Geography education standards, K-4

Index

General summary of the K-4 standards. 3

Skill set 1, Asking geographic questions. 3

Skill set 2, Acquiring geographic information. 4

Skill set 3, organizing geographic information. 4

Skill set 4, Analyzing geographic information. 4

Skill set 5, Answering geographic questions. 5

Other skills/concepts from the content standards. 5

Standard 1: How to use maps and other geographic representations, tools, and technologies to acquire, process, and report information from a spatial perspective. 6

Standard 2: How to use mental maps to organize information about people, places, and environments in a spatial context 8

Standard 3: How to analyze the spatial organization of people, places, and environments on Earth’s surface 9

Standard 4: The physical and human characteristics of places. 10

Standard 5: That people create regions to interpret Earth’s complexity. 11

Standard 6: How culture and experience influence people’s perceptions of places and regions. 12

Standard 7: The physical processes that shape the patterns of Earth’s surface. 13

Standard 8: The characteristics and spatial distribution of ecosystems on Earth’s surface. 14

Standard 9: The characteristics, distribution, and migration of human populations on Earth’s surface 15

Standard 10: The characteristics, distribution, and complexity of Earth’s cultural mosaics. 16

Standard 11: The patterns and networks of economic interdependence on Earth’s surface. 17

Standard 12: The characteristics and spatial distribution of ecosystems on Earth’s surface. 18

Standard 13: How the forces of cooperation and conflict among people influence the division and control of Earth’s surface. 20

Standard 14: How human actions modify the physical environment 21

Standard 15: How physical systems affect human systems. 22

Standard 16: The changes that occur in the meaning, use, distribution, and importance of resources 23

Standard 17: How to interpret the past 24

Standard 18: How to apply geography to interpret the present and plan for the future. 25

Appendix 1. Specification of terms used in the K-4 standards. 26

References. 28

Geography education standards, K-4

Primary goal: “To determine and illustrate the different levels of understanding produced by “incidentally” or factually based geographic knowledge as opposed to “intentionally” acquired or taught concept based geographic knowledge.” (Spatial thinking proposal, p. C-7)

Many of the geography standards correspond with aspects of the national math, science, and history education standards, but how does the understanding of core spatial concepts differ when learned “by the wayside” versus through geography-specific concept based lessons? Can math, science, and history lessons be redesigned in such a way that they incorporate more direct inclusion of spatial concepts, should spatial concepts be taught as their own educational unit, or is “everyday” spatial knowledge sufficient? Is there a difference in how spatial knowledge garnered from these different sources can be applied to alternate tasks?

Here I offer a review of the geography education standards for the K-4 curriculum, with highlights on the spatial concepts emphasized in each skill set and standard. Indication of the relationships between the spatial concepts in the standards and the math, science, and history curriculum is given. It should be noted that in some instances the spatial concept is considered in the geography standards as a concept for K-4 education, while in other standards it is introduced later in the curriculum.

Also included in this review are some thoughts regarding experiments to test understanding and ability to apply different spatial concepts.

General summary of the K-4 standards

The K-4 standards are primarily introduction to concepts and terminology. The “analysis” is minimal, mostly involving identifying characteristics in order to regionalize data and then comparing the regions to one another with respect to their physical and human geographic features.


There are no apparent restrictions on the scale of data /analysis used in teaching concepts.

Summary of the spatial concepts in the K-4 standards

Skill set 1, Asking geographic questions

Location (ask geographic questions – where is it located)

Land use (how is land used in the area around my school)

Distance (how far do my classmates travel to school)

Network analysis / shortest path (how far do my classmates travel to school, what routes do they follow)

Skill set 2, Acquiring geographic information

Distance (apply quantitative skills (e.g., count landforms, cities, lakes, and population characteristics; measure distances))

Counts (apply quantitative skills (e.g., count landforms, cities, lakes, and population characteristics; measure distances))

Density (apply quantitative skills (e.g., count landforms, cities, lakes, and population characteristics; measure distances))

Map interpretation (obtain information on characteristics of places (e.g., climate, elevation, and population density)

Elevation change, contour lines, DEM? (obtain information on characteristics of places (e.g., climate, elevation, and population density)

Climate change (obtain information on characteristics of places (e.g., climate, elevation, and population density)

Record spatial data

Interpret maps (use aerial photographs, satellite images, or topographic maps to identify elements of the physical and human environments)

Skill set 3, organizing geographic information

Scale (map the locations of places on outline maps at a variety of scales)

Symbolization (use point symbols of different sizes to locate the cities, towns, and villages in a state)

Simplification (use point symbols of different sizes to locate the cities, towns, and villages in a state)

Location (map the locations of places)

Spatialization (prepare maps as a means of spatially depicting information obtained from graphs, prepare a diagram to illustrate a written description of a geographic process, etc.)

Sketch maps (draw sketch maps to illustrate geographic information)

Network (to provide directions to points in and around the student’s community)

Distribution (locate the distribution of stores in the community)

Cluster (locate the distribution of stores in the community)

Skill set 4, Analyzing geographic information

Migration (use maps showing migration routes of people at various periods in history to suggest the reasons for the migrations and the particular routes)

Barrier (use maps showing migration routes of people at various periods in history to suggest the reasons for the migrations and the particular routes)

Site selection (interpret maps to make decisions)

Spatial patterns / pattern analysis (compare large-scale maps of different places to describe spatial patterns and relationships)

Spatial relationships (compare large-scale maps of different places to describe spatial patterns and relationships)

Comparisons (use numerical information to compare places and discover variations in patterns)

Skill set 5, Answering geographic questions

Shortest path / network analysis (use maps to find the shortest paths for planning car pools, etc.)

Other skills/concepts from the content standards

Coordinate systems (use a map grid)

Distribution (use thematic maps to answer questions about human distributions)

Great circle (identify physical and human features along a great circle route between two places…using a globe, maps, and other sources of graphic information)

Simplification (use a simple map to identify physical and human features in terms of the four spatial elements (e.g., locations (point), transportation and communication routes (line), regions (area), lakes filled with water (volume))

Location analysis (observe and map the locations of essential services in the community and suggest reasons for the locations of the services)

Dispersion / distribution (identify cultural characteristics that originated in other cultures and trace the spread of each characteristic and the means by which it spread)

Proximity (observe the distribution of features on maps or aerial photographs to identify spatial patterns and associations)

Linkage (use labels on clothing, canned goods, and other consumer items to map links with locations in different regions of the country and world…)

Erosion, deposition (use maps and other graphic materials to describe the physical and human processes in shaping the landscape)

Regions (identify and demarcate areas that are alike and different and form regions from these areas)

Human-caused vs. physical process-based land use change

Flow map not necessarily proportional symbols (use a map to show economic links between regions and write a general account of how trade affects the way people earn their living in each regions (e.g., the flow of fuels…))

Overlay / layering (use layers of colored paper, transparencies, and other graphics to identify political units at different scales, local to global)

Boundary (describe the common characteristics of political regions (e.g., boundaries…))

Slope (explain how landforms can limit human activities (e.g., mountains, cliffs, and swamps impeding migration and transportation, subsurface rock being unsuitable as a building foundation, slopes being too steep for agriculture or settlement)

Land use change (use maps, illustrations, and aerial photographs from different time periods to identify and describe factors that have contributed to changing land use in the community)

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 fourth grace, the student knows and understands:

1. The characteristics and purposes of geographic representations – such as maps, globes, graphs, diagrams, aerial and other photographs, and satellite-produced images

2. The characteristics and purposes of tools and technologies – such as reference works and computer-based geographic information systems

3. How to display spatial information on maps and other geographic representations

4. How to use appropriate geographic tools and technologies

Summary of exemplars

Maps:

The student should be able to identify maps (thematic maps are the only maps specifically mentioned) and the elements that they contain (legend, scale bar), construct a basic map with features classified and labeled in a legend (data from spatial or non-spatial (text) sources), and create and understand non-map representations of spatial data (e.g., bar charts). The student should also understand the concept of scale and be able to identify and use different methods of stating scale (i.e., representative fraction, linear, or word).

