cluster map

Thursday, December 20, 2012

New Culminating activities are posted

Check out the Blog for a few new Culminating Activities that have been posted. Have a wonderful holiday and let the Doing of Geography be your own and exploriory in Nature .
Here is a true British Geography geek Christmas Quiz
Download Geography 2012 Christmas Quiz here (animated to lead you through the activity from start to finish - the answers are in the ppt notes if you need them!)
Download accompanying resources here.
Merry Christmas
Mark Lowry
Geography and Geotechnologies Instructional Leader
Social World Studies and Humanities
Toronto District School Board
1 Civic Centre Court
Toronto , On ,M9C 2B3
Tel; (416) 394-7269
Cell; (416) 576-4515
Fax; (416) 394-6420
twitter @geogmark

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Some Geography resources for the Holiday Break

Here are a few resources to peruse any enjoy over our well-deserved break. Be safe everyone.
Useless Northwest Christmas Geography
Useless regional trivia that you can use to annoy your friends and family this weekend. Below, you'll find all the geographic place names in the Northwest that include the word Christmas.

Track Santa on Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve is just around the corner and I want to make you aware of a very FUN way to spend the evening. Instead of imagining Santa flying on his sleigh along his route, this Christmas Eve you can watch Santa fly around the world by using the Google Earth Plug-in. It's super easy. To get ready download the Google Earth Plug-in:

Start the countdown to Christmas Eve at
On the NORAD website, kids can play holiday-themed games (a new one is released each day) and get updates from the North Pole as Santa prepares for his big sleigh ride.

On Christmas Eve, return to the NORAD website to track Santa using the Google Earth Plug-in.

Critical thinking is a skill that we can teach to our students through exercise and practice. It is particularly a skill that contains a plethora of other skills inside it. Critical thinking in its basic definition refers"  to a diverse range of intellectual skills and activities concerned with evaluating information as well as evaluating our thought in a disciplined way ". All of our students think in a way or another but the question  is , do they really think critically ? are they able to evaluate the information they come across ? are they capable of going beyond the surface thinking layer ? Can they make connections between what they learn and the outer world? Can they question the status quo of their knowledge ?

Critical thinking is part and parcel of what is called critical theory and hence critical literacy. We have posted several articles on this topic and we invite you to have a look at the following links for further information :

1- A Quick Guide to 21st Century Critical Thinking Skills for Teachers
2- What Does Critical Thinking Mean in Education
3- Great Critical Thinking Poster for your Class
4- 7 Great iPad Apps to Improve Kids Critical Thinking
5- A Clever Tip to Easily Develop Students Critical Thinking

What we have for you today is a great series of videos on critical thinking. As a teacher, you can use these videos with your students to start a discussion on what it means to think critically and introduce them to the concept of logical fallacies. The videos are animated in such a way that your students will find it easy to grasp  hard concepts .Enjoy

Port of Cleveland readies to welcome the new generation of Great Lakes freighters

A sense of place
Geography matters as much as ever, despite the digital revolution, says Patrick Lane
This is one article within an Economist report on the relationship between Technology and Geography
Great cartoon
Climate change and the end of pasta 
The supposed debate among scientists over climate change has melted faster than the polar ice caps. National Science Board member James Lawrence Powell looked at all the related peer-reviewed scientific papers over the last several years. Twenty-four of those articles rejected the notion of climate change. Out of 14,000.
So let this be clear: There is no scientific controversy over this. Climate change denial is purely, 100 percent made-up political and corporate-sponsored crap.
It's still easy for many of us to ignore the issue of climate change, but every now and then a headline makes us take notice. This one did it for me: The End of Pasta.

