Saturday, August 18, 2012

Scooping geography

Making it easy to find teaching materials

The way forward for the curating and sharing of geographical sites is through websites such as ( and the communication network of Twitter.  As an educator one should join and share – you will be amazed by the number of fantastic resources and sites regularly turning up in your email inbox.  It makes life easier in preparing and researching for material to use in the classroom. is a wonderful website with the potential to link into a wide range of geography orientated websites collected by individuals. It is also a great resource for teachers to curate collections of geographical materials found on the Internet.

Here is a great example of an educator (Seth Dixon is a professor at Rhode Island College and can be reached via Twitter @APHumanGeog) using to curate and spread outstanding geographical education sites and resources. The site is called Geographical Education and is at
“Global news with a spatial perspective: resources for educators and the inherently inquisitive.

Here is just a selection of Seth’s communication network in one week.
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Here are some great cites ‘provided on a plate’ via Seth’s networks.

This database of global wars and conflicts is searchable through space and time.  You can drag and click the both the map and timeline to locate particular battles and wars, and then read more information about that conflict.  This resource would be a great one to show students and let them explore to find what they see as interesting.  This site is brimming with potential.     

The artistic collection entitled 'Landscapes' compiled  "the bizarre instances of cartographic dissonance inflicted by the Dutch government over their virtual lands. As Henner notes, the number of censored sites within the small country of the Netherlands is surprising, as is the technique used by officials to disguise them. Tracts of land deemed vulnerable to attack or misappropriation are transformed into large tapestries of multi-colored polygons, archipelagos of abstraction floating in swaths of open fields, dense forests, and clusters of urban development." 

This is an excellent review/summary of an edited volume that shows the value of geographic thought and its importance in the modern world.  This review conveniently gives a one paragraph synopsis of each chapter.  It does not need to be read chronologically, so you can pick and choose what you find relevant to your course.  The top 10 are (in order of inclusion in the book): the Idea of the Map, the Weather Map, GIS, Human Adjustment, Water Budget Climatology, Human Transformation of the Earth, Spatial Organization and Interdependence, Central Place Theory, Megalopolis and Sense of Place. 

This site shows how much space would be needed if the world’s population lived uniformly at the density of selected countries. It’s a good comparative use of spatial data. Here’s the original link:

This new resource, myHistro, combines interactive maps with timelines to organize stories, journeys or historical events as the move over time and place.  By embedding photos, videos and links this creates an incredibly dynamic platform for telling historical and geographic stories.  By combining these features, this is a powerful tool to create customized resources for you students.  Pictured above is a sample timeline that shows the spatial and temporal journey of the Olympic torch for the 2012 Games.   

There are plenty of regional biases about other places.  This map was generated by Google autocomplete.  If you Google, "Why is Rhode Island so...." if will automatically suggest some responses.  This was done for all the states and these autoresponses are quite revealing (and often humorous). 

Using satellite images to see change
"With the help of satellite images fifth and sixth grade students at Mr. Tim Blum’s geography class at the University of Wyoming Lab School got a birds-eye view of how humans have impacted or modified their environments. Images acquired by satellites decades apart showed cleared forests, irrigated crop fields in the middle of the deserts, altered landscapes (new roads and water bodies), and urban growth."

In short, there is so much great teaching materials and hints up on the Internet now, programs such as and Twitter just help us find and curate what is good. In fact it comes to us on a daily basis instead of wasting time searching!!

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