Thursday, November 16, 2006


Go to www.randmcnallyclassroom.com and sign up for a free, two-week trial of a neat new multimedia geography curriculum that was launched last month.

At $299 per building, it would be pricey for homeschoolers and small private schools, but oh, so worth it in the countless hours of unique and motivational learning it can provide. A corporate spokeswoman said it is being tested right now in a large district in metropolitan Omaha, and there have been pricing inquiries from western Nebraska as well.

Idea: get a company that does business globally, and isn't that most of them these days, to pay for it, for your school or homeschooling co-op. Most corporations are glad to give a little special help for a sound academic purpose such as improving kids' grasp of geography, history, science, economics, languages, etc. etc.

Here's my feature on this new product, published today on www.GoBigEd.com:

Multimedia Geography

Q. I always thought looking at maps was one of the most boring things in school. Surely they have improved the way they teach geography these days. How in the world (!) do they teach it now?

Geography is one curricular area that has really gained from computer technology. Sound, movement, color and lots of ways to present the facts come alive with computers and make geography instruction exciting and fulfilling.

One new product that deserves a mention is the Rand McNally Classroom, an online service that offers interactive games and activities for students along with traditional reference information, and lesson plans and ready-made assessments for teachers. It’s available on a per-building basis for school districts, private schools and home schools.
On top of the company’s famous atlases, globes, wall maps and books, the multimedia curriculum adds technological wizardry to social studies, geography and history lessons for grades K-12. Besides the maps, there’s information on earth science, populations, economies, languages, holidays and much more.

Pricing is $299 per building, which is expensive for a homeschooler but doable for a homeschooling co-op or organization.

The benefit of per-building pricing is that all of the students and teachers in one high school, for example, can access the curriculum. The curriculum is multidisciplinary. So science teachers could add maps, photos and artists’ renderings to their curriculum, the business teacher could utilize world economics charts, the German teacher could zero in on place names in Germany, and on and on.

Each week, there’s a feature that connects a given map with something that’s going on in the world. Games include place-the-state puzzle, build-your-own-map, continent quizzes, and animated features on various topics, including how maps are put together, and geography terms. Grade-level activities range from a travelogue for a teddy bear for the early primary years, to college-level material suitable for Advanced Placement classrooms.

Teachers can use it to project maps onto a classroom whiteboard using an LCD projector, or students can have the same maps on their individual computer screens. Each map is printable as a PDF file. Students will be able to access the curriculum from home.

For a two-week free trial, go to www.randmcnallyclassroom.com

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