Other representations:

The student should be able to identify basic (human vs. physical, general categories of feature – mountain, river, urban) features on aerial photographs.

Location:

The student should be able to use a grid system (e.g., latitude and longitude) to identify the location of features.

Concepts

Map elements

Types of representation (map, photo, chart, graph)

Basic physical geographic features

Basic human geographic features

Coordinate system[1][1]

Scale measurements [2][2]

Spatialize data

Non-spatial display of data with spatial components (bar graph, etc.) [3][3]

“Answer geographic questions”

Questions and comments

What are the map elements, physical features, human features that are appropriate for grades K-4? Appendix 1 lists all of the map elements, physical features, human features, types of representations, physical processes, and human processes / characteristics listed throughout the K-4 standards.

How can the physical / human features referred to in the standards for all three grade groups be classified into categories? Perhaps the features that are appropriate knowledge for each of the grade levels could be divided into categories: Type I (grades K-4), Type II (grades 5-8), Type III (grades 9-12) and Type IV (advanced study)? One possible method for determining which features are standard knowledge at the different levels would be to provide a set of imagery of mixed land uses and physical features and ask the student to make a “detailed” classification map of the area – this should show the features/categories that are commonly used at that level. Another method would be to use an experiment similar to Smith and Mark (Smith and Mark, 2001). Even with this type of examination, how can it be decided what students should know versus what they already know?

What types of representation are appropriate at the different grade levels? (see assorted articles by Downs and Stea)

What does “answer geographic questions” refer to? What are appropriate questions?

Standard 2: How to use mental maps to organize information about people, places, and environments in a spatial context

By the end of the fourth grade, the student knows and understands:

1. The locations of places within the local community and in nearby communities

2. The location of Earth’s continents and oceans in relation to each other and to principal parallels and meridians

3. The location of major physical and human features in the United States and on Earth

The student should be able to appropriately symbolize and locate basic physical (rivers, lakes, mountains) and human (landmarks) features on prepared base maps as well as on sketch maps. The student should also be able to identify these features along a great circle route between two locations. The student should be able to use the maps of these features to explain the relationships between basic physical processes and geography (e.g., the rain shadow effect and mountain ranges).

Summary of exemplars

K-4 – The student should be able to creating sketch maps from mental maps of local areas, symbolize basic physical features on prepared base maps (to the national scale), identify locations on the path between other locations, and describe the relationship between simple physical processes and geography (national scale).

Concepts

Physical features

Human features

Great circle[4][4]

Sketch map

Connectivity (path to school, home, etc.)[5][5]

Landmark

Mental map

Questions and comments

One of the exemplars in this standard involves using a mental map to answer questions about geographic locations such as which is farther west, San Diego or Reno? Studies on distortions in spatial memory show that this might not be as easy as just improving mental mapping skills (Stevens and Coupe, 1978, ; Huttenlocher, Hedges et al., 1991, ; Halpern and LaMay, 2000) as the distortion appears to be a general occurrence in the mental representations.

Standard 3: How to analyze the spatial organization of people, places, and environments on Earth’s surface

By the end of the fourth grade, the student knows and understands:

1. The spatial elements of point, line, area, and volume

2. The spatial concepts of location, distance, direction, scale, movement, and region

3. That places and features are distributed spatially across Earth’s surface

4. The causes and consequences of spatial interaction on Earth’s surface

Summary of exemplars

The student should be able to simplify local features and represent them on a map using points, lines, areas, and volumes. The student should also be able to take simple (distance, direction) and complex (density) measurements from local maps (no mention of scale). The student should be able to identify simple patterns of distributions between different thematic maps (local scale, e.g., the relationship between the location of schools and bars or strip clubs[6][6]).

Concepts

Representation (vector)

Spatial elements

Simplification

Spatial organization

Measurement (location, distance, direction)[7][7]

Scale measurements2

Density

Spatial relations (non-metric spatial autocorrelation)

Spatial interaction (implied – diffusion, dispersion, isolation, connectivity)

Comments and questions

Non-metric spatial autocorrelation simply refers to the ability to infer spatial relationships using only visual rather than statistical examination.

In Standard 3 for K-4, students should be able to represent features using points, lines, areas, volumes – but there is no mention of the fact that the representation changes at different scales. Is the concept of scale-based representation basic enough that students should just “know” it? How do students respond when asked to draw the same features at different scales?

Standard 4: The physical and human characteristics of places

By the end of the fourth grade, the student knows and understands:

1. The physical characteristics of places (e.g., landforms, bodies of water, soil, vegetation, and weather and climate)

2. The human characteristics of places (e.g., population distributions, settlement patterns, languages, ethnicities, nationality, and religious beliefs)

3. How physical and human processes together shape places

Summary of exemplars

The student should be able to use maps, models, and other graphic display methods to describe the human and physical characteristics of the local community and regions in general. The student should be able to use these representations to make comparisons between regions (local and global scale).

The basic purpose is learning the terminology to describe the physical and human features on Earth. There is less focus on creating regions in this standard, and more focus on identifying similarities between features.

Concepts

Physical features

Physical processes / characteristics

Human processes / characteristics

Distribution

Standard 5: That people create regions to interpret Earth’s complexity

By the end of the fourth grade, the student knows and understands:

1. The concept of region as an area of Earth’s surface with unifying geographic characteristics

2. The similarities and differences between regions

3. The ways in which regions change

Summary of exemplars

The student should be able to identify human and physical features that are “alike” and “different” and create regions around the “alike” features. The student should be able to create representations of these regions and make comparisons (general comparisons and temporal analyses) between the characteristics of other regions of similar type (local and global scale). The student should also be able to provide analysis of cultural, population, ethnic, etc. changes in regions over time.

The students develop the ideas from Standard Four into an ability to use the classification terminology in order to group similar features into regions.

Concepts

Simplification

Regionalization

Simliarity

Density

Human regions

Physical regions

Regional properties / characteristics

Temporal change

Comments and questions

“Interpret population data from historical and current maps, charts, graphs, and census tables in order to make generalizations about the changing size and makeup of the local community.” (National Center for History in the Schools, 1996, 27)

“Compare and contrast the different ways in which early Hawaiian and Native American peoples such as the Iroquois, the Sioux, the Hopi, the Nez Perce, the Inuit, and the Cherokee adapted to their various environments and created their patterns of community life long ago.” (National Center for History in the Schools, 1996, 28)

Aspects of Standard 2 (The history of students’ own local community and how communities in North America varied long ago) in the National History Standards correspond well with the contents of Geography Standard 5.

Standard 6: How culture and experience influence people’s perceptions of places and regions

By the end of the fourth grade, the student knows and understands:

1. How to describe the student’s own community and region from different perspectives

2. Ways in which different people perceive places and regions

Summary of exemplars

The student should be able to create regions and examine how and why her regions might differ from regions created by someone else.

In Standard Six, a component of perception is added to the regionalization theme. Not only can students create regions, they can recognize that other people might conceptualize the region differently. This standard emphasizes that regions are more of a “fuzzy concept” than a rigidly bounded area.

Concepts

Regions

Location + perception

Sketch map + perception

Mental map

Comments and questions

“Draw upon a variety of stories, legends, songs, ballads, games, and tall tales in order to describe the environment, lifestyles, beliefs, and struggles of people in various regions of the country.” (National Center for History in the Schools, 1996, 35)

Portions of History Standard 6 (Regional folklore and cultural contributions that helped to form our national heritage) correspond with aspects of Geography Standard 6 – how culture and experience can influence people’s perceptions of places and regions.

