Important Message about LEARN NC

LEARN NC is evaluating its role in the current online education environment as it relates directly to the mission of UNC-Chapel Hill School of Education (UNC-CH SOE). We plan to look at our ability to facilitate the transmission of the best research coming out of UNC-CH SOE and other campus partners to support classroom teachers across North Carolina. We will begin by evaluating our existing faculty and student involvement with various NC public schools to determine what might be useful to share with you.

Don’t worry! The lesson plans, articles, and textbooks you use and love aren’t going away. They are simply being moved into the new LEARN NC Digital Archive. While we are moving away from a focus on publishing, we know it’s important that educators have access to these kinds of resources. These resources will be preserved on our website for the foreseeable future. That said, we’re directing our resources into our newest efforts, so we won’t be adding to the archive or updating its contents. This means that as the North Carolina Standard Course of Study changes in the future, we won’t be re-aligning resources. Our full-text and tag searches should make it possible for you to find exactly what you need, regardless of standards alignment.

Maps, even contemporary ones, are basically primary sources that have to be analyzed and evaluated. This process guide for reading maps is based on Kathryn Walbert’s model for approaching primary sources.

I. Identification

  1. What is the map intended to convey or represent?
  2. What physical features are present on the map?
  3. What cultural (human-made) features are present on the map?
  4. Who created this map, and what do I know about him/her/them?
  5. When was the map produced?
  6. Where was it produced?

II. Cartography

  1. Was the map drawn by hand, or by computer?
  2. What is the source of the cartographic data? (A survey? Satellite images? The mapmaker’s imagination?)
  3. What projection does the map use?
  4. Where is the map centered?
  5. Where are the map’s borders — how is it framed? What is not shown on the map?

III. The mapmaker’s choices

  1. What is the intended audience for the map? What did the mapmaker assume about that audience? What did/do they already know or expect to see?
  2. What aspects of the map does the projection distort? Is the projection appropriate to the map’s intended use? Could it cause any misunderstanding?
  3. What is implied by the centering and framing of the map?
  4. What colors did the mapmaker choose? What might those colors imply?
  5. What symbols did the mapmaker choose? What might those symbols imply? How might they be misread?
  6. Why was this map created?

IV. Maps showing data

If the map shows scientific, demographic, or other data:

  1. What is the source of the map’s data? Is the source reliable?
  2. What scale was used to represent the data?
  3. What initial visual impression does the map give? Is that visual impression consistent with what it’s trying to convey?

V. Historical context

If the map is a historical map:

  1. What was the historical context for this map? How did the mapmaker fit into that context?
  2. How was that world different from yours?
  3. How might people at the time have reacted to this map?

VI. Evaluation

  1. How does this map compare to other sources? Is the information provided by it consistent with what’s provided by other sources and readings and with your own experience?
  2. What do you believe and disbelieve about this map?
  3. What do you still not know — and where can you find that information?