Geographic ConnectionCGAlog02012

News of the California Geographic Alliance

February  28, 2015- Vol 7, Issue 2
In This Issue
Upcoming Events
Congratulations to...
Children's Geographies
Summer Opportunities
Resources for the classroom
CCSS Learning Modules
ArcGIS Online FREE for Schools
Email and Phone
Quick Links

Upcoming Events

California Council for the Social Studies
Annual Conference
Oakland Marriott Convention Center
Oakland, CA
March 6-8, 2015

National Council for Geographic Education
Annual Conference
JW Marriott Hotel
Washington, D.C.
August 6-9, 2015

Congratulations to...

CGA Teacher Consultant Nicki Young will represent California as a delegate to South Korea this summer. The delegation will participate in a geographic issues conference in conjunction with South Korean delegates. The group will also have time to tour key sites in the country. 

Stay tuned for Nicki's reflections on her trip in a late summer issue of this newsletter.

Bringing Insights of Geographic Research to Geography Education Practice



By Thomas Herman, CGA Director and Stuart Aitken, SDSU




Greetings from the Alliance Network Annual Meeting at National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, DC.  We are hearing about changes in the way in which the Alliance network is organized and supported, and in the coming months there will be news to share about new initiatives and new activities, and we think there will be some things you can get excited about and use to get students engaged in learning.  More on that to come, but for now we want to share something that is a little bit outside the box of our usual Alliance work, but still very related.


Many of you may not know that the CGA team at San Diego State - in particular Stuart Aitken, Thomas Herman, and Kate Swanson - are also involved in conducting geographic research on the geographies of children, youth, and families.  The concept of "geographies of children and youth" may be new to you, but because most of you work with children and youth on a daily basis, you will find it a familiar topic.  It is an interdisciplinary field including education, environmental design, and sociology researchers who share an interest in places and spatial relationships.  They examine the ways in which adults make space for children, youth, and families (playgrounds and suburban neighborhood design are simple examples). They are also interested in ways in which children and youth interact with and modify their environments (think about the old Family Circle cartoon that shows how the child who says she came straight home from school actually took a circuitous route throughout the entire neighborhood or the way kids tend to gravitate to forts and treehouses away from adults' spaces).  This field has grown significantly over the past 20 years, as is reflected in academic journals and in the number of disciplines who are using geographic thinking to examine the lives and well-being of children, youth and families.


In January, we hosted the 4th International Conference on the Geographies of Children, Youth, and Families in San Diego.  Over 160 researchers from 32 countries attended the conference, and they presented a wide range of ideas and evidence about what is happening in the lives of children and young people.  If you are interested in learning more about the conference, you can check out the conference web site at: 

or the ISYS Center web site at 


One big takeaway message for us as Alliance leaders and for all geography educators is this:  Valuing the perspectives, concerns, experiences and voices of youth with regard to issues such as life in their community, what it means to be a Californian or an American, and how do we conserve our global environment will create incredible motivation for students to accumulate geographic knowledge and activate geographic thinking.  You already know that, probably, but it is helpful to have an occasional reminder and some encouragement.  We have lots of things to teach, some grounded in standards and some grounded in personal values, but we would encourage you to make sure that on a regular basis you are giving students an opportunity to exercise their voices, analyze their environments from their own perspectives and the perspectives of others, and express their ideas for a brighter future.  


An example of this came from a plenary speaker at the conference.  Professor Katharyne Mitchell from the University of Washington gave a talk entitled "Counter-mapping with Children." She taught students about the fact that maps reflect one view on a place, and that they reflect power relations and, often, official designations.  They leave out some features and labels to make room for others that the mapmaker thinks are important to show on the map.  Maps can therefore exclude the perspectives of minority groups or of people who do not possess official power and status (i.e., children).  Dr. Mitchell then worked with the children to examine the perspectives of specific groups in the Seattle area where she works.  The students focused on the perspectives of women, Asian-Americans, and African Americans and produced alternative maps for the city that elevated those perspectives.  The activity built social and historic knowledge of the students while also engendering empathy and, wait for it.....geographic knowledge skills, and ways of thinking!  Sounds great, right?  Only a shame she is not in California.  However, immediately after the talk we had a chance to learn that Dr. Nancy Erbstein at the University of California-Davis is doing very similar work in California.  A new collaboration is hopefully emerging from that conversation so we can share Dr. Erbstein's work (and methods) with all of you.  But you don't need to wait.  Have your students map their community.  Have them look at maps of their home area and talk about what is shown on the map.  Have them talk to others in the community about the places that are significant to them and check to see if they are shown on the maps you can access.  Have them produce alternative maps that do reflect these features.  It will be fun and relevant and it will build geographic knowledge and skills.  It will hopefully also tap into their natural curiosity and lead to lifelong learning.

CGA at the CCSS Conference


montana-teacher.jpg The CGA will be well-represented at this year's California Council for the Social Studies Conference in Oakland on March 6-8.

  • We will have an exhibitor booth to distribute maps and other materials and introduce people to the educational resources on  If you are knowledgeable about the CGA and would like to volunteer some time at the booth, we can provide free registration for up to 3 Teacher Consultants/Teacher Leaders who will commit time to enthusiastically represent the CGA.  Please contact me to express your interest.
  • There are at least two CGA-based sessions on the conference program that you may want to attend or recommend to a colleague.  I suspect there are other presentations being given by CGA members, so please share the information on any relevant sessions so we can promote them.  For now, here are two I would like to promote:
    > Friday, March 6th at 2:24 - 3:45 PM - "Geo-Literacy: Engaging Students in Spatial Thinking"
    > Saturday, March 7th at 2:24 - 3:45 PM - "21st Century Learning + Online Tools= Next Generation"
Summer Opportunities for Teachers

Qu�bec Dimensions:Historical, Geographic and Cultural Explorations

Summer Institute for K-12 


Begin and end in Montr�al with travel to Qu�bec City
June 28-July 3, 2015


  • Registration fee: $649 includes double-occupancy at 4-star hotels, transportation when in Qu�bec, site visits, some meals.
  • Graduate Credit Option: pay an additional $263 plus complete a project to receive one graduate credit, offered through Plymouth (NH) State University.
  • Informational Flyer


Quebec Dimensions Summer Institute for K-12 Professionals, is based in the North American birthplace of New France and led by the Northeast National Resource Center on Canada.


This invitation is open to all teachers, curriculum coordinators, and administrators of social studies, geography, history and French to experience Canada's largest province and gain preparation for teaching about Canada in your state's curriculum.


Qu�bec Dimensions provides foundations in history and geography with contemporary cultural insights through first-hand experiences. The Canadian and Qu�bec content taught by Institute academic specialists is designed to support educators of  Social Studies, World History, Comparative Cultures, AP History, North American Geography, and all levels of French language curriculum.


Institute content is designed to meet Common Core, C3, and state standards with Canadian content.


Take advantage of in-depth briefings, site visits and walking tours in Montr�al, the world's 2nd largest French-speaking city, and in Qu�bec City, a UNESCO world heritage site.


Online Application can be found here.


For more information contact:


Betsy Arntzen


Amy Sotherden


Resources for the classroom


Current Context: Ukraine Conflict

      CHSSP's latest 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 Contextwhich 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.
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
CGA Email Address and Phone Number
Contact us via email at

Need to get in touch with us by phone?

General Contact Information
CGA Director:
Thomas Herman
Communications Coordinator
Natalie Wojinski