Standard 7: The physical processes that shape the patterns of Earth’s surface

By the end of the fourth grade, the student knows and understands:

The components of Earth’s physical systems: the atmosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere
How patterns (location, distribution, and association) of features on Earth’s surface are shaped by physical processes
How Earth-Sun relations affect conditions on Earth

Summary of exemplars

The student should be able to identify basic physical processes (weather, erosion, deposition, etc.) and features (mountain, river, plateau, etc.). The student should be able to describe the different climate regions seen on a global scale, how these relate to the equator and the Earth’s relationship to the sun, and how the regions affect the human activities in the regions.

Concepts

Atmosphere, Lithosphere, Hydrosphere, Biosphere[8][8]

Water cycle (model)[9][9]

Physical processes

Seasons[10][10]

Standard 8: The characteristics and spatial distribution of ecosystems on Earth’s surface

By the end of the fourth grade, the student knows and understands:

The components of ecosystems
The distribution and patterns of ecosystems
How humans interact with ecosystems

Summary of exemplars

The student should understand the concept of ecosystem and its basic functions (food web, etc.) and components (plants, animals, etc.). The students should be able to compare and explain the differences between the ecosystems of different regions (local, global), and how humans interact in positive and negative ways with the ecosystems.

Concepts

Ecosystem, location of plants, animals, etc. in[11][11]

Regions, climatic

Human, physical changes in ecosystem

Settlement + ecosystem

Comments and questions

The inclusion of the ecosystem concept at this grade level is a bit premature. The standard should focus on the relationships between humans and environment, but not necessarily on the interdependence that is a part of an ecosystem – this would make this much more similar to Standard 7 except with an added component of human/environment relationships.

Standard 9: The characteristics, distribution, and migration of human populations on Earth’s surface

By the end of the fourth grade, the student knows and understands:

The spatial distribution of population
The characteristics of populations at different scales (local to global)
The causes and effects of human migration

Summary of exemplars

The student should be able to read population distribution maps, explain the patterns, and why the regions have different values (more detailed analysis on the local/national level, general analysis on the global scale – “few people live where it is cold.”) Temporally, the student should be able to explain changes of population distribution due to voluntary and forced migration.

Concepts

Population distribution

Distribution + environmental / physical geography effects

Population properties

Migration

Migration + physical geography effects (+ perception)

Migration + local environment human characteristics + perception (e.g., better schools, etc.)

Comments and questions

“Investigate family history for at least two generations, identifying various members and their connections in order to construct a timeline.” (National Center for History in the Schools, 1996, 26)

Standard 1 from the National History Standards could involve components of Geography Standards 9 and 10 (Human Systems) – for instance the student could “compare the causes and effects of human migration” (Geography Education Standards Project, 1994) discussing why the family may have moved from one place to another, or “use interviews with parents and grandparents to understand cultural change” (Geography Education Standards Project, 1994, 125) of their family over time.

Standard 10: The characteristics, distribution, and complexity of Earth’s cultural mosaics

By the end of the fourth grade, the student knows and understands:

How the characteristics of culture affect the ways in which people live
How patterns of culture vary across Earth’s surface
How cultures change

Summary of exemplars

The student should be able to identify the basic characteristics of culture (language, beliefs, customs, etc.). The student should be able to regionalize the world into culture regions and make comparisons between the regions geographically and temporally.

Concepts

Region + cultural characteristics (local, global)

Region + culture + location + physical environment (differences between regions across locations – regional similarity measure)

Comments and questions

“Describe the effects geography has had on societies, including their development of urban centers, food, clothing, industry, agriculture, shelter, trade, and other aspects of culture.” (National Center for History in the Schools, 1996, 36)

Portions of History Standard 7 (Selected attributes and historical developments of various societies in Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe) correspond with the portion of Geography Standard 10 concerning the relationships of cultural characteristics of regions and the physical/human geography of the region.

Standard 11: The patterns and networks of economic interdependence on Earth’s surface

By the end of the fourth grade, the student knows and understands:

The location and spatial distribution of activities
The factors that influence the location and spatial distribution of economic activities
The transportation and communication networks used in daily life

Summary of exemplars

The student should be able to explain the “regions” of economic activity on the local/regional/state scale and how they are connected (up to the global scale). The student should understand the relationships between economic activities and transportation.

Concepts

Flow, between regions

Economic regions

Land use, economic

Clustering

Non-metric spatial autocorrelation

Comments and questions

Land use – asking students to list the land uses around their school might be a good way to develop a “folk” ontology of land use at different grade levels. Or students could be shown aerial photographs and asked to list the land uses shown in the photo – students should be asked to “be as specific as possible.” Alternatively, students could be shown individual photos of landscapes with one or two types of land use shown and asked to state the land uses in the photo.

Standard 12: The characteristics and spatial distribution of ecosystems on Earth’s surface

By the end of the fourth grade, the student knows and understands:

The types and spatial patterns of settlement
The factors that affect where people settle
How spatial patterns of human settlement change
The spatial characteristics of cities

Summary of exemplars

While Standard Eleven is based on relationships between economic regions, this standard is much the same though with a focus on human settlement.

Concepts

Settlement

City growth

Land use

Density

Land use + location + attractiveness

Region

Similarity

Culture hearth

Location + physical environment + human environment (+ attractiveness)

Settlement + time

Clusters

Similarity

Migration

Growth

Comments and questions

“Draw upon maps and stories in order to identify geographical factors that led to the establishment and growth of communities such as mining towns and trading settlements.” (National Center for History in the Schools, 1996, 27)

“Gather data in order to analyze geographic, economic, and religious reasons that brought the first explorers and settlers to the state or region…and draw upon census data and historical accounts in order to describe patterns and changes in population over a period of time in a particular city or town in the students’ state or region” (National Center for History in the Schools, 1996, 29, 30)

“Investigate the early development of extensive road systems, … the trade routes by camel caravan, …the network of roads and highways, … in order to explain the travel and communication difficulties encountered by people over vast expanses of territory and the social and economic effects of these developments.” (National Center for History in the Schools, 1996, 38)

Portions of the National History Standard 2 (The history of students’ own local community and how communities in North America varied long ago), Standard 3 (The people, events, problems, and ideas that created the history of their state), and Standard 8 (Major discoveries in science and technology, their social and economic effects, and the scientists and inventors responsible for them) all overlap and correspond with the contents of Geography Standard 12. Primarily the overlap is with regard to the relationship between the historic developments of technologies (including transportation) and their impact on the patterns of human settlements.

Standard 13: How the forces of cooperation and conflict among people influence the division and control of Earth’s surface

By the end of the fourth grade, the student knows and understands:

The types of territorial units
The extent and characteristics of political, social, and economic units at different scales (local to global)
How people divide the earth
How cooperation and conflict affect places in the local community

Summary of exemplars

The student should be able to delimit political regions (including census tracts and countries), compare their characteristics (same scale and different scale), and explain temporal changes in the region’s characteristics, function, population, etc.

Concepts

Regions (political)

Service area

Similarity

Region + time

Standard 14: How human actions modify the physical environment

By the end of the fourth grade, the student knows and understands:

How people depend on the physical environment
How people modify the physical environment
That the physical environment can both accommodate and be endangered by human activities

Summary of exemplars

The student should understand the basic interactions between humans and the environment. The student should be able to identify environmental resources on which humans depend, and should be able to compare human/environment relationships across regions (local, global).

Concepts

Atmosphere, biosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere

Physical environment + human dependence (= settlement location, regional characteristics, etc.?)

Physical environment + human modification (for settlement) = land use change

Standard 15: How physical systems affect human systems

By the end of the fourth grade, the student knows and understands:

How variations within the physical environment produce spatial patterns that affect human adaptation
The ways in which the physical environment provides opportunities for people
The ways in which the physical environment constrains human activities

Summary of exemplars

The student should be able to explain how the environment affects settlement patterns, ways of life, the local economy, and other human activities.

