Memory Map Group Project 


 Valley View Elementary School


Luisa Martinez & Lillian Contreras


    A memory map is cognitive mapping of geographic landscape.  A memory map transpires each individualís feelings, vivid memories, and places of sentiment onto the maps they create.  These maps carve out the meaning onto the land, both physical and memorable.  These maps become works of art drawn out from the artistís personal memory and experiences of their surrounding area.

    We wanted to sample this technique at an elementary school in South Phoenix.  We were curious if the revitalization of the neighborhood would be evident in the cognitive mapping.  Also, as outsiders we wanted to see what places in these studentsí neighborhoods were of sentiment value to the students at Valley View Elementary School.

    We searched and found a teacher that grew up in South Phoenix.  She teaches sixth grade at Valley View Elementary.  This was a definite asset because she agreed to do a memory map herself along side with her six grade students.  Upon completion of the memory maps we were able to compare and contrast the landscape of Mrs. Robinson's memory map to her students.         

     We arrived at the school after the students lunch hour and just before their school dance.  The kids were somewhat restless but still cooperative.  The first member of our group passed out copies of a sample memory map so the students had a visual description of a memory map.  The second member of our group lectured the sixth graders about the history of the memory map and drew on the chalkboard a descriptive memory map of her own.  Now the students were prepared to draw their own memory maps.  During this time we helped kids individually with any immediate questions and helped them one on one with their own memory maps.  The students were excited about the project and were eagerly raising there hands one by one asking questions, "Could you help me" and "Does this look good".  By the look of the students and Mrs. Robinson's faces they were having a great time. 

    The students of Valley View were excellent artists.  They mapped their community with their own thoughts and views.  These students mapped on paper with complete innocence.  They placed things on their memory map that stood out in their minds.  Some items on the maps they associated with directly and others indirectly.   They also had areas they didnít associate with but were aware of indirectly.   Like a drug dealerís house, a lot with junk cars and a yard with a mean dog were just a few examples of what the student's created on their memory maps.      

    In analyzing and comparing the students maps of the present and Mrs. Robinsonís map of the past they viewed similarities.  The majority of students as well as Mrs. Robinson placed the South Mountain Park on their maps.  This proved that the Mountains are definitely an important factor of this community then and now.  Mrs. Robinsonís map when comparing was similar to her students such as close friends, a relativeís houses, a church and the school.  It was evident that friends and relatives live close by in the vicinity and the church and school holds a vital role in their everyday life.  Nevertheless, there wasnít much difference in Mrs. Robinsonís map of the past and the students map of the present.  We were not surprised by these findings, because their neighborhood is just recently becoming a revitalized area after years of neglect.   Although most of these students do not live in the reconstructed areas, they live in the older homes or apartments so the benefits of revitalization hasnít trickled down to these young residents yet. 

    Overall, the trip to Mrs. Robinson's 6th grade class at Valley View Elementary School in South Phoenix was a great opportunity for our group to get an in-depth look at one of South Phoenix's school.  It was a pleasure seeing young kids getting creative and gave us an opportunity to learn from these students what they see in their everyday life.   


                     We would like to extend a special Thank You to Mrs. Robinson's

 6th Grade Class at

 Valley View Elementary School in South Phoenix for participating in 

our Memory Map project.


Memory Maps (click on link)

The 6th graders of Valley View are artists of their own memory maps!