Geographic ConnectionCGAlog02012

News of the California Geographic Alliance

August 2015- Vol 7, Issue 7
In This Issue
AP GiS&T course proposal
Geographic Bee 2016
ArcGIS Online FREE for Schools
Feature Article
Resources for the classroom
CCSS Learning Modules
Email and Phone
Quick Links
AAG Seeks Proposal Authors for potential AP GiS&T course
This is an exciting opportunity on many levels. For the complete article, click here.

The Geography Education National Implementation Project (GENIP) has received a request from The College Board for a proposal to develop a new Advanced Placement course in Geographic Information Science and Technology (GIS&T). The AAG will lead a course proposal development team on behalf of GENIP.



Get Ready for Geographic Bee 2016
Has your school ever participated in the National Geographic Bee? 

For the first time ever, grades 4-8 can experience the Bee for free - a Free-Bee! National Geographic is offering a free trial of the Bee for educators and students to experience the contest. 

Engage students in learning geography through an exciting contest by requesting the National Geographic Free-Bee here.

ArcGIS Online Organization available now
ESRI announced last summer that ArcGIS Online Organization subscriptions will be available at NO COST to schools around the country. This subscription level service offers much more than the basic public account, including " more control of sharing, access to more data, engaging much more powerful analyses, supporting apps like Collector or Explorer, integrating with ArcMap and Microsoft Office, enabling login to Community Analyst, and lots more."

For more information and to get the latest materials, including the ArcGIS Online Skillbuilder, visit




Summer Wrap Up
Welcome to the new school year, CGA member!  

I hope you are all energized and enthused to bring the insights and perspectives of geography to your students.  The CGA is right there with you, doing our best to support you in that mission.  Here is a brief summary of what we have been up to and some of the things to look forward to in 2015-16.
Summer 2015
  • Distribution of 22,000 atlases complete:  Last summer we were busy finishing up a grant from the SD Bechtel, Jr. Foundation and offering teacher professional development workshops in Auburn, Long Beach, Fresno, Fullerton, and San Diego. While that means we distributed over 2,300 atlases last summer, it wasn't until this summer that we came to the end of our supply.  Thanks to Diane Hembacher at CSU-Dominguez Hills and the teachers of LA and Pasadena for reaching out and allowing us to get the last of the 5,000 total print run to teachers who participated in a training she coordinated in July.  While this means we can't respond to new requests for atlases at the present time, fear not.  We are already working to find funds to allow us to update the print atlas, incorporate links to expanded online content, and then order a new print run. 
  • GeoQuest gets going:  Last year, the CGA announced plans to create "Geo-Quest: California's Education Portal," which signals a move to providing more content online, more interactive content, and more diverse standards-based content (think everything from place-based poetry to advanced geospatial technologies), while at the same time streamlining access to resources and helping teachers find the best materials for their purpose quickly.  GeoQuest also incorporates teacher professional development and support for all kinds of educators and students to use GIS and other geospatial technologies.  In July, we utilized a small grant from Esri to launch our professional development strategies with the involvement of teachers and curriculum developers from the San Diego Unified School District and Sweetwater Union High School District as well as informal educators from the San Diego History Center and Girl Scouts.  The 21 participants created new free organizational accounts for 13 schools and learned to use ArcGIS Online and produced new materials for use in their own classrooms and organizations.  These materials will eventually be shared with others via the CGA website.  Despite the challenges that always come with adopting new technologies and strategies, the workshop was very successful. We look forward to improving our techniques and working with many more teachers in the years to come.  Link to our blog for a complete story on this workshop.
"Thank you for putting on such an amazing learning opportunity for teachers.  I was in amazement all day at the level of excitement.  This will carry into classroom practice.  I appreciate the efforts the team went to in order to make this an engaging experience."
     - Linda Trousdale, Director of Teaching and Learning, SDUSD
  • Rethinking 1776 from a California perspective:  What do you think of when you think of colonial history and the year 1776?  Despite the fact that most of you reside in California, I will expect that the things that came to mind involved the Declaration of Independence, the English colonies on the East Coast, and people like Ben Franklin and George Washington.  That's not the only important event that shaped America and happened in 1776, and we should know that because it happened in California: the Juan Bautista de Anza Expedition arrived in the Bay Area in 1776 and established the first permanent European settlement in what would eventually become California.  Yes, there were mission and presidios already existing in places like San Diego and Monterey, but this expedition brought a racially and ethnically diverse group of 30 families to settle permanently and strengthen Spain's claim to the territories of New Spain.  The settlement was established at the mouth of San Francisco Bay, though it was called Yerba Buena until the Americans moved in some 75 years later.  The CGA is involved in an exciting partnership with the Anza National Historic Trail unit of the National Park Service that will help bring the important and fascinating story of the Anza Expedition to many more classrooms in the future.  On August 10-12, a group of Bay Area teachers met with CGA and NPS staff to outline the project and begin to develop new learning activities that connect to current standards and incorporate the inquiry arc emphasized in the C3 Framework.  Together, the group decided to use the enduring question "What is the legacy of colonial histories on modern America?" as the point of departure and to focus on connecting to the 5th grade curriculum (although materials will be flexible enough to be useful in other grades).  They then commenced to explore more specific inquiry pathways and design learning activities.  Look out for much more coming out of this project as we prepare for the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016.
2015-16 School Year Preview
  • Geography Bee:  The window is already open for schools to register for the Geography Bee.  The Alliance will be working directly to support the Geo Bee Coordinator Sean Boyd this year, so we would like to see a healthy increase in participation.  Resources are available for schools that find the $100 registration fee to be an obstacle, so reach out if you want to participate!
  • Geography Awareness Week:  The theme for 2015 is "Explore! The Power of Maps."  Celebrate and explore the power of maps November 15 - 21, 2015.  Spatial thinking through maps is one of the most important skills that students can develop as they learn geography, Earth and environmental sciences, and so much more.  National Geographic is celebrating100 years of cartographic history. Check out a suite of resources all aboutgeographyas a field and discipline and even more tips and tools toplan your ownGeoWeek celebrations!  GeoWeek is also an excellent opportunity for college- and university-level geography programs to reach out to the K-12 teachers and students in their area and share the joys of geography. 
  • BioBlitzing the state:  The alliances across the country will all be participating in an initiative to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service while also involving thousands of students in citizen science and exciting fieldwork.  A BioBlitz is an inventory of biodiversity, usually carried out over a 24-hour period.  Here in California, we are working with great partners to organize a number of large events in May 2016, including an event on the Capitol grounds in Sacramento.  We are also encouraging individual schools and even classrooms to organize their own BioBlitzes - of their school campus, a local park or open space, or some other area.  We will be posting related learning activities to the CGA website as well as how-to guides for those of you that think this sounds like something you want to do with your students.  The iNaturalist app available for phones and tablets can make this a fun and manageable process and also enables us to share our data around the state and across the country.  Stay tuned for more info and plan to get involved in citizen science this year!
  • New pilot initiatives coming from National Geographic:  The CGA is involved in piloting two strategies that National Geographic is considering employing nationally to advance the cause of geographic competency. 
    • o   National Geographic Teacher Certification Program:  In the past, National Geographic provided intensive training institutes through which teachers became Teacher Consultants (TCs).  This system is no longer in place due to the high cost and competing demands for educator time, but National Geographic is working on a new program that will combine in-person and online professional development and allow teachers to earn a nationally recognized certification.  Two teacher leaders, Sylvia McBride of Sweetwater Union High School District and Mary Janzen of Fresno Unified School District, traveled to Washington DC in August to receive training.  They will begin piloting the certification program, engaging teachers in their own districts.  We will have an informational session on this program at the 2016 CCSS Conference in Costa Mesa.
    • o   State Hub:  The concept of collective impact suggests organizations should work collaboratively to increase their effectiveness and move society forward.  Working along those lines, the CGA is one of a handful of alliances that is exploring the potential for statewide collaboration with other organizations that provide teacher training and/or impactful learning experiences in the fields of social studies, science, and environmental education.  The CGA is hosting a meeting at the California Department of Education on September 21 to have a conversation with representatives of various Nat Geo supported programs as well as several other organizations with overlapping goals.
Resources for the classroom


