Geographic Significance of Current Events

Had my second lesson of the year with my Year 11 Geography class today so decided to introduce them to the idea of geographic significance at the same time as doing some basic world mapping.

I gave the class a blank world map and brought up the World page of the New Zealand Herald website on the screen. First of all we read the introductions to each story locating and labelling the countries involved on a map for a bit of basic world geography (amazing how many students know the names of countries in the news but have no idea where these are e.g. Syria, North Korea).

Next we discussed the criteria for geographic significance that we would use to differentiate between the stories:

Criteria for Geographic Significance

Criteria for Geographic Significance

These criteria were obtained from Teaching about Geographical Thinking by Kamilla Bahbahani and Niem Tu Huynh.

We then read back over some of the stories collaboraitively sourcing examples of stories that demonstrate each of the criteria well. Students then had to choose two news stories that they felt are geographically significant and justify their decision.

Will pick this up over the rest of the year with getting the students to source information about geographically significant events as I feel this is incredibly important in helping them to develop the ability to think geographically. We will also use this to help decide which case studies we will focus on in our various topics this year.

Key Competencies and Effective Pedagogy

A new section has been added to TKI focusing on Key Competencies and Effective Pedagogy. It focuses on a tool developed by NZCER and University of Waikato who worked with teachers to see what the key competencies looked like in different learning areas. This has led to the 3 sections on the website: a self-audit tool, 14 learning stories and Insights into aspects of the key competencies.

The self audit framework could be used by a teacher, syndicate, department or whole school to inquire into how well the key competencies are embedded into learning rather than an afterthought. The framework is developed around the concepts of initiative, connections and challenge. Initiative is really about student agency – student voice, learning to learn etc. Connection is about meaningful links between activities, experiences and/or learning areas. And Challenge is about using, transforming, critiquing, and generating knowledge for purposes that students recognise as worthy of their effort.

I personally have found the framework to be an effective self-reflection tool (as I was lucky enough to see earlier drafts of the framework) and I would encourage you to utilise this if possible, particularly when planning out or reviewing a unit of learning. Continue reading

Mali: An emerging flashpoint

The situation in Mali has now escalated to an international conflict with European troops (particularly French) becoming involved, the Algiers incident and African Union troops being sent in as well. The New Zealand Herald today included a thorough article with a great map demonstrating where this is occurring.

Normally, when approaching current events such as this, I work with the following set of thinking prompts:

  • Why has this occurred in this specific location?
  • What are the root causes of the incident?
  • Which factors (human and/or physical) had the greatest influence on the event?
  • What perspectives are covered in this information?
  • Are there perspectives missing that should be covered?
  • What are the implications or consequences?
  • What evidence is used to support the author’s argument?
  • Who is responsible?
  • Who is this issue significant for?
  • What can be done about this?

With this situation though, I feel the main forces may be too complex so require a further set of information sources for students to more completely understand what is occurring. The following articles are ones that I plan to use with my classes in the coming weeks:

National Geographic provide a great backgrounder to the situation.

More depth can be added to the background with this article from International Political Forum

BBC have this article about the key players in the crisis

Hope these help you and your students (and me!) understand the developing situation in Mali.