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Geography Learning

How and when did you Learn Geography in School? Was your experience with geography in school effective? Connect your experience to present day National Geography Standards (http://www.studentsfriend.com/onhist/ngs.html).

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Geography Learning
How and When did you Learn Geography in School? Was your experience with geography in school effective? Connect your experience to present day National Geography Standards (http://www.studentsfriend.com/onhist/ngs.html).
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The World in Spatial Terms
1. How to use maps and other geographic representations, tools, and technologies to acquire, process, and report information from a spatial perspective
2. How to use mental maps to organize information about people, places, and environments in a spatial context
3. How to analyze the spatial organization of people, places, and environments on earth's surface
Places and Regions
4. The physical and human characteristics of places
5. That people create regions to interpret earth's complexity
6. How culture and experience influence people's perceptions of places and regions
Physical Systems
7. The physical processes that shape the patterns of earth's surface
8. The characteristics and spatial distribution of ecosystems on earth's surface

I am 56 years old and I started grade school in 1960. I learned to use maps in third, fourth, and fifth grade, starting with the United States. With Each year, we learned to map new areas. We were only introduced to mapping the world according to the continents in the primary grades. In fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth grades we got a sense of where everything was located in the world by further examining the continents and then the countries within each one. As we studied the map of the world by continent, we would study both the countries and the major regions within each continent. We would also study major places by continent, for example, in seventh grade we studied the Amazon River in South America. In eighth grade, we started to study the people of different regions around the world. We also started to learn about what the people grew for food, and what each region had to import based on the physical systems within each region or country. We also learned about what grew in abundance based on that environment, and as a result, what they exported. This led to more information about the environment of each region or country. We learned about climate, weather, and what living organisms could survive there, and as we progressed further it was not just about what people could grow for food. We also learned about the way the land was formed, and whether or not it was at sea level. We learned about mountains and rivers and how close the country was to any oceans. We also learned about land-locked countries or regions. We got into more and more detail as we progressed to each higher grade level, and by eighth grade we were studying the physical processes that shape the patterns of earth's surface
and the characteristics and spatial distribution of ecosystems on earth's surface in detail. We were encouraged to combine this information with science for the eighth grade science fair, which was a culminating event to show all we had learned about where science and geography overlap, which is in part: climate, weather, and physical processes that shape the patterns of Earth's surface .

Human Systems
9. The characteristics, distribution, and migration of human populations on earth's surface
10. The characteristics, distribution, and complexity of earth's cultural mosaics
11. The patterns and networks of economic interdependence on earth's surface
12. The processes, patterns, and functions of human settlement
13. How the forces of cooperation and conflict among people influence the division and control of earth's surface
Environment and Society
14. How human actions modify the physical environment
15. How physical systems affect human systems
16. The changes that occur in the meaning, use, distribution, and importance of resources
The Uses of Geography
17. How to apply geography to interpret the past
18. How to apply geography to interpret the present and plan for the future

My first year of high school, we began to examine the characteristics, distribution, and migration of human populations on earth's surface. This is when we began to really look at different cultures, economic interdependence between countries, patterns of human settlement, and cooperation and conflict among people in detail. As we progressed through high school, we then began to examine specific examples of the many ways human actions modify the physical environment and how physical systems affect the human systems. We examined in much more detail imports, exports, and distribution of resources and the changes in those systems within and between countries over a period of time to current. In the last two years of high school and again in college we examined how to use geography and geographical information to interpret the past and how we can use it to plan for the future. By high school and college, the line between geography was blurred with many other subjects, as Geography became more and more a part of Science, and History, and Economics, and Sociology, and Literature. As we got older and as we progressed through the grades, geography became less of a subject by itself and was more incorporated in all of the other subjects we learned.

As a teacher, I know that today the different areas of the Geography curriculum have been shifted to various grade levels, but this is the way it was for me from 1960 through the mid - 1970's.