Concepts

Physical environment + physical processes (long term and/or seasonal) + settlement = human change adaptation

Hazards[12][12]

Hazard regions

Comments and questions

“Investigate the influence of geography on the history of the state or region and identify issues and approaches to problems such as land use and environmental problems.” (National Center for History in the Schools, 1996, 31)

Aspects of History Standard 3 (The people, events, problems, and ideas that created the history of their state) correspond with Geography Standard 15.

Standard 16: The changes that occur in the meaning, use, distribution, and importance of resources

By the end of the fourth grade, the student knows and understands:

The characteristics of renewable, nonrenewable, and flow resources
The spatial distribution of resources
The role of resources in daily life

Summary of exemplars

The student should understand the effect of natural resources in settlement patterns, regional differences in usage (e.g., using more coal in areas where coal is abundant), and how resources are transported and distributed (local, national, global scales).

Concepts

Location, resources

Resources + location + transportation = settlement pattern

Standard 17: How to interpret the past

By the end of the fourth grade, the student knows and understands:

How places and geographic contexts change over time
That people’s perceptions of places and geographic contexts change over time
That geographic contexts influence people and events over time

Summary of exemplars


The student should be able to use maps and other graphical representations to depict changes in regions, migration patterns, types of development, etc.

Concepts

Human environment + time = change

Physical environment + time (geologic) = change

Physical environment + time + settlement = change

Comments and questions

Geography Standard 17 overlaps substantially with History Standard 5 (The causes and nature of various movements of large groups of people into and within the United States, now, and long ago).

Standard 18: How to apply geography to interpret the present and plan for the future

By the end of the fourth grade, the student knows and understands:

The dynamic character of geographic contexts
How people’s perceptions affect their interpretations of the world
The spatial dimensions of social and environmental problems

Summary of exemplars

The student should be able to describe and represent the societal effects of changes in the physical environment, built environment, and resource depletion. The student should be able to use these to identify and “plan” for future problems.

Concepts

Population growth + resources

Appendix 1. Specification of terms used in the K-4 standards

Map elements
Representations
Physical features
Physical process / characteristics
Human features / land uses
Human process / characteristics

cardinal directions
aerial photographs
(atmosphere)
air pollution
agriculture
abandonment

grid
area
(biosphere)
climate
CBD
age

intermediate directions
charts
(hydrosphere)
deposition
cities
age-specific roles

key
globe
(lithosphere)
erosion
communication routes
beliefs

latitude
line
barrier
freezing
community
customs

legend
map
bodies of water
gravity
dams
distribution

longitude
map: base
coast
irrigation
dense
economic activity

meridians
map: choropleth
drainage basin
leeward
downtown
economic specialization

principal parallels
map: climate
groundwater
mud slides
fishing
employment

scale
map: mental
hills
precipitation
forestry
ethnicity

scale: fractional
map: precipitation
lakes
rain shadow
historic sites
gender

scale: linear
map: temperature
landforms
reforestation
home
gender roles

scale: word
map: sketch
mountain
resources, non-renewable
industrial area
interaction

symbols
map: thematic
mountain range
resources, renewable
mining
land use patterns

title
photographs
oceans
runoff
neighborhood
languages spoken


pictures
peninsula
seasons
park
migration


point
plain
soil-building processes
population
movement


satellite imagery
plateau
tectonic forces
population distribution: by region
perception


tables
ridge
temperature
ranching
religion


vector data
river
thawing
recreation areas
settlement


volumes
river valley
water pollution
region
social organization



rivers
wave action
regions: political


Map elements
Representations
Physical features
Physical process / characteristics
Human features / land uses
Human process / characteristics



soils
weather
reservoirs




trees in river valley
windward
residential




valley

restaurant




vegetation

schools




vegetation region

services (police, fire)




water tables

shops / shopping areas






site






situation






subsistence farming






transportation routes

References

Geography Education Standards Project (1994). Geography for life. Washington DC, National Geographic Research & Exploration.

Halpern, D. F. and M. L. LaMay (2000). "The smarter sex: A critical review of sex differences in intelligence." Educational Psychology Review 12(2): 229-246.

Huttenlocher, J., L. V. Hedges and S. Duncan (1991). "Categories and particulars: Prototype effects in estimating spatial locaiton." Psychological review 98(3): 352-376.

National Center for History in the Schools (1996). National standards for history. Los Angeles, National Center for History in the Schools.

Smith, B. and D. M. Mark (2001). "Geographic categories: An ontological investigation." International journal of geographic information systems 15: 591-562.

Stevens, A. and P. Coupe (1978). "Distortions in judged spatial relations." Cognitive psychology 10(4): 422-437.

Geography Education Standards, 5-8

Following the same format Sarah chose for describing the K-4 standards, this review first describes the expectations for this age group by standard as well as explores the connections between the national geography standards with educational standards for other areas of study, specifically looking at the incorporation of understanding spatial concepts.

Summary of the spatial concepts in the 5-8 standards:

Skill set 1, Asking geographic questions

· Land use (looking at local issues relating to traffic, the environment, housing etc)

· Location/Identity (interview people about particular places, issues involved in locating certain facilities in certain places, i.e. location and design of a school playground)

Skill set 2, Acquiring geographic information

· Location/Identity (interviews/field surveys in local community to gather geographic data)

· Retrieve Spatial Data (choosing the appropriate sources of geographic data for specific geographic problems and knowing how to access and manipulate the data)

· Map Interpretation (use of cartograms to understand petroleum production, describe a phenomena reported on a dot map, i.e. population density)

· Aerial Photo Interpretation (recognize patterns from the air and identify same patterns on a topographic map)

· Density (interpretation of density dot map)

· Land Use (map information about land use based on field surveys)

· Map construction (map information about land use based on field surveys)

· Collect Geographic Data? (view video and picture images of a place to collect geographic information)

Skill set 3, Organizing geographic information

· Map construction (use area data to create choropleth maps, i.e. map showing areas of food surplus and deficit based on World Bank data)

· Transform Geographic Data? (use maps to plot information contained in graphs, i.e. develop graduated-circle map to display graphical data on per capita energy consumption by country)

· Symbolization (understanding how graduated circles represent per capita energy consumption)

· Elevation Change (using isolines to map elevation change)

· Isoline (use isolines to map elevation change, rainfall, demographic data, or some other variable)

· Region (use isoline maps to distinguish different regions of the variable being mapped)

· Spatial Representation? (use weather data to produce climagraphs, population data to produce population pyramids)

· Network/System (use flowcharts/diagrams to illustrate inputs, outputs, elements, feedbacks and other aspects of human systems)

· Overlay (create a GIS by preparing overlays of different types of geog info such as base map, vegetation map, contour map, and land-use map)

Skill set 4, Analyzing geographic information

· Map interpretation (draw inferences from maps, i.e. the effects a logging operation may have on physical systems)

· Spatial association (use maps to recognize relationships between locations (i.e. similarities in different climates of the world))

· Location (recognizing spatial association between locations)

· Region (comparing similarities and differences between different regions across the globe)

· Overlay (interpret information from an overlay to prepare a description of a specific place)

· Map Projection (understand and evaluate to possibility of bias in map representations)

· Counts (number of Asian restaurants compared to number of Asian immigrants within a particular community)

· Spatial Patterns/Pattern Analysis (number of Asian restaurants compared to number of Asian immigrants within a particular community)

· Spatial Analysis (use descriptive statistics—mean, median, mode, average—to determine the nature of a distribution)

· Distribution (use descriptive statistics—mean, median, mode, average—to determine the nature of a distribution)

· Spatial co-variation (cross-tabulate geographic data to determine presence of a relationship)

Skill set 5, Answering geographic questions

· Optimization? (use data from a geographic database to suggest alternative locations for a road, park, or garbage dump)

· Location (use data from a geographic database to suggest alternative locations for a road, park, or garbage dump)

· Sketch map (draw sketch maps and graphs to illustrate written and oral summaries of geographic information)

· Spatial Association/Spatial Analysis (select appropriate location for crops based on maps of rainfall, temperature, and soil quality; select appropriate locations for service industries based on maps of transportation, population and other relevant variables; identify populations as risk for particular hazards by using topographic maps and population distribution)

General Questions/Comments/Suggestions:

· These findings should be compared to the K-4 to determine if they are logical and appropriate expectations based on what students should “know and understand” after the fourth grade. Many of the expectations seem to go WAY beyond what could be reasonably expected from the average 8th grader. I don’t think most geography majors at UCSB walk away with the kind of knowledge purported to be “known and understood” by the eighth-grader. It’s hard for me to imagine that there’s geographic information left to teach students after this.