Current Context: Cuba and the U.S.

      Check out the latest from CHSSP that addresses the changes in the relationship between Cuba and the U.S. Get the documents and links here.


Current Context: Ukraine Conflict

      A recent CHSSP Current Context is on the Ukraine Conflict.  The pdf contains articles, timelines, maps, and teaching suggestions.  


Current Context: California Drought
      Check out CHSSP's newest free teaching resource, Current Context: California Droughtwhich includes a short background article, a map, a timeline of important events, and links to more great resources.


Current Context: Boko Haram/Nigeria

        Are you looking for a resource that helps you put current events in their historical context for your students? Check out their newest free teaching resource,  Current Context which includes a short background article, a map, a timeline of important events, and links to more great resources.  Their recent edition, Boko Haram/Nigeria, is ready for download here .  Check back for more resources in this occasional series, and let them  know what topics you'd like covered in future installments!
New CCSS Professional Learning Module Available from the CDE
The CDE is pleased to announce the release of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) English/Language Arts (ELA): Content Literacy in History/Social Studies, Grades Six through Twelve, online professional learning module.

This module provides secondary history/social studies teachers with resources to implement the CA CCSS for ELA/Literacy to deepen students' understanding of historical/social studies content, improve critical thinking, and develop literacy. The module contains information, strategies, lessons, videos, and resources to aid teachers in integrating reading and other literacy activities into history/social studies instruction to support all students' success.

Additional professional learning modules will be available in the coming months. For more information, please visit the CDE CCSS Professional Learning Modules for Educators Web page.
CGA Email Address and Phone Number
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General Contact Information
CGA Director:
Thomas Herman
Communications Coordinator
Natalie Wojinski