Community Walk

04-Mar-2009

IH Prague teacher and e-learning coordinator, Ania Rolińska, writes:

Community Walk is a website which allows you to create highly personalised and interactive maps thanks to its powerful, yet simple and intuitive interface. You just click on the orange Create Map icon and follow straightforward instructions. If you encounter any problems, there are a few tutorials available as well as discussion forums. You might design a route from A to B or mark places of interest like tourist attractions, your favourite hangouts or quaint second-hand shops where you can get the best bargains. You might restrict yourself to your neighbourhood or explore a bigger area like the whole city, country or even a continent. There are no limits, just your imagination! You can add other features like comments, photos, video and audio so that the place comes across in all its visual splendour or shabbiness with your description. The maps can be open to the public (and collaboration) or kept private in which case you have to create a free account. A couple of clicks are enough to embed the map in your website or blog.

A few suggestions for using the mapping tool in class

§   As a ‘getting-to-know-each-other-better’ activity or to practise the Present Simple, students create a map of their neighbourhood to show the bakery where they get bread rolls for their breakfast or a corner where they always meet an old guy with a dog, etc. To practise past tenses and used to they could do the same but about the area where they used to live in the past or spend their holidays as a kid.

§   Students in pairs create a tour around their city or a city they know well or have read about/listened to, e.g in a MEC Listening Activity such as A tour of Dublin… They do some research on the Internet to gather more information about the places of interest and find photos to add a visual twist to the map. Just make sure they don’t do any copying and pasting. The tour might follow a theme, e.g. historical places or the best restaurants and pubs (see Food in the Harbour City, a MEC Language Exercise, for a model).

§   Students in small groups work on a project about different customs across their country or if you have a multinational group, it could even be a continent or the whole world! The interactive map could be embedded in the school website or class blog. Following the same line of thinking, the website lends itself perfectly to presenting the results of a MEC Web Project like Food around the USA.

§   Students plan a dream holiday (they look at Holiday Paradise Vocabulary Activity for a model) and then present their plan to the class. They vote for the best one.

 

§   Following the results of a City quiz, a MEC Listening Activity, students create a similar map of their city or country to practise the superlative. If you have a multinational group, then they can compare their cities and countries, thus getting further practice in superlatives and comparatives.

§   Lower-level students mark different places around a small area, e.g. bank, shops, restaurants, etc. They add short descriptions. In pairs they analyse their maps and ask each other questions with there is/are. This could be a follow-up activity with more focus on fluency once you had drilled the structure with a MEC language exercise such as Is there a bank in this street?

§   Last but not least, students might practise giving and understanding directions. They don’t draw on pieces of paper any more but create real routes on real city plans!

Whichever way you use Community Walk, the students will get into it as they are creating something meaningful and relevant, they are sharing their personal story and experience with you and their classmates.

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