Teaching Longitude and Latitude
from Greg English
Oak Park Middle School
Using the grids provided here I begin my teaching about Longitude and Latitude. This exercise will lead into tracking hurricanes.
First I use a "centered" grid to get general information across to the students. The grid allows for labeling the Prime Meridian and Equator along with the degrees out from the bold center lines. I use 10 degrees per thin line for this first exercise.
Next I have the student locate intersecting lines - coordinates. After we practice several intersection points and I feel that they understand, I post a list of intersect points on the board. Since our school mascot is an eagle, I use dots that will lead to an outline of an eagle's head.
Following the marking of each dot the students "connect-the-dots". Since the dots form a pattern, it is easy to see if they are getting the points correct.
After compleating this assignment we move on to an "off centered" or Northwest grid. I have the students mark this grid in 5 degree spacings. This leads into tracking in the Gulf of Mexico. After they label the prime, equator, and the individual lines I post a new set of coordinates. These move the dots in a "hurricaine" fashion.
Once both sets are completed students should be ready to move to a hurricane tracking chart. I give out a ditto tracking chart and a TV chart. Our local TV station (KPLC) provides nice full size charts. On the ditto we track a make-believe hurricane named "Opie". Everyday when the students come into class there is a new set of coordinates to plot. Wind conditions, forward speed, and other info is posted. Student track the storm and make predictions about the possible landfall. On the TV chart we track any real hurricanes.
The tracking of "Opie" can go on even as we finish our hurricane unit.