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Essential Resources for Geographic and Environmental Educators

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Issue Vol. 68, No. 2

Publication Date: June, 2017

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President's Message  

Page: 2

Author(s): Geddes, Ewan

President’s Message
Ewan Geddes, Toronto District School Board

Every year, June comes as a surprise - where did the year go? With school winding down to culminating activities and exams, it may be hard to think about what September might bring; however, this time of year marks a great chance to start planning for next year by reflecting on what went well and what might need to be tweaked to better engage our students and push them to the next stage of their learning.
I encountered an interesting saying recently: “When in doubt, get out.” We know that the more students are a part of planning and evaluating their learning, the more engaged they are and the better they might learn. As Geography teachers, we are especially able to engage our students when we have them get out and do Geography. Done well, field work presents students with a chance to plan their learning, develop and navigate their own inquiries, and even get a taste of operating as citizen scientists. This kind of authentic
learning stays with students for years to come.
The most recent Spring Conference, held at Camp Kawartha’s Environment and Outdoor Education Centres near Peterborough, was a great success and learning experience for many teachers. The day started at the Outdoor Education Centre with an introduction to the programs that are offered and how they fit into our current curriculum through the lenses of sustainability, animal habitat preservation, interrelationships, sustainable development, patterns and trends, as well as spatial significance and the geographic perspective
(to name a few). The emphasis on hands-on experience at the Centre helped to make the morning very memorable, and teachers could envision how their students could be engaged by those and similar activities.
The group then moved on to the Outdoor Education Camp, where the teachers were given a brief history lesson on how the landscape helped to influence the communities of the area, including the foods, clothing, and tools that have traditionally been made from the plants and animals indigenous to the area. The sleep-over camp gives schools from all around Ontario an opportunity for an immersive
experience of the outdoors - certainly an impactful opportunity for all students, but urban students especially will experience something they may never have seen: the darkness of the night sky in the absence of light pollution, and the vast array of stars always overhead. Whether an excursion takes either of these forms - a one-day trip to engage with the environment or a days-long trip that immerses students - getting out and doing Geography benefits all learners.
What if your course focuses on issues farther afield? An excursion to another country often isn’t in the cards - what can we do? Hot Docs has a fantastic Spring program, called the Docs for Schools Festival, that brings world events into the classroom through documentary and provides well-crafted education packages and lesson plans that focus on giving students the knowledge and opportunity to get involved in bringing about change. Two movies that I was privileged to view during the Hot Docs festival in Toronto this spring were Last Animals and Chasing Coral. In the former, director Katie Brooks interrogates poaching, animal extinction,
and the willingness to poach animals and purchase their products - despite the precarious state that many animals face and legislation striving to end the trade. In the latter, director Jeff Orlowski examines coral bleaching stemming from the ongoing rise in global temperatures and the global effects of the death of such a significant ecosystem. Both documentaries reminded me of the importance of presenting students with real, presently-important events and issues as a hallmark of good practice.
So, as you wrap up for the year, consider leaving yourself a few notes - possible excursions to take, possible documentaries to book, some new things to try to get students to do Geography, to inquire, to make change.
Have a restful summer - you’ve certainly earned it!

GeoGeek Talks - thoughts from an aspiring Geographer  

Page: 5

Author(s): Abbotts, Torie

GeoGeek Talks - thoughts from an aspiring Geographer
Torie Abbotts, Geography Teacher, York Region District School Board

The train has come to a halt; it is time to take action!

You’ve made it. Marks are in. School is over for the summer. Now it is time to skip the alarm clock, sleep in, drink a hot cup of coffee and read the paper from cover to cover. In the darkest days of November or April (for me, those are the toughest months of a school year), we dream of the time when mark deadlines and lesson planning come to a halt. What would I rather be doing with my time and energy? What makes me happiest?
At the end of the school year, people badger me with questions about my plans for the summer. Between colleagues, it is like a competition of who has the best laid plans. For non-teachers, it’s like a jealous shoulder shrug where they wish they had a two month vacation. The truth is, before the end of June, those two summer months fill very quickly with plans to see people you cannot make time for during the school year or to catch-up on obligations that are put on the back-burner during ten months of the year, such as appointments or home improvements.

