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

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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. 



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