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The Fay School Uncharted - Mapmaking

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The Fay School Uncharted - Mapmaking

Friday, February 11, 2022

This project began over Winter Break, 2021, when I took a trip to Big Bend National Park, nearly 600 miles from Fay's campus in Houston, TX.

First grade students explore campus to help with mapmaking
Students experienced Fay's campus while learning!

The transition to Project-Based Learning:

After I returned from my trip to Big Bend, students discussed the role of maps in our morning meetings and how they help direct us to places we've never been before. I shared my trail map of Big Bend, students brought in maps from their homes, and the group used Google maps to lookup places students visited over winter break. We informed students that we would be making a map of Fay's campus for Director of Admissions, Ms. Ali Lyman, since she had many visitors on campus who did not know where things were. The students were thrilled!

Let's go outside!

On January 6, 2022, students received a basic printout of Fay's campus using CalTopo. Students worked in pairs, exploring the different parts of campus and taking notes for their future maps. Since it's First Grade, we did get a little distracted along the way!

Where do we go next?

Once students finished exploring campus, we headed back to the classroom to begin our new maps. Students were placed in pairs and asked to combine their ideas into one map. Conflict was not uncommon since everyone had different notes and recollections of where things were outside. Working through those disagreements was as vital to the learning process as going outside.



First Graders worked for four weeks to help solve a real-world need at Fay.

We are almost there...

After creating their first drafts, students headed back outside to test their maps. They soon realized things weren't quite where they remembered, and so we headed back inside with our updated notes to create our final map. Students also engaged in a peer review process to identify characteristics amongst the group that we all liked best. The class decided that using color, a map legend, and drawings of wildlife on Fay's campus made the maps engaging and easy to use.

We made it!

On February 3, 2022, nearly a month after first heading outside to explore, Ms. Lyman visited our classroom, and students got to showcase their maps to her. Students saw the positive impact of their work and experienced the joy of helping solve a real-world problem. Students also got to take a gala walk and see their friends' final maps!

The Final Product

"I can tell you all worked very hard on your maps, and they will be so helpful to me on my tours!" -Ali Lyman, Director of Admissions at The Fay School in Houston, TX.

About Scott: Scott has a B.A. in English from Davidson College and received the Education Scholar distinction and the Avinger Scholarship for Entrepreneurship. Scott joined Fay because he feels like it is a school that truly lives its mission each day instead of just listing the mission on a billboard in the hall. When Scott is not at Fay, he enjoys reading old books, trying to write his own, spending time with his wife outdoors, and enjoying time indoors with his black cat "Party Girl" that we adopted (with the name) from Friends4Life back in 2018.