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Essential Resources for Geographic and Environmental Educators

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Issue Vol. 66, No. 2

Publication Date: September, 2015

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President’s Message  

Page: 2

Author(s): Hughes, Shawn

I hope that everyone enjoyed a well-deserved break this summer. It has been a busy spring and summer for the Ontario Association for Geographic and Environmental Education (OAGEE). We enjoyed a successful 2015 OAGEE Spring Con­ference at the Sources of Knowledge Forum in Tobermory. It was a long, beautiful, very worthwhile drive to the SOK Forum - The Great Arc: Life on the (L)Edge. I look forward to exploring the Bruce Peninsula with my family this summer. 

As mentioned, I look forward to a return visit with my family. The OAGEE Spring Conference provides a great opportunity for teachers to learn about a wide variety of very different regions throughout Ontario. Our conferences provide an opportunity for teachers to pursue professional development that can be shared with their own students AND family and friends. 

Every teacher faces a variety of challenges in order to attend these conferences. Every school board and administration have different ideas regarding their willingness to support these wonderful professional development opportunities. DO NOT let their potential indifference to these valid and relevant opportunities dissuade you from making every pos­sible effort to attend. You’re not doing this for your Board…you’re doing this for you. 

Over the years, I have been blessed with administration that support my efforts with OAGEE by paying for a supply. Occasionally, they would pay for my registration fees for a conference. However, a large portion of the time I pay for my own travel, accommodations, and registration expenses out of my own pocket. It was always worth it. I’m not doing this for my Board…I’m doing this for me. 

My students, family, and friends gain the benefit of my personal interest in these current and relevant professional development opportunities. But make no mistake, I’m attending these events in order to recharge, reenergize, and surround myself with a network of professionals that are very willing to share their knowledge and experience to scout and discover new places and activities that I want to share with my family, friends, and students. 

The 2014 OAGEE Spring Conference - Blue Mountain & Blue Waters Field Studies provided teachers with an outdoor adventure opportunity that included exploring caves, walking the suspension bridge, and ziplining along Ontario’s Niagara Escarpment. My sons will enjoy searching for tribolites on the shores of Craigleith Provincial Park and touring the treetop canopy at Scenic Caves Nature Adventures. 

Recently, we celebrated my son’s 10 birthday at Treetop Trekking @ Ganaraska. We spent an afternoon participating in their Zip Line Aerial Game Treks. I discovered this wonderful region at the 2011 OAGEE Spring Conference hosted by the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority - Ganaraska Forest Centre. 

Although Mark Lowry, OAGEE Past President, recently retired from TDSB, he is still busy promoting Geography by bringing together stakeholders from Environment Canada, York Public Health, Health Canada, and ESRI to provide amazing experiences for teachers FOR FREE! This summer, teachers that attended the Air Quality Heat Island Summer Institute for Teachers in conjunction with the Toronto Pan Am Games had an opportunity to tour the Ontario Storm Prediction Centre at Environment Canada and participate in field studies at Hanlan’s Point on Toronto Island. Even retirement won’t stop Mark from pursuing his interests in Geography!

Regardless of the political situation starting the school year, we hope that you won’t stop pursuing your interest in Geography by supporting the hard work of OAGEE, your subject association. This is a crucial time for Geography in Ontario. You can make a difference! We hope to see you at 2015 OAGEE Fall Conference @ the University of Toronto Schools on November 13th & 14th. We need your help in Ontario so that Geography can SURVIVE & THRIVE. Take an active role in your profession by becoming an OAGEE member today at

Developing Critical Thinking Activities While Im­plementing the Revised CWS Curriculum  

Page: 6-10

Author(s): Gini-Newman, Garfield; Birchall, Gary

Critical Thinking - Editor’s Note

In September 2008, along with other members of the OAGEE Executive Council, I participated in a workshop conducted by Garfield Gini-Newman, a lecturer in OISE’s Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning, and a member of TC2, The Critical Thinking Consortium. I had heard about this organization and its focus on developing a framework and series of strategies to further teachers’ abilities to incorporate critical thinking into the curriculum but had never had an opportunity to get a glimpse of their approach to this very important aspect of teaching.

