Thursday, November 29, 2012

Connecting with ...

Image above: A multi-cultural class in Australia. Why not turn every class into a multicultural class by connecting with the world through technology. .

Related sites to the Spatialworlds project
Spatialworlds website
Australian Geography Teachers' Association website
'Towards a National Geography Curriculum' project website
Geography Teachers' Association of South Australia website
Humsteach blog

Follow Spatialworlds on Twitter

Email contact

Where am I??
Adelaide, Australia: S: 34º 55' E: 138º 36'

Using technology to connect

A recent article titled 'How to learn in the 21st Century' by Rita Oates follows on nicely from the last Spatialworlds posting on the Interconnection concept.  What better way could there be than have the students actually connect with students from around the world.  No longer do we have to just talk about other parts of the world, in a geography class, we can electronically interact, talk with and even see others from around the world in real time. In the article Rita says:
"Schools and teachers must be challenged to use the tools and techniques of today, not the ones of the past. Learning in the 21st century requires critical thinking, adept use of technology, and global collaboration, and we should offer all these to our students on a regular basis. Let's make the best possible uses of the new tools available to us so that our students are better prepared to participate in the global community."
The article provides some great ideas to engage students in meaningful learning using the technologies listed on this posting. For example:

"Teachers can assign students in small groups or pairs to search the site's list of teachers from 200 countries and territories for a classroom with which they might connect. An automatic translator on the ePals site enables students to communicate with students in China, Korea, Japan, or other countries whose language they do not know. Students in the two classes could use the free SchoolBlog to post questions and photos that they can set to be visible to the two classes only. A rich international discussion can arise from simply comparing one's school and community with that of another. Students can also share their stories by creating documentaries about their schools, homes, and communities. For example, students in rural Senegal, working with the CyberSmart 21st Century Initiative, created these videos documenting their daily lives."

Here are some of the great resources now available for students to connect with other students around the world. This list is by no means exhaustive but it is a start on the software/sites and link conduits available for classrooms to connect (mostly freer!)

Connecting to the global community. Safely connect with classrooms around the world for collaborative, project-based learning. Finding a classroom to link with through this site.
A collaboration story  

Global SchoolNet's mission is to support 21st century learning and improve academic performance through content-driven collaboration. We engage educators and students in meaningful e-learning projects worldwide.

* Taking it Global is the world’s largest online community
TakingITGlobal's mission is to empower youth to understand and act on the world's greatest challenges.

This site supplies students with the tools they need to blog about anything they like. Get the pupils involved, blog with another school or take part in writing challenges. PrimaryBlog makes it simple to share, fun to write and keeps pupils engaged.

The World's most popular education blogging service. Edublogs lets you easily create & manage student & teacher blogs, quickly customize designs and include videos, photos & podcasts - it's safe, easy and secure.

* SchoolBloggers
 A free "school-driven" blog engine, with special features and monitoring tools for principals, teachers and class assistants.

Using Skype to connect.  Find a school to Skype from the list. Here is a blog with advice on using Skype to connect classrooms.

Connected Classrooms is a school project that allows classrooms to connect with other classrooms from all around the world. Teachers may register their class on the site to begin the project.

Free and easy to use.  To be safe make the settings as you require. Spatialworlds uses this Blog service.

Everything is connected to something!

The concept of Interconnection
A recurring theme and key concept of the Australian Curriculum: Geography is Interconnection.
“The concept of interconnection emphasises that no object of geographical study can be viewed in isolation. It is about the ways that geographical phenomena are connected to each other through environmental processes, the movement of people, flows of trade and investment, the purchase of goods and services, cultural influences, the exchange of ideas and information, political power and international agreements. Interconnections can be complex, reciprocal or interdependent, and have a strong influence on the characteristics of places.”  Australian Curriculum: Geography draft August 2012

A previous Spatialworlds posting explored the concept of Interdependence when looking at the Kony 2012 phenomenon. As geography teachers and users of spatial technology we are constantly deconstructing our world for students to see that nothing is simple and everything is interconnected, often interdependent and extremely complex. The fact we have a world of order out of the complexities created by interconnection is amazing. The following resource called ‘I, Pencil’ is a fantastic expose on these issues, using the simple pencil (not so simple!) to show the role geography plays in explaining the complexities of our world.
This year's National Geographic Geography Awareness Week's theme was "Declare Your Interdependence!"  The Rhode Island Geography Education Alliance at has developed and archived some great resources to teach interconnection.  The Geography Awareness Week's poster (includes lesson plans etc) for 2012 focused on the video I, Pencil (Geography of a Pencil).  The examination of the theme of interconnectedness makes this a great resource.  It also opens the door for some great conversations about the economics of capitalism and globalization and the concept of spontaneous order.
* Trailer for the I, Pencil movie

* The video. "I, Pencil".

