Where Does Geography Fit In?

One Geography is a big subject, but not all schools have it as a separate course. So where does geography fit? Social studies? Science? Or … ? Tell us how you think geography fits into schools.


16 thoughts on “Where Does Geography Fit In?

  1. Geography is one of the subjects under NCLB. However, geography is the only subject that has no government funding. In other words, ALL the subjects under NCLB have government funds that assist the subject in one way or another (including teacher training programs), except geography. The National Geographic Education Foundation has made this its first priority to change the status of geography in the US by changing this policy and getting government funds assigned to the subject. http://www.nationalgeographic.com/foundation/policy_initiative.html
    Also, NCLB requires schools to prove proficiency in the Math, English, and Science. Based on these scores, and other quantitative and qualitative factors, schools qualify for their AYP. Geography, and the other subjects in NCLB are not required testing scores for determining AYP. However, this is not to say that geography is not being tested, states still test in geography and the social sciences, but it does mean that schools who are struggling to make AYP will likely cut out excess subjects to focus on improving their test scores. Research over the past few years have been undeniable…the curriculum is being slowly focused on the subjects tested, and these outlying subjects are the first to go.
    The second issue with geography in NCLB, is that there are no guidelines as to how it should be taught, and so schools will “teach geography” if they include it as a byline under history, and most often social studies (of which state standards include a potpourri of subjects, government and civics, economics, political science, US History, World History, and some others thrown in). This causes reverberating problems, because we cannot therefore, really know how many geography courses are actually taught, of what quality, or how well they adhere to the National Geography Standards, unless they are taught and reported seperately. http://www.ncge.org/publications/tutorial/standards/. This will have information as to what a middle school student should know about geography…
    As to your question, what do geography teachers need to teach?
    They need a place in the curriculum to teach geography. If the schools do not require geography as a seperate subject, or have a place for it to be taught, many people will not teach it.
    HOWEVER–This is the wonderful thing about the subject…Geography can be taught in ANY class! It is the underlying subject that provides the context for all subjects. However, the teacher needs to be aware of this, and make it known to their students. Also, you will find that many teachers begin their courses with basic geography, to lay this foundation, and move into the complexities of their subjects using this as the background.
    Geography materials, use maps to have students apply geographic context to the subjects being covered in class.
    Curriculum that uses geography standards. National Geographic provides free online lesson plans at Xpeditions, for any topic you can think of! You can also search through the lessons by grade level…which may be helpful in what you think a middle school student should know. http://www.nationalgeographic.com/xpeditions/

  2. I am a 4th grade student teacher with a second major in geography. I am doing a research paper for my geography class. My questions are, what geography teachers need to help them teach and what do middle school students know about geography? I was wondering if anyone would be willing to give me any information?
    Also, as I was reading through the posts and someone said that geography needs to be a part of NCLB. I read an article “No Geographer Left Behind” and it said that geography was a part of NCLB, one of the core subjects that is a requirement. From what I read, geography isn’t assessed therefore it isn’t funded as much as the other core subjects. I’m confused. Can anyone clarify? Thank you!

  3. as for as i am concerned geography is some thing which discusses about all the things social, political or science and in social studies all the things are discussed because all the things happen in the society. So national geography must be fit in social studies

  4. I teach 1st thru 5th grade Gifted, using Geography and Science to hang the skills on. My 6 year olds can ID all 50 states on a blank map, as well as a half dozen countries in our current hot spot: the Middle East. I begin each year tracking tropical storms on NOAA-supplied maps. The students really get into storm tracking and use Longs ‘n Lats effortlessly. We’ve just begun a big unit on 8 famous deserts…beginning with Antarctica. I’ve spent years on the Arabian Desert, but am fascinated with the big cold one, as are my students. Their favorite activity is calculating pop. density of states and countries. We paste black dots on 8″ square sheets of white paper to indicate the various densities. Pity the child who chose New Jersey? No way…he loved creating the heavy, dark testement to the teeming mass of people in his state. A couple of fifth grade boys almost came to blows over who gets to do the density of Cairo.
    Loved reading all you posts about Geography. Remember we aren’t what we eat, we are where we’re from. Ciao all.

  5. i really like geography cos its an interesting course which most people are yet to appreciate, i think it should be treated as a course on its own without being attached to any other course,cos its a very wide course and all its areas will be touched,making it more interesting,explanatory and more over meaningful.

