Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

colorado-teachers

 

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.

balkansdrbuvnik_kyle_taylor-_kyle_taylor_dream_it-_do_it_banner_with_credit

 

 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.

California State Geographic Bee to be Held Friday April 1 at Fresno State University

It is that time of year again!  Hundreds of school level bees occurred throughout the state from November to January, with a winner being crowned at each school.  Now the top 105 school winners have been selected by the National Geographic Society and invited to take their talents to Fresno to see if they can emerge on top of a very intense competition.

The competition will begin at 8 am on Friday, April 1 at the Satellite Student Union on the Fresno State campus.  Once the preliminary rounds have been completed, the general public is welcome to come and watch the final and championship rounds, which will begin around 11 am.

State Bee Coordinator Sean Boyd, of the Fresno State Geography Department, was recently interviewed on the Central Valley Today television news program, and you can view that segment here:

Sean Boyd from CVT 2016

And a group of Mass Communication/Journalism students at Fresno State created a theatrical trailer for the Bee, which you can also view:

GeoBee Trailer

Good luck to all 105 competitors and congratulations to the thousands of students who participated in bees held at their school sites.

Semifinalists Get Ready for the California State Geography Bee – Friday, March 27 at CSU Fresno

On Friday, March 27, the top 110 qualifiers from among all winners of school-level geography bees will convene in Fresno to compete for the state geography bee championship.  The event will take place on the campus of CSU Fresno and will be hosted by State Bee Coordinator Sean Boyd.

Two-time top three finisher Rhea Mitr is one of many standouts among the participants in the geography bee.  Rhea was one of 28 students who got a perfect score on the state bee qualifying exam last year.  Rhea was interviewed by the Fresno Bee and urged other students, especially girls, to participate in the Geography Bee as a means to become a better-rounded citizen of today’s global world. She went on to say that “the Geography Bee is [about] knowing all about the world we live in. It is not just limited to continents, countries, capitals, currencies etc. It is about having an in-depth knowledge in several other things as well – earth and physical sciences, monuments, wonders of the world (man-made and natural), history, events in the news, disasters, human geography comprising of habitats, culture, religion, language, ethnicity, etc.”

National Geographic has released a complete list of all semifinalists who have qualified to compete at their state bees, and you can see the list here.  Local media reports from across the state have begun to report on the successes of their local students who are headed to the state bee.  Here are some links you can follow to get to know a few of the competitors:

Semifinalist Rhea Mitr, Quarry Lane School
Semifinalist Sydney Gamble, North Creek Academy
S
emifinalist Alex Topp, Vaca Pena Middle School
Semifinalist Tobey Shim, The Bishop’s School
Semifinalist Max Bhatti, Longden Elementary School

If you know of any other local media reports about school bees or state bee competitors, please send links to cga@geography.sdsu.edu.

 

Bringing Insights of Geographic Research to Geography Education Practice

Greetings from the Alliance Network Annual Meeting at National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, DC.  We are hearing about changes in the way in which the Alliance network is organized and supported, and in the coming months there will be news to share about new initiatives and new activities, and we think there will be some things you can get excited about and use to get students engaged in learning.  More on that to come, but for now we want to share something that is a little bit outside the box of our usual Alliance work, but still very related.

Many of you may not know that the CGA team at San Diego State – in particular Stuart Aitken, Thomas Herman, and Kate Swanson – are also involved in conducting geographic research on the geographies of children, youth, and families.  The concept of “geographies of children and youth” may be new to you, but because most of you work with children and youth on a daily basis, you will find it a familiar topic.  It is an interdisciplinary field including education, environmental design, and sociology researchers who share an interest in places and spatial relationships.  They examine the ways in which adults make space for children, youth, and families (playgrounds and suburban neighborhood design are simple examples). They are also interested in ways in which children and youth interact with and modify their environments (think about the old Family Circle cartoon that shows how the child who says she came straight home from school actually took a circuitous route throughout the entire neighborhood or the way kids tend to gravitate to forts and treehouses away from adults’ spaces).  This field has grown significantly over the past 20 years, as is reflected in academic journals and in the number of disciplines who are using geographic thinking to examine the lives and well-being of children, youth and families.

In January, we hosted the 4th International Conference on the Geographies of Children, Youth, and Families in San Diego.  Over 160 researchers from 32 countries attended the conference, and they presented a wide range of ideas and evidence about what is happening in the lives of children and young people.  If you are interested in learning more about the conference, you can check out the conference web site at: http://icgcsandiego.wix.com/ypbw or the ISYS Center web site at http://geography.sdsu.edu/Research/Projects/ISYS/.