Who Coined the Phrase Geographic Information Systems?
Roger Tomlinson, also known as the Father of GIS, is famed for being a pioneer in the field of Geographic Information Systems (GIS). A great Canadian Story

How Fast Could You Travel Across the USA in the 1800s? (Check Out These Old Maps)

Thanks to an OAGEE Member from Ottawa Erin Levy French and Geography Teacher
Longfields-Davidson Heights Secondary School
Nepean, ON 
TONS of great social science videos we tend to use or may want to??? free and in full length online!
Check them out

Overeating Now Poses a Bigger Global Health Threat Than Hunger

Landfill Harmonic film teaser
from Landfill Harmonic PLUS 1 month ago
Landfill Harmonic is an upcoming feature-length documentary about a remarkable musical orchestra in Paraguay, where young musicians play instruments made from trash. For more information about the film, please visit
25 rules of social media netiquette

The Toronto Park Lot Project

an exploration of the earliest days of the TOWN OF YORK, founded 1793 by John Graves Simcoe, first Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada
(The Town of York was incorporated 1834 as the City of Toronto.)
A terrific interactive mapping site on the history of York

A E- book on Physical Geography that is very searchable . Good for senior students and as a research tool.

Mark Lowry
Geography and Geotechnologies Instructional Leader
Social World Studies and Humanities
Toronto District School Board
1 Civic Centre Court
Toronto , On ,M9C 2B3
Tel; (416) 394-7269
Cell; (416) 576-4515
Fax; (416) 394-6420
twitter @geogmark

Friday, December 7, 2012

some December Resources

Some resources for Grey December Days
Thanks to All that have identified the New York Times learning Blog article
All Over the Map: 10 Ways to Teach About Geography
Geography frequently takes a back seat to history in the social studies classroom, but teaching geographic literacy is essential if students are going to understanding the challenges and opportunities of our complex world.

Has Geography Become Geosophy?
Interesting Discussion on what is happening to geography in many universities. Also why we need to be careful about the def. of stating that geography is everything.
Google Earth A to Z: The full list- Very useful for teachers using Google earth
It's been fun going through every aspect of Google Earth over the past few months. If you've missed any of the entries, here is the entire list from A to Z:

Google Maps team goes to Canada’s Far North
Published on Wednesday November 28, 2012.

Adapting to a warmer world: No going back
With nations doing little to slow climate change, many people are ramping up plans to adapt to the inevitable.

National Geographic Photo Contest 2012, Part II- Great minds on for us all.
The deadline to enter this year's National Geographic photo contest is coming up -- this Friday, November 30. Back in September, the society started gathering and presenting galleries of submissions, encouraging readers to vote for them as well. Winners will be chosen on or around December 15, 2012. National Geographic was once more kind enough to let me choose some of its entries for 2012 to feature here on In Focus. Gathered below are 50 images from the three categories of People, Places, and Nature, with captions written by the individual photographers. Be sure to also see Part I on In Focus, from September. [50 photos]

A Great Ongoing Source of Geographic Education – Worth Revisiting
Global news with a spatial perspective: resources for educators and the inherently inquisitive. ”
Curated by Seth Dixon, Ph.D.

Interesting Map and Data  Resource  sent along by Richard Coram (TDSB)
His quote “I want to warn you about this website... don't open it if you don't have an hour or two to spend asking the questions "What's where?" and "Why is it there?".
It is so true !!

thanks All for your ongoing sharing and continue to check out the culminating activities Google site for constantly updated Lessons, and activities for secondary .

Also do not forget to revisit the Geography Financial literacy lessons and resources on the OAGEE site
Mark Lowry
Geography and Geotechnologies Instructional Leader
Social World Studies and Humanities
Toronto District School Board
1 Civic Centre Court
Toronto , On ,M9C 2B3
Tel; (416) 394-7269
Cell; (416) 576-4515
Fax; (416) 394-6420
twitter @geogmark

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

culminating activities

Hi All: I am very pleased with the initial response of Toronto and Ontario teachers to the call for culminating activities. I realize that now is the time of year that many of you are starting to focus on culminating activities so I thank you all for starting this sharing portal . These lessons and activities have not any external vetting and it is hoped that you will sort through them and use portions or complete activities to support students DOING geography in all classes and destinations .
I compliment all the work done by both individual and collaborative teams of teachers . Any activity that we do is a process and we all add value to the activities as the move from class to class or year to year. Also it is part of a teacher culture to share and borrow from each other. However it is important that we give credit to those teachers who have taken the time and effort to create these activities and accompanying assessments. Please let us give credit where we can . Many of you will in-fact add value to these activities and I hope that you will reciprocate and send me any additions, modifications,  or changes so that they can also be posted.
This is very much a process and hopefully this is just a start and through this portal we can build a true repository for Geography activities in Ontario.

