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.


  1. I love WalkScore. My wife and I have spent the past year looking at towns to move to, and each town's WalkScore for the downtown area has an important place on the Google Spreadsheet.

  2. Thanks for the comment Dan. I think you might also enjoy this article about how to decide where to live by my good friend and awesome blogger the Brazen Careerist