Friday, October 23, 2009

Innovative and Personalized Idea for Student Writing

Walk Score touts itself as a site that ranks 2,508 neighborhoods in the largest 40 U.S. cities to help you find a walkable place to live and that alone is pretty cool, but for innovative educators in these large cities, this site provides a fantastic and FREE resource to inspire writers. Educators with students in large cities can have their students type in their address and students will instantly receive a map indicating neighborhood parks, schools, restaurants, stores, libraries, bookstores and more that are in walking distance. Students get a score of their neighborhoods walkability rating which is based on a metric measuring a number of items identified as those that make a neighborhood walkable such as does the neighborhood have a center?

Walkable neighborhoods have things like a discernible center, whether it's a shopping district, a main street, or a public space. Walkable neighborhoods have plenty of public places to gather and play. The
Walk Score site analyzes these factors and provides a map breakdown neighborhood hotspots, attractions, features, parks, and more. Innovative educators immediately can see lessons that can be developed based on each student’s particular neighbor. An obvious lesson a literacy teacher might think of is that students can use the walkability map to inspire story ideas about a personal experience they had in various places in the neighborhood. A social studies teacher may have students investigate the history of the neighborhood investigating what exists there today verses in the past and how and why the neighborhood transformed and/or stayed the same. Students can learn about economics by exploring density. A walkable neighborhood is compact enough for local businesses to flourish and for public transportation to run frequently. A math teacher might have all students plot their walkability scores in an excel spreadsheet to chart the most and least walkable neighborhood while coordinating with the social studies and/or literacy teacher to investigate the factors that lead to their results.
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