One big takeaway message for us as Alliance leaders and for all geography educators is this:  Valuing the perspectives, concerns, experiences and voices of youth with regard to issues such as life in their community, what it means to be a Californian or an American, and how do we conserve our global environment will create incredible motivation for students to accumulate geographic knowledge and activate geographic thinking.  You already know that, probably, but it is helpful to have an occasional reminder and some encouragement.  We have lots of things to teach, some grounded in standards and some grounded in personal values, but we would encourage you to make sure that on a regular basis you are giving students an opportunity to exercise their voices, analyze their environments from their own perspectives and the perspectives of others, and express their ideas for a brighter future.

An example of this came from a plenary speaker at the conference.  Professor Katharyne Mitchell from the University of Washington gave a talk entitled “Counter-mapping with Children.” She taught students about the fact that maps reflect one view on a place, and that they reflect power relations and, often, official designations.  They leave out some features and labels to make room for others that the mapmaker thinks are important to show on the map.  Maps can therefore exclude the perspectives of minority groups or of people who do not possess official power and status (i.e., children).  Dr. Mitchell then worked with the children to examine the perspectives of specific groups in the Seattle area where she works.  The students focused on the perspectives of women, Asian-Americans, and African Americans and produced alternative maps for the city that elevated those perspectives.  The activity built social and historic knowledge of the students while also engendering empathy and, wait for it…..geographic knowledge, skills, and ways of thinking!  Sounds great, right?  Only a shame she is not in California.  However, immediately after the talk we had a chance to learn that Dr. Nancy Erbstein at the University of California-Davis is doing very similar work in California.  A new collaboration is hopefully emerging from that conversation so we can share Dr. Erbstein’s work (and methods) with all of you.  But you don’t need to wait.  Have your students map their community.  Have them look at maps of their home area and talk about what is shown on the map.  Have them talk to others in the community about the places that are significant to them and check to see if they are shown on the maps you can access.  Have them produce alternative maps that do reflect these features.  It will be fun and relevant and it will build geographic knowledge and skills.  It will hopefully also tap into their natural curiosity and lead to lifelong learning.

Programs and Projects of the CGA in 2015…and Beyond!

Hello CGA members and friends. This month I wanted to provide a few updates to let you know what is happening within the CGA and what you can look forward to in the near future. But before I get into the news, I want to remind everyone reading this that the SDSU leadership team is really hoping to continue learning about all the things that are happening around the state and all the great people who are working to create opportunities for students of all ages to become geo-literate and to learn to love geography. Please feel free to get in touch with me directly at cga@geography.sdsu.edu if you have any questions, want to share something that is happening in your school or district, or just want to introduce yourself. It would be great to get reports from “the field” that we could share in this newsletter, on our website, or on our Facebook page.

Visit with the CGA at the CCSS Conference in Oakland in March
The CGA will be well-represented at this year’s California Council for the Social Studies Conference in Oakland on March 6-8. We will have an exhibitor booth to distribute maps and other materials and introduce people to the educational resources on calgeography.sdsu.edu. If you are knowledgeable about the CGA and would like to volunteer some time at the booth, we can provide free registration for up to 3 Teacher Consultants/Teacher Leaders who will commit time to enthusiastically represent the CGA. Please contact me to express your interest.

There are at least two CGA-based sessions on the conference program that you may want to attend or recommend to a colleague. I suspect there are other presentations being given by CGA members, so please share the information on any relevant sessions so we can promote them. For now, here are two I would like to promote:
> Friday, March 6th at 2:24 – 3:45 PM – “Geo-Literacy: Engaging Students in Spatial Thinking”
> Saturday, March 7th at 2:24 – 3:45 PM – “21st Century Learning + Online Tools= Next Generation”

What Kind of Professional Development Do You Wish CGA Offered?
The CGA has been focused on professional development supporting use of our awesome print atlas, California: Our Changing State. The atlas is a great resource, and the PD workshops have been wonderful, but this means we have been very focused on 4th grade teachers. We are thinking about ways to greatly expand our offerings across grade levels and subject areas, which leads me to pose a question to you all.

If you could put one topic on our wish list for future PD workshops, what would it be? You can send your suggestions to me, or better yet, post them to our Facebook page so everyone can see your idea!

Geo-Quest: A Broad Vision for the CGA and for Geography Education
Many of you will be aware of our efforts to move toward a next generation atlas that takes advantage of new technologies to incorporate expanded topical coverage, a high level of interactivity, and embedded content that helps teachers address standards and also meet the expectations of Common Core. This project gets us very excited, and our vision has been taking shape over months. It now has a new name: Geo-Quest: California’s Education Portal.