· Skill sets contain many skills that are not explicitly spatial, find spatial concepts implicit within many of them, but they are not necessarily emphasized.

· Some of the specific skills, particularly in the analysis skill set, seem to be beyond the capabilities of eighth graders, i.e. co-variation.

· Since geography is rarely taught beyond the sixth grade, and up until then, not addressed very comprehensively, considering that these standards require that students’ learn geography everyday, every year of their pre-college education, it would seem valuable to categorize some of the information. For example, what are the most important concepts to be taught if only a certain amount of education is allotted to geography? Then, as geography becomes more mainstream in the curriculum, more concepts and case studies could be introduced to enhance students’ knowledge of the key concepts.
Standards 1-3: The World in Spatial Terms

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 eighth grade, the student knows and understands:

The characteristics, functions, and applications of maps, globes, aerial and other photographs, satellite-produced images, and models
How to make and use maps, globes, graphs, charts, models, and databases to analyze spatial distributions and patterns
The relative advantages and disadvantages of using maps, globes, aerial and other photographs, satellite-produced images, and models to solve geographic problems

Summary of exemplars

Students develop the ability to distinguish between map projections, and understand the appropriate purposes for different types of projections. Additionally, students determine the appropriate geographic representation for different types of geographic data, constructing representations of their own, and use different types of maps to understand how this form of displaying data helps solve different geographic problems.

Concepts

Location (use maps to determine best location of a particular type of facility)

Coordinate System (students develop a model depicting Earth-Sun relationships)

Projection (evaluate effectiveness of using certain projections for certain geographic problems)

Symbol (explain map essentials)

Optimization (using maps to determine the best locations for certain activities)

Map-reading (use maps to determine best location of a particular type of facility)

Scale (cartographic: explaining map essentials)

Map construction (thematic maps of local community)

Region (develop criteria to draw regional service boundaries on maps)

Questions and comments

The standard has the goal of students reporting information from a “spatial perspective.” While the exemplars certainly promote the development of an understanding and ability to use the tools and technologies of geography, they do not develop the idea of “spatial perspective” or explicitly address how the tools and technologies contribute to this unique perspective on problem solving.

In relation to the first objective, the exemplars seem to only focus on maps with little activity geared towards photographs, satellite images, and models.

Standard 2: How to use mental maps to organize information about people, places, and environments in a spatial context.

By the end of the eighth grade, the student knows and understands:

The distribution of major physical and human features at different scales (local to global)
How to translate mental maps into appropriate graphics to display geographic information and answer geographic questions
How perception influences people’s mental maps and attitudes about places

Summary of exemplars:

Exemplars allow students to demonstrate their geographic (both physical and human) knowledge of particular places by drawing inferences between geographic characteristics and both current and past events at particular places. Students also investigate and describe perceptions of particular places. Students look at various sketch maps as well as draw their own to determine level of detail of their knowledge of different places (local to global) and analyze factors individuals consider important in their knowledge of places.

Concepts:

Distortion (mental map of the world, places left out or enlarged)

Path (route individual would follow when traveling between two countries)

Scale (recognition of major environmental features at different scales)

Perception (criteria people use to rate different places)

Sketch maps

Distance (construction of their own sketch maps)

Map construction (drawing sketch maps of different areas at different scales)

Direction

Network (draw a sketch map of their neighborhood showing routes within and links to other communities)

Location

Questions and comments:

Not completely sure of the intended meaning of “mental maps.” It seems that a lot of the exemplars focus on testing students’ existing geographic knowledge (i.e. one activity has them identify locations of different significant events) rather than focusing on understanding how sketch maps and mental maps relate to how students understand and navigate within certain environments.

In relation to objective one, what are considered the “major physical and environmental features at different scales?”

In relation to objective two, what are “appropriate” graphics for mental maps?

Standard 3: How to analyze the spatial organization of people, places, and environments on earth’s surface.

By the end of the eighth grade, the student knows and understands:

How to use the elements of space to describe spatial patterns
How to use spatial concepts to explain spatial structure
How spatial processes shape patterns of spatial organization
How to model spatial organization

Summary of exemplars

Basically, these exemplars have students more closely explore the nature of spatial relationships: i.e. population centers and agricultural production in relation to physical geography, relationships between urban places, relationships between similar and different types of activities in urban places, how places are connected to one another and how those connections change over time, and finally how things (disease, language, religion, customs, plants, and animals) spread from certain places to other places.


Concepts:

Network (links between urban areas as well as within them)

Hierarchy (essentially Central Place Theory, links between suburbs, small towns, and central cities)

Location

Spatial relationships: i.e. population and resources

Connectivity: analysis of maps of urban areas

Land use (how it varies in different places, what types of land use occur near one another)

Accessibility

Distance

Distance Decay (interactions with different places over distance)

Time-Space convergence (how transportation links through history have affected relationships between places)

Diffusion (tracing the spread of different innovations or cultural traits)

Migration (migration patterns of plants and animals)

Questions and comments:

In relation to objective one, what are the “elements of space”?

“Analyze and explain patterns of land use in urban, suburban, and rural areas using terms such as distance, accessibility, and connections…” are these the “spatial concepts” they are referring to in objective two? What about other spatial concepts?

Standards 4-6: Places and Regions

Standard 4: The physical and human characteristics of places.

By the end of the eighth grade, the student knows and understands:

How different physical processes shape places
How different human groups alter places in distinctive ways
The role of technology in shaping the characteristics of places

Summary of exemplars:

Students analyze the physical and human characteristics of places by using various field techniques as well as geographic tools (maps, satellite images, photos). Students compare both physical and cultural characteristics of places and draw inferences on the causes of those characteristics and why similarities or differences occur when comparing different places across the globe. Finally, students look at how technology has affected both the physical and human environment over time.

Concepts:

Land use change

Spatial relationships (comparison of different places)

Time-space convergence

Location

Spatial Analysis (using maps, graphs, and satellite images to make inferences about changes over time)

Questions and comments:

Activities have students “test” hypotheses about similarities and differences in cultural landscapes based on photos—how are these tested? Also, they must make inferences about changes in a place over time, when are the processes that cause change over time introduced to students so that they have some knowledge from which to infer?

In relation to objective two in which students can describe how different human groups alter places in different ways, non of the exemplars address how different “human groups” use the land.

Standard 5: That people create regions to interpret earth’s complexity

By the end of the eighth grade, the students knows and understands:

The elements and types of regions
How and why regions change
The connections among regions
The influences and effects of regional labels and images

Summary of exemplars:

Students look at regions across scales identifying the characteristics that make different regions unique, including criteria for formal, functional, and perceptual regions. They will also explore how regions change over time, how transportation and other factors such as economic development, accessibility, migration, and regional image cause regional changes. Students will look at how regions are connected with other regions across the globe economically and culturally, and finally, students will look at how regions become defined through regional labels and events (i.e. natural disasters in California).

Concepts:

Scale (give examples of regions at different scales—local to global)

Region (formal, functional, perceptual)

Connectivity (between regions)

Accessibility (how it contributes to forming a region’s characteristics)

Identity (the characteristics that make regions unique)

Migration (how migration contributes to the cultural characteristics of particular regions)

Location (physical and human characteristics of the location that contribute to making it a unique region)

Map reading (use maps to show the physical and human connections between regions)

Questions and comments:

Students look at maps to show regional change from decade to decade, how do maps show regional change? What kinds of maps?