  6. Firt of all I would like to thank you for sending me the monthly buleten. In the college where I teach, geography is not given as a separate course.It is given as an integrate course with history named social study.But the integrating of geography with history has many problems to the students as well as to the teachers. Among the problems ulable to have indetail information/issues of geography, and unable to teach both geography and history of the teacher who sepecializing Geography are the most and significant issue

  7. PassportM is offering a unique on-line (or DVD) resource that explores the world’s cultures. This interactive video adventure allows individuals to learn about their own backgrounds and exposes them to the cultures of their peers. The intent of this program is to 1) encourage cross-cultural communication and 2) foster a positive appreciation for ethnic diversity.
    This innovative experience uses exclusive video content to deliver its message through the universal language of music. Each unit contains approximately 8-12 short (1-2 minute) video episodes consisting of interviews with musicians from all over the world. Through their instruments and music, they tell the story of their cultures, customs, and rituals. Thus the title, “Travels with Music”. This is not a music course/program as such – we are using music as a “hook” to attract the interest of individuals and open them to learning more about social studies, history, geography, cultures and the arts.
    As individuals watch videos of the countries, read information about the geography, and hear the music of each culture that is being performed by the host musicians, they gain a sense of pride in their own background in addition to learning about the many rich cultures of the world. You can explore 2 sample units of TWM, featuring Peru and the Yunaan Province of China, by visiting http://www.travelswithmusic.org.

  8. hi–I taught Kindergarden for 20 years and was able to incorporate geography in every subject area, eg literature-location of books,and writers, math–graphing where shoes were made,psycho-motor–the playground map, continent identification,walks in the neighborhood, science–animal zones, language–#’s and greetings in multiple foreign languages for phonics, sound replication and country id. These are quick and easy strategies for early geographic curiosity.

  9. Having attended International High School workshops, I received affirmation that, as Spanish teachers, we have a prime opportunity, and indeed a responsibility to inform re: geography of the Western Hemisphere. Many of us are equipped to share histories of indigenous peoples, as well as the current societal and political shifts of various regions of Central and South America. Many students, expecially at upper levels, appreciate the variety it lends to learning a foreign language.

  10. I teach a ‘double dose’ reading class to 7th and 8th graders who are not reading at grade level. The goal is to give them the extra attention and focus they need to be reading at grade level by high school, but students miss social studies to be in my class. Because I am teaching skills rather than content, I use a lot of world geography and social studies as the ‘content’ in my class.

  11. Geography can fit only in geography are we can combain it with history as historygeography (or)we can bring a new rule to have a separate course for geography in ever school because geography is an very intresting knowledge gainable subject in which deals about space, earth, etc… and ozone layer and many things if the children know about ozone then they will try to avoid more pollution so we want to train and theach them about geography. According to me geography shold must be made as seperate course

  12. i love geography,could’nt live without knowing where or when,possibly by travelling having the knowledge of which route the plane…or other transports take me,history could not have its facinating charme without geography,life would be very dull,also the mind need geography to dream

  13. It is difficult to incorporate specific geography activities with all that we have to teach in history classes. I’ve found that the newer history text do a good job of including the 5 Themes and related info as part of history instruction. This year I’ve organized a series of geographic projects for my students to complete independently. They must turn in 3 ‘Geographic Investigations’ each trimester, and they have 19 from which to choose. The projects deal with practical skills like map reading, types of maps, city planning, use of resources, etc., and so far they seem to be enjoying them.
    Also, Roxana is right–Nystrom’s materials are excellent, and our first grade using their “Exploring Where and Why” program.

  14. I teach 7th grade world geography and we teach world geography for the entire year. Yes, it is easy to incorporate into all subjects but most don’t include it.
    7th grade is the last time it is offered in my school district.
    I would love to teach AP Human Geography in our high school and I am certified to teach it. We offer lots of AP courses but not geography. I think all schools with a large population of college-bound students should offer geography. I’m working on it. Julie

  15. I’ve taught social studies for 30 years. Unfortunately, it continues to get downgraded each year. Social Studies needs to become part of NCLB. That way Geography and the other social studies will find their place. With Science coming, maybe there’s hope.
    A good way to continue to teach Geography is by engaging students with hands-on materials. I have used NYSTROM’s materials for as long as I can remember. They offer the finest maps & globes, atlases and hands-on programs around. Their representatives are helpful and will even demo the materials for your teachers.
    Visit them at http://www.nystromnet.com.

  16. I love geography and I think it should be incorporated in all subjects, but I know that won’t happen unless it is mandated. What we do at our school is teach the first 9 weeks geography. This then prepares the students for state history and american history. Since I teach both 7th and 8th grade social studies, I keep myself VERY busy.
    What I’m really trying to get the students to understand is that there is a great big huge world out there. I know I can’t teach everything about geography in two years, but when my students leave my class they will understand a little bit more about the world they live in.
    I would love to hear from other Middle School teachers and some of their activities.

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