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Essential Resources for Geographic and Environmental Educators

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Issue Vol. 68, No. 3

Publication Date: October, 2017

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President's Message  

Page: 2

Author(s): Geddes, Ewan

President’s Message

Ewan Geddes, Toronto District School Board

Welcome back, everyone! I hope you were able to enjoy the summer and are ready for a new school year! This past summer sure has provided Geography and Environment teachers with a lot of material that can be be covered in a variety of courses: forest fires across Canada, increased ship traffic in the Arctic, increased numbers of asylum-seekers entering Canada on foot, the evolution of Truth and Reconciliation, as well as natural disasters such as Hurricane Harvey, just to mention a few.

NAFTA renegotiation talks also offer some interesting ideas for educators. With the US President wanting to rewrite as opposed to tweaking it, and the Canadian and Mexican governments each presenting their own objectives, teachers can ask their students to use the geographic perspective to consider the differing and shared objectives of the three trading partners, and to develop their own preferred agreements by examining a few questions: What should be the focus of NAFTA? How might its goals be achieved? How might Canadians in particular be impacted by certain clauses? What might happen to the environment if the partners follow one country’s lead versus another’s? As we know, many more rich inquiries will undoubtedly come up as the investigation evolves. If we’re looking to deliver relevant programming that teaches mapping skills and analysis, we might ask our students to create a proportional width arrow map of the effects of the original NAFTA and then another map where they can lay out their own predictions and compare the two to determine possible outcomes and impacts, determine
which scenario might be best for the three nations, and make their own recommendations.

Another impact related to the current US government is the increased number of refugees fleeing the US and trying to come to Canada. How have the interrelationships between the US, Canada, and refugees impacted the three groups? Why might so many people who landed and took up residence in the US feel the need to come to Canada? How might the Canadian government best handle the situation to meet the needs of the refugees and this nation? To investigate these inquiries, students could create a spatial journal (ArcGIS or My Map) summarizing events that might impact the movement of people, such as environmental or human conflicts, and then add to it proportional width arrows to show the paths of refugees. With this information, students might be able to make suggestions as to how to support refugees coming to Canada and maybe devise a strategy to help prevent the types of conflicts that have forced people to leave.

By creating a spatial journal (ArcGIS or My Map) of the forest fires continuing to rage across Canada, students might be able to make other recommendations as to 1) better support for people affected during and after the fires and 2) prevention of similar events taking place in the future. By creating a spatial journal of these events students will be able to examine patterns and trends to help plan for the future. They can also observe for spatial significance to help determine where fires may take place next and devise an evacuation plan, including communicating their plan to the appropriate agencies in those regions of the country.

As Truth and Reconciliation evolves there will be further opportunity for students and teachers to engage in discussions about and actions we can take to fulfill the Commission’s Calls to Action in education. An excellent resource for teachers who are looking to build capacity in this area is Chelsea Vowel’s Indigenous Writes: A Guide to First Nations, Métis & Inuit Issues in Canada (Portage and Main, 2016). This book deals with different issues facing FNMI peoples and helps the reader to navigate some very difficult topics, myths, and experiences that may help start meaningful conversations in the classroom. To help students visualize and to support the content, students could refer to First Nations Profiles Interactive Map and gain an understanding of the role spatial significance might play in many of the issues faced by FNMI peoples today. To help understand some of the myths and realities around land claims, an interactive land claims map could be used to help students generate
inquiries around resource extraction, development, and distribution and to use the geographic perspective to evaluate the interrelationships involved between different stakeholders and the land, and develop a possible solution as to how to manage the resources sustainably and with respect for the peoples who have inhabited them for millennia.

These are just a few geographic and environmental events that have taken place this past summer - I’m sure you’ve been thinking of many others, too, and would welcome you to share them with us at OAGEE. If you have some ideas or you would like to volunteer, please feel free to get in contact with us.