The Geo-Quest project is an innovative approach to enhancing student understanding in the fields of history-social science, physical sciences, and other content areas at multiple scales. It is also a direct response to calls for greater civic responsibility and leadership development. As argued in the C3 Framework, “Now more than ever, students need the intellectual power to recognize societal problems; ask good questions and develop robust investigations into them; consider possible solutions and consequences; separate evidence-based claims from parochial opinions; and communicate and act upon what they learn” (NCSS, 2013, pg. 6).

Geo-Quest will provide young people with the tools and scaffolding needed for in-depth learning and will foster critical thinking through independent and project-based investigations into important social and environmental issues. Providing students with these tools is crucial in order to help them become active, geo-literate, and knowledgeable citizens who succeed in college, career and civic life.

geoquest

As the world becomes more interconnected through globalization, geography education and geo-technologies can help students make sense of rapid global change. Understanding how spatial relationships link communities can help students appreciate intricate – and often unexpected – connections between themselves and distant places across the state, nation, and globe. This knowledge can foster more in-depth understanding on how people live – socially, culturally and environmentally. Ecological relationships are also critical to geographic education; understanding ecological interdependencies can help illuminate how human actions shape environmental change (c.f., Heffron and Downs, 2012).

Using geo-technologies, we can map, record, analyze and communicate ecological and human population change over time. In states like California, where we are experiencing the worst drought in recorded history, visual and hands-on geo-technologies can help students comprehend the magnitude and impacts of this drought in a more profound way. Geo-Quest is important because it will help develop independent, critical thinkers who are technologically- and spatially-literate 21st century global citizens.

Geo-Quest represents the aspirations of the CGA to become a hub for critical thinking and young people’s leadership as well as geography education. As a portal, Geo-Quest defines a space within which teachers and students across the state can build geographic knowledge and skills, encounter issues and data sources, and interject their own ideas and analyses. In addition to supporting students in making their schoolwork relate directly to the challenges of the world in which they live, we think this approach will encourage collaborations with other entities in California, including geography departments at our colleges and universities.

You will be hearing more about Geo-Quest in the coming months and years. You will be able to watch it take shape on our website – even now, click on the Atlas 2.0 menu item to see some really cool things. CGA will provide professional development to assist teachers in using Geo-Quest in a variety of ways, and over time it will become a collaborative space where curated resources and user-friendly tools meet with the energy of educators, learners, storytellers, and problem-solvers.

Learning by doing: GIS, GPS and building a scavenger hunt (a model activity for after school)

Article by Kitty Currier, graduate student at UC-Santa Barbara [currier (at) geog.ucsb.edu]

(Editor’s note: The CGA thanks Ms. Currier for providing this excellent article and making the related resources available to our members. We welcome submissions from any CGA member or geography educator who would like to share a lesson plan or learning activity.)

Leather craft, archery, and sheep showmanship were activities I pursued as a youth member of the All-American 4-H Club of Fort Collins, Colorado. Rooted in an agrarian past, the youth development organization 4-H has since expanded its focus to include the STEM disciplines—science, technology, engineering, and math—in its mission to foster leadership, citizenship and life skills in children. “Maps and Apps” was the national 4-H science theme of 2013, recognizing that geospatial technology and reasoning skills are essential to many of today’s careers and approaches to solving problems.

To align with the “Maps and Apps” theme, members of UC Santa Barbara Geography’s Outreach Committee and the Center for Spatial Studies developed and delivered the workshop Building a UCSB Scavenger Hunt. Following the 4-H “learn by doing” approach, the workshop was designed to teach participants how to read and navigate with a map, use a GPS receiver to collect geospatial data, and visualize their data using Google Earth. Approximately thirteen 4-H members ages 9–16 participated in the workshop, which was held on three consecutive Saturdays on the UCSB campus.

Each day had a different focus, beginning with basic map reading and culminating in the final project—a scavenger hunt, designed and created by the participants, themselves. On Day 1, participants followed self-guided tours adapted from UCSB’s Interactive Campus Map (http://map.geog.ucsb.edu/). Day 2 was devoted to data collection, where participants selected and navigated to different locations on campus; recorded their latitude–longitude coordinates using a GPS receiver; devised trivia questions; and shot descriptive photographs. Participants synthesized their data on Day 3, when they were tasked to design their own scavenger hunt in pairs. Each pair developed their own design that included a map created in Google Earth, trivia questions, and photos, all assembled on two letter-sized pages.

Post-workshop feedback from the participants was positive. The highlight of each day was the activity session (i.e., map navigation, collecting data, and producing paper scavenger hunts), but from a teacher’s perspective, the discussion, presentations and individual writing time helped participants realize that they were learning skills in addition to having fun. An important component of the workshop was the paper scavenger hunt that each participant brought home on Day 3, which they could share with their families and friends as a product of their own making.

