cluster map

Monday, September 23, 2013

First communication

Welcome Back Geographers:

The first order of business is to pass this on to any Geography teachers in your departments or if you have changed schools please let me know so you can be on this blast.

 I am sure for most of you if feels as if you have been back for a great deal of time even though it is still September. I have had a few e-mails wondering if they had missed any specific missives since the year has started. Don’t worry as this is the first to be sent out. There have been and will continue to be many changes through this year so staying on top is a challenge for all.

What is at the top of everyone’s mind is the revised curriculum and what it means to us all?

Revised Social Studies, History, Geography 1-8 and the Revised Canadian and World Studies curricula

You will notice that I have not included the Revised Social Science and Humanities which is also out however information will be forth coming through Laura Featherstone the Instructional Leader in SWSH for the Humanities.

SSHG 1-8 is now out and full implementation in TDSB is expected this year.

It is important that all Geography teachers peruse this document as the main foci of Inquiry and concepts of Geographical thinking are consistent throughout. Also it must be stressed that the grade 7and 8 course are on World Geography and not Canadian. This is important as there is a misconception that students entering Grade 9 have a breadth of knowledge about Canada and the reality is there focus of Canadian regional and Political Geography is Grade 4. However Students from grade 1-to Grade 12 are expected to not just learn about Geography but to DO Geography. This is especially evident in the Geographic thinking Concepts which are (from 7-12):

Spatial Significance

1- Identify where places are (located)? on the earth’s surfaces based on natural and/or human characteristics (What Is Where?)


2- Determine the unique characteristics of places (Why There?)


3- Analyse the importance of the spatial distribution of people, plants, animals, resources and earth’s physical processes (Why Care?)

Patterns and Trends

1- Identify characteristics that are similar and repeat within and between places or regions (What Is Where?)


2.  Determine if these characteristics repeat over time (What is Where?)


3- Analyse why characteristics are similarities and/or repeat (Why There?)


4.  Determine the importance of why the characteristics are similar and/or repeat (Why Care?)


1.  Identify where human and/or natural characteristics and processes interact or connect within and between each other (What Is Where?)


2.  Determine how the connections interact to form a system (Why There?)


3- Analyse the impact of an event, process or development on the natural characteristics, natural processes and human activities that occur through the system (Why Care?)

Geographic Perspective

1.  Identify the environmental, economic, political and/or social context of a geographic issue, event, development or phenomena (What is Where?)


2.  Determine the potential stakeholders and their points of view that should be considered in the analysis of a geographic issue, event, development or phenomena (What is Where?)


3. Analyse the multiple points of view of the geographic issue, event, development or phenomena considering applicable environmental, economic, political and/or social lenses (Why There?  Why Care?)


4. Create a response and/or plan of action for an issue, event development or phenomena, based on an analysis using the geographic lenses (environmental, economic, political and/or social) and multiple points of view (What is Where?  Why there?  Why Care?)


The other focus of all the new curricula is the Inquiry strand. Regardless of the grade you are teaching you will find similarities and consistencies throughout.

Grade 9 Academic and Applied (CGC1D and CGC1P) have just been released.

Though you are not mandated to fully implement it until fall 2014 it is strongly encouraged that you start to incorporate the inquiry and concepts of geographical thinking into your work for this year. I have attached the two documents for you to work through.

Another interesting wrinkle that will help to support and identify the importance of Geography in the curriculum is the new Spatial strand and continuum ( see pages 28 and 163 in the 9&10 doc and 24 & 192 in the 1-8 doc) To quote the ministry doc directly:

Spatial skills underpin spatial literacy, enabling students to develop and communicate a sense of place. Map, globe, and graphing skills help students visualize and make meaning of spatial data. These skills help students understand how data relating to three-dimensional spaces can be represented on two-dimensional surfaces. Although students learn spatial skills in social studies and geography, they apply them, in conjunction with the concepts of disciplinary thinking, in all three subjects in the social studies, history, and geography curriculum, and in Canadian and world studies as well. In addition, students may apply these skills in everyday contexts and in other subjects.

SSHG revised curriculum 2013 page 24

In other words there is identification that Geography and spatial skills and tools are used in all CWS courses.

We need to start thinking of Geography as not just a subject but as a skill set that is transferable to other courses and areas

In order to support teachers in the new curriculum the SWSH instructional leaders have been running workshops for 1-8 throughout the spring and also again in the fall. The ministry has not done the roll out for the 9& 10 but as soon as they do theirs we can then star with Board initiated ones.  However because of the need we are running a Professional learning experience on Applied Geography that will focus on the revised curriculum and also identify other strategies as well. This will take place on October 21 and should be up on Key to Learn in the very near future.