Don’t forget about our excellent OAGEE Fall Conference,Geography: Embracing Our World, hosted this year by St. Andrew’s College in Aurora, ON, from Friday, November 10 to Saturday November 11, 2017.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Activities For OAGEE Careers Poster: "Geography - go somewhere"  

Page: 5-18

Author(s): ; Wilkie, Randy; Yu, Iris

Instructions: Using the OAGEE poster provided and your own personal understanding of Geography, answer the following questions (summarize in your own words).
1. What is GEOGRAPHY and how does it link to a career?
2. What do geographers do? List the 4 key points.
3. What is the purpose of a “Geo-Inquiry”? List the 4 components of a Geo-inquiry.
4. How do geographers study?
5. What employable skills do geographers bave?
Describe a personal connection from your life that involves a geographer for each of the 3 skill sets? (e.g., My smartphone’s GPS app uses geospatial technologies such as satellites).

Inquiry-Based Learning: 1 - What Constitutes Learning?  

Page: 19

Author(s): Thompson-Anselm, Joanna

Two years ago I had a revelation. I must admit, it seemed that I had hit a point in my career where I was getting bored with teaching. I love my job, but I kept asking myself if there was another way that might be better, more engaging for students and still be doing my job as the Ministry expected me. It was at this time that I decided to take a risk with only some ideas in my pocket, some courage, some inspiration from others and a lot of reading on inquiry-based learning. The journey I was about to embark upon was career changing for me and I was surprised at the attention it was beginning to garner from other educators so quickly.

Resource Review: CGC1 - The International Trade Game  

Page: 20-22

Author(s): Chauhan, Bhavika

This is an online resource from a website that is dedicated to explaining how to play the game with students in a classroom situation. This activity can be used in the Liveable Communities or Managing Canada’s Resources and Industries Unit for Grade 9 Academic or Applied Geography. This activity can fit into an international aspect of Liveable Communities if teachers decide to go into the three levels of development: developed, developing and newly industrialized country.

Mining and the Environment - A New Educational Resource  

Page: 23-24

Author(s): Hymers, Leslie

“Mining and the Environment” is a set of educational activities that were developed for inclusion in the Indigenous Communities Education and Outreach Program at Mining Matters. It was prepared in collaboration with Educational Consultant Janice Williams, along with environmental and mining industry experts, and educators from K-12 through to post-secondary. The resource includes a suite of themed activities, developed for an intermediate audience (grades 7, 8, and 9).

Project-Based Learning with the WHERE Challenge  

Page: 25

Author(s): Lépine, Julie; Williams, Janice

When it comes to learning, all students are winners when they are encouraged to let their natural curiosity guide them. When that learning fuels their enthusiasm for exploring further, all the better!
Contests provide educators with ideal tools to fan the flame of that curiosity, to promote that enthusiasm for learning. They give students the chance to combine classroom learning with real world relevance, curiosity with practical research, and creative ideas with production technology, resulting in project entries that never cease to amaze.

Get your students and schools involved in the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup today  

Page: 26-27

Author(s): Biega, Alannah

At The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, we engage Canadians every year by encouraging them to coordinate shoreline cleanups in their community. We currently have thousands of registrants from schools, universities and youth groups across the country working together to build an understanding of shoreline litter and to rehabilitate their local shorelines through cleanups.

2017 OAGEE Spring Conference @ Camp Kawartha  

Page: 28-30

Author(s): Hughes, Shawn

The 2017 OAGEE Spring Conference at Camp Kawartha hosted Geography teachers and environmental educators from all over Ontario. We gathered at Camp Kawartha’s Environment and Outdoor Education Centres to attend exciting field studies that provided us with new and innovative resources and ideas to reinforce the relevance and interesting nature of Geography in our classrooms.

