World Literature and Geo-literacy Student Essay Contest

As a follow up to last month’s newsletter, we’re very pleased to share the award-winning student essay written by Mariana Fernandez, a sophomore in the World Literature program at the Academy of Our Lady of Peace in San Diego. The prompt for Mariana’s essay was: How does our study of girls around the world help us better understand the true meaning of the word hero? Next month, teachers Katie Turner and Laura Rodriguez will share their World Literature curriculum and describe how they incorporated geo-literacy into their classrooms. Congratulations again to Mariana Fernandez for her inspiring essay!

Kate Swanson, Mariana Fernandez and Katie Turner at the Academy of Our Lady of Peace Sophomore Award Ceremony in May 2014

Kate Swanson, Mariana Fernandez and Katie Turner at the Academy of Our Lady of Peace Sophomore Award Ceremony in May 2014

Change the World Literature

by Mariana Fernandez

On the first day of sophomore year, I walked into my World Literature classroom with the mindset of a girl who just wanted an A in the class in order to have a solid application for college. I came in and mentally prepared myself for the mindless note taking and quizzes about plot and character that I would probably have to endure. I sat down and looked up at the front of the room as I slumped in my seat.  Right there, in the middle of the whiteboard, were the words “change the world literature”. Back then, I had no clue that those words were true and that I would walk out of the classroom with a completely different perspective about the world. I did not realize that this would be one of the classes I can say changed my life. This year, I am leaving World Literature as a girl who will do all she can to change the world.

Throughout the year, I was taught to understand different characters, from around the world that came to life for me as a result of each author’s harmonious placement of words on paper. I was also given an opportunity to use that knowledge and understanding of heroic characters to develop my own idea of a hero, who I named Anna. To summarize, I was given the opportunity to actually use the things I learned in class in order to form the girl who will walk out of my high school in two years, ready to change the world.

If I had to choose a few characters who, through literature, changed my perspective about the world, they would include Guy Montag, created by Ray Bradbury in Fahrenheit 451, Liesel Meminger, given life by Marcus Zusak in The Book Thief, and Marji, formed from personal memory by Marjane Satrapi in Persepolis: The Story of A Childhood.  Montag lives in an American dystopian society that is opposed to any sort of intellect; Liesel is a girl living in Nazi Germany, a time when certain books were banned and questioning the Nazi’s methods was dangerous; Marji lives in Iran, during the time of the Islamic Revolution. Similar to Montag and Liesel, Marji’s curiosity and will to learn is suppressed by seemingly irrepressible forces. When placed apart these are just ordinary heroes who can only teach a girl like me so much. In other words, I can discover as much by just focussing on one of these heroes as I would if I tried to learn about World War II using only my country’s perspective. However, when I place them together, I am able to gain a real understanding of what it actually means to be a hero. I understood this definition of heroism when I took a step back and looked at the big picture: three characters who come from completely different parts of the world become heroes against all social, political, and cultural odds. These characters have different cultures, which makes them approach their challenges differently, but the fact that three different paths lead to the same destination, shows that a certain language or the color of one’s skin isn’t what makes someone a hero. A person becomes a hero because of the courage she has to take a step onto the rocky path that leads to change.

One of the biggest struggles shared by each hero is finding her voice amongst a society that is constantly trying to quiet her. They have trouble accepting that no one is going to speak up and say that what their society is doing is wrong.  However, in the end all of these ordinary people somehow find the courage they need to act out against injustices. In The Book Thief, Liesel has “twenty seconds of insane courage” as Benjamin Mee said in We Bought a Zoo, directed by Cameron Crowe.  She literally crosses her own threshold and grabs a book from the fiery flames of a famous Nazi book burning, in order to learn to read. In Persepolis, Marji also musters up this same courage when she raises her hand in class to contradict the unfair teacher, and fundamentalist practices as a whole. She stands out among the other students who simply agree with the status quo, like mindless drones who fear thinking a single independent thought (Satrapi 144). In Fahrenheit 451, Guy Montag does not have super strength, or any other superpower like Superman. Instead, he is an average person who chooses to become an outlaw instead of living in a place where education is banned. I admire the courage he must have in order to do what is right, even when he knows that the consequences will be horrible.

