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Essential Resources for Geographic and Environmental Educators

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Issue Vol. 67, No. 1

Publication Date: June, 2016

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President’s Message  

Page: 2

Author(s): Hughes, Shawn

Almost there! This seems to be a common chant that I’ve been hearing from colleagues lately. I hope that everyone is looking forward to a well-deserved summer break. Last summer my family had the opportunity to explore the East Coast. This summer we are preparing for the long journey to the West Coast as we continue our tour of this magnificent and majestic country.
Currently, OAGEE is involved in another cross-Canada initiative.Several of our members have been actively involved in the preliminary planning stages for revising the Canadian National Standards for Geography: A Standards-Based Guide to K-12 Geography published by Canadian Geographic Education in 2001.
Can Geo Education hopes to have a range of writers and reviewers from across Canada. However, identifying dedicated “Geography teachers” in many provinces and territories can be challenging. Throughout most of Canada, Geography is offered as part of an  interdisciplinary Social Studies program and can get lost within the course’s content.
A huge thank you to Gary Birchall and his team of Trish and Ron Fulton, Maria Gountzounis, and Richard Mossuto for a very successful 2016 OAGEE Spring Conference! Teachers enjoyed an excellent presentation by David Galbraith, Head
of Science at the Royal Botanical Gardens and Peter Kelly and Kestrel Wraggett provided guided trail walks through the evolving EcoPark System in the morning. In the afternoon, Chris Hamilton, Outreach Coordinator of the Giant’s Rib Escarpment Education Network (GREEN), led the group on a hike from Tews Falls to Dundas Peak along the Niagara Escarpment. The last stop, on a beautiful day, occurred at the Interpretive Centre for the Giant’s Rib with Ken Hall, who has devoted a lifetime to educating the public about the Niagara Escarpment World Biosphere Reserve.
We are very excited for the 2016 OAGEE Fall Conference at Trinity College School (TCS) on November 11th and 12th. TCS offers a beautiful campus and amazing facility located in the small town of Port Hope, which is situated about an hour’s drive from Toronto. Our 2016 Conference Coordinator @ TCS, Cory McKercher, has proven to be extremely capable and organized. The Call for presenters for the 2016 OAGEE Fall Conference at TCS is open until July 31st 2016.
We seek to bring the conference to a region near you year after year. Unlike most subject associations, we do not have our conference at the same location every year. TCS has graciously made their facility available to us on the north shore of Lake Ontario in Northumberland County. Unlike the location of the OAGEE Fall Conference, our conference team is consistent. The
reliable team of brilliant volunteers that handle our registrants, exhibitors, and presenters at upcoming conferences includes:

Mike Farley, University of Toronto Schools (UTS). 2015 

OAGEE Fall Conference Coordinator

Paul Hackl, TDSB. 2014 OAGEE Fall Conference Coordinator

Ling Wong, TDSB. 2014 OAGEE Fall Conference Coordinator

Currently, OAGEE is actively engaged in several initiatives including Financial Literacy, Problem-based Learning, Bilingual
Geography Resources, and GIS/GPS certification. We hope to highlight some of these resources at our upcoming conference
as well as promote the annual Skills Canada Ontario GIS Competition, which showcases secondary students’ GIS capabilities (GIS is STEM!).
This is a crucial time for Geography in Ontario. You can make a difference! We hope to see you at these great opportunities for
current and relevant professional development sponsored by OAGEE. Please take the time to support OAGEE, 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 & THRIVE. Take an active role in your profession by becoming an OAGEE member today at

Shawn Hughes
President, OAGEE

GeoGeek Talks - thoughts from an aspiring Geographer  

Page: 7

Author(s): Abbotts, Torie

GeoGeek thought(s): There must be a time in all teachers’ careers when they fear the unknown that comes with unfamiliar material. Fear is the only way I can describe the feelings associated with making change in content taught and strategies used. Most people would believe this is a sensation only new teachers experience, but I beg to differ. I think fear is what experienced teachers are more likely to feel, as they are forced to decide whether they should continue teaching material that is dated or risk trying something
new and teaching something unfamiliar. In my Grade 12 Environment and Resource Management course I find this happens every semester. The nature of the course is that there is always current global events that are meaningful and relevant. The content can easily be incorporated as long as I have done the preliminary research, but I still fear the change. This brings me to the topic of this column, my most recent challenge that I reluctantly tackled.