Given that the process of implementation of the Cana­dian & World Studies Grades 9-10 and 11-12 is under way, I thought a detailed review of a well-structured and effective strategy for developing classroom activities that incorporates valid critical thinking activities for Geography classrooms is timely.
I will try to summarize the key ideas that were presented on critical thinking by Mr. Gini-Newman and how to use these ideas in preparing lessons that truly get students thinking critically.

CGC1: Guess Where?  

Page: 12

Author(s): Frauts, Susan

Here is a quick and fun activity that helps Grade nine students get to know places in Canada but also practice formu­lating questions. It is similar to the board game – Guess Who? A variation of this game could be Guess Where I Am? In this version, a classroom seating plan could be used and students choose one of the desks and another student tries to determine which desk they are in. This also helps students practice ways of giving their relative location.

"Mission: Planet Earth" Online Game  

Page: 13-16

Author(s): Farley, Mike

This is a great game for introducing topics such as world bi­omes, geo-technology, and financial literacy. Headphones are recommended. For more Geography-related serious games and accompanying student activities go to:

CGW4U: ISU - Something From Nothing Assignment  

Page: 17-21

Author(s): Latford, Drea

Overall Expectations

  •  evaluate the cultural, economic, and environmental impact of changing technology.

Specific Expectations

  •  explain why people perceive resource use and sustainable development differently at different times and in different places;
  • evaluate the social, economic, and environmental impact of the strategies for sustainable develop­ment implemented by a variety of individuals, organizations, and institutions;
  • evaluate the role played by non-governmental organizations and local community initiatives in different parts of the world (e.g., Oxfam Canada, the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh) in promoting sustainable development and responsible resource management;
  • evaluate the significance of a variety of movements to protect resources and environments (e.g., Chipko women’s movement in India, protests against clear cutting in Canada);
  • analyze trends and predict changes in the human use of Earth and its resources.

OAGEE Implementation Poster 3: CGC1D  

Page: 22-24

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

The revision of the new Grade 9 Geography curriculum has allowed our students to be more open, willing, and flexible learners. One of the main objectives of the new curriculum is for students to be allowed an opportunity undergo their own investigation into an issue armed with their own inquiry questions. This way students are more driven and motivated by their own curiosity. My colleagues and I created this activ­ity to allow our students to understand the urban planning happening in their very own city and hopefully ‘pop’ the ‘suburban bubble’ that they live in. It was met with huge success, both from the student and teacher perspective. The students were engaged and had fun learning about their own city and issues that mattered. The teachers found this easy to assess and enjoyed watching the students’ curiosity grow.

CGG3O T&T: Kensington Market Walking Tour - Internet Pamphlet and Map Assignment  

Page: 25-27

Author(s): Heltner, Irene


Kensington Market in Toronto is a wonderful destination for a Geography field trip. It is self-contained neighbourhood, bounded by Oxford Street (north), Dundas Street (south), Spadina Ave. (east), and Augusta Ave. (west), which houses a multitude of small, ethnically diverse shops, restaurants, and businesses. Students can travel the world in just a few hours. Since it is always a challenge to plan where to go in a specific area for a class field trip, why not have your stu­dents do it instead? This way students learn how to plan a trip based on their own Internet research and preferences.

Note: This assignment can be followed up with a class trip to Kensington Market where students take their finished work (pamphlet and map) and take their pre-planned tour.

Specific Expectations

A1.4    interpret and analyse data and information relevant to their investigations, using various tools, strategies, and approaches appropriate for geographic inquiry.

B3.1    analyse factors that influence travellers’ destination choices.

B3.2    analyse the influence of political, economic, cultural, and environmental motivators and barriers on tour­ists’ destination choices.

D1.1    describe the major natural and cultural attractions in their region, and explain how they influence the characteristics of tourist activity in the region.

Atop The Great Arc: The 2015 OAGEE Spring Conference – Tobermory  

Page: 28-30

Author(s): Birchall, Gary

The weather was a mixture of sun and light showers and cool temperatures. But the atmosphere in the lecture halls and field studies was bright, sunny, and highly informative. Generously invited by Graham Draper, a retired geographer and educator, to join the Sources of Knowledge (SOK) Fo­rum in Tobermory, the 17 active and retired geographers attending the OAGEE Spring Conference were treated to a gold mine of information and experiences related to the Niagara Escarpment (The Great Arc, Giant’s Rib) at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula.