All of these characters change the common definition of the word hero. They are not magical beings with preposterous powers; none of their actions result in a huge revolution; but, in my opinion, what makes them heroes is the fact that they have that insane courage to question what they are led to believe and to take leaps of faith. This new idea about what it means to be a hero inspired the creation of Anna, my own hero, who I developed throughout the semester as a class Pinterest project on geo-literacy.

Anna is the result of every character, every conflict, every idea (even every homework assignment!) I encountered during World Literature. She is the person who I hope I will become in the future. Anna is a girl who is not afraid to speak out against injustices that occur in her society. Injustices such as bullying occur all around her. Of course, stopping the bullies would mean that Anna may not be “popular” or well-liked. However she does not fear the persecution that will follow her attempts to be true to herself and true to her beliefs. The fact that she doesn’t care about the consequences of choosing what is just over what is wrong is what makes her a superhero and motivates me to become a hero in my own society. In a letter written to high schoolers just like me, e.e. cummings once said, “to be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, day and night, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.” My superhero alter ego may not have saved a million lives yet, but she is a hero because she has the courage to be herself.

After learning about Marji in Iran, Montag from a dystopian future in the United States, and Liesel in Nazi Germany, it is now my turn to adapt their courage and bring Anna to life. I used to think that changing the world meant creating a huge revolution that completely erases the current structure, much like the systems that try to stop people like Marji, Montag, and Liesel from growing.  I now know that all I need to do to change the world is create a tiny ripple that will change at least one life. This tiny change causes people to question the rules and realize when there is something wrong. Basically, in order to be a hero, I must find the courage to create commotion. This commotion will probably result in people being perplexed that I dared to question the “norm”, because after commotion, people try to fix things and go back to “normal” life. My commotion will help them realize there are things that need fixing for the better. The heroes I met, not only from Germany or Iran, but from Nepal, India, Peru, Sierra Leone, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Afghanistan as well, cause a commotion in me which inspires me to create waves. I have decided to create commotion, and though I may not be the one who changes the whole world, I will be a part of those who inspire this change.

 

Works Cited

Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451. Evanston: McDougal Littell, 1998. Print.

Satrapi, Marjane. Persepolis. New York, NY: Pantheon, 2003. Print.

Zusak, Markus. The Book Thief. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006. Print.

 

 

Teacher Professional Development Workshop – California Atlas – Placer County Office of Ed. – Wed., July 16

As a result of generous support from the Bechtel Foundation, the CGA is offering professional development workshops for 4th grade teachers focused on our state atlas, California: A Changing State.

Our latest workshop to be announced will be held in Auburn at the Placer County Office of Education, from 8 am to 4 pm on Wednesday, July 16. These workshops are free for any fourth grade teacher, and each participant receives a set of 18 atlases for classroom use, activities and lesson plans to get their students using the atlases, and a selection of other books and materials, all valued at over $250. Space is limited, so reserve your spot now by visiting the Professional Development page.

Exciting News from Esri – Making GIS Accessible to K-12 Educators

It was announced yesterday at the White House that Esri will provide free ArcGIS Online subscriptions for all K-12 schools (instructional use) in the United States as part of the White House’s ConnectED initiative. More information is available here.

Resources to help schools get started with ArcGIS Online are available at http://edcommunity.esri.com/connected.

In conjunction with this initiative, we encourage GIS professionals to become GeoMentors who volunteer to help schools set up their ArcGIS Online account, provide data for the local community, and provide local expertise. More information about the GeoMentor program is at http://www.geomentor.org.

ArcGIS Online subscriptions for K-12 schools include 500 named users. The July release of ArcGIS Online will include a new custom role (“Student”) and new account administration tools for managing student accounts.

Please contact connectEDschools@esri.com with questions.

Geo-literacy through World Literature

by Kate Swanson

Kenton Hundley and OLP student perform participatory spoken word poetry together

Your new CGA leadership team has been working hard to build exciting and innovative collaborations to help promote geography education in California’s schools. We recently had an opportunity to collaborate with the Academy of Our Lady of Peace (OLP), a high school that has been teaching girls in San Diego since 1882. Working with English teachers Katie Turner and Laura Rodriguez, we helped develop an exciting sophomore World Literature curriculum that focused on geo-literacy and girls’ global education and empowerment.

Today I’m going to give an overview of this collaboration. In next month’s newsletter, you’ll hear from one of the school’s World Literature students as she gives her thoughts on how the curriculum fostered her desire to change the world for the better! The following month, we’ll hear from teachers Katie and Laura as they describe their World Literature curriculum in more detail. We hope their curriculum might serve as a model for how to incorporate geography education into the classroom in engaging ways.