* I, Pencil Extended Commentary is a video series elaborating the fundamental themes of "I, Pencil." The subjectof this installment is Spontaneous Order.

* I, Pencil Extended Commentary is a video series elaborating the fundamental themes of "I, Pencil." The subject of this installment is Connectivity.

* I, Smartphone" is a video based on the essay "I, Pencil" penned by Leonard Read in 1958. This video provides the opportunity to extend the discussion to the more complex Smartphone in terms of technology, but maybe the geography no more complex than the pencil?

The following link on food also would be useful to teach the interconnection concept and link very nicely into the Australian Curriculum: Geography Year Biomes and Food security.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Zooming in and out!

The zoom tool of geography

The concept of scale is an important part of our understanding of geography in the Australian Curriculum. A previous Spatialworlds posting explored the concept of scale. This posting is focussing on the 'zoom' aspect of geography. That is, the constant zooming in and out of the things we engage with as geographers. One minute we may be looking at the distribution of rubbish in the school grounds, next recycling depots in our city, then the location of nuclear waste in Australia, the the countries of the world using nuclear power. In no order, we zoom in and out from the local to global, to regional to national to local. In the UK there is a drive to include a zoom to the world of personal geographyWhilst a talking point amongst academic geographers, such geography of personalisation is increasingly being seen as engaging and highly relevant geography for young people. To make the geography authentic and personalised such an approach is being advocated as a necessary pedagogical approach in the teaching of geography. Hopefully the Australian Curriculum: Geography provides plenty of opportunities for teachers to teach through the personal scale to engage and help students to relate to geography as a useful and relevant subject.

We choose examples and case studies at different scales to elaborate, engage and enhance what we are looking at geographically. After a while students get used to this constant changing of scale and become familiar with making maps at different scales. Naturally such scale perception and representation is a geographical skill that needs to be developed and guided. Zooming adds to the dynamics and multi-dimensions of geographical learning and teaching.  We do not study geography at one scale and all scales we zoom in and out of are interconnected and interdependent of each other. As a geographer we do not just study the horizontal spatial interconnections between places but also the interconnection between scales. For example what is the global scale impact on the national and local sales. An interesting question in this 21st Century world of globalisation and glocalisation

For this posting I thought it would be interesting to list some sites that can be used as case studies at different scales and to demonstrate the zooming dimension of scale in geographical thinking.

* Zooming into maps
This US resource uses maps help students make sense of our world at all scales. A sampling of the Library of Congress Geographies map division 4.5 million treasures has been digitized and is available from 1500-2003. This resource introduces historical maps from the American Memory collections.

* Global cities: Interactive globe
A really interesting spatial 3D representation of global cities. The background information is worth a read as well.

* Personalising your travel around the globe
Select the countries you've visited and produce a map of the world with those countries in red. Make a 1-feature world map by simply clicking on a checklist all of the countries you want highlighted on your map.

* BBC's Urban Growth interactive map
This map uses the Gall-Peters projection, rather than the Gall projection usually used by the BBC. All flat, rectangular maps of the Earth contain some distortion of land size, shape and distance between countries. The Peters Projection minimises the distortion to land area, enabling the best comparison between regional populations and the size of the land masses they live on.

* Global Climate Change: An interactive video
A resource on climate change from the Council on Foreign Relations (independent think tank). The interactive video covers many of the geopolitical, economic and environmental issues that confront the Earth as global temperatures rise. Rather than produce a full length feature film, they have organized the this as an interactive video, allowing the user to get short (a couple of minutes) answer to specific questions about the science, foreign policy or economic ramifications of adapting to climate change.

The regional scale: Food crisis in Sahel 
The hunger crisis in the Sahel region of Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad has been deepening since the start of this year. Explore the map to see how it has been covered by The Guardian newspaper.
* The local scale: What would disappear? 
An interactive showing what areas (in over 20 cities around the U.S.) would be under water if the ocean levels rose 5 feet? 12 feet? 25 feet? The maps show "coastal and low-lying areas that would be permanently flooded without engineered protection.

* The personal scale: Making geography personal
An interesting PowerPoint on the controversial topic of personal gegoraphy.  There should be more of it!
* Some great ideas for personal geography
Personal geography, do we do enough?  Some ideas from UK teacher Tony Cassidy.

