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


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