Cheers Mark
Mark Lowry
Geography and Geotechnologies Instructional Leader
Social World Studies and Humanities
Toronto District School Board
1 Civic Centre Court
Toronto , On ,M9C 2B3
Tel; (416) 394-7269
Cell; (416) 576-4515
Fax; (416) 394-6420
twitter @geogmark

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

resources for great lakes and Climate change

Here are a few resources to enhance teaching of the Great Lakes and Climate Change

A resource on climate change from the Council on Foreign Relations (independent think tank).
covers many of the geopolitical, economic and environmental issues that confront the Earth as global temperatures rise. Rather than produce a full length feature film, they have organized the this as an interactive video, allowing the user to get short (a couple of minutes) answer to specific questions about the science, foreign policy or economic ramifications of adapting to climate change.
A fantastic free resource to teach climate change and environmental issues
Rise and Fall of the Great Lakes
Though nearly 50 years old this is still a gem.  Students initially think it is hokey but become very engaged. Great way to introduce Geologic history of the Great Lakes Basin.
“this short documentary from conservationist Bill Mason, he illustrates that although the Great Lakes have had their ups and downs, nothing has been harder to take than what humans have done to them lately. In the film, a lone canoeist lives through the changes of geological history, through Ice Age and flood, only to find himself in the end trapped in a sea of scum.”
This has been around for a couple of years but it’s interactive nature and multimedia nature makes very engaging .
The story of the last great supply of fresh drinking water on earth

Map of great lakes freight
Great annotated map in JPEG format. Jam packed full of info and really needs to be deconstructed but very usful  

Mark Lowry
Geography and Geotechnologies Instructional Leader
Social World Studies and Humanities
Toronto District School Board
1 Civic Centre Court
Toronto , On ,M9C 2B3
Tel; (416) 394-7269
Cell; (416) 576-4515
Fax; (416) 394-6420
twitter @geogmark

Friday, November 23, 2012

ESRI Canada has new web site and design for Education

I just received the following note from ESRI Canada . Please note and change your favourites accordingly .
We have a new web site now -

You can find our resources in the new lesson planner:

We are in the process of posting all our resources to it. Currently, not everything is up there, so if you are looking for something and cannot find it let me know.
If you want to see everything that is posted right now, just click the Find button (in orange) in the Lesson Planner. Let me know what you think of it. Thanks, Angela

Angela Alexander
Education Program Specialist, Education and Research
Esri Canada
12 Concorde Place, Suite 900
Toronto, ON, M3C 3R8
Direct: 416-386-6464
Office: 416-441-6035
Fax:    416-441-6838

Cheers Mark
Mark Lowry
Geography and Geotechnologies Instructional Leader
Social World Studies and Humanities
Toronto District School Board
1 Civic Centre Court
Toronto , On ,M9C 2B3
Tel; (416) 394-7269
Cell; (416) 576-4515
Fax; (416) 394-6420
twitter @geogmark

