Kathleen Callanan Babini 

Kathy Babini is currently the Social Studies Department Head for the Plymouth Public Schools. Prior to this she served the Watertown Public Schools as K-5 Social Studies Specialist. A teaching veteran for over twenty-years, she taught Geography in the Plymouth Public Schools 1983-1998. She is the Massachusetts Geography Bee Coordinator, President of the Southeastern Mass. Geographic Network, and serves on the board of the Mass. Geographic Alliance. In 1993 she was named Social Studies Middle School Teacher of the Year by the Massachusetts Council for the Social Studies and in 1998 was chosen as one of the Global Educators of the Year by the Global Education Consortium. Her most recent honor was selection by the Massachusetts Council for the Social Studies as Supervisor of the Year 2001-02.

An example of her use of Massachusetts maps in a classroom lesson is shared below. 

Title:  Massachusetts Patterns 

Objective:  Students will be able to make correlations between different maps of 

Standards:  History/Social Science 2,6,8,9,13 
Materials  Publisher: The Massachusetts Atlas; Student Guide, Thomas Sherer Jr./ Kilderatlas Publishing Co. 

  • Make overheads of the following maps from the Atlas: Mass.Outline; Population Distribution; Rivers, Lakes and Ponds; Topography; and Expressways. 
  • As a warm up, use outline map and label bordering states and bodies of water. 
  • Use Population Distribution map and ask students to identify what part of the state has the greater  amount of the population.  Ask students to identify the major urban centers (Boston, Worcester, Springfield, Fall River, New Bedford. 
  • View "Rivers, Lakes and Ponds" and ask students to comment on the location of the bodies of water.  Overlay the Population map and ask students to make a correlation between the bodies of water and the population distribution.  See if students can identify reasons why some of the major cities developed in their specific location. 
  • View Topography map and ask students what information about the topography of the state they can find out using this map. Ask what they know about the landforms of the state. Can they identify any regions (coast, Berkshires etc)?  Overlay the population map and ask students to make a correlation between population distribution and topography. 
  • View the Expressways map.  Ask students to make a correlation between the     Transportation systems and the Population Distribution. 

Assessment: Ask students to write a brief summary of the information they received and give reasons for the correlation presented. 

Quick Tips Using Local Maps:

  • When starting a unit on map reading, use maps of your town. Have students learn about the grid system by trying to locate their school, hospital, library and even their house. 
  • Using an idea from the Geography Awareness Week Packet from  1997, instead of using the pictures and maps they provided, I took pictures of easily recognizable places in my town, and using street maps, students were asked to identify that DIRECTION I was facing when I took the picture. They had to locate the place on a map and give directions to it from our school. 
  • Create a "Search" game for your town.  Our town had a lot of ponds.  I created "Pond Search"  and asked students to identify a pond... named after a color, a profession, a type of vegetation, a  fish, a geometric shape...  They same activity could be done with street names. 
  • When studying about waterways, two great Massachusetts stories to use are Letting Swift River  Go , by Jane Yolan about the building of the Quabbin Reservior and A River Ran Wild by Lynne  Cherry, an Environmental History of the Nashua River. 
  • Ask students to identify the year their house was built.  Plot this on a town map, using a different  color or code for each decade.  Can students see patterns forming?  Is their a reason why the older  homes are in a  particular part of town?  Factories? Churches? etc.