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Essential Resources for Geographic and Environmental Educators

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Issue Vol. 65, No. 1

Publication Date: May, 2014

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President's Message  

Page: 2

Author(s): Hughes, Shawn

Not so long ago, the Ontario Association for Geographic and Environmental Education (O.A.G.E.E.) posed the following question to its members “Is the subject of Geography in jeopardy?” The answer is YES!

One of O.A.G.E.E.’s largely overlooked roles is its political advocacy for the subject of Geography in Ontario. O.A.G.E.E. heard Ontario’s Geography teachers’ concerns and fought hard for their suggestions to be reflected in the New Canadian and World Studies Curriculum. Although we lost several battles (e.g. currently, locally developed Grade 9 Geography will not be available), O.A.G.E.E. was always present to express your concerns in our attempt to guide the expectations to better reflect the changes voiced by Ontario Geography teachers.

Although we may not be happy with all of the changes, we have a Geography curriculum!...for the moment.

Teachers are charged with the huge task of preparing students to venture out into the real world. Unfortunately, training the future Geography teachers that will teach students about that world is not the priority of several Ontario Faculties of Education. Teaching spatial skills and global citizenship has been deemed unimportant.

Recently, Western University and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology intend to discontinue Geography as a teachable subject. At least one faculty has implemented a cost saving measure that includes the creation of one class, which is an amalgamation of all P/J & J/I Social Studies that includes Grades 7 and 8 History and Geography. O.A.G.E.E. advocates strongly for having the undervalued discipline of Geography in the Ontario curriculum, which is not the case in several provinces and territories across Canada. Essentially, these Faculties of Education are combating our efforts to have Geography offered and treated as a distinct discipline. They are heavily influencing the fate of Geography in the Ontario curriculum as a business decision that is to the detriment of Ontario students. It is our hope that you will investigate the status of Geography in any Faculty that approaches you to accept their Teacher Candidates in the upcoming years.

I want my children to be exposed to Geography throughout their elementary and secondary school careers. As mentioned in our Fall 2011 letter, “There is no more important subject in the 21st century for young people than Geography to help them understand and contribute towards solving the problems that face humanity and planet earth.” Todd Pottle, Author & Mentor Teacher.

This is a crucial time for Geography in Ontario. The St. John’s Declaration was created to advance geographic education for ALL Canadians. O.A.G.E.E. has committed to endorsing the St. John’s Declaration, which aims to improve geographic literacy in Canada. For those of you worried about the geography curriculum being dissolved into other courses and slowly dying, I would encourage you to support O.A.G.E.E. and support The St. John’s Declaration.

Could you imagine an Ontario curriculum that does not offer Geography? We hope your answer is NO!

You can make a difference! We hope to see you at O.A.G.E.E.’s Fall Conference at Ryerson University on Oct. 17th – 18th, 2014. Please take the time to support O.A.G.E.E., your subject association, by purchasing a Department membership with whatever is left of your budget this school year. We need your help in Ontario so that Geography can SURVIVE and THRIVE. Take an active role in your profession by becoming an O.A.G.E.E. member today at

Thoughts on Geography Culminating Activities for the Revised Ontario Geography Curriculum2  

Page: 5-7

Author(s): Lowry, Mark

The following is a primer and conversation starter on what culminating activities in the Ontario Geography courses should endeavour to emulate. This is by no means a comprehensive treatise on the topic but is meant to give some guidance and allow for the true essence of thinking like a geographer to come through. Also, it is not meant for a specific course but is written to give some parameters for all courses, regardless of course content or destination. Also these are strictly my thoughts but I will endeavour to make them jibe with the revised curriculum.

Implementation Ideas - 1: CGC1D Geography of Canada - Economic Issues Research Portfolio  

Page: 8-10

Author(s): Lee, Kelly; Levy, Erin; Hughes, Ainsley; Hughes, Joanna; Soto, Sebastian

This portfolio was our department’s first attempt at integrating the new Canadian and World Studies, Grades 9-10 curriculum. At our school, this activity will be used as our summative project, worth 15%. As a summative project, it certainly may not encompass all the content and knowledge of the course, since it focuses mainly on Strand C: Managing Canada’s Resources and Industries. On the other hand, there are elements of this project that really do make this a good summative project because it encompasses all their literacy, numeracy, and spatial skills taught throughout the course. It allows students the opportunity to complete good research, summarize their findings, and reference their sources. We are sharing this with you in the hopes that this might help you integrate the new curriculum into your own classroom activities.