Book Review: The Big Book of Nature Activities: A year round guide to outdoor learning  

Page: 31

Author(s): Scarlett, Brenda

The Big Book of Nature Activities: A year round guide to outdoor learning
Drew Monkman and Jacob Rodenburg
Copyright 2016, 353 pages, ISBN 978-0-86571-802-9

Nature literacy begins with the following
simple recipe:
“Take one child. Place outdoors in nearby green spaces. Leave for several hours at a time. Repeat daily. Sprinkle in a dash of adventure. Fold in a generous portion of exploration and discovery. Top with wonder and awe. Let rise…”

A wise and well thought out recipe for success by Drew Monkman and Jacob Rodenburg who co-authored this wonderful book that is a must for educators, parents, grandparents and any individuals who want to explore their “neighbourwood”, as Rodenburg so affectionately refers to nature. At the April OAGEE Spring Conference, Jacob Rodenburg led several sessions that demonstrated the activities found in this gem of a resource. As I listened to his calm, soothing voice leading us outside at Camp Kawartha Environment Centre, I realized I was in the presence of a nature whisperer. Cupping our ears to heighten our sense of hearing of the birds and frogs is just one straightforward and simple way to become more engaged in nature – and this is just one of hundreds of activities included in the book. As a Geography teacher, who strives to get her students outside, I fully endorse this resource as a must read for all who just
want to reintroduce nature to their students. To extend this further – for your future classes, nature inquiries would be easy to develop for students and thus a wonderful starting point to introducing geographic inquiries (formulating questions, gathering and organizing data, interpreting and analyzing what you see and why?, evaluating and drawing conclusions) and concepts of geographic thinking (patterns and trends, interrelationships, spatial relationships and geographic perspective).

Cleverly organized through the four changing seasons, covering six geographical regions of North America, and emphasizing over 100 continent-wide species to learn about – one can use this resource as a guide for relevant and engaging activities within their local community for the entire year. All of this is prefaced by comprehensive background science, including enriching asides through the personas of Charles Darwin, Carl Sagan and Ian deGrasse Tyson, who respectively share facts, ideas and connections about biology and evolution as well as current insights and wonders of the universe.

Another fascinating way to become actively involved in our natural environment is through participating in citizen science opportunities. Throughout each season overview, connections to Citizen Science projects are highlighted – an easy way to get students and adults, young and old, involved by becoming the “eyes” and “ears” for professional scientists.

One particular activity I love is the adopted tree – through each season, one visits the chosen adopted tree and keeps a record of observations. Suggested observations are included in the appendix. With growing research of the benefits of being outside, both physically and mentally, this forest therapy is one way to encourage others to get immersed in their environmental surroundings. This is just one activity of many that will introduce the wonder and awe of nature to us all, that will have long-term benefits to the well-being of the planet!

As educators who are continually trying to incorporate the latest pedagogies including financial literacy, digital literacy and Indigenous perspectives into their curriculum, one would be literally lost in their “sense of place” if nature literacy was not also included as a must
for all students from kindergarten to grade 12. This book will inspire Geographic Educators to explore spatial significance and sense of place with their students in the relaxing classroom setting of outside!

Author Drew Monkman is an award-winning naturalist, nature writer, environmental advocate and retired teacher who integrates environmental education into all areas of the curriculum. His creative initiatives have become models for others to follow. Author Jacob Rodenburg is the executive director at Camp Kawartha: an award winning summer camp and outdoor education centre that uses music, drama, hands-on exploration, games and other activities to inspire awe and wonder for the local environment. This collaboration
of two gifted naturalists is one special result – sure to inspire you to instill the love of nature into others!

Two numbers: 2738 and 10… Think about these statistics: a child in North America will sit in front of a glowing screen 2738 hours per year while that same child can only identify 10 native plants and animals in North America. As educators, and environmental stewards, we have a role to initiate change and reverse these statistics. Thank you to Rodenburg and Monkman for sharing their expertise and providing us with a resource to be our starting point to inspire the love of nature in others. Since the simple reality, as the authors concluded, is “we will only be inspired to protect what we know and love”.

Book Review by Brenda Scarlett, OAGEE Secretary and Region 9 Kingston-Rideau Councillor