My Social Studies colleagues and I have been discussing the idea that students’ general geographic knowledge is perhaps declining, rather than improving. Many high school students cannot locate or even name the 7 continents. There aren’t even many countries that they can correctly match with a continent or geographic area. So, what’s a teacher to do?
This year I’ve decided to try a really quite formal mapping approach to the current events stories that we normally cover. For every news story that we summarize, we plot it on a world map AND add the geographic coordinates. After about 12-15 news stories, we will a have a quite formal Current Events Test which includes their geogrpahic awareness. It is set up like an expansive 63 item matching assignment, including locations and co-ordinates.
Our first “test” is tomorrow. We have played some review games and looked at some sample tests so they know what to expect. At this point in the process, I already feel that their geographical awareness is increasing. Students who initially had no idea how to find latitude and longitude can now seem to navigate the coordinates much better. On the eve of this first test, I’m pleased that we’ve even made it this far and that I’ve been able to keep the learning format in tact.
So, here’s to trying something new! Here’s to increased geographical awareness. Here’s to early signs of success! Here’s to hoping that my grand testing format is at least somewhat successful!