How Should We Respond to Our Changing Earth?: A Resource Supporting Authentic Geographic Inquiry  

Page: 8-18

Author(s): Vamvalis, Maria

Engaging our students in meaningful explorations of core environmental issues is often a key passion for many teachers of geography. How might we frame the curricular expectations in the new intermediate geography curriculum in a way where students can think deeply about relevant geographic issues and disciplinary concerns in a way that supports the development of active citizenship?

The Critical Thinking Consortium (TC2) has developed a new series of resources called “Inquiry-Pacs” that sustain inquiry while scaffolding the intellectual tools for quality thinking. In early 2016, an Inquiry-Pac for the Grade 7 Geography unit on Physical Geography in a Changing World was released. What is unique about this resource is its orientation towards the “five principles of the thinking classroom” outlined in the book Creating Thinking Classrooms by Roland Case and Garfield Gini-Newman published in the spring of last year: 1) engaged students; 2) continuous inquiry; 3) assessment-rich learning; 4) self-regulated learners; and 5) digitally-enhanced learning.


Page: 19-22

Author(s): Farley, Mike

“Offshore is an innovative interactive web documentary ( that explores the next chapter of oil exploration, taking viewers hundreds of miles offshore, and thousands of feet below the ocean floor where the hazards are immense, but the profits are bigger, and where the consequences of something going wrong are catastrophic. Using a virtual offshore the central interface, viewers are invited on a first person journey through a nightmarish abandoned rig, damaged and deserted save for
a series of ‘hotspots’ - transition points - which propel participants into the full screen world of oil, technology, money and environmental disasters. Beginning with stories from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Offshore creates a deeply immersive experience that subtly raises questions about the consequences of our continued dependence on oil”.
— from the Offshore Study Guide -

Course Outline Priorities  

Page: 23-26

Author(s): Toronto District School Board, Social World Studies & Humanities

The course outline priorities template is a tool to support teachers in creating course outlines and summative evaluations that incorporates Growing Success and the revised curriculum documents.


What Antarctica Tells Us – A Snapshot of its Geography, Environment, and Human Story  

Page: 27-29

Author(s): Devine, Carol

Antarctica is so far away but it’s also near in its relevance to us humans in the biosphere. Did you know Antarctica had trees, Antarctica is dry, Antarctica has 10,000 highly adapted species? The first human reportedly sighted Antarctica in 1821 (Russian navigator and cartographer Fabien von Bellingshausen), and the first human reached the south pole (Norwegian Roald Amundsen
and team) in December, 1911. The first woman to set foot in Antarctica was in 1935 (Norwegian Caroline Mikkelsen). The health of Antarctica’s ecosystems also means our health. Antarctica is considered the world’s refrigerator and it plays a crucial role influencing
the world’s climate. This ‘cold continent’ reflects back about 80% of the sun’s radiation thus helping regulate Earth’s temperatures.

BOOK REVIEW - Pacific: Silicon Chips and Surfboards, Coral Reefs and Atom Bombs, Brutal Dictators, Fading Empires and the Coming Collision of the World’s Superpowers  

Page: 30-31

Author(s): Mansfield, Dick

Pacific: Silicon Chips and Surfboards, Coral Reefs and
Atom Bombs, Brutal Dictators, Fading Empires and the
Coming Collision of the World’s Superpowers
Simon Winchester
HarperCollins. 2015
ISBN 978-0062315410, 444pp, Hardback, $C 21.35

I have long been a fan of Simon Winchester’s books. I certainly have not read all 23 non-fiction books in his current list of publications, however I have read a good number! Winchester has a wide range of journalistic experience around the world as well as a solid background in geology. Some previous books which I think I enjoyed and would interest other geographers include:The Map
that Changed the World, Krakatoa, A Crack in the Edge of the World and Atlantic. Winchester’s new book Pacific is also, in my opinion, a winner. Let me tell you a bit about it.
One might ponder the challenge of how an author could, with any depth (so to speak!), effectively tackle anything as massive as the
Pacific Ocean in a manner that is more than superficial. I wondered that as well. Wisely, Winchester tackled this massive undertaking
in a logical and engaging manner. First of all he set his parameters by focusing on events relating to the Pacific since 1950. Naturally
there are references linking back to previous events and eras where necessary. In addition, rather that trying to spread things too thin and become superficial, Winchester focusses on selected topics/themes, all of which link is some way to the Pacific region but have global interest/impact. One of his great talents is that of a “story teller” in that he manages to bring to life events, which might otherwise be perceived as rather ordinary. Just reading the sub-title of the book (Silicon Chips and Surfboards, Coral Reefs and
Atom Bombs, Brutal Dictators, Fading Empires and the Coming Collision of the World’s Superpowers) gives you some clue of the eclectic themes explored in this book. There are ten chapters plus a prologue and epilogue. There are excellent maps and photos to complement the stories in each chapter. The chapter titles will give you some idea what to expect: (the part in brackets highlights some of the topics within the chapter)?

