By Justine Kendall
Thursday, July 18, 2013
As an educator, you're on the front line in the fight against our kids' geography gap. Here are some tools to give you much more than a fighting chance. Get started with the 10 tips below, and then check out the GeoWeek Toolkit page for great classroom aids.
1. Show students that geography is everywhere.
It's a global world, with people, ideas, and products moving rapidly around it. Today, how we live shapes, and is shaped by, where we live and what happens in the natural environment. Find resources to build geography awareness in your school. Have your students test their skills and practice new ones with online games and interactives.
2. Bring it up.
Is your school doing enough to prepare students for a global future? Are you tapping into their natural curiosity about real-world issues, from the local to the global? Start the discussion with other teachers, caregivers, administrators, and students. A great way to do that is by celebrating Geography Awareness Week every third week of November!
3. Find global connections close to home.
Have your students log their global connections over a period of time (a day, a week, or more)—who they talk with, what they eat, what they wear, what they read, watch, listen to. Use the global closet calculator to teach about the interconnectedness of clothes. Make maps in your classroom and use them often. Bookmark our interactive map with customizable data-layers, markers, and stickers to explore students’ world!
4. Explore the planet using technology.
From free 2-D customizable maps to 3-D Earths, there’s possibility like never before to see our planet in new ways. Zooming into places can also create a new perspective on how geography impacts current events. Learn about Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software and how it’s changing the way we explore.
5. Make geography part of every subject.
Every subject—from reading, writing, and arithmetic to science, economics, and foreign languages—can include geography. Use real-world examples and data (from sources such as our Current-Event Connection, the CIA World Factbook, Population Reference Bureau, National Park Service, or World Heritage Sites) when teaching other topics. When you can, use geography standards-based lesson plans. These lesson plans are often designed to teach from multiple standards at once, making efficient use of class time. Prep students for the AP® Human Geography test and urge them to take it. And make geography fun—have GeoWeek events or go on exciting geography missions!
6. Make it extracurricular.
Ask your parent-teacher organization to study the issue and devise ways to bring more geography learning into school. Enlist administration and caregiver leadership for evening or Saturday programs, festivals, competitions, field trips—even start a GeoClub! To connect with peers, join your local geographic alliance.
7. Connect students with people from other countries and cultures.
More and more kids are using digital and online tools to interact with friends. Help them connect with peers overseas in order to practice languages, develop collaborative projects—even get to know time zones or climate regions. Check out programs from ePals, Peace Corps, iEARN, and the Asia Society.
8. Help students envision their futures.
Many kids today will cross physical borders but even more will travel through technology. Inject geographic themes into career exploration. (Here’s a geography career guide; also one for GIS and one for international careers.)
9. Go there!
Remind yourself and your students that learning about new places and cultures is about exploration—you don’t always know the exact path to take or what you’ll find along the way. Take your kids on field trips and look for opportunities to seek adventure and educate yourself about the world firsthand. Apply for a chance to get some professional development in the Arctic or to get a grant to support new practices in your classroom. And if getting outside is still too hard, get inspired by National Geographic Explorers.
10. Sign up for the NG Education e-newsletter.
You’ll get helpful tips, the latest news, links to great resources and fun games, information about contests and offers, and much more. Sign up now—and help give kids the power of global knowledge.
Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry cultural geography Noun
study of the impact of human culture on the landscape.
economic geography Noun
study of the location, distribution, and spatial organization of financial activities.
geographic information system (GIS) Noun
any system for capturing, storing, checking, and displaying data related to positions on the Earth's surface.
Encyclopedic Entry: GIS (geographic information system) geography Noun
study of places and the relationships between people and their environments.
Encyclopedic Entry: geography Global Positioning System (GPS) Noun
system of satellites and receiving devices used to determine the location of something on Earth.
human geography Noun
the study of the way human communities and systems interact with their environment.
physical geography Noun
study of the natural features and processes of the Earth.
political geography Noun
study of the spatial relationships that influence government or social policies.