Digital resources to strengthen the quality and quantity of geography education in classrooms the world over
Curated by Seth Dixon
I’ve organized some of more ‘evergreen’ posts by the AP Human Geography curriculum unit headings as well as ‘shortlist’ for each unit.
It is that time of the year again. I hear the scurry of my colleagues sorting through old folders, re-organizing class notes.Alas, for too many of my fellow geographers the start of the teaching season is greeted with groans. It means less time for research.
Kiwis aren't showing their enthusiasm toward the final four alternate flags they'll be allowed to choose between. We analyze the results.
What is in a flag? A flag is intended to represent a people and government while portraying a common heritage and a sense on timelessness. This may seem like a small decision, but symbols can be incredibly potent political and cultural forces; New Zealand better get this right.
The steady stream of migrants in past years has turned into a torrent this year. Here's a primer on the main forces at work.
I've recently shared some news articles about the global refugee crisis, especially as the so many are surging towards Europe. I've realized though, that many students are unsure what to make of the situation because they don't understand how we got here in the first place. This article is organized to answer these basic questions:
"A new study maps the population gaps between men and women around the world."
This interactive map is a great way to show how the 3 questions of geography make statistical analysis become more meaningful (where, why there and why care?). There are plenty of reason to care about these spatial patterns and their far-reaching implications.
In the latest crisis, tens of thousands are racing to Hungary before a border fence is finished.
Today there are refugees seeking safety throughout the world. There are several regional hot spots of political, ethnic and religious turmoil; many are now asking how the global community should response to the worst refugee crisis in generations (Related article: Migrant or Refugee? There is a difference with legal implications).
|Suggested by Mike Busarello's Digital Storybooks|
To hear the White House describe Alaska, the state has become the canary in the climate change coal mine, complete with raging wildfires, accelerating ice melt in the arctic, vanishing glaciers and whole villages forced to relocate away from rising seas.
Most Alaskans already have shed the Mount McKinley name for over a generation, but as this National Geographic article points out, naming conventions matter and are filled with meaning. Some of you might be wondering how it ever got called Mt. McKinley in the first place, but this action is still causing some political commotion. Denali is a spectacularly gorgeous place, and there are a few other prominent mountains that some want to change to previous indigenous names although these changes are unlikely because they don't have the same local support and regular usage.
"In communities across America, lawns that are brown or overgrown are considered especially heinous. Elite squads of dedicated individuals have been deputized by their local governments or homeowners’ associations to take action against those whose lawns fail to meet community standards."
This is a great podcast that shows not only the environmental aspects of America’s obsession with well-manicured lawns, it also nicely explored the cultural norms that police our behavior to create the stereotypical suburban landscape. This is my favorite quote from the podcast: “There’s a paradox to the lawn. On the one hand, it is the pedestal on which sits the greatest symbol of the American Dream: the home, which people can ostensibly govern however they wish. And yet—homeowners often have almost no control over how they should maintain their lawn. Grass may be a plant, but a lawn is a designed object.”
"When the well's dry, we know the worth of water." ~Benjamin Franklin
Could this transportation network and system work everywhere? If not, geography and place are critical factors to shaping the human landscape.
Introvert or extrovert? A quick photo quiz could reveal it all.
This psychology study found that introverts and extroverts prefer different landscapes for their vacations, and they may even seek out different environments for a home. There are many geographic implications to this idea, and I'm still chewing on them.
"The images here, taken from the Instagram account @the.jefferson.grid show just a few of the landscapes that can be squeezed into the one-mile squares. The idea behind this sprawling checkerboard emerged after the Revolutionary War. As the United States expanded westward, the country needed a systematic way to divide its newly acquired lands. The original colonies were surveyed using the British system of 'metes and bounds,' with parcels delineated using local geography.
That approach doesn’t scale very well, and Jefferson proposed to slice the young United States into gridded plots of land. Jefferson's idea became a reality in 1785 when it was enacted as the Public Land Survey System. Today his grid covers much of the country, and it is still used to survey federal lands — an idea that shaped the physical landscape of half a continent."
Official figures indicate that over the last two decades the number of antisemitic acts has tripled. Between January and July 2014 official figures show that there were 527 violent antisemitic acts in France as opposed to 276 for the same period in 2013. Meanwhile half of all racist attacks in France take Jews as their target, even though they number less than 1% of the population.
This great, but sobering article was written in January 2015, and unfortunately, the situation has not improved. There is a lot of demographic changes and migration happening in the Western World right now, and this is but one component to larger forces reshaping the Europe. Today many in the French Jewish community are now asking the uncomfortable question: is it time to leave France for good? Antisemitism is not a thing of the past relegated to the World War II chapter of our history textbooks; many French Jewish families were originally from North Africa before they fled in the 1950s and 60s. Now, France is Israel's largest source of migrants and Europe as a whole has a rapidly declining Jewish population (UPDATE: here is a video showing the French Prime Minister vowing to stop the rise of anti-Semitism in in France).
As geography teachers return to school they will see their subject continuing to expand at all stages of education. For the fifth year running, GCSE entries have risen. At A-level, geography had the largest percentage increase of all the major subjects in 2015, with candidate numbers rising sharply by 13 per cent, following on from the 19 per cent increase in GCSE in 2013. Enrolment on undergraduate courses is running higher than national averages, and graduating geographers experience some of the lowest unemployment levels of any degree subject. Such positive news is welcome and provides a firm foundation for the introduction of the new GCSE and A-levels from September 2016.
So, what has happened to boost geography over the past 10 years? In short, it's a powerful mix of sustained advocacy, support from successive governments, independent evaluation and the slow trickle of messages getting through.
