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Chronological Reasoning and Causation

Changes in Rochester - A Map Study (1920s - Present)

  1. Load A map of the Village of Rochester in 1820 : as drawn by the publisher from actual survey in Main Image Viewer
  2. Load Plat book of Monroe County, New York. Map of Monroe County, N.Y, Plat 28 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

This activity can be completed on Consider the Source or with the documents from the attached PDF and Google links.


Google Doc:

Google Slides:

** These are days 2 and 3 of a 3 day unit. For access to the day 1 activities, follow this link:

Title:  Changes in Rochester- A Maps Study


This is a study of the demographics of Monroe County and the surrounding areas.  We will observe the changes in population and land area over years. (BETWEEN 1900-2022)   


The goal of the lesson is to view and decipher maps from the past and and present, then to compare Rochester at each point in time

Students will then use their knowledge of maps to create their own map.


I can use primary sources to determine the developmental changes of the Greater Rochester Area

Investigative (Compelling) Question: On the completion of the lesson, students will be able to answer this question, “How has Rochester changed geographically over the years?”  

Time Required

  • 3 Class Periods/Subject times 

    • 45-60 minutes each

Recommended Grade Range

  • 5th-6th Grade

Subject: ELA/Social Studies


NYS Learning Standards for Social Studies: Geography 1 

Geography can be divided into six essential elements which can be used to analyze important historic, geographic, economic, and environmental questions and issues. These six elements include: the world in spatial terms, places and regions, physical settings (including natural resources), human systems, environment and society, and the use of geography. (Adapted from The National Geography Standards, 1994: Geography for Life) 

Students will: draw maps and diagrams that serve as representations of places, physical features, and objects 

NYS Next Generation Standard: ELA

Writing (5 W 2): Write informative/explanatory texts to explore a topic and convey ideas and information relevant to the subject.

5 SL 4: Report on a topic or text, sequencing ideas logically and using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support central ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace and volume appropriate for the audience.

Credits: Briana Bendlin, MS. Ed. 


Materials Used: 

  • Maps 

    • Monroe County 1924

    • Google Maps, modern Monroe County/Rochester

  • Handouts

    • Venn Diagram Rochester 1900’s to Now

    • Notices and Wonders 

    • Notes pages

  • Slide Deck: Changes in Rochester (Slides 6-8)

Resources Used: Specific texts, online materials and Websites referenced during the lesson. Resources must: 

  • Maps provided by Rochester Library Systems 

  • Google Maps/Google Earth


Description of Procedure: 

  1. Have students recall information discussed from yesterday.  What their notices and wonders were about the two older maps.

  2. Have students recall the 1924 map.  Are there any new discoveries/notices/wonders?

  3. Show students how to use Google Maps (if your district doesn’t allow students to do so, use the map on Slide Deck #8  OR show it as a whole class via Google Maps

  4. Identify some street names on the zoomed in portion of the 1924 map, record them under Notices and Wonders pages

  5. Look at that same section of map side by side of the modern Google Maps.  What are some similarities? Differences? Have students independently record their findings on the venn diagram (Work Pack Page 7)

  6. Turn and Talk Protocol- Have students share their findings with each other.  Have them record anything new they didn’t discover before on to their page.  

  7. Share out- Have students share out findings to the whole group.  Write them on class notes or allow other students to write down findings they did not catch. 

  8. Independent Work- Have students recall the first map (Slide #3) and the modern Google Map (Slide #8).  How has Rochester changed over the years? Have students respond to this prompt using their notices and wonders as well as new realizations from class discussions.  

The Inquiry Cycle:

  • Connect: Students connect new insights to self or previous knowledge; gain background and context; observe, experience.

    • Student is making connections to their area by noticing street names from past maps to present maps 

    • Students are noting the change in geography/development over the years

  • Wonder: Students develop questions and create hypotheses or predictions

    • Student is asking questions about how past Rochester has impacted modern Rochester 

  • Investigate: Find and evaluate information to answer questions; test hypotheses; think about information to illuminate new questions and hypotheses

    • Students will use interactive maps and readings to discover the way of Rochester in the past

  • Construct: Construct new understandings connected to previous knowledge; draw conclusions about questions and hypotheses

    • Students will be making predictions as to why changes happened in Rochester

  • Express: Apply understandings to a new context and new situations; express new ideas to share learning with others

    • Students will use their learned knowledge to create their own maps onbe of any location, one of their area (neighborhood or community)

  • Reflect: Reflect on own learning; ask new questions

    • End of the lesson series, students will reflect on why we use maps and the changes that happen over time

Extensions (if applicable)


Evaluation: (Will be completed days 3-5)

Map Project: Students will complete a map of an area of their choosing.  The map will include: 

  1. Title

  2. Key (at least five (5) important locations on your map with symbols)

  3. One set of written directions from one point to another (ex. At the water fountain, head west and keep straight to the classroom) 

  4. One paragraph minimum discussing why you chose this location and the the specific locations in your map key

  5. Compass with all of the cardinal directions (North, East, South, West)

    1. You may include the intermediate directions as well