Grade 8: Protecting the Greater Golden Horseshoe  

Page: 6-9

Author(s): Watt, Kathleen

Grade 8: Protecting the Greater Golden Horseshoe
Kathleen Watt, EcoSpark

This lesson is designed to teach students about land use in the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) area in southern Ontario. Teachers and students can use the Neptis Geoweb, a user-friendly interactive online mapping tool to explore various types of land use in their community, legislation that protects the GGH from urban development, and learn more about mapping skills. This lesson can be modified to apply to Grades 7 to 12 Geography. After reviewing the protective land use legislation in the GGH, students will have the
opportunity in pairs to explore the Geoweb to investigate types of land use in their community and to explore land use conflicts. Students can create maps representing various types of land use in their community and land use conflicts. Students can engage in a debate in groups regarding the land uses in their community with students taking on the role of stakeholders. Finally, students can individually write a letter to an influential person, such as a local politician or local planner, to argue their perspective on what should happen with the land regarding its use. This lesson is designed for a 75 minute time frame.

CGC1D: Building Complete Communities  

Page: 10-15

Author(s): Watt, Kathleen

CGC1D: Building Complete Communities
Kathleen Watt, EcoSpark

In this lesson, students will learn about the impacts of urban sprawl on the environment and society, and land use legislation that protects the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) region. Students will review types of land use and will discuss land use in their community. Students will learn about sustainable development through a method known as ‘complete communities’, and will have the opportunity to identify whether their local community is a complete community. In groups, students will design and draw their own
complete community on chart paper, and will take turns presenting their complete community to the class. Students will discuss many ideas in pairs using the Think-Pair-Share method, as well as work in groups for 4-5 students. Evaluation can involve oral presentations, and letter writing to a local government representative or municipal planner regarding improvements that can be made to their own community to encourage it to become more sustainable as a complete community. This lesson is designed for a 75 minute class
although could be expanded into two classes.

Maps, Atlases, and other Cartographic Resources at the Toronto Reference Library, (Toronto Public Library) – Part II  

Page: 16-21

Author(s): Morrison, Joanna; Wyman, Kathleen

Maps, Atlases, and other Cartographic Resources at the Toronto Reference Library, (Toronto Public Library) – Part II

Joanna Morrison, Librarian, Special Collections Department, Toronto Reference Library, and Kathleen M. Wyman, Librarian, Humanities and Social Sciences Department, Toronto Reference Library, Toronto Public Library

With special thanks to Nicole Dawkins, Gallery and Exhibits Curator, Toronto Reference Library and Leslie McGrath, Senior Department Head, Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books, Toronto Public Library

The following section will cover the pre-1920s materials that are housed in the Special Collections Department. For information about the post-1920s collections in Humanities and Social Sciences Department, please refer to Part I of this article that appeared in The Monograph, V68, Issue No.1, Spring 2017.
Special Collections Department
The Special Collections Department houses rare and valuable materials that are collected and preserved for current and future research. Among the library’s extensive and varied Special Collections, you’ll find the Baldwin Collection of Canadiana, which contains primary source material on the history of Canada (including books, maps & atlases, ephemera, manuscripts, newspapers, and the Canadian Documentary Art Collections). The maps and atlases in Special Collections are mainly of North America, but there is
also an impressive collection representing places worldwide. The works of many famous cartographers are featured in the collection such as Gerhard Mercator, Abraham Ortelius, Johannes Bleau, and Samuel de Champlain. All maps and atlases are originals and range in date from the mid-1500s to the 1920s. This article will focus mainly on the individual flat maps and will touch briefly on the atlases. Contact information for Special Collections will be provided at the end of this article.

Geospatial Technology: Trails and Trials - 4: The GIS Skills Competition  

Page: 22-23

Author(s): Fletcher, Jonathan

Geospatial Technology: Trails and Trials - 4: The GIS Skills Competition

Jonathan Fletcher, OAGEE VP - Geotechnologies, Program Leader of CWS, District School Board of Niagara

In high school, the pinnacle of a successful team is making it to OFSAA to compete against the best from across the province. For
the skilled trades and technology, the highest level of competition in Ontario is at the Ontario Technological Skills Competition (OTSC). This marked the 28th year of competition and the first year that the competition was held in Toronto from May 1-3 at the Toronto Congress Centre in Etobicoke. In years previous, the competition was held at RIM Park in Waterloo, but it was decided that the competition has outgrown this facility. There were 2300 competitors in 68 challenges including aesthetics, auto service technology, baking, carpentry, construction, hairstyling, welding to name a few. The one that I focus on though is Geographic Information Systems teams of two.

