Geospatial Technology Learning Collaboratory

Workshop on using NASA's imaging technology in classrooms. 

Engage in collaborative learning with teaching colleagues from the University of Southern Maine (USM), University of Maine Farmington, and the Maine Geographic Alliance!

  • Earn 4.5 CEU through the USM School of Education Professional Development Center
  • Attend two half-day learning workshops (May and November 2014) at the USM GIS Laboratory in Gorham
  • Engage in online collaboration with faculty and other teachers
  • Develop lesson plans based on NASA satellite data and techniques for use in your classrooms to meet Common Core
  • Receive $400 for your participation

Limited seating, apply by: March 31, 2014

For information, contact Maine Geographic Alliance:

Cathleen McAnneny,

Susan Lahti,

Download GTLC Flyer

Giant Map Coming Soon

MGA is once again offering the Giant Traveling Map of Asia  in late April or early May 2014. At present there are 4 dates available: April 29, 30, May 1, and May 6.  The cost is $250.  This includes transportation to your school and a teacher facilitator for the day. Teacher materials are available online. 

To view the map activities and learn more information about the program, visit:

Greetings again from St.Louis and the NCSS conference

Greetings again from St.Louis and the NCSS conference. The weather here reminds me a lot of home, very cold and windy this weekend. A good time to be indoors enjoying all the great offerings of the conference. Here is a recap of my day here, Saturday, November 23rd.

This morning I first attended a session on Geography and The Common Core. Joe Stoltman from Western Michigan Kalamazoo presented. Joe began with an overview of Common Core and why it matters to we geographers. Five reasons we should care include: C3 gives an enhanced role for geography, geography's visibility rises, it gives our discipline more integrity ( based largely on Geography for Life, new and improved), gives geography equal standing with economics, civics, history, and finally can result in deep knowledge of geography. The inquiry arc, a scaffolding for the core includes: nature of inquiry, pursuit of knowledge, communicating, and decision making-taking action. The 4 dimensions within the inquiry arc  include: developing questions, applying disciplinary concepts and tools, evaluating sources-evaluating evidence and communicating decisions and taking informed action. The dimensions for geography were clearly moved over from Geography for Life, but we did not get everything, only inclusion of geographic representations, human-environment interaction, human population and global interconnections.  Joe went on to note that C3 is a framework that offers guidance to state, has content curricular validity, but not a set of standards. In geography we default to Geo for Life. In summary Joe concluded that C3 is adequate but minimal and that there is more in Geo for Life to consider, particularly when it comes to advanced placement and baccalaureate.

I next attended National Geographic's Geo Festival for two mini presentations: NGS Mapmaker- a great free tool for teachers available on NGS website, click education link to avoid ads. Students and teachers can access a variety of interactive and non interactive resources to create and use maps in the classroom. Also, it is FREE !  The second mini was on C3 with a focus on ELA connections. NGS has done significant work with correlation and this work can also be accessed on the NGS  website.

After lunch I attended a session entitled: Going Global with Google Maps where we were introduced to a new feature called Google Tour Builder. Students can create a tour with text, images or build a story going to different locations. An alternative to skype called Google Hangout was demonstrated. Better quality than skype with the ability to connect classrooms, go on field trips, design your own hangout with up to ten people, with the ability ton record and share conversations offline. Other google feature were shared including Streetview where you can visit locations and see images such as a tour of the White House with ability to zoom in for close ups. Students can also play Geo Guesser where they are dropped on a street view location and guess where it is. Another cool feature google offers is Citation, where students can easily document citations automatically with google docs.

The next session I attended was also about technology, Teaching Sustainability using Online Geo Spatial Technology. In this session presenters shared the many free geo spatial free aps available to students and teachers including: Arcgis, Mapbox, google Earth, Diggers Map, Quakefeed, Collector, Motionx, BAO- business analysis online and Geoquick.

