Because thinking about space and place give a variety of topics such as economics, health, climate, plants and animals, geography is highly interdisciplinary. It is also a very appropriate perspective to consider complex issues such as sustainable development, that involve economic, social, and environmental dimensions at the same time. Combined with the My Community, Our Earth’s fun, inquiry-driven, hands-on, project-based approach, you can use geographic learning for sustainable development to make a difference in your own community and for our earth.
What are Geographic Tools?
Geographers use many tools and techniques to learn about our world. Geographic technologies are increasingly some of the most important emerging fields for understanding our complex world. They include Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Remote Sensing, Global Positioning Systems (GPS), online mapping such as Google Earth, and others.
Tools such as GIS allow us to view, understand, question, interpret, and visualize data in many ways that reveal relationships, patterns, and trends in the form of maps, globes, reports, and charts. A GIS helps you answer questions and solve problems by looking at your data in a way that is quickly understood and easily shared. It also helps us to make intelligent and informed decisions about the way we live on our planet.
We recommend these additional resources to help you discover what is geographic learning and how geographic tools help us understand our world:
- GIS in Everyday Life
This animated story shows how geography affects everyday life for all of us.
- What is GIS? Demo
- What is GIS
An excellent overview of GIS basics from GIS.com.
- What Is a GIS?
This introduction to GIS from the U.S. Geological Survey teaches you how GIS works and how it has been applied through history to the present day.
- GIS for Beginners from the MyCOE Student Project Guide
- Geographic Methods and Tools from the MyCOE Student Project Guide
My Wonderful World - Give Kids the Power of Global Knowledge
The National Geographic Society and Partner’s campaign to support geographic education.
A collection of essays about the importance of a geographic perspective.
Learning to Think Spatially: GIS as a Support System in the K-12 Curriculum
Read this online book free from the National Academies Press on how spatial thinking is a unique cognitive skill that can be used in everyday life, the workplace, and science to structure problems, find answers, and express solutions.
A database of lessons submitted by ESRI education teams (U.S. and international) and users in the education community. The lessons can be searched by several characteristics. Users can upload their favorite lessons for consideration, too.
This AAG educational program provides free, online professional development modules for geography and social studies teachers at middle and high school levels. The modules provide information and materials for teachers who are preparing to teach about global climate change.
This Teacher's Guide includes instructional and resource materials designed to improve the preparation of teachers to teach geography. TGMG resources offer faculty members, preservice education students, and inservice teachers the opportunity to learn geography as well as how to teach it conceptually.
Digital Library for Earth Systems Education
DLESE is an NSF-funded project that is a peer-reviewed library of lessons, data, and a community of learners about Earth Systems.
ESRI Higher Ed GIS CD
This CD contains stories on how GIS is being taught and used in colleges and universities worldwide. It includes articles, videos, exercises, and other resources for GIS educators starting up a GIS lab and developing curriculum.
GIS Educator Newsletter
Subscribe to this free newsletter for educators interested in GIS and browse newsletter archives from the Higher Education page of ESRI.com.
The Geography Teacher
Colorful and engaging, The Geography Teacher produced by the National Council for Geographic Education provides short articles, lesson plans, teaching tips, and news especially relevant for today’s K-12 and pre-service teachers. (Published bi-annually)
Geography for Life
The National Geography Standards (1994) was developed by National Council for Geographic Education (NCGE) and several other organizations and is available from NCGE. This publication offers guidelines for K-12 geography teaching and curriculum development. It is described in the online catalog.
GIS for Schools
Case studies of teachers using GIS in elementary and secondary education in the U.S. and Canada. Also includes two chapters on the pedagogical issues of inquiry-based teaching and problem-based learning.
The Mission Geography project offers online curriculum materials that use satellite and space shuttle images and reflect National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) research. The materials are divided into three grade levels, and a number of the middle school and high school activities relate to sustainable development.
Materials to help middle/high school students learn state-of-the-art approaches to geography, earth science, and spatial thinking skills using NASA Earth Observing Missions remote sensing imagery and related data. Each activity is designed to engage one of the eight major modes of spatial thinking.
Online Center for Global Geography Education
The AAG Center for Global Geography Education (CGGE) provides open access to an online collection of undergraduate course modules examining important social, economic, and environmental issues. CGGE modules are designed to improve the learning and appreciation of geography by connecting students worldwide and engaging them in international collaboration and dialogue -- all through the Internet.
National Geographic Online for Teachers
Educational resources for teachers through lesson plans, adventure stories, interactive learning modules, a teacher’s store, and information on current grant programs are provided by the National Geographic Society’s Education Foundation.
International Network for Learning & Teaching Geography in Higher Education
This network was establishedTo improve the quality and status of learning and teaching of geography in higher education internationally
The GLOBE Program
A worldwide network of students, teachers, and scientists working together to study and understand the global environment.
U.S. Community Atlas GIS Project
This United States project was inspired by Canada's project. Schools create a profile of their community, composed of 1,000–2,500 words and 10–20 maps, and post it on the Community Atlas Web site, creating an entry in a searchable database of communities.
U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration: Earth Science Enterprise
Annually, NASA offers a rich slate of enrichment and study opportunities for students and educators, ranging from grade school to postdoctorate levels. Program information and application forms can be located from the NASA Education home page.
Interactive adventures that illustrate the K-12 geography standards recommended by U.S. educators. Tap into family geography activities, a vast world atlas, lesson plans, and forums for teachers and students.
This website offers a compilation of sites about geography education from About.com.
Explore this rich set of academic articles about how geography makes a difference for teaching about sustainability.