The roll of Spatial Technologies in the revised curriculum:

In this revised curriculum Spatial Technologies is not an add on or optional activity. It is mentioned over 14 times including being recognized as one of the goals of Geography, through the achievement chart and finally identified in the spatial continuum as a specific are of all subjects under CWS. Students will start using various forms of spatial technologies in grade 4 and will continue to apply them throughout their educational careers. We will be focusing on three different Spatial and Visual technology platforms in TDSB and throughout the province. These are ArcGIS 10.1 which is ministry licensed and can be installed on home computers. Google Earth which should be installed on all TDSB computers (contact the help desk if not) and ArcGIS online which is a web based type of ArcGIS. Any of the new notebooks which are in a number of your schools have ArcGIS 10.1 and Google earth installed on them . If you do not have ArcGIS 10.1 on your computers in your school/lab please contact the help desk to be upgraded. ESRI has created a number of activities for 10.1 which can be obtained from their website.

OAGEE and The Toronto District School Board are creating a number of resources to support the new curriculum from Grade 7-12.

  • A “what is where, why there , & why Care poster that will demonstrate what the success criteria of the Geography Thinking Concepts will look like – to be distributed during and after the OAGEE conference
  • Activities for grades 7,8, 7 9 to support the inquiry and the Thinking Concepts - – to be distributed during and after the OAGEE conference
  • Spatial Skill Strand supports – 1-8 –

It is important to become an OAGEE member as there will be many OAGEE supports over the next year- contact Ewan Geddes or Paul Hackl for more info – you can get department memberships

In order to support teachers in the board we will be running “Using Geotechnologies (Geo-Visual and Geo-Analytical) in Geographic Inquiry, Geography Grade 7-12 “Professional learning opportunity which is a a 4-session module to train and support curriculum using geotechnologies to enhance the geographic inquiry process.  Particular attention will be placed on teaching/learning strategies, classroom techniques, planning, and assessment as, for, and of learning. Register on Key to learn as of September 26th.

Other opportunities for and professional learning experiences:

OAGEE Conference

Ontario Association of Geographic and Environmental Education

2013 Fall Conference
November 1 & 2 
Balsillie School of International Affairs, Waterloo, Ontario 

.  This is a conference rich in workshops including … NEW curriculum for Geography in Ontario: Ministry of Education Workshops, Physical Geography: Extreme weather! Geology! Arctic Environments & Sustainability Development. Please go to

GIS in Education Conference 2013 (Free to Educators location Hart house U.of T.)

In the spirit of fostering collaboration within the Canadian GIS education and research community, Esri Canada, in partnership with the University of Toronto, invites you to attend a one day conference hosted at the University of Toronto. The day will consist of a plenary address; paper sessions focused on GIS in research, GIS in higher education instruction, and GIS use at the K-12 level; a series of lightning talks, technical workshops and a roundtable discussion. The day will also feature a display of posters submitted by students, including submissions for this year's Young Esri Canada Scholar award.

- See more at:

Some resources to get us started and invigorated

  • 40 Maps That Will Help You Make Sense of the World

If you’re a visual learner like myself, then you know maps, charts and infographics can really help bring data and information to life. Maps can make a point resonate with readers and this collection aims to do just that.

Hopefully some of these maps will surprise you and you’ll learn something new. A few are important to know, some interpret and display data in a beautiful or creative way, and a few may even make you chuckle or shake your head.

If you enjoy this collection of maps, the Sifter highly recommends the r/MapPorn sub reddit. You should also check There were also fantastic posts on Business Insider and Bored Panda earlier this year that are worth checking out. Enjoy!

  • An eagle, fitted with a camera, flies over the Alps. Incredible

  • 8 Mind-Bending Facts To Make You A Geography Expert

What if sunrise was at 10am? These geography factoids are simply astonishing. Use at your discretion

  • Fifty Most Populous Refugee Camps

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees administers camps sheltering a vast population of displaced people. These largest camps together house nearly two million people. Great

Example of ESRI Story Maps

  • Mapping children's chances

The biggest ever global picture of children’s well-being, education and family life has been assembled into a series of maps by the University of California, Los Angeles. "When you look at a map, everyone's eyes go straight to where they live," says Dr Jody Heymann, director of the university's World Policy Analysis Centre. In the US, they might be surprised to see how unusual it is not to have a statutory right to maternity pay. Source: The maps are produced by UCLA's World Policy Analysis Centre, Adult Labour Database

  • How to survive a zombie apocalypse? Learn geography

Zombie-based learning teaches geography skills against the backdrop of a zombie apocalypse. Great for Middle School

  • 18 Google Earth & Maps Lessons for K-12

Richard Byrne short presentation on using Google Maps and Google Earth across multiple grades and content areas.  Collection of resources.

  • Top 6 iPad apps for Geography

Some of the best use I’ve seen of apps on the iPad is where teachers have engaged students using apps in conjunction with others. Filming activities, recording audio, adding the media to Keynote and annotating, demonstrating learning – that said, there are some great subject specific apps out there and in this post I’ll cover some of the apps available for the Humanities subject Geography.