Good news about the state of geography in the United Kingdom. This can serve as a a strategic plan and a vision for revitalizing geography in the United States.
Based on the Gini coefficient, a measure that captures the level of income distribution in a given area, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 20 metropolitan areas with the most uneven income distribution, or the highest Gini coefficients. A Gini coefficient of 1 means all income belongs to a single individual, while a coefficient of 0 reflects a perfectly even distribution. The Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Connecticut, metro area leads the nation with the worst income distribution.With only a few exceptions, the metro areas with the widest gaps between rich and poor residents tend to have lower median household incomes. The majority of the 20 metro areas with the highest Gini coefficients have median household incomes more than $10,000 below the national median of $52,250.Average incomes, however, tell a different story. Because of the uneven income distribution, the average income is much higher in most of these metro areas.
The Gini index which measures the degree of economic inequality (the Gini coefficient was added to the APHG course content for the Industrialization and Economic Development unit in 2013). This article explains the value of the Gini coefficient without delving much into the statistics.
Notes on an Imagined Plaque to be Added to the Statue of General Nathan Bedford Forrest, Upon Hearing that the Memphis City Counci has Voted to Move it and the Exhumed Remains of General Forrest and his Wife, Mary Ann Montgomery Forrest, from their Current Location in a Park Downtown, to the Nearby Elmwood Cemetery
This is a very insightful podcast that explores some of the many ways that the South is remembered. History happened, but heritage is carefully crafted, remolded and contested--geographers are especially interested in seeing how these competing visions of heritage are inscribed in the landscape.
"When others get off the train to finally go home, Leonie Müller stays behind. That's because she already is home: The train is her apartment, and she says she likes it that way. She bought a subscription that allows her to board every train in the country free. Now, Müller washes her hair in the train bathroom and writes her college papers while traveling at a speed of up to 190 mph. She says that she enjoys the liberty she has experienced since she gave up her apartment."
"So it's welcome news that Google wants to make this all much, much simpler with its brand new Project Sunroof tool. Plug in your address, and Google uses its aerial imagery capabilities to help you figure out whether solar power might be a worthwhile idea. (The project is still in its early stages; here's Google's announcement from Monday.)
For now, data is only available for selected parts of the country. But let's look at a sample address given in Redwood City, California. The tool first calculates both how big the roof is and how much sun it gets per year."
We hear the names of these places in the news constantly, but can you actually locate them on a map?
I do enjoy a good current events map quiz. Yes, geography is about more than just locating things on the map, but that is still a pretty foundational spatial-thinking skill to build upon. You can zoom it to place the points, but this is a very hard quiz that is not for novices (if you can get more than 130 points, you'll earn the title geo-champ). If you want some more quizzes with perhaps more direct applicability in the classroom, click here for online regional quizzes.
This site is used to highlight the distortion issues caused by the Mercator map projection. It can be used to show the true size of countries
How it Works
1. Enter a country or state name
2. Hover over selection for size information
3. Click on selection to drag
4. Right-click on selection to delete
"In some ways, all 2D maps of Earth are interrupted at some point, even if it’s just along the antimeridian at 180°. Interruptions are often in areas of less interest e.g. oceans for a land-focused map."
No screenshot could do justice to this animation. It transforms a map of the world from one map projection to another, and in the 5 second interval it 'spins the globe' to give you a sense of the the spatial distortions inherent in all projections. This is but one of the many visualizations from Jason Davies mapping project.
"How deep is that icy blue water on Greenland's ice sheet? Dr. Allen Pope, of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, is using data from the NASA/USGS Landsat 8 satellite to find out. In this video, Dr. Pope shares what he sees when he looks at a Landsat image of the Greenland ice sheet just south of the Jakobshavn Glacier.
Because the lakes are darker than the ice around them, they absorb more energy from the sun. A little bit of melt concentrates in one place, and then melts more, establishing a feedback mechanism accelerating the growth of the lake. When the lakes get big enough they can force open fractures that then drill all the way down to the bed of the glacier, transporting this water to the base where it can temporarily speed up the flow of the ice."
Explore the popularity of some of the world’s favourite foods on Instagram. Discover Instagram’s capital of curry, which cities are big on burgers, and where pulled pork is most prolific.
I was talking to a good friend about the geographic distribution of poutine after watching the silliest YouTube video. (Montreal is famous for it's poutine, but is in equally widespread throughout Quebec? Canada? Is there a core/domain/sphere areas to be mapped? These are the questions that plague geographers.). True, this map has it's limitations; Instagram hashtag data isn't normalized so the biggest cities tend to pop out more easily, access/use of Instagram isn't uniform, etc. Still, what a great map to show some geographic applications of social media data. This sort of map also nicely shows the spatial concepts of region, diffusion, concentration and distribution.
"Tourists and locals experience cities in strikingly different ways. To see just how different these two worlds are, have a look at the map of Washington D.C. above based on where people take photos. The red bits indicate photos taken by tourists, while the blue bits indicate photos taken by locals and the yellow bits might be either."
It amazes me how the same city can provide such diverse experiences to so many people. Growing up in San Diego, going to the zoo was only our family's radar when company was over and they wanted to "see San Diego." Their vision of the place, what is iconic and what is quintessentially symbolic of that place, was different from my own.
Questions to Ponder: What are some other ways (besides local/tourist) that a place can be experienced by other groups? How many of these 136 cities can you identify from these tourist/local patterns?
"The president and owner of Mapping Specialists, David Knipfer, said maps are more prevalent in society now than they’ve ever been, from turn-by-turn direction apps, to restaurant searches, to social networks that pinpoint users’ locations. Maps aren’t going away, but people are learning to use them in a different way, Knipfer said."