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Arkansas Geographica



Newsletter of the Arkansas Geographic Alliance

S p ri n g 2012

Inside this Issue A Note From the Coordinator P.1 Strategic Planning Update P.2


Teaching Geography is Fundamental P.2 Books You Might Read P.2


State Geographic Bee P.3

Literacy in a Global

In the News P.2 Geography Awareness Week P.3


NCSS and NCGE P.3 Geography: A Window on the World P.3 Upcoming Events P.4

“As the democratic nation that

A Note from the Alliance Coordinator

elects representatives whose decisions affect not just America but the entire world, we Americans have an obligation to be well informed about our small and functionally shrinking planet.” (de Blij, Why Geography Matters, p. x.)

A goal of the Arkansas Geo-

Regional Geography and AP Human Ge-

graphic Alliance is to see that 80% of all

ography. The school curriculum does not

high school seniors are geographically

help students to become geographically

literate. In order to reach that goal, sev-


eral crucial things must occur. First, geographic literacy must be defined. Second, one must be able to measure geographic literacy. Third, to measure geo-

“Can our world and its transformations be better appreciated through a particular perspective?” Yes, the geographic perspective. (de Blij, Why Geography Matters, p. 4)

graphic literacy an instrument must be developed. Fourth, the instrument must be delivered to graduating high school seniors. And fifth, a level of literacy must be determined based on the completion of the instrument. These five items, as vital as they to meeting the 80% goals, they are, perhaps, not the most important.

The Arkansas Geographic Alliance, therefore, is in the process of creating a climate and the capacity in the state that will eventually enable students to enroll in geography courses so that they can become geographically literate. Geographic literacy is vital to the future of Arkansas students and their ability to work in an interconnected, globalizing world. Students must know how our world works, how they are connected to other areas and people on the planet, and how to apply geographic knowledge

“Even today … an American stu-

Arkansas students don’t have

dent might go from kindergarten

the luxury of enrolling in a series of geog-

through graduate school without

raphy courses to enable them to become

ever taking a single course in

geographically literate. Geography at the

geography.” (de Blij, Why Ge-

K— 8 grades is one of four subjects inte-

ography Matters, p. 13)

grated into social studies courses. In grades 9—12 there are no required geography courses. Some students do have access to electives such as World

and skills to make important decisions. The Arkansas Geographic Alliance invites businesses, politicians, educators, parents, and students to join us as we create a geographically literate citizenry. Brooks Green

Update on Strategic Planning

Ask about the Alliance Education Workshop Model

The initial draft of the Alliance’s Strategic Plan is nearing completion.

It contains five Focus

If you want material for your classroom, contact the Alliance Coordinator at 501-450-5636 or send him an e-mail.

Areas that will guide the Alliance through 2014. The areas of focus are: 1) conducting a thorough needs assessment; 2) building an organizational structure; 3) developing a

In the News

method of communicating with key stakeholders;

4) partnering


organizations with similar interests; and 5) planning high quality professional development events.

Teaching Geography is Fundamental

Books you might read Harm de Blij’s, Why Geography Mat-

For the last three years, the

ters, is an excellent book written by

Each of the five focus

Teaching Geography is Funda-

one of America’s pre-eminent cultural

areas has associated goals. The

mental Act has been introduced

geographers. Its chapters are a com-

goal associated with Focus Area 1 is

on the floor of the U.S. Senate

bination of information about geogra-

to assess needs and perceptions of

and the U.S. House. The Act

phy, topics such as climate and civili-

stakeholders. The goals associated

has been an attempt to force

zation and terrorism, and regional

with Focus Area 2 are to develop an

Congress to fund geography as

examinations of China, Russia, Afri-

organizational structure for the Alli-

it has done all of the other core

ca, and Europe.

ance, create a financial model and

subjects in the No Child Left

fundraising plan, and incorporate

Behind (NCLB) legislation. Yet,

appropriate technology into the Alli-

after all of this time, Congress

ance’s operation. The goal associat-

has failed to provide funding for

ed with Focus Area 3 is to communi-

geography! There is much un-

cate regularly with key stakeholders.

certainty about NCLB and it

The goals associated with Focus

seems that all of the attention

Area 4 are to develop partnerships

has shifted to the Common Core

with organizations who have similar

Curriculum. The Alliance Coordi-

interests and to develop professional

nator will once again lobby the

development programs for teacher

Arkansas Congressional delega-

candidates, practicing teachers, and

tion in April for funding for geog-

others. And, the goals associated

raphy, but the Alliance is on top

with Focus Area 5 are to determine

of the discussion in Arkansas

programs to continue in 2013 and

about the Common Core Curric-

2014 and develop a plan to reform

ulum. The Alliance will dissemi-

geography education in the state.

nate information as it becomes available and as we work with Department of Education officials.