Ghost Mountains and Vanished Oceans: North America from Birth to Middle Age  

Page: 31

Author(s): Mansfield, Dick

Reviewed by Dick Mansfield, retired Geography educator.

John Wilson and Ron Clowes, Key Porter Books 2009. ISBN 978-1-55470-047-9 @ 235 pp incl. illustrations, maps, diagrams, introduction, preface, notes and index.

I recently came upon this interesting and informative book by accident. As a reader of the Globe & Mail, my eye was caught by a letter to the editor (May 12, 2015) titled A Science Lesson by D.K. Mustard, past president of the Canadian Geoscience Council. The letter was react­ing to a previous article in the G&M and ended with the following sentence-“To understand the Earth we occupy, every young Canadian should have a copy of Ghost Mountains and Vanished Oceans.” This statement peaked my interest, so off I went to the local library and borrowed a copy. 

As a retired Geography educator, I was pleased that this book was such an interesting read - sufficiently detailed/technical to keep me challenged while also quite readable for a general audience. The book starts off with a great introduction by Bob McDonald of CBC’s Quirks and Quarks. If you enjoy his easy going style on radio or TV, you will enjoy how he introduces the reader to the many dimensions of this book. I think his quote “That’s the joy of looking at the world through scien­tific eyes”, says it all.

As suggested by the sub-title, North America from Birth to Middle Age, the book is logically organized into a number of parts reflecting this evolution: Part 1 - Introduction, Part 2 - Birth and Childhood: four to two and a half billion years ago, Part 3 - Tumultuous Teens: two billion to one billion years ago, Part 4 Mid Life Crisis: the past billion years, Part 5 Old Age: the next billion years. The chapter organization is catchy and quickly draws one in. Each chapter includes a very personal side bar story by the authors under the heading of Interlude that provide fascinating insights into the lives of geologists/geosciences professionals at work in the field. Also included in each chapter are more focussed technical segments which expand upon the overall narrative of the chapter.

I recognize the fact that there does not seem to be as much emphasis on Physical Geography in general, and more spe­cifically that of North America, in our current I/S Geography curriculum as there was in previous generations of these documents. Nevertheless, I feel that this book would be a very useful reference for any educator teaching the compulsory Geography of Canada course in Grade 9 as well as the Senior Grade 11/12 courses relating to physical environment. The story line relating to the development of the North American continent is clear and easy to follow. Each chapter has a selec­tion of maps, photos, graphs, and charts to complement the text. In other words, lots of good “raw material” which can be readily applied to classroom lessons.

One of the bonuses of this book for me was the emphasis on the role Canadian scientists have and continue to make to the understanding of the development and evolution of our continent. Of particular interest to me was the explanation of a major international geoscience initiative, which I have to admit I was unaware of. This was the International Lithosphere Program begun in the 1980s. Canada was key in developing a plan called Lithoprobe whose goal was “to determine how the pieces of Canada’s geological puzzle interact and fit together not only in three dimensions, but also in the fourth”. The Lithoprobe studies/field work focussed on ten key sample area/regions across Canada and the USA.

After leading the reader through the evolution of the North American continent to date, the book ends with a great final chapter titled “A Quiet Old Age? Not Likely” which introduces the reader to lots of interesting speculation as to how the continent will continue to evolve.

I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did. My only regret is that I do not have a class of my own any more to share the stories from this book with.

From the PR perspective, here is what the publishers have to say from the dust jacket of the book.
In the age of climate change and space stations, it’s easy to forget that the final frontier may well be beneath our feet: that the Earth’s rock is the stuff from which minerals and oil are derived. And yet we understand so little of the very thing that we’re trying to protect.

Author John Wilson and geologist Dr. Ron Clowes narrate the tale of Earth’s coming-of-age in Ghost Mountains and Vanished Oceans: North America from Birth to Middle Age. The vast jigsaw puzzle of geological plates that drifted together to form today’s continents have not finished floating just yet. And while this shift is usually imperceptible, tsunamis such as the one experienced in South East Asia demonstrate just how catastrophic this movement can be.

This remarkable book also tells the story of Lithoprobe, cre­ated in Canada in the early 1980s to address a new scientific frontier and now recognized worldwide as the best project of its kind in the Earth Sciences field. Lithoprobe combined multidisciplinary studies of the Canadian landmass and sur­rounding offshore margins to determine how the northern North American continent has formed over geological time from four thousand million years ago to the present.