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Essential Resources for Geographic and Environmental Educators

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Issue Vol. 67, No. 2

Publication Date: August, 2016

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President's Message  

Page: 2

Author(s): Hughes, Shawn

President’s Message
Shawn Hughes, Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board

Happy Summer! I just finished reading Canadian Geographic’s 10 Best Hikes in Alberta and now my family is very excited about visiting most of these locations throughout July and August. We hope to be as fortunate as we were with our fabulous East Coast tour last summer. I hope that you have a chance to hike and bike some of our amazing trails this season.
There has been a few exciting announcements over the last few weeks as The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is considering assessing students’ “global competence” as part of their tests that largely focus on “STEM” subjects including numeracy, science, and literacy. PISA is a worldwide study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The OECD defines global competence as: “the capacity to analyse global and intercultural issues critically and from multiple perspectives,to understand how differences affect perceptions, judgements, and ideas of self and others, and to engage in open, appropriate and effective interactions with others from different backgrounds on the basis of a shared respect for human dignity”.

Sound familiar? This is what Geographers do. What is Where, Why There, and Why Care? This is evident in the Canadian and World Studies curriculum’s focus on the four concepts of geographic thinking – spatial significance, patterns and trends, interrelationships, and geographic perspective. In addition, our CWS curriculum emphasizes that students apply skills associated with the geographic
inquiry process throughout all of their courses during their investigations of issues, events, and developments. 

The importance of this was reflected in the United Kingdom’s choice for Prime Minister. Theresa May’s background as a geographer prepares her to meet the challenges in a world where globalisation is a powerful economic, political and cultural force.

Forbes: United Kingdom’s Next Prime Minister Will Be a Geographer – What is Geography?

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 & Teacher

Teachers are charged with the huge task of preparing students to venture out into the real world. Geography teachers are charged with the huge task of teaching students about that world.
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.

Currently, OAGEE is actively engaged in several initiatives including Financial Literacy, Problem-based Learning, Bilingual Geography Resources, GIS/GPS certification, and for revising the Canadian National Standards for Geography: A Standards-Based Guide to K-12 Geography published by Canadian Geographic Education in 2001. 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...and so much more!).

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

As Executive Director of the Canadian Network for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health (CAN-MNCH), Dr. Helen Scott has to navigate an increasingly diverse world, with an awareness of different cultures and beliefs. She relies on her “global skills” and cultural awareness as she collaborates with over 100 stakeholders to improve women’s and children’s health in 1,000 communities worldwide.
CAN-MNCH is a network of Canadian NGOs, academic institutions and health professional associations working together to improve the lives of women and children in the world’s poorest countries. I am very excited to introduce Dr. Helen Scott as the 2016 OAGEE Fall Conference keynote speaker that has rubbed elbows with Bono, Stephen Lewis, Justin Trudeau, Bill Gates, Jean Chretien …and the list goes on!
Shawn Hughes
President, OAGEE

GeoGeek Talks - thoughts from an aspiring Geographer  

Page: 7

Author(s): Abbotts, Torie

Putting the Environment at the heart of who we are

GeoGeek thought(s): Like many of you I have been using my summer vacation for rest, relaxation and exploration. An opportunity to explore became available in the middle of August that I felt I could not pass up. The World Social Forum was held in Montreal and The Leap Manifesto was one of the activist groups that offered activities of engagement for attendees. The following are the lessons I have learned from volunteering, participating and attending The Leap activities at the World Social Forum.

CGW4U/C - Totalitarianism - Popular Culture vs Actuality  

Page: 8-14

Author(s): Ellis, Amanda

Overall Expectations
A1. Geographic Inquiry: use the geographic inquiry process and the concepts of geographic thinking when investigating world issues.
B2. Population Disparities: analyse relationships between demographic and political factors and quality of life for various countries and regions.
B3. Classifying Regions of the World: explain how various characteristics are used to classify the world into regions or other groupings.
E1. Leadership and Policy: analyse the influence of governments, groups, and individuals on the promotion and management of social change.

