History Curriculum Portfolio Home Page

History Curriculum Portfolio

By: Grace Shanafelt, Sheri Gezann, and Tamara Roach

Common Instructional Strategies

Geography Strategies

How can we help children learn Geography?
What should children learn about Geography?
What can be done in schools to enhance children's knowledge of Geography?
What can be done at home?

What are the common instructional strategies incorporated by teachers in their use of the identified curricular packages?

How do teachers of the Deaf instruct History?
We asked two teachers from two different school districts just that and here is what they said.

Lisa Nickel is a teacher from Cleveland who has taught for five years and currently has a middle school age class. She suggests making the topic as visual as possible and very hands-on. Copying of written material helps students remember specific information and helps to commit it to memory. Lisa also says that copying written material teaches them to comprehend what they read and then write. She also uses an overhead to present written material and pictures in a more visual manner.

Sue McCrory is a teacher from Canton who has taught for about 21 years and currently has a fifth grade class who functions at a second grade level. She also suggests making the historical topic as visual as possible including closed captioned videos and many, many games and puzzles. She suggests using a broad topic where you can choose broader more visual components of that topic. She suggests using subject related stories and trade books with visual pictures to help to tell the story. Crafts help to improve comprehensive knowledge of the topic and make the information more relevant to the students.

These two teachers have much experience with many students of different ages and ability levels. They have suggested, as a whole, making History more visual and hands-on, and, in doing that, History becomes more fun filled and enjoyable for the students.

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Geography Strategies

An article written by John Patrick, found on Ask Eric, gives suggestions on how to teach geography to students. This need for a revamp was demonstrated by a survey whose results showed that one in five Americans could not identify the location of the United States on an outline map of the world.

The first section asks What Should Children Learn About Geography? The article suggests basic concepts and subjects that should be focused upon for students general knowledge.

John suggests more time should be spend in the classroom and at home on geography related activities so that our children will know where the United States is on an outline map of the world.

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How Can We Help Children Learn Geography?

A recent survey revealed that one in five Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 could not locate the United States on an outline map of the world. What explains this lack of geographic knowledge? In the United States, geography is not considered a basic academic course. Geography content in the middle grades (5-8) is often integrated into a world history or social studies course, and only one student in seven takes a high school geography course.

Although courses in geography are indeed crucial to geographic understanding, students will derive true knowledge of world geography only if parents and teachers place emphasis on geographic themes through application activities on a day-to-day basis. Maps, globes, and atlases should be daily resources to answer questions about location, regions, climates, movement of people, and the relationship between places and the people, and the relationship between places and the characteristics of the people that live there. A solid foundation in geography should begin with preschoolers; five- year-olds can construct three-dimensional maps of the classroom to begin to understand symbolic representation and spatial relationships.

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What Should Children Learn About Geography?

Children should know the locations of places and peoples. They should understand why communities are located in particular places, how people have shaped them, and how they have affected people's lives. They also should be able to use their knowledge of geography to solve problems and make decisions in daily life.

Geographers and geography educators across the United States have developed five fundamental themes to help children learn geography. These themes have been endorsed by the Association of American Geographers, the National Council for Geographic Education, and the National Geographic Society and have been widely adopted in schools to teach geography. Each theme is listed and described below in conjunction with a question to help parents and teachers focus children's thinking geographically.

- Location - the positions of people and places on the earth's surface. Where in the world are places located?
- Place - the physical and human characteristics that distinguish one place from other places. What makes a place special?
- Relationships Within Places - the interactions of humans with their environments that shape the characteristics of people and places. What are the interactions among people and places that explain how we shape and are shaped by our environment?
- Movement - the human interactions on the earth [people, products, and information] that affect the characteristics of places. What are the global patterns of movement of people, products, and information?
- Regions - how they form and change. How can the earth be divided into regions to help us understand similarities and differences of peoples and places?

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What Can Be Done in Schools to Enhance Children's Knowledge of Geography?

If youngsters are to acquire an appreciation of the physical world in which they live and ultimately learn to think geographically, schools must restore geography as a prominent course in the curriculum. Schools can take the following steps to ensure that students become competent in their knowledge of the world around them.

- Increase coverage of geography at every level of the school curriculum. Children cannot achieve geographic literacy unless they have ample exposure to the subject.
- Teach geography as a separate school subject. In addition, encourage teachers to infuse the five geographic themes into other school subjects, such as history, economics, and earth science.
- Add depth to studies of this subject. Avoid mentioning many geographic facts while investigating few in depth.
- Use multiple sources and media of instruction, such as video programs, primary documents, computer software, wall maps and charts, globes and atlases, and periodicals with numerous pictures and maps. Avoid reliance on standard textbooks.
- Emphasize active learning by applying knowledge to investigate real geographic problems.
- Use the local community as a resource for examples of the five geographic themes. Involve children in hands-on investigations of nearby places such as farms or parks.