Another excellent book

Within recent days, we have learned that one of the largest refugee camps is in northeast Kenya as Somali people have fled from the internal turmoil that is occurring in their country. Russian citizens have been protesting the possible return of Vladimir Putin as president of the Russian Federation. The world is watching events in North Korea to see how the new leader will direct that country.

“Join the Alliance

by de Blij is The Power

today to be part of


a geography edu-




presents the notion that where one lives has a


dramatic influence on one’s life. For example, de

Greece may leave European Union and abandon the Euro as its currency.

Turkey would like to join the European Union, but EU leaders reformation” have been opposed because Turkey, at least most of it, is not in Europe and it is essentially a Muslim country.

Blij argues that one’s place of

residence impacts one’s language, religion, health, gender equality, and education. He also notes how different groups of people,-he calls them globals, locals, and mobals-have varying opportunities for success. De Blij also notes that one is more susceptible to environmental disasters in some places more than in others and that city dwellers have more opportunities than urban dwells.

There seems to be growing evidence that the earthquakes that occurred in Arkansas were associated with the deep storage facilities used by the gas companies. The fracking process itself probably has not contributed to the earthquakes. More autonomy continues to be given to Scotland. One might argue that it is well on the way to becoming independent and no longer part of the UK. Belgians, who have three official languages—French, Dutch, and German—are concerned that their new prime minister cannot speak Dutch very well.

Geography Awareness Week—2011

Americans must be geographically literate! State Geographic Bee Schools around the state have been holding school geography bees. The top 100 students from all across Arkansas will participate in the State Geographic Bee. The State Geographic Bee will be held on the campus of the University of Central Ar-

There are a variety of national conferences that social studies teachers should consider attending. One of them is the National Conference on Geographic Education. This conference is an exceptional venue for learning about geography and observing what K—12 teachers and university professors are doing in the classroom. This year the conference is in San Marcos, Texas, October 5-7.

Geography Awareness Week is an annual public awareness program that encourages citizens, young and old, to think and learn about the interconnectedness of our world. This year’s theme, The Adventure in Your Community, challenged students, friends, and families to learn more about their community. If you were not able to celebrate GAW in November, no problem! National Geographic encourages schools to celebrate and learn about geography all year long.

kansas on Friday, March 30, 2012. While students are participating in the Bee, workshops will be held for teachers and parents who may accompany their students. The Arkansas Geographic Alliance will organize workshops that will provide valuable

Another excellent conference for social studies teachers is the conference sponsored by the National Council for the Social Studies. This year the conference will be held in Seattle, Washington, November 16th—18th.

information to those who attend.

Teacher Candidate Conference—April 21, 2012 GEOGRAPHY: A Window on the World Workshop for P-12 Teachers and Teacher Candidates

For your $10.00 registration, you will receive Lessons, Resources, Lunch, a Voucher for $10.00 of Geography Materials, & much more!

Lake Hamilton Middle School celebrated by participating in geocaching and visiting Wild Wolf Park to take photographs. Students at Carl Stuart Middle School in Conway designed posters with the theme, What Makes Conway Great, and given to the Conway Chamber of Commerce to be displayed downtown. If you would like more information about celebrating geography or need resources or ideas to teach geography, contact Linda Gardner, linda.gardner or Julie Hill,

Learn How to Integrate Geography across the

Email Dr. Nancy Gallavan at

Curriculum! NOW. Space is limited.

Upcoming Events March 24—26, 2012: ASCD conference, Philadelphia, PA

March 29—April 1, 2012: National Science Teachers Association meeting, Indianapolis, IN

Professional Development

March 30, 2012: State Geographic Bee, UCA, Conway, AR See inside this Newsletter for information about a conference for teachers, teach-

April 17—21, 2012: Annual meeting of Alliance Coordinators, Washington, DC

er candidates, and social studies methods professors April 21, 2012: Geography: A Window on the World, UCA, Conway, AR

in April 2012. Valuable content and material will be provided those who attend!

Arkansas Geographica

October 5—7, 2012: National Conference on Geographic Education, San Marcos, TX

Issue 1 Spring 2012

201 Donaghey Avenue Conway, Arkansas 72035 501-450-5636 phone 501-852-2926 fax

AGA Newsletter