World literature, states Alexander Solzhenitsyn, is “the one great heart that beats for the cares and misfortunes of our world, even though each corner sees and experiences them in a different way.” This quote, taken from the OLP World Literature syllabus, captures a major goal of the curriculum – to help girls step outside of their comfort zones in order to help them understand global social and environmental issues through a different lens. The books they read and the films they watched spanned Norway (Ibsen’s A Doll’s House), Zimbabwe (Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions), Iran (Satrapi’s Persepoli), India (Mehta’s Water), and New Zealand (Caro’s Whale Rider). Each student in the class was also assigned a country to profile. Their task was to explore national level geography, culture, politics, and economics in order to explore factors affecting women’s and girls’ literacy levels in each of their assigned countries.

To help further their understanding of girls’ struggles around the world, the CGA purchased and screened the film Girl Rising. This film shares girls’ struggles through powerful story telling. By focusing on stories from Cambodia, Haiti, Nepal, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Peru, Sierra Leone and Afghanistan, it demonstrates how educating girls can have formidable impacts across families, communities, nations, and the world (http://girlrising.com/).

We then helped bring three keynote speakers to create a speaker symposium for the 120 girls enrolled in the World Literature program. All of the speakers were invited to share their own personal journeys, as well as their work. The first speaker was yours truly. I shared my story on how I became a geographer, and also spoke about some of my work with migrant youth. We then invited Kenton Hundley, an award-winning spoken word poet, who works at a safe house for unaccompanied minors. Kenton blew the girls away by sharing his powerful poetry about the Latin American youth who risk their lives to journey to America. Our final speaker was Professor Doreen Mattingly an outstanding geographer and feminist scholar who is currently Associate Professor in the Department of Women’s Studies at San Diego State University. Professor Mattingly’s words inspired the girls to pursue their goals and strive to make the world a better place.

Teacher Laura Rodriguez (far left), Dr. Doreen Mattingly (back row center), teacher Katie Turner (far right) and OLP sophomore students

Finally, we sponsored a geo-literacy essay contest. The prompt was: How does our study of girls around the world help us better understand the true meaning of the world hero? There were many excellent essays (we had 7 honorable mentions!), demonstrating the power of this curriculum to inspire. The winning essay, written by Mariana Fernandez, will be featured in next month’s newsletter. We presented the award to Mariana at a large sophomore awards ceremony attended by students, parents and teachers. Congratulations, Mariana! I hope you all enjoy her excellent essay next month.

For teachers out there who are incorporating geography into their classrooms in innovative ways, we encourage you to get in touch with us. We hope to profile the work of other teachers on our website (www.calgeography.org) and in this newsletter. By doing so, we can help spread geo-literacy around the state!

Kate Swanson (far left), Kenton Hundley (front center), Katie Turner (far right) and OLP students

Kate Swanson (far left), Kenton Hundley (front center), Katie Turner (far right) and OLP students

Understanding the Crisis in the Ukraine: a Lesson Aligned to Common Core and California History-Social Studies Standards

The full lesson is found here: http://www.crf-usa.org/online-lessons-index/the-crisis-in-ukraine

Overview

This lesson examines the crisis in Ukraine. First, students hold a brief discussion on what they think is the most important news story going on. Then they read and discuss a background piece on the crisis in Ukraine. Next, in small groups, they role play international lawyers and analyze Ukraine’s 1994 Budapest Memorandum, an agreement among Ukraine, Russia, the U.S., and the U.K.

Objectives

Students will be able to:

    > Explain why the protests in Ukraine took place.
    > Describe the cultural divisions in Ukraine.
    > Analyze and answer text-dependent questions on a primary document, citing evidence from the text (Ukraine’s Budapest Memorandum).

Standards Addressed

Common Core Standard RH.11–12.1: Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.

National High School Civics Standard 22: Understands how the world is organized politically into nation states, how nation states interact with one another, and issues surrounding U.S. foreign policy. (1) Understands the significance of principal foreign policies and events in the United States’ relations with the world (e.g., Monroe Doctrine, World Wars I and II, formation of the United Nations, Marshall Plan, NATO, Korean and Vietnam Wars, end of the Cold War). (12) Knows some important bilateral and multilateral agreements to which the United States is signatory (e.g., NAFTA, Helsinki Accord, Antarctic Treaty, Most Favored Nation Agreements).