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What Can Be Done at Home?

Parents can enhance their child's knowledge of geography by advocating its emphasis in the school curriculum, but learning should not be restricted to the classroom. Parents can do many things to stir their children's curiosity and make geography fun to learn. Games, maps, and other activities are informal and easy ways to encourage geographic awareness and lay a solid foundation.

As your child's first teacher, you can have an ongoing impact on your child's knowledge of geography by monitoring and reinforcing lessons presented at school. You can reinforce school learning by doing the following things at home:

- Read stories from or about other countries and books that describe journeys.
- Make different ethnic foods or take your child to ethnic restaurants.
- Give children an opportunity to travel by car, bus, bicycle, or on foot. If available, try other forms of transportation, such as planes, trains, subways, ferries, or horse-drawn carriages.
- Teach your child positional words (above, below) and directions (north, south, east, west) and use these words in your daily conversations.
- Use the library to discover how other cultures celebrate holidays. Discuss customs, dress, and food.
- Invite friends or neighbors who are from different countries or who have traveled or lived abroad to talk with your child about their experiences.
- Use maps and encourage your child to make his or her own maps.
- Encourage family viewing of television programs with geographic content and participate with children in post-program discussions of geographic themes and issues.
- Use pictures from books and magazines to help your child associate words such as desert, volcano, and rain forest with visual images.
- Seek opportunities to examine and discuss geographic themes with your child as you encounter them in daily activities in your home and neighborhood.

The above recommendations are firmly rooted in studies that reveal geography concepts should be taught through concrete activities, begun early, and applied to everyday experiences. Schools certainly have a role to play in developing geographic understanding, but the home is an ideal setting for applying what is learned in practical ways so children will realize the importance of geography in their lives.

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Most of the following references -- those identified with an ED or EJ number -- have been abstracted and are in the ERIC database. The journal articles should be available at most research libraries. For a list of ERIC collections in your area, contact ACCESS ERIC at 1-800-LET-ERIC.

Fromboluti, Carol Sue. (1991). Helping your child learn geography. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, ED 313 316.

Gallup Poll. (1988). Geography: An international Gallup survey. Princeton, NJ: The Gallup Organization.

Geographic Education National Implementation Project. (1987). K-6 geography: Themes, key ideas, and learning opportunities. Macomb, IL: National Council for Geographic Education, ED 288 807.

Grovesnor, Gilbert M. (November, 1989). The case for geography Education. Educational Leadership, 47, 29-32, EJ 398 949.

Hill, A. David. (December, 1989). Rediscovering geography. NASSP Bulletin, 73, 1-8, EJ 400 529.

Joint Committee on Geographic Education. (1984). Guidelines for geographic education. Washington, DC: Association of American Geographers and the National Council for Geographic Education, ED 252 453.

Mullis, Ina V. S., Owen, Eugene H., & Phillips, Gary W. (1990). America's challenge: Accelerating academic achievement, a summary of findings from 20 years of NAEP. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education.

National Assessment of Educational Progress. (1990). The geography learning of high school seniors. Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service, ED 313 317.

Salter, Christopher L. (1990). Missing the magic carpet: The real significance of geographic ignorance. Princeton: NJ: Educational Testing Service.

Stoltman, Joseph P. (1990). Geography education for citizenship. Bloomington, IN: ERIC Clearinghouse for Social Studies/Social Science Education, ED 322 081.

Stoltman, Joseph P., & Sweet, J. Kelli. (February 1986). The Michigan experience in geographical education. The Professional Geographer, 38, 73-34.

For more information on this subject, contact:

ERIC Clearinghouse for Social Studies/Social Science Education
Indiana University
Social Studies Development Center
2805 East 10th Street, Suite 120
Bloomington, IN 47408-2698
(812) 855-3838

Written by John Patrick, Director, ERIC Clearinghouse for Social Studies/Social Science Education.

This publication was prepared by ACCESS ERIC in association with the ERIC Clearinghouse for Social Studies/Social Science Education, with funding from the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U. S. Department of Education, under Contract No. R1890120. The opinions expressed in this brochure do not necessary reflect the positions or policies of the Department of Education. The brochure is in the public domain. Authorization to reproduce it in whole or in part in granted.


Transmitted: 94-02-28 10:01:30 EST

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Uploaded by: Melissa Close/Kent State University/Deaf Education Major