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Focusing on Diversity with Maps101

Posted on July 04 2021

Focusing on Diversity with Maps101

Dear Educators,

Classrooms that practice DEI, or diversity, equity, and inclusion, are vital to supporting all learners and to providing an environment that offers students the skills needed to uphold the values of equality that permeate the documents of the founding of the United States. Diversity refers to including all members of society, regardless of gender, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, language, age, political point of view, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. Equity refers to justice, fairness, and being impartial within the systems and processes of society. Inclusion involves not just diversity itself, but providing a welcoming feeling that is inviting so that diverse individuals can participate fully.

Based on these definitions, you can easily see that DEI is important in the twenty-first century classroom in the United States in particular, where historically the country was a “melting pot” of immigrants and has continued to be today. Below are examples of content that support diversity that are exclusively available with your Maps101 subscription. 

Geography News Network

While many of the GNN articles you and your class can read weekly are meant for middle school and high school, Maps101 includes topics for younger learners as well, through GNN Junior. 

This week, take a look at Princess Tiana, from Disney’s The Princess and the Frog. Disney Studios has addressed inclusivity in the modern era by creating and releasing a full-length animation film featuring a princess who happens to be Black. The story is based on a fairytale by the Brothers Grimm. Grimms’ stories are classics of children’s literature. The princess in this story could be anyone. Disney did not pick a story set specifically in Africa. That is why this film stands out as a touchstone for inclusivity. 

Notice that the PDF version provides more room in the margin for younger readers to take more notes in larger handwriting. The word choices and sentence length are lower-leveled to meet Lexile scores for grades 3-5.

Curated Collections

Although Black History Month is celebrated in February, content that is appropriate for that month is ideal for developing DEI sensitivity in the classroom anytime. Browse through our curated collection of articles, interactive Field Trips, maps, and more to strengthen DEI in your classroom.

Curated Collections

Maps101 also features content that specifically celebrates the achievements of women throughout history up through today. Featured women may be from history, politics, the arts, authors, the sciences, and more. Browse this curated collection to strengthen the inclusivity of women throughout our culture.

Lesson Map

Our exclusive Lesson Map “Landmark U.S. African American Civil Rights Cases” focuses on the road to African Americans achieving civil rights through the judiciary branch of government and, in particular, through the Supreme Court. This Lesson Map focuses on answering the following Essential Questions:

  • In what ways were Thomas Jefferson's ideas on human freedom contradictory to his actions?
  • What did the U.S. Supreme Court rule about the legal status of African Americans in the Dred Scott v. Sandford case?
  • What is meant by the idea of separate but equal in regard to African Americans?
  • What arguments did Thurgood Marshall make in Brown v. Board of Education?
  • What civil rights issues has the U.S. Supreme Court addressed since its ruling in Brown v. Board of Education?

Using dynamic images and text, this Lesson Map provides all of the content needed for students to be able to answer these questions and more. To teach the lesson, we also provide a teacher wraparound edition with point-of-use suggestions for teaching the material and engaging student interest. Each teacher version also includes leveling for remediation, ELL, and extending the content for gifted and talented.


Why stop there? There are many other Lesson Maps that are appropriate for focusing on DEI with students. Access the Lesson Map Library to look at Hinduism and Buddhism to learn different religious perspectives, or focus on Japanese Internment during World War II to teach students what can happen when equity is ignored due to fear. Immigration and Naturalization is a hot topic that is beneficial in helping students develop a stronger sense of DEI awareness. These are only a few suggestions for exploring Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in your classroom with Maps101.


Focusing on DEI is impossible without understanding the experiences of individuals. Maps101 includes an entire collection devoted to biographies for learning more about the people who have shaped our world. While many of the people are figures you may expect to see, such as Abraham Lincoln, Alexander the Great, or Rosa Parks, here at Maps101, we delve into a diverse range of people with whom students should be familiar. For examples, with Maps101, students can read GNN articles about Greta Thunberg, Ida B. Wells, Kobe Bryant, Maya Angelou, Amanda Gorman, Mohammad Ali, Heidi Hawkins, Juan Manuel Santos, Usain Bolt, and Robert Johnson, among many others from a wide variety of fields and backgrounds. Engage students with biographies of people they may already admire, discover anew, and, most importantly, learn from. 

Map of the Week

The Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s helped ensure that African Americans and others, such as Native Americans, achieved the rights other Americans had. From a famous march, to a boycott, to numerous murders, these events shook America and helped open the door to legislation that would grant rights that had been denied. This map points out many of these key events on the road to equality under the law.



SEL Activity: Social Awareness Write on the board the definition of diversity from a DEI perspective, as noted above in this week’s newsletter. Ask students to pick a biography from the Biographies collection to focus on, with an emphasis toward looking at DEI. Then, have them write a paragraph explaining why this person represents diversity. Have students refer to the definition on the board. For example, Amanda Gorman, is female, African American, and young. If a student were to pick her biography, the student should identify all of these aspects of Ms. Gorman as examples of diversity. Then, discuss with students how learning about a diverse group of people benefits social awareness in school and later in the workplace and in life. Prompt them by asking, “What are the benefits of diversity?” Then, ask them to think about why some people struggle with diversity in America. How would students address this struggle?

High-quality geography products for the classroom. From globes to wall maps, atlases to games, offers a wealth of products to help put your classroom on the map.
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