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Essential Resources for Geographic and Environmental Educators

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Issue Vol. 69, No. 2

Publication Date: August, 2018

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President’s Message  

Page: 2

Author(s): Geddes, Ewan

Welcome back, everyone! I hope you all had a restful and rejuvenating summer. As with last year, this summer has provided geographic and environmental educators with a vast supply of new topics to help ignite student inquiry.

This has been a warmer-than-average summer, producing many forest fires across the country and the world. Do you remember the movie, Groundhog Day, where things happen over and over again? It seems as if we have lived through this summer already, with forest fires in B.C. and Northern Ontario. Last summer’s record-breaking fires have been broken by this year’s fires. As I write this message, the province of B.C. has declared a state of emergency just as teams in Northern Ontario continue to battle weeks-long forest fires.

The extreme weather hitting many parts of Canada has also wreaked havoc in many parts of Europe. In London, England, temperatures were so hot that some grassy plains caught fire. In parts of the Netherlands, temperatures reached into the 30s (far above the seasonal average of 23 degrees celsius) and long sunny days caused severe drought-like conditions - a significant departure from the country’s usual weather patterns. In my travels to the Netherlands this summer, everyone was quick to blame climate change. How might countries and communities prepare for the increases in temperature and other outcomes associated with decreases in precipitation?

These are the kinds of problems that can engage students in their geographic and environmental studies, and the kinds questions we are uniquely positioned to help our students to understand and - one day - to solve.

For many educators, the change of government in Ontario before summer started was a cause for concern. Many teachers worried that, with the PC party getting a majority government, education would be negatively impacted. Teachers did not have to wait long to see some of those impacts. Almost immediately, the government stopped the funding for the writing of curriculum revisions that would make teaching First Nation, Metis, and Inuit (FNMI) perspectives explicit, even though teachers and boards across the province had already been working to develop these materials to support FNMI students.

This education is need to help realign the values and perspectives of FNMI peoples and settler students in this province, nation and even around the world. Now that the government has shown that it believes these revisions are not worth funding, it will be imperative that geographic and environmental educators across the province work together to support each other and build capacity. OAGEE was asked to support the previous government in helping to produce resources that could be shared throughout the province.

Though it has lost that explicit government support, OAGEE will continue do its best to support boards and teachers in the development and distribution of support
materials wherever possible. We have a long way to go, and must keep going - even if the Ontario government isn’t.

On a more inspiring note, Quebec City hosted the combined conference of the Canadian Association of Geographers (CAG) and the National Council for Geographic Education in August. The CAG/NCGE conference saw faculty educators, professors, and doctoral students of Geography and related fields, explorers, and other professionals from around the world participate in a variety of sessions dealing with how to engage, and foster, geographic education.

One common thread was the understanding that Geography needs to be more explicit, not only in teaching but in life beyond school. It seems simple, but we need people to understand that so much of what they learn and use is Geography. If we want students to engage in their geographic studies, they need to understand the enormous scope of geographic studies.

In point of fact, in the September 2018 issue of the Ontario College of Teachers magazine, Professionally Speaking, an infographic on page 15 lists the top 10 ways to engage students as global citizens. Each one of the 10 ways relates to the study and practice of Geography and can be found in the 2013 and 2015 Ontario curriculum for Geography, but the word, Geography, does not appear once. If we want to see geographic and environmental education thrive, we must be explicit about using the language of our discipline,and demand that our professional organizations use it too.

As we gear up for another school year, we welcome you to register for the OAGEE fall conference, The Language of Geography, Graphicacy & Geographic Thinking Concepts. The conference will be hosted by Ridley College in St. Catharines, Ontario, on November 9 and 10. I’m looking forward to seeing you there and wish you all the best for a great start to the upcoming school year.

Concepts of Geographic Thinking Series - 2 - Spatial Significance, Grades 7 and 8  

Page: 4-13

Author(s): Johnston, Ethel

Concepts of Geographic Thinking Series - 2 - Spatial Significance, Grades 7 and 8
Ethel Johnston, retired teacher from Toronto District School Board, past OAGEE Councillor and Secretary, author of several Ontario Ministry curriculum documents, co-author of recently published Nelson’s Grade 7 Geography text Poster Courtesy of Randy Wilkie, GEOGRAPH/X
Spatial Significance Organizer courtesy of Ewan Geddes

Grade 7: Physical Patterns in a Changing World

This activity addresses expectations from Strand A. Physical Patterns in a Changing World of the Grade 7 Geography curriculum document of the Ministry of Education, (Revised 2013) and describes an activity focused on Spatial Significance - one of the four Concepts of Geographic Thinking.

Focus On: Spatial Significance

Overall Expectations
A1. Application: Analyse some challenges and opportunities presented by the physical environment and ways in which people have responded to them.