Here is why:
The National Geography Standards
In 1994, a coalition of four geography groups1 calling itself the Geography Education Standards Project released a set of National Geography Standards titled Geography for Life. As was the case with the National History Standards released in the same year, the developers of the geography standards identified a huge body of knowledge to be learned by students. Six "essential elements" expanded into 18 "standards" containing 124 "knowledge statements" with 426 "learning opportunities," totaling 716 various geography requirements for students at the secondary level.
Geography for Life attempted to replace the well-known "Five Themes of Geography" with a new formulation,"six essential elements" of geography. The five themes of geography are: location, place, human/environment interaction, movement, and region. The six essential elements of the National Geography Standards identify similar concepts with some additions: the world in spatial terms, places and regions, physical systems, human systems, environment and society, and the uses of geography.
The geography standards' framework found its way into state standards documents and mainstream textbooks. For example, the 2003 edition of the Glencoe world geography textbook briefly mentioned the Five Themes and then commented, "Most recently, geographers have begun to look at geography in a different way. Geography educators have created a set of eighteen learning standards called Geography for Life. Each of these eighteen standards is organized into six essential elements...Being aware of these elements will help you sort out what you are learning about geography."2
The National Geography Standards' six essential elements and eighteen standards are reproduced below. A listing of standards and benchmarks for the high school grades follows. (For a list of standards and benchmarks for all grade levels visit : http://www.hawaii.edu/hga/Standard/Standard.html.)
Notes:
1. American Geographical Society, Association of American Geographers, National Council for Geographic Education, National Geographic Society.
2. Boehm, Richard G., Glencoe World Geography, Glencoe McGraw-Hill, 2

Summary - National Geography Standards
The goal of the National Geography Standards is to produce a geographically informed person who sees meaning in the arrangement of things in space and applies a spatial perspective to life situations. The geographically informed person knows and understands:
The World in Spatial Terms
1. How to use maps and other geographic representations, tools, and technologies to acquire, process, and report information from a spatial perspective
2. How to use mental maps to organize information about people, places, and environments in a spatial context
3. How to analyze the spatial organization of people, places, and environments on earth's surface
Places and Regions
4. The physical and human characteristics of places
5. That people create regions to interpret earth's complexity
6. How culture and experience influence people's perceptions of places and regions
Physical Systems
7. The physical processes that shape the patterns of earth's surface
8. The characteristics and spatial distribution of ecosystems on earth's surface
Human Systems
9. The characteristics, distribution, and migration of human populations on earth's surface
10. The characteristics, distribution, and complexity of earth's cultural mosaics
11. The patterns and networks of economic interdependence on earth's surface
12. The processes, patterns, and functions of human settlement
13. How the forces of cooperation and conflict among people influence the division and control of earth's surface
Environment and Society
14. How human actions modify the physical environment
15. How physical systems affect human systems
16. The changes that occur in the meaning, use, distribution, and importance of resources
The Uses of Geography
17. How to apply geography to interpret the past
18. How to apply geography to interpret the present and plan for the future
Standards and Benchmarks, Grades 9-12
A. The world in spatial terms
B. Places and regions
C. Physical systems
D. Human systems
E. Environment and society
F. The uses of geography

