Celebrating Geography Awareness Week in Oklahoma

Thanks to an invitation from OKAGE (Oklahoma Alliance for Geographic Education), my colleagues and I got to spend a day working with 130 seventh grade geography teachers from around the state who convened at the University of Oklahoma for a World Geography Academy on November 18. In addition to Lindsey Bailey (our Teacher Training Manager) and myself, we also shared the workshop facilitation with one of our star trainers, Dr. Kristy Brugar, Assistant Professor of Social Studies Education at OU.

With a full day to explore population topics and how it meets Oklahoma’s standards and content for 7th grade geography, we were able to cover lots of ground. The day started with the entire group together to explore global demographics, past and present, with two of our newest teaching resources – the World Population History website and our World Population Map.

Then the group divided into three meeting rooms to do hands-on activities with each of our facilitators. In one session, devoted to human impacts on the environment, participants were able to suggest some local adaptations. For our activity, “Mining for Chocolate,” which explores the complexities of resource extraction, teachers saw immediate relevance to their oil-producing state. Wastewater (one of the byproducts of oil extraction) is being injected into the ground, creating an unprecedented number of earthquakes – more than 5,000 this year alone!

The last session of the day explored issues for the global family – from economics and fertility rates to gender equity issues. Because Oklahoma’s 7th graders focus on the Eastern Hemisphere, there was a lot of discussion of how to use the activities to teach about Africa, Asia, Europe and Oceania.

All of the participants went home with a stack of resources including the new World Population DVD, two curriculum CDs and a full-size World Population Map. We’ll be following up with these teachers in the coming months to see how they are using these tools in their classrooms.