Grades 6 and up, to adult (Grades 4 and 5 with adaptation)

Mental Map Postcard
An Assessment Activity
Jack Adams and Mary Cassarino
Rutland Intermediate School

The following mental map postcard activity can be used as an assessment for meeting a number of national geography standards (see the list at the bottom of the page).  The activity is designed to be done after a class field trip in an outdoor setting.  The teacher should explain the assessment and its expectations before the field trip.  The completed piece could be placed in a student's portfolio, shared with another class, or actually mailed to someone (maybe even next year's class!).  This assessment involves various "intelligences" and is easily adapted to various grade levels and abilities.

A Postcard?

  Yes! When you return from your class field trip, every student will create a postcard to a send to a friend.  You will use both the visual image on the front and the written message on the back to describe what you learned in the field study.  Here's what you should think about while on the field trip to plan your postcard. 

  On the trip, make a mental map of what you are seeing.  Think of how the images you see relate to the five geographic themes (see box below) and to the standards (also below).  Plan how you will create a postcard including these elements:

 a description of the land and the physical processes that formed the land;

 the characteristics and spatial distribution of ecosystems;

 how human actions have modified the environment;

 an organization of people, places, and environments in a spatial context; and

 the use of geographic representations to report information.

  When you return to the classroom, you will make your postcard on sheet of drawing paper, with half for the visual image (4 1/2" by 6") and half for the written message.


National Geography Standards Assessed:

Standard #1:  How to use maps and other geographic representations, tools, and technologies to acquire, process, and report information.

Standard #2:  How to use mental maps to organize information about people, places, and environments in a spatial context.

Standard #3:  How to analyze the spatial organization of people, places, and environments on Earth's surface.

Standard #7:  The physical processes that shape the patterns of Earth's surface.

Standard #8:  The characteristics and spatial distribution of ecosystems on Earth's surface.

Standard #14: How human actions modify the physical environment.

Five Themes of Geography

Location (Where are things?)

Place (What physical and human characteristics make this place different from any other?)

Human/Environment Interactions (What are the relationships among people and places?)

Movement (What are the patterns of movement of people, goods, and ideas?)

Regions (How can the earth be divided into regions for study?)