A2. Inquiry: Use the geographic inquiry process to investigate the impact of natural events and/or human activities that change the physical environment, exploring the impact from a geographic perspective.

A3. Understanding Geographic Context: Demonstrate an understanding of significant patterns in Earth’s physical features and of some natural processes and
human activities that create and change those features. 

CGC1P: Why Choose Canada: Factors that Influence Immigration to Canada - Part 1  

Page: 15-24

Author(s): Williams, Emma

Overview of Lesson
Time: 75 minutes for 4 days
In this lesson, students examine push and pull factors that influence people’s decision to move to Canada by allowing them to rank Canada’s quality of life standards and see why immigrants face different challenges than native-born Canadians.

Big Question
What factors lead people to uproot their lives in one country and immigrate to Canada?

Overall Expectation
Strand D: Changing Populations
D2: Immigration Trends: analyse current immigration trends in Canada. (Focus on Interrelationships and Patterns & Trends)

CGC1D - Traveling Around Your Community  

Page: 25-28

Author(s): Watt, Kathleen

Curriculum Connections
*This lesson plan can be modified for Grade 9 Applied, Grade 11 Travel and Tourism and Grade 12 World Geography.

Overall Expectations
A2 Developing Transferable Skills: apply in everyday contexts skills, including spatial technology skills, developed through the investigation of Canadian geography, and identify some careers in which a background in geography might be an asset.
E1 The Sustainability of Human Systems: analyse issues relating to the sustainability of human systems in Canada.

FOCUS ON: Interrelationships; Geographic Perspective

Key Questions/Concepts To Be Explored
• Explore transportation patterns in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, such as commuting patterns
• Explore transportation options in the Greater Golden Horseshoe such as getting from Point A to Point B
• Costs and benefits of proposed transportation expansion in the Greater Golden Horseshoe

Materials Required
»» Access to a computer, Internet and a projector for the teacher;
»» Access to computers and Internet for students to use the Neptis Geoweb (;
»» Figure 4 “Comparison of Transportation” chart displayed on the board using a projector or provided to students as a handout.

**For more information or lesson plans on how to use the Neptis Geoweb, download EcoSpark’s Growing in the Greater Golden Horseshoe teacher resource guide and lesson plans from

Geospatial Technology: Trails and Trials - 7  

Page: 29-30

Author(s): Fletcher, Jonathan

Summer is here at last. Decompressing from a long school year is always an important and necessary part of July. Currently I am writing this article from Torrance, Ontario in beautiful Muskoka. Usually I do my best to have a technology break once summer starts. This summer I made an exception on a couple of fronts.

I spent a few days on my summer vacation preparing my laptop computer lab for next year. I am upgrading to Windows 10 and ArcGIS 10.6 so I needed to upgrade the computers from 2 GB to 4GB of RAM. Here’s where a practical lesson in the 3Rs. Instead of spending $500 on the RAM upgrade, I spoke to the IT department for my school board and asked them if they could help me. The manager was kind enough to listen and oblige me by giving me enough Netbooks that were destined to be taken off of the system and recycled because they had paid the price of being in classrooms. These netbooks were junk. Many have keys missing and batteries
that don’t hold a charge. Each netbook had one 2GB stick in them and a 250GB hard drive. So my basement resembled a salvage operation as I was able to update my computer lab for free. Perfectly good components that needed to be liberated from doomed computers.

When my wife tried to schedule plans on Monday, July 9th I was quick to tell her that, “sorry, I have plans that day”. She was a little confused but upon reminder, she remembered. July 9th was the day of the Esri User Conference plenary and I had planned to watch the entire live stream from the comfort of my living room. It did not disappoint. The plenary is a fast moving succession of presentations lasting from 3 minutes to 40 minutes. The videos are now available on YouTube so you can pick and choose what sessions you watch. Here is the link to the YouTube Channel ( They are all good, and the YouTube videos have all of the
transitions and breaks removed so you don’t have to spend an entire day watching. In my opinion, they all appeal to my Geogeekiness, but here are my recommendations.

Toronto Teacher Rebecca Chahine Wins Energy Educator of the Year Award  

Page: 31


Grade 5 teacher inspires students to become energy conservation trailblazers

Rebecca Chahine, a teacher at Malvern Junior Public School in Toronto, has been awarded the prestigious 2018 Energy Educator of the Year prize for her ongoing commitment to environmental education. The prize is given out annually as part of the Classroom Energy Diet Challenge, an award-winning educational program created by Canadian Geographic Education, and funded by Shell Canada, to improve energy literacy among Canadian students.

Winning this award is a humbling achievement for Rebecca Chahine. “As an Ecoschool leader in my school, I am honoured and thrilled to win the Energy Educator of the Year Award. I am passionate about environmental education and hope that my students continue to be leaders and environmental ambassadors throughout
their lives,” said Chahine. “Participating in the Energy Diet Challenge has inspired our school community to make positive choices each day and every day.”