3. Developing geographical thinking and communication

3.3 Support students to think spatially and use maps, visual images and new technologies, including geographical information systems (GIS), to obtain, present, analyse and evaluate information.

Focus question:
  • What range of maps and other resources do you employ when planning for geography teaching and learning?
Further questions:
  • What future plans do you have for enhancing spatial thinking of your students?
Samples of practice

(a) Backdrop:
In this transcript of a Year 9 lesson, the teacher can be thought to create conditions for spatial thinking. To what extent might the mapping exercise using the Patterns, Quantify and any Exceptions method further develop these students’ spatial thinking?

Sample 1 GEOG 01 [1. lesson summary 00.53.31 – 00.57.06]

(b) Backdrop:
In this post lesson interview, the teacher speaks to the outcomes for students of introducing web-based maps and materials in her Year 8 geography class. How might these maps and materials be used both inside and outside class to ‘trigger’ students’ spatial thinking?

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(c) Backdrop:
In this sample, members of a Year 9 geography class are shown to be using a data set available in ArcMap (a Geographic Information System) to predict the global distribution of earthquakes and volcanoes and mark their predictions on a world outline map. To what extent do data sets of this kind afford spatial thinking? How might they be best used by geography teachers to optimise this thinking?

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Further links and resources
Fundamentals of maps and mapping
The Intergovernmental Committee On Surveying and Mapping (ICSM) website provides a comprehensive general overview of maps, mapping, cartography and map production. It is not intended to be a definitive reference, but rather to supply a consolidated summary of mapping concepts, principles and practice.

For further information go to: http://www.icsm.gov.au/icsm/education/index.html
(Accessed March 2010)

Description of the role of information and communication technologies (ICT):
“Geography provides a rich and varied context for the use of new technologies to enhance learning. In relation to ICT, the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta) reported that ICT can have positive effects on the learning and teaching of geography…spatial technologies provide students with opportunities to develop geographical skills and understandings in the classroom and at home. Students might use GPS in the field to identify a location, collect up-to-date information from a authoritative website, make observations using Google Earth or a webcam, and record information in a spreadsheet. Students can use GIS to help analyse and synthesise data. Students could present their findings by creating a Web 2.0 site, or exchange information with other schools electronically. All these examples are being used In Australian geography classrooms today. Additionally, satellite remote sensing (Earth Observation) and GIS have been added to traditional fieldwork techniques.”
Sorensen, L. (2009) Literature Review - for the National Geography Curriculum. Geographical Education 22: 15

See also:
British Educational Communications and Technological Agency (Becta) (2004) What the research says about using ICT in geography. Coventry: Becta
For further information go to: http://partners.becta.org.uk/upload-dir/downloads/page_documents/research/wtrs-geography.pdf
(Accessed June 2009)

McInerney, M., Berg, K., Hutchinson, N., Maude, A. & Sorensen, L. (2009) Towards a national geography curriculum for Australia. Brisbane: Australian Geography Teachers’ Association, Institute of Australian Geographers and Royal Geographical Society of Queensland.
1. Knowing geography and geography curriculum
Accomplished geography teachers: 
2. Fostering geographical inquiry and fieldwork
Accomplished geography teachers:
3. Developing geographical thinking and communication
Accomplished geography teachers:
4. Understanding students and their communities
Accomplished geography teachers:
5. Establishing a safe, supportive and intellectually challenging learning environment

Accomplished geography teachers:

6. Understanding geography teaching – pedagogical practices
Accomplished geography teachers:
7. Planning, assessing and reporting

Accomplished geography teachers:

8. Progressing professional growth and development

Accomplished geography teachers:

9. Learning and working collegially

Accomplished geography teachers: