Encountering California Biodiversity Close to Home

California has pledged to make all students environmentally and climate change literate. Outdoor education, fieldwork, and deeper connections with place need to be built into K-12 education to make that happen.

As part of this year’s recognition of California Biodiversity Day (September 7, 2020), the California Geographic Alliance is organizing students across the state to become Biodiversity Explorers and Mappers. In the interest of developing environmental literacy and stewardship in all young people, this will be an opportunity for close observation and appreciation of the amazing diversity of organisms present in our state, which is a global biodiversity hotspot. Using the citizen science platform iNaturalist, students will document plants, animals, insects, and other organisms that they observe in their yards, school grounds, or local parks and open spaces. In addition to the individual observations contributing to science, the collective efforts of students will be shared in a unique map using online mapping software (ArcGIS Online) that is freely available to all schools.

Optional informational webinar on 9/3 at 3:45 p.m.

Project links:
iNaturalist project page (and umbrella project for California Biodiversity Day 2020)
Media release
Instructions for participating
Flyer for project and 9/3 webinar
California biodiversity collage

POSTPONED – California Geography Education Conference at SDSU (new date TBD)

Due to the ongoing campus closure, this event had to be postponed until the 2020-21 school year.  Please check back for more information and a new date.

The California Geographic Alliance is proud to be hosting the 1st California Geography Education Conference at San Diego State University on May 1-2, 2020.  K-12 teachers of all subjects are encouraged to attend and participate in professional learning field studies, workshops, and lectures.

The conference will kickoff on the 1st with an afternoon plenary session featuring Dr. Alexander B. Murphy speaking about “Coping with a Fast-Changing World: Why Geography Matters,” followed by a reception. Saturday the 2nd will feature a full day of professional learning sessions focused on helping all students develop geographic knowledge.  Teachers (all grade levels and subjects), informal educators, pre-service teachers, and advocates of geographic, environmental, and global literacy are encouraged to attend.

  • Registration is $35, $20 for current students and unwaged workers.  Register now ahttps://tinyurl.com/CAGeoEd2020.  
  • Interested in leading a session to share your instructional experience, strategies, or resources related to geographic learning?  You can indicate that on the registration form.  We are interested in hearing from you! 

Graphic image promoting First California Geography Education Conference.

Teaching with Geospatial Technology

Since 2017, the CGA has enjoyed an excellent partnership with Dr. Katsuhiko Oda of the Spatial Sciences Institute at University of Southern California.  Dr. Oda has been successful is securing funds to support research on the effectiveness of professional development focused on geospatial technology, and this creates opportunities to provide high quality professional development to California’s teachers.  CGA’s experience providing PD matches perfectly with Dr. Oda’s research and teaching interests.  Work carried out during the 2017-18 school year was presented at the GIS-Pro / CalGIS Conference in Fall 2018.  This year, a grant from Esri, the world’s leading provider of GIS software, provided support for further work.

Photo shows Dr. Katsuhiko Oda at front of room giving presentation to a group of teachers.
Dr. Katsuhiko “Kirk” Oda leads Teaching with geospatial Technology workshop at USC on July 16, 2019.
Four teachers work on computers while sitting at a table.
Participants in the workshop got comfortable with geospatial technology so they could integrate into instruction for a variety of subjects and grade levels.

In July 2019, two 3-day workshops were held – one at USC and one at SDSU.   Teachers from a variety of grade levels and subject areas attended and learned about using ArcGIS Online in their instruction.   They explored GeoInquiries and learned to customize the inquiries as well as the maps.  They learned to collect their own data using Survey123 and to integrate is with other data in a web map, and they learned to create StoryMaps using the latest template released by Esri just this summer.  They also got advice from teachers Stu Woodward and Nickte Mendez, participants in the 2018 workshops who shared their experiences teaching with geospatial technology.  A total of 27 educators attended the workshops, with 25 earning certificated of completion after participating in all 3 days’ instruction.  The CGA would like to thank Dr. Oda as well as Sheryl Hasegawa (awesome volunteer  who coordinated workshops), teachers Stu Woodward and Nickte Mendez, Julie Goldsworth (CSU Fullerton grad student and volunteer tutor for SDSU workshop),  and Angel Yin and Alex Muñoz (USC students and volunteer tutors for USC workshop).

Photo shows teachers who attended workshop at USC posing as a group with instructors.
Teachers who attended the 3-day workshop at USC pose for group photo with instructors Herman and Oda.
Photo shows teachers who attended workshop at SDSU posing as a group with instructors.
Educators who attended the 3-day workshop at SDSU pose with instructors Herman and Oda.

Announcing the Winners of 2019 My California Student Mapping Competition

The California Geographic Alliance is pleased to announce the winners of the 3rd annual “My California GIS Mapping Showcase and Competition”. This exciting statewide opportunity encourages middle (4th-8th grade) and high school (9th-12th grade) students to harness the power of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and get connected with their state by producing an online map that focuseson stories, issues, or ideas that are important to them.

A panel of expert judges selected five state finalists in each category.  One outstanding project in each category will advance to a national competition, with the national winners announced on June 3rd.  Esri, an international supplier of geographic information system software headquartered in Redlands, California is the organizer of the national competition.

Working in teams of two or independently, students created projects on topics of their own choosing.  They looked at the history and landscapes of the state but some also took on pollution, food access, digital literacy, crime and punishment, drought resilience, disease transmission, and the impact of devastating wildfires in the state.  Some issues had special significance to youth: equitable access to skateboarding opportunities and changes in participation in high school football.  All projects referenced below are accessible for viewing online.

  • Finalists, Grades 4-8:
    • Winners (advance to national competition): Xavier R. Muñoz and Isaiah Thao, James Rutter Middle School, Sacramento: “Tubbs Fire” (https://bit.ly/2G8Xu5H)
      ***UPDATE: This project was selected as national runner-up***
    • Stanley Vang and Akire Xiong, James Rutter Middle School, Sacramento: “Deer Creek Hills and the Gold Rush” (https://bit.ly/2GkxPbq)
    • Nathalia Magdaleno and Viet Truong, James Rutter Middle School, Sacramento: “Digital Literacy in Sacramento County” (https://bit.ly/2G8YvuD)
    • Marian Torres and Cody Nguyen , Los Coyotes Middle School, La Mirada: “Crime in Compton” (https://bit.ly/2V4Vxgm)
    • Jose Coronado, James Rutter Middle School, Sacramento: “Camp Fire” (https://bit.ly/2VHb7zA)
  • Finalists, Grades 9-12:
    • Winners (advance to national competition): Paul Kim and Serli Khanbabael, Clark Magnet High School, La Crescenta: “Heavy Metals Sediment Analysis Between LA Harbor and LA River” (http://arcg.is/qKm5b)
    • Evelyn Torres and Irma Mateo, Godinez Fundamental High School, Santa Ana: “Skate Equity for Santa Ana Youth” (http://bit.ly/YASCSkateCampaignKW)
    • Guadalupe Barrera and Luis Ruvalcaba, Godinez Fundamental High School, Santa Ana: “The Reality of Food Access in Santa Ana” (http://bit.ly/KWSAHNAFoodAccess)
    • Adam Kaplan, Clark Magnet High School, La Crescenta: “California Drought and Snowpack” (https://arcg.is/0nSXee)
    • Robert Yetter and Omar Mora, Bonita Vista High School, Chula Vista: “What Led to the Hepatitis A Outbreak in Downtown San Diego?” (https://arcg.is/0aLbP)

3 Fun Ways to Accelerate Geographic Learning for Your Students

The 2018-19 school year has barely started, yet here come the holidays, ready or not!  We hope it has a wonderful Fall of geographic learning and exploring for educators, students, and all residents of California.  The CGA continues to be the one organization in the state focused on promoting and supporting geography education in K-12 schools as well as in after school and informal learning settings.  This update is a quick orientation to opportunities for schools, students, and educator, and we have partnership news to share as well, so please read on.

Join 10,000 Schools and Participate in this Year’s National Geographic GeoBee!
Organizing a GeoBee at your school can be a fun way to promote geographic awareness and a global mindset.  Registration for the 2018-2019 school year is now open. Any paid school employee can register their school for the National Geographic GeoBee. The registration fee is $120. Schools needing financial support can complete a Registration Discount Request form. Read the full list of rules here.

Team-based Problem Solving is at the Heart of the GeoChallenge Competition
The GeoChallenge is an annual themed and standards-based competition from the National Geographic Society for students in grades five through eight across the United States.  Students form teams—between four and six people—and respond to a problem, challenge, or critical issue by using research, collaboration, creativity, and communication to create and present real-world solutions, just like National Geographic Explorers. Teams with the best projects can advance to the regional and national levels.  Participants must register to receive the program materials. Registration is now live!