B3. Characteristics of World Regions: classify and compare countries and regions of the world, using appropriate criteria and statistical measures.
E3. Human Rights and Quality of Life: analyse impacts of a variety of factors on human rights and quality of life in selected countries.

Optional: Have class structured in totalitarian fashion. For more information, see “Turbulent Totalitarianism”,
or “American Problems – Totalitarian Simulation”

G7 Geography: iBiome Wetland Digital Game - Student Activity  

Page: 14-19

Author(s): Li, Roy

“With Professor Bio as your guide, students explore the wetland habitat and all the amazing species within. Build unique biodomes from scratch and interact with their fascinating food webs through immersive game play. Use what you learn to make your bio domes flourish with life.” (from the Springbay Studio website)

This activity would be well-suited for the Grade 7 Geography course – it is a good fit for expectation A3.4:
• Describe patterns and physical characteristics of some major water bodies and systems around the world (e.g., river systems, drainage basins, lakes, oceans). Sample question: “What are wetlands? Why are they important?”
Note: This student activity is designed for the free Demo web and iOS versions of iBiome Wetland (web: (iOS: The free Demo version includes the introductory “Fresh Water” biome (the full paid web version also includes the “Salt Water” and “Mangrove” biomes).
To access the full web version please contact Springbay Studio (website: (email: For more activities related to iBiome and other Geography-related impact games go to:

Fun With Google Earth  

Page: 20-21

Author(s): Pritty, Greg; Macdonald, John

Fun With Google Earth: Part I -
Introducing Technology in Geography

Google Earth is fascinating software which is completely GIS (Geographic Information Systems)-based and it allows
you to navigate around the world and become familiar with human/physical geography and also understand some fundamentals
of GIS (data, data issues, imagery, aerial photography, scale).


CGF3M: A Niagara Escarpment Field Study  

Page: 22-25

Author(s): Robb, Joanne

• Analyze relationships between present characteristics of local landforms and the processes that shaped them;
• Explain the roles of water, ice, wind and biological processes in shaping physical features;
• Demonstrate an understanding of the effects of human activities (e.g., urban expansion, resource exploitation) on various aspects of the environment;
• Demonstrate an ability to make observations and collect data in the field;
• Use maps, GPS and GIS to measure conditions on the ground;
• Demonstrate an understanding of the importance of stewardship and sustainability as guiding principles for human use of the physical environment;
• See how the resources of the Niagara escarpment have been managed (past and present) and the conflicts that have come about.

Plague Inc. - A Web-Based Simulation Game  

Page: 26

Author(s): Sheffield, Spencer

Resource Title
Plague Inc.
This is a link to a strategy game called Plague Inc. that can be played on computers, iPad, and Android phones/tablets. This is a unique resource that allows students to simulate the spreading of an illness around the globe by playing as the illness. Players can choose to mutate their illness to have different symptoms, different ways to be transmitted, and different resilience to climates and medications.

Energy Arguments - A Political Cartoon  

Page: 27

Author(s): Froom, Hillary

Resource Title
“Arguments Against” political cartoon
Bibliographic Info
Created by Joe Heller,
Short Description
Students analyze an editorial cartoon comparing different arguments against energy sources (nuclear, oil, coal, wind). The arguments all relate to the detrimental impact these energy sources can have on the environment and on human life. The argument against wind energy allows students to learn about, and explore, the “not in my backyard/NIMBY” rationale.

Waterfalls and Parks: Protecting the Niagara Escarpment - 2016 OAGEE Spring Conference  

Page: 28-30

Author(s): Gollick, Linda

What a great day for OAGEE’s Spring Conference on Friday May 6, 2016! The sun was shining and the weather was warm. The theme of the conference was “Waterfalls and Parks: Protecting the Niagara Escarpment”. Greeting us at the OAGEE registration desk at the Royal Botanical Gardens ( were Gary Birchall, Maria Gountzounis and Trish Fulton.

