Place-based mapping and curriculum development project

Dr Amy Vinlove with the University of Alaska shared several great resources including a curriculum development project, a prezi presentation, and recently published article.  She can be reached at alvinlove (at)

Project overview:

The Place-based mapping and curriculum development project is a course-long activity that involves gathering information about the people and environment of each intern’s school and community and thinking of meaningful ways to incorporate the local “place” and cultures into the curriculum. Over the course of the semester in ED 412, interns will develop an interactive, annotated map of the area around their school and community using Google Maps. They will locate and provide interpretive information on points of geological, ecological, cultural, historical, social and economic interest around the school and community and share this information with their fellow interns. Simultaneously, they will develop a narrative list of curricular ideas and tie-ins that connect with many of the points on their maps and share these ideas at our weekly meetings.

Project understanding goals:

  • Interns will understand that the ecological, geological, cultural, historical, social and economic context of your school and community provides a rich foundation for your classroom curriculum.
  • Interns will understand that a curriculum that is directly tied to or evolved from the physical and cultural context of the students will enhance student learning and achievement in any subject area.

Targeted elementary competencies:

The following competencies from the Elementary Summative Standards-based Assessment Plan will be assessed in a summative manner through this assignment. Interns must be assessed at the “Acceptable” level, or a plan of improvement will be written that must be completed in order to proceed in the internship year.

  • 3-1 Develop and teach a variety of units or lessons that meaningfully incorporate characteristics of the student’s and local community culture into instructional strategies that support student learning
  • 2-4/3-2/5-1 Recognize the differences in cultural and linguistic backgrounds of students and demonstrate the ability to build upon the diversity within the classroom in their teaching responsibilities (e.g., lesson and unit development, assignments, assessments, classroom structure and management)
  • 3-3 Develop and teach a variety of units or lessons that incorporate and use materials relevant to Alaska history, geography, economics, governance, languages, traditional life cycles, and current issues
  • 3-4/6-1 Demonstrate an ability to establish a positive classroom environment that accepts, affirms and constructively builds upon the diversity of the students
  • 4-5 Connect content in a teaching activity to students’ prior knowledge and to practical “real-life” situations encountered outside the school (especially in the students’ community)
  • 5-3 Supplement teachers’ manuals and textbooks with both modified and original instructional resources and teaching strategies that are relevant to the lives of his/her students and meaningful in the real-world contexts of students’ communities
  • 7-5 Incorporate community-based resources into some lessons or activities
  • 9-1 Demonstrate knowledge and application of technology for professional responsibilities

Rubric criteria for assessment of this assignment can be found in the ED 412 Course Assessment Document

Format and deadlines:

The project will be completed in small steps over the duration of the course, with interns being asked to add different components to their map each week and prepare responses in relation to the associated curriculum prompts. Although interns will not be required to turn in written responses to the curriculum prompts until the end of the course, it is expected that responses to these prompts will be prepared in advance of each class to be shared orally during class time. The completed map will be assessed at the end of the course, and the final write up of responses to the 11 curriculum prompts (plus 3 additional community and cultural components) will be turned in and assessed at the last scheduled class. The written document with responses to the curriculum prompts and community/cultural components should be a typed, single spaced document that has been proof-read and edited.

Map components and curriculum prompts:

Prior to each class session, there will be specific elements that need to be added to your map, along with descriptive information on those elements, as well as curriculum prompts to prepare responses to. It is important that you complete this work prior to class, as we will begin each class by looking at each others’ maps and hearing responses to curriculum prompts.

The chart below explains, for each session; 1) what components need to be added to the map prior to that session 2) what information needs to be included in the “description” box associated with the icon you’ve added to the map 3) the curriculum prompt(s) to be responded to that will be discussed at that session.

selfieIn any place that you see the SELFIE icon, you are required to include (in the pop-up description area on the map) a SELFIE photograph showing you at the location you are adding to your map. Selfies will need to be uploaded to Google Photos (or any on-line photo storage site) so that you can link to them from within your map. You are only required to include ONE selfie per area, except for the last prompt which requires TWO selfies.

Download the complete project description (DOC) for the Session details.

˜There are three areas that most likely do not have “places” associated with them on your map (although you might be able to get creative and assign them a location!). For these three ˜ areas, please compose a narrative paragraph in response to the “description” component in the middle column and include it in the document with your curriculum prompts. You can label these three elements “Community and cultural components.”




thumbnail of Vinlove-Feb-2016-11-Issue-PDF-Ready-2 (1) Place, Positionality and Teacher Preparation

Abstract: This paper explores the relationships between teacher and student length of habitation
and knowledge of place and the process of learning to teach. A qualitative analysis of social
studies instructional units developed by Indigenous and non-Indigenous pre-service teachers
working in rural and urban school settings across Alaska, considered in relation to the interns’
relationships to the communities where they were teaching provides the foundation for a
framework considering the different ways in which place-based education might be enacted.
Data analysis addresses the questions of how individual relationships with place impact the
integration of place into the classroom, how a new teacher learns to enact place-based teaching in
a way that allows his or her students to reap the benefits of this pedagogical mind-set and
whether strategies for learning how to teach in a place-based manner vary depending on the
contexts in which the students and teachers are situated.

Keywords: Place-based teaching, teacher preparation, Indigenous education, rural education,
Alaska Native education


Posted in Curriculum, Resources.