Lesson Plan

Understanding Location Based on Vegetation #WithMathICan

Gamifies learning about the world's vegetation zones into intense final challenge
Lisa B.
Classroom teacher
Hershey Middle School
Hershey, PA
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My Grades 6, 7, 8
My Subjects Social Studies
EdTech Mentor

Students will be able to... 

  • explain the difference between vegetation zones. 
  • use problem solving skills, like logical reasoning and identifying important information, to analyze an image to discover where in the world it is based on vegetation and landforms. 
  • use a growth mindset for the gamified analysis; students will persevere through difficult tasks and to celebrate the mistakes that were close but incorrect
Social Studies
Grades 4 - 8
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Hook

Play an engaging video that describes a vegetation zone. This example is from Sesame Street and will trap in the student memory that the deciduous trees are the ones that lose their leaves, which also takes care of one of the common mistakes of mixing up deciduous and coniferous types of vegetation.

2 Direct Instruction

A nearpod presentation about vegetation can be used to engage the students while directly instructing them about each zone. Nearpod allows you to provide a definition, an image, and identify the location of a zone on a thematic map with the drawing feature. Nearpod can also include 360° panorama images that provide additional engagement and details of the vegetation. Let the students know they are working towards being able to identify places based on the vegetation they see. The 360° panoramas can be customized by searching 360cities.net

3 Independent Practice

Quizlet will allow students to match the definitions and the images/names of the vegetation zones. Model the star study skill; when using Quizlet flashcards you should star cards you get incorrect. The app and website will let you focus just on the terms you star instead of repeating ones that have been mastered. Which makes it easier to grow from the mistakes and master all the concepts. 

Come back together as a class and have students share out about which vegetation zones were the most difficult to match/what mistakes they made. The teacher could ask questions like "what about that vegetation zone made it particularly difficult to match the image and definition?" "Were there any vegetation zones that you kept confusing with each other? Why? How will you remember to tell them apart going forward?" Ask the students to make connection to prior knowledge, did the desert match what they know about deserts? Which one looks like a rainforest? Because that is what Broadleaf Evergreen is. 

4 Gamified Analysis

Give the students a vegetation zone map and a physical feature map. They will use those to play GeoGuessr. The goal of GeoGuessr is to select the correct location based on the image from Google Street View. The students should reference the map for hints with the possible landforms, bodies of water, and vegetation.

It is impossible to get it exactly. The teacher should model this. Even being a couple hundred miles away is impressive. Encourage students to talk themselves through the process: What do you observe? What does that infer? Where could the image be located?

GeoGuessr offers games for World, Spain, Russia, Argentina, Netherlands, Australia, Canada, Japan, Sweden, United States, United Kingdom, Taiwan, European Union, New York City, Paris, London, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and general Famous Places. To be fair to the students, make sure the maps you select are specific to the region they are playing the game for. It is challenging enough with detailed maps.

5 Wrap Up

Google Drive
Free, Paid

Describe as many vegetation zones as possible using combination of emojis. The ones that are easier: deciduous, coniferous , mixed forest, desert scrub, and highlands.  This activity is more challenging than it initially seems because they have to truly understand the terms to represent them using basic images. Let the students know that there can be more than a single correct answer and combinations of emojis can be used.