Book Review: Circling The Midnight Sun: Culture and Change in the Invisible Arctic  

Page: 31

Author(s): Mansfield, Dickson

Circling The Midnight Sun: Culture and Change in the
Invisible Arctic
James Raffan
Harper Collins. 2014
ISBN 978-1443405843, 447pp, Paperback,
$C 16.58

This book came to me via a somewhat different route. As a retired educator, I have more time at my disposal to select activities which keep me more than busy! One of the activities which I enjoy is attending some of the rich and varied lecture series’ which are offered here in Kingston. This past fall I attended a lecture by James Raffan. I was keen to see and hear Raffan, given that he was a past colleague at the Queen’s University Faculty of Education, a fellow geographer as well as a friend. Following the lecture, Raffan had copies of his recent book for sale and I took advantage of the opportunity to purchased one. I am glad I did as it proved to be both an interesting and enlightening read. Let me explain.

Raffan has a strong background in Geography and Biology as well as extensive experience in the Canadian North. His interest in
climate issues/change as well as the cultures of northern indigenous peoples led him to
the concept of circumnavigating the globe at the Arctic Circle to examine and reflect on issues related to the environment as the peoples who inhabit this part of the globe. His intermittent travels/journeys, over a period of more than three years, began and ended in Iceland. He journeyed through eight nations, all of whom touch on the Arctic Circle - Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, USA (Alaska), Canada, and Greenland/Denmark.

Each section of the book begins with a map, illustrating, within a polar perspective/projection of course, the section/slice of the globe he was visiting. Over the years Raffan clearly has developed/cultivated many contacts around the globe, as these contacts helped to not only open many doors but also to link him up with key groups and individuals from each area he was visiting.Raffan interacted with people from all walks of life - young/old, settled/nomadic, politicians and common folk, all who had perspectives on the past, present and future of the North in terms of climate change and cultural change. It is interesting to learn how Raffan illustrates not only the
unique dimensions of the people and places he visits on his journey, but also the powerful similarities of issues which link all of these peoples and regions of the Arctic regions. His conclusions/reflections in the final section of the book provide much food for thought for all of us!!!

As Geography educators here in Ontario, we are all aware that we have only one guaranteed opportunity to connect with high school students, the Grade nine compulsory course - Issues in Canadian Geography (2013). For educators teaching this course, I feel that the current observations/perspectives that Raffan presents on the circumpolar Arctic provide important input to discussions with secondary school students. Raffan has included “The Invisible Arctic” as part of the sub-title of the book. I am quite sure that this was done deliberately to challenge readers to move beyond the standard stereotypical images/perceptions that many of us who live in the southern parts of Canada have imbedded in our minds as what we think/perceive the “North” was, is, and will be, in the foreseeable future. From my perspective, this book is a valuable addition to any Geography educators’ ongoing professional development. In addition it is one I would highly recommend any school library to purchase (assuming that they are still in the business of acquiring such resources). It is a reference I would certainly direct senior students to as the basis/springboard for research/assignments they might be undertaking relating to the Arctic. 

Submitted by Dickson Mansfield, retired Geography educator
An additional perspective on this book is provided by the publisher, on the back cover, as follows:
“From seasoned traveller and best selling author James Raffan comes a book that will transform the way we think about northerners and the north. 

Over the course of three years, James Raffan circumnavigated the globe at 66.6 degrees of latitude: the Arctic Circle. Armed with his passion for the north, his interests in diverse cultures and his unquenchable sense of adventure, he sets out to put a human face on climate change. What he discovers was by turns shocking, frustrating, entertaining, and enlightening. In Circling the Midnight Sun, Raffan presents a warm-hearted, engaging portrait of the circumpolar world, but also a deeply affecting story of societies and landscapes in the throes of enormous change. Compelling and utterly original, this is both an adventure story and a book that will change your view of the north forever.”