azgamain3I’ve had some lunch and am off to first session of the afternoon. And the Arizona Geographic Alliance is on fire! Some incredible resources on their web site! Literacy activities, math activities, lesson plans, maps and more. This session focuses on why and how to integrate geography and history.

Gale Olp Ekiss, co-coordinator of the AGA, explained that their goal was to create stand-alone lessons that incorporate a variety of themes.

  • migration
  • cooperation & conflict
  • modifying anfd adapting the environment
  • how physical geography impacts history
  • how places change over time

She said something I hadn’t thought about before –

What if we started to think that migration is not a history theme but a geography theme? What if we thought of conflict like the Civil War or coal mine strikes as geography issues not history issues?

A different way to think about how important geography really is to what we all do.

The group then worked on an interesting semi-PBL activity that asks kids to think about the Scott’s Civil War Anaconda Plan. Kids are assigned to the “Blockade Board” with the task of keeping the South from trading with Europe. The teaching strategy involves giving the Bloackade Board “reports” in the form of maps and geo information. The first map is just an outline map of the South and kids are asked to place 15 “fleets” of their naval ships somewhere. Most kids will place the 15 fleets evenly around from the Cheasepeake Bay west to Galveston, TX.

Of course, there’s no reason to place fleets around Florida, for example. The next “report” is a map including rivers and major port cities. Do you move your fleets?

The exercise continues with more and more data and maps. Very sweet way to get kids thinking about the impact of both human and physical geography and how it impacts thinking and human events.

You get the idea of the kinds of things that you can find at the AGA – you really need to give a look.