This option allows your class to start with a mostly complete map and just finish the final few districts. They will still learn how use data to make their map and how to make tough decisions to achieve their goals, without having to commit several hours to completing a map from scratch.

Draw the Lines is available to help use DistrictBuilder, either with an in-person or virtual presentation. You can request our help here.

This activity can be completed in two ways: either as a full class working on one map, or individuals/small groups working to complete their own map. The instructions given below are for a full class doing one map, but can be easily adapted for individuals or small groups.

If you're doing one map as a class, then before class, create an account on DistrictBuilder, our free mapping platform. During sign-up, DB will ask you how many people are drawing maps on this account. We just want to know how many people are using DistrictBuilder. Include student totals from all classes who will participate in mapping on this account.

To start the activity with your students, find consensus on what values the class collectively wants to pursue with its map. Using the Flashes of Insight exercise as your guide, choose from the following options:

  • Compactness
  • Competitive elections
  • Equal population

Put it to a vote. Based on the discussion students had yesterday, which one do they think is most important? The value with the most votes becomes your top focus. The value with the second most becomes your secondary focus. And so on.

Back to DistrictBuilder…. After you log in, you’ll reach the “Choose a Map. Start Drawing” page. In the #2 box, you’ll select your map type. Click on the “Shared” tab on the left side of the screen. There, you will see a list of starter maps to choose from.

Each map on this list prioritizes one of the values above. Each map also indicates which region of the state needs to be finished. If you’re in a school in Philadelphia, your students can determine where the remaining district boundaries should fall in SE PA. Same for central PA or in the greater Pittsburgh area.

For example, if your school is in Pittsburgh and wants to value competitive elections, select the “Competitive starter map for Allegheny County” map.

You will then name your map, in box #4. Put "Starter" in front of your map's name so we know to put it into the correct competition category.

Then you can start drawing your map.

Some questions you can ask to guide the discussion as you map:

  • Does our region have a natural dividing line that we should use as a district boundary?
  • Are there neighborhoods that should be kept together in the same district? Why?
  • If we maximize the metrics of our top goal, what metrics might worsen?

Have the students scan the rest of the map outside their region. Are there any districts they want to change? Any metrics for a particular district they want to improve?

Once the map is done, they should work together as a class to complete the class statement in the submission form, talking about why they drew their map the way they did and how they accomplished their goals. 

Once students have completed their map, we ask that they complete DTL’s short survey.

Again, Draw the Lines is available to run the mapping platform during your class, either in-person or virtually (depending on location and availability). Click here to request support.