I ended my day with a special screening of NGS new 3d film entitled Jerusalem. This film Teaches viewers about the complexities of this city through the eyes of three young women who live in Jerusalem, representing the three major faith systems and neighborhoods that live side by side in a one square mile area. Rare aerial views of Jerusalem were very cool to view. Cathleen Swilley from NGS Education and John Wickstrom, the film maker led a panel discussion after the viewing.

I highly recommend you make plans to attend the NCSS Annual Conference in Boston next year, or better yet put together a proposal between Dec. 2013 and Feb. 2014. Keep in mind the C3 Inquiry Arc with the geographic dimensions when creating a session proposal. We in the geography community, which includes you, want to have an increased geography presence at this event in an effort to give Geography the equity it deserves and has been given with C3.


Submitted by,

Brian H. Cushing

93rd National Council for the Social Studies Annual Conference

Hello Maine Geographic Alliance and Greetings from the 93rd National Council for the Social Studies Annual Conference in St. Louis. I am attending as a representative for the Maine Geographic Alliance and wanted to report out on my activities today, on this 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination. With over 300 sessions to choose from the first order of business was to plan my day. The fact that only 5% of the offerings are designated as geography made planning a little easier. So here is a recap of my day. It began with a meeting of The Geographic Community, with ten of us discussing strategies for promoting geography at next years NCSS conference in Boston. Reviewers are needed for session proposals. The window for proposals is December 2013-January 2014. Reviewers read 5 or 6 proposals and get a break on conference registration. We also discussed expanding our community through alliance newsletters to have more participation at next years community gathering, perhaps sponsored by New England regional alliance organization.

I next attended the Geography Award for the Enhancement of Geographic Literacy, given to John Harrington, Jr. Department of Geography, Kansas State University. Actually a student of his did the project with John, Lisa Taber, and Lisa presented the project. The award winning project is entitled: Using Dual Encoding to Advance History and Geography Education in the K-12 Classroom. Thirteen teachers participated in a 4 session workshop with the goals of: introducing GIS, learning how to make GIS web maps, and being able to identify and use resources such as ESRI story maps, ARC GIS online, and NGS Mapmaker. Also they learned that GIS is not just computer generated, case in point John Snow's 1855 map of the Soho cholera outbreak in London. Worship participants learned how teaching with maps provides a greater context for student comprehension while teaching a skill.

Next up, I opted for the keynote by Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick. They talked about their book, The Untold History of the United States, the companion text for the documentary series of the same name. They homed in on the Kennedy years, appropriate for this solemn anniversary.

When asked during Q and A how teachers can teach divergent viewpoints in a very conservative and challenging time in teachers lives, they responded that teachers can give students multiple interpretations and let them decide for themselves which makes the most sense. On a funny geographic note, Oliver seemed a bit geographically challenged as to the relative location of Dallas to St. Louis.

I next attended two sessions featuring Community Scholars. First Dr. Michael Robinson from Indiana University Bloomington spoke on the two Koreas. How does North Korea continue to exist surrounded by countries with successful economies? Dr. Robinson contends that surrounding countries are reinforcing their frozen memories and that gets in the way of reconciliation. He believes China will be key to North Korea's future. The second scholar was Dr. Sandra Schmidt, Columbia University. She gave a fascinating presentation on her work in NYC with African immigrants and teaching geography through field study and student created maps. These maps help students understand space and place in meaningful ways that help them internalize a spatial perspective.

So, all in all an interesting day of back to back sessions. Tomorrow I will write again d recap sessions attended for you all, including Geography and the C3 Framework with Joseph Stoltman, NGS.


Brian Cushing


Bringing the Importance of Geography to Washington D.C.

As Barack Obama has settled in his second term as the President of the United States, Congress is once again in full swing and dealing with issues that are presented to them from all over the country. One of these, which strikes home to the Maine Geographic Alliance, is the Teaching Geography is Fundamental Act.

Read more: Bringing the Importance of Geography to Washington D.C.