One challenge that we anticipated was the range in age (9–16) of the participants. We designed the workshop to require no prior knowledge of the material, but inevitably participants arrived with different levels of competence. The age range turned out not to be a problem, however. As members of the same 4-H club, the participants all knew each other, and the older participants were used to mentoring the younger ones. If this workshop were to be delivered to a group of participants who were not as comfortable working together, however, such a difference in ages might pose a greater challenge.

Following are guidelines, templates, and our “lessons learned” for anyone wishing to adapt and offer a similar activity. More complete information about each day’s activities, along with a comprehensive materials list, can be found in the included example files, noted in red.

Schedule, Locations & Example Files
Day 1: Introduction to Map Reading (lecture classroom & outside)
Day 1_outline
Day 1_UCSB campus map
Day 1_UCSB walking tour example
Day 2: Field Data Collection (lecture classroom, outside, & computer lab)
Day 2_outline
Day 2_gps
Day 2_photos
Day 2_questions
Day 3: Mapping with Google Earth & Creating a Scavenger Hunt (computer lab)
Day 3_outline
Day 3_google earth exploration
Day 3_plain UCSB basemap example
Day 3_scavenger hunt template

Personnel & Structure
Four graduate students developed and led the workshop, which was attended by 6–13 participants each day. On days 1 and 2 an additional one or two adults assisted with the outside activity. Each day was allotted three hours and consisted of (a) an introduction to the day’s topic, given by the leaders; (b) a hands-on activity, where the participants practiced a skill; and (c) reflection and writing about the day’s activities. The structure was partly dictated by the 4-H program’s emphasis on presentation and record-keeping skills.

Budget
Our total budget was approximately $150, the majority of which was used to purchase four secondhand digital cameras and storage media. We borrowed GPS receivers for the activity at no cost from the Department of Geography.

Lessons learned
> Use existing campus maps & tours as resources when possible (e.g., for Day 1 map-reading activity).
> Be ready with an activity for the start of each day to occupy participants who come early; inevitably, some participants will arrive late.
> Have on hand participants’ parent/guardian contact information and relevant medical history/needs.
> Be prepared for fluctuation in attendance, and ensure that your plan is flexible enough to accommodate participants who miss a day.

Group photo of 4-H members on UCSB campus
Figure 1. Day 1, ready to go! (Photo credit: Erin Wetherley)

Marcela teaches some map basics
Figure 2. Marcela teaches some map basics. (Photo credit: Erin Wetherley)

Participants study their GPS receivers
Figure 3. Participants study their GPS receivers. (Photo credit: Kitty Currier)

Participants explore Google Earth
Figure 4. Participants explore Google Earth. (Photo credit: Haiyun Ye)

Kitty, Susan, and participants inspect the final scavenger hunts
Figure 5. Kitty, Susan, and participants inspect the final scavenger hunts. (Photo credit: Haiyun Ye)

Three distinct approaches to scavenger hunt design
Figure 6. Three distinct approaches to scavenger hunt design.

Go to GeoCamp Iceland 2015 with the National Council for Geographic Education

The NCGE is a leader in providing professional development opportunities for teachers at all grade levels, and this may be one of the most attractive trips they’ve ever offered! You can click on the image below to get more information about the trip, but first you should know that CGA wants to help support teachers to take advantage of this exciting opportunity (and to bring exciting learning experiences for students all over the state). CGA can provide a scholarship of $250 to any teacher working at a school in CA who is selected for the trip, so send an email to cga (at) geography.sdsu.edu if you plan to apply. We will also cover the cost of attending the 2016 NCGE conference for any teacher who is selected for the trip and chooses to work with the CGA to meet the expectation to produce and disseminate classroom materials addressing the National Geography Standards. The teacher(s), working with the CGA leadership team, would give a presentation at the conference based on the learning materials they developed after the GeoCamp.

Picture of volcanic lake advertising National Council for Geographic Education's GeoCamp 2015 in Iceland
NCGE Professional Development Opportunity: GeoCamp Iceland 2015

World of 7 Billion Video Contest for High School Students

Back by popular demand, the World of 7 Billion student video contest can help you bring technology and creativity into your high school geography classes. The contest challenges your students to create a short (60 seconds or less) video illustrating the connection between world population growth and one of three global challenges dealing with either the sixth extinction, available farmland, or global education. Students can win up to $1,000 and their teachers will receive free curriculum resources. The contest deadline is February 19, 2015. Full contest guidelines, resources for research, past winners, and more can be found at www.worldof7billion.org/student-video-contest.