California History Social Science Standard 11.9: Students analyze U.S. foreign policy since World War II.

National High School U.S. History Standard 30: Understands developments in foreign policy ….

California History–Social Science Standard 6.4: Students analyze the geographic, political, economic, religious, and social structures of the early civilizations of Ancient Greece. (1) Discuss the connections between geography and the development of city states in the region of the Aegean Sea, including patterns of trade and commerce among Greek city states and within the wider Mediterranean region. (2) Trace the transition from tyranny and oligarchy to early democratic forms of government and back to dictatorship in ancient Greece, including the significance of the invention of the idea of citizenship (e.g., from Pericles’ Funeral Oration).

National World History Standard 8: Understands how Aegean civilization emerged and how interrelations developed among peoples of the Eastern Mediterranean and Southwest Asia from 600 to 200 BCE. (1) Understands the political framework of Athenian society (e.g., the influence of Athenian political ideals on public life; major changes made to the Athenian political organization between the initial monarchy and the governments of Solon and Cleisthenes . . . ).

Atlas Professional Development Workshop: Long Beach, May 31 (CLOSED)

This atlas workshop has been announced in response to a high level of interest from teachers in the Long Beach area. It will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on May 31, with the exact location to be determined. Participants receive training in use of the California Atlas, with lesson plans aligned to content standards and educational best practices. All participants receive a classroom set of atlases and other valuable free materials, all at no cost.

These workshops are free for any fourth grade teacher, and space is limited, so reserve your spot now. For more information about this workshop and to register, visit the Professional Development page.

Report from BioBlitz 2014 at Golden Gate National Parks

BioBlitz2014

By Roni Jones

#BioBlitz2014 at Golden Gate National Parks in San Francisco was an exhilarating and inspiring event for students, educators, scientists, and citizens. National Geographic Education staff started the week by spending Tuesday, March 25 at John Muir Middle School in Corcoran, California, just south of Fresno, to conduct a Schoolyard BioBlitz with 240 7th grade students. Over three hours, students visited three different sites in town and on campus to observe birds, insects, animals, and plants. JMMS is a Verizon Innovative Learning School and an Apple Distinguished School, and has implemented a 1:1 iPad ratio for students and teachers. With this technology, students were able to utilize the iNaturalist app to identify and document different species throughout the day. Students were most excited to observe owl pellets containing animal bones, feathers, and other indigestible matter. Information and video collected during the Schoolyard BioBlitz will ultimately be available for educators so they, too, can organize and conduct their own local species inventories.

At noon on Friday, March 25, BioBlitz 2014 was officially launched, although students and scientists had started collected data early that morning. The staff at Golden Gate National Parks, as well as Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy and the Presidio Trust, coordinated hundreds of naturalists, docents, birdwatchers, and other volunteers to work with more than 3,000 students throughout the day. Students were scattered throughout the Bay Area from San Mateo to the Marin Headlands to conduct inventories about what types of bird, reptile, mammal, plant and insect species were observed. It was amazing to see so many students actively involved in field science and engaged so fully with their local environment. The weather was spectacular and the students were also able to enjoy a large festival of hands-on activities at Crissy Field, in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge.

The public and scientific inventories continued into Friday night and Saturday morning, even though the weather turned stormy and wet. Volunteers returned to the field throughout the 24-hour period to inventory tide pools and identify nocturnal creatures. The first-ever inventory of the canopy of the redwood forest in Muir Woods was conducted. In total, 300 scientists, 3,000 students, and over 5,000 volunteers took part in this unique and exciting event.

Next year, #BioBlitz2015 will take place at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, so make your vacation plans now to participate!

Bringing GIS into the Classroom: Ideas for Teachers of All Disciplines

By Trevore Humphrey
Note: This article is based on a presentation given at the 2014 California Council for the Social Studies Conference.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage, and present all types of geographical data. Google Earth as well as other modern online GIS tools has greatly added to the list of free and accessible geospatial technology that teachers can use as a powerful tool in their classrooms, and this article will provide some ideas for science, Math, and English classrooms.

