Global news with a spatial perspective: Interesting, current supplemental materials for geography teachers and students.
Curated by Seth Dixon
My 10 year-old daughter was looking in our atlas a while back (yes, she is my daughter) and in the encyclopedic entry of each country she started noticing that literacy rates were included. She started asking about which regions had higher and lower literacy rates. This became a teaching moment about the power of the map--I explained that all this data can be more easily accessed and seen on a map and this interactive map is what we discovered. We need to help student find the maps and data to answer their questions (and we need to make sure that they are curious enough to ask questions about the way the world works).
Ask any teenager for directions and he can pull up Google Maps quicker than you can recite an address. Pretty awesome, right? And I’ll be the first to admit that having a map in my phone that not only tells me where to turn but how long it will take me to get there is pretty amazing. I use it all the time, honestly. But even when I’m zoning out and listening to that soothing voice telling me where to turn, I have a mental picture in my head of her directions. And I never realized that my teenage daughter doesn’t have a map in her head, because she’s never really had to use one. Ever.
Many of the more fortunate students (access to portable electronic devices, multi-car families with parents who drive them around, etc.) are actually worse off in map reading skills in part because they have never needed to develop a mental map and are not adept at navigating their neighborhoods (in the last few generations most and the range that part). When these children become drivers, they are unable to navigate without GPS devices, but they still need to learn map reading skills. They are convinced that their apps can do all the work and that an old fashioned paper map is outdated technology, but their spatial thinking skills become atrophied. Spatial skills are crucial for understanding the world as a global citizen, to understand your local environs and for making scientific discoveries. So teach a kid how to read a map...the sooner the better.
"It’s a good time to reflect on what truly inspires us. What gives us, as individuals, our own sense of independence? And how can we apply that sense of joyful independence to help us engage more actively and participate more readily in the world—to make it a better place, even? Cultivating a better geographical and cultural appreciation for the world, in the next generation as well as in our own, is a pretty good place to start."
Untrammeled oases beckon, once-avoided destinations become must-sees, and familiar cities offer new reasons to visit.
Most geographers have more than a little bit of wanderlust. Maybe we don't all have the pocketbook for it, but so many people have the desire to explore, travel and see parts of the world that feel as if they are mythical. For students that have the curiosity, it our mission as educators to cultivate that and help them frame the world into a geographic perspective. I've always felt that window-seat flyers are have the seed of a geographer embedded within them...let's make sure those seeds can grow.
New research suggests that map reading is a dying skill in the age of the smartphone. Perish the thought, says Rob Cowen
Despite the gendered overtones of the article (that it's important for men to learn to read a map), this is some good advice, regardless of gender. The vocabulary and concepts of maps can strengthen spatial cognition and geography awareness. While GPS technology can help us in a pinch, relying primarily on a system that does not engage our navigation skills will weaken our ability to perform these functions. While it intuitively makes sense, that the 'mental muscles' would atrophy when not used, it is a reminder that an overuse of geospatial technologies can be intellectually counterproductive. So break out a trusty ol' map, but more importantly, be a part of the spatial decision-making process.
Take a look at the first day of school celebrations around the world!
Access to education is one of the great indicators of development and political stability--educators wish nothing but the best education possible for the next generation, but the experience is quite variable across the globe. As many places have recently started school again, this article is a reminder that this practice is experienced differently around the world.
Cities like Washington and San Francisco are gaining the highly skilled but losing their less-educated workforce.
This article, with its charts and interactive maps, is worth exploring to show some of the important spatial patterns of internal migration. It's not hard to realize that larger, cosmopolitan metro areas will have an advantage in attracting and keeping prospective college graduates; the question that we should be asking our students is how will this impact neighborhoods, cities and regions?
"Every teacher I've worked with over the last five years recalls two kinds of digital experiences with students.The first I think of as digital native moments, when a student uses a piece of technology with almost eerie intuitiveness. The second I call digital naiveté moments, when a student trusts a source of information that is obviously unreliable. How can these coexist? How can students be so technologically savvy while also displaying their lack of basic skills for navigating the digital world?"
This is a nice article with some practical advice but it also can that helps us conceptualize the thinking skills that our students are going to need in the future (with a classic photo that embodies 20th century news literacy). Previously, I've written on this same topic, with some strategies to how to help students assess the validity of online information with geographic content (with a series of maps and images). I know I've been duped before, and it's okay to admit that to your students; but we need to teach students how to be critical readers as they are swimming in an ocean of digital information of variable quality. This is why I see content curation as an important part of modern education; it is a way to teach student the tools to assess the quality of information for themselves. They will be gathering, organizing and synthesizing digital information for rest of their lives.
