Building a robust and useful understanding of the world around us involves understanding people, both as individuals and as groups, topics we uncover through social studies subjects. It also requires an understanding of the physical world and the processes that drive it, ideas we explore through math and science subjects. Often, these understandings of the world come together in geography, a subject that can help transcend subjects and connect them.
Educators can help build understanding of complex systems of people and environment, both locally and globally. But traditionally, students in the U.S. have struggled with geography. That’s one of the reason educators, organizations, and individuals celebrate Geography Awareness Week, observed November 15–21 this year.
The American Association of Geographers works to build geoliteracy, or an understanding of geographic concept. They note that tumultuous times make geoliteracy as vital as ever:
This proliferation of maps, visualizations, and storytelling about space and place in 2020 has informed public policies and personal choices, opening a window on how geoliteracy—the understanding and application of geographic concepts and reasoning—can support complex, relational perspectives and decision making for the Earth’s future.Geography Awareness Week: November 15-21, 2020. AAG.
Geographic knowledge can help build engaged citizens in many ways. For example, the U.S. Census Bureau compiles many resources, data tools, and maps on related social and economic topics, with key statistics and information on tech topics like geographic information systems or GIS.
The National Geographic Society, dedicated to “exploring and protecting our planet,” has a number of resources to build geography awareness:
- Find planning resources and frequently asked questions about Geography Awareness Week here.
- Dig into NetGeo’s full Geography Awareness Week library, with tips for films to watch, geo-caching activities, and much, much more, as well as the chance to sign up for the National Geographic education newsletter.
The American Association of Geographers also shares a number of tools:
- Get the basics with What Is Geography?
- Learn more about the professionals working in the field with AAG: Who We Are
- Download social sharing tools with the Raise Awareness toolkit
- Let your students explore Careers in Geography
- Look into geography at many levels with the Geography Education from K to Career
Other resources from AAG include:
- Public Awareness and Social Media Materials
- Resources for Geography Departments and Clubs
- AAG’s Knowledge Communities
- Participate in GIS Day! (November 18)
More Resources from TechNotes
- Teaching at Every Level with Data-Rich Digital Maps
- The Simulation Game Designed to Save the World
- Exploring Local History During Remote Learning
- The Big List of Remote Learning Social Studies Resources
- Experiencing Early American History with Interactive Resources
- StoryMap JS: Creating Immersive Social Studies Education
- Using Google Earth to Follow the Trail of Lewis and Clark
Celebrating Around the World
Will you and your students take part in Geography Awareness Week? What tools will you use and what topics will you cover? Let us know in the comments!