Wednesday, December 3, 2014

River Journey at University of Minnesota Spatial Forum

River Journey was one of several projects, that was exhibited at the University of Minnesota Spatial
Forum on Wednesday, November 19th at Rapson Hall Atrium on the Minneapolis Campus. River Journey leader, Jonee Kulman Brigham, participated in the GIS table display area to discuss the role of maps in Earth Systems Journey--the model being used for the River Journey project at River's Edge Academy.

River Journey is using GIS (geographic information system) digital mapping software called ArcGISonline to create "story maps," which software publisher, ESRI describes this way: "Story maps use geography as a means of organizing and presenting information. They tell the story of a place, event, issue, trend, or pattern in a geographic context. They combine interactive maps with other rich content—text, photos, video, and audio—within user experiences that are basic and intuitive."

River's Edge Academy students at a GIS training session
with U-Spatial on October 29th
Assisted by U-Spatial, students are creating story maps about their river journey, using images of the places they visited to reflect on the values represented. A second set of story maps is in the planning, and in spring students will explore rain water at REA and a service project to improve the impact of River’s Edge Academy on the Mississippi.  


Role of Story Maps in River Journey

For River Journey, the collaborative team chose story maps as the primary learning “product” for the yearlong project. In the prior year, students had jointly created a field guide to the superior hiking trail as a learning/service project and so the idea of creating and publishing an online interpretive maps, was a natural outgrowth of the schools use of fieldwork for hands-on and public service learning approaches.

At the launch of the project, students learned that they would spend the year learning about how their school is connected to the man-made and natural water cycle of the Twin Cities, and would create story maps to demonstrate their learning and contribute to public understanding of the water system.

Students reviewed a variety of story maps by other organizations, and were asked to collect images and build a body of reflections during their journey fieldwork, for later use in their story maps. After introducing the team to GIS, U Spatial worked with the school to plan the student training and assignment.

First Story Maps: In the first phase, currently underway, students use photos and write reflections from the River Journey fieldwork to create a group story map for their section (grade.) 
Second Set of Story Maps: In the coming months, students will work with Brian Goodspeed, park ranger with the National Park Service to create another set of story maps that delve more deeply into the opportunities for map based research, analysis, and exploration of values.



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