While great traditional map sources like National Geographic “One-Pager Maps” offer great hands on opportunities for students to work in geography, geospatial technology offers students a far more dynamic medium to work in. There are two main paths to using GIS in the classroom; Instructional and Project Based Learning (PBL).

PBL can be easily implemented by combining a research project with GIS to have students create content on their maps and present their research to their classmates using this medium

  • EX: Student(s) creates basic map and tour that shows the paths of migration and settlement in early America.
  • EX: Student(s) creates map that compares and contrasts basic U.S. census data from two different decades. Map highlights and describes significant changes over time.

Links to sites where students can create maps:
http://mapmaker.education.nationalgeographic.com/
https://mapsengine.google.com/map/

Instructional uses fall into three major categories that are as follows.

  • Direct Instruction: Part of lecture or activity. GIS programs can be quickly and easily used as an instructional reference map with greater detail and accuracy than any paper or static map.

    EX: Showing student(s) historically significant physical markers like the Panama Canal or the Great Wall of China.

  • Independent Study: Excellent digital resource.
  • EX: Have student(s) complete an “Earth Quest” in which they explore the map you have created and answer questions and prompts as they go.

  • Review: Good format for unit review.

    EX: Create a comprehensive review for a unit exam by narrating an audio tour (Google Earth) which covers the content and concepts students need to know for the exam. Post file online for students to access at their convenience. Include content check questions along the way.

Geography has been often restricted to the Social Studies classroom and is often only covered there but with the opportunities that GIS offers we can bring geography into multiple disciplines. The following are brief descriptions with links that support geospatial technology use outside the social-studies.

Science: The core subject of science and in particular, earth science and environmental science are areas that can be greatly aided by using geospatial technology. There already is a plethora of models and data out there for teachers to use. For some great k-12 earth science activities and lesson plans for Google Earth visit the Earth and Space Science QUEST by Penn State.

Math: To make math more tangible, real world based GIS offers the ability to measure distances, area, latitude and longitude: intersecting lines, angles, etc. Instead of having students answer the classic, “If train A is going 50mph and is 340 miles…” have students actually find a railroad and calculate a real distance (S.F.-L.A.) that they measure. For more examples and full lesson plans visit http://www.realworldmath.org/

English: We ask students to look up vocabulary terms that are new to them when they are reading. They should also be looking up locations and places they read about but are not familiar with. This will strengthen understanding through generating geographic context, mental maps, and spatial relationships. A great resource for teachers is Google Lit Trips which is a site full of Google Earth models for a variety of fiction and non-fiction books k-12 students read. And creating a Google Lit Trip could be a great project to accompany reading a novel.
While geography still remains a largely social studies discipline GIS offers teachers a technology that can support interdisciplinary work as well as help meet the goals of the new Common Core standards. The following are some of the few benefits of having students work with GIS no matter what class they are in.

geospatial technology benefits graphic

In conclusion, there are a wide variety of GIS programs; some that are simple and quick to use such as National Geographic MapMaker interactive or Google Maps; some that are a bit more advanced and offer greater complexity such as Google Earth or ArcGIS Online. No matter what GIS program you might use for your class the result will be a new, dynamic, and engaging approach to incorporate geography and technology into your classroom.

- Trevore Humphrey

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USS Midway Museum Summer Teacher Institute – Opportunities for CGA Members!

CGA has reserved spaces for a few members (high school teachers) to participate in the USS Midway Museum’s 2014 Midway Institute for Teachers. The institute offers two weeks of professional development on teaching about the Cold War era, its origins and effects, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and era, and presidential decision-making. These CGA members will join a group of thirty teacher/scholars selected to participate in a specialized institute in downtown San Diego from June 16-27, 2014. The seminar will be held aboard the USS Midway, an artifact of that era and the only aircraft carrier to serve the entire duration of the Cold War.

For more information and to apply to this program, go to: http://www.midway.org/midway-teacher-institute

Please indicate on your application that you are a CGA Member. Travel costs and stipend are provided.

Atlas Professional Development Workshop in San Diego on May 10, 2014

This workshop is at capacity, but interested teachers are encouraged to register to be put on a wait list. We will notify teachers if spots open up and give them priority for future workshops.

The first of four upcoming atlas workshops has been announced, and it will be held at the San Diego County Office of Education from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on May 10. These workshops are free for any fourth grade teacher, and space is limited, so reserve your spot now. For more information about this workshop and to register, visit the Professional Development page.