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GeoInquiries (https://community.esri.com/groups/k12-instruction/projects/geoinquiries) are short, simple instructional packages (a map plus a 2-page set of instructions) for K-12 education, covering a wide range of content areas and grade levels. I've picked out a couple to highlight. Again, please open links in new tabs.

  • Upper Elementary
  • Environmental Science
    • MegaCities
      • PDF with instructions
      • map
  • Earth Science
    • Fluid Earth: Winds and Currents
      • PDF with instructions
      • map
  • Human Geography
  • Government
    • Foreign Aid
      • PDF with instructions
      • map
  • World History
  • US History
    • Underground Railroad
      • PDF with instructions
      • map
  • American Literature
  • Mathematics
  • Mapping Our World (ArcGIS.com materials to support the book of the same name)
  • Thinking Spatially With GIS (ArcGIS.com materials to support the book of the same name)
  • Level 2 GeoInquiries


After exploring the selected examples, discuss

  • What was easy / fun / useful when using these instructional packages? What was hard / frustrating / confusing about them?
  • Why do they come in two components: A map and a set of instructions? Why not just one component? Three or more components?
  • What is Esri's purpose in creating these GeoInquiries? Is it the same as your purposes as a classroom teacher?
  • Would you use one of these in your classroom? If so...
    • Would you use it as-is or would you want to modify the map and/or the instructions? 
    • What background content might you want to bring up beforehand or afterwards? 
    • Would you want students to use these materials hands-on (working individually or in small groups) or only through a teacher-controlled, whole-class discussion?
      • If you want students to use it hands-on, what introduction to the technology (interface, features, etc.) would be required? 
    • How would you assess students' learning from a GeoInquiry?
  • GeoInquiries are a great example of (geospatial) Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge enacted. Assuming that you know this term, try to unpack one of the GeoInquiries
    • What is the content addressed?
    • What is the pedagogical strategy used? 
    • The technology used is obvious enough: an online GIS map and a text document. The interesting questions are...
      • How does this technology – as applied to this topic – create or constrain students' opportunities to understand the content, compared to more traditional teaching strategies?
      • How does this technology – again, as applied to this topic – create or constrain the teacher's pedagogical options, compared to more traditional teaching strategies?
        • If you're feeling ambitious, think about the impact on the options for your assessment of students' learning!
    • And reflect upon yourself: After seeing these GeoInquiries, do you have new understandings or new questions about...
      • The technology used?
      • The content addressed?
      • Teaching strategies?
      • Assessment strategies?



Cheat sheet of things to consider about the selected GeoInquiries

  • MegaCities: How does this activity allow us to examine change over time? What are the techniques involved in selecting & arranging datasets? 
  • Fluid Earth: How does this activity try to evoke motion? Do these techniques work for you or not? In other words: Can you visualize the motion involved (movement of wind & water) and grasp the relationships driving this motion (temperature, rotation of the earth, arrangement of landmasses)?
  • Foreign Aid
    • How does this activity put the issue in context, both geographically (where does foreign aid go) and economically (who gets more, who gets less, and who gets none)? 
    • What context gets left OUT of the GeoInquiry that you might want to include? (Portion of foreign aid as a fraction of total US spending–mentioned but not shown, how US foreign aid compares to other nations' as a percentage of GDP, 'return on investment' – what do we get back on these dollars?)
  • Underground Railroad
    • This map contains a TON of data, so part of the challenge is how to represent it usefully/flexibly. Contrast the '1850 states' layer with '1850 Number of Enslaved' – could this be improved? 
    • The instructions also involve some relatively advanced features, such as map notes and filtering (Filter Rivers layer for 'Follow' is 'Yes')
    • The map includes time and motion AND the human experience of these (see excerpt of 'Follow the Drinking Gourd' in the Map Notes layer) – do you think students will be able to put all this together in their minds? What additional supports might they need? 
    • How might this map change the way a teacher might teach about the topic? Would you lecture with it or do a guided inquiry? 
    • Does this map create new questions for you about the topic? (For example: Why no routes – or almost no routes) through Pennsylvania? Why wasn't the Mississippi River classified as a 'Follow' river?)
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