Ideally, this project takes 10 class periods. We alternated days of teaching, with library and laptop time. We taught concepts such as: types of natural resources, levels of industries, sustainability, and foreign trade. These lessons, if woven in between the summative, give the students a good scaffold to complete their portfolio.

Implementation Ideas - 2: CGC1P -- Geography of Canada - Physical Interactions  

Page: 11

Author(s): Robb, Joanne

Editor’s Note: The following article represents a “brainstorming” of an intial outline of what might be included in Strand B - Interactions in the Physical Environment of the Applied level Issues in Canadian Geography course. It is included to illustrate one technique that you might use in your own department to “get started” on implementation of the new curriculum. As Joanne accepted my request to submit this outline, I indicated I would stress that this is a rough outline of what the final unit might look like.

CGF3M: Natural Disasters Model Project and Demonstration  

Page: 12-16

Author(s): Heltner, Irene

Overview of Project

Teenage students love novelty, excitement, and risk in their daily lives. Why not bring these elements into the classroom? By completing a working model of a particular geologic or weather event, students will examine the powerful forces that affect the patterns of physical geography. They will also have an opportunity to investigate the dynamic nature of the earth and the evolving relationship between the planet and its people. By communicating their findings to their peers and others, they will showcase their ability to simulate the processes at work on the earth.

Specific Expectations

  • Analyse the natural processes associated with specific events and how natural hazards affect the landscape
  • Analyse ways in which human activities may increase or decrease the risks from natural hazards
  • Evaluate the impact of natural systems on people and their activities
  • Communicate the results of geographic inquiries and investigations, using appropriate terms and concepts and a variety of forms and techniques

CGR4M: Should Water Be Managed?  

Page: 17-23

Author(s): Girodat, Nathan; Leblanc, Nathalie; Rice, Kayla; Tokarz, Mike; Visscher, Steve

Big Question Overview

Big Question: Should water be managed or does water need to be managed?

Cast: Teacher Resources (Titles)

  1. Steve Visscher: Population vs location
  2. Nathalie Leblanc: Uses of water/relationships between environment, society, and economy
  3. Nathan Girodat: How human activity affects environment and human health in relation to water
  4. Mike Tokarz: Political issues (policies/organizations)
  5. Kayla Rice: Sustainable water usage/improved strategies/success stories

Michael Palin Visits Longfields-Davidson Heights Secondary School  

Page: 24-25

Author(s): Hughes, Joanna

At the end of the school year, when most students are and teachers are counting the minutes to summer vacation, our school had the good fortune to host a visit by Michael Palin and the Royal Canadian Geographic Society (RCGS). The visit on 27 June 2013 was coordinated by Larissa Deme, a Grade 8 teacher at Longfields-Davidson Heights School in Ottawa. When asked how she was so lucky to get wind of a potential visit with Mr Palin, she answered “being at the right place, at the right time”.

CGF3M: Hurricane Simulation Assignment  

Page: 26-30

Author(s): Thompson-Anselm, Joanna

In this assignment students are asked to play a computer simulation called Stop Disasters on the Games for Change website. There are a variety of natural disaster simulations on this site, but this assignment focuses on hurricanes for the Climate and Weather unit in the CGF3M course.

Before students undertake this assignment, they should probably be familiar with:

  • Hurricane mechanics
  • Lenses of geographic analysis
  • The elements of a report for communicating their findings

If students do not have this background knowledge, mini lessons on these topics can be introduced while students are working on their task.

Rough-Hewn Land: A Geologic Journey from California to the Rocky Mountains  

Page: 31

Author(s): Birchall, Gary

Rough-Hewn Land: A Geologic Journey from California to the Rocky Mountains
by Keith Meldahl
University of California Press, Nov 2011
320 pp Hardcover $42.00 ($26.00 online at Amazon)
ISBN 978-0-5202-5935-5

Review by Gary Birchall Book Review

Ever compared maps showing the mountains of western North America with those of South America? Did you ever wonder why there are several different ranges of mountains in the west of the United States while the Andes form one continuous and comparatively narrow mountain belt? And are you interested in learning the latest hypotheses and theories on how plate tectonics worked to create these differences and will continue to shape the face of western North America for millions of years into the future. If you have answered “yes” to these questions, Keith Meldahl’s excellent book will certainly provide you with an easy to follow, well illustrated, and convincing narrative of the 100 million year geologic history of this region.