All posts by Thomas Herman

A Study of Young People’s Geographical Knowledge, Global Awareness, and Attitudes Toward Geography Education

Students in Dr. Kate Swanson’s Qualitative Methods in Geography upper division course took on a special assignment last year.  They constructed a research project that examined young people’s geographical knowledge, global awareness and perspectives on geography education.  The young people under study included both undergraduates at San Diego State University and high school students in Sweetwater Union High School District who had taken the district’s World Geography and Global Issues course.  While one finding is that there is still a lot of room for improvement in young people’s geographical knowledge, the report also indicates that young people have increasingly global concerns and see geography courses as extremely useful in helping them to make sense of the issues confronting and connecting people around the world.  You can review the report here.

There are some interesting excerpts from interviews conducted with 24 Sweetwater students.  For example,

Question: Do you think American students need a geography education?
Answer: “Yeah, because I don’t think most kids know what is going on in the world. Like, I don’t think a person who doesn’t have a geography class knows what’s going on in Syria…”

Understanding Natural Hazard Risks: Hurricane Harvey, the California Megaflood of 1861-62, and the Future

The Houston Metro area and large areas of southeast Texas have been devastated by record flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey.  There was tragic loss of life, and astronomically expensive damage to property and infrastructure.   There will be a lot of discussion about how more frequent severe storms are a part of global climate change, and we can also focus on the science of weather forecasting, which continues to advance with new computational models and satellite data being utilized.   But a very important point for us to reflect upon is how we could have done a better job of planning how we built our cities and infrastructure to protect against this loss of life and costly damage to property.

Scene showing freeways flooded and vehicles stranded, near downtown Houston.
Scene showing freeways flooded and vehicles stranded, near downtown Houston.

The fact is, catastrophic flooding in the Houston area was a highly predictable event.  The National Flood Hazard Map maintained by FEMA can be viewed online here.  Once the map is open, you can Continue reading Understanding Natural Hazard Risks: Hurricane Harvey, the California Megaflood of 1861-62, and the Future

BREAKING NEWS – Winners of My California GIS Mapping Competition

The CGA’s first ever statewide GIS mapping competition for 4th through 12th grade students has concluded.  5 students projects have been selected as state finalists in each of two divisions.  The authors of each project will be awarded a prize of $100, and the projects will be advanced to the national competition.  5 other projects have been selected for Honorable Mention.

The CGA wants to thank:

  • the NorCal Chapter of URISA and the California Geographic Information Association for their generous support of this competition;
  • the 29 schools that registered for the competition, including all the teachers and students who invested their time in creating projects about their state;
  • all of the judges who lent their time and expertise to scoring the entries and selecting the very best;
  • and Dr. Waverly Ray who took the lead in coordinating the competition and brought enthusiasm and skill to the task!

Without further ado, we present the winners. Continue reading BREAKING NEWS – Winners of My California GIS Mapping Competition

Get Your Students Involved in the My California GIS Mapping Exhibition and Competition!

UPDATE:

With registration for the competition now closed, the CGA is happy to report that 29 schools have registered for the competition.  That could mean as many as 145 student entries in the state final!

An illustrious panel of eleven judges has stepped forward to evaluate and rank the student entries, so we are all set for an exciting competition.  Thank you to all of our volunteer judges!

Click here to see a map of schools registered for the competition.

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The California Geographic Alliance is hosting an exciting statewide mapping showcase and competition that encourages middle (4th-8th grade) and high school (9th-12th grade) students to harness the power of Geographic Information Systems and get connected with their state by producing an online map that focuses on stories, issues, or ideas that are important to them.

Registrations due March 15, 2017!

Go to the contest page for full details.

Thanks to the Northern California URISA Chapter and the California Geographic Information Association for their generous support of this effort!

Meet the competition judges

Amazing lineup of geography sessions and workshops planned for CCSS conference in Sacramento

Planning on attending the California Council for the Social Studies Conference in Sacramento, March 3-5?

The CGA is proud to be a Silver Sponsor of the conference, and we are even more excited to be sponsoring an amazing array of sessions and workshops. Come visit the booth in the exhibit hall to learn about the latest resources and see some incredible maps, and please check out these great sessions.

FRIDAY

10a – 6p
Exhibit Hall: Explore CGA Resources and the Historic Map Gallery

1:00-2:00p
Session: Human Geography with a Global Studies Lens…for Everyone!
Presenters: Kelly León, Joel Rodriguez (Room: Feather River)
Sweetwater Union High School District curriculum specialists will present the new Human Geography course for all ninth graders in the district. Goals of the course, district-wide implementation and training, instructional guides, & formative assessments will be examined. Come find out what 21st Century geography is all about and how to implement it at the district and classroom level.