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Just a few resources to get us through November.
Some interesting Spatial video’s  November   2012
10 World Biggest Holes Created By Human and Nature
10 World Biggest Holes Created By Human and Nature  Song: Unknown Artist - American Beauty (Breakbeat Rmx of Jakatta - Amercian Dream by Thomas Newman) Pictures are taken from:
Tour the Amazon with Street View
Published on Mar 21, 2012 by Google
Google Maps with Street View now allows you to visit parts of the Amazon Basin including the Rio Negro tributary and the surrounding communities.
The top 10 buildings lost to demolition in Toronto
The top 10 buildings lost to demolition in Toronto is surely a strange title. In that these buildings no longer exist, the "top" serves the double function of referring to the merits of these former structures and the tragedy that was their demolition. And tragedy isn't really too strong a word. Toronto would be certainly a better place if these and many of the other buildings that were often rather carelessly destroyed remained vital pieces of our urban environment. But, for reasons that I've never fully made sense of, the city planners of the 1960s and 70s had virtually no historic sense, and numerous buildings of great significance were destroyed in favour of bland structures of little consequence or, unconscionably, parking lots.

Latitude and Longitude of a Point
How The US expanded!!
Got 30 seconds and want to see exactly how the country now known as the U.S. expanded across the continent? Ever wish you could see all that in one simple animated GIF? Me neither.

Learn GIS online and for Free
There are a few online options to learn GIS for free.  Take advantage of resources that provide you access to free courses from some of the world's best universities and institutions.  Learn GIS on your own or supplement your existing geospatial education with these free resources. Toronto District School Board Teachers can obtain a copy of ARCGIS 10 for their home computer by contacting Mark Lowry.
All other teachers in Ontario need to contact their schools OSAPAC rep or their school IT department to get a copy. Part of the license agreement with ESRI allows all teachers to have it on their personal computer
Dig a hole through the Earth
To Quote Malcolm MacInerney  a fellow Geography Consultant and vas source of Geography resources  from Australia “I am not sure what classroom use this site can be but for engagement value, why not have a play in the class.”
The View from Space - Countries and Coastlines
These high-res time-lapse sequences captured by astronauts aboard the International Space Station give us a beautiful and clear view of some well-known coastlines and countries around the world. Get a good look at England, France, Italy, Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Greece, the island of Crete, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, the United States, Mexico, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Cuba, and more. We've attempted to show as many countries as we would, but inevitably we've left many out. Please write to the the astronaut photography office at NASA's Johnson Space Center to request inclusion in this amazing series of sequences.
Earth 100 Million Years From Now
Earth’s landmasses were not always what they are today. Continents formed as Earth’s crustal plates shifted and collided over long periods of time. This video shows how today’s continents are thought to have evolved over the last 600 million years, and where they’ll end up in the next 100 million years. Paleogeographic Views of Earth’s History provided by Ron Blakey, Professor of Geology, Northern Arizona University.
Run Over By A Tornado (Cow Shaken Up but OK)
Roger Hill and crew put a camera in the path of an oncoming cow, and a tornado. Roger’s incredible book “Hunting Nature’s Fury” is available at
The Most Powerful Objects in the Universe
Enjoy this 1080P EXPANDED and REVISED version of our show originally titled “Cold Sparks and Black Holes.” All across the immense reaches of time and space, energy is being exchanged, transferred, released, in a great cosmic pinball game we call our universe.
How does energy stitch the cosmos together, and how do we fit within it? We now climb the power scales of the universe, from atoms, nearly frozen to stillness, to Earth’s largest explosions. From stars, colliding, exploding, to distant realms so strange and violent they challenge our imaginations. Where will we find the most powerful objects in the universe?
Today, energy is very much on our minds as we search for ways to power our civilization and serve the needs of our citizens. But what is energy? Where does it come from? And where do we stand within the great power streams that shape time and space?
Energy comes from a Greek word for activity or working. In physics, it’s simply the property or the state of anything in our universe that allows it to do work. Whether it’s thermal, kinetic, electro-magnetic, chemical, or gravitational.
The 19th century German scientist Hermann von Helmholtz found that all forms of energy are equivalent, that one form can be transformed into any other. The laws of physics say that in a closed system – such as our universe – energy is conserved. It may be converted, concentrated, or dissipated, but it’s never lost.
James Prescott Joule built an apparatus that demonstrated this principle. It had a weight that descended into water and caused a paddle to rotate. He showed that the gravitational energy lost by the weight is equivalent to heat gained by the water from friction with the paddle. That led to one of several basic energy yardsticks, called a joule. It’s the amount needed to lift an apple weighing 100 grams one meter against the pull of Earth’s gravity.
And some local Stuff for the Toronto folk
A brief history of the Mod Club Theatre

