Sunday, April 19, 2009

Quick Geography Quizes and Skillbuilders

In the past when I've taught World Geography, one of the things I do daily is a map quiz. I've done these in a lot of different ways, from quizzing on major countries, to bodies of water, to islands, to major landforms. I did these for years because the positive side of these daily quizes was the quick familiarization that my classes get with the globe - knowing where something is in relation to something else ceases to be a barrier to learning about the geography of a place. The downside was the actual physical work of these quizes for me - creating the lists, printing them out, printing the maps, correcting them, returning them. Although they are quick, it was still an extra 15 minutes each day on average to do the administrative work that went with these quizes.

There are two web-based geography "games" I am particularly enamored with right now that address this very skill in a quick, yet challenging and fun way. I am looking forward to using both the next time I teach World Geography.

The first is called Find Country. Find Country will really challenge those who have a pretty good idea about the geography of the world, because the biggest challenge to the game is the absence of political boundary lines on the world map. It is a little frustrating, because it may name some obscure (to me anyway) country in Africa - I know approximately where it is, and click on a wide-open map of Africa. I get the question wrong and am literally millimeters away from the correct country. The good part is I get the instant feedback which shows me how close I really was. The bad part is I get no points for being just "close". Find Country is very challenging and the feedback is instant.

The second one I am getting quite addicted to is the Traveler IQ Challenge. In this game, you can select the whole globe or just parts. Your challenges may vary from famous places, to capital cities, to obscure cities, to landforms, or whatever. Any geography question goes in this game and the levels increase in difficulty. The best part about Traveler IQ Challenge is that you DO get points for being close. It will list a location, you click on the map, and it tells you where the actual location is and how close you were in kilometers. You get more points for being close so you can play longer. The game changes constantly so the chances of you getting the exact same questions is very low.

Both of these are great interactives for junior high and high school students who need some quick daily geography practice. There is no sign-in or registration, and both are very self-explanatory. Students can literally go to the sites and begin play. I have no question that these games can easily do as much or more for building a good general geography knowledge than my work intensive quizes ever could.

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