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Lesson Plan

The Map of New York State


  • Linda Albrechta, Vestal School District
  • Harriet Barnett, Retired, Dobbs Ferry Union Free School District; American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages
  • Judith Mazziotti, Buffalo City Schools
  • Mary McBride, Williamsville School District
  • Roseanne DeFabio, Assistant Commissioner, Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment
  • Anne Schiano, Assistant Director, Curriculum and Instruction
  • Al Martino, Associate in Foreign Language Education
  • Mary Pillsworth, Curriculum Specialist
  • Jan Christman, Publication Production
Graphic Design: Harold Lohner Designs


Students will identify the major physical features of New York State in the teaching language (TL).

Suggested Grade



providing and obtaining information, expressing opinions

Prior Knowledge



  • Flash cards naming the major New York State physical features in the TL.
  • cards naming major New York State cities/nearby towns and/or postcards of same if available.
  • a transparency of a New York State map with sketches of physical features and relevant cities and
    towns labeled in English, or a classroom-sized New York State map, laminated.
  • one paper copy of New York State map per child with features labeled in the TL but not
    sketched in.
  • one paper copy of New York State map per child with physical features
    sketched in and blanks for filling in the TL terms.

Anticipatory Set

“Think of the story The Wizard of Oz. Where does Dorothy start out? She stands on a farm in a small town. Then where does she go? She goes through a forest to a city. Can you think of any book, TV show, or movie having different environments or settings?”

Have examples of books, TV shows, or movies with different settings ready in case students are reticent. Students suggest terms in English; teacher states terms in the TL and asks, “Who knows which of these can be found in our own state right now?” Teacher continues as before, repeating the terms in the TL.

Instructional Phase

  1. Teacher displays large, labeled New York State map.
  2. Teacher holds up the picture or object representing the first of the five to eight TL terms and pronounces it.
  3. Teacher holds the picture/object up to the large, labeled map in its correct location and then moves it to the separate blank map (one of the three options above), leaving it in its proper location on blank map.
  4. When completed, teacher asks entire class and then smaller groupings (e.g., row one only) to point to each picture or object as randomly named or to play the “Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down” game (refer to Glossary) while pointing to various objects or pictures.
  5. Teacher asks students to raise their hands according to vacation preference (e.g., mountains vs. the beach, big city vs. small town, forest vs. seashore, etc.), while gesturing toward or holding up object/picture.
  6. In groups students create a physical response (e.g., gesture, body moves) to go with each term. Then they demonstrate the physical response, stating the TL term and then asking smaller groups to reproduce the responses. This is done first with the students' eyes open and then a second time with their eyes closed.
  7. Teacher holds up TL flash cards of words for physical features and pronounces them for the class, eliciting choral repetitions.
  8. Teacher chooses volunteers to match appropriate flash cards to each picture or object on chalk tray.
  9. Teacher provides copies of word list with spaces for students to fill with appropriate illustrations; or asks students to copy terms into notebook, along with a symbolic representation of each one. Students exchange papers or notebooks with a partner and teacher spells out each term as students check each other's work.

Homework Assignment

Distribute to each student a copy of the map with features labeled in the TL but not sketched in. Students will complete sketches at home. Allow a choice of five out of seven.

Informational Assessment

See #6 in the Instructional Phase.

Formal Assessment

  • The above homework assignment.
  • Distribute to each student the paper copies of the New York State map with physical features sketched in and designated with their proper names only. Students must fill in the blanks with the TL terms. Allow choice of five out of seven.

Suggested Follow-up Activities

  1. Pictures/objects and labels of above physical features may be scrambled and student teams can be timed as they place them correctly on map.
  2. Repeat above lesson with any TC map. Follow up with a Venn diagram, comparing/contrasting physical features of the two countries. Results may be summarized orally or in writing.
  3. Prints or videos of well-known TC paintings that include geographic features may be discussed and compared orally to New York State landscape paintings.

Suggested Sources of Authentic Reading

  • travel brochures
  • maps with major physical features
  • promotional materials from major cities or other points of interest
  • postcards
  • weather forecasts
  • entries in the encyclopedia
  • articles on saving the environment


LOTE Writing Team. "The Map of New York State." In Languages Other Than English (LOTE) Checkpoint A Resource Guide. New York State Department of Education, 30-31.

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