Create Interactive Geography Lesson Plans using NationMaster.com
The NationMaster.com website is a collection of data about countries from resources such as the United Nations, CIA World Factbook, and Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). For a site with such a wealth of information, it is amazingly quick and easy to use. Comments and feedback are encouraged on this user-friendly and educational website.
NationMaster has many useful features for educators, from geography and history teachers to economics and statistics instructors. An extremely simple tool on the Home Page allows users to look up statistics in 30 categories and many sub-categories. I chose Agriculture and percentage of land used and was instantly provided with a list of 199 countries ranked according to land percentage used. According to statistics compiled in 2005, the United Kingdom ranks 21 with an agricultural land usage of 70.09%. A change of time-frame to 1961 puts the UK in 7th place with 81.84%. A click on this country’s name breaks the data down further and reveals sources and definitions as well.
The Countries’ Tab lists the nations of the world alphabetically or by region and with or without maps and flags. A description and brief history is given for each country along with statistics for every category. Many historical maps are also available. Sticking with the UK example, I found this obscure and fun map-The Shires of England in the Tenth Century. This is an invaluable resource for history, geography, and even English teachers. (Imagine teaching a period piece such as The Age of Innocence and being able to find a map that depicts the setting.)
An Education Tab helps educators use the vast amount of statistics and country profiles available on Nationmaster. Tools include free lesson plans, FAQs, and a forum in which they can get help or share ideas with other teachers. The lesson plans span all grade levels and subject areas. (Teachers will be interested to note that NationMaster welcomes lesson plan submissions that utilize the information on its site.) A download-able toolbar allows teachers to search NationMaster from anywhere on the Internet and a student area has instructions on how to use NationMaster.com.
The free GeoLab section provides an interactive way to teach geography and statistics to students of all ages. GeoLabs has students explore the myriad of data on NationMaster through inventive assignments with step-by-step instructions. Students must give their teacher’s e-mail address so that answers can be sent to him or her.
NationMaster’s encyclopedia tab gets its article’s from Wikipedia so, as ever with user edited material, double check the information found in this section. Otherwise, I think this is a useful site for teachers and perfect for an interdisciplinary curriculum.