Mark Lowry
Geography and Geotechnologies Instructional Leader
Social World Studies and Humanities
Toronto District School Board
1 Civic Centre Court
Toronto , On ,M9C 2B3
Tel; (416) 394-7269
Cell; (416) 576-4515
Fax; (416) 394-6420
twitter; @geogmark

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What are the Skills of the Geographer?


Geographers look at the world and its issues from a wide range of perspectives. That is why they are very attractive to future employers. However what makes Geographers and those that do geography uniquely different from other skills sets and professionals?  What is a person practicing Geography doing that others don’t do? Well they are making connections. The overriding and main connection they are making in connecting the WHAT of a place or issue with the WHERE of that same place. Geographers are always thinking of these two parts of a Geographical question together. These are the spatial parameters of places or those items that  gives us all our sense of place. It is with this in mind that the geographer needs to focus on specific skills and tools to better demonstrate and explain  the Where side of the equation (WHAT +WHERE =PLACE)
                Once we have identified the where in this equation, Geographers want to look at the reasons as to why a place is unique?  In other words Geographers want to look at the WHY THERE? And once again to understand the uniqueness of the reasons that one place is different from another, Geographers need to call on  specific skills and tools. Many  of these tools are used in other areas and fields of endevours but when the individual is using them they are always doing Geography.  
Finally we are all citizens and participants in families, neighborhoods, countries and the world. In other words we are all Global Citizens. And with this come a number of rights and responsibilities. However Geographers have the ability to apply their geographical and spatial skills to their specific focus. It is important for everyone when they are working through Geographical issues or problems that they are able to come up with answers both for themselves and for society. In other words, they need to be able to answer WHY CARE? These answers may reflect broad areas such as Social justice, environmental stewardship, and/ or sustainability.   They may be more specific as in making decisions such as those professionals  like a planner, geologist, or policeman. However all of these decisions are made using the specific tools of Geography.
Geographers s are adept in collecting and analyzing information using various technical and laboratory-based methods for the collection and analysis of spatial and environmental information (e.g. GIS, remote sensing and mathematical modeling) and recognizing the moral and ethical issues involved in debates and enquiries.
Just as a scientist goes through a process for  conducting experiment to prove a theory or concept, an engineer uses a specific process to design and  build an bridge, or a doctor uses processes to diagnose and cure an illness ,well so does the Geographer . In order to do Geography properly we need to follow a Geographic process.  This is known as the Geographic inquiry process.Through  it the Geographer:
·         Asks a Geographic (spatial) Question?
·         Acquires Geographical (Spatial) information or data.
·         Explores the Geographical (Spatial) information or data.
·         Analyses the Geographical (Spatial) information or data.
·         Makes conclusions and Acts on the Geographical (Spatial) information or data.
It needs to be noted that this process is not a sequential or linear process.  The Geographer will upon acquiring different data or information   go back and change the Geographic question and acting on geographic  conclusions will generate new Spatial or geographic questions .
However in order to follow this process and work as a true geographer we need to have access to a Geographical or spatial toolkit. this is the unique skill set of the Geographer.

 These are the skills that Geographers take into the workforce.Geographers look at issues from a wide perspective and develop a range of skills that are attractive to a very broad range of future employers. Specific technical skills directly relevant to geography-related careers include field work, research and report writing, preparing maps and diagrams, and using social survey and interpretative methods.

Geography graduates are also adept in collecting and analysing information using various technical and laboratory-based methods for the collection and analysis of spatial and environmental information (e.g. GIS, remote sensing and mathematical modelling) and recognising the moral and ethical issues involved in debates and enquiries.