Brainstorming Geography

geography_-_mapIn preparing a framework for a 7th grade Geography curriculum in a STEM Academy, I’ve found bits and pieces from different districts that touch on key concepts and content. Out goal is to combine physical geography with human geography in an inquiry based, problem solving model. There’s a lot of work to be done, but much has been laid out for us by other outstanding educators and institutions. First, I found some great essential questions in an outstanding curriculum from Neshaminy School District in Langhorne, Pennsylvania:
  • Is ethnocentrism and patriotism the same thing?
  • Does every culture think in terms of national “winners” and “losers” and do all cultures define them in the same way?
  • Why do geographic commonalities of a region create a unique world-view?
  • What is it that unites a group of people?
  • How do human actions modify the physical environment and what impact does that change have on human culture?
  • How does cooperation and conflict among people affect the earth’s surface?
I also liked these enduring understandings:
  • As the land shapes the people, the people shape the land.
  • Different is just different not necessarily wrong.
  • The people in each region develop a world view based on sets of common characteristics.
  • Ethnocentrism appears in all cultures.
  • The Interaction between people and nations creates “winners” and “losers” measured in the comparative levels of change and progress experienced by those societies.
For critical thinking and problem solving, I like this teacher’s approach: http://www.aaps.k12.mi.us/tappan.rothl/geography_curriculum. These essential questions are also good prompts to shape discussion (from Shelby County School District, in Tennessee):
  • How does culture affect a person’s view of themselves, others, and the world?
  • What impact does economics have on people, governments, and global relations?
  • How do the physical systems of the world affect the human systems?
  • How does government affect people, economics, and global issues?
  • What can history teach people about themselves, their country, and the global community?
  • What is my role as a member of the global world? (This question I think is vital.)
Finally, the AP Human Geography course has outstanding guidelines: http://apstudent.collegeboard.org/apcourse/ap-human-geography/course-details as well as the National Geographic Standards Index: http://education.nationalgeographic.com/education/standards/national-geography-standards/?ar_a=1. 

Crossroads of Freedom & Equality

A few weeks ago, I sent an email to my History/Social Studies department teachers concerning resources they might use in their courses connecting lessons, activities, discussions and more to African American History Month. I wanted to begin a discussion with my colleagues about:

  1. key topics we’d like to integrate into core and elective courses
  2. reasons why its important to do so
  3. what the most effective ways are to do so

DEOMI 2013 African American Black History Month Poster (1)Over the last few years, these questions have also been important ones asked by the #sschat team of educators as well. Some of the best are Current Events (1), Current Events (2), Teaching the World Today, Teaching Controversial Topics, Life Changing Lessons, Teaching the Middle East, and Covering Live Events. While its true that we all understand how important it is to develop thinking skills necessary for active citizenship, finding the most effective way to do that is not always easy or apparent. Continued collaboration is so vital for me, as an educator, to find my way through social and moral questions created by my lessons. As a department head, I also want to create a climate where that collaboration is welcomed and sustained.

This year’s official theme for African American History Month is “At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality: The Emancipation Proclamation and the March on WashingtonSo here’s some resources and ideas:

 
 
Outstanding documentaries and their accompanying website:
Full lesson plans from Edsitement (National Endowment for the Humanities) regarding Black History Month: http://edsitement.neh.gov/feature/edsitements-guide-black-history-month-teaching-resources
  • Many of these lesson plans have interactive online components as well as a direct primary source reading. They also contain already made student handouts.
  • @Edsitement on Twitter is fully supportive. They respond to tweets almost instantly and are very interested in connecting with history teachers around the world. 
African American History Month (for teachers) websitehttp://www.africanamericanhistorymonth.gov/teachers.html
  • Links are provided here from the National Archives, Library of Congress, National Gallery of Art, and National Endowment for the Humanities
An interesting article from Edutopia concerning 6 Teaching Tools for African American History Monthhttp://www.edutopia.org/blog/black-history-month-teaching-resources-matthew-davis. Included are…
  • Discussion concerning shifting the lens by the University of NC
  • Interactive resources from biography.com
  • Interactive resources from Scholastic
  • Lesson plans and articles from the NYT Learning Network
  • Lessons and resources from the NEA
  • Resources and collections from the Smithsonian
Teaching African American History Month with Primary Sources http://csmp.ucop.edu/files/resources/files/587_Black%20History%20Month.pdf
  • This is a 16 page PDF (for those teaching US2) with some great primary sources of images, documents, paintings, political cartoons, maps and more. 
Day by day facts, stories and lessons for each day in February focused on African American History from primarysource.orgat http://www.primarysource.org/program/inclusiveamerican.bhm.php