 My California GIS Mapping Showcase and Competition
The California Geographic Alliance is pleased to announce the 3rd annual “My California GIS Mapping Showcase and Competition”. This exciting statewide opportunity 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.  For complete information on this contest, see our contest page.

Geography and the H-SS Framework

CGA is Participating in the Statewide Community of Practice for the Content, Literacy, Inquiry, and Citizenship (CLIC) Project (AKA H-SS Framework Rollout 2.0)

As part of the first day of the proceeding, CGA Director Tom Herman gave a short presentation on content knowledge in geography.  To access the slides used in the presentation, click here.  Please consider including geography and the CGA in Regional Communities of Practice and district Professional Development plans.

Sweetwater Union High School District Uses World Geography and Global Issues Course as Launching Pad for Civic Action

The CGA has an ongoing partnership with SUHSD and ISTEPCalifornia Global Education Project to support the district’s World Geography and Global Issues Course and use it to develop new and innovative ideas for inquiry-based instruction and student engagement.  The course has incorporated a year-ending action research project, and this year the work of students was showcased in the first ever Student Conference/Showcase on Issues of Personal, Local, & Global Significance.  The event was the brainchild of teachers Kelly Leon and Gina Vattuone, and both the CGA and CGEP stepped forward to help secure speakers, provide refreshments, and offer critical feedback to the students presenting their research.

Photo shows students gathered out front of San Ysidro High School as they check in for the student conference.
Excited students gather at San Ysidro High School early on Saturday morning.
Sign welcomes people to Sweetwater School District's First Student Conference on Issues of Personal, Local, & Global Significance at San Ysidro High School on May 12, 2018.
Event sign reflects district’s partnership with CGA and ISTEP/CGEP.

Early Saturday morning on May 12, San Ysidro High was buzzing with students setting up displays at tables placed around campus.  Parent volunteers and teachers worked diligently to check-in students and guest speakers at the registration table, answer setup questions, and keep refreshment tables supplied with juice, coffee, fruits, and danish.  It was clear that something exciting was happening, with over 300 students connected to 60+ displays of research focused on issues identified as a concern by students in the freshman Geography and English courses at several district campuses schools.  One school even brought dozens of eggs to distribute as part of their school effort to address community hunger while moving toward a zero waste campus.

San Diego State University’s Chief Diversity Officer Aaron Bruce opened the day with a rousing spoken word performance that had the packed auditorium roaring.  After his words of wisdom and encouragement, students chose from a variety of informative workshops to attend before reconvening to present and discuss their work with others in attendance.  CGA Director Tom Herman served as judge and  often had to break into lively discussions among students to ask his own questions about the projects.  In the gathering to end the day, with Superintendent Dr. Karen Janney in attendance, sixteen students’ projects were recognized for excellence, but all of the students were congratulated on their ideas and efforts to take on important issues.  Congratulations to the teachers and students of Sweetwater for outstanding work and exemplary global awareness!

KPBS Education Reporter Megan Burks attended the event and did a story about modern civics education.  Check out the 5 minute vdeo segment here:  http://www.kpbs.org/news/2018/jun/04/sweetwater-embraces-move-textbook-civics-civic-eng/

Announcing the Winners of the My California GIS Mapping Showcase and Competition for 2018

For the second year, the CGA has coordinated a statewide GIS mapping competition for 4th through 12th grade students.  The state competition is part of the Esri ArcGIS Online Competition for US High Schools and Middle Schools.  Esri provides $1,000 in prize money for 10 student projects, and the competition in California is also generously supported by the California Geographic Information Association (CGIA).  The contest is ably and enthusiastically coordinated by Dr. Waverly Ray, Associate Professor of Geography at San Diego Mesa College.  CGA is very appreciative of Dr. Ray’s leadership on this effort, and we also thank Head Judge Dr. Ming-Hsiang Tsou and all of the volunteers who served as mentors and judges. 

Altogether, our second year of the competition was a success in that we received high quality submissions and are able to advance excellent projects to the national competition.  We are still working on building participation, however, and we look to greatly increasing the number of schools and students participating in future years.  This is a great chance for students to get recognition and a little bit of prize money for doing outstanding work in a field leading to many college and career options.

Now without further ado, let’s meet the students who submitted the most outstanding projects this year.  Click on the title of any project to view the Story Map project.