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Maine Geography: Maine's Largest Chunk of Granite

"Man is born to Die, His Works are Short-lived

Buildings Crumble, Monuments Decay, Wealth Vanishes

But Katahdin in All Its Glory

Forever Shall Remain the Mountain of the 

People of Maine"


These are the words of Percival Baxter, the man who founded Baxter State Park. And for almost anyone that conjures up an image of the park, they look no further than Katahdin. Maine's tallest mountain, Katahdin is one of the most important icons that the State of Maine has (right next to lobster and moose of course). From a geographical standpoint, it is a "man among boys". While its elevation isn't exactly the highest of the highest, because of the low-level timberlands that surround the mountain, it appears huge. It can be seen from miles away and towers over the landscape. While call it Maine's largest chunk of granite? Well, it is in fact comprised of granite (I know, pretty catchy label for the mountain). When most look at it, they tend to think it looks like a volcano. While it does have craters that appear to have been caused by volcanic eruptions, they have actually been created from glacial movements over the granite filled mountain. Nestled about 20 miles from Millinocket, Maine, the mountain is the heart of the region. Throughout the entire year, people come from all over to either view the mountain or take it a step further---climb it. (no pun intended). 


Climb it you say? Well, it only has an elevation of 5,267 ft. No big deal.


When mountaineers decide to take the plunge and climb the "great mountain", they typically look at the map to decide the easiest way up. While Katahdin only has one peak that can be considered the summit, it has several different options when attempting to reach it. Also, because of the pristine trail conditions and array of climbing options, virtually anyone can take the plunge and climb it, which makes it a great asset for the State of Maine. Ironically, the shortest distance to the top is actually the hardest. You can reach the top in 4 miles, but in doing so, you have to climb a stretch of terrain that most suggest you bring climbing gear. While most tend to make this trek to the top in the summer, it can be climbed at almost any time of the year. And yes, that even means you can reach the summit in the winter. For those who wish the elevate their sense of adventure, the winter trek is one of the hardest climbing experiences in the northeast. With the park just making available to climb in the winter, they require a thorough search of all equipment to make sure that whoever climbs it has all the necessary items to both avoid and prepare for emergency situations while climbing the mountain.   


No matter how you reach the top, almost anyone will tell you it was well worth the trek. With vast wilderness going 360 degrees around you, most will attest that the view from the top will even evoke transcendental feelings with a clear day and a few deep breaths. It's a sense of accomplishment that it hard to match for most. And because of its elevation and trail systems, it's and "all in a days work" type of climb. While most people tend to stay a few days within the park, the actual climb to the summit is a one day endeavor. So what do you do once you reach the top? Well, unfortunately, there isn't an elevator to take you back down. It may take forever to get to the top, but it'll take even longer to get back down. But once you hit the last trail head of whatever trail you take, your ready for some rest and relaxation. Having spent the last summer working at a resort nestled right next to Baxter State Park, you could tell instantly when someone had just climbed Katahdin and was now ready for some fine dining. Before they even get a menu, a drink of choice is shouted out (choice of beverage is certainly dependent on the age of the climber, of course). After that, it's game on. And with the mountain in plain site from their table at the restaurant, nostalgia takes over and everyone, including myself, sees the sense of accomplishment in their eyes. So to whoever has a sense of adventure, it is highly encourages to make the trek to Millinocket and enjoy one of Maine's most scenic areas and spectacular chunk of granite----Katahdin. 



On a side note, for anyone who wishes to be politically correct, calling it Mount Katahdin is no longer correct in the eyes of the park because the translation of Katahdin is "great mountain", so by calling it Mount Katahdin you are in fact saying mountain great mountain. 

Our Mission

The mission of the Maine Geographic Alliance is to expand and improve geographic education from Pre-Kindergarten through University by assisting educators with high-quality geographic materials, lessons, and workshops for implementing Maine's learning results. 



Maine Geographic Alliance
Roberts Learning Center
UMF Campus
270 Main Street
Farmington, Me. 04938 

(207) 778-7443

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