Lesson Plan Title: United States Outline Map
Concept/Topic to Teach: GIS Outline Map
Using geographic technology to acquire process and report information from a
Use Alabama as the model with which to compare other states. Interpret GIS
maps/tables. Locate specific geographic points on a map. Use GIS data to assist in
creating regions of the United States.
Alabama GIS worksheet
AAA U.S. Map
U.S. state study cards
GIS PowerPoint Presentation
Anticipatory Set (Lead-In): Ask students about having GPS systems in their cars.
What do they do? Ask students about Atlas’ and the purpose. This will
get the students attention to the subject at hand.
Step-By-Step Procedures for Teaching the Lesson:
GIS data can be used to elicit important geographical information concerning the
strands of geography: location, physical feature, natural resources, economy,
climate and culture. Map data can be used to compare on state with another.
Using GIS data, one can come to conclusions about the geography of the United
1. Define GIS using the graphic organizer. Students will discuss the kinds of
data that can be gathered and translated onto a map. Students will create a
class list and will check their assumptions by going into the computer lab
and exploring the Arc View file.
2. Discuss different types of maps that can be found in a United States Atlas.
Discuss what would make comparing maps easy (transparent layers).
3. Explanation of Arc IMS or Arc Explorer Application Use PowerPoint
Presentation on GIS to present brief overview of the functions in ArcView
and view themes. Run the application using a projector to demonstrate key
features of the software.
4. GIS Lab: Nifty Fifty. Conduct GIS Lab. A free download of ArcExplorer 2 for
Windows and ArcExplorer 4 JAVA script at the ESRI web site can be used. If
you are running an Apple machine you will need the JAVA script version
and your operating system needs to be OS10 or higher. Those of you using
Windows format need just the ArcExplorer 2 for Windows Open
ArcExplorer and locate the project file on the CD data set. Have the
students individually follow the instructions and answer the questions for
each lesson on the data pages. Questions following the collected data must
be expressed in complete sentences and must be justified. Facilitate any
questions or problems encountered as students work through the activities.
Collect data sheets.
GIS Computer Lab/U.S. States Outline Map
Explain to the students that they are going to view an outline map of the United
States and overlay maps. Each overlay will give the students specific geographic
Randomly, pass out 2 state study cards to each student. These cards will be used
to gather information using the GIS maps (take out Alabama and put any other
state in its place).
Students will be instructed by teacher on how to access the project maps.
Once the outline map is on the desktop, the instructions below will be given to the
students to follow as the teacher demonstrates with the LCD projector.
***Hand out worksheet, and then give the following instructions.
Place cursor in the box next to “States.shp” (state shapes) and left click so a check
appears in the box on the left. Place cursor on the word “state” and left click.
(that line will be highlighted) Go to the tool bar and click on the icon with the “i”
inside the circle on the bottom row all the way on the left. This icon will be
highlighted allowing a spreadhsheet to appear for each state you click on. Click on
the state image of Alabama (a table will pop up with information about Alabama).
Fill in the table on your worksheet, indicating the name of the state, the
abbreviation and area in square miles, population in 1990 and 1999 and
population density in 1990.
How is the population divided up into cultural groups?
Has Alabama’s population grown or shrunk in 9 years? By how much?
Click on your specific states and fill in the same information.
Put a “1” in the area rank column next to the largest state by area; a “2” next to
the second largest state and “3” next to the smallest of YOUR three states listed
Put a “1” in the population density rank column next to the state with the largest
population density, a “2” next to the state ranking second and a “3” next to the
state with the lowest population density.
What does this information tell you?
Go to the ESRI program and have students pull up a United States map. Have the
students change the legend to another multi-colored legend and then to a single
Closure (Reflect Anticipatory Set):
Restate the lesson objectives and relate them to the learning experience of the
lesson. Ask students to state conclusions in a summary they came to after they
completed the lesson. Encourage students to come up with other applications for
Assessment Based on Objectives:
Accuracy of data collected in lesson.
Completeness of questions following the activity.
Adaptations (For Students With Special Needs):
Partner up students who are not able to use the computer
Adjusted seating for hearing or visual impaired.
Extensions (For Advanced Students):
1. Encourage students to investigate more about the United States,
comparing data about the states.
2. www.50states.com is an excellent resource.
3. On the web there are several sites that use GIS applications to analyze large
amounts of data. Have your students search for at least 5 sites that
implement some type of GIS application over the web and describe the
benefit of the site.
Possible Connections to Other Subjects:
Could lead to science lessons to identify landforms or climate of different areas
and use the GIS for locations.
Can incorporate reading and add in a book on states.
Reflection: Using GIS in the classroom provides students with exposure to the
effects of geography on many world issues. GIS provides a new and innovative
way for students to learn. Students use GIS to explore locations related to the
curriculum. GIS technology promotes higher order thinking skills. Students are
able to understand spatial relationships that are found in the world.