Strand(s): HS Gen 21st Century Geography

3:30-4:30p
Session: Beyond 13: The enduring legacy of North America’s Spanish colonies.
Presenter: Mimi Coughlin (Room: Feather River)
This session offers a counter-narrative to “British centric” U.S. history that is taught as a progression of people and ideas that move from east to west across the continent. Spanish colonization, especially efforts to settle California, will be considered. Influences on America culture that progressed north from Mexico to the U.S. will be presented through inquiry-based teaching resources.

Strand(s): MS HS Gen Ethnic Studies History Geography

SATURDAY

 9a – 4p
Exhibit Hall: Explore CGA Resources and the Historic Map Gallery

 9:00-11:15a
Workshop: Become a National Geographic Certified Educator
Presenters: Mary Janzen, Thomas Herman (Room: El Camino)
This workshop will introduce K-12 educators to the National Geographic Teacher Certification Program. By attending, you will complete Phase1 of the process, and you will learn the steps through which you can become certified and become part of an exciting and rapidly growing educator community and get preferred access to unique opportunities, such as connecting your classroom to National Geographic explorers.

Strand(s): EL MS HS 21st Century Blended Learning History Geography

1:00-3:15p
Workshop: Geo-Quest: Embracing New Technologies and the New Framework to Deepen Engagement and Learning
Presenter: Thomas Herman (Room: California 4)
Geo-Quest is an initiative of the California Geographic Alliance that provides students at all grade levels with the tools and scaffolding needed for in-depth learning and critical thinking. By examining topics from all social studies disciplines in geographic context, students become active, geo-literate, and knowledgeable citizens who can develop solutions to contemporary problems and succeed in college, career and civic life.

Strand(s): EL MS HS Gen PBL 21st Century History Geography Economics Civics

2:15-4:30p
Workshop: Get Your Feet on the California Giant Traveling Map
Presenters: Joshua Bess, Amanda Marcus (Room: Maxi’s)
This session will introduce teachers to the California Geographic Alliance’s brand new Giant Traveling Map and a set of engaging, standards-based learning activities for third and fourth grades.

Strand(s): EL 21st Century History Geography

3:30-4:30p
Session: Teaching 21st Century Geography and Global Education
Presenters:  Emily Schell, Stacey Greer, Thomas Herman (Room: California 3)
What is contemporary geography and global competence? What are the most effective and engaging ways to teach these standards-based concepts and skills? Teacher Leaders in the Sacramento region are engaged in a year-long professional inquiry project to explore and implement answers to these questions. Come learn about our project findings and share your insights and experiences with project leaders.

Strand(s): Gen PBL 21st Century Blended Learning History Geography Civics

SUNDAY

 8:00-9:00a
Session: Using web-based mapping tools to enhance spatial thinking
Presenters: Greg Sloan and Robin Herrnberger (Room: Garden)
Make use of free web-based technology to have students interact and create geospatial presentations of data. Attendees will learn how to access ArcGIS Online for themselves and their school, learn about existing lessons, and how using spatial thinking can enhance the relevance and experience of data and mapping projects in the classroom.

Strand(s): MS HS PBL 21st Century History Geography

CGA Supports GIS Day Event at CDE

On November 15, the topic of the day at the California Department of Education was Geographic Information Science.  More specifically, an internal event organized by CDE staff encouraged staff from a number of different departments within CDE to explore the potential of GIS as a tool in education.

The event had three components aimed at engaging the audience of education professionals.  CGA Director Tom Herman and CGA Geospatial Technology Coordinator Dr. Ming-Hsiang Tsou joined Dr. Hugh Howard (American River College) and a GIS Specialist for the Army Corps of Engineers on an expert panel.  A highlight of the day was hearing from a group from the Math Science & Technology Magnet Academy at Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights. roosevelt-high-students-at-2016-gis-dayThe students attended with their outstanding English teacher, Alice Im, and presented their work examining relationships between school segregation and graduation rates and exploring environmental racism by comparing the health problems and government responses related to the Porter Ranch gas leak and the Exide Technologies toxic contamination case in Vernon.  The CGA also hosted an informational table with our friends from The History Project at UC Davis to share GeoInquiries and how we are helping educators to engage their students in geographic inquiry using GIS.

One important message from the day was that GIS provided powerful tools for managing resources and making decisions in complex environments, but the value of GIS is unlocked by human understanding.  People still need to be able to ask good questions, and this means geography education is foundational and must be strengthened if we are to fully benefit from the potential of GIS in education and society.

The CGA was thrilled to be able to support this event, and we look forward to more exciting developments coming out of the State Department of Education regarding geography.

California Giant Traveling Map Available for 2017!

The Network of Alliances for Geographic Education has an exciting new national initiative for 2017: the State Giant Traveling Map Program.  At least two giant maps of California (17 x 21 feet, so not as large as the giant continent maps) will be circulating the state beginning in January.  The maps are specifically designed for use by 3rd and 4th grade students, and they come with lesson plans designed by National Geographic and tied to standards for those grades.

