Tag Archives: School Administration
State curriculum standards guide if not dictate what will or can be taught in many U.S. K-12 classrooms. As a result, concepts and topics, not appearing in the standards are often not taught by the majority of teachers. Once in a while a researcher takes it upon themselves to review the state of geospatial tools in state standards. It has been a few years since the question was last asked, “Where in your state’s K-12 curriculum standards does GIS or geospatial technology appear?” and it seems it may be time to ask once more.
The new Education Community forums are now asking, “Where is GIS in your state’s K-12 curriculum standards?” If you know GIS, GPS, or remote sensing is identified in any of your state’s curriculum standards, take a few moments and post a comment. In some states, GIS is appearing in geography and earth science. In other places, GIS is clearly called for in technical education and instructional technology programs. You certainly don’t need to know everywhere that GIS is present in your standards. However, if everyone reports what they know, our community will paint a pretty nice picture of where GIS in educational standards.
Join the conversation and post your thoughts to the new Education Community forums!
The ESRI 2010 Education User Conference (“EdUC”) and International User Conference (“UC”) are done, but if you missed out on these events, you can still see, learn, and enjoy some highlights. Videos from the Monday UC Plenary are up online, and two have direct relevance for schools.
From the second segment of the morning, watch from 75:20-86:20 as the City of Frisco, TX, receives the ESRI President’s Award, with an astonishing display of what a well-designed GIS can mean when an emergency strikes at a school. This is a tremendous example of why schools must be thought of as part of the community, rather than apart from it.
From the third segment of the day, watch from 31:20-43:20 as two members of the Cave Club from Bigfork High School in Bigfork, Montana, demonstrate how they studied outside of school, and how GIS brought extra meaning to their work.
GIS is a powerful tool for supporting the process of doing school, both in and out of the classroom. The EdUC and UC both had lots of highlights illustrating that point. For more info, check out all the stories online. But be sure to share the power of both stories with students, educators, administrators, and GIS users in your area.
- Charlie Fitzpatrick,
ESRI Schools Program Co-manager
Over the last week, I have had the delightful opportunity to attend two events that speak to my interest in education reform: EAST (formerly formally “Environmental And Spatial Technologies”) and ASCD (formerly formally “Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development”).
At the annual conference for EAST, about 175 schools (all but a handful from Arkansas) showed up with 5-10 kids and a couple of adults. In the EAST model, students must conceive, plan, conduct, and report on activities that are tech-based and service-oriented. Kids handle most of their own instruction, and engage some pretty sophisticated technologies, including professional geographic information systems (GIS). The teachers are “facilitators,” in name and deed; they ask questions and help kids think strategically, but let the students do the “heavy lifting”. Because the tasks are their own, kids are hugely invested, and learn a vast amount of contextual knowledge, technology skills, and “soft skills” — research, collaboration, creative design, problem-solving, and communication.
This shows nicely in GIS. For the conference, ESRI hosts a competition, to which students submit projects. From this year’s submissions, six finalists were chosen; they presented to me for five minutes, and I asked them questions for five minutes. Students in grades 7-12 showed projects on topics like local bus routes, public safety, and community participation in school bond voting. Students had to grapple with generating data, integrating data from disparate sources, presenting complex information for the public to grasp quickly, and learning challenging tools. It was truly thrilling to see.
From EAST I went to ASCD, in order to present about the role of geography in 21st century education. At the conference, speaker after speaker, in sessions large and small, talked about what education should be, and how to get there. The commonalities were these: For students to engage most powerfully, teachers must let these digital natives co-create their learning experiences. Technology is a key part of their world, and educators should use that to advantage. Basic goals and bounds can be provided, but educators must engage the students where they are today. Students need to wrestle with finding information and making decisions about what is useful or not for a particular purpose. Students should integrate resources, in creative ways, working independently and collaboratively. They need to be challenged with important relevant choices, through which they can build contextual understanding, even melding disciplines. Students crave coaching, not lecturing. And they require positive role models of lifelong learners who will explore, attempt, stumble, and attempt again in a new direction.
It did my heart good to hear so many educators describing what are the processes of using GIS. We know that, in the hands of effective educators, GIS is a tool with exceptional capacity for improving education, for students of all ages. And it was thrilling to know that so many kids in at least one project are on a powerful educational course, building a better today, not waiting for tomorrow.
- Charlie Fitzpatrick, Co-Manager, ESRI Schools Program
October 11-17 is Earth Science Week (“ESW”), organized by the American Geological Institute. The purpose is to encourage people to learn about the natural world and examine the geosciences. This year, particular attention is being given to climate. ESRI is proud to be a sponsor and supporter of ESW. Educators can acquire an ESW Toolkit, which includes a CD from ESRI.
Meanwhile, there are also materials available for download and interaction right from the ESRI EdCommunity ESW page. We’ve broken it down into a quick presentation about what’s GIS, about the use of GIS to study earth science, and the use of GIS to study climate in particular. You’ll find a series of videos, produced and narrated by Joseph Kerski, introducing landscapes in the field plus a couple of explorations of climate and weather patterns. You can see examples of lessons that you can do with ArcGIS Desktop, ArcGIS Explorer, AEJEE, or even just a web browser. The most recent lesson (highlighted in this blog a month ago) uses ArcGIS Explorer and sea surface temperature observations from NASA to begin seeking patterns over time. A classic lesson, of great concern to those in low-lying coastal regions, is found in the “Water World” lesson in Module#7 of Book#2 from the Our World GIS Education series.
It’s easy to think that humans rule the world. One need only watch the headlines for the latest storm, earthquake, or tsunami to recognize that we don’t control everything. And, while events at local scales may not generate big headlines, a solid grasp of earth science is tied intimately to personal lives and to living in a sustainable fashion. Using GIS is key to understanding the relationships between and integration of natural processes with human conditions.
The ESRI GIS Education Community unveiled the Case Studies collection this week. These case studies are rich, real-world stories of GIS in education – across several educational categories. These stories represent best practices of GIS planning, implementation or evaluation in education. To find stories most relevant to your needs, search by keyword or browse by category.
The Case Studies collection will continue to grow in the coming months. If you don’t find something useful, drop in again or contact us with your needs.
Davis Demographic and Planning (DDP) is an ESRI business partner focusing on key functions that all school districts need to do: demographic forecasting, facility planning, attendance zones, and school locators. DDP has created SchoolSite, a family of ArcGIS extensions, to tackle the heavy work of redistricting and enrollment forecasting. These have also now been converted to Web-based applications using ArcGIS Server, giving small- to medium-enrollment districts the power of GIS without software installation, extensive training, or up-front data development. See SchoolSite Online.