I enjoy the sentiment of this quote; it embraces creative pedagogy while empowering students to be creative agents that can reshape the world. I love the idea of geography enabling young minds to be inspired to imagine a better world and giving them the tools to so. While I love the ethos that is embedded in this quote, I feel that it also underestimates our students and their ability to see past some of the limitations of the educational process. It also doesn't appreciate the importance of understanding the current state of affairs before being able transforms them. However, if we can create an environment that promotes and encourages higher-order thinking, we can help our students see their role in shaping a new world–that is our goal in promoting geo-literacy.
"Many of us have heard the stories of how our parents or grandparents had to walk miles in the snow to get to school. Perhaps some of these tales were a tad embellished, but we got the point. A lot of American kids have the luxury of being driven in a warm car or bus to a good school nearby. This is not the case for the children in this gallery.
The photos you are about to see are snapshots of the treacherous trips kids around the world take each day to get an education. Considering there are currently 61 million children worldwide who are not receiving an education—the majority of which are girls—these walks are seen as being well worth the risk.
In the above photo, students in Indonesia hold tight while crossing a collapsed bridge to get to school in Banten village on January 19, 2012. Flooding from the Ciberang river broke a pillar supporting the suspension bridge, which was built in 2001."
|Suggested by Luke Walker|
For the most part in American culture, intellectual struggle in school children is seen as an indicator of weakness, while in Eastern cultures it is not only tolerated, it is often used to measure emotional strength.
What is taught in biology classes varies considerably in the United States for a host of political and religious reasons that are particular to each state. What influences the educational decisions being made in your state?
The problems with the economy are not universally spread throughout society. Certain segments are impacted more than others by the current struggles, especially when with look at axes of identity, such as class, gender and ethnicity. While planning on a blue-collar job in the 1950s could have been a solid career plan for a young man in the United States, not so in the 21st century.
As more of our students go searching for information online, we need to also teach our students how to assess the quality of a particular media outlet and develop a critical eye. This great song is a humorous way to approach that topic.
Questions to Ponder: What makes a source reliable? Can a source be reliable on some topics but not others?
Here's an article about how an over-reliance on GPS (or Sat-Nav) can lead to the erosion of one's mental map. And yes, the article is from the Daily Mail (as the images on the side clearly demonstrate). Does that change how you approach the information?
In 2010, most states in the United States (including Rhode Island) adopted the Common Core State Standards as the new standards. The two main portions of the Common Core Standards are the English...
Will geography be permanently pushed out of the curriculum with the adoption of the Common Core? How can a teacher bolster spatial thinking and geo-literacy within the Common Core framework? If you've asked yourself these questions, this resource is for you.
In a country this battered, fractured, dysfunctional – how much can she really hope to achieve?
The issue of female education in Pakistan has exploded after Malala Yousafzai was attacked by the Taliban for publicly advocating for girls to receive more schooling. This attack has lead several media outlets to take a more serious look at the gendered cultural and economic opportunities (or lack thereof) for girls within Pakistan. This NPR podcast also speaks of the real options in front of so many girls like Malala and the cultural and political contexts within which they navigate their lives.
"Schools used to be the heart of a neighborhood or community. Children and not a few teachers could walk to class, or to the playground or ball field on the weekend. This was relatively easy to do, because the schools were placed within, not separated from, their neighborhoods. They were human-scaled and their architecture was not just utilitarian, but signaled their importance in the community. Now it has become hard to tell one from a Walmart or Target."
What better way to demonstrate the concepts of urban sprawl, automobile-dependent city planning and economies of scale than by analyzing the very geographic context of our schools themselves? This is a very nicely arranged photo essay that most could spark conversation and would foster some discussion on how best to plan neighborhoods and spatially arrange the city.
We suggested ways to teach about Election 2012 and included links to lesson plans and Times features, and we'll be updating the page regularly as the march to the White House proceeds.
The Learning Network has partnered with the NY Times to produce lesson plans for all ages (and all disciplines) on how to teach using the 2012 United States Presidential Election.
|Suggested by Kristen McDaniel|
This is the truly global project that asks the children of the world to introduce us to the people of the world. We've seen videos and resources that ask the question, "if there were only 100 people in the world, what would it look like?" This takes that idea of making demographic statistics more meaningful one step further by asking student in schools for around the world to nominate some "representative people" and share their stories. The site houses videos, galleries from each continent and analyze themes that all societies must deal with. This site that looks at the people and places on out planet to promote greater appreciation of cultural diversity and understanding is a great find.