pace and select different spots on the map to watch videos and learn about a specific country’s culture. I loved the segment on India, it captured the culture of a vast country in a short video clip that was engaging and informative. Other sections require students to read blogs written by visitors to the country. Hyperlinks allow students to expand their learning with more information on historical or geographical concepts.
This activity would be good for addressing different learning styles. Learning about a country through a visual/audio interactive experience would help students with certain learning styles to more fully grasp the nuances of foreign cultures.