A. THE WORLD IN SPATIAL TERMS
Geography Standard 1: How to use maps and other geographic representations, tools, and technologies to acquire, process, and report information from a spatial perspective
By the end of the twelfth grade, the student knows and understands:
1. How to use maps and other graphic representations to depict geographic problems
2. How to use technologies to represent and interpret Earth's physical and human systems
3. How to use geographic representations and tools to analyze, explain, and solve geographic problems
Therefore, the student is able to:
A. Produce and interpret maps and other graphic representations to solve geographic problems, as exemplified by being able to
Develop maps to illustrate how population density varies in relation to resources and types of land use (e.g., variations in population density in cattle-raising areas versus truck-farming areas, residential areas versus inner cities, unused desert areas versus year-round vacation resorts)
Compile information from various media and then transform the primary data into maps, graphs, and charts (e.g., bar graphs showing wheat production in Argentina over a five-year period, charts developed from recent census data ranking selected information on such topics as high-school dropout rates per state, or literacy rates for the countries of Southwest Asia, cartograms depicting the relative sizes of Latin American countries based on their urban populations
Develop maps and graphs to show the spatial relationships within and between regions (e.g., transportation networks illustrating rail, air, and highway connections between northern and southern Europe, or time-to-travel distance ratios within the Northeast megalopolis in the United States)
B. Use maps and other geographic representations to analyze world events and suggest solutions to world problems, as exemplified by being able to
Develop maps, tables, graphs, charts, and diagrams to depict the geographic implications of current world events (e.g., maps showing changing political boundaries and tables showing the distribution of refugees from areas affected by natural disasters)
Modify selected characteristics of a region (e.g., population, environment, politics, economics, culture) to suggest long-range planning goals
Use several different maps to account for selected consequences of human/environment interactions (e.g., the impact of a tropical storm on a coral island, the draining of wetlands on bird and marine life, desertification on human settlement)
C. Evaluate the applications of geographic tools and supporting technologies to serve particular purposes, as exemplified by being able to
Provide evidence regarding the central role of maps to study and explore Earth throughout history (e.g., maps made by early navigators and by such polar explorers as Robert F. Scott, Robert E. Peary, and Matthew Henson)
Choose and give reasons to use specific technologies to analyze selected geographic problems (e.g., aerial photographs, satellite-produced imagery, and geographic information systems [GIS] to determine the extent of water pollution in a harbor complex in South Africa or the range of deforestation in Madagascar)
Geography Standard 2: How to use mental maps to organize information about people, places and environments in a spatial context
By the end of the twelfth grade, the student knows and understands:
1. How to use mental maps of physical and human features of the world to answer complex geographic questions
2. How mental maps reflect the human perception of places
3. How mental maps influence spatial and environmental decision-making
Therefore, the student is able to:
A. Use maps drawn from memory to answer geographic questions, as exemplified by being able to
Prepare sketch maps indicating the approximate locations of different political cultures in the United States to predict voting patterns (e.g., changes in votes cast in presidential elections since 1960 related to voter migration to the Sunbelt states)
Prepare a sketch map to illustrate the spatial dynamics of contemporary and historical events (e.g., the spread of radiation from the Chernobyl nuclear accident or of the bubonic plague in fourteenth-century Europe, how physical features have deterred migrations and invasions)
Analyze world patterns of the diffusion of contagious diseases (e.g., AIDS, cholera, measles) to draw conclusions about spatial interactions (trade and transportation) in the present-day world
B. Identify the ways in which mental maps influence human decisions about location, settlement, and public policy, as exemplified by being able to
Collect information to understand decision-makers mental maps (e.g., conduct interviews with community leaders regarding their perceptions of the location of different community activities)
Identify the ways in which values, attitudes, and perceptions are reflected in past and present decisions concerning location (e.g., locating houses in areas with scenic views, selecting a building site in a dramatic physical setting for a house of worship in a new suburban community)
Draw conclusions about the roles that different sources of information play in peoples decisions to migrate to other countries (e.g., letters from relatives and friends, newspaper and magazine advertisements, television programs and movies)
C. Compare the mental maps of individuals to identify common factors that affect the development of spatial understanding and preferences, as exemplified by being able to
Speculate about the differences in peoples mental maps based on differences in their life experiences (e.g., the influence of age and sex on how people view housing preferences or public transportation in a city)
Analyze factors that influence peoples preferences about where to live (e.g., surveys of fellow students identifying choice residential areas within the community or within the country)
Compare maps of the world using different projections and perceptions of space (e.g., a map centered on the Pacific Ocean or a world map with Australia at the top) to draw conclusions about factors that influence mental maps
Geography Standard 3: How to analyze the spatial organization of people, places, and environments on Earth's surface
By the end of the twelfth grade, the student knows and understands:
1. The generalizations that describe and explain spatial interaction
2. The models that describe patterns of spatial organization
3. The spatial behavior of ...

Solution Summary

I learned to use maps in third, fourth, and fifth grade, starting with the United States. With Each year, we learned to map new areas. We were only introduced to mapping the world according to the continents in the primary grades. In fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth grades we got a sense of where everything was located in the world by further examining the continents and then the countries within each one. As we studied the map of the world by continent, we would study both the countries and the major regions within each continent. We would also study major places by continent, for example, in seventh grade we studied the Amazon River in South America. In eighth grade, we started to study the people of different regions around the world. We also started to learn about what the people grew for food, and what each region had to import based on the physical systems within each region or country. We also learned about what grew in abundance based on that environment, and as a result, what they exported. This led to more information about the environment of each region or country. We learned about climate, weather, and what living organisms could survive there, and as we progressed further it was not just about what people could grow for food. We also learned about the way the land was formed, and whether or not it was at sea level. We learned about mountains and rivers and how close the country was to any oceans. We also learned about land-locked countries or regions. We got into more and more detail as we progressed to each higher grade level, and by eighth grade we were studying the physical processes that shape the patterns of earth's surface
and the characteristics and spatial distribution of ecosystems on earth's surface in detail. We were encouraged to combine this information with science for the eighth grade science fair, which was a culminating event to show all we had learned about where science and geography overlap, which is in part: climate, weather, and physical processes that shape the patterns of Earth's surface .

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