Standard 6: How culture and experience influence people’s perceptions of places and regions

By the end of eighth grade, the student knows and understands:

How personal characteristics affect our perception of places and regions
How culture and technology affect perception of places and regions
How places and regions serve as cultural symbols

Summary of exemplars:

Students look at regional identities from multiple perspectives by identifying how different “types” of people perceive regional characteristics, and how different cultural groups name places and regions. They look at how technology affects regional identity as well as how culture shapes people’s perceptions of places and regions. Finally, they explore how places and regions serve as cultural symbols by making maps of important cultural landmarks, identifying songs that describe particular places, and compiling media images that symbolize particular regions.

Concepts:

Region (evaluation of peoples’ perceptions of different regions)

Land use change (technology changing land use, i.e. irrigation)

Perception (factors influencing people’s perceptions of places)

Identity (how the names of places reflect cultural ideals and perceptions)

Landmark (how different landmarks represent or symbolize different regions or cities)

Map Construction (mapping local landmarks with cultural identities)

Scale (extend the map construction task across scales—capital city of the state and major cities in the same region)

Questions and comments:

Standards 7-8: Physical Systems

Standard 7: The physical processes that shape the patterns of earth’s surface

By the end of the eighth grade, the student knows and understands:

How physical processes shape patterns in the physical environment
How Earth-Sun relationships affect physical processes and patterns on Earth
How physical processes influence the formation and distribution of resources
How to predict the consequences of physical processes on Earth’s surface

Summary of exemplars:

Students analyze how physical processes (erosion, tectonic movement, ocean circulation) contribute to landforms, different hazards (volcanoes and earthquakes), and climate characteristics. Using maps and climate graphs, students investigate similarities and differences in regions across the globe. Students look at how the Earth-Sun relationship affects seasons and weather phenomena, the can describe how renewable and non-renewable resources are formed and finally they can make predictions regarding how certain physical processes (extreme weather events, earthquakes) might affect they physical environment.

Concepts:

Erosion

Morphology (how erosion contributes to the development of certain landforms)

Tectonic movement (leading to the processes of volcano and earthquake)

Climate

Ocean Circulation

Non-renewable and renewable resources

Topographic Maps

Location (comparing places with similar climates, analyzing agricultural production in relation to location of fertile soils)

Slope (effect of heavy rain on hillslopes)

Spatial Analysis/Representation (construct climate graphs and analyze them)

Region (compare regions of the world with similar physical features)

Map Reading (in order to understand relationships between different physical processes)

Resource? (processes that produce renewable and non-renewable resources)

Spatial Relationship (relationship between world agriculture and distribution of fertile soils)

Questions and comments:

Standard 8: The characteristics and spatial distribution of ecosystems on earth’s surface.

By the end of the eighth grade, the student knows and understands:

The local and global patterns of ecosystems
How ecosystems work
How physical processes produce changes in ecosystems
How human activities influence changes in ecosystems

Summary of exemplars:

Students look at the global distribution of different ecosystems exploring the characteristics that determine the locations of a particular type of ecosystem. Students can also identify features within different ecosystems and describe the different cycles/networks that occur within them. Finally, students can explain both the physical processes and human-induced processes affect different ecosystems and can describe ecosystems’ ability to respond to different stresses (forest fires, air pollution, etc.)

Concepts:

Ecosystem

Human Environmental Relations (how human intervention i.e. dams affect ecosystems)

Food Chain/Network

Location/Identity (how ecosystems differ in different regions as a result of soils, climate, etc.)

Eutrophication (ecosystem of lakes)

Scale (comparison of ecosystems across the globe, investigation of a specific ecosystem at the local level)

Land use change (how this can affect an ecosystem, i.e. converting marshland into farmland)

Region (explain ways humans interact differently with ecosystems in different regions)

Questions and comments:

Standards 9-13: Human Systems

Standard 9: The characteristics, distribution, and migration of human populations on earth’s surface.

By the end of eighth grade, the student knows and understands:

The demographic structure of a population
The reasons for spatial variations in population distribution
The types and historical patterns of human migration
The effects of migration on the characteristics of places

Summary of exemplars:

Using different demographic measures (life expectancy, birthrate, death rate, growth rate, life expectancy etc.), and different models (population pyramids, demographic transition), students first compare and categorize different regions and countries across the globe (developed vs. developing/Kenya vs. U.S), and then construct their own representations to understand population patterns across the globe. Students also explore both global and local processes of migration by looking at global migration streams through history, current rural to urban migration in the U.S. Finally, they analyze how these migration movements can affect the character of a place.

Concepts:

Location (describing population growth/decline in different regions across the globe)

Demographic transition (Model)

Population Pyramids (Model)

Development (comparison of demographic measures in relation to development)

Map Construction (making choropleth maps using population statistics)

Representation (constructing population pyramids)

Migration (identify cause and effect of different migration streams, urban-rural migration)

Barrier (related to migration patterns)

Map Reading (changes in places throughout history as a result of migration)

Questions and comments:

Standard 10: The characteristics, distribution, and complexity of earth’s cultural mosaics.

By the end of the eighth grade, the student knows and understands:

The spatial distribution of culture at different scales (local to global)
How to read elements of the landscape as a mirror of culture
The processes of cultural diffusion

Summary of exemplars:

Students explore unique cultural traits across different scales beginning with their local community expanding to different urban areas and the various ethnic enclaves they contain. Students will investigate these enclaves by looking at the distribution of Chinatowns across the Western world, European enclaves in China and Japan in the 19th century, and “Little Italy” sections of cities in the United States. Finally, students will investigate patterns of cultural diffusion by looking at global use of the automobile, diffusion of the English language, and diffusion of particular cultural innovations (of their own choosing such as agricultural techniques or satellite dishes).

Concepts:

Scale (variation in cultural characteristics from local to global)

Diffusion (cultural traits, i.e. terraced rice fields)

Landscape?

Location (location of particular cultural enclave, i.e. Little Italies)

Culture?

Identity (elements of the landscape that represent unique cultures)

Map production (map of the global use of the English language)

Questions and comments:

One of the three main objectives: “read elements of landscape as a mirror of culture”, no discussion within the exemplars of the concept of “landscape.”

Most of the exemplars are descriptive, very little analysis, and very little discussion of geography, i.e. spatial characteristics of culture less emphasized than cultural traits.

Standard 11: The patterns and networks of economic interdependence on earth’s surface.

By the end of the eighth grade, the student knows and understands:

Ways to classify economic activity
The basis for global interdependence
Reasons for the spatial patterns of economic activities
How changes in technology, transportation, and communication affect the location of economic activities.

Summary of exemplars:

One of the most comprehensive standards, which has students look at the global distribution of different types of economic activities by creating their own maps of each (primary, secondary, and tertiary). Students also look at the geographical distribution of the production and consumption process, looking at global patterns of imports and exports. They look at the spatial distribution of economic activities across scales beginning by identifying activities that their community depends on, and then exploring how relocating certain activities across borders can affect local economies. They explore the patterns and processes of world trade, investigating economic trade networks through history. Finally students look at industrial location factors and how transportation and communication technologies affect these networks of production and trade.

Concepts:

Network (map trade networks through time)

? Economic Activities (i.e. primary, secondary, etc. Model more than concept)

Map construction (distribution of different types of economic activities across the globe)

Scale

Location (production and consumption, movement of a product through different locations, factors contributing to industrial location in the U.S.)

Connectivity (impact of interruptions of world trade on different places)

Transnational(ism)? (analyzing the effects of relocation of large factories, i.e. automobile out of Michigan)

Comparative Advantage (why certain regions dominate certain economic activities)

Migration (global flow of migrant workers)

Time-space convergence (how transportation and communications systems affect patterns of economic interaction)

Questions and comments:

Standard 12: The processes, patterns, and functions of human settlement.