Three teachers from California went to Denver, Colorado this past summer to receive training from National Geographic staff.  They have also developed lesson plans specific to our state standards, which they have begun piloting with teachers and students.  The CGA wants to thank Stephanie Buttell-Maxin, Mandi Marcus, and Josh Bess for their support of the National Initiative in California.  We will all benefit from their thoughtful leadership.

Interested in getting the California Giant Traveling Map to your school?  Click on this link to provide your name, school details, and contact info: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/6WJM6HP and someone will be in touch with you soon.

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GEEO Helps Educators Make International Travel Part of Professional Development!

At the CGA, we see geographic knowledge and skills and global citizenship as intertwined and mutually supportive. Therefore, we encourage educators to use travel as part of an individualized professional development strategy. We are happy to share the following information from GEEO, a unique non-profit organization designed to serve educators and offering a fabulous range of travel experiences at reasonable cost.

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 will talk about these trips all year in my classes. For so many of my students, my description of my travels will be the only exposure they will have to other countries and other ways of life.” -Teacher Michael Baldwin, who’s first time traveling abroad was with GEEO.

Travel the world, earn professional development credit, and bring global understanding into your classroom!

Founded in 2007, Global Exploration for Educators Organization (GEEO) is a 501c3 non-profit organization that has sent over 1600 teachers abroad on adventurous travel programs. With GEEO educators can earn professional development credits and optional graduate credit while seeing the world. GEEO’s trips are 7 to 21 days in length and are designed and discounted to be interesting and affordable for teachers. In addition to amazing tour leaders, many of the programs are accompanied by university faculty that are experts on the destination. GEEO also provides teachers educational materials and the structure to help them bring their experiences into the classroom. The trips are open to all nationalities of K-12 and university educators, administrators, retired educators, as well as educators’ guests. The deposit is $250 for each program and then the final payment is due 60 days before departure.

GEEO is offering the following travel programs for 2017: Bali/Lombok, Bangkok to Hanoi, China, Costa Rica, Eastern Europe, The Galapagos Islands, Greece, Iceland, India/Nepal, Bhutan, Ireland, Armenia/Georgia, Italy, Multi-Stan, Antarctica, Morocco, Myanmar (Burma), Peruvian Amazon, Peruvian Andes, Southern Africa, Vietnam/Cambodia, Balkans and, a Mt. Kilimanjaro climb. Detailed information about each trip, including itineraries, costs, travel dates, and more can be found at www.geeo.org. GEEO can be reached 7 days a week, toll-free at 1-877-600-0105 between 9 AM-9 PM EST.

Support the AAG’s Proposal for a New Advanced Placement course in Geographic Information Science & Technology

CGA members who are US high school teachers, here is a chance to help connect high school educational programs to real-world work skills and career opportunities in a new way…

Support the AAG’s Proposal for a New Advanced Placement course in Geographic Information Science & Technology

With support from the Geography Education National Implementation Project (GENIP), the American Association of Geographers (AAG) has developed a proposal for a new Advanced Placement course inGeographic Information Science and Technology (AP GIS&T).

All U.S. high schools, colleges, and universities are invited to review the proposal by visiting www.apgist.org.

AP GIS&T is designed to introduce high school students to the fundamentals of geographic information science and applications of powerful geospatial technologies for spatial analysis and problem solving. Together with AP Human Geography, AP GIS&T offers an opportunity to engage students in outstanding geographic learning experiences and promote awareness of the many college and career opportunities available in the discipline.

The AP GIS&T course proposal has attracted broad support from prominent scientific and educational organizations, as well as major technology employers such as Google.

For AP GIS&T to become a reality, the AAG needs to collect attestations from 250 U.S. high schools that confirm they have the interest and capacity to offer the course. Similar assurances are needed from 100 colleges and universities that they would be willing to offer some form of credit to students who demonstrate proficiency on the AP GIS&T exam.

The AAG invites high school principals and academic department chairpersons to consider adding their institution to the list of AP GIS&T supporters by completing the brief attestation form at www.apgist.org. The AAG’s goal is to complete the attestation process by October 1, 2016.

Have questions about AP GIS&T? Contact the AAG at ap_gist@aag.org.

Superintendent Torlakson Announces Approval of History–Social Science Framework

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced on July 14 that the State Board of Education voted to approve the History–Social Science Framework for California Public Schools, which will update and upgrade history and social science instruction in California.  This is great news that has been a long-time in coming.  It is important to note that NO CHANGE has been made to the state’s History-Social Science Standards.  Our friends at the California History-Social Science Project explain that and other important points about the new framework and what it means here:

What You Need to Know About California’s New History-Social Science Framework

And while a properly formatted and printed version of the framework is not yet available, you can access the full contents of the document here:

2016 History-Social Science Framework

We are excited about building our PD programs around the framework and look forward to a future revision of the standards.