Chapter #1 - The Great Thermonuclear Sea (all about the nuclear testing programs conducted by several countries and the impact of these tests on the people of the region)
Chapter #2 - Mr. Ibuk’s Radio Revolution (the story of postwar Japan and the rise of the electronics industry esp. SONY)
Chapter #3 - The Ecstasies of Wave Riding (the development of the culture of surf boarding across the Pacific)
Chapter #4 - A Dire and Dangerous Irritation ( the story of the evolution of the rogue state of North Korea and particularly the Pueblo incident)
Chapter #5 - Farewell, All My Friends and foes (decline of European empiresin the Pacific with particular reference to Hong Kong)
Chapter #6 - Echoes of Distant Thunder (story of major cyclones/typhoons in the Pacific as well as an understanding of emerging climate change as evidenced by the well explained El Niño phenomenon)
Chapter #7 How Goes the Lucky Country? (an insight into Australia’s changing politics e.g. the former White Australia policy, as well as the fascinating story of the Sydney Opera House)
Chapter #8 The Fires in the Deep ( a look at the geology of plate tectonics of the Pacific plates and exploration of the “deeps”)
Chapter #9 - A Fragile and Uncertain Sea (an examination of the fragile threatened marine coral of the Pacific, surface pollution, as well as the remarkable bird life)
Chapter #10 - Of Masters and Commanders (a look at the changing/emerging “geo-political spheres of influence, in the region particularly between the USA and China)

Readers of The Monograph may question why I would recommend this book to any Geography educator. Canada is a “Pacific” nation and as such Canadians need to be aware of and understand emerging issues/patterns/trends related to the Pacific and how this impacts our nation. As the Grade 9 Geography of Canada course is the one course that ALL Ontario high school students experience, it it is vitally important that we as Geography educators keep ourselves both knowledgeable and current, such that we can help our
students become aware of and to grasp the significance of global patterns which impact on our nation, not only today but in the future.
I hope that you will find Pacific an interesting and informative read. I had a hard time putting it down. I warn you now, that if this is the first book by Simon Winchester that you read, and you enjoy it, he has many more captivating titles waiting for you!!
Here is what the publisher has to say about Pacific on the dust jacket.
Simon Winchester tackles this “oceanic behemoth of eyewatering complexity” by focussing on key moments since 1950 that speak to the greater trends and larger truths about the ocean’s significance to us today.
Winchester leads us from the Bearing Strait to Cape Horn, the Yangtze River to the Panama Canal, and to many small islands that lie between. He recounts the atomic tests on the atoll of Bikini, which created a surreal landscape that must still be left vacant for fear of radiation poisoning. He takes us to the launch of “Gidget”— her movies, her TV show, and, most important, her surfboards, which would forever change how the world’s youth views a rising wave.

Pacific Pacalso tells the story of the little transistor radio and how it sparked the digital revolution, from Japan to Silicon Valley, altering the ocean’s density. Winchester includes tales of alarming discoveries on the Great Barrier Reef and grand expeditions to mysterious vents on the ocean’s floor. He examines the geopolitical shifts that shaped the ocean’s vast land areas, from the rise of North Korea’s rogue state to the end of European colonization, and addresses the environmental degradation and climate shifts that now threaten the majestic body of water. 

Along the way, Winchester looks at the political turmoil in Australia, the relationship between the Koreas, and recent confrontations that engaged China and the United States. “The Pacific”, he writes, “is the ocean where, quite literally, East meets West.... (T)here is challenge in the air, the sound of clashing swords and angry words”.
Calling upon Winchester’s many journeys throughout the Pacific and its surrounding areas, his formidable historical understanding, and his singular talent for storytelling, Pacific is a paean to this magnificent sea of beauty and myth that has long captured the imagination.
Review by Dickson Mansfield, retired Ontario Geography Educator