National Geographic Giant Floor Map Activity Using QR Codes  

Page: 24-25

Author(s): Watkin, Mark

National Geographic Giant Floor Map Activity Using QR Codes

Mark Watkin, Head of Geography, Dr. G. W. Williams Secondary School, York Region District School Board

As many of you know, there is a super large map that you can order from Canadian Geographic. There are multiple types of maps you can reserve for 2 weeks and they’re well worth the long wait to get them. The website you can order them from is:
Unfortunately, sometimes you get the themed map and you are not in the right place with your course. You either haven’t taught the content yet or you receive the map well after you’ve taught the information. If this is the case, this stand alone lesson plan not only engages the students but gave them an interest for Geography.

Resource Review: Plate Tectonics and National Geographic MapMaker Interactive  

Page: 26-28

Author(s): Fallis, Dana

Resource Review: Plate Tectonics and National Geographic MapMaker Interactive

Dana Fallis, Pre Service Student, Lakehead University

Resource Title
National Geographic MapMaker Interactive
Possible Course Connections
Resource Description
National Geographic Mapmaker Interactive is a userfriendly interactive resource which permits the simple overlay of different layers onto a global map. The map boundaries can be adjusted in order to provide a local or global perspective. There are a variety of layers that can be overlaid to allow for comparisons between physical, social, or economic features. This can be used in a variety of Geography courses to communicate either physical or human geographic concepts. 


Megan Fox: Winner of McIntyre Media Prize  

Page: 29

Author(s): Weber, Pauline

Megan Fox: Winner of McIntyre Media Prize

Pauline G. Weber, Educational Media Specialist, McIntyre Media

And the winner was…

At the OAGEE conference in Port Hope last fall, the McIntyre Media exhibit offered ballots for a draw for a one-year free subscription to ON-Core, an All-Canadian streaming video library. The winning ballot was drawn from the box at the end of the conference by Gary Birchall, your editor, and the lucky winner was Megan Fox, teacher at John McCrae Secondary School in Ottawa.
On being notified of her win, Megan said in her e-mail, “I am thrilled to have won the subscription for ON-Core and the teacher-librarians were also very keen to learn that we have access to such an excellent resource.” Prior to her current teaching assignment, Megan was an instructional coach at the Ottawa-Carleton DSB central office.
ON-Core is a collection of all-Canadian produced video programs and segments suitable for K-12 schools; the content is all correlated to the Ontario curriculum by subject, grade, course and strand. So if you are teaching Canadian and World Studies, Grade 9, Issues in Canadian Geography, CGC1D, strand B. Interactions in the Physical Environment, a detailed subject search will return 70 video segments, and 41 full titles that are relevant to that section of your course.
There’s nothing else available, as far as we know, that provides this kind of fast access to quality videos for Ontario courses at all grade levels. New correlated content is being added regularly, and new features will continue to be added to the platform. Codes for individual video titles or segments can be embedded in Learning Management Systems such as D2L. Videos are closed captioned and  downloadable, and ON-Core is mobile device friendly.
When I was in Ottawa for the CWS teachers’ PD day in February, I met with Nancy Faraday, one of the teacher-librarians at John McCrae SS to get her feedback on ON-Core. She mentioned that one of the things they like about it is that segments are the first tab a user sees in search returns, and segments (rather than long programs) are ideal both for instructional purposes and for student use. Some students at John McCrae have created their own accounts so that they can build personal playlists.
Nancy is one of those pro-active teacher librarians committed to making sure that her teachers know about the many resources available to them. And by the way, I was most impressed with the polite students I met as I found my way to the library. What a great school environment!
For more information, and to arrange a free four-week trial for ON-Core, just contact or and you can take ON-Core for a test drive.



A Number of Things: Stories of Canada Told Through Fifty Objects  

Page: 30

Author(s): Gollick, Linda

A Number of Things: Stories of Canada Told Through Fifty Objects

Jand Urquhart
Illustrated by Scott McKowen
HarperCollins Canada, 2016
ISBN 978-1443432078, 248 pp,
Paperback - $C17.61 Amazon
Hard copy $ C 32.99