  • What Did the Continents Look Like Millions of Years Ago?

An artist-geologist renders the history of the Earth with maps.

  • Human role in warming 'more certain' - UN climate chief

Scientists are more certain than ever that greenhouse gases from human activities are heating the planet, the head of the UN's climate panel says.

  • Child labour falls by a third to 168 million, says ILO

The number of child workers worldwide has dropped by a third over the past 13 years, according to a report from the International Labour Organisation. But campaigners say that protecting children from hazardous work and long hours remains a major challenge, with families in poor countries such as Bangladesh heavily reliant on the income they get from sending children to work.

  • 42 amazing maps - great enthusiasm and interesting facts and insights in this video

The map, as an innovation, is extremely important. Simply constructing a useful representation of our world onto a piece of paper (or clay or vellum or whatever) vastly increased the capabilities of humankind. But we continue to add and alter this medium, in ways that allow for greater understanding of our world and even of ourselves.

So in this video I talk about 42 maps that are really amazing. 

Resources that were very helpful included:
And this story is just AMAZING

  • Five key questions about climate facing the IPCC

 Environment correspondent Matt McGrath looks at five critical questions now facing the Nobel prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as it prepares to present its latest report in Stockholm later this week.

  • When's a Hurricane not a Tornado? - Earth Juice (Ep 42) - Earth Unplugged

Chris reveals that Hurricane Humberto, the first of this season, has finally formed in the Atlantic and answers the questions 'when does a storm becomes a hurricane?' and 'how do they differ from tornados, typhoons and cyclones'?

Sources / further info:
WHAT IS A HURRICANE? STILLS Hurricane satellite images courtesy of NASA. 
ubscribe to Earth Unplugged -
Join the Earth Unplugged community:
Earth Juice is your weekly guide to what discoveries are making our planet cooler. Chris Howard takes us on a whistle-stop tour of global discoveries from all corners of the world. Let's juice!
Have a look at this, for more information on the hurricane scale:
This is a channel from BBC Worldwide who help fund new BBC programmes.

  • There is no population explosion on this planet

Our population problem isn't too many humans on the planet, but too few owning too much of it

  • How many more must die for Qatar's World Cup?

n hosting the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, Fifa is choosing to ignore the abuse of migrant workers

  • China's Wide And Growing Wealth Gap- great photos

China has 2.7 million U.S.-dollar millionaires and 251 billionaires, according to "The Hurun Report," a financial publication. But the UN states that 13 percent of the country's 1.3 billion people live on less than $1.25 per day. The Chinese government has pledged to double household incomes over the next decade in a bid to close the country's wealth gap. which is now so wide that it threatens social stability.

  • 5 unconventional maps to get lost in

From the earliest days of human exploration we’ve made progressively more accurate and sophisticated maps. Maps help us find our way around the world we live in. Maps help us get to our destination. Maps keep us from becoming lost.

But what if you have no destination? What if becoming lost is the point? Well, there’s a map for that. Lots of them, actually.

  • The Best View of the Grand Canyon

Scientists still don't entirely comprehend the 1.5 billion year history of the Grand Canyon; it's a story of erosion that has created one of the most breathtaking sites in America. Amazing photography

  • Human Footprint Interactive

Great interactive activity especially for grade 7&8

Did you know that during the course of your lifetime you will eat about 12,000 oranges? These oranges will travel a total of about 23 million miles to reach your fruit bowl or glass of OJ. Shipping fruit takes energy. Energy comes from fuel. Everything that you eat (bread), use (newspapers), and do (take showers) has an impact on the world. This impact is called your human footprint. While there's no need to swear off oranges, and, please, don't stop bathing, this interactive will help you learn about how you live and the impact it will have over your lifetime

  • Here's Where You're Most Likely to Die From Air Pollution

Where on earth are you most likely to die early from air pollution? NASA provides the answer with this mortally serious view of the planet, and it is: lots of places.


How much rain fell on the Front Range, and how historic was it?

  • Toronto in photos from the 1850s to the 1990s

Although anything but comprehensive, the point of the decade-by-decade historical Toronto photo posts we've run over the last few months was to offer a glimpse of the various developments and transformations of a city that's often accused of having a troubled relationship with its past.

As easy as it is to navigate from one decade to another, it thus seemed to make sense to gather some of the best images from the series into one big post that illustrates Toronto's growth over the time period in question. As far a selection criteria goes, I've been anything but scientific. Limited to photos that appeared in the original posts (with a few exceptions), I've selected three to six images from each decade that either mark the arrival of significant buildings/structures, establish what Toronto looked like in general at the time (survey style skyline shots), or that are particularly compelling on a visual level.

So that's it for these particular posts. But we'll continue to feature our Nostalgia Tripping articles and to examine Toronto's past via more specific offerings like visual histories of important intersections and buildings.


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




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