Having just attended my first GTAV Annual Conference, I can't stop thinking about Geography. As a History and English 'specialist' I have taught 'humanities' for years and led Humanities departments in schools and in universities; I have even taught Years 7 & 8 Geography (albeit poorly on reflection). I have long been concerned about a lack of geog specialists in schools - to have one or more in your department is staffing 'gold'! This is compounded by a lack of a specific 'Geography', as opposed to 'Humanities', teaching method in many pre-service teacher education programs. Indeed, I am both a product of this (I am a Humanities trained teacher) and I currently work with History and Humanities pre-service teachers. I value the 'humanities' as a teaching method and have written broadly in this field (see HERE). However, the GTAV conference and the wonderful people I met, have fuelled my determination to become a geography specialist through practice and some additional study. So where will I (and where might others in a similar position) start? My notes from the GTAV conference (and links) might provide a good starting point.
So here's what the #GTAV2015 (Tweet archive HERE) conference 'said' to me:
1. How you conceptualise Geography shapes the way you learn and teach Geography:
This is a dynamic process and you need to actively engage with it - some recent things I have read include:
2. GEO-LITERACY is essential and needs to be explicitly taught: see National Geographic Overview . Geographic knowledge, skills and conceptual understanding facilitate geo-literacy. These are discussed below:
a) Geographic knowledge: Read, read, read and collaborate. Start with the relevant textbook. observe a range of geography lessons with a range of geography teachers, do a MOOC (massive open online course) - last year I did Water: The essential resource in preparation for Year 7 Geography; do free online preparatio courses such as that offered by Annenberg Learning HERE become an individual GTAV member and read the GTAV Journal Interaction religiously, go to TeachMeet and seek like minded teachers, join EDMODO and their Social Studies Group, connect through Twitter (#geography #geographyteaching), resource mine (yes, trawl the internet for resources), share and collaboratively develop units of work using Google Drive. Don't know how to do any of these things? Ask someone or start by searching for youtube demonstrations.
b) Geographic skills: see 2016 VCE Geog Study Design (pages 11-12). MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) provide FREE professional learning opportunities - see Coursera example HERE and D2L example HERE.
c) Geographic Concepts: understand the purpose of concepts and the difference between second order and first order concepts. Gritzner's paper has a great image that for me, makes me really think about the relationships between knowledge, skills, concepts and higher order thinking:
Stephen Matthews presented a really engaging session on VCE Geographic concepts (with links to AC Geog concepts) (contact @srdrummer to access) . Using these concepts as a framework for student learning is essential. I try to think beyond 'topics' and 'themes' - I like to focus on issues and how concepts can provide a scaffold for examining an issue. A relevant reading is: Maude, A (2014). The concept of interconnection. Interaction, 42(2), 23-24.
3. Fieldwork and the process of being a geographer is central to studying geography - see GTAV website for range of resources and ideas, go on the annual conference fieldwork day, read the many examples published in Interaction, develop fieldwork and do a 'dummy run' before trialling it with a class, call on the MANY freely available resources (organisations such as Zoos Victoria, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Museums Victoria, Parks Victoria and a range of private companies that provide opportunities for excursions and incursions), lobby for fieldwork across years 7-12 in your school, make it relevant and engaging and challenging...
4. The people - the people at the GTAV conference were extremely welcoming and generous in sharing their ideas and resources - having attended many conferences, I can honestly say that I had no CBS (can't be stuffed) moments, no moments of being bored or distracted and I have met new colleagues who I hope to develop collaborative connections with - so thank you GTAV and the community of Geography teachers who attend this conference - I appreciate all that you give to teachers, students and the community...