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Mapping the Caribbean
Grade Level (S)
History, Geography, Caribbean
Students will have the opportunity to explore historical and modern day maps and learn how maps can
serve as important tools for understanding the Caribbean.
Two 45 minute sessions.
Standards (From the National Standards of Geographic Education)
o How to use maps and other geographic representations, tools, and technologies to
acquire, process, and report information from a spatial perspective
o The physical and human characteristics of a place
o How culture and experience influence people's perceptions of places and regions
o How to apply geography to interpret the past
Objectives and Goals
After completing this lesson the student should:
o Understand the basic concept of a map
o Understand how historical maps can provide information for understanding the
o Understand how GIS can be used to further explore phenomenon on the region.
Teaching the Lesson
Introducing the lesson
Begin the lesson by introducing the purpose of maps and how and why they are important as well as
introducing the concepts of spatial awareness and spatial perspectives. Also, explain the varying ways
to define the region.
o Is a fundamental tool that allows the human mind to understand the world
o Is a communication tool
o Serves as storage for spatial data
Once students are familiar with these concepts begin by showing them examples of maps found in the
Digital Library of the Caribbean Collection(DLOC) [click here]. As you show a few examples of these
historical maps begin to explain the concept of evaluating maps as information resources ie, considering
the purpose of the map, the historical context of that map, what the map shows or doesn't show. This is
also an opportunity to explain basic elements found on a map, including the north arrow, a key, scale
Break students into groups of 3 or 4 and assign them a map from DLOC. Have them take about 15
minutes to provide a narrative for their maps. Have them present that narrative to the group.
Accurate map of the island of St. Christopher, vulgarly called St. Kits. containing all the towns.
parishes, forts &c.
Chart of the West Indies
new general chart for the West Indies, of E. Wrights protection vut. Mercators chart
Urbs Domingo In Hispaniola
Next you will introduce the idea of GIS and modern map making in understanding both current and past
phenomenon in the region. Define the basic concepts of GIS including:
4 basic spatial relationships: Proximity, Adjacency, Intersection, and Containment
If possible have students play with an online atlas or other web mapping application such as google
earth. Have them break into groups of 3-4 students and have them create a narrative of the Caribbean
based on the information found through these tools. In addition to Google Earth these tools are also
ESRI Sketch a Map
(For additional information about working with GIS and Web Mapping applications in the classroom,
visit ESRI's GIS Education Community. )
Discuss the difference and similarities between the modern maps and historical maps, as well as the
opportunities modern maps and GIS provide us.
See attached presentation for additional lecture notes.
Before the lesson, have students draw a map of the Caribbean asking them to include not only where
places are but what they know about these places. Once the students have completed the exercise, ask
them to again create a map of the region.