Sunday, February 17, 2013

Doing Geogthink

Image above:  The concept wheel of the Australian Curriculum: Geography.

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Adelaide, Australia: S: 34º 55' E: 138º 36'

Playing with the concepts to develop geographical thinking: geogthink!

Over recent weeks I have been working with teachers in South Australia on the nature of conceptual geography using the seven concepts identified in the Australian Curriculum: Geography.  If you like, doing some geogthink using the concepts applied to a range of resources and websites. Beyond the initial clarification of the concepts, I have challenged teachers to see how the concepts can be applied to differing degrees to just about anything we study in geography. 
At a workshop with final year primary teachers (all non geographers) at Flinders University last Friday I went as far as dividing the students into groups of seven, and giving each student in the group a slice of the above concept wheel. With the slice (or pie) they were to view the chosen topic only through that concept, before putting it all together in a discussion and then developing some 'rich' inquiry questions related to the topic. Whilst initially hesitant and challenged, the students soon were talking like geographers; talking about place,space, environment, change, interaction, scale, and sustainability. This simple activity provided the context for the students to explore a topic geographically, in this case the 'Adelaide water supply'.  I must admit I get quite a kick out of hearing non-geographers looking at an issue through the eyes of a geographer and doing geogthink.  
As a follow-up to this activity I thought it would be interesting to view some great news items, maps and sites I have recently come across and see which of the concepts would be most pertinent to develop some good geographical thinking. The suggested concepts for each site are just my view and I am sure could be geogthought about in many different ways.

Site 1: Space, interaction, scale and change
      Site 2:Place, space and interaction
      Food fights: intersection of geography and culture
There is perhaps nothing more closely bound up with one's national identity than food. Specific local dishes are often seen as the embodiment of various cultures and many nations promote their food as a celebration of national identity. Sometimes, however, a country's cuisine can also be used to highlight national rivalries.

Site 3: Space and scale
Twitter languages in London
a great map (see end of post) visualising the language communities of Twitter. The map, perhaps unsurprisingly, closely matches the geographic extents of the world’s major linguistic groups.
Site 4: Space, environment, interaction and sustainability

Elevated levels of nitrogen dioxide pop out over certain shipping lanes in observations made by the Aura satellite between 2005-2012. The signal was the strongest over the northeastern Indian Ocean.

Site 5:  Place, change and interaction
Change in the ethnic composition of London's population
Of all the changes announced by the 2011 census, one of the most startling is the rapid change in the ethnic composition of London's population.

Site 6: Change, interaction, space and scale
10 counties that disappeared in the 20th Century
New nations seem to pop up with alarming regularity. At the start of the 20th century, there were only a few dozen independent sovereign states on the planet; today, there are nearly 200!

Site 7:  Scale and interaction
Who buys the jewellery and flowers
 Americans like to buy jewelry and flowers all year, not just for Valentine’s Day. How much do they spend annually, and who would probably spend the most?

Site 8:Place, space, environment and scale
Rich blocks, poor blocks
A user-friendly website to map economic census data.  This maps the average household income data on top of a Google Maps basemap that can be centered on any place in the United States. 

Site 9: Space, place and environment
Land Locked country quiz

Site 10: Environment and sustainability
Fresh Water resources:  A Ted talk
How much of the Earth's water is fresh water?  How much of that is used for industrial, agricultural or domestic uses?  Why is groundwater becoming increasingly utilized?  Enjoy this TED-ED video for the answers. 

Site 11: Place, space, change, scale and interaction
The Catholic Church as shifted South
Over the last century, much of the growth of the Roman Catholic Church has been outside Europe, and there are now more than 200 million more Catholics in Latin America than in Europe. Still, European cardinals hold more than half of the votes that will choose the next pope. To be elected, the new pope will need two-thirds of the votes of 117 cardinals.

Site 12: Interaction, change, environment and sustainability

China's new bachelor class
Gender imbalances in China have created a generation of men for whom finding love is no easy task.

Site 13: Space and scale 
Mercator Puzzle
This online game where you return the "misplaced" country on the map is more than just an exercise in locating places (there are many online map quizzes for that sort of activity). What makes this one unique is that as you move the country north or south the country expands or contracts according to how that country would be projected if that were its actual location on a Mercator map.

Site 14: Space and scale
Housing patterns 
This article provides a summary of approximately 20 different housing patterns common in the United States with a visual example demonstrate the impact on the urban footprint.

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