4th-8th grade division:

1st place (will advance to the national competition):
Jessica Huynh and Sorina Ngin, The Impacts of the Homeless on the American River Parkway
James Rutter Middle School, Sacramento (Teacher/Project Mentor: Karen Sanko)

2nd place:
Shounak Ray Chaudhuri and Gurshawn Boparai, Ten Endangered Animals of California
Morning Creek Elementary School, Poway (Teacher/Project Mentor: Soumya Chennapragada)

3rd place:
Theodore Saechao, The Change of Student Population in Elk Grove Schools
James Rutter Middle School, Sacramento (Teacher/Project Mentor: Karen Sanko)

4th place:
Emma Ruud, LGBT Pride Parades
Rancho Cucamonga Middle School, Rancho Cucamonga (Teacher/Project Mentor: Jill Schwartz)

5th place:
Hamza Jaleel and Clay Ballard, California in the Civil War
Holmes Junior High School, Davis (Teacher/Project Mentor: Anna Amsler)

Honorable Mention:
Owen Michaels, The Husky
Vinewood Elementary School, Lodi (Teacher/Project Mentor: Nicole Dickinson)
Mihir Konkapaka, Junior Ranger Programs in California
Morning Creek Elementary School, Poway (Teacher/Project Mentor: Soumya Chennapragada)

 

9th-12th grade division:

1st place (will advance to the national competition):
Emily Woods and Sangam Sharma, A Sprinkle in Time @ Clark
Clark Magnet
High School, La Crescenta (Teacher/Project Mentor: Dominique Evans-Bye)

2nd place:
Marcello Vazquez, Glendale Crime Data
Clark Magnet
High School, La Crescenta (Teacher/Project Mentor: Dominique Evans-Bye)

3rd place:
Gillian Lowe, California’s Fires at the End of 2017
Clark Magnet
High School, La Crescenta (Teacher/Project Mentor: Dominique Evans-Bye)

4th place:
Anna Fedderen, Oroville Story: Before and After
Clark Magnet
High School, La Crescenta (Teacher/Project Mentor: Dominique Evans-Bye)

5th place:
Justice Gardner, OUSD Schools Field Study: Equity and Environmental Justice
Bishop O’Dowd High School, Oakland (Teacher/Project Mentor: Sarah Bremer)

Honorable Mention:
Abigail Pagila, Alameda Boba Shops
Bishop O’Dowd High School, Oakland (Teacher/Project Mentor: Sarah Bremer)

Perceptions & Knowledge of Geography on an American College Campus

As part of an upper-division Qualitative Research Methods in Geography class at San Diego State University in Fall 2017, students  under the guidance of Dr. Kate Swanson researched, surveyed and interviewed geography majors and future social studies teachers to measure students’ basic geographic knowledge and determine how they perceive geography’s value as a discipline.   In releasing the report Perceptions & Knowledge of Geography on an American College Campus, Dr. Swanson wrote the following:
“To our surprise, we discovered that interest in and enthusiasm for geography education is high. As stated by one of our interviewees, ‘I just wish that as a teacher, I would have more understanding of geography.’ In our report, we suggest that there may be a window of opportunity to expand geography education, particularly in K-12 schools.
In the report, we present our findings, along with a series of recommendations for incorporating more geography into our educational curriculum. Our main recommendations are as follows:
– Actively promote geography’s interdisciplinary approach as a strength;
– Promote more study abroad opportunities in geography;
– Host more geography awareness events;
– Create a university level ‘Geography for Educators’ course;
– Support moves to bring geography and geospatial technologies into K-12 schools;
– Rebrand geography by highlighting its relevance to today’s global problems;
– Promote tools and technologies that enhance geographic education and spatial learning;
Given our findings, we believe that teacher education in geography is especially important. American teachers recognize the value of our discipline, yet they have little experience with geography education.
Please feel free to share this report widely. I want to reiterate that this report was researched, written and designed by seniors at SDSU!”

California Geographic Information Association Again Sponsoring My California GIS Mapping Exhibition and Competition

The CGA is pleased to announce that the California Geographic Information Association (CGIA) is once again sponsoring our statewide GIS mapping competition for students in Grades 4-12.  The CGIA came forward to support our inaugural effort last year, and we are very pleased that they will continue to provide support for the contest by donating funds that help us to provide incentives and support for the schools that register for the contest.

CGIA is a non-profit, statewide association formed in 1994 to facilitate coordination, collaboration, and advocacy for California’s Geographic Information System (GIS) community. CGIA promotes the creation and maintenance of the best practices in the governance and application of geographic information within the State of California that can become a model for the nation.

Read more about this year’s My California GIS Mapping Exhibition and Competition here.