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Tip of the Week: Geography Awareness Week

nat geo week 2015

You’d think with as much love as I have for maps that celebrating Geography Awareness Week would be one of the highlights of my year. But oddly, no. I know that it’s always in November but for whatever reason, I always seem to remember it a week or so too late.

For the true and faithful geography nerds out there, this post is old hat. But for the rest of you – who, like me, somehow missed the entire celebration –  I have pasted some geography resources below and just pretend that we’re 11 months early for 2016.

According to National Geographic,

too many young Americans are unable to make effective decisions, understand geo-spatial issues, or even recognize their impacts as global citizens. National Geographic created Geography Awareness Week to raise awareness to this dangerous deficiency in American education and excite people about geography as both a discipline and as a part of everyday life.

Established by presidential proclamation more than 25 years ago, this annual public awareness program organized by National Geographic Education Programs encourages us to think and learn about the significance of place and how we affect and are affected by it. The part I like is when NatGeo lets me know that

Geography Awareness Week is supported by year-long access to materials and resources for teachers, parents, community activists and all geographically minded global citizens.

So we’re good. We get to do this all year long. And we really should. Integrating geography into the other social studies content areas as well as ELA is a no-brainer. Use the following resources to help you do that.

1. Of course, you have to start with the king. National Geographic has so much great stuff.

  • National Geographic Education’s Mapping Resources
    This collection contains mapping resources and activities for all grade levels.
  • MapMaker Interactive
    Explore your world with map themes, data, and tools for customizing your map. This easy-to-use tool is great for getting started with interactive mapping and GIS and is now optimized for tablets. Check out these how-to videos to learn how to get started.
  • State Tabletop Maps
    Find the map for your state and dive into state geography with printable tiled maps!
  • Map Games
    Find games that teach map skills to use in your classroom.
  • Interactive Globe
    Check out their Interactive Globe with changing stories, content, and multimedia.

You want to be sure to check out their Geography Awareness Week Archive with resources dating back to 2000. And do not forget to click the links along the right hand side to get access to even more amazing NatGeo goodies.

nat geo links

2. Then spend some time with the National Council for Geographic Education. One of my favorite things here is their Bell Ringers for Human Geography. They do them every week – if you wish to receive them, you’ll need to sign up. (Be prepared for a slightly painful process. It looks like an online store but scroll down and find Bell Ringers as an item and register as a guest.)

3. The Kansas Geographic Alliance has a nice Geo Awareness Week page. They also have some handy resources aligned to state and national standards.

4. The National Education Association has searched the National Geographic site and organized lessons by grade level with easy to use links:

5. Education World put together a nice list of mostly elementary and middle school lessons / activities.

6.  He’s not the king but Richard Byrne is pretty darn close. He collects and publishes all sorts of great edtech resources so when you’re finished browsing his Geo Week list, be sure to check out the rest of his resources.

And just so you know, I have added Geographic Awareness Week to my 2016 calendar. Fingers crossed I’ll be on time next year.

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