* Using technology to do personal geography
Year 8 students annotating their local area with QR codes that link to web-based work exploring their relationship with place. Innovative exploration of the personal and place.

Combining cartographic expertise and a desire to start geography education at a very early age, the founders of Kids Placemaps have personalized a child's geography in a tangible, simple fashion.  
* The Living Geography blog
A great resource for teachers to use to peronalise geography and find hundreds of great geography teaching resources.

* The GA's Living Geography resource
'Living Geography' aims to meet the challenge of engaging students with innovative and enjoyable learning that embraces their own perceptions of change in the local environment.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Spatial stuff and nonsense: Part 2

Image above: The road from Quorn to the Flinders Ranges, South Australia

Related sites to the Spatialworlds project
Spatialworlds website
Australian Geography Teachers' Association website
'Towards a National Geography Curriculum' project website
Geography Teachers' Association of South Australia website
Humsteach blog

Follow Spatialworlds on Twitter

Email contact 

Where am I?? 
Melbourne, Australia: S: 37º 47' E: 144º 58'

No theme for this posting, just spatial stuff and nonsense!

A great opportunity to learn how to use ArcGIS Online (tailored for K-12 educators).

Historical maps from the Big Map Blog . The anti slavery map shows the persuasive role of maps and representations. A map for every purpose in the map archive.  

* Boundary dancing
An animated GIF to show the expansion of the US over time.  An interesting resource for historical geography and the change concept over space.

* Digital citizenship
Here are 10 on-line interactive lession by Google on digital citizenship

* History Pin
This is historical geography powered by collaborative mapping that is infused with social media dynamics. Backed by Google, they are geo-tagging old photos to recreate the historical geographies of all places and comparing them with current street view images.
Watch the video on this great resouce for geography and history teaching.

* Spatial technology and elections 
This article harks back to a previous Spatialworlds posting on the power of spatial technology but also its intrusion on provacy and safety of individuals.

Take advantage of resources that provide you access to free courses from some of the world's best universities and institutions. Learn GIS on your own or supplement your existing geospatial education with these free resources.

 *The “death of distance” has been much exaggerated.: Geography matters as much as ever, despite the digital revolution. A great article exploring the impact of technology on tradition spatial considerations. Makes one think?

Click on the map to get latitude and longitude in both decimal degrees and DMS (degrees, minutes and seconds).  You can also quickly enter coordinates in either format an have the location displayed on the map.

*NASA’s “Spot the Station” will text or email you when the space station passes over your Home. Just provide NASA with your location and email/text address. They’ll then ping you when the space station next passes over your home. Not necessarily geography but space fun.


Maybe nonsense but ...

* Where the Hell is Mat
 Love it, a way to personalise fun geography.

* Digging through the Earth
I am not sure what classroom use this site can be but for engagement value, why not have a play in the class. 


Sunday, November 11, 2012

As it happens!

As discussed in a previous Spatialworlds posting, the introduction of the Australian Curriculum: Geography with specified content must not see the end of one of the most attractive and important parts of geography in the classroom, the ability of geography to be spontaneous and respond to what is happening in the world. Over the past months many things of significance  have happened in the world. However four events stand out and as a result there is a plethora of maps, articles and even resources on-line for teachers to use to study the events in the geography classroom. Here are just four of the biggies!! By no means the only world events that could be studied by a geography class in real time.

1. Hurricane Sandy: A media frenzy occurs after such a disaster, but what great classroom resources to teach about the event!

2. Conflict in Syria: resources available on-line as it happens

3. The US election
Elections are always a great opportunity to map resutls and trends. The recent election in the US was no exception.  Amongst all the red/blue election maps of the US was the cartogram map described below. This cartogram really showed what happened by factoring in population density as the criteria.  Unlike the normal map of the red and blue states this map exposed the extent of the support for Obama and the Democrats in a much more spatially valid way.

The typical red state/blue state map conceals much concerning the spatial voting patterns in the United States and fails to account for the population densities of these distributions. Really show what happened spatially.

* Comparing over time: a really interesting play with the change concept through maps. A series of maps shows that election of 2012 would have looked very different if the voting laws had not changed. A correlation and comparison with the 2012 red/blue states voting and a historical map of the slavery states is also of great interest when considering historical geography. Has there been a change over time in social attitudes in the US?

4. And lets not forget about the London Olympics in July What a wonderful chance this was to do some geography.

Not wanting to wish disaster or tedium on anyone, but I am sure there will be a number 5 and then 6 cataclysmic and/or significant world event in coming months.  Always a good opportuntiy to do some good geography and make some interesting spatial representations for the spontaneous geography classroom.