Category Archives: geography

I Can’t Count That High: PBL in the Social Studies Classroom

statistics-of-population-research-paperOne of the new initiatives in my school district during the 18-19 school year has been to begin a Project Based Learning community.  This is a group of teachers who came in over the summer for two full days of training, and have continued to meet quarterly during the school year to learn about PBL together and support each other as they implement PBL in their own classrooms.

My mentor teacher, Kim Zielsdorf, teaches 7th Grade World Geography and Kansas History, and she jumped right into PBL from the beginning of the school year with a highly engaging, yet short and sweet project to introduce the students to the World Geography curriculum.  Kim presented this question to the students: How big is 7.7 billion? The students then worked with partners to find creative ways to represent the global population.  How long it would take Crayola to make 7.7 billion crayons, how far you would travel after taking 7.7 billion steps, each partnership came up with their own way to represent a number that is so high it can be hard to grasp.

Beginning the school year with a short PBL unit allowed the students a fun and engaging way to ease into the school year and get to know each other, while also giving Kim a chance to practice the fundamentals of PBL and learn more about her students’ interests through the decisions they made while completing the project.  Do you use PBL in your classroom?  What is your favorite PBL unit to teach?  Share in the comments below!

(Pull It, Twist It, Bop It) Flip It: Blended Learning in the Social Studies Classroom

The tired stereotype of the history teacher at the front of the room lecturing from bell to bell, droning on about nothing but names, places, and dates, and never noticing the kids sleeping in the back row needs to be thrown out the window!  In its place, how about a teacher that never lectures but instead provides students time to work hands on with the content and apply their learning from bell to bell?

With Flipped Learning, this is possible in every social studies classroom!

 

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https://www.slu.edu/cttl/resources/teaching-tips-and-resources/flipped-classroom-resources

Continue reading (Pull It, Twist It, Bop It) Flip It: Blended Learning in the Social Studies Classroom

Kansas Day is on the way!

This post is a little late but I’ve been hibernating; I hope you’re all keeping warm. If you’re using the cold weather day (wouldn’t it have been easier to post what schools stayed open?) to plan ahead or, if you’re reading this later, need something fast, I think I have something for you.

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Kansas Day can be so much more than Sunflowers and Meadowlarks. Whether you want to a good lesson to incorporate Kansas into your regular curriculum to observe Kansas Day, or are making an effort to bring more local focus to your instruction.

I’d like to start with something I helped put together using a website called Thinglink. It’s free to get basic access and the tools let you create interactive photos, charts, etc. I took the Tallgrass Prairie Illustration below and added links to online articles and videos so students can learn more about our surroundings. Follow the link below the picture to see the interactive version.

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Flint Hill Map Project – Enhanced Map

If you like that tool, you might like some of the lessons from the Flint Hills Map Project and their Kansas Day Activities. Lots of good geography, science and even music and art ideas on their site to help your kids learn more about their home. The teachers on their advisory board (you guessed it, I’m one of them) met right after the winter break and as part of our meeting we put together a Kansas Day Pinterest Board if that’s more your speed.

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If you’re not on the Kansas Historical Society’s mailing list you’re missing out on more tools to incorporate local history in your classroom. They have a whole page of ideas for Kansas Day in the classroom. I personally enjoy the online Carrie Nation exhibit with its teaching resources. There are a lot of resources at multiple levels that you can access. I’m also fond of the Read Kansas! cards for their versatility and availability for primary through middle school levels.

Remember, you don’t have to wait until Kansas Day to work more of the great history and resources of our state into your instruction. We are so much more than sunflowers and meadowlarks and we should share Kansas more with our students.

Increasing student engagement through place-based education: The Flint Hills Maps & Education program

Guest Post: This month we have a guest post from Anne Wilson, Map Program Coordinator for the Flint Hills Map and Education Program.


As teachers, we often hear students lament:  “What does this have to do with me?”  We know if our kids believe an idea actually affects them, it all of a sudden really matters.  However, actually relating learning to students’ own lives and local environment takes time and background knowledge we don’t always have.

Now a grass-roots team of teachers in the Flint Hills region has developed a new “place-based education” program – designed to connect learning to students’ own heritage, culture, landscapes, ecology, economy, and experiences as a foundation for the study of core subjects.

How important is place?  Bio-regionalist author Wendell Berry writes, “If you don’t know where you are, you don’t know who you are.” Many of our students think they’re from nowhere.  They are connected to everywhere but where they are.  This program gives them the gift of pride, understanding and commitment to their place.

The bonus is: Continue reading Increasing student engagement through place-based education: The Flint Hills Maps & Education program

New Google Earth. Great! And . . . meh.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to any of you that I am a huge Google Earth nerd. I love geography. I love maps. I love Google.

It’s a simple formula. A + B = C. Maps + Google = Google Earth nerd.

So when Google pushed out an online version of GE this week, all was right with the world. At least until I started digging into it a little bit. Don’t get me wrong. Any time I can play with an online Google tool, it’s a good day.

The new version does have a few cool features. But I’m just a little disappointed that the online version released this week is missing some of the sweet features of the desktop version. But let’s start with the good stuff. Continue reading New Google Earth. Great! And . . . meh.