Geographic ConnectionCGAlog02012

News of the California Geographic Alliance

June 2015- Vol 7, Issue 6
In This Issue
AP GiS&T course proposal
Bay Area 5th grade teachers wanted
Feature Article
Resources for the classroom
CCSS Learning Modules
ArcGIS Online FREE for Schools
Upcoming Events
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.
Looking to Engage Bay Area 5th Grade Teachers
The CGA is embarking on an exciting collaboration with the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail unit of the National Park Service, and we want to involve a group of fifth grade teachers in a learning experience and design workshop to create a vision for an interactive, Common Core-supporting, learning module.  The story of the Anza Expedition of 1775-76 is a fascinating chapter in our state's history.  To learn more about the trail and expedition, visit .  

If you are interested in learning more about this CGA project and might want to help develop and pilot new materials about the expedition and trail targeting fifth graders, please send an email to ASAP as we would like to kick the project off with a workshop before the end of the summer!



Geography for Tomorrow
Arvind Sridhar, a high school student at Bellarmine Academy who has started a program to introduce more students to geography and the GeoBee by recruiting friends to serve as teachers, starting an after school program at San Jose area middle schools, and even offering a summer program!

I am a high school sophomore attending Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose, CA. Geography has been my passion since second grade; I love to pour over maps, travel to different countries, and learn about foreign cultures. However, in my sheltered middle school environment, I was seldom exposed to my local community. My service trips during freshman year in high school began my transformation. As I engaged with these students, I was stuck by their lack of geo-literacy; for example, most did not even know the capital of Nevada. )

Consequently, I created an educational outreach program called Geography for Tomorrow in March 2014 ( to teach geography to underprivileged middle school students, provide them with the tools to pursue successful careers, increase their appreciation of the diversity of the world, and help them find their place in society. Clyde Fischer Middle School in the Alum Rock School district of San Jose gave me the opportunity to pilot this program in spring 2014.

Over the last year, I have expanded the program to include another school, Lee Mathson Middle School in the same school district, and am beginning in two more institutions. City Year San Jose is the organization that runs all the after-school enrichment programs in both Fischer and Mathson and has helped me tremendously by incorporating my program into their schedule. We are also in the process of expanding to two new sites for the summer of 2015 and onwards: Sunday Friends, an organization that gathers the community for activities on Sunday afternoons, and Sacred Heart Community Services, an organization that provides enrichment activities for students of all ages.

As I discussed my experience with friends at Bellarmine, I found many more volunteers eager to join in my efforts. Currently, I have 15 volunteers as part of the Bellarmine chapter of Geography for Tomorrow, and together we are able to provide 1-1 help to students in the schools we teach in.

However, when I began, getting the program off of the ground proved even more challenging. Initially, the students at Clyde Fischer were not interested in the program, and barely any students attended. I could not help but feel a mix of defeat and perplexity; why were my students not interested in learning for their future? I then realized that, though I had been persistent, I had not acted like an engaging teacher or an outgoing friend; thus, my students were not motivated to learn. I strove to change and become my students' role model, using my passion to inspire them to reach their full potential. I began going to Fischer for longer hours, playing basketball with some of them and helping others with homework. In addition, I became a more engaging teacher, using videos, reading material, quizzes, and games to complement concepts.

As my volunteers and I befriended and became role models for the students, my program grew tremendously. Our goal is to make our students aware of global issues and geographical situations, giving them the tools to pursue higher endeavors. We also plan to conduct the National Geographic Bee at our schools in fall 2015, as well as a friendly inter-school competition to bolster school pride and geo-awareness.

Ms. Bednarz, Marketing Manager at National Geographic, Dr. Herman, Director of the California Geographic Alliance, and Dr. Barr, Director of Alliance Programs at National Geographic, have been great mentors in my endeavor, providing me with resources, certificates, and more visibility as I continue spreading geo-literacy. Geo-literacy amongst youth is becoming extremely critical as the world becomes more interconnected and globalized.

With geographic knowledge, students can pursue successful careers and become productive citizens of tomorrow. Geography is also a fascinating topic, though quite neglected in the K-12 curriculum of the United States. My hope is that other motivated volunteers, both students and teachers, will join my program and begin chapters in their communities, in order to enrich the lives of middle school and elementary school students. I believe we can make a difference, one person at a time.
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.

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.
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
Upcoming Events

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

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