What object would you pick to represent Canada? Jane Urquhart‘s publisher Patrick Crean asked her to pick fifty objects that she could write about to help celebrate the 150th Anniversary of Canada in 2017. Some of the objects she included were a Skull, a Hat, a Ship, a Cowcatcher, Books, a Ferry, a Crosscut Saw, a Grave, a Canoe, a Memorial, a Horse, Cree Basket, Africville Church, Skates, and a Table.
One of her stories deals with the Cod fishery. She talks about the many fishing vessels at the docks in St. John’s Harbour. Then, in 1992, this all changed when Fisheries Minister John Crosbie put a moratorium on fishing because the codfish stocks were down. She weaves her story around the lives of the fishermen, the economy, and their way of life and also includes a song by Stan Rogers.
Each object is beautifully illustrated by Scott McKowen.
I can see this book being used in the classroom to help students write about Canadian objects that they feel represent Canada as well as having them indicate the “place” of origin of these objects on a Map of Canada.
Reviewed by Linda Gollick.
OAGEE Regional Councillor for Region #14

Earthquake Storms: The Fascinating History and Volatile Future of the San Andreas Fault  

Page: 31

Author(s): Birchall, Gary

Earthquake Storms: The Fascinating History and Volatile Future of the San Andreas Fault

John Dvorak
Pegasus Books, 2015
ISBN 978-1-60598-685-2, 254 pp, Paperback
$C17.50 Amazon

I have long had an interest in the San Andreas fault and, as a result, have read many books, pamphlets, USGS reports and studies, and sections of textbooks that focused on this unique and often newsworthy geological feature. I don’t hesitate to say that this is an extremely well-written and authoritative book. It provides an intensive review of the geological processes that created, and continue to bring about changes in, the landscape of California due to earthquake activity along this and related faults.
The story begins in the 19th century, when it was believed that earthquakes were a result of “subterranean volcanic explosions.” It was
not until the 1906 San Francisco earthquake that scientists realized that quakes were due to the sliding of great crustal blocks past
one another, releasing elastic energy stored within the Earth.
The question that remained once this explanation gained wide acceptance in the scientific community was: “Where did the ‘energy’ come from in the first place?”
A definitive answer didn’t really appear until the 1960s with the formulation of the theory of plate tectonics with movements of its crustal blocks of ocean floors and continents powered by convection currents in the mantle, colliding and sliding past one another to cause earthquakes and create great mountain ranges. In what came to be one of the greatest revolutions in the Earth Sciences, the San Andreas fault was recognized as an example of a transform plate boundary where the Pacific and North American plates were sliding past one another, causing earthquakes.
If John Dvorak had stopped there, Earthquake Storms would have been just one more book about the San Andreas Fault. But he didn’t. In fact, the book also contains a wealth of fascinating information on the human story of the San Andreas fault. The book is filled with anecdotes and descriptions of the personalities of the many scientists who spent their professional lives delving into the secrets of the fault. It is this human aspect that really makes this a “must read” for anyone interested in how the human understanding of this feature has continually evolved over geologic and human time scales.
Some of the early personalities included:
• Josiah Whitney, who led a team of scientists to produce a geological survey of the entire state of California in the 1860s – Mount Whitney is named after him;
• John Muir, a cofounder of the Sierra Club who was responsible for the creation of Yosemite National Park;
• Andrew Lawson, a Scottish immigrant living in Hamilton (yes Ontario), trained in Geology at the University of Toronto in the 1870s, who first discovered and became a leading scientist intimately involved in the early 20th century investigations of the San Andreas;
• Robert Mallett, an Irish engineer whose interest in earthquakes led him to produce the first isoseismal map of an earthquake as well as an exhaustive catalogue of all the major earthquakes that have occurred in human history that he then used to create the first map of world seismicity in the 1860s;
• Charles Richter, a man fascinated by numbers and calculations who developed a method of quantifying and assigning a single number to the magnitude of an earthquake – the Richter Scale – a scale he “developed…for earthquakes along and near the San Andreas Fault”;
• Robert Wallace, a geologist who mapped stream offsets across the San Andreas Fault in Palmdale in the 1920s that clearly showed plate movement but also enabled geologists to determine the rate of movement along the fault;
• J. Tuzo Wilson, another Canadian and graduate of the University of Toronto who first used the term “plates” to describe the huge blocks of the Earth’s crust that move horizontally across the Earth’s surface and also recognized the San Andreas as a “transform” plate boundary where the North American and Pacific plates slide horizontally past one another, creating earthquakes.
These are just some of the characters that appear in the pages of the book alongside the continuing new discoveries, hypotheses, and understandings of the nature and impact of probably the world’s most famous fault from the 19th to the 21st centuries.
A great read on its own merits, but also an excellent and painless way to update your own understanding of earthquakes so your lessons in the CGF3M Natural Disasters course are at the cutting edge of knowledge of this particular type of natural disaster.

Review by Gary Birchall, Editor, The Monograph