By the end of eighth grade, the student knows and understands:

The spatial patterns of settlement in different regions of the world
What human events led to the development of cities
The causes and consequences of urbanization
The internal spatial structure of urban settlements

Summary of exemplars:

Students look at different types of settlements (agricultural vs. urban), explore the historical development of urban systems, the factors that led to urbanization (why the first cities occurred where they did), the factors that contribute to people’s desire to live in urban areas, what happens to villages as they become more urban, how transportation links urban areas together along with activities within an urban area, and finally, how activities are organized within an urban settlement and how transportation affects that organization.

Concepts:

Settlement (distinguishing between different types)

Models: Concentric Zone, Sector Model

Location (location of first urban centers, location of activities within urban areas)

Migration (rural-urban)

Scale (effects of transportation within urban areas and between urban areas)

Land-use (within an urban setting)

Region (spatial patterns of settlement in different regions of the world)

Map construction (map major agricultural and urban settlement types)

Questions and comments:

Some exemplars are quite vague, “conduct a survey of the students’ class and get several student planning teams to design a city settlement pattern that incorporates most of the students’ wishes for a new city.” How do “students’ wishes” correspond with elements that should be a part of a city?

The first objective is not addressed in the exemplars…would this be how spatial structures of cities vary in different regions? For example, a Muslim city is usually quite different spatially than a typical Latin American city.

Standard 13: How the forces of cooperation and conflict among people influence the division and control of earth’s surface.

By the end of eighth grade, the student knows and understands:

The multiple territorial divisions of the students’ own world
How cooperation and conflict among people contribute to political divisions of Earth’s surface
How cooperation and conflict among people contribute to economic and social divisions of Earth’s surface

Summary of exemplars:

Students explore the political divisions of space from local to global scales. They investigate “territorial” issues within their own community, but also look at the factors contributing to political conflict across the globe (cultural differences, distribution of resources). They investigate how the shapes of certain countries affect their political cohesiveness as well as other factors that either contribute to or take away from the political stability within a country. Finally, students analyze territorial division across scales (i.e. county, state, country), and discuss the role of international organizations in transcending national boundaries.

Concepts:

Territory

Boundary (identify service, political, social, and economic divisions)

Hinterland (not term used by them, but student looks at functional relationships to different spatial divisions, i.e. postal zone)

Scale (territorial conflicts locally and globally, i.e. recycling center in wealthy area vs. resource distribution on a global scale)

Shape? (how the shapes of different countries contribute to their political cohesiveness)

Region (how regional differences (in religion, resources, language, etc.) lead to cooperation and conflict)

Centripetal/Centrifugal forces (though not labeled as such—factors that lead to or take away from a country’s cohesiveness)

Questions and comments:

What are examples of “social” divisions within a spatial context?

Standards 14-16: Environment and Society

Standard 14: How human actions modify the physical environment

By the end of the eighth grade, the student knows and understands:

The consequences of human modification of the physical environment
How human modifications of the physical environment in one place often lead to changes in other places
The role of technology in the human modification of the physical environment

Summary of exemplars:

Students investigate how human actions affect physical processes specifically looking at human-induced effects on the atmosphere, biosphere, lithosphere, and hydrosphere. Students form hypotheses on the effects of a long-term energy crisis and on the repercussions of continual development of coastal areas. Students look at how local human modifications of the environment can span across scales, and represent these relationships through maps, tables, and graphs. Finally, students explore the increasing role technology plays in modifying the physical environment specifically industrial and agricultural technologies.

Concepts: (many are processes)

Scale (local causes with global effects)

Land use change

Climate change

Deforestation

Biodiversity

Degradation

Stalinization

Acidification

Erosion

Pollution

Map construction (how environmental change in one part of the world can affect places in other parts of the world)

Questions and comments:

Too comprehensive—all four spheres of earth’s physical processes cannot possibly be covered by the eighth grade. Additionally, seems too high of an expectation that students be able to form hypotheses on effects of an energy crisis or extensive coastal development. Possibly a more realistic goal would include one example/effect for each sphere, and investigation of one human-induced process that has long-term ramifications.
Standard 15: How physical systems affect human systems.

By the end of the eighth grade, the student knows and understands:

Human responses to variations in physical systems
How the characteristics of different physical environments provide opportunities for or place constraints on human activities
How natural hazards affect human activities

Summary of exemplars:

Students look at how the physical environment determines certain features of the human-built environment such as livelihood, architectural styles, and recreational activities and compare and contrast these features and physical environments in different regions across the globe. Students explore the methods people use to adapt to different environmental constraints, and how these constraints affect human-decision making. Finally, students describe how humans respond to different types of hazards in different places across the globe looking at the severity of specific hazardous events and how societies did and could prepare for similar hazards in the future.

Concepts:

Collect geographic/spatial data (visual and statistical data on patterns of land use, economic livelihood, building style, building materials, etc.)

Region (comparison of different regions and how they respond to hazards)

Hazard (human perception of and response towards)

Perception

Location (location of specific settlements in relation to particular hazards)

Density (investigation of maps of population density and environmental quality)

Map Reading (investigation of maps of population density and environmental quality)

Questions and comments:

“Collect information on ways in which people adapt to living in different physical environments, and then write vignettes summarizing how the physical environment affects life in each region.” Vignettes…do these really promote spatial thinking in a geographic context?
Standard 16: The changes that occur in the meaning, use, distribution, and importance of resources.

By the end of the eighth grade, the student knows and understands:

The worldwide distribution and use of resources
Why people have different viewpoints regarding resource use
How technology affects the definitions of, access to, and use of resources
The fundamental role of energy resources

Summary of exemplars:

Students map the global distribution of resources, look at the varying importance of different resources throughout history, and investigate the various complicated issues surrounding resource use and exploitation. Specifically, they look at the uneven nature of consumption of particular resources (such as petroleum), and how levels of technological development associated with the wealthier regions of the world often determines levels of resource extraction and resource consumption. Students discuss timeframes for depletion of particular resources and brainstorm possible alternatives for particular resources such as water and petroleum.

Concepts:

Location (resource extraction, resource consumption)

Map-production (location of resources across the globe)

Region (level of economic development in comparison to resource extraction/consumption)

Questions and comments:

Standard 17-18: The Uses of Geography

Standard 17: How to apply geography to interpret the past.

By the end of the eighth grade, the student knows and understands:

How the spatial organization of a society changes over time
How people’s differing perceptions of places, peoples, and resources have affected events and conditions in the past
How geographic contexts have influenced events and conditions in the past

Summary of exemplars:

Students explore historical settlement patterns looking at how the structure and functions of cities have changed through time. Additionally they look at how perceptions of different places affected peoples’ desire to settle in certain areas. For example, students must find advertisements and other literature from nineteenth century America to analyze perceptions of the West during that time period. Students also investigate how certain geographic characteristics influenced significant events in history, i.e. weather conditions during certain battles, location of mountain ranges in relation to significant military campaigns, etc.

Concepts:

Qualitative data gathering (literature and other texts used to analyze historical perceptions of particular places, i.e. the American west)

Map construction (maps of important cities in U.S. through time)

Perception (characteristics that contribute to an individuals’ desire to settle in a certain area)

Site (characteristics that contribute to an individuals’ desire to settle in a certain area)

Situation (characteristics that contribute to an individuals’ desire to settle in a certain area)

Land-use (changes in urban structure/land-use through time)

Map-reading (identify land-survey systems in U.S. through time)

Region (comparison of different settlement patterns through history)

Scale (explain how different perceptions of local, regional, national, and global resources have stimulated competition for natural resources)

Landscape (how historical land-survey systems contribute to current landscape patterns in the U.S.)

Questions and comments:

Standard 18: How to apply geography to interpret the present and plan for the future.

By the end of the eighth grade, the student knows and understands:

How the interactions of physical and human systems may shape present and future conditions on Earth
How varying points of view on geographic context influence plans for change
How to apply the geographic point of view to solve social and environmental problems by making geographically informed decisions

Summary of exemplars:

Most exemplars involve some sort of role-playing or formulation of a position on a particular topic or hypothesis. Students investigate future conditions for people living in developing countries, the future implications of overuse of the world’s current energy sources (coal, petroleum, nuclear power, and solar power), current events with geographic dimensions, and finally, students hypothesize on the future spatial organization of the earth if current conditions persist (population growth and consumption rates continue), and develop plans that can amend their predictions.

Concepts:

Resource

Population Growth

Geography Education Standards 9-12

General Summary of the 9-12 standards:

Summary of the spatial concepts in the 9-12 standards:

Skill set 1, Asking geographic questions

Skill set 2, Acquiring geographic information

Skill set 3, Organizing geographic information

Skill set 4, Analyzing geographic information

Skill set 5, Answering geographic questions

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

Summary of exemplars

Concepts

Questions and comments

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:

How to use mental maps of physical and human features of the world to answer complex geographic questions
How mental maps reflect the human perceptions of places
How mental maps influence spatial and environmental decision-making

Summary of exemplars

Concepts

Questions and comments

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:

The generalizations that describe and explain spatial interaction
The models that describe patterns of spatial organization
The spatial behavior of people
How to apply concepts and models of spatial organization to make decisions

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Concepts

Questions and comments

Standard 4: The physical and human characteristics of places.


By the end of the twelfth grade, the student knows and understands:
The meaning and significance of place
The changing physical and human characteristics of places
How relationships between humans and the physical environment lead to the formation of places and to a sense of personal and community identity

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Concepts

Questions and comments

Standard 5: That people create regions to interpret earth’s complexity

By the end of the twelfth grade, the student knows and understands:

How multiple criteria can be used to define a region
The structure of regional systems
The ways in which physical and human regional systems are interconnected
How to use regions to analyze geographic issues

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Concepts

Questions and comments

Standard 6: How culture and experience influence people’s perceptions of places and regions

By the end of the twelfth grade, the student knows and understands:

Why places and regions serve as symbols for individuals and society
Why different groups of people within a society view places and regions differently
How changing perceptions of places and regions reflect cultural change

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Concepts

Questions and comments

Standard 7: The physical processes that shape the patterns of earth’s surface

By the end of the twelfth grade, the student knows and understands:

The dynamics of the four basic components of Earth’s physical systems: the atmosphere, biosphere, lithosphere, and hydrosphere
The interactions of Earth’s physical systems
The spatial variation in the consequences of physical processes across earth’s surface

Summary of exemplars

Concepts

Questions and comments

Standard 8: The characteristics and spatial distribution of ecosystems on earth’s surface.

By the end of the twelfth grade, the student knows and understands:

The distribution and characteristics of ecosystems
The biodiversity and productivity of ecosystems
The importance of ecosystems in people’s understanding of environmental issues

Summary of exemplars

Concepts

Questions and comments

Standard 9: The characteristics, distribution, and migration of human populations on earth’s surface.

By the end of the twelfth grade, the student knows and understands:

Trends in world population numbers and patterns
The impact of human migration on physical and human systems

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Concepts

Questions and comments

Standard 10: The characteristics, distribution, and complexity of earth’s cultural mosaics.

By the end of the twelfth grade, the student knows and understands:

The impact of culture on ways of life in different regions
How cultures shape the character of a region
The spatial characteristics of the processes of cultural convergence and divergence

Summary of exemplars

Concepts

Questions and comments

Standard 11: The patterns and networks of economic interdependence on earth’s surface.

By the end of the twelfth grade, the student knows and understands:

1. The classification, characteristics, and spatial distribution of economic systems

2. How places of various size function as centers of economic activity

3. The increasing economic interdependence of the world’s countries

Summary of exemplars

Concepts

Questions and comments

Standard 12: The processes, patterns, and functions of human settlement.

By the end of the twelfth grade, the student knows and understands:

The functions, sizes, and spatial arrangements of urban areas
The differing characteristics of settlement in developing and developed countries
The processes that change the internal structure of urban areas
The evolving forms of present-day urban areas

Summary of exemplars

Concepts

Questions and comments

Standard 13: How the forces of cooperation and conflict among people influence the division and control of earth’s surface.

By the end of the twelfth grade, the student knows and understands:

1. Why and how cooperation and conflict are involved in shaping the distribution of social, political, and economic spaces on Earth at different scales

2. The impact of multiple spatial divisions on people’s daily lives

3. How differing points of view and self-interests play a role in conflict over territory and resources

Summary of exemplars

Concepts

Questions and comments

Standard 14: How human actions modify the physical environment

By the end of the twelfth grade, the student knows and understands:

The role of technology in the capacity of the physical environment to accommodate human modification
The significance of the global impacts of human modification of the physical environment
How to apply appropriate models and information to understand environmental problems

Summary of exemplars

Concepts

Questions and comments

Standard 15: How physical systems affect human systems.

By the end of the twelfth grade, the student knows and understands:

1. How changes in the physical environment can diminish its capacity to support human activity

2. Strategies to respond to constraints placed on human systems by the physical environment

3. How humans perceive and react to natural hazards

Summary of exemplars

Concepts

Questions and comments

Standard 16: The changes that occur in the meaning, use, distribution, and importance of resources.

By the end of the twelfth grade, the student knows and understands:

How the spatial distribution of resources affects patterns of human settlement
How resource development and use change over time
The geographic results of policies and programs for resource use and management

Summary of exemplars

Concepts

Questions and comments

Standard 17: How to apply geography to interpret the past.

By the end of the twelfth grade, the student knows and understands:

How processes of spatial change affect events and conditions
How changing perceptions of places and environments affect the spatial behavior of people
The fundamental role that geographical context has played in affecting events in history

Summary of exemplars

Concepts

Questions and comments

Standard 18: How to apply geography to interpret the present and plan for the future.

By the end of the twelfth grade, the student knows and understands:

1. How different points of view influence the development of policies designed to use and manage Earth’s resources

2. Contemporary issues in the context of spatial and environmental perspectives

3. How to use geographic knowledge, skills, and perspectives to analyze problems and make decisions

Summary of exemplars

Concepts

Questions and comments

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[1][1] Working with coordinate systems enters the math curriculum in grades 3-5.

[2][2] Problems involving scale factors enters the math curriculum until grades 6-8. This is inconsistent with its location in the geography standards.

[3][3] Collecting and representing data with bar charts, line graphs, etc. enters the math curriculum in grades 3-5.

[4][4] Shortest path enters the math curriculum in grades 3-5, though it is developed in such a way that the shortest path between two points is always a straight line (when not restricted to a road network, etc.).

[5][5] Finding shortest routes along a grid / “road network” enters the curriculum in grades 3-5. Basic traveling salesman problems are also introduced (“in what order should you visit these location to minimize the distance traveled”).

[6][6] Maybe strip clubs aren’t appropriate landmarks at this age – I guess that maybe I’m just not ready for this educating young children stuff.

[7][7] Location, distance, and direction enter the curriculum in PreK-2.

[8][8] The components of atmosphere, lithosphere, etc. enter the science curriculum in grades K-4; relating the feature to the terms lithosphere, etc. enters the curriculum in grades 5-8.

[9][9] Water cycle enters the science curriculum in grades K-4.

[10][10] Basic Earth-Sun relationships enter the science curriculum in grades K-4.

[11][11] “Ecosystems” enter the science curriculum in grades 5-8. In grades K-4 life science, students should “develop understanding of the characteristics of organisms, life cycles of organisms, and organisms and environments.”

[12][12] Natural hazards enter the science curriculum in grades 5-8. Hazards (natural and human-induced) and their effects are covered fairly extensively