Archives: ZBL

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ZBL Teachers Rock! – Survey Results

A few weeks ago, we sent out a quick survey to ZBL teachers on our mailing list to check in and see what you liked and didn’t like about ZBL. We’re delighted to say that we heard overwhelmingly positive feedback, and are excited to take what we’ve learned to make it even better!  My goals for creating Zombie-Based Learning were to create a curriculum that:

  1. Saved teachers a lot of time

  2. Helps teachers get into project-based learning

  3. Improves deep student learning and engagement

Methodology: please note that the audience was provided closed-ended options, and asked to check all that applied–so answers won’t add up to 100%. Also, we provided a write-in box for open-ended answers.

Measuring the “likes” I was gratified to see that teachers really did value having the important parts of curriculum including assessments, rubrics, and resources. Tied for the top favorite  was that the curriculum is Project-Based Learning in practice. As a big believer in Project-Based Learning (PBL), I’m happy to see so many teachers valued the opportunity to use it in the classroom. Many teachers approve the theory, but are unclear on how to deploy it.

Because I deliberately designed ZBL to be a good introduction to PBL,  I’m glad to see that there are quite a few teachers who are motivated to get more training in Project-Based Learning techniques.  It’s something we’ll be able to help with down the line!

As for the “dislikes” beyond PBL training, 14% of the responses said that ZBL didn’t fit into their current plans. Additional write-in comments included a range of reasons such as “no longer teaching the subject” to “district not dedicating a full semester for Geography”.  While I designed ZBL to fit into as many plans as possible, I was also pleased to hear that many teachers were able to modify it and fit it into their needs.

The feedback was also very valuable to confirm the items we are eager to improve upon. We’re working on plans to make the curriculum materials more interactive, easier to download,  and digitizing and updating materials to integrate with gradebooks and other valuable school tools. We also heard that a lot of students are clamoring for the next issue of Dead Reckon. We’re trying hard to get them out! We’re eager to share the continuing story as well, and are happy that students are enthused about it as we are.

We’re thrilled to see that teachers are finding a lot of value in ZBL and the resources accompanying it to support their teaching. Between this survey and the student work we are getting from some of the teachers, we’re continually improving to be a more useful curriculum for teachers and a better learning experience for students.  THANK YOU for your support and your voice!

We sent this survey to all of the teachers on the Zombie-Based Learning mailing list. 36% of those teachers followed the link to the survey. 70% of the teachers who followed the link, completed the survey.  In total, 25% of the teachers on the ZBL mailing list took the survey. Thank you to all who responded!

If you did not get a chance to take the survey, feel free to respond here:


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Geography Question Generator

I’m tired of people thinking of geography as memorizing locations and capitals. Geography is so much more. There are unlimited amazing questions that geographers take on to help us better understand how the earth affects us.

In an attempt to help people imagine these big questions, I created the Geography Question Generator. It randomly creates questions that a geographer could explore. Right now it can generate about a couple hundred questions, a few might make a little less sense (no artificial intelligence in this tool). I’ll keep adding elements to it to create more questions. They mostly stick to broad topics in geography.

My hope is that people will take a little bit of time to consider the exciting questions that geography can help us explore.

Check out the tool here.

This tool goes great with the first lesson in Zombie-Based Learning, but can be used at any point to show that geography is a pretty deep field.

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Dead Reckon is now on Kindle

Dead Reckon on Amazon

Dead Reckon in the Amazon Store

Dead Reckon is now available on Kindle! The comic has special functions to allow you to zoom into each panel. For Kindle users or Kindle app users, this will hopefully be an easier and even cheaper way to access the comic. The geography project notes are also included and zoomable as well. I’d love to hear any feedback on it.

Viewing Comics on Kindle

This was put together in a special way so that you can click on each comic panel and zoom into it. You can then progress through each panel automatically. I do a lot of comic reading on my mobile devices, and I really like being able to view a comic panel by panel. Hopefully you’ll enjoy this too.

Comic on Kindle

Dead Reckon zooms in on panels in Kindle


Free Preview

You can get a free preview on Amazon using the Kindle Cloud Viewer, it is very easy to do. See below for some instructions from Amazon.

Amazon Kindle Device: Your sample will be sent automatically and wirelessly to the Kindle via Amazon Whispernet. Don’t have a Kindle? Get yours here.

Free Reading Apps: Your sample will be sent automatically to your AndroidiPadiPhonePCMacBlackBerry, orWindows Phone 7 device. Don’t have a free Kindle Reading App? Download one here.

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New Dead Reckon Online Viewer


I have added a new online viewer for the first issue of Dead Reckon. This new reader is faster loading, higher quality, and I’ve given it a simple URL so that teachers may share it with students.

The full comic is behind a login.

Members can find the login and password on the Dead Reckon Downloads page. Share this login with your students to provide them access to the online viewer.

Here is the URL you can direct students to:

You may also view a demo of the new online viewer here: Dead Reckon Demo

Feel free to provide any feedback. I made these changes based on feedback from some of the students who were reading the comic and having trouble reading it as a PDF or having to deal with slow loading. If you have any suggestions on how to make this reading experience easier for teachers and students, feel free to contact me:

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Mental Mapping on The Walking Dead

SPOILER ALERT: I’m talking a lot about characters and plot points in The Walking Dead Season 3, Episode 12 “Clear.” I don’t intend to give anything away, but if you want to stay surprised and haven’t watched season 3 yet, you might want to bookmark this post and come back later.

I strongly believe that geography skills will be a major benefit in the zombie apocalypse. So I’m always excited when I notice characters using those geographic skills in zombie stories.

In the 3rd season of The Walking Dead, Rick, Michonne, and Carl go for a supply run. They run into Morgan who has been holed up in Rick’s old neighborhood. Morgan was surviving all on his own and he did so by setting up some elaborate traps all over where he was staying. Something else that helped him survive was mental mapping.

A mental map is how someone pictures the world around them. It really is the map that someone has in his or her mind. It’s often made of a combination of what you know and what you think. The drawing below shows an example of a mental map that has been sketched out:

Mental Map

The mental map is probably not completely accurate. However, it gives good insight into what the person who drew it remembers or finds important.

Let’s get back to The Walking Dead and see how Morgan used his mental mapping skills. See the map Morgan sketched on the wall of his hideout:


Quality Mapping

First of all, I want to congratulate Morgan for making a quality map. We can see that he included direction in the top right, showing which way is North. We can see that he used many clear symbols for roads, trees, houses and other buildings. He also used labels, which we can see when Carl examines closer. It is hard to tell if it is to scale, but judging by the relative size of the buildings, it is probably accurate enough for Morgan’s needs.


Analyzing Mental Maps

It is a valuable skill to analyze someone’s mental map. Through this analysis, we can tell what was important to the mental cartographer. It appears that Morgan has been keeping track of which houses are “Taken” or “Burnt Out,” possibly even which areas are “clear.” It is definitely important for Morgan to keep track of which areas are overrun and which areas are safe enough to journey into.

But even more interestingly, try to determine what Morgan thought about Rick.

Morgan may be good at mapping, but not so good at using apostrophes.

Morgan may be good at mapping, but not so good at using apostrophes.

Morgan kept close track of Rick’s house. You can see that he updated it to being “TAKEN” and then to be “BURNT OUT.” Morgan didn’t seem to keep as close track of any other houses. This might mean that Morgan was still thinking about Rick, caring about the state of his property, and caring about the state of Rick.

Updating Your Mental Maps

Morgan took part in another important skill in mental mapping; he updated his mental map. As you learn more about locations, you should keep updating the data on your mental map. We can see that Morgan crossed out and added new labels, making updates as they were needed. Similarly, when you learn about the world around you, you should update your understanding of the world.

In the zombie apocalypse mental maps become very important. We lose access to map references and need to rely on our mental maps. Morgan did a good job keeping his mental map up to date and that probably kept him alive. However, it didn’t keep him sane.

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Project 07 – Planning Your Survivor Settlement!

Project 07 has been uploaded to the Member Downloads directory.

Here is the direct link if you are logged in. There you can either download the individual files or a single PDF of all of the project 7 documents (52 pages).

Here is an introduction to the project:

And here is an outline of the unit:

Exciting next couple of weeks for ZBL! As if all the other weeks haven’t been exciting?!

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Human Migration and the Zombie Apocalypse! Project 06 is uploaded!

“Like” this post for 3rd project upload this week! All of Project 06 has been uploaded to the Member Downloads directory.

Here is the direct link if you are logged in. There you can either download the individual files or a single PDF of all of the project 6 documents.

Here is an introduction to the project: [download id=”222″ format=”1″]

And here is an outline of the unit: [download id=”223″ format=”1″]

I’m really excited to be getting print versions of Dead Reckon this week. I’m also getting all of the T-Shirts. Kickstarter rewards will be shipped soon.

I’m also really excited to finish posting the core projects so I can provide all of the digital add-ons. I’ll tell you more about those later!

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Accepting Donations: Help Make the Graphic Novel

Hello Everyone! A quick update just to let you know that ZBL is accepting Paypal donations again. To donate, Go Here.

The reason I’m accepting donations is because of 2 reasons:

1) I’ve been getting a lot of requests from people who missed the limited 25 day Kickstarter window and would like to get in line for materials and resources, or would like to just donate some money!

2) I have just started working with a great illustrator and colorist for the Zombie-Based Learning Graphic Novel! The original fundraising covers the first 32 pages of the graphic novel, but there are about 100 more pages to go. This graphic novel walks students through the zombie apocalypse narrative, introduces projects, teaches geographic concepts, and is an exciting story! I can’t wait to share more with you soon!

